Tuesday, April 17, 2018

July 7, 1941: US Marines in Iceland

Monday 7 July 1941

General Patton on the cover of Life magazine, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Life Magazine, "Defense Issue," featuring General George S. Patton, Jr. on the cover. July 7, 1941.
Eastern Front: Stalin continues tinkering with his command apparatus on 7 July 1941. While he can be brutal with even his closest associates, he also tends to favor the same small group of cronies during times of crisis. He appoints Kliment Voroshilov commander of the Northwestern Direction (equivalent to a German Army Group, it controls several fronts). He also takes Semyon Timoshenko's titles of Stavka Chairman and Defense Commissar and sends him to command the Central and Western Fronts. Semyon Budyonny (Budenny), an old cavalryman whose only discernible talent is making Stalin laugh when they are getting drunk, is sent to command the Southern Front. Notable from his absence in these appointments is Georgy Zhukov, who remains Stalin's top troubleshooter. The Soviet Union now has military commands that directly mirror the three German army groups.

In the Far North sector, Operation Arctic Fox - the attack toward the Murmansk railway - is going well for the Germans again. With the assistance of a flank attack by Finnish 6th Division, the German regular 169th Division and the SS-Infantry Kampfgruppe Nord, supplemented by some members of 163rd Infantry Division brought up from southern Finland, hammer back the Soviet 14th Army. The Soviets are making a stand in Salla, but the momentum again is with the Axis troops.

Operation Platinum Fox, further north, is going worse for the Germans. The 3rd Mountain Division has established a small bridgehead on the Litsa River, but the Army of Norway commander General Dietl is unable to expand it. Dietl requests more troops to resume the advance, but OKW refuses.

Soviet POWs 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet POWs being processed, July 7, 1941 (AP Photo).

In the Army Group North sector, the German 4th Panzer Group (Hoepner) captures Pskov. The Germans continue beating off a Soviet counterattack at a bridgehead at Ostrov.

In the Army Group Center sector, the German 20th Panzer Division crosses the Western Dvina River (Daugava River). This poses a threat to the rear of the Soviet Polotsk Fortified Region. In addition, the 20th Motorized Division crosses the Ulla River.

The panzer divisions are still carrying the advance, but they are wearing down. The 10th Panzer Division reports that it is at 80% of its establishment, but the 3rd and 18th Panzer Divisions are down to 35%. Other units report readiness levels in between those levels.

In Army Group South, the German 13th Panzer Division takes Berdychiv in the Zhytomyr Oblast. The SS quickly follows the troops and establishes a Jewish ghetto for the 20-40,000 Jews there. While Field Marshal Rundstedt's troops are quickly approaching Kyiv, the Soviets are massing troops there to deny Hitler a quick prestige victory.

Newsweek 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Newsweek, 7 July 1941.
Syrian/Lebanon Campaign: Having established two bridgeheads across the Damour River, the Australian 7th Division begins to exploit them. Before dawn, one Australian bridgehead (the 2/3rd Battalion and the 2/5th Battalion, along with two companies of the 2/14th Battalion) moves north toward El Boum. The other bridgehead (the remainder of the 2/14th) mounts a flank attack on Damour from the east. The attack from the first bridgehead continues forward toward the critical coast road north of Damour, whose capture would compel the surrender of Vichy French forces in the town.

Everyone on both sides understands that the fall of Damour would decide the war because nothing else stands between the Australians and Beirut. General Henri Dentz, the Vichy French commander, keeping a very close eye on the battle to see if he can continue his unexpectedly vigorous defense of the Levant.

Offshore, Royal Navy motor torpedo boat MTB 68 embarks on a daring raid into Beirut Harbor. It drops depth charges next to two merchant ships.

Sergeant James Allen Ward, VC, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Wing-walker Sergeant James Allen Ward of No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron. He is standing in the cockpit of his Vickers Wellington Mark IC, L7818 ‘AA-V’, at Feltwell, Norfolk.
European Air Operations: The RAF sends 20 planes on coastal sweeps during the day. This includes a mid-day attack on a German coastal convoy between Ijmuiden and Den Haag. They report scoring hits on two ships, but there is no confirmation. The RAF loses five planes. The RAF also sends Circus missions to Hazebrouck, Choques, and Albert.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command attacks Cologne with 114 Wellington bombers. It also sends 72 aircraft to attack Osnabruck, 40 aircraft to attack Monchengladbach and 49 aircraft to attack Münster.

After dark, the Luftwaffe attacks Southampton.

Royal New Zealand Air Force Sgt. James Allen Ward wins the Victoria Cross. Ward becomes the first New Zealander to win the decoration, and he really earns it. He is on a bombing run to Muenster in a Wellington of RAF No. 75 Squadron when a Bf-110 (shot down by the rear gunner) hits an engine and it catches fire. This threatens the plane, and the crew cannot put it out using fire extinguishers. Tethered with a rope, co-pilot Ward crawls out on the wing in mid-flight and somehow puts out the fire by stomping on it. Getting command of his own aircraft due to his heroism, Allen is KIA on his second mission. As he later recalls:
The wind kept lifting me off the wing. Once it slapped me back on to the fuselage again, but I managed to hang on. The slipstream from the engine made things worse. It was like being in a terrific gale, only much worse than any gale I’ve ever known in my life.
The pilot manages to get the plane back to England and crash-land on a runway.

Luftwaffe ace Joseph "Pips" Priller files claims for two Spitfires. They are his 32nd and 33rd victories.

Battle of the Baltic: German three-masted schooner Luise Bermann hits a mine and sinks off Kolberg.

German 193-ton fishing vessel Neuenfelde hits a mine and sinks near Kolberg.

Soviet minesweeper Petrozavodsk sinks off Kronstadt, perhaps due to a mine.

HMS Manxman, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"HMS MANXMAN Underway at speed, 7th July 1941." © IWM (FL 4435).
Battle of the Atlantic: Royal Navy submarine HMS Sealion sinks 39-ton French fishing trawler Gustav Jeanne and 120-ton French fishing trawler Gustav Eugene off Ushant (Ouessant, Finistère) in the Bay of Biscay.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 9918-ton Norwegian tanker Ferncourt off St. Davids, Wales. There are two deaths. The Ferncourt makes it to Milford Haven and docks at Swansea.

Royal Navy 115-ton hired drifter Lord St. Vincent hits a mine and sinks in the Thames Estuary near the North East Gunfleet Buoy. There are two deaths resulting from the sinking.

Illustrating the dangers of pilots operating off of CAM ships, a Fulmar of RAF No. 804 Squadron crashes in Kerran Hill, near Southend, Kintyre after being launched to investigate an aircraft sighting. There are two deaths.

Convoy OB-344 departs from Liverpool.

Royal Navy corvette HMS Campion (Lt. Commander Arthur Johnson) is commissioned.

U-337 is laid down.

Hamburg, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Hamburg’s Jungfernstieg at midday on Monday, July 7, 1941. On the right is the entrance to the Jungfernstieg stop on the "Hochbahn" (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archives, Bild 212-228).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Italian light cruisers, accompanied by a numerous destroyer screen, lay mines in the Sicilian Channel.

The Italians send a stream of nuisance raids to Malta. One bomber overflies the island and then returns from the south to drop its bombs - whether by plan or simply getting lost is unknown, but it gets away.

General Archibald Wavell, former British Middle East Commander, departs from Cairo. He is flying to Habbaniya, Iraq and then to India to take up his new role as Commander-in-Chief, India. Claude Auchinleck now has Wavell's old job, the two have switched positions.

The RAF sends a fighter sweep over Bardia.

Žikica Jovanović Španac, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Žikica Jovanović Španac as a student at the Valjevo Gymnasium. He is considered a national hero in Serbia.
Partisans: An uprising breaks out in the Bela Crkva, Serbia. Known as the Uprising in Serbia, it begins when communist Žikica Jovanović Španac shows up with over a dozen associates and makes a speech during the traditional Ivanjdan midsummer village fair. Španac then shoots and kills two local gendarmes for emphasis and escapes into the nearby hills.

An uprising has been planned by monarchist Yugoslav Army Colonel Dragoljub Mihailović, but this incident is independent of his forces. Mihailović and his followers only reluctantly join the revolt later in the summer. The communists chose western Serbia as the beginning point because of its mountainous terrain and dense forests. Serbia also, unlike Croatia, has a history of supporting England. Word spreads quickly throughout the region of the uprising.

Another uprising in Yugoslavia, this one in eastern Herzegovina, is suppressed. This uprising began on 23 June 1941and has simmered ever since. Today, the uprising finally is suppressed and the Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) regains control of all key points.

Propaganda: The Germans begin a campaign against communists in France and Belgium.

USS New York in Reykjavik Harbor, Iceland, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The US Marines entering Reykjavik Harbor, 7 July 1941. This is from the quarterdeck of battleship USS New York (BB-34) looking astern. Visible are the Alabama (BB-33), USS Brooklyn (CL-40) and Nashville (CL-43). Directly to the right is 3-inch gun, and to the left is a quick-release life ring (US National Archive).
US/Icelandic Relations: U.S. Marines (1st Marine Brigade, Provisional) of new Task Force 19 under Brig. General J. Marston land at Reykjavik in six transport ships under heavy escort. They are there to replace British troops who are needed elsewhere. The marines, with no help from local labor, immediately begin unloading the transports and setting up their camps.

President Roosevelt sends a message to Congress announcing the occupation. While it may seem obvious after the fact that the US would want to occupy Iceland during World War II, the US is at peace and it is a big deal to just get up and send troops to a foreign country. Roosevelt notes:
The United States cannot permit the occupation by Germany of strategic outposts in the Atlantic to be used as air or naval bases for eventual attack against the Western Hemisphere. We have no desire to see any change in the present sovereignty of those regions. Assurance that such outposts in our defense frontier remain in friendly hands is the very foundation of our national security and of the national security of every one of the independent nations of the new world.
The Icelandic government under Prime Minister Herman Jonasson has given grudging support and basically accepts occupation by a foreign power as inevitable under the circumstances. The US explicitly recognized Icelandic sovereignty and promises to evacuate once the war is over.

In conjunction with this move, the United States extends its security zone east to cover Iceland. From this point forward, the United States assumes responsibility for protecting all convoys containing US ships until they are past Iceland.

Hamburg 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Hamburg Gänsemarkt, 7 July 1941 (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archives, Bild 212-227).
Anglo/Soviet Relations: Former Soviet People's Commissar for the Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union Maxim Litvinov (who was replaced on 3 May 1939 because he was Jewish and Stalin didn't want to offend Hitler) makes a radio broadcast to England from Moscow. Speaking in English, Litvinov urges cooperation between Great Britain and the USSR. This is exactly what Winston Churchill wishes as well. Stalin, however, doesn't just want vague expressions of solidarity - he wants concrete agreements that will tie the Allies together.

US/Chinese Relations: Clare Chennault completes a supply mission to the United States and returns to China from San Francisco. While most passages across the Pacific are by ocean liner, Chennault has no time for that and instead uses the Clipper service.

German Military: Jürgen Stroop joins the German 3rd SS Division Totenkopf in the infantry regiment.

Fifth Panzer Division, still in the Balkans from Operation Marita, is told to prepare to move to the Eastern Front. While many historians like to claim that the German Balkans campaign delayed Operation Barbarossa, the reality is that the units there actually served as the Wehrmacht's main (and practically only) reserve early in the war. In general, having reserve units is considered a good thing in military circles, but this is one of the few times during the war against the USSR that Germany actually has a substantial reserve it can draw upon. The USSR, on the other hand, almost always has a large reserve.

P-51 prototype NA-73X NX19998, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
North American Aviation’s prototype fighter, NA-73X, NX19998, at Mines Field, Los Angeles, California. (North American Aviation).
US Military: The US Marines organize the First Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW) at Quantico, Virginia. It is formed from Headquarters Squadron and Marine Air Group 1 (MAG-1).

The US Army Air Force (USAAF) orders 150 North American Aviation NA-73 fighters. These use Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled engines and have four .303 (7.7 mm) machine guns. This aircraft was designed at the request of Great Britain. The USAAF calls them Apaches, but this name later is replaced by Mustang. The planes are given the official designation P-51.

The US occupies Trinidad and British Guiana, relieving British forces there for other missions.

Time Magazine, Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
TIME Magazine Cover: Yosuke Matsuoka -- July 7, 1941 (Ernest Hamlin Baker).
Japanese Military: General Seishiro Itagaki becomes commanding officer of the Japanese Chosen Army in occupied Korea, relieving Kotaro Nakamura.

Vichy French Military: The French create the Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism ("Legion des Volontaires Francais contre le Bolchevisme").

British Government: The War Cabinet continues debating how to defend the Far East. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden prefers an aggressive stance, which would include renouncing the trade treaty with Japan and beefing up the British military presence in Malaya and Dutch Timor and Ambon. However, Winston Churchill prefers to remain low-key in the Pacific Theater for the time being.

Greek Government: Greek King George arrives in South Africa with his family aboard a Royal Navy warship.

Soviet soldiers in Ukraine with children, 7 July 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soldiers from the 51st separate motorcycle battalion of the 22nd Tank Corps of the 38th Army of the Southwestern Front of the Red Army. This is during July 1941 before the Battle of Uman.
Philippines: Rectifying a massive error from earlier in the summer, the US Army Air Force delivers enough Prestone antifreeze to make the P-40B fighters already delivered flyable.

China: Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Nationalist government of China, decides to mark the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (which some people believe is the real start of World War II). He sends a lengthy message to friendly nations in which he summarizes the world situation and his own country's predicament. Among other things, Chiang notices the connection between the wars brewing on opposite sides of the world, writing:
the war in the Far East is no longer to be viewed as merely a conflict between two nations, for the European and Asiatic Wars have now become closely interrelated. Scarcely a single country remains unaffected because this predatory group of powers excludes no country from the scope of its design to dominate the world by force.
Chiang makes a far-sighted prediction:
It is my privilege to declare that the Chinese people in condemning the Japanese are not only with unity of purpose of putting an end to Japanese aggression but also are thinking of contributing to a new world order of the future, to the civilization and prosperity of mankind.
It is a heady time: leaders on both sides of the conflict are dreaming of their own New World Orders that they will establish after the war. However, only one vision can come true, and imposing yours requires winning the war at hand.

Holocaust: The Germans require Jews in Lithuania to wear Yellow Stars of David badges. Killings of Jews continues in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania.

American Homefront: There is a major anti-war protest in New York City. Protestors carry large signs saying "Arm Britain and Prolong the War," "Stay out of Europe's War"; "Hitler has not attacked us, why attack Hitler?" "Stay out of South America, of Europe, of War"; "Lend-Lease Lose-Lives"; "Hitler has not attacked us, why attack Hitler?"; "Why Not Peace with Hitler?"; "Europe for Europeans. America for Americans"; "The Only Fight Worth Fighting is the Fight for Peace"; "Fight the Draft, Conscription in Tyranny"; "No Loans to England. No Arms to Anyone"; "American Union for Organization Against War"; "The Army and Navy are Hotbeds for Fascism"; "Protest Any Extension for Army Service" and similar slogans.

July 1941

July 1, 1941: US TV Broadcasting Starts
July 2, 1941: MAUD Report
July 3, 1941: Stalin Speaks
July 4, 1941: Pogroms in Eastern Europe
July 5, 1941: Germans on Schedule
July 6, 1941: Australians Attack Damour
July 7, 1941: US Marines in Iceland
July 8, 1941: Flying Fortresses In Action
July 9, 1941: British Take Damour
July 10, 1941: Sword and Scabbard Order
July 11, 1941: Cease-fire in Syria and Lebanon
July 12, 1941: Anglo/Russian Assistance Pact
July 13, 1941: Uprising in Montenegro
July 14, 1941: Katyusha Rocket Launchers in Action
July 15, 1941: Smolensk Falls
July 16, 1941: Stalin's Son Captured
July 17, 1941: Heydrich Orders Mass Executions
July 18, 1941: Twin Pimples Raid
July 19, 1941: V for Victory
July 20, 1941: The Man Who Wouldn't Shoot
July 21, 1941: Moscow in Flames
July 22, 1941: Soviet Generals Executed
July 23, 1941: Secret Plan JB 355
July 24, 1941: Operation Sunrise
July 25, 1941: US Naval Alert
July 26, 1941: Italian E-Boat Attack on Malta
July 27, 1941: MacArthur Returns
July 28, 1941: Auschwitz Exterminations
July 29, 1941: Rescue From Crete
July 30, 1941: Raid on Petsamo and Kirkenes
July 31, 1941: Final Solution Order


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