Monday, February 26, 2018

June 3, 1941: Kandanos Massacre

Tuesday 3 June 1941

Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima Meets Hitler 3 June 1941
Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima Meets Hitler at the opening of the Japanese art exhibition in Berlin in 1939.
Syrian/Lebanon Campaign: Now that the situation in Iraq has stabilized on 3 June 1941, the British turn their full attention to Syria. The Vichy French hold on Syria only has become an issue because of the French decision to allow its use to the Axis as a transport hub to Iraq, but even though that is no longer an issue, the ball is rolling toward a British invasion. Today, the RAF bombs and strafes oil installations in Beirut, French Lebanon.

The Vichy French government states that it will defend both Syria and Tunisia against the British.

The British begin stockpiling landing craft and equipment in Port Said for Operation Exporter, the invasion of Syria. Royal Navy troopship Glengyle heads there from Alexandria, while two destroyers (HMS Hotspur and Ilex) leave Alexandria for Famagusta, Cyprus to embark commandos for transfer to Glengyle for upcoming Exporter.

In Iraq, the British continue mopping up. Gurkha troops (2/4 Gurkha Rifles) fly into Mosul and occupy it. Baghdad settles down after the two-day Farhud of 1-2 June, with the British and local police enforcing a strict curfew. The hundreds of dead are being buried.

Maori Battalion 3 June 1941
The Maori Battalion performing the Haka for the King of Greece at Helwan, Egypt during June 1941. This is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. The Maori Battalion are hard fighters, leading German General Erwin Rommel to comment, “Give me the Maori Battalion and I will conquer the world.”
European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe attacks Hull and Tweedmouth before dawn. A lone raider bombs and strafes the village of Boulmer. There are strafing attacks across northern England.

A private British de Havilland Dragon aircraft unwisely is taken up for private use for a flight between St. Mary's on the Isles of Scillies to Penzance. Unfortunately for the people on the Dragon, a passing German Heinkel He 111 bomber (I./KG 28) on its way back from bombing England spots it. The Heinkel shoots down the Dragon, killing all six aboard, including two girls aged 9 and 11. Pilot Captain W.D. Anderson DFC (Australian) and the entire Leggitt family is killed, including the mother of Mrs. Leggitt. Mrs. Sheelagh Leggitt was the Secretary to Sir Walter Monckton, Director-General of the Ministry of Information. A group of six Hawker Hurricanes of RAF No. 87 Squadron was withdrawn from the island only days before.

East African Campaign: A fierce battle on the approaches to Gondar, a key Italian stronghold in Abyssinia, develops. The British take Debarech, but then the Italians take it back. The town seesaws back and forth, but ultimately the British wind up with it. It is about 100 miles west of Amba Alagi, which fell in May, and the fierce battle shows that the Italians are going to put up a fierce battle for their remaining bastions in East Africa.

Fleet Tender C 3 June 1941
"View of Fleet Tender C, off Lincolnshire Coast." This photograph is from early October 1941 taken from a passing destroyer, HMS Whaddon, while escorting a convoy. You can see how the liner Mamari was disguised to look like an aircraft carrier. © IWM (A 5915).
Battle of the Atlantic: In order to prevent more German surface raiders from emerging like the Bismarck, and also to crimp the U-boat offensive, the Royal Navy has made it a priority to hunt down the Kriegsmarine's overseas supply network of disguised oil tankers and freighters. The Germans have nine such supply ships cruising the Atlantic in support of the abortive German Operation Rheinübung. Today, cruisers HMS Aurora and Kenya spot 6367-ton German tanker Belchen about 80 miles southwest of Greenland. The cruisers badly damage the German ship, and the Belcher's crew scuttles it. U-boat U-93 (Kptlt. Claus Korth), which the Belcher was in the process of refueling, stays nearby and rescues about 50 men after the British leave.

U-48 (Kptlt. Herbert Schultze), on its 12th patrol out of Lorient, is operating in the mid-Atlantic west of Brest (650 miles north of the Azores). It is shadowing Convoy OB-327, which recently has dispersed. At 01:01, U-48 torpedoes and damages 9456-ton British tanker Inversuir. Schultze gets impatient and fires a second torpedo at 01:11, then surfaces and uses his deck gun. Some accounts claim that U-75 (Kptlt. Helmuth Ringelmann), also involved in attacks at the same location, actually sinks the Inversuir with a coup de grace torpedo at 03:59. The entire crew survives.

U-75, operating with U-48 in the mid-Atlantic east of Brest and on its second patrol out of Lorient near U-48, torpedoes and sinks 4801-ton Dutch freighter Eibergen. There are four deaths, and 35 survivors are picked up by anti-aircraft vessel HMS Cairo on the 7th.

SS Prince Rupert City 3 June 1941
SS Prince Rupert City, sunk on or about 3 June 1941 by the Luftwaffe.
The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 4749-ton British tramp steamer Prince Rupert City in the mid-Atlantic. Some sources place this sinking on 2 June. There are 4 deaths.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 2187-ton British freighter Royal Fusilier in the English Channel east of High Buston. The ship sinks about four miles from May Island. Everyone survives.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 1600-ton British freighter Dennis Rose about 50 miles southwest of Start Point. The Dennis Rose makes it to port.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages Royal Navy minesweeper Franklin as it is laying mines in the North Sea. The damage is not serious and Franklin continues with its mission.

Royal Navy decoy shop Fleet Tender C (formerly the Mamari aka liner Zealandic), disguised as aircraft carrier Hermes, hits a sunken wreck (tanker Ahamo, sunk by a mine on 8 April) southeast of Grimsby. It cannot get unstuck, and during the night, German S-boats attack. The Mamari is a write-off, but the entire crew survives. The half-sunken ship becomes a prominent "landmark" off the coast for years.

A Royal Navy stores ship, City of Dieppe, arrives in St. John's to join the fledgling Newfoundland Escort Force (NEF). The NEF's first convoy operation already is at sea, having sailed on 2 June, but there are very few support facilities in St. John's for the large and growing force. The British and Canadians are making plans to bring more ships and construct shore infrastructure to support the fleet.

Royal Navy battleship Rodney, fresh off the victory over the Bismarck, heads from the Clyde to Boston, the US to refit.

Submarine P.32, damaged on its journey by the Bay of Biscay by air attack, limps into Gibraltar.

Convoy WS 9A (Winston Special) departs from Liverpool en route to Freetown, Capetown, Durban, Aden, and Suez.

SS Inversuir 3 June 1941
The Inversuir, sunk today in the North Atlantic.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Parthian torpedoes and badly damages 5232-ton Italian tanker Strombo in Salamis Bay. The Strombo's master manages to beach the ship, but it is a write-off.

Royal Navy submarine Unique torpedoes 736-ton Italian freighter Arsia off Lampedusa. The Arsia manages to make it to Trapani, Sicily.

Royal Navy submarine Torbay uses its deck gun to sink a caique carrying oil drum off Mitylene.

Royal Navy motor torpedo boat MTB 215 sinks Turkish schooner Iki Kardeshler a few miles off Anamur, Turkey (north of Cyprus). This is a violation of Turkish neutrality, the Royal Navy explains this by arguing that it thought the ship was involved in covert operations ("false orders").

The Luftwaffe damages a Royal Navy service ship, the KLO, during an air raid on Mersa Matruh. The ship's master and one other man are killed (the other man, Lt. Pullman, dies of his wounds on 2 July).

A large Italian force that includes light cruisers Atttendolo, Duca D'Aosta, and Eugenio D'Savoia of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, and light cruisers Bande Nere and Di Guissano of the 4th cruiser squadron, lays two minefields northeast of Tripoli. This is an area where Royal Navy submarines like to lie in wait for Axis convoys coming and going from Tripoli.

An Italian convoy of six transport ships/freighters departs Naples bound for Tripoli.

On Malta, RAF Martin Maryland and Blenheim bombers of No. 89 and 139 Squadrons on patrol claim to attack a convoy off Tunisia and sink a freighter while setting fire to another. The sunk ships apparently are the Italian freighters Montello and Beatrice C.. The RAF loses a Blenheim during the patrol, hit by flying debris as the first ship hit explodes.

There is one minor bombing raid on Malta by the Luftwaffe which causes no damage, while the RAF claims a victory over an Italian tri-motor transport west of Malta.

Invasion fears are rampant in Malta. The British troops garrison Gozo, normally uninhabited, and practice fighting paratroopers. The War Office issues an alert to expect an invasion within a week by a force of 6000 Axis troops based on spy sources.

Kandanos sign 3 June 1941
A German sign at the site of Kandanos (one of two, with separate wording) which reads: “Kandanos was destroyed in retaliation for the savage ambush murder of a paratrooper platoon and a half-platoon of military engineers by armed men and women.” (Segers, German Federal Archive, Bild 101I-779-0003-22)
War Crimes: Following on atrocities committed at Kondomari and Alikianos, Crete on 2 June, the German 1III Battalion of the 1st Air Landing Assault Regiment (most probably led by Oberleutnant Horst Trebes) storms into the village of Kandanos. Acting pursuant to standing orders of temporary island commandant General Kurt Student, the Germans destroy the town. This is in retaliation for civilian resistance during Operation Mercury. The German troops execute most of the population, about 180 people, and kill the livestock.

The Germans declare Kandanos a "dead zone" which nobody can visit or inhabit. The Germans post two warnings in both German and Greek, one of which reads: "Here stood Kandanos, destroyed in retribution for the murder of 25 German soldiers, never to be rebuilt again." A war memorial using this exact language will be built after the war at the site of the village.

The Germans also attack the villages of Floria and Kakopetro.

Spy Stuff: German Ambassador Graf von Schulenburg is strongly opposed to Operation Barbarossa. He violates his duty by telling the head of Soviet International Affairs that Adolf Hitler had decided to begin a war with the Soviet Union on June 22. The Soviets treat this as proof that the Germans are engaging in a disinformation campaign and that there will not be any invasion.

German/Japanese Relations: Adolf Hitler meets with Japanese ambassador Hiroshi Ōshima at the Berghof. He informs Ōshima of the upcoming Operation Barbarossa. There are some hopes within the German high command that Japan will join Germany in attacking the Soviet Union.

USS Prometheus 3 June 1941
Repair ship USS Prometheus (AR-3) laid up at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, while being reconditioned for a return to active service after lying "in mothballs" since 1924, 3 June 1941 (Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives). 
German/Finnish Relations: Following up on preliminary negotiations during May, German members of the OKW arrive in Helsinki to discuss upcoming operations. Specifically, agreements are negotiated regarding Finnish use of its army and air force, both of which the Germans consider top quality. While the Germans are coy about the likelihood of Operation Barbarossa, it is hard to believe that the Finns can't figure out that the Germans intend to invade the Soviet Union, and soon. These meetings last until 6 June.

Tentative plans are formed for the Germans to occupy northern Finland and use that as a springboard to invade the Soviet Union in the far north and take the Soviet port of Murmansk. The Finns are not doing the Germans any favors - they want assistance to recover their historic territory lost during the Winter War.

German/Vichy France Relations: Premier Petain, supported by his Council of Ministers, refuse to ratify Vice Premier Admiral Darlan's recently negotiated Paris Protocols. However, they have gone into effect anyway.

HMS SUFFOLK 3 June 1941
"HMS SUFFOLK's Supermarine Walrus amphibian taxi-ing back to the ship after a flight over the Arctic ice. Ice can be seen in the background." June 1941 on Arctic patrol in the Denmark Strait. © IWM (A 4185).
US Military: Due to a shortage of pilots, the US Army has decided that it needs to train enlisted men as pilots. There have long been enlisted pilots in the Army (the Air Corps Act of 1926 authorized their training, but trained pilots have served beginning in 1912), but the educational requirements are stiff and few enlisted men can meet them to get trained. To meet that need, Public Law 99 goes into effect today. For the first time, it authorizes the US Army Air Corps (and its successors) to take men without a college education. With the introduction of Sergeant pilots, the average age of pilots goes down to between 18 and 22. Enlisted pilot candidates will train six days a week in class or in the air and spend Sundays doing drills.

British Government: A memorandum drafted by Clement Attlee which provides that "A necessary prelude to a just peace is a total victory" is approved at a Labour Party conference by 2,430,000 to 19,000.

China: The new Nakajima Ki-43 Type 1 Fighter ‘Hayabusa’ (Allied codename "Oscar") is allocated to the Japanese 59th Sentai at Hankou. The unit begins transferring them from Japan. The Ki-43, however, turns out to have wing problems that requires repair.

Camp Polk, Louisiana 3 June 1941
Aerial view of the construction progress of Camp Polk, Louisiana on 3 June 1941.

June 1941

June 1, 1941: Farhud Pogrom
June 2, 1941: Massacres on Crete
June 3, 1941: Kandanos Massacre
June 4, 1941: Kaiser Wilhelm Passes Away
June 5, 1941: Death in Chungking
June 6, 1941: Hitler's Commissar Order
June 7, 1941: Commandos Strike at Pessac
June 8, 1941: British Invade Syria and Lebanon
June 9, 1941: Litani River Battle
June 10, 1941: British Take Assab
June 11, 1941: Hitler Thinking Beyond Russia
June 12, 1941: St. James Agreement
June 13, 1941: Lützow Damaged
June 14, 1941: Latvian June Deportations
June 15, 1941: Operation Battleaxe
June 16, 1941: The Old Lion
June 17, 1941: British Spanked in North Africa
June 18, 1941: Turkey Turns Its Back
June 19, 1941: Cheerios Introduced
June 20, 1941: Birth of US Army Air Force
June 21, 1941: Damascus Falls
June 22, 1941: Germany Invades Russia
June 23, 1941: A Soviet KV Tank Causes Havoc
June 24, 1941: Kaunas and Vilnius Fall
June 25, 1941: Finland Declares War
June 26, 1941: Bombing of Kassa
June 27, 1941: Encirclement At Minsk
June 28, 1941: Minsk Falls
June 29, 1941: Brest Fortress Falls
June 30, 1941: Mölders Becomes Top Ace


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