Saturday, March 31, 2018

June 26, 1941: Bombing of Kassa


Thursday 26 June 1941

German troops assault a burning Soviet village 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German troops assault a burning Soviet village, 26 June 1941.

Eastern Front: Operation Barbarossa continues barrelling ahead on 26 June 1941. In the Army Group North sector, spearhead panzers reach Daugavpils and the Dvina River.

While Finland has declared war (the "Continuation War" of the "Winter War"), it is still preparing for its offensives towards Leningrad, the Svir River, and the Murmansk railway. The Germans in the far north of Finland - the German Army of Norway - also are preparing for operations toward Murmansk, but nothing major has begun yet.

However, the Soviet naval base at Hango in southern Finland is close at hand and a fairly easy target - if the Finns decide to mount a major effort. Hango, granted to the USSR under the armistice terms of the Winter War, is isolated both by land and by German control of the Baltic. However, the Soviet troops there are well-supplied and at this time they are determined to hold out.

In the Army Group North sector, the 1st Panzer Division and 36th Motorised Infantry Division of the XLI Panzer Corps and following infantry divisions slice through the rear of the Soviet mechanized corps and close an encirclement around Soviet 3rd Mechanised Corps (out of fuel) and the 2nd Tank Division.

Advance elements of LVI Panzer Corps (Brandenburg Division troops wearing Soviet uniforms) of General von Manstein's 4th Panzer Group seize two bridges at Daugavpils over the Dvina River, enabling the panzers to establish a bridgehead. This concludes the Battle of Raseiniai, a decisive German victory.

The Soviets are in the disarray, and the bridgehead is a major problem. General Kuznetsov is under orders (from Semyon Timoshenko) to defend the Dvina and begins to organize a counterattack to eliminate it using the 21st Mechanized Corps. However, this will take time to organize due to the chaotic state of supplies and troops behind Soviet lines. Adolf Hitler, however, is worried that the panzers are outrunning the infantry, so he orders a temporary halt to the advance.

Abandoned T-35 and T-26 Soviet tanks 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Abandoned T-35 and T-26 Soviet tanks in June 1941.

In the Army Group Center sector, the Soviet Western Front is in disarray after a failed counterattack toward Grodno on the 25th. The Soviets are withdrawing toward Slonim and Minsk. The German 2nd (Guderian) and 3rd (Hoth) Panzer Groups aim toward a meeting near Minsk that they hope will bag huge Soviet forces. These Soviet forces struggling to avoid encirclement include General Boldin, deputy commanding officer of Soviet Western Front.

Brest Fortress continues to hold out behind the German lines. It is an important fortress because it controls the crossings of the Bug River and the Warsaw-Moscow railway and highway. In the evening, the Germans managed to capture most of the northern Kobrin fortification except for an installation known as the East Fort. The Soviet defenders refuse to surrender, so the Germans decide to destroy it using the Luftwaffe.

In the Army Group South sector, the Battle of Brody continues. The Germans continue advancing, but the Soviets launch several flank attacks to try to stop them. While the Soviets have many powerful forces in the area, their counterattacks suffer from lack of coordination.

The 10th Tank Division has a savage day near Radekhiv, destroying 23 panzers at a cost of 13 KV and 12 BT-7 tanks. The 19th Mechanized Corps (Major General N.V. Feklenko) attacks from the north toward Dubno but comes up short. While there are heavy losses on both sides, these flank attacks do little to slow down the advancing panzers.

The most tactically significant battle of the day occurs when 8th Mechanized Corps attacks toward Brody–Berestechko. The 8th takes a column of the 11th Panzer Division advancing in a column by surprise and savages it. The Germans are reduced to using motorcycle troops of the 48th Panzer Corps against Soviet tanks. Soviet General Popel prepares to take advantage of this by preparing to it the rear of the 11th Panzer Division with his 300 tanks, but he is still assembling his forces when the day ends.

Melbourne, Australia The Sun 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Fierce Fighting on the Whole Front." Melbourne, Australia The Sun, 26 June 1941.

The Luftwaffe bombs Leningrad. This is one of the first raids, but Luftwaffe raids on Leningrad soon will become a daily occurrence. Hungarian Heinkel He 170s, flying as part of the I Long Range Reconnaissance Group, launch their first mission.

Near Daugavpils, Kommodore Werner Mölders downs two planes, a Soviet Pe-2 and an I-16. This raises his total number of victories to 77. Werner Mölders continues to be the leading air ace of the war at this time, with most of his victories against the RAF.

While flying a Fiesler Storch observation/transport plane, Hauptmann Lothar Keller of II./JG 3, a 20-victory Experten (ace), perishes. He is replaced as Gruppenkommandeur by Hauptmann Gordon Gollob.

The Red Air Force bombs Bucharest. Also, in a very controversial incident, two or three unidentified bombers bomb the Hungarian border town of Kassa (Kosice) and strafe a passenger train. The bombing of Kassa kills 20 and injures 41 (this previously was a part of Czechoslovakia), while 37 on the train also perish. In addition, there are hundreds of injured. The Hungarians assume that it is the Red Air Force, but it is just as likely that they are errant Luftwaffe bombers. Another theory is that it is a deliberate German false-flag operation, in which Luftwaffe pilots use captured Soviet planes to stage an "incident" that will provoke Hungary into declaring war on the USSR (which Hungary does on the 27th, using the Kassa bombing as a reason).

Bren gun carriers 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Bren gun carriers manned by Indian troops outside Damascus, 26 June 1941. Note the wrecked Vichy French FT17 tank on the right, left by the retreating enemy." © IWM (E 3839). 

Syrian/Lebanon Campaign: With the British in possession of Damascus, the Vichy French troops are consolidating their defenses around Beirut. The most consequential action occurs in the air, where a strafing run on Homs airfield by Tomahawks of 3 Squadron RAAF destroy five new Dewoitine D.520s of Fighter Squadron II/3 (Groupe de Chasse II/3) and cause damage to six others.

Lieutenant-General Lavarack, commanding operations in Syria and Lebanon, orders Major-General Allen of the 7th Australian Division to focus on the advance along the coast. The Vichy French are far from beaten, and their artillery maintains a fierce barrage. For the time being, a lull develops in ground operations as the Australian commanders ponder their next move.

The Royal Navy bombards Vichy French positions at Abey.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command raids Cologne (51 bombers), Dusseldorf (44), and Kiel (41). During the day, RAF Fighter Command sends a Circus mission to the power station at Comines. However, thick haze forces the mission to abort.

During the Circus mission, RAF pilot James "Johnnie" Johnson gets a victory, downing a Bf-109.

Circassian Cavalry 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Colonel Philibert Collet's Circassian Cavalry outside the railway station at Damascus, 26 June 1941.

Battle of the Baltic: The Soviets complete the withdrawal their fleet from their bases at Liepāja, Ventspils, and Rīga. They have had to scuttle numerous ships (such as submarine M-83 scuttled at Liepaja today) that they are unable to move.

U-149 (Kptlt. Horst Höltring), a training boat of the 1st U-boat Flotilla based at Gdynia/Gotenhafen on its only patrol of the war, sinks 206-ton Soviet submarine M-99 (some sources say M-101 on 27 June) northwest of Dago Island.

Soviet submarine M-72 hits a mine and is damaged off Kronstadt. It makes it to port. The identities of all these ships - M-99, M-101, M-72 - is unclear from the sources.

Soviet warships lay mines in the Baltic and are attacked by German forces doing the same. A German S-boat torpedoes Soviet destroyer Storozhevoi in the Irben Strait. The destroyer makes it back to Leningrad. The S-boats, however, do sink Estonian freighter Lidaza.

Finnish vessels Vesihiisi and Iku-Turso lay mines off the Estonian coast.

U-576 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
U-576, a type VIIC boat.

Battle of the Atlantic: The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 275-ton Royal Navy minesweeping trawler HMS Tranio in the Thames Estuary near No. 57 Buoy (Smith's Knoll). The ship is in tow at the time. There are no casualties.

Convoy OB-339 departs from Liverpool bound for Halifax, Convoy HX-135 departs from Halifax bound for Liverpool.

Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Euryalus is commissioned, corvette Sweetbriar and minesweeping trawler Eday are launched and minesweeper Horsham is laid down.

Canadian corvette HMCS Prescott (Lt. Henry A. Russell) is commissioned, while corvette Timmins is launched at Esquimalt BC and minesweepers Parrsborough and Rockhampton are launched.

Dutch destroyer HNLMS Evertsen (previously HMS Scourge) is laid down.

U-453 (Kapitänleutnant Gert Hetschko) and U-576 (Kapitänleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinicke) are commissioned, U-583 and U-584 are launched, and U-304 is laid down.

Bf.109E-7 if JG 26 on 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Rearming a Messerschmitt Bf.109E-7 of 7./JG 26. June 1941, North Africa. Note the "Schlageter" unit marking.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The situation on land is fairly quiet. The RAF raids Gazala.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Severn torpedoes and sinks 1292-ton Italian freighter Polinnia southeast of Ischia (south of Naples).

Royal Navy submarine HMS Utmost torpedoes and sinks 4080-ton Italian freighter Enrico Costa four miles off Cape Todaro (northern Sicily).

Force H of the Royal Navy, based at Gibraltar, begins another mission to supply aircraft to Malta. This is Operation Railway, and the aircraft are on aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal.

British troopship HMT Nieuw Amsterdam departs Suez bound for Durban. It carries the King of Greece and the royal family, other members of the Greek government, 1000 prisoners of war and their 75 guards, and 151 passengers.

Since the eastern Mediterranean has quieted down, battleships Queen Elizabeth, Valiant, Warspite and numerous supporting vessels depart Alexandria for gunnery practice.

At Malta, there is a continuous bombing by the Italians over a five-hour period. The raid starts around 22:00 and lasts until around 03:00 the next morning. The residents of Malta consider these "nuisance" raids because they seem less intended to cause damage than to keep people awake by simply circling around Valletta.

HMS GORDON 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Passing out parade of newly trained merchant seamen. The Captain of HMS GORDON gives a parting address to the passing out draft." © IWM (A 4467).

Battle of the Indian Ocean: German raider Kormoran has a big day in the Bay of Bengal. First, it spots a darkened freighter that does not respond to a warning shot. Kormoran then opens fire and sinks 4153-ton Yugoslavian freighter Velebit. There are 17 survivors (two eventually succumb to their injuries), while 14 men perish. The Velebit actually doesn't sink right away, and 8 sailors who stay on it manage to keep the pumps working long enough for it to drift to a grounding on a nearby reef.

Kormoran then spots another ship. This one also ignores a warning shot, so Kormoran uses gunfire to sink 3472-ton Australian freighter Mareeba midway between Sri Lanka and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are 26 deaths and the 25 survivors become prisoners of war (some sources say there the entire crew is saved, and it only numbers 48 people - ship records can be very sketchy at times). The Mareeba has enough time to get off a distress call, but nothing comes of it.

Australian freighter Mareeba 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Australian freighter Mareeba, sunk on 26 June 1941 by German raider Kormoran.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet cruiser Voroshilov and accompanying destroyers bombard Constanta, which is being attacked by both sea and air. The Soviets blow up a Romanian ammunition train. However, they are chased off by the Royal Romanian Navy's coastal fortifications (Gruparea de artilerie de coasta Constanta, comprised of six batteries ranging in size from 150mm and 120mm down to 75mm) and Romanian destroyers Regina Maria and Marasti. German 28cm coastal battery "Tirpitz" aids in the defense.

Soviet destroyer Moskva is hit and sinks during the engagement, although which battery hit it and the effect of hitting a mine while withdrawing to Sevastopol has been debated ever since. Destroyer Kharkov is damaged by a near miss when the Luftwaffe attacks, but makes it back to Sevastopol. Cruiser Voroshilov also hits a mine but also makes it back to port.

An action takes place in the early morning hours on the Chilia branch of the Danube Delta, near the commune of Ceatalchioi which is known simply as the Action of 26 June 1941. Two Romanian pocket torpedo gunboats, V-1 and V-3 of the Romanian Danube Flotilla, take on three Soviet armored motor gunboats, which are there to lay mines. The Romanian commander of V-3 spots the Soviets and opens fire with his 47 mm gun. The middle of the three Soviet boats explodes, and the other two quickly retreat. One of the remaining Soviet boats hits a rock and is disabled, allowing the Romanians to capture it. This Soviet ship was repaired and commissioned in the Romanian Navy as V-7.

Romanian CNLB-class riverboat 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Romanian CNLB-class riverboat of the type involved in the Action of 26 June 1941.

War Crimes: The Soviet NKVD takes a large but unknown number of prisoners from jails in Minsk to the Tsagelnya Forest and executes them. This is a well-known site, and after the conclusion of World War II a memorial will be erected with events held there every year.

Soviet/Finnish Relations: Soviet troops in Moscow seal the Finnish Embassy and disarm its guards. The Finnish staff is told to pack two suitcases immediately and then is taken into custody.

Anglo/Yugoslav Relations: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meets with the prime minister of the Yugoslavian government-in-exile.

RAF Scorton airfield 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Aerial photograph of Scorton airfield looking northwest, Scorton village is bottom right, 26 June 1941. Photograph from sortie number RAF/4F/UK653. English Heritage (RAF Photography).

Soviet Military: General Zhukov returns from an inspection tour of the front and meets with Premier Joseph Stalin and Generals Vatutine and Timoshenko. Stalin remains hidden from public view but retains control of the military via his place of preeminence on the Stavka.

Stalin is an unhappy man because of the military situation. In fact, he is so angry that he visits the General Staff headquarters twice during the day to vent. As usual, when he is unhappy, Stalin vents his wrath on subordinates. Today he recalls General Meretskov from Leningrad and arrests him. Meretskov is in for torture, during which he implicates other generals in a supposed anti-Stalin plot.

General Ivan Konev takes command of Soviet 19th Army.

Spanish Military: Spain lives up to its commitment to provide troops to aid Operation Barbarossa by beginning to form its "Blue Division."

Italian Military: Leader Benito Mussolini announces plans to send an Italian expeditionary force to the Eastern Front.

Japanese Military: The Japanese Imperial Navy launches aircraft carrier Junyo. The Junyo is converted from a passenger liner.

US Military: Task Force 18 of the Atlantic Fleet forms out of the mixed Marine-Army I Corps (Provisional).

HMS Liverpool 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
HMS Liverpool. "In dry dock at the Mare Island Navy Yard, 26 June 1941, for repair of damage received in the Mediterranean Sea the previous October. The false bow had been fitted at Alexandria, Egypt, shortly after the cruiser was torpedoed." Naval History and Heriage Command NH 60379.

German Government: Adolf Hitler is in Rastenburg, East Prussia at his brand new Wolf's Lair headquarters. It is in a pine forest full of marshes and stagnant lakes that is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. On the plus side, the complex has a railway line that has been closed to through traffic but can be used when considered appropriate. Hitler is receiving constant reports from the front, but with everything going well has little to do.

However, Hitler takes care of some lingering business by issuing a "secret decree" that names his successor as Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering.

Norwegian Government: An advisor to Vidkun Quisling writes a letter to the leader suggesting that Slavic peoples should be removed from northern Russia because they "don't know how to make use of the land." The land, he writes, could be better used by Germanic peoples" (which he apparently believes includes Norwegians).

Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance photo of the Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance photo of the Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad, showing a Sovietsky Soyuz-class battleship and a Chapayev-class cruiser under construction. 26 June 1941.

Andaman Islands: A powerful earthquake hits the largely uninhabited Andaman Islands.

Holocaust: At Jassy (Iasi), Romania, Romanian and German soldiers go from house to house in order to kill Jews. Some Jews are spared for the moment but put in cattle wagons in order to be taken to another location for eventual execution. The number of people executed is unknown, but could be as high as 12,000.

Italian Homefront: Artist Ettore Tito, famous for painting scenes of Venice, passes away in Venice at the age of 81.

German Homefront: The government cuts the meat ration to 14 ounces per week, but raises the artificial honey ration.

American Homefront: New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio goes hitless until the last out of the eighth inning in a game the Yankees are winning 3-1 in New York. However, when making an out virtually would ensure that his hitting streak ends, DiMaggio hits a double over third base and drives in a run. This extends DiMaggio's club-record hitting streak to 38 games.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer releases "Blossoms in the Dust" starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, which premieres at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, it is a biopic pic about an advocate for the rights of illegitimate children, Edna Gladney.

Soviet destroyer Moskva 26 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet destroyer Moskva, sunk off the Romanian coast on 26 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


2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

June 25, 1941: Finland Declares War


Wednesday 25 June 1941

German pilots in Malmi, Helsinki 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German pilots in Malmi, Helsinki on 25 June, 1941.

Eastern Front: The biggest news of 25 June 1941 includes Finland declaring war on the USSR and the Germans taking Dubno and Lutsk in Army Group South's sector and Baranovichi in the Army Group North sector.

Early in the morning, the Red Air Force bombs Helsinki, five other Finnish towns and 19 airfields in Finland. It is a massive Soviet effort which includes 460 planes. The Soviets lose 23 planes. In addition, the Soviets shell the Finnish positions on the island of Morgonland and other Baltic islands. The Soviets claim the air strikes are aimed at German targets.

These Soviet attacks are not accidents. Moscow radio broadcasts a threatening statement:
The Finnish militarists have flagrantly violated the Soviet-Finnish peace treaty. The rulers of Finland have begun military operations against our country . . . The Soviet Union has fulfilled the peace treaty conscientiously. But the rulers of Finland, under orders from Hitler, have plunged the long-suffering Finnish people into a war against the Soviet Union. Scoring the most elementary of international laws and the vital interests of their own people, the Finnish warmongers have again launched a campaign against the Soviet Union. . . . The ignoble rulers of Finland have not learned any lesson from the campaign of the winter of 1939 and 1940. They are asking for another, a final, lesson, and that lesson the Finnish perpetrators of fascism will get.
The Soviet statement is partly correct and partly false. While Finland has laid mines in the Baltic and allowed German troops to operate from its soil against the Soviet Union, Finland has not fired a shot against the Soviet Union since the Winter War. It has complied with the treaty that ended that war aside from the actions of its partner, Germany. So, both sides have an argument about who is in the wrong.

Most observers likely would agree, though, that allowing an enemy to freely use your territory to attack them (as Finland has done) is an act of war. So, the Soviets would have had the better case to declare war on Finland than vice versa - if they had done so, that is, and not simply attacked. Very few hands are completely clean on the Eastern Front.

Finland immediately declares war on the Soviet Union. In fact, everyone "knows" that the Finns are German allies and preparing an attack of their own anyway. The Soviet air attacks, however, give the Finns a pretext for declaring war at once.

Finland has multiple military objectives, but the government fundamentally only has one goal: to recover territory lost during the Winter War. Finnish troops head toward Leningrad, the Svir River, and the Murmansk railway. This is known as the "Continuation War." While Finland is a "co-belligerent" of Germany, it is waging a completely separate campaign. While it coordinates operations with OKW, it does not take orders from Berlin and often disregards the German military's wishes.

The Finns do not attack at once upon the government's declaration of war, preferring to bide their time and pick a time and place that works with ally Germany. Instead, Finland's military continues mobilizing its forces and planning its axes of advance. The Soviets are too hard-pressed further south and actually withdraw forces from the border region with Finland around this time.

Operation Barbarossa continues moving eastward toward Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. All of these operations are lumped together by the Russians as the "border defensive battles," which isn't particularly descriptive (understandable, since they don't go well for the Soviets). So, just for clarity and consistency, I use the names western sources have applied to events on the eastern front.

In the far North of Finland, the Soviets reinforce their defenses around Murmansk. With both England and the USA promising aid, the northern seaports have become vital elements of Soviet strategy and must be defended. The Germans are more interested in securing the nickel mines and plant along the border than attacking Murmansk at this time.

Panzer 38(t) tanks of Panzer Regiment 25, 7th Panzer Division 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Panzer 38(t) tanks of Panzer Regiment 25, 7th Panzer Division, Vilnius, Eastern Front, June 1941.

Army Group North under Field Marshal Ritter von Leeb is led forward by General Eric Hoepner's 4th Panzer Group. Following behind it are 16th and 18th Armies. In total, Army Group North controls 20 infantry, three panzer, and three motorized infantry divisions. Overhead, support is provided by Luftflotte 1 (the First Air Fleet). Kaunas and Vilnius have fallen, and the Soviets are retreating everywhere.

At the Battle of Raseiniai, which began on 23 June, the Germans of the 6th Panzer Division first encountered Soviet KV heavy tanks. One slipped through the German lines and proved impervious to the German anti-tank weapons. It has remained in place behind the lines, withstanding a pounding by 50-mm anti-tank guns and panzers in the vicinity. Early today, after almost two days, the Germans finally manage to knock the KV out by bringing an 88 mm Flak gun through nearby woods and blasting the KV multiple times from the rear. The crew, incredibly, survives all this and only is killed by a pioneer engineer who climbs on the tank and pushes grenades through the holes made by the Flak gun.

As the day ends, Soviet 8th Army is falling back to the Jonava about 48 km (30 miles) northeast of Kaunas, while Soviet 11th Army is retreating toward the Desna. Marshal Semyon Timoshenko of the Stavka orders Front Commander Colonel General Vasily Kuznetsov to form a defensive line along the Western Dvina. Timoshenko releases the 21st Mechanized Corps (Major-General Dmitry Lelyushenko) with 98 tanks and 129 guns, from the Moscow Military District to help form this line.

The bridges at Dvinsk 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The bridges at Dvinsk, 25 June 1941.

After a successful surprise attack by elements of 6th Panzer Division that captures two key bridges at Dvinsk during the early morning hours, the 8th Panzer Division captures Dvinsk. The bridges are wired for demolition, but the attack is so quick that the Soviets don't have time to blow them. The division then continues its northeastward advance toward Leningrad.

In Army Group Center, the Soviets launched a counterattack on the 24th toward Grodno. The attack, however, missed the leading German tanks of the 3rd Panzer Group, which already had driven further east to Vilnius. Today, the Soviet counterattack is crushed and the commander of Soviet 6th Cavalry Corps is taken captive. General Pavlov, in charge of Western Front, orders a general withdrawal to Slonim in order to block the way to Minsk. The Soviet 13th Army evacuates Maladzyechna, northwest of Minsk.

The Wehrmacht in the central sector has its eyes on larger strategy than simply brushing off the Soviet counterattacks. General Hoth and General Guderian aim their panzer groups for a large-scale pincer move around the Soviet forces to the vicinity of Baranovichi.

In Army Group South, the Battle of Brody continues. This is a major tank battle, and along the front Soviet tanks outnumber the panzers 3229-728. However, in the most effective classes of tanks, the Germans have 355 with main guns of 50 mm or larger, while the Soviets only have 443 T-34s and KVs. So, while there is a great disparity in raw numbers, in fact, the destructive power of the respective forces is much more balanced from the raw numbers.

While it characterized as one continuous battle, the Battle of Brody actually is a series of disjointed Soviet tank charges against the advancing Wehrmacht. All these attacks do is grind down the Soviets' starting numerical advantage.

On the 24th, the Soviet 22nd Mechanized Corps attacks toward Voinitsa, Ukraine. It is making little progress and losing large numbers of tanks. The Soviets today move large numbers of tanks on a 500-km drive to the northwest of Brody, and, as the commander of the 8th Mechanized Corps, Ryabyshev, later writes, half of the tanks break down and the ones that make it are worn out. Some Soviet formations, such as the 15th Mechanized Corps, drive around following orders that are out of date and never even see the Germans.

German troops in Kaunas 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German troops in Kaunas, 25 June 1941 (Barschdorff, Federal Archive, Bild 146-1984-102-25A).

Syrian/Lebanon Campaign: The Australian 25th Brigade at Jezzine has no success in its attempts to advance north through the mountains. The Australian commander falls ill and is replaced by Brigadier Plant, who favors using artillery and air power to wear out the defending Vichy French defenders rather than continue futile ground attacks.

Royal Navy submarine  HMS Parthian at 12:12 torpedoes and sinks French submarine Souffleur off the Syrian coast.

German pioneer troops 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German pioneer troops crossing a river in Russia, the morning of 25 June 1941 (Federal Archive Bild 146-1974-170-27).

European Air Operations: During the day, the RAF sends Circus missions over France. In the first, RAF Bomber Command sends a force of Blenheim bombers under heavy fighter escort to northern France to attack the Hazebrouck marshaling yards. They cause widespread damage as an ammunition train explodes which includes the destruction of a bridge.

The other mission is to St. Omer, where the Luftwaffe has an important airfield. The elite German JG 26 fighter squadron is based at St. Omer, and they do not take kindly to being attacked. The Germans shoot down five Spitfires during the raid on Hazebrouck and lose at least two during the St. Omer raid. RAF ace Douglas Bader files claims for the two Luftwaffe planes, while Oblt. "Pip" Priller of I,/JG 26 claims a Spitfire over Gravelines.

RAF Bomber Command also attacks Bremen (64 bombers) and Kiel (47 bombers).

During the day, three Luftwaffe bombers are lost during an attack on Newcastle. It is unknown what happened to them.

The Luftwaffe sends some bombers to attack Southampton and the surrounding area. The Germans drop many parachute mines, each of which can destroy a row of houses. For the week ending at dawn on the 25th, the government reports that there were 39 killed and 116 seriously wounded, with no casualties in London.

New York Times 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
New York Times, 25 June 1941.

East African Campaign: General Wavell, still the Middle East Commander until Claude Auchinleck arrives from India, joins US observer Averell Harriman on an inspection tour of East Africa.

Battle of the Baltic: The Germans seize 1181-ton Estonian freighter Estonia in an Estonian port.

The Soviets sends cruiser Voroshilov from Sevastopol accompanied by destroyers to bombard Constanza.

Finnish Lotta Svärd 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A woman of the Finnish Lotta Svärd preparing for war, 1941.

Battle of the Atlantic: The attacks on Convoy HX-133 continue south of Iceland. About ten U-boats are involved.

U-77 (Kptlt. Heinrich Schonder), on its first patrol out of Kiel and operating south of Cape Farewell, torpedoes and sinks 4603-ton Greek freighter Anna Bulgaris. Everyone perishes.

U-108 (Kptlt. Klaus Scholtz), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks two ships:

  • 3059-ton Greek freighter Ellinico
  • 4362-ton Greek freighter Nicholas Pateras

The entire crew of the Nicholas Pateras is lost (it is a straggler from Convoy OB-336), while everybody on Ellinico also perishes. That is the luck of the draw in the Battle of the Atlantic.

U-75 (Kptlt. Helmuth Ringelmann), on its second patrol out of Saint-Nazaire and south of Cape Farewell, torpedoes and sinks 1967-ton Dutch freighter Schie of Convoy OB-336. This sinking sometimes is listed as occurring on the 24th. Little is known about this incident, as there are no survivors (29 dead) and Ringelmaan cannot clearly identify the ship. It is simply assumed that U-75's victim is the Schie.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 2154-ton British freighter Dashwood east of Cromer. Everyone survives.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 176-ton British trawler Isle of Wight off Scarborough.

The Luftwaffe lightly damages Royal Navy destroyer Liddesdale in the North Sea. The ship remains in service.

Royal Navy minelayers Agamemnon and Menesheus lay minefield SN.70B off of Iceland. They have a heavy escort. It is a cloudy day, and destroyer Brighton runs into light cruiser Kenya on the starboard side. Both ships require repairs, and the Brighton loses its entire bow on the way under tow to the Clyde.

Minelayer Teviotbank lays minefield BS.65 in the North Sea.

The US Navy sends a squadron led by light cruisers Philadelphia and Savannah from Hampton Roads, Virginia on a neutrality patrol.

Canadian corvette HMCS Lethbridge (Lt. William Mahan) is commissioned, corvette Midland and minesweeper Medicine Hat are launched (in Midland, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec, respectively).

U-403 is commissioned.

Italian transport Neptunia 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Italian transport Neptunia.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The RAF attacks Gazala and the Italian positions at Debra Tabor.

An Italian troopship convoy sets off from Naples bound for Tripoli. It is composed of transports Esperia, Marco Polo, Neptunia, and Oceania. Escorts include four destroyers (Aviere, Da Noli, Geniere, and Gioberti). British aircraft based on Malta attack the convoy. The British cause some light damage to transport Esperia but lose a Swordfish of RAF No. 830 when it crashes into the side of the Esperia.

During an air battle near Malta, Hurricane fighter pilots claim three Machhi 200 fighters shot down and an Italian bomber badly damaged. There are a couple of bombing raids on Malta that cause damage at Zeitun, Zabbar, and Safi.

German converted minelayer Adjutant 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German converted minelayer Adjutant.

Battle of the Pacific: Captured Norwegian whaler Adjutant, sailing with a German prize crew, lays mines five kilometers off Lyttelton and Wellington (10 mines each), New Zealand. Nobody learns about this for many years.

POWs: French Lieutenant E. Boulé tries to escape from Colditz Castle POW Camp by dressing as a German woman. However, he drops his watch as he is walking away from the castle, and a German guard who goes to return it to "her" recognizes him.

Missionaries leaving Salt Lake Missionary Home 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Missionaries leaving Salt Lake Missionary Home, 25 June 1941.

Anglo/Soviet Relations: The British send General Mason-MacFarlane by air for Moscow to head a military mission. This is a hazardous route that includes crossing occupied Norway and Finland. General Brian Horrocks replaces him in command of 44th Infantry Division.

German/Swedish Relations: With troops needed in Finland and no longer in Narvik, the Wehrmacht needs to move troops by train through neutral Sweden with the Swedish government's permission. This is the only quick route from northern Norway to the Baltic and a critical line - maintaining use of it is a top priority for the Wehrmacht in Scandinavia. The Swedish government (Riksdag) now permits the Wehrmacht to send one division at a time along the railway. The German 163rd Infantry Division (often called the Engelbrecht Division after its commander) begins to move its 15,000 troops, equipment, and supplies.

Wehrmacht soldier in Finland 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Wehrmacht soldier allows two Finnish children to "ride" his motorcycle, June 1941.

Japanese/Vichy French Relations: The Japanese desire military bases in southern Indochina and decide to use force if necessary to get them. The high command also sets 10 August as the deadline for a decision to attack the Soviet Union in conjunction with Operation Barbarossa. There are no plans to attack the USSR and no forces have been allocated for that purpose, but the Japanese do have a large military presence in China and Manchukuo which could be sent on an invasion.

German Military: Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler and his adjutant, Joachim Peiper, embark on his headquarters train "Heinrich" for an inspection tour of the eastern front. Hitler's new headquarters in Rastenburg, the Wolf's Lair, conveniently is situated on a (closed) railway line, making visits to and from there by train very convenient for German leaders and foreign dignitaries.

US Government: President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802. This prohibits racial discrimination in the national defense industry. Roosevelt also creates the Fair Employment Practice Committee to implement the Executive Order. Along with some previous defense-related bills, these are key steps in the Civil Rights movement.

Members of the Lithuanian Militia Leading Jews to the Seventh Fort in Kovno, Lithuania 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
25 June 1941, Members of the Lithuanian Militia Leading Jews to the Seventh Fort in Kovno, Lithuania (Yad Vashem Photo Archives 2725/17).

Holocaust: In Kaunas, political prisoners who have been released by the general uprising learn that Soviet security officers (some of whom reputedly are Jewish) are being held in the Lietukis car garage. They recognize some of their former captors. In a scene that will be repeated many times during World War II, the released prisoners kill the captive Soviets with blunt instruments.

More generally, local citizens engage in a rampage against Jews. This is known as the Kaunas pogrom. It is a sensitive topic, obviously, and there has been debate as to how much the recently arrived local German troops incite the locals to engage in anti-Semitic horror and how much is simply score-settling by locals (something that is quite common during World War II).

In any event, the pogrom lasts for five days. Jews are taken by locals to The Seventh Fort (or VII Fort, which is a defensive fortification built in Žaliakalnis district of Kaunas), one of many ad hoc prisons outside the city, and imprisoned before their eventual fates. It is estimated that 10,000 Jews are beaten and then shot there by the end of July.

Anti-semitic activities also take place elsewhere in Lithuania. The events in Kaunas, however, are etched deeply into the memory of Lithuania.

Dr. Seuss - Hitler Taxidermist 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Dr. Seuss - Hitler Taxidermist, published by PM Magazine on June 25, 1941, Dr. Seuss Collection, MSS 230.

American Homefront: New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio gets a home run against St. Louis Browns pitcher Denny Galehouse in New York. This extends DiMaggio's club-record hitting streak to 37 games.

Isolationist Senator Robert Taft of Ohio gives a radio speech in which he argues that the United States now is safer because of Germany's attack on Russia:
The Russian war certainly postpones for many months any attack which Hitler could possibly make; and makes even more certain a defense of the United States sufficient to discourage any military or naval attack.
Rather than declare war on anybody, Taft says that it would be wiser to avoid foreign wars and simply help England fight its war:
This country can be united on a policy of no intervention in Europe and aid to Britain. We can make that aid infinitely more effective if we abandon the role of world benefactor; if we leave Balkan politics alone; if we avoid a Communist alliance; if we adhere to the simple policy of aiding Britain.
He concludes, "The Russian war has weakened every argument for intervention." Roosevelt already, on the 24th, has promised aid to Russia to fight Germany.


President Roosevelt's "Fair Employment Practice in Defense Industries" Executive Order 25 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
President Roosevelt's "Fair Employment Practice in Defense Industries" Executive Order of 25 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

2018

June 24, 1941: Kaunas and Vilnius Fall


Tuesday 24 June 1941

Staff Sergeant Eero Kinnunen and his Brewster 239 fighter 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Staff Sergeant Eero Kinnunen and his Brewster 239 fighter (BW-352) of Squadron Lentolaivue/24 at Selänpää airfield, Kouvola, Finland. 24 June 1941 (colorized).

Eastern Front: Operation Barbarossa continues rolling eastward and northward on 24 June 1941. The day features various futile Soviet counterattacks that show convincingly that the Soviets do not even know where the advancing Germans are from one hour to the next. The Germans enter Kaunas (10th Army) and Vilnius (Panzer Group 3).

Army Group North beats off a powerful Soviet counterattack against 4th Panzer Group at the Battle of Raseiniai. Soviet Lieutenant-General Vasily Ivanovich Morozov takes his 11th Army back to Kaunas on the Niemen. The Soviet 8th Army also is taking a beating.

In Army Group Center, Soviet General Dmitry Pavlov orders his 6th and 11th Mechanized Corps and the 6th Cavalry Corps to attack toward Grodno to stop the panzers. The German 4th Army besieges Soviet defenders at Brest-Litovsk.

The German 3rd Panzer Group, however, already has passed through Grodno and is in Vilnius. Instead, the Soviets hit the following German infantry of V Army Corps of the German 9th Army, supported by Luftwaffe air attacks. This accomplishes nothing.

Children in a bomb shelter, Minsk, Byelorussia 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Children in a bomb shelter, Minsk, Byelorussia, 24 Jun 1941 (Russian International News Agency).

Army Grup South, led by 11th and 16th Panzer Divisions, begins the day 40 miles inside of Soviet territory. The 13th and 14th Panzer Divisions has reached the Styr River. German 17th Army takes Nemirov.

The Soviets under General Ivan Bagramyan attempt a counterattack at 04:00 today as part of the Battle of Brody but make no progress. The Soviet 22nd Mechanized Corps attacks toward Voinitsa, but the Germans make quick work of their tanks. Soviet armor and infantry are widely separated and it takes time to assemble them into a cohesive fighting force. The Soviets have powerful forces in the vicinity, but almost all are in the process of forming up today and make no attacks.

The Red Air Force attempts a raid against East Prussia. It accomplishes little. According to the German News Bureau:
An attempt by the Soviet air force on Tuesday morning to fly weak forces into East Prussia, has been frustrated by the German air defense. The enemy aircraft encountered such accurate flak fire that they were forced to turn around at once and to jettison their bombs over open country.
The Luftwaffe continues its own raids on Soviet airfields, destroying many planes on the ground. A large fraction of Soviet planes are obsolete, so their destruction is fairly routine for the experienced German pilots. The Luftwaffe bombs Moscow with 100 bombers after dark.

NY Times 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
NY Times, 24 June 1941.

Syrian/Lebanon Campaign: The Australian 25th Infantry Brigade recaptures Merdjayoun early today.

The Australian 2/14 Battalion tries to advance north from Jezzine. They are stopped cold in the hills north of town by Senegalese defenders who have excellent defensive positions.

The Vichy French make a stand at Jebel Mazar, a tall hill on the Damascus/Beirut road. They stop the British 16th Brigade advancing west from Damascus.

The Vichy French garrison at Palmyra continues its successful defense of the town and airfield. Arab auxiliaries, led by Arab Nationalist leader Fawzi el Kawakji, ambush a British supply convoy in conjunction with French armored cars.

New Zealand light cruiser HMNZS Leander and destroyers Hasty and Jaguar park off the coast north of Beirut and shell Vichy French positions before dawn.

German SdKfz 222 armored car 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"British soldiers inspecting a captured German SdKfz 222 armored car, 24 June 1941." (© IWM (E 3776)).

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command raids Cologne (54 aircraft), Kiel (48 bombers), Dusseldorf (21 aircraft).

RAF Bomber Command sends Circus missions to the Thermal Power-Station at Comines. The formation is a success, with 7.5 tons of bombs dropped and the RAF claiming 9 kills, 7 probable kills and 5 damaged aircraft for the loss of two planes and pilots.

Battle of the Baltic: The Soviets scuttle more ships to avoid capture by the advancing Germans, all at Liepāja, Latvia:
  • destroyer Lenin;
  • submarine M-71
  • submarine M-80
  • submarine Ronis
  • submarine S-1
  • submarine Spidola
  • torpedo boat TKA-27
  • auxiliary gunboat Tunguska
  • icebreaker Silach.
Events in the Baltic States ports are confused, with the Soviets hurriedly evacuating and partisans hot on their heels, so the exact dates when these scuttlings take place is uncertain.

Destroyed/abandoned Soviet tanks in western Ukraine 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Destroyed/abandoned Soviet tanks in western Ukraine, 24 June 1941.

Battle of the Atlantic: A U-boat wolfpack begins attacking Convoy HX-133. It is passing Convoy OB-336 south of Greenland, which provides numerous targets within a small sector of the Atlantic. There are several stragglers from the convoy, which makes for easy targets. The action is confused, and who sunk which ships sometimes is not definite but is based on detailed analysis and guesswork.

U-203 (Kptlt. Rolf Mützelburg), on its first patrol out of Kiel, torpedoes and sinks 4956-ton British freighter Kinross of Convoy OB-336. Everyone survives. This is sometimes listed as happening on the 25th.

U-203 also torpedoes and sinks 4402-ton Norwegian freighter Solay of HX-133. All 32 aboard survive.

U-371 (Kptlt. Heinrich Driver), on its first patrol out of Kiel, torpedoes and sinks 4765-ton Norwegian freighter Vigrid. The Vigrid is a straggler from Convoy HX-133. There are 24 deaths, and 14 survivors (some sources say 21 survivors and 28 deaths) have to wait until 7 July before US destroyer Charles F. Hughes finds them.

U-651 (Kptlt. Peter Lohmeyer), on its first patrol out of Kiel, torpedoes and sinks 5297-ton British freighter Brockley Hill. The Brockley Hill is a straggler from Convoy HX-133. Everyone survives.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 803-ton British freighter Levenwood off Tees Bay. The Levenwood is taken in tow and makes it to Hartlepool.

Convoy OG-66 departs from Liverpool bound for Gibraltar, Convoy HG-66 departs from Gibraltar bound for Liverpool.

US minesweeper USS Sheldrake is laid down.

Nemirow 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Someone having a bad day, Nemirow, 24-25 June 1941.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The British forces at Alexandria have been conducting nightly supply missions to the embattled Australian garrison at Tobruk without too much trouble. Tonight, however, the Luftwaffe (Junkers Ju 87 aircraft of II Staffeln, Sturzkampfgeschwader 2, Luftwaffe) is waiting for the "Tobruk Express" about 20 miles (37 km) northeast of Tobruk. During incessant attacks, they:

  • The Luftwaffe bombs and badly damages tanker Pass of Balmaha, which its crew abandons.
  • The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks sloop HMS Auckland, with 34 deaths, 164 survivors (two die later), and 8 wounded.

The Pass of Balmaha is taken in tow by destroyer HMAS Waterhen and brought to Tobruk, where its fuel is unloaded. It is then taken back to Alexandria.

The Luftwaffe drops leaflets to the besieged Australians in Tobruk which read:
AUSSIES
After Crete disaster Anzac troops are now being ruthlessly sacrificed by England in Tobruch and Syria.
Turkey has concluded pact of friendship with Germany. England will shortly be driven out of the Mediterranean.
Offensive to relieve you totally smashed.
YOU CANNOT ESCAPE
Our dive bombers are waiting to sink your transports. Think of your future and your people at home. Come forward – show white flags and you will be out of danger!
SURRENDER!
Before dawn, Royal Navy submarine HMS Utmost lands some Commandos for a mission to destroy a railway line in Italy. The railway is used to bring supplies for shipments to North Africa. Two Commandos, Lt D R Schofield, Royal Fusiliers, and Lance Corporal F C Morgan, row ashore and place charges on the railway line. Then, they return to the waiting submarine. Unfortunately for their mission, their attempt to destroy a passing train fails when the charges fail to explode. Undeterred, the two men row ashore again and fix them. This time, they just blow up the tracks and return to the submarine without incident.

Turkish freighter Refah, previously torpedoed by an unidentified submarine (almost certainly a Royal Navy one), sinks. There are 168 deaths and 32 survivors.

Royal Navy battleship HMS Warspite, recently damaged by near misses that cause flooding, sails out of the Mediterranean for repairs. It is out of action until January 1942.

The Luftwaffe raids Benghazi and Tripoli.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet minesweeper T-208 Shkiv hits a mine and sinks at the Glotova Bank.

Brest fortress 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The siege of Brest fortress, June 1941.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: German raider Kormoran, disguised as Japanese freighter Kinka Maru, approaches Madras to lay mines. However, the Germans notice another ship shadowing them. They take this to be a British auxiliary cruiser (it apparently is AMC Canton). However, the ship eventually disappears. Kormoran Captain Detmers decides not to take any chances and cancels the minelaying mission.

Battle of the Pacific: Captured whaler “Adjutant,” which now has a German prize crew, arrives in New Zealand waters for minelaying operations.

Propaganda: The Germans announce:
Since early Monday morning the Luftwaffe has continued its successful attacks on Soviet military airfields. Large numbers of Russian aircraft were destroyed on the first day of battle, and we can now report that a great many more aircraft have been shot down on the same day.
The Soviets paint a very different picture:
Our aerial forces have fought successfully to protect our towns and military installations. They have fought in the air and supported the counterattacks of the ground troops. In the course of the day 51 enemy aircraft were destroyed by our fighter planes and ground defenses. One enemy plane was forced to land at an airfield near Minsk.
Neither side provides many specifics about where their forces on the ground are.

Special Operations: Italian submarine Scire launches midget submarines off Malta. The intent is to penetrate Grand Harbour and attack shipping, but the attack fails.

Soviet/German Relations: The Soviets take the German embassy staff south to Kostroma-on-Volga and house them in a worker's settlement. Their destination is Turkey once arrangements are made for the safe conduct of Soviet embassy personnel from Berlin.

Anglo/Soviet Relations: Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden announces that he has reached a mutual aid agreement with the Soviets.

Original memorial erected to the victims of Einsatzgruppe A at Gargzdai 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Original memorial erected to the victims of Einsatzgruppe A at Gargzdai/Garsden/Gorzdt on 24 June 1941 (courtesy of George Birman).

US/Soviet Relations: President Roosevelt is asked at a press conference what he intends to do about the Soviet Union. He promises to send aid to the Soviet Union, saying:
Of course we are going to give all the aid we possibly can to Russia.
It is unclear from this seemingly offhand response what the authorization for such aid would be, though presumably it would be included under Lend Lease. Roosevelt also unfreezes about $40 million in Soviet assets.

Hungarian/Soviet Relations: Hungary breaks relations with the Soviet Union.

Slovakian/Soviet Relations: Slovakia declares war on the USSR.

German Military: The Wehrmacht begins recruiting volunteers in Denmark, while Spain begins soliciting volunteers (of which there are many) to join a division to fight with Germany on the eastern front.

Finnish Military: While not yet officially at war, the Finns continue laying mines in the Baltic. Finnish troops occupy the Aaland Islands.

Soviet Military: The Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Military District is renamed Soviet Northern Front. Its commander is General Popov. General Aleksei Antonov is appointed Chief of Staff, Southwestern Front.

US Military: In the Philippines, there is flooding at Nichols Airfield (which is not paved), so 3rd and 20th Pursuit Squadrons move to Clark Airfield. The US continues beefing up its presence as transport SS President Pierce arrives bringing 96 pilots.

Joseph Kennedy Jr. enlists in the US Naval Reserve.

IJN aircraft carrier Hiyō 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
IJN aircraft carrier Hiyō, launched 24 June 1941.

Japanese Military: The IJN launches aircraft carrier Hiryu, which has been converted from a passenger liner.

British Government: With war expenditures soaring, the British House of Commons votes for the second £1,000,000,000 war credit of the year.

Spain: There is strong support in Spain for the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Large demonstrations take place in Madrid and other cities. Spanish Foreign Minister Ramón Serrano Suñer announces the formation of a Spanish volunteer division to serve beside the Wehrmacht in Russia. Volunteers rush to fill the 18,000 openings. Agustin Muñoz Guardes is selected as General commanding this "Spanish Blue Division."

Lithuania: The Lithuanian Activist Front forms a government, but not even the Germans recognize it.

China: The Japanese bomb Chungking (Chongqing).

German troops at Kaunas 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German troops at Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, 24 June 1941.

Holocaust: Einsatzgruppe A, following behind Army Group North, engages in the killing of about 800 Jews and 100 non-Jews in the vicinity of the Lithuanian border town of Gargzdai (called Gorzdt in Yiddish and Garsden in German). These liquidations may have occurred as early in the invasion as 22 June. The exterminations continue throughout the year.

American Homefront: New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio gets a hit in the 8th inning against St. Louis Browns pitcher Bob Muncrief. This extends DiMaggio's club-record hitting streak to 36 games. It is a Yankees blowout (they win 9-1), and the at-bat is meaningless, so some (including Browns manager Luke Swewll) question Muncrief's decision to pitch to DiMaggio. Muncrief, who could have simply walked DiMaggio or hit him with a pitch and ended the streak, says after the game:
That wouldn't have been fair, to him or to me. Hell, he's the greatest ballplayer I've ever seen.
Future History: Charles Joseph Whitman is born in Lake Worth, Florida, US. He becomes the infamous "Texas Tower Sniper: on 1 August 1966 at the University of Texas in Austin. During his well-known shooting spree, Whitman (who in his suicide note claims to suffer from migraine headaches and at his autopsy is found to have a brain tumor) kills 16 people (including his wife and mother) and wounds 31 others. Eventually, after a lengthy standoff, the Austin police shoot Whitman dead. Whitman's murder spree adds a 17th victim in 2001 when someone wounded during the attack dies of his wounds.

German death card 24 June 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German death card for Johann Wocherl, 24 June 1941, perished in Russia.

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

2018