Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts


Thursday 20 June 1940

20 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Coldstream Guards
Coldstream Guards running an assault course in full kit on 20 June 1940 (War Office Official Collection, Catalogue No.  H 1887, War Office Official photographer Lt. E.G. Malindine).

Western Front: French Prime Minister Pétain on 20 June 1940 broadcasts to the nation. He states that defeat is "inevitable" and references his own experience during World War I, when 185 Allied divisions faced the Germans as compared to 10 in May 1940.

The cadets at the Saumur military academy are forced to surrender when they run out of ammunition. 200 cadets perish.

There are continued German advances throughout the country. The Maginot Line remains a strong point for the French, despite numerous penetrations, but elsewhere the defense is "fluid." There is heavy fighting around Thionville. The Wehrmacht 12th Army captures Lyons and Vichy.

French XLV Corps crosses the border into Switzerland and is interned.

Italy masses 32 divisions divided into two armies on the French border in the Alps. The French see no reason to fight Italy when it already is trying to sue for peace with Germany and requests an armistice. Mussolini, however, wants to occupy French territory to improve his bargaining position, not necessarily in France, but in North Africa. The Italians stand ready to launch their long-awaited offensive against French positions in the Riviera north to Mount Blanc.

Operation Ariel continues at a rapidly dwindling pace, picking up scattered troops in southern France. At La Pallice, a few more Polish troops and assorted embassy and consular staffs are taken off, and the ships proceed south to find more evacuees. At Bordeaux and the nearby ports on the Garonne River in the Gironde départment in Aquitaine, the Polish ships Batory, Sobieski and the Ettrick and Arandora Star complete their operations and head south as well. The main port for evacuation from this point forward is St Jean-de-Luz on the Spanish border.

As Bordeaux is no longer a focus of evacuation, the British destroyer HMS Beagle lands a demolition team to disable the port facilities.

French plenipotentiaries, led by General Huntziger, leave Bordeaux by car to meet with the Germans at Compiegne. Hitler has chosen that location due to its symbolism as the spot where Germany surrendered to the Allies in World War I. German engineers are sent to a French museum to prepare the same French railway coach for the proceeding.

20 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Farman F.222
Realizing that France is about to surrender, French fighter pilot James Denis loads an Armee de l'Air Farman F.222 at an airbase near Saint-Jean-d'Angély with 20 of his friends. They fly to Great Britain to carry on the fight.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-122 torpedoes (Korvettenkapitän Hans-Günther Looff) and sinks 5,911 ton British freighter Empire Conveyor about 50 miles south of Barra Head in the Hebrides. There are 38 survivors, while 3 perish.

U-30 (Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp) torpedoes and sinks 4,876 ton British freighter Otterpool 130 miles west of Ushant, France. There are 16 survivors and 23 perish. The ship is sailing with Convoy HG-34F.

U-38 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe) torpedoes and sinks 1,776 ton Swedish freighter Tilia Gorthon in the eastern Atlantic. There are 11 survivors, while 10 perish.

U-48 (Korvettenkapitän Hans Rudolf Rösing) torpedoes and sinks 7,493 ton Dutch tanker Moordrecht in the eastern Atlantic. There are 4 survivors, 25 perish.

The 7,638 ton French tanker Brumaire, torpedoed and damaged on 19 June 1940 by U-25, is sunk by Luftwaffe attack.

Admiral Günther Lütjens sails heavy cruisers Gneisenau, Admiral Hipper, and four destroyers toward Iceland as part of an elaborate decoy mission as Scharnhorst, previously damaged by a torpedo, limps back  to Germany. About 40 nmi (74 km; 46 mi) northwest of Halten, submarine HMS Clyde torpedoes Gneisenau. This causes extensive damage to the bow area, flooding two compartments, and the squadron returns to Trondheim for repairs.

Polish submarine Wilk accidentally rams Dutch submarine O-13, sinking it.

The Royal Navy intercepts two destroyers and two torpedo boats that were constructed in Italian shipyards and purchased by Sweden near the Faeroe Islands.

British submarine HMS Tigris (N 63, Lt. Commander Howard F. Bone) is commissioned.

British minesweeping trawler HMS Acacia (T 02, Commander Ralph Newman) is commissioned.

Armed yacht HMCS Elk (S 05, Lt. Commander Norman V. Clark) is commissioned.

20 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Kriegsmarine Gneisenau torpedo damage
The Gneisenau's torpedo damage.

European Air Operations: The RAF attacks Luftwaffe bases at Rouen, France and at Schiphol, Holland. It sends 56 bombers to attack western Germany.

The Regia Aeronautica bombs Calvi in Corsica.

North Africa: British mechanized troops in Sudan make raids across the Eritrean border.

The RAF raids Diredawa, Abyssinia. It also bombs Italian positions across the Libyan frontier.

The Regia Aeronautica sends 6 CANT Z.506 bombers against French positions at Bizerte, Tunisia.

Royal Navy submarine Parthian sinks Italian destroyer Diamante off Tobruk.

An Anglo/French squadron bombards Italian positions at Bardia during the night.

Mussolini asks Italian commander Italo Balbo to make more progress in the region. Balbo, the long-time commander in the region, responds, "We have no trucks, no anti-tank guns; it's steel versus flesh."

Latvia: A new Soviet puppet government is formed in Riga. The Soviets take the Latvian minesweeper Virsaitis.

Romania: King Carol pardons all imprisoned members of the Iron Guard in order to curry favor with Hitler.

Uruguay: Heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA 39) arrives in Montevideo from Rio de Janeiro as part of its "show the flag" journey.

British Military: The first Australian and New Zealand troops (Anzacs) arrive in Great Britain. General Blamey arrives in Palestine to organize Anzacs there.

Anglo/US Relations: The British agree to purchase the entire US production of Thompson sub-machine guns, 300 tons per week. They are scheduled for weekly deliveries.

Anglo/Spanish Relations: The Duke of Windsor, widely suspected of having pro-Nazi sympathies, arrives in Barcelona after having fled Paris.

Anglo/French Relations: General Mittelhauser, commanding French forces in the Levant, informs General Wavell at British headquarters in Cairo that he will join the Free France movement and remain an ally.

Japanese/French Relations: Governor General Catroux, acting independently because he has no support from the French government or anyone else, allows a Japanese control commission into French Indochina (Vietnam). He agrees to stop shipping arms to China through the country.

20 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Hitler Belgium Fuhrer Headquarters
Von Brauchitsch, Keitel, Hitler and Raeder at the Fuhrer HQ at Brûly-de-Pesche, 5660 Couvin, Belgium. 20 June 1940.

German Government: Adolf Hitler is at his Wolfsschlucht headquarters. Admiral Raeder confer with him regarding the feasibility of an invasion of Great Britain. Admiral Raeder asks Hitler, “And now how about the British?” Hitler's adjutant, Georg Engel, notes in his diary that "Führer says UK so weak that, after bombing, a major invasion will be unnecessary. Army will just move in."

US Government: Henry L. Stimson becomes the new Secretary of War, Frank Knox the new Secretary of the Navy. They are both Republicans. Stimson is a strong proponent of helping the Allies in Europe, the former Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover, and a former Secretary of War in the Taft administration. Knox is the publisher of the Chicago Daily News and was the 1936 Vice Presidential candidate.

As part of this reshuffling, Roosevelt establishes the position of Undersecretary of the Navy.

The Bureau of Ships is established with Rear Admiral Samuel M. Robinson as its first head. It replaces the Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Engineering.

Light cruiser USS Phoenix (CL 46) departs from Pearl Harbor for the Panama Canal Zone, where it will begin a "show the flag" mission on the Pacific coast of South America.

French Government: A delegation from the two French legislative chambers approaches Pétain to complain about the desire of President Lebrun to leave for North Africa. There remain wide divisions within the government regarding the possibility of continuing the fight from Algeria and Tunisia.

Heavy cruiser USS Vincennes (CA 44), escorted by destroyers USS Truxtun (DD 229) and USS Simpson (DD 221), arrives at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with the gold reserves from the Bank of France.

American Homefront: Joe Louis has a rematch with Chilean boxer Arturo Godoy. Louis wins when the referee stops the fight in the 8th round.

Future History: Actor John Mahoney is born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. He begins his acting career as the body double for Steve McQueen in 1977 and becomes famous for playing Martin Crane on NBC sitcom "Frasier" from 1993 to 2004.



June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied



2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild


Wednesday 19 June 1940

19 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com German women children Nazi salute
German women, children and soldiers show their enthusiasm for the lightning victory over France. 19 June 1940 (AP Photo).

Western Front: The Germans on 19 June 1940 crash through the hastily prepared French defensive line on the Loire. There is scattered resistance, such as by 800 troops of the Samur Cavalry School led by Colonel Michon against the 1st Cavalry Division. Overall, though, the Germans are mostly unopposed and approach Lyons.

General Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, in occupation of the port area of Cherbourg, shell the citadel that is still occupied by the French. Resistance is pointless, so the local townspeople prevail upon the French soldiers to surrender at 17:00.

Pursuant to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's agreement with General Sikorski, the Royal Navy takes off 4,000 Polish troops stranded at La Pallice. Almost all British troops already are evacuated pursuant to Operation Ariel. General Sikorski makes a broadcast telling Polish troops to get to England.

At Brest, the evacuation ends and the French wreck the port facilities. The demolition party escapes just before the arrival of the German 5th Panzer Division. The last Allies depart on the destroyer HMS Broke.

At St. Nazaire, seven empty transports wait for a supposedly large Polish force. About 2,000 men ultimately appear and are taken off. BEF commander Sir Alan Brooke has been taken off from here and arrives in England.

At Bordeaux and nearby ports on the Garonne River, the Hunt-class destroyer HMS Berkeley (Lieutenant-Commander H. G. Walters) evacuates the remaining British consular staff. The President of Poland and his cabinet also depart.

Polish ships Batory, Sobieski and the Ettrick and Arandora Star board everybody looking to escape from Bordeaux and remain through the night.

Responding to Germany's demand, the French government appoints plenipotentiaries to receive Hitler's terms. General Huntziger leads the delegation.

19 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Panzer 35(t) France 6th Panzer Division
This Pz Kpfw 35 (t) of 6 Panzer Division in was destroyed on 19 June 1940 in Épinal, France by a 25 mm anti-tank gun of the 46e GRDI.

European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe bombs Bordeaux during the night, where the French government has fled, killing 63 and wounding 180. They also attack St. Jean-de-Luz on the Spanish border. These are both major evacuation ports for the British.

The Luftwaffe raids England again during the night.

The RAF raids German airfields near Amiens and Rouen with about 30 bombers, and sends 112 bombers against industrial targets in the Ruhr.

Battle of the Atlantic: It is a big day for the U-boat fleet. It accounts for 40,000 tons in the Atlantic alone.

U-28 (Kapitänleutnant Günter Kuhnke) torpedoes and sinks 3,443 ton Greek freighter Adamandios Georgandis southwest of Ireland.

U-32 sinks Yugoslavian ship Labud.

U-48 (Korvettenkapitän Hans Rudolf Rösing) torpedoes and sinks 3,164 ton British freighter Baron Loudoun northwest of Cape Ortegal, Spain. There are 30 survivors and 3 crew perish.

U-48 also torpedoes and sinks 6,607 ton Norwegian freighter Tudor northwest of Cape Finisterre. There are 38 survivors, one crewman perishes.

U-48 also torpedoes and sinks British freighter Monarch.

U-52 (Kapitänleutnant Otto Salman) torpedoes and sinks 824 ton British freighter The Monarch in the Bay of Biscay. All 12 aboard perish.

U-52 also torpedoes and sinks 7,463 ton Belgian freighter Ville de Namur. There are 54 survivors and 25 perish.

U-25 (Kapitänleutnant Heinz Beduhn) torpedoes and damages 7,638 ton French tanker Brumaire in the eastern Atlantic. The Brumaire survives the day, but is in bad shape.

Kriegsmarine S-boots (fast torpedo boats) sink British freighter Roseburn in the English Channel.

Convoy OA 171G departs from Southend, Convoy 171 departs from Liverpool.

North Africa: The Regia Aeronautica bombs Bizerta, Tunisia. It also bombs Calvi and Bonifacio in Corsica. They target British vehicles, while French aircraft bomb Italian airfields.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Orpheus is sunk by Italian destroyer Turtine off Tobruk.

A Royal Navy anti-submarine trawler, HMS Moonstone, working in conjunction with British destroyer HMS Kandahar, captures Italian submarine Galilei in the Red Sea. The Galilei is towed to Aden and renamed the HMS X 2.

Lithuania: A demonstration occurs in Vilnius in support of the new Soviet occupiers.

Canada: The Canadian National Unity Party, a fascist organization, has been broken up and 11 of its members are brought to trial.

China: The Japanese government, taking advantage of France's difficulties, demands an end to transit of war materials through French Indochina (later Vietnam).

British Homefront: The government has resumed its efforts to evacuate schoolchildren. It establishes the Children’s Overseas Reception Board to send them to safer cities overseas.

The BBC cancels its regular music programme to broadcast war news. Reviews for PM Churchill's "Their Finest Hour" speech of 18 June are good.

American Homefront: Dale Messick publishes her first "Brenda Starr" comic strip in the Chicago Tribune.

Braves outfielder Paul Waner hits a single for his 3,000th hit, the seventh man in history to achieve the feat and the first since 1925.

19 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com French refugees
French refugees on a road near Gien, France on 19 Jun 1940. (Tritschler, German Federal Archive: Bild 146-1971-083-01).

June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied




2016

June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders


Tuesday 18 June 1940

18 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill, 18 June 1940.

Western Front: General Rommel and his 7th Panzer "Ghost" Division completes the whirlwind journey to Cherbourg on 18 June 1940, capturing the port (but not the citadel). He just misses the fleeing British after another 75-mile advance, and his troops hear the explosions as the Allies blow up the port facilities. The 5th Panzer Division, which has been working in tandem with Rommel, captures Brest. The Allies destroy all the harbor facilities before they depart. French battleship Courbet gives fire support as the last Allied troops leave.

Elsewhere, the Wehrmacht faces declining French resistance. All cities over 20,000 inhabitants are declared open cities, like Paris. This is a popular decision that saves many lives.

The French set up a line along the Loire to defend the sector Tours/La Charité. The Germans establish bridgeheads between Orleans and Nevers. Le Mans, Briare, Le Creusot, Belfort, Dijon and Colmar all are now in German hands. The French cavalry school at Samur vows to fight together as a unit, instructors and cadets.

18 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Marshal Petain
French Prime Minister Pétain has big decisions to make on 18 June 1940.

The Maginot Line has held up well, and cracking it has become a test for the Wehrmacht. Penetrations are made, though, and the Germans capture the fortress of Belfort.

Operation Ariel, the evacuation of British troops and some others from France, winds down, though some operations continue in the south. The Admiralty announces that nearly all British troops have been evacuated. At La Pallice, for instance, the Royal Navy completes its evacuation of 10,000 British soldiers, leaving behind their vehicles. There are continued evacuations, but they primarily are of allies. At St. Nazaire, the evacuation also concludes, with the British leaving behind their equipment.

The RAF completes its evacuation from France to England with the departure of Nos. 1 and 73 Squadrons, which had been the first to arrive in 1939. The RAF lost 1,029 aircraft with 1,500 casualties while on the Continent.

18 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Erwin Rommel
General Erwin Rommel (left) and a Panzer 38(t) tank on a bridge in France, 1940.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-28 (Kapitänleutnant Günter Kuhnke) torpedoes and sinks 2,417 ton Finnish freighter Sarmatia in the eastern Atlantic. All 23 on board survive.

U-32 (Oberleutnant zur See Hans Jenisch) torpedoes and sinks 1,522 ton Norwegian freighter Altair south of Ireland. All 18 on board survive.

U-32 then sinks 108 ton Spanish fishing trawler Nuevo Ons with gunfire. There are seven survivors, and six perish.

U-32 also sinks 108 ton Spanish fishing trawler Sálvora with gunfire. All 12 on board survive.

28,100 ton French troop ship Champlain hits a mine and is seriously damaged. It is dead in the water and an easy target if the Germans spot it.

Kriegsmarine minesweeper M-5 hits a mine and sinks off Norway.

Brand new French battleship Richelieu (with destroyers Fougueux and Frondeur) departs from Brest for Dakar. Incomplete French battleship Jean Bart is towed out of St. Nazaire. It has its engines and is fueled at sea, then sets off at half-speed for Casablanca while evading Luftwaffe air attacks. The ships are taken out at risk to themselves out of fear of the approaching 5th Panzer Division.

The French scuttle nine French submarines, a destroyer, and a sloop at Brest and Cherbourg. They are immobile for various repair reasons.

Convoy OA 170 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 170 departs from Liverpool.

British corvette HMS Camellia (K 31, Lt. Commander Eric M. Mackay) is commissioned.

18 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Daily Sketch


European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe sends a massive raid of 76 bombers against eastern England (Cambridge, Southend, the Thames estuary region) during the night. There are 11-12 dead and 30 injured. This is the first of a series of such nightly raids, and could be counted as the unofficial start of the Battle of Britain - though the history books state that battle does not begin for another couple of months. The Luftwaffe incurs light losses during this period.

The RAF conducts reconnaissance over northern France, Belgium and Holland. The RAF also sends 69 bombers to drop 250 bombs on Bremen and Hamburg.

Battle of the Pacific:  13,415 ton liner RMS Niagara (Captain William Martin) hits a mine and sinks off Auckland, New Zealand. Niagara is carrying £ 2.25 Millions of gold from the Bank of England bound for the United States in payment for munitions. The wreck settles at 121 meters of water. Immediately, thoughts turn to salvage of the gold, but the ship is at the outer limits of salvage operations.

German auxiliary cruiser Orion captures Norwegian vessel Tropic Sea near the Society Islands.

German/Italian Relations: Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich to discuss the French request for an Armistice. They are in no hurry to end the campaign. They ultimately send a request for the names of French plenipotentiaries to the French government currently at Bordeaux. Hitler is not impressed by the Italian contribution and gives Italy only a small zone of occupation in southern France. Mussolini is chagrined, but he has other plans of his own which he does not disclose to his partner.

US/French Relations: The US is concerned, as are the British, about the French fleet. U.S. Secretary of State Hull directs Deputy U.S. Ambassador to France Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., to tell the French that a German takeover of the fleet would the French to "permanently lose the friendship and goodwill of the Government of the United States."

The French are not impressed by the rough diplomatic veiled threat and say that they are "deeply pained" by the attempted coercion. Nonetheless, French Minister for Foreign Affairs Baudouin promises that the French fleet "would never be surrendered to Germany." Admiral Darlan seconds this assurance.

18 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Hitler Mussolini


Bulgarian/Romanian Relations: Bulgaria demands that Romania cede southern Dobruja.

Uruguay: The Uruguayan government has arrested 8 Nazi leaders, according to US Ambassador to Uruguay Edwin C. Wilson.

Canada: Mackenzie King introduces to the Canadian House of Commons the National Resources Mobilization Act. This implements national registration and conscription for home defense.

Baltic States: The Soviet occupation is complete. The Soviet government promises to give the Germans $7.5 million in gold for the courtesy of honoring the Ribbentrop/Molotov Agreement.

Latvia: The Soviets form a new government from a list of approved candidates.

Sweden: The government permits unrestricted German transit on the vital railway to Narvik, including of German troops and military supplies.

Italian Somaliland: The English King's African Rifles raid the Italian port of El Uach.

French Somaliland: Italian artillery bombards French positions.

Italy: The government secures ancient monuments and statues against possible air attack.

China: At the Battle of Tsaoyang-Ichang, Japanese 11th Army consolidates its hold on Ichang and Tangyang. Chinese 5th War Area goes over to the defensive.

Polish Government: General Sikorski arrives in London on a RAF plane. He meets with Churchill, and they agree on the evacuation of Polish soldiers from their location at La Pallice.

British Government: Winston Churchill at 15:45 addresses the House of Commons with one of his famous speeches. He states that this could be the country's "Finest Hour":
What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over ... the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.
French Government: The cabinet continues to debate whether to evacuate to North Africa. New Prime Minister Pétain refuses to go, but President Lebrun and the two presidents of the Chambers of Parliament, Édouard Herriot and Jeanneney, want to go. The weight of opinion is to stay in France.

French cruisers El Djezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, Ville d'Oran and Ville d'Alger evacuate 1,200 tons of French gold from Brest to Casablanca. In addition, the French use the cruiser Victor-Schoelcher to take 198 tons of Belgian gold from Lorient to the port of Dakar in French West Africa.

War Crimes: There are strong rumors that the advancing Nazi troops have been murdering any black African French troops that they take prisoner. There is a German propaganda campaign that these French troops themselves are committing atrocities.


18 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
General De Gaulle giving his speech on 18 June 1940.

French Homefront: General Charles de Gaulle broadcasts at 20:00 from London and urges continued French resistance. He emphasizes that a battle, and not the war, is lost:
The destiny of the world is here. I, General of Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who would come there, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the special workers of armament industries who are located in British territory or who would come there, to put themselves in contact with me.
This speech initiates the image of de Gaulle, heretofore virtually unknown outside of military circles, as the leader of "Free France." It is fair to comment that de Gaulle likes to use the word "I" a lot as he develops a cult of personality.

De Gaulle has no official authority to make any claim to be a French spokesman and is no longer even in the government (though for the time being he remains a General). De Gaulle's sole source of power is that he has British backing due to his willingness to continue the fight. De Gaulle also has a large cache of French gold given to him by former Prime Minister Reynaud which will tide him over, though it is insufficient to form an army or anything like that. He certainly is an inspirational figure for many French citizens, though the legitimate French government does not think so and feels he is being counter-productive. De Gaulle returns the favor and pointedly refuses to recognize any French government under German domination, which creates a chasm between him and the "legitimate" Petain government. He no longer has any official reason to be in London and is "flying solo," at great risk to himself, creating an entire movement out of whole cloth. The course de Gaulle is taking practically defines the term "leader."

There is a tortuous story behind de Gaulle's speech. He was the one, along with Churchill, who came up with the "union" idea of France and the UK joining as one country. He flew back to France to argue for it and thought that Petain would agree with him, and was stunned when instead Petain surrendered. Returning immediately to England, de Gaulle asked to give this speech on 17 June, but the BBC required him to wait until 18 June - the anniversary of the French defeat at Waterloo.

General Legentilhomme, French commander in Somaliland, quickly announces his support for de Gaulle, but few others do. It is easy to maintain that martial spirit when you are far from the panzers, not so much when the front that protects you is collapsing.



June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied



2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks


Monday 17 June 1940

17 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com HMT Lancastria
The Lancastria sinking.

French Government: New French Prime Minister Petain, through his Foreign Minister Paul Baudouin, on 17 June 1940 has instructed his Ambassador to Spain to seek terms from Germany (and Italy). At 00:30, he broadcasts to the French people that "With a broken heart, I tell you fighting must stop":

Frenchmen, having been called upon by the President of the Republic, I today assume the leadership of the government of France. Certain of the affection of our admirable army that has fought with a heroism worthy of its long military traditions against an enemy that is superior in number and in weapons, certain that by its magnificent resistance it fulfilled its duties to its allies, certain of the support of veterans that I am proud to have commanded, I give to France the gift of my person in order to alleviate her suffering. 
In these painful hours, my thoughts go out to the unfortunate refugees who, in an extreme penury, are furrowing our roads. I express to them my compassion and my concern. It is with a broken heart that I say to you today that the fighting must stop. 
I spoke last night with the enemy and asked him if he is ready to seek with us, soldier to soldier, after the honorable fight, the means to put an end to the hostilities. May all Frenchmen rally to the government over which I preside during this difficult ordeal and calm their anxieties, so that they can better listen only to the faith they have in the destiny of the fatherland.

The French remain undecided as to whether to carry on the conflict from North Africa, where French possessions remain undisturbed. Italy, however, has large forces in Libya. The government is in a state of chaos. Petain (mistakenly) orders the arrest of Minister Georges Mandel on suspicion of staging a coup.

General Charles de Gaulle is in London with no authority and no troops. However, he has one thing the others in the French government do not have: British backing. He also has 100,000 French francs in gold, provided by (now former) PM Reynaud. One thing de Gaulle is certain of: he will not be serving any French governments on occupied French soil.

The other allied governments, such as the Polish government-in-exile, also are in flight. General Sikorski of the Polish government reiterates that his Polish forces will continue to fight.

17 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Hitler
Adolf Hitler on June 17, 1940, as he hears the French are surrendering. Taken by one of his photographers, Walter Frentz.

Western Front: While the French want an armistice, PM Petain is careful not to say in his speech how the Germans have responded. In fact, the German government is not ready to stop its wildly successful troops. Operations continue, with German troops advancing all along the front against largely nominal resistance. The French fortress of Metz surrenders.

Panzer Group Guderian reaches the Swiss Frontier south of Besancon at Pontarlier, completing the isolation of the 17 French Division of the Maginot Line. Otherwise, the front is so fluid and the German gains so extensive that the "front" no longer really exists.

The French 3rd Army Group is surrounded and on the verge of surrendering. News during the night of Petain's decision to negotiate robs the French troops of motivation. There also is massive confusion about whether the French government even wants its troops to continue fighting. Discipline disappears in some formations, with reports of looting by French troops. There are many luxuries, such as expensive champagne, to nullify the pain - and besides, the Germans will only take it themselves later.

Operation Ariel, the (third) evacuation of troops from France, is in high gear. This time, though, the Wehrmacht is in better shape to intervene than at Dunkirk.

The 16,243 ton British Cunard Liner HMT Lancastria (16,243 tons) (Captain Sharp) at St Nazaire is carrying an unknown number of soldiers - someone hears the captain say 6,700 are aboard. At around 15:45, sustained Luftwaffe bomber raids finally break through. Junkers JU 88 fast bombers strike the ship with three bombs, including one down the stack which blows a hole in the bottom, sinking the liner within 20 minutes.

Roughly 4-5,000 British, French, Canadian and Belgian men (and some women) aboard perish - the exact number cannot be determined. There are 2,477 survivors. The men on the doomed ship sing "Roll Out the Barrel" as the Lancastria rolls over on them. The Luftwaffe reportedly strafes the oil-slicked water, hoping to set the entire scene on fire and incinerate everyone, but this is completely unproveable.

The Lancastria sinking goes down as the worst British maritime tragedy of the war and, indeed, in history. It is the largest loss of life for the UK during the entire war, and includes both soldiers and civilians. Churchill, reportedly weeping, issues what is known as a "D-Notice" on the Lancastria, which prevents any government official from communicating about it, even to the families of the deceased.

Elsewhere, the evacuation proceeds smoothly. Men of the 1st Canadian Division are taken off at St. Malo. In a mini-repeat of Dunkirk, private boats of the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club of Jersey arrive to help ferry troops to the larger British ships.

At Cherbourg, the Beauman Division and Norman Force, both improvised BEF formations, leave in the evening. They are not too far ahead of advancing German forces.

At Brest, mostly RAF ground crew are taken off. With the evacuation completed, the French wreck the port facilities with assistance from British demolition squads.

Evacuations also take place from Nantes. It is 50 miles (80 km) up the Loire. There is a large fleet of destroyers and some larger ships available, but the British troops need time to get there. The RAF provides vital air cover to protect numerous vulnerable transports.

At Bordeaux and nearby ports on the Garonne River and nearby, Polish and Czech soldiers and civilians board British destroyers after the Admiralty gives permission. There also are certain VIPs such as the President of Poland who embark here.

General Rommel has re-oriented his axis of attack once again. This time, he heads southwest toward Normandy. His objective is the key port of Cherbourg, which is the closest deep water port to Great Britain. His troops face no significant opposition, and he covers 125-150 miles during the day.

17 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com HMT Lancastria
The Lancastria, still crowded with passengers.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-48 (Oberleutnant zur See Engelbert Endrass) torpedoes and sinks 3,651 ton Greek freighter Elpis hundreds of miles off of Cape Finisterre, Spain. All 28 crew survive.

Troop Convoy US 3 from New Zealand and Australia departs from Suez.

Convoy HX 51 leaves Halifax for Liverpool, carrying the 150 US aircraft originally intended for France.

Convoy OA 169 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 169 departs from Liverpool, Convoy OG 34F forms off Gibraltar.


17 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com HMT Lancastria


European Air Operations: The RAF sends 139 bombers to attack oil installations and other industrial targets in the Rhineland, Ruhr and North West Germany.

North Africa: The RAF attacks Massawa, Eritrea.

German/Italian Relations: Italian Duce Benito Mussolini departs for Germany to meet with Hitler.

Spanish/French Relations: Spanish Generalissimo Francisco Franco instructs his ambassador to France to demand the transfer of some French North African territory to Spain.

US Government: Admiral Stark requests sufficient appropriations from Congress to establish a "two-ocean" navy.

Soviet Government: Nikita Khrushchev is with Stalin as news of the French decision to seek terms arrives. He later recalls that Stalin is furious that France "rolled over for Hitler" - even though he purportedly is Hitler's ally. Khrushchev also states that while the rest of the world tries to figure out who is winning, Stalin just adds the German and French casualties together to see if he is winning. A quick German win is not what he wants.

Baltic States: Pursuant to the pro forma ultimatums delivered to the Estonian and Latvian governments on 16 June, The Soviets occupy the two nations. As anticipated, the western Allies - preoccupied with larger events - take no official notice of this blatant land grab. There is some scattered resistance, and the Single Signal Battalion holds out in Tallinn with no hope of succor.

A new puppet government is formed in Lithuania, which already has been occupied. President Antanas Merkys, who assumed power on 16 June, is arrested by Soviet authorities

North Africa: British patrols remain active. The Regia Aeronautica attacks Buq Buq.

China: At the Battle of Tsaoyang-Ichang, the Chinese 5th War Area recaptures Ichang in a seesaw battle. Japanese 11th Army promptly recovers Ichang, however, immediately recovers it. The Japanese 22nd Army captures Suilou west of Nanning on the road to French Indochina.

US Homefront: The British Purchasing Commission assumes French arms contracts and seeks additional contracts to purchase war material. This is done pursuant to the "cash and carry" rules. The French representatives, seeing the larger situation, give their consent.

17 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com HMT Lancastria
The Lancastria.

June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied



2016

June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain


Saturday 16 June 1940

16 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Char 2C French tank
A German officer in the French heavy tank Char 2C №90 'Poitou' (Poitou), destroyed on a railway platform near the village Meuse in Lorraine. Tank of the 1st company of the 51st battalion of heavy tanks. Battalion commander, Major Fournet. On June 16, 1940, the tank was blown up by its crew in the village Meuse because of the inability to disembark from the train platform without special lifting equipment.

French Government: French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud on 16 June 1940 loses his argument that the French nation should continue to resist. The final straw is an offer contained in two telegrams from London that are presented by British Ambassador Sir Ronald Campbell (Churchill apparently feeling relations are now too touchy to risk a visit of his own). The telegrams demand the retreat of the French fleet to UK harbours and a Franco-British Union - which would make the two countries into one.

Reynaud wants to agree to both proposals, but the rest of the Cabinet wishes for an Armistice, many because they think that the UK is finished, too. Reynaud loses the vote on the proposals and resigns, asking President Lebrun to form a new government.

Reynaud's replacement is Philippe Pétain, the recent ambassador to Spain and a Great War hero. Pétain is an odd choice unless you recognize that the government was tired of trying to resist the unstoppable Wehrmacht onslaught. Pétain is a 84-year-old defeatist, but he is a highly respected war hero and the perfect noble figure to get the public to accept an armistice. Basically, he is a figurehead. Commander-in-chief Weygand is vice president of the council.

Among those who wish to continue to resist is General de Gaulle, who is not included in the new cabinet. He flies to London during the day and begins to plot his next move.

Pétain reviews the situation throughout the day and decides that the situation is hopeless. At midnight, he instructs his Cabinet Secretary, Henry du Moulin de Labarthète, to request France's ambassador to Spain to seek terms from Hitler.

16 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com General Landgraf
Generalleutnant Franz Landgraf (16 July 1888 – 19 April 1944). Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 16 June 1940 as Oberst and commander of 4. Panzer-Brigade.

Western Front: While certain people in various headquarters have a clear picture of the situation, for the vast majority of troops and civilians, the entire situation is completely unknown. About all that anyone knows is that the Germans are in Paris. Other than that, they basically could be in the next town over for all anyone knows. This results in panic throughout the country.

Panzer Group Guderian reaches Besancon, near the Swiss border. He is in position to link up with troops advancing through the Maginot Line from the direction of Colmar and encircle the entire French fortress system. Guderian is astounded at the poor condition of the fleeing French forces, noting: "Exhausted French soldiers fall from their truck to be crushed by the next. The Midde Ages were more humane than this."

German troops cross the Seine near Melun and Fontainebleau. Other troops occupy Auxerre in the direction of Clamecy and Avallon.

German 4th Army approaches Alencon, while 18th Army reaches Orleans. German 2nd Army and 9th Army reach Dijon. German 1st, 7th and 16th Armies attack French 3rd Army Group.

General Erwin Rommel, fresh off his spectacular operation north of Le Havre, receives orders to head south and take the key embarkation port of Cherbourg. It is 150 miles to the south, but French resistance is collapsing.

Operation Ariel, the evacuation of the BEF from France, continues. While a smaller operation than Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk, tens of thousands of British and Canadian soldiers are taken off from the ports of Brest, St. Malo, Nantes and St. Nazaire. British ships Arandora Star, Strathaird and Otranto are active in the operation.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-boat UA (Kapitänleutnant Hans Cohausz) torpedoes and sinks British armed merchant cruiser HMS Andania northwest of the Faroe Islands. All 347 aboard survive when they are picked up by the Icelandic trawler Skallagrímur. The UA has been tracking the ship for three days.

U-101 (Kapitänleutnant Fritz Frauenheim) torpedoes and sinks 13,212 ton British freighter Wellington Star 300 miles off Cape Finisterre, Spain at 16:45. All 69 aboard survive when they either are picked up by French freighter Pierre L.D. or reach shore in lifeboats after 8 days.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Tetrarch sinks German boat Samland.

A French warship approaches German vessel Konigsberg, whose crew scuttles it.

Convoy HG 34 departs from Gibraltar.

Battle of the Mediterranean: French sloop La Curieuse depth charges Italian submarine Provano, forcing it to the surface 30 miles south of Cabo de Palos, Spain. The French ship rams the Italian submarine, sinking it.

Italian torpedo boats catch British submarine HMS Grampus with depth charges, sinking it 105 miles east of Sicily. All 59 crew perish.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: Italian submarine Galilei sinks Norwegian tanker James Stove.

European Air Operations: The French air force raids Cagliari, Sardinia with six bombers. The Italians launch a raid on Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio, Corsica. The RAF sends 22 planes to attack Genoa and Milan.


16 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Italian Marchetti SM 75 Tobruk
Italian Savoia Marchetti SM 75 "Ala Littoria" - Tobruk - 16 June 1940.

North Africa: A British force including the 7th Hussars under the command of Lt. Colonel G. Fielden ambushes a column of Italian vehicles east of Bardia. It captures the Italian Tenth Army's Engineer-in-Chief, Lt. General Romolo Lastucci. Perhaps more importantly than his capture, the Italian has"up to date plans for the Bardia defences."

The Regia Aeronautica attacks Sollum, Sidi Barrani and Mersa Matruh, British outposts in Egypt. It also attacks Malta again. Italian bombers based in Sardinia attack Bizerte.

A tank battle takes place at Sollum in which the Italian light tanks come off worse.

The South African Air Force attacks Iavello and Mega, bases in Italian East Africa.

The RAF raids Tobruk, causing extensive damage.

Baltic States: The Soviet Union, having occupied Lithuania after an ultimatum, now issues similar ultimatums to Estonia and Latvia.

In occupied Lithuania, Prime minister Antanas Merkys deposes the absent Antanas Smetona from the post of president. Without constitutional authority, he assumes the presidency himself.

Applied Science: British ship SS Broompark leaves the Gironde (western France). It carries 26 containers of "heavy water." The was was imported from the only source of that water, a plant in Norway that is now under German control, by atomic physicist Joliot-Curie.

German/Spanish Relations: Franco's personal envoy, General Vigon, chief of General Staff, meets with Hitler at Acoz Castle. They discuss a possible Spanish entry into the war, which would be strategically devastating to the Allies due to Spain's ability to close the Mediterranean.

Iceland: Canadian Z Force arrives to supplement the British occupation force.

China: At the Battle of Tsaoyang-Ichang, the Chinese 5th War Area opens an offensive against the Japanese 11th Army near Ichang.

British Homefront: Local Defence Volunteers shift into high gear, as fears of a Nazi invasion mount.

16 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com French tank Char 2C
Destroyed French superheavy (69 t) tank, the Char 2C "Alzac" Meuse in Lorraine train station, June 16, 1940.


June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied



2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania


Saturday 15 June 1940

15 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Soviet troops Lithuania
Soviet troops enter Lithuania, 15 June 1940.

Western Front: General Weygand on 15 June 1940 follows the French government to the south, evacuating Briare for Bordeaux. Prime Minister Paul Reynaud and the rest of his government engage in heated debate about surrender, with Reynaud wanting to fight on. Admiral Darlan suggests that he can move 30,000 troops to North Africa, but not the entire 800,000 that are still fighting.

At dawn, German 7th Army (Friedrich Dollmann) crosses the Rhine near Neuf Brisach between Strasbourg and the Swiss border, taking Strasbourg from French 8th Army and approaching Colmar. They break out into the Alsace Plain and have little between them and Panzer Group Guderian advancing from the north.

Elsewhere, the Germans capture the town, citadel and two forts at Verdun.

German 1st Panzer Division approaches Besancon, isolating the French 2d Army.

German 1st Army attacks French 3rd Army at Sarreguemines.

The Italian forces in the Alps still have not attacked the French. Mussolini orders Marshal Badoglio to attack by the 18th regardless of all other factors.

Operation Ariel, the withdrawal of the BEF, begins. 20-30,000 British and Canadian troops begin evacuating northwest France via Cherbourg and St Malo. This operation is often confused with Operation Cycle, which was a previous evacuation from Le Havre which concluded on 13 June. Today, the 52nd Lowland Division and survivors of the 1st Armoured Division begin embarking.

Commander of German XVIII Armeekorps Hermann Ritter von Speck perishes on the battlefield at Pont-sur-Yonne, France. His daughter later claims (in 2010) that he deliberately sought death on the battlefield, somewhat in the manner of General von Fritsch in Poland. This was due to an inner struggle between what he knew was right and his oath to the army and Hitler.

European Air Operations: Italian aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica raid Propriano, Corsica and southern France.

The RAF raids Bergen, destroying ammunition stored on the quays.

RAF Bomber Command sends strategic raids against the Ruhr and southern Germany. It alsos ends 8 aircraft against Genoa.

The British drop leaflets over Rome.

15 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Hurricanes North Weald
No. 151 Squadron Hurricane I's equipped with Rotol Constant Speed Propellers take off from North Weald, June 1940.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-38 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe) spots convoy HX-47 at 01:00 and goes to work. First, U-38 torpedoes and sinks 9,973 ton Norwegian tanker Italia. There are 16 survivors, while 19 perish.

Then, it torpedoes and sinks 2,238 ton Canadian freighter Erik Boye 60 miles west of the Scilly Isles. All 22 aboard survive.

US passenger liner Washington, having embarked an additional 852 American passengers in Galway, departs from Ireland for New York. It is transporting 1,872 US passengers who have been evacuated from North Africa, France and the UK.

U-137 (Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfahrt) is commissioned.

Convoy 168 GF departs from Southend, Convoy OB 168 departs from Liverpool, Convoy SL 36 departs from Freetown.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Italian submarine Macalle runs aground and sinks off Port Sudan in the Red Sea.

North Africa: The RAF sends raids against Italian forces at Sidi Areiz, Assab and Jarabub.

The Italians send an airstrike against British positions at Sollum.

The French send 6 bombers against Tripoli.

German Military: Adolf Hitler sets forth plans to demobilize portions of the Wehrmacht once the campaign in France concludes, which appears to be in the offing.

British Military: The UK War Cabinet decides that the Channel Islands, British territory within sight of France, "are of no strategic importance and they won't be defended."

Anglo/US Relations: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sends a telegram to President Roosevelt asking for destroyers. He states that his country will carry on the struggle "whatever the odds," but the destroyers are a matter of "life and death." Churchill, as former First Lord of the Admiralty, notes that England's survival "may well be beyond our resources unless we receive every reinforcement and particularly do we need this reinforcement on the sea."

15 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Char B1 France tank destroyed
Char B1 bis Fantasque destroyed in June 1940.

US/French Relations: President Roosevelt promises French Prime Minister Reynaud that he will continue to provide France with material support (by illegally evading the US neutrality laws), but he states that he cannot commit troops.

German/Swedish Relations: Stockholm grants a German request for railroad transport of non-military supplies to Narvik.

Norway: German 3rd Mountain Division occupies Harstad.

Baltic States: Soviet troops enter Lithuania with no opposition. This is pursuant to the secret Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact of 23 August 1939, and a last-minute agreement by the Lithuanian government to their ultimatum of 14 June. They occupy Kaunas and Vilna. President Antanas Smetona flees to Germany, barely escaping an attempt to capture him by Prime Minister Antanas Merkys. However, the Soviets do capture a minesweeper named... President Smetona.

Vladimir Dekanozov arrives in Kaunas as the new governor.

Soviet troops also take the Latvian border posts of Masļenkos and Smaiļi.

Albania: The Italian-controlled government declares war on France and the UK.

Applied Science: Dr. Vannevar Bush, pursuant to his 12 June 1940 discussion with President Roosevelt, becomes the head of the National Defense Research Committee.

The University of California's Dr. Ernest O. Lawrence begins supervising construction of a giant cyclotron. This is a key step in the development of plutonium, the essential ingredient of an atomic bomb.

US Government: A new Navy bill becomes law which provides for 10,000 planes and 16,000 aircrew. The numbers are increasing every day now, as this new figure is more than twice the figure of the bill of 14 June.

China: At the Battle of Tsaoyang-Ichang: Chinese 2nd Army Group and 31st Army group arrive to support the Ichang sector against the Japanese 11th Army.

Italian Homefront: A Roman man becomes the first civilian casualty of the war in that city when he is struck down by falling anti-aircraft shrapnel during a RAF leaflet drop.

French Homefront: The Swastika is raised over the Palace of Versailles, which saw the birth of the so-called Second Reich of Wilhelmine Germany.

Crowds, which were absent during the German victory parades, assemble to watch French POWs being transported through town.

Southern France is packed with refugees, and supplies of everything are tight.

British Homefront: George Orwell suddenly realizes that his French publisher now can't publish his next book, and notes "If so, I am £30 to the bad...  The sensible thing to do now would be to borrow money right and left and buy solid goods."

15 June 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Cahuenga Freeway California
The Cahuenga Freeway opens in California. This is a view of Cahuenga Freeway with 8 traffic lanes divided by Pacific Electric tracks, looking north from Cahuenga-Highland intersection showing Pilgrimage Play Bridge in background and subway underpass to Cahuenga Avenue. Note entrances to service roads on right and left with intersectional islands. July, 1940 issue of California Highways & Public Works.


June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied



2016