Thursday 2 January 1941
|Burial of victims of the Cardiff raid of 2 January 1941.|
Italian/Greek Campaign: There is continued light fighting in the Klisura Pass on 2 January 1941. The key pass is contested by Greek II Corps and the Italian Julia Division. Other Greek forces are mounting local operations to improve their positions (they take the tiny village of Dobrenjë east of Berat and cross the scenic Bence River in the mountains southeast of Savona/Vlore), but there are no large operations in the works on either side. However, the Greek High Command has a large attack to capture Klisura Pass in the planning stages.
The British offer the Greeks to send army troops to help in Albania. Already, RAF planes are operating out of airfields near Greece, but not too many British ground troops are in the country. The RAF raids Elbasan in the center of the country.
|Unidentified Royal Hellenic Air Force Pilot, 2 January 1941.|
European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe picks another city off the map - this time Cardiff, Wales - and sends 100+ bombers against it during the night. As at London, the Luftwaffe concentrates on incendiaries, starting numerous fires. Llandaff Cathedral is hit hard. This is considered the worst night of the Cardiff Blitz. A six-year-old boy sings "God Save the King" for six hours as workers dig him out from beneath his home's staircase, where he hid because it was considered a safe spot (and he did survive, so it was).
Once again, some Luftwaffe bombers go astray and bomb the Terenure district of Dublin. There are three deaths in the Shannon family, whose home is hit, with two others injured. Other counties along the Irish coast in a line stretching 100 miles to the south of Dublin also are bombed. The Germans blame the errant bombings on high winds, the British suspect a deliberate attempt to intimidate the Irish.
The Italian Aereo Italiano (CAI) stages its last raid against England, attacking Ipswich with five bombers.
RAF Bomber Command launches its own raid on Bremen, dropping incendiaries and high explosives on the German port of Bremen. About 47 bombers operate during the night. Breman is an inviting target because, being a medieval city, it burns easily. It also is packed with armaments factories (particularly a Focke-Wulf plant) and a naval base in the harbour. This is but the latest attack on the city, and, like the ones before, it is only moderately successful due to poor bombing aim.
Luftwaffe night fighters, which are somewhat ahead of their RAF counterparts, continue to confront the RAF bombers. Both Uffz. Arnold (1,/NJG 2) and Lt. Hans Hahn (3,/NJG 2) score victories, a Wellington and a Whitley, respectively.
|"Fleet Air Arm pilots and observers, 2 January 1941, on board HMS Victorious at Scapa." "Left to right: Sub Lieut (A) A Mc D Garland, a fighter pilot attached to 809 Squadron; Sub Lieut (A) F Rabone, an Observer in a Fairey Albacore; Sub Lieut (A) W H G Browne, an Observer attached to 832 Squadron." © IWM (A 6931).|
Battle of the Atlantic: The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors have been a bright spot in the German blockade of Great Britain. However, they have been "free-lancing," attacking shipping themselves when they find targets, rather than focusing on helping the U-boats (with scattered success). All planes in Nazi Germany are under the control of the Luftwaffe, and there may be inter-service rivalries at play. In any event, today U-boat commander Admiral Doenitz asks OKW operations chief General Jodl for better coordination between the Condors and the Kriegsmarine, to serve as the "eyes" of the U-boats. Reichsmarschall Goering apparently has no objection - he has final say over any Luftwaffe deployments - so the dozen Condors of KG 40 based in Bordeaux soon begin daily reconnaissance sweeps.
U-65 (Kptlt. Hans-Gerrit von Stockhausen), nearing the end of its extended cruise which began in October, sends a torpedo into 6,579 ton British transport Nalgora about 650 km north of the Cape Verde Islands. The Nalgora is taking men and supplies to General Wavell's Middle East Command. Since the freighter takes its time sinking, the U-boat surfaces and finishes it off with the deck gun. All 105 men on board survive, but they all spend over a week in lifeboats. This is U-65's final victory on this epic and highly successful (8 ships of 47,800 tons sunk) patrol, for which Stockhausen will be promoted to Korvettenkapitän and awarded the Knight's Cross. It also is his final victory, as he leaves U-65 after this and takes command of the new 26th U-boat Flotilla.
U-38 (Kptlt. Heinrich Liebe), on its eight patrol, is operating in the sea lanes about 300 miles (450 km) northwest of Ireland when it is attacked by Royal Navy ships with depth charges. U-38 survives the attack with minor damage that does not interfere with its patrol.
During the Luftwaffe's attack on Cardiff after dark, a delayed action bomb falls on the 5252 ton British freighter Loch Dee. The bomb explodes early on the 3d and kills a crewman.
The Royal Navy 1st Minelaying Squadron sets off to lay minefields SN 6 and SN 65 in the North Sea. This is a major operation, covered by HMS Hood and other warships. Meanwhile, minelaying cruiser HMS Adventure lays minefield ZME 10 in St. George's Channel.
In the South Atlantic, German tanker Nordmark refuels raider Thor.
Convoy SC 18 departs from Halifax, Convoy HX 98/1 departs from Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to Liverpool/Belfast.
Royal Navy trawler HMS Saragande (Skipper Laurence F. Scarlett) is commissioned.
U-66 is commissioned.
U-174, U-462, U-707, and U-762 laid down.
US submarine USS Tuna (Lt. Commander John J. Crane) is commissioned.
|British infantrymen outside Bardia, January 1941 (AP Photo).|
Battle of the Mediterranean: Major General Iven Mackay readies his troops for an assault on Bardia at 05:30 on the 3rd. The 6th Australian Division has been practicing on a mock-up of the Italian defenses there, which essentially are composed of two main lines that include anti-tank ditches. The attack will be supported by the RAF, gunboats parked offshore, and artillery fire. The Australians, bayonets fixed, take up final assault positions during the night, along with "I" tanks and engineers that will follow to exploit the breakthrough.
Offshore during the day, British monitor HMS Terror, gunboats HMS Ladybird and Aphis, destroyer HMS Dainty and Australian destroyer HMAS Voyager bombard Bardia. The Italians stage an unsuccessful air rad on them. The RAF (RAF Nos. 70 and 216 Squadrons) stages its second massive attack on the fortress in a row, dropping 30,000 tons of ordnance. The Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet under Admiral Cunningham sorties from Alexandria to support the land operation.
The Luftwaffe is shifting planes to the Mediterranean, but they will not be there in time to affect present operations.
Italian 2364 ton freighter Albano hits a mine and sinks just east of Cape Laghi, Albania.
|HMS Ladybird shelling Bardia. That is a 6-inch 50-caliber Mk XIII gun. 2 Jan 1941 (Australian War Memorial).|
Spy Stuff: A sub-committee of MI5, the XX Committee, is established. Its name is a sort of pun, as it is to focus on "double crosses," turning German spies into double-agents. Based on the Roman Number meaning of its name, this is formally called the "Twenty Committee." Members of the all the British intelligence services and other related organizations are participants. The Chairman is an MI5 agent and Oxford professor, J.C. Masterman. The process of turning Abwehr (German military intelligence) into British double-agents actually began in the 1930s (with Arthur Owens, who began as a British spy, became an Abwehr spy, and then was turned to be solely British again) and has been achieved during the war as well, but the XX Committee will continue and extend the process.
Separately, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden informs Free French leader Charles de Gaulle of the arrest of Vice-Admiral Muselier on the 1st. De Gaulle does not believe that Muselier, his commander of Free French naval forces, is a traitor, and suspects a plot by the British to discredit him.
In addition, the Luftwaffe attacks on Ireland recently are fueling British suspicions that the Germans may be using these attacks as a pretext to deposit agents there in order to spy on Royal Navy fleet movements.
Soviet Military: The Soviets being a major War Games exercise, with troops simulating an attack in the "northwest" direction, i.e., toward Stalingrad and Moscow. General Georgy Zhukov commands the attacking forces, i.e., the "Western/Blue" forces against "Eastern/Red" forces commanded by Colonel General D.G. Pavlov. This exercise will continue for the remainder of the week (accounts vary on exactly what happened with these exercises, but it is clear that war games were held). The assumption built into the exercise is that the "Eastern Forces" have a large numerical advantage, and that hostilities are initiated by the "Western/Blue" forces.
Vichy French Government: Banker Paul Baudouin resigns from the government. He has been the Vichy French Minister of Foreign Affairs since June and also briefly the Minister of Information (propaganda minister). It was he who initiated the communications with German, via the Spanish Ambassador, that led to the Armistice. Baudoin is a somewhat shadowy figure of mixed loyalties, a Monarchist who at some points in time is considered by Marshal Pétain to be his preferred successor. Baudouin was among those who pressured the Premier to excise Pierre Laval from the government. It is unclear exactly why Baudouin resigns at this time, but there are intense power struggles going on in French politics on both sides of the English Channel between Left and Right. To what extent Baudouin is an advocate of collaboration is unclear, but that is what he eventually is charged with (and convicted of) despite leaving the government at this early juncture. He returns to private banking.
|Troops in Palacios, Texas, 2 January 1941 (Historic Palacios Photos).|
Holocaust: Reinhard Heydrich, the Head of the Security Police and the SD, issues a letter (styled as a "decree") for internal distribution to the Security Police. It states that Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler has approved new divisions within the concentration camp system. The new categories are:
- Category Ia: "old prisoners" to be held at Dachau;
- Category II: prisoners facing "strong accusations" but still capable of reform, to be held at Buchenwald, Flossenburg and Auschwitz II;
While these classifications are quite vague, they do provide some hints for the future. The Category III camp, Mauthausen, will become renowned for its brutality and savagery as prisoners are worked to death and invariably do no not survive their mistreatment (which smacks of punishment). The other camps will become outright extermination camps, without so much of the "work" or "punishment" aspect of Mauthausen.
Future inmates will be accorded a certain classification upon forwarding to the system, but, especially as the war progresses, assignment to any of the camps will be a death sentence and the categorizations essentially meaningless. Heydrich does require that recommendations for Category III prisoners be "justified" based upon previous convictions and related factors. It is unclear how many - if any - inmates at any of the camps are ever "reformed" sufficiently to exit the system altogether.
|Bren gun carriers of the Australian Light Cavalry in the North African desert, January 1941 (AP Photo).|
French Homeland: Bread rations are cut to 10 ounces daily.
American Homefront: The singing Andrews Sisters (Maxene, Patty and LaVerne) record iconic "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (written by Don Raye and Hughie Price) at Decca's Hollywood Studios. Beyond its initial success, the tune goes on to become ranked No. 6 on the Songs of the Century list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. The song is recorded during that latter stages of filming of Abbott and Costello film "Buck Privates," and the song's introduction during that film featuring the Andrews Sisters is a startlingly good music video on its own that still stands up well in the 21st Century.
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was nominated that year for an Academy Award for Best Song. It lost out to "The Last Time I Saw Paris" in "Lady Be Good." If you want to talk about ridiculous Academy decisions, start here. Hollywood was very traditional with its song awards in those days, and perhaps the voters felt that "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was a bit too "modern" compared with the "Paris" ballad. Plus, comedies did not get too much respect in those days (and still don't).
The song has been covered by other artists, most notably by Bette Midler in 1972 (produced by Barry Manilow) to great acclaim. Midler originally intended it as a "B" side to another song. However, her rendition of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was so good that radio stations played "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" on the flip side instead of the intended single, and it hit No. 1 on the Billboard easy listening chart 42 years after the song's introduction. Christina Aguilera copied the style of the Andrews Sisters' performance of this song in "Buck Privates" for one of her most successful music videos. More than any other of their songs, this one made the Andrews Sisters enduring legends, and "Buck Privates" made Abbott and Costello film stars.
Below is a 1941 live performance of the song (a "V-Disc") for the Special Service Division. It has some very shaky camera work (changing lenses mid-song was not a good idea) but is an excellent rendition nonetheless. One of the top-two enduring classics of the World War II era (kudos if you can name the other, I guarantee that you know it but it's not a Glenn Miller tune).
And, here is a version from "Buck Privates."
January 1941January 1, 1941: Muselier Arrested
January 2, 1941: Camp Categories
January 3, 1941: Liberty Ships
January 4, 1941: Aussies Take Bardia
January 5, 1941: Amy Johnson Perishes
January 6, 1941: Four Freedoms
January 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor Plans
January 8, 1941: Billions For Defense
January 9, 1941: Lancasters
January 10, 1941: Malta Convoy Devastation
January 11, 1941: Murzuk Raid
January 12, 1941: Operation Rhubarb
January 13, 1941: Plymouth Blitzed
January 14, 1941: V for Victory
January 15, 1941: Haile Selassie Returns
January 16, 1941: Illustrious Blitz
January 17, 1941: Koh Chang Battle
January 18, 1941: Luftwaffe Pounds Malta
January 19, 1941: East African Campaign Begins
January 20, 1941: Roosevelt 3rd Term
January 21, 1941: Attack on Tobruk
January 22, 1941: Tobruk Falls
January 23, 1941: Pogrom in Bucharest
January 24, 1941: Tank Battle in Libya
January 25, 1941: Panjiayu Tragedy
January 26, 1941: Churchill Working Hard
January 27, 1941: Grew's Warning
January 28, 1941: Ho Chi Minh Returns
January 29, 1941: US Military Parley With Great Britain
January 30, 1941: Derna Taken
January 31, 1941: LRDG Battered