Sunday, June 10, 2018

August 19, 1941: Convoy OG-71 Destruction


Tuesday 19 August 1941

German Panzer IIIs in Russia, 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German Panzer IIIs on the Eastern Front (Federal Archive, Bild 146-1975-078-27A).

Eastern Front: German General Buhle on 19 August 1941 delivers a report on an inspection tour he has made of Army Group South. As General Halder notes in the OKH war diary, Field Marshal von Rundstedt says that "Replacements urgently needed," and those that have arrived so far have been of "indifferent quality." The artillery cannot keep up with the pace of the advance because the horses that drag it are in poor shape. About 60% of the panzer force is in combat condition, which leaves little margin for error. Divisions are in varying states of readiness, with some in good shape, but some "less good" or even "poor."

In the Far North sector, Army Group Norway finally concedes that Group F of Finnish III Corps is stuck north of Ukhta (Kalevala). After a week of probing attacks, it has gotten nowhere. The Army Group shifts some of the troops to the attack on Loukhi on the Murmansk railway, which also has gotten stuck fast, and allocates a battalion to battles further north.

Finnish 6th Division of XXXVI Corps embarks on an offensive during the early morning hours toward the Murmansk railway. It is foggy with spells of intense rain, and the main force achieves surprise and gets off to a good start. The objectives are Nurmi Lake and Nurmi Mountain, about halfway between Kayrala and Allakurtti. The main column reaches Lehtokangas by late afternoon, but the flank formations make virtually no progress. Still, it is the first movement in the area for some time, and the Germans continue to push forward with great hopefulness. They begin bringing forward a reserve regiment to reinforce the main thrust.

A soldier of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A soldier of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division in the Leningrad Oblast area, near Luga, August-Sept 1941.

In the Army Group North sector, the Soviets continue attacking the German position at Staraya Russa, but the Germans are dug in and are not being dislodged. At Novgorod, the Soviets finally are pushed out of the entire city by the end of the day after the Germans dislodge some holdouts in the eastern areas. General Hoepner's Panzer Group 4 breaks out toward the Luga Highway, which leads to Leningrad. However, a single camouflaged KV-1 tank wreaks havoc on the lead tanks and delays the advance. German 18th Army attacks Tallinn, Estonia.

In the Army Group Center sector, a German Cavalry division of 2nd Army captures Gomel and advance through it to the east. The main problem for the Germans in this sector is poor roads. The usual Soviet attacks at Yelnya are repulsed.

In the Army Group South sector, 11th Army crosses the Bug River with XI Corps. The Red Air Force attacks German troops in the Dneipr bend. At Dnepropetrovsk, the German attack begun by "Panzer" Meyer's small reconnaissance force holds its ground, and a Soviet counterattack with 100 tanks is beaten off, with 52 Soviet tanks destroyed. The Germans are trying to capture a bridge at Cherkassy. The Soviet Fifth Army is retreating, and the Germans fear they may escape from the trap they are trying to spring between General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 heading down from the north and General von Kleist's Panzer Group 4 driving north to meet it. Soviet Rear Admiral G.V. Zhukov (no relation to Red Army General Georgy) takes command of the Soviet defense of Odessa.

A soldier of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Still from the above brief film of an SS man near Luga in the Army Group North sector, ca. 19 August 1941.

European Air Operations: During the day, the RAF sends 18 Blenheim bombers on Circus missions to Gosnay and Hazebrouck. However, the bombers sent to Gosnay turn back, so only Hazebrouck is bombed. The British lose three bombers on these missions. Another two Fortresses are sent to attack Dusseldorf, but they turn back as well.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command mounts only one major attack instead of the two or three that was the standard recently. Tonight's target is Kiel, and the RAF puts 108 bombers (54 Wellingtons, 41 Hampdens, 7 Stirlings, and 6 Halifax bombers to attack railway targets. However, the weather is poor for flying, with clouds and icing conditions, and it is raining heavily over Kiel. Only 67 bombers even claim to attack the target. The British lose 3 Wellingtons and a Hampden. Damage to Kiel is barely noticed by the Germans, with no casualties and the only damage due to anti-aircraft fire returning to earth and some incendiaries that land on a swimming facility. Some of the bombers are off course and hit the airfield at Holtenau, north of Kiel, rather than the target.

The RAF also sends minor operations to Le Havre (6 Wellingtons and 3 Whitleys) and to do minelaying in the Frisian Islands (3 Hampdens). There are no losses in these minor missions.

A USAAF P-40 Warhawk crashes at Reykjavik, Iceland, killing pilot Lt. George Meeks, when he flies into a radio mast while landing and drops into the sea. He is the first US soldier to perish in Iceland. A new airfield being built at Keflavík is named "Meeks Field" in his honor before being renamed simply Keflavik Field.

Sturmgeschutz III, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Sturmgeschutz III and a column of Wehrmacht soldiers on the march in Soviet territory.1941.

Battle of the Baltic: German torpedo boat S-58 sinks 210-ton Soviet minesweeper T-51 "Pirmunas" near the south entrance to Moon Sound. Some sources say the name of this vessel is "Merikaru."

Soviet auxiliary minesweeper No. 80 is lost on this date. No reason or location is given.

According to some sources, the Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 3767-ton Soviet hospital ship Sibir today at Reval, Estonia. Other sources state the sinking occurs on 14 August. There are over 400 deaths out of a complement of 2500 wounded. Whichever date it is, as mentioned in the entry for that date, it constitutes a war crime.

Soviet submarine M-121 is launched.

Panuco fire in NY Harbor, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The New York newspapers on 19 August 1941 are full of news of freighter Panuco, which bursts into flame at its berth at the foot of Warren Street in Brooklyn. Tugs manage to pull the blazing ship away from the pier, but the sheds on the pier already are alight. Panuco is dragged aground on the Red Hook Flats and allowed to burn itself out. There are dozens of casualties from the fire.

Battle of the Atlantic: In Operation Gauntlet, a joint Anglo/Canadian/Norwegian expedition (Force K) arrives at Spitzbergen on August 19 to evacuate Norwegian and Russian mining communities. To prevent the Germans from using the coal mines on Spitzbergen, the British dynamite them. The operation lasts until 3 September. The Germans have considered, but rejected, invading Spitzbergen, but the British do not know this.

Allied troops on Spitzbergen, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Allied troops landing on Spitzbergen, ca. 19 August 1941. The cargo on the dock are the personal belongings of the inhabitants of the island who are being evacuated.

The Kriegsmarine has had multiple sightings of Convoy OG-71 which have enabled it to assemble a U-boat wolf pack in its path (these include Luftwaffe sightings and sightings by both U-106 and U-201). OG-71 is heading south to Gibraltar. Today the German preparation pays off with multiple sinkings southwest of Ireland:
  • U-204 (Kptlt. Walter Kell) sinks 1060-ton Norwegian destroyer HNoMS Bath (43 survivors, 89 deaths, two of the 42 survivors also later pass away from wounds)
  • U-201 (ObltzS Adalbert Schnee) sinks 3255-ton British liner Aguila (157 dead).
  • U-201 sinks 1809-ton Ciscar (13 deaths, 35 survivors)
  • U-559 (ObltzS Heidtmann) sinks 1584-ton British freighter Alva (one death).
The crew of Alva is picked up by Royal Navy corvette HMS Campanula. Norwegian destroyer Bath is the former US destroyer USS Hopewell (DD-181) and it sinks in three minutes. Bath's sinking is quick because two depth charges explode as the vessel sinks, blowing off its stern.

U-201 at sea, worldwartwo.filminspector.com
U-201 at sea. Note the victory pennants. U-201 gets credit for sinking two ships in Convoy OG-71 on 19 August 1941.

As usual with convoy battles, the fighting is confused, and different U-boat captains think they have sunk ships actually sunk by another U-boat. U-559, for instance, claims to sink another ship and damage another, but there is no confirmation of this. U-201 also claims to sink another ship, with no confirmation.

Fifteen survivors of Alva are picked up by 1203-ton British freighter Clonlara which itself is sunk on 22 August, and the 15 Alva survivors all perish. Six or seven other Alva survivors are picked up by tug Empire Oak and five by destroyer Boreas, but Empire Oak also is sunk later on the 22 August, killing the Alva crew that it picked up. There are similar stories for other ships - simply getting plucked out of the water by another ship does not guarantee that you ever will see land again. Some survivors are on three or even four ships before they make port.

U-559 with its crew, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
U-559, which gets credit for sinking British freighter Alva on 19 August 1941.

Royal Navy submarine Trident (Cmdr. Sladen) uses its deck gun to attack 4770-ton German freighter off the Norwegian Arctic coast. Levante escapes and makes it back to port.

Italian submarine Tazzoli (Commander Fecia di Cossato) torpedoes and sinks 7313-ton Norwegian tanker Sildra south of Freetown. Everyone survives.

British 101-ton motor barge Golden Grain hits a mine and sinks a few miles east of Foulness Island. All three aboard perish.

Three survivors of 2727-ton British freighter Cathrine, sunk by U-43 (Kptlt. Luth) on 17 June, are picked up by trawler Boras in the North Atlantic convoy route. The other 24 on board are never found.

Royal Navy destroyer Avon Vale intercepts Portuguese trawler Maria Leonor off Cape Juby and takes off survivors of British tanker Horn Shell, sunk on 26 July.

Convoy OG-72 departs from Liverpool.

Canadian corvette HMCS Sorel (Lt. John W. Dowling) is commissioned.

U-87 (Oberleutnant zur See Joachim Berger) is commissioned, U-509 is launched.

Captured Soviet 76 mm F-22 gun (FK.296(r) in German nomenclature), 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A captured Soviet 76 mm F-22 gun (FK.296(r) in German nomenclature). These guns are captured in large quantities in 1941. The Germans put them to use as anti-tank guns and also slap them on obsolete Panzer II chassis to create the tank destroyer known as the Marder II. The first proposals to create the Marder II in this fashion are made in August 1941.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Operation Treacle, the replacement of Australian troops in Tobruk with the Polish Carpathian Brigade, moves into high gear today. The timing is based upon the phases of the moon, as the British wish to avoid casualties by the Luftwaffe as much as possible. Tonight, Royal Navy destroyers HMS Hasty, Jervis, and Kimberley depart Alexandria with a large force of the Polish troops. The operation is covered by the cruisers of the 7th and 15th Cruiser Squadron.

The Luftwaffe (Junkers Ju 87 Stukas) bombs and sinks Royal Navy whaler HMT Thorbryn off Tobruk. There are eight deaths, while 18 crew are taken as prisoners. Thorbryn is towing two lighters, one of which sinks (LCT-12, killing the skipper) and the other of which drifts ashore in an area of German control (skipper is taken as a prisoner). Overall, taking the three ships as a whole, 9 out of 29 men perish.

Royal Navy submarine Tetrarch (Lt Cdr Greenway) attacks an Italian freighter (the Cadamosto) just outside of Benghazi harbor but misses.

Royal Navy submarine Unbeaten (Lt Woodward) unsuccessfully attacks an Italian convoy about 15 miles north of Pantelleria.

Operation Guillotine, the British reinforcement of Cyprus, continues. Australian sloop HMAS Parramatta escorts transport Kevinbank to Famagusta.

Italian minelayers Aspromonte and Reggio lay minefield SN-43 in the Sicilian Strait.

An Italian convoy departs from Naples bound for Tripoli.

At Malta, RAF Hurricanes shoot down three Macchi 200 fighters after they patrol near Grand Harbour in the morning. In the evening, five Italian bombers drop incendiary bombs on Zeitun, killing 2 and wounding five without loss to themselves.

WPA girls in New Orleans, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A group of young girls from public playgrounds of New Orleans about to take off for Camp Bena Lea near Covington, August 19, 1941. This is part of the popular WPA Recreation Project (Children of the WPA).

Battle of the Black Sea: The Soviet 2nd Destroyer Division attacks a German/Romanian convoy near Odessa, Ukraine. The destroyers fire over 450 shells but apparently cause little damage.

The Soviets scuttle river monitor Vidista at Kiev to avoid capture.

Soviet submarine M-33 (Lt Surov) unsuccessfully attacks Romanian submarine Delfinul off Constanza, Romania.

Soviet submarine L-4 (Lt Cdr Polyakov) lays 20 mines off Cape Olinka, Romania.

Battle of the Pacific: German raider Komet has been operating off the Galapagos Islands recently. Today, it scores its third success in the area, sinking 9036-ton British freighter Devon about 200 miles southwest of the islands. The entire crew of Devon survives and board Komet as prisoners.

Reza Shah Pahlavi hands second son Ali Reza his commission, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Reza Shah Pahlavi hands second son Ali Reza his commission as an officer at graduation exercises at Iran's "West Point" in Tehran, 19 August 1941 (AP).

War Crimes:  The Soviets have been evacuating isolated positions in Estonia via ship, and this has led to some tragedies. Today is another one, as the Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 3767-ton Soviet hospital ships Sibir in the Gulf of Finland. There are about 400 people on the ship who perish. By international law, sinking a hospital ship is a war crime, and the ships are clearly marked. On the Eastern Front, however, the Germans, in particular, have openly renounced the norms of warfare.

Partisans: The Germans execute Szmul Tyszelman and Henri Gautherot at the Vallée-aux-Loups in Châtenay-Malabry, Hauts-de-Seine. Tyszelman and Gautherot were among a group of about 100 demonstrators who staged a protest on 13 August 1941 at the Strasbourg – Saint-Denis metro station in Paris. The protest featured the group singing "La Marseillaise" and carrying the tricolor flag. This incident induced the German occupation authorities in France to ban the French Communist Party, and this, in turn, induces the communists to arm themselves and kill German soldiers. The entire situation escalates quickly, and by the end of August the Germans are executing numerous hostages and the resistance fighters are assassinating Germans.

US Military: The US Marine 1st Defense Battalion sets up a permanent military garrison on Wake Island with 449 recently arrived soldiers.

British artist Albert Perry at work, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
British artist Albert Perry at work with some of his pupils during their daily one-hour gas mask practice, August 19, 1941. (Fox Photos/Getty Images).

German Government: German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels recounts in his diary a discussion that he has with the Fuhrer:
We talked about the Jewish problem. The Führer is convinced that his earlier prophecy in the Reichstag is proving correct, that if the Jews succeed again in provoking another world war it would end with the annihilation of the Jews. This is being proved in these weeks and months with an apparently eerie certainty. In the East, the Jews must pay for this.
The Germans are still trying to figure out the most efficient way to exterminate large groups of people. At the moment, the usual method on the Eastern Front is to march people out of town to pits and shoot them. However, this is having a poor effect on German troop morale, so other methods are being tried.

Hitler later has dinner with his cronies and justifies his orders that can send thousands of men to their deaths:
If I am reproached with having sacrificed a hundred or two thousand men by reason of the war, I can answer that, thanks to what I have done, the German nation has gained, up to the present, more than two million five hundred thousand human beings. If l demand a tenth of this as a sacrifice, nevertheless I have given 90percent. I hope that in ten years there will be from ten to fifteen millions more of us Germans in the world. Whether they are men or women, it matters little: I am creating conditions favorable to growth.
He predicts that Ukraine and the Volga region will become the "granaries of Europe," England, he implies, will wither away on the fringes of humanity because "It is not tolerable that the life of the peoples of the Continent should depend upon England." Naturally, the United States and the Americas do not even enter the equation because, in Hitler's worldview, they simply don't count.

Captured Soviet female soldiers, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Captured female Soviet soldiers stand in front of a German light artillery tractor Kfz.69 "Krupp Protze" somewhere in Ukraine. 19 August 1941. Female soldiers are a great curiosity to the Germans, as they have virtually no females nearby.

Holocaust: Einsatzkommando 8, in conjunction with local collaborators, executes 3000+ Jews in Mogilev, Belorussia.

At Kiselin, Ukraine, 48 Jews are executed on the outskirts of town with the assistance of Ukrainian police.

American Homefront: Pittsburgh Pirates manager Frankie Frisch goes on the field at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field during the second game of a doubleheader (the Pirates lost the first game) because he feels it is too rainy to continue. To make his point, he carries onto the field an umbrella and opens it up right in front of the three umpires. Everyone in the stadium bursts into laughter and Head Umpire Jocko Conlan immediately ejects Frisch from the game. As he heads back to the locker room, Frisch turns and says, "Can’t a guy have any fun anymore?" Norman Rockwell uses the incident years later as inspiration for his famous cover, "Bottom of the Sixth."

Norman Rockwell baseball painting, 19 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Norman Rockwell's famous painting based upon the 19 August 1941 incident at Ebbets Field involving Pirates manager Frankie Frisch. Strangely, however, it does not feature an umbrella. It is used on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post edition of 23 April 1949.

August 1941

August 1, 1941: More Executions on Crete
August 2, 1941: Uman Encirclement Closes
August 3, 1941: Bishop von Galen Denounces Euthanasia
August 4, 1941: Hitler at the Front
August 5, 1941: Soviets Surrender at Smolensk 
August 6, 1941: U-Boats in the Arctic
August 7, 1941: Soviets Bomb Berlin
August 8, 1941: Uman Pocket Captured
August 9, 1941: Atlantic Conference at Placentia Bay
August 10, 1941: Soviet Bombers Mauled Over Berlin
August 11, 1941: Rita Hayworth in Life
August 12, 1941: Atlantic Charter Announced
August 13, 1941: The Soybean Car
August 14, 1941: The Anders Army Formed
August 15, 1941: Himmler at Minsk
August 16, 1941: Stalin's Order No. 270
August 17, 1941: Germans in Novgorod
August 18, 1941: Lili Marleen
August 19, 1941: Convoy OG-71 Destruction
August 20, 1941: Siege of Leningrad Begins
August 21, 1941: Stalin Enraged
August 22, 1941: Germans Take Cherkassy
August 23, 1941: Go to Kiev
August 24, 1941: Finns Surround Viipuri
August 25, 1941: Iran Invaded
August 26, 1941: The Bridge Over the Desna
August 27, 1941: Soviets Evacuate Tallinn
August 28, 1941: Evacuating Soviets Savaged
August 29, 1941: Finns take Viipuri
August 30, 1941: Operation Acid
August 31, 1941: Mannerheim Says No



2018

Saturday, June 9, 2018

August 18, 1941: Lili Marleen


Monday 18 August 1941

Bristol Blenheim 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"A Bristol Blenheim Mark IV of No. 226 Squadron demonstrates the effectiveness of its camouflage as it flies over the English countryside, 18 August 1941." © IWM (CH 8605).

Eastern Front: In the Far North sector on 18 August 1941, German XX Mountain Corps launches a renewed offensive toward Murmansk. It makes no progress against fierce Soviet resistance.

Finnish 18th Division consolidates its newly won bridgehead across the Vuoksi River. The Finns remain on the move in the Karelian Isthmus but are blocked everywhere else. The Finnish troops are getting worn out, too, because, aside from the Soviet resistance, the terrain of forests and swamps and few towns makes supply difficult and rest impossible. The Finns are building roads to carry artillery. The Germans are completing the transfer today of 169th Division in a 110-mile march in order to replace Finnish 6th Division. The march is so long because it involves marching in a roundabout fashion to confuse any Soviet spies.

Colonel General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, commander of Army of Norway, (Armeeoberkommando Norwegen, or AOK Norwegen), is not the most tactful of generals. He visits XXXVI Corps headquarters today and gets into an argument with General Hans Feige, implying that Feige's request for additional troops to continue the offensive is unnecessary. Due to Falkenhorst's pressure, the 6th Division is planning an offensive on the 19th in the Salla sector toward Lehtokangas and Nurmi Mountain. Feige points out that while his forces may have rough parity with the defending Soviet troops, they are receiving reinforcements while his troops are not - a fairly common situation across the entire Eastern Front.

Soviet KV-1 tank and crew, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
KV-1 no. 864 at Krasnogvardeysk, a stop on the road from Kingisepp to Leningrad, 18 August 1941. Tank commander Kolobanov (Order of Lenin) and gunner Usov (Order of the Red Banner) park the KV-1 in a camouflaged position and await the German 8th Panzer Division coming from Kingisepp. They successfully ambush the German column on the 19th and knock out several tanks and other vehicles.

In the Army Group North sector, Kingisepp (Yamburg) on the Luga falls to the Germans. The Germans consolidate their hold on Narva. The Germans rebuff with difficulty Soviet attacks on Staraya Russa and Novgorod, the "bookends" on Lake Ilmen. Field Marshal von Leeb calls General Halder at OKH and, according to Halder's war diary, paints a "Very gloomy picture of the situation in X Corps" in the Staraya Russa area where "The last man has been thrown into the fighting" and "troops are exhausted."

In the Army Group Center sector, the Soviets have infiltrated small forces behind the army group's right flank in the Pripet Marshes. While not a serious threat, these small groups (roughly battalion size) disrupt rear areas that should be quiet and disrupt supplies. There are heavy Soviet attacks north of the main road to Moscow against 161st Division.

In the Army Group South sector, SS officer Kurt "Panzer" Meyer turns a reconnaissance-in-force of the approaches to the town of Cherson (Kherson) into an all-out assault. He leads his small force down from the heights above the busy town and attempts a "coup de main." His small force takes the Soviet defenders by surprise by sneaking into town along a small road along the Dneipr rather than from the road from Nikolayev (i.e., from the west). The reconnaissance turns into an all-out battle for control of the heart of the city, with Soviet artillery from the east bank of the river forcing Meyer's men to dismount as infantry.

Romanian Guard Regiment near Odessa, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Troops of Romanian 2nd Frontier Guard Regiment on the march to Odessa, 18 August 1941.

The Romanian 4th Army continues attacking across the Odessa perimeter. Both sides are taking heavy casualties, and progress is slow. The Soviets have nowhere to run and know they will likely be shot if they somehow do make it back through German lines, so they stand and fight.

German Panzer Group 1 (von Kleist) establishes a bridgehead across the Dneiper at Zaporozhye (Zaporizhzhia). The Soviets dynamite the Dneipr Hydroelectric Station to swell the river, causing widespread death and destruction, but the Germans get across anyway. German 50th Division reaches the Black Sea Coast at Ochakov.

Lt. Max-Hellmuth Ostermann of 7./JG 54 shoots down two Russian I-16s over Leningrad.

The Red Air Force raids Berlin with five bombers. Today is the last of a series of small-scale Red Air Force raids against the Ploesti, Romania oil fields.

British troops with Lewis Gun, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Quadruple Lewis gun on an anti-aircraft mounting, 18 August 1941." © IWM (H 12971).

European Air Operations: During the day, the RAF sends 39 Blenheim bombers on a series of coastal sweeps over Holland and a Circus mission over Lille and Marquise. The pilots claim to sink two trawlers and to bomb Lille, for a cost of one Blenheim.

By prior arrangement between the RAF and Luftwaffe, the RAF successfully drops a spare prosthetic leg for captured RAF Wing Commander Douglas Bader while flying over St. Omer airfield. The Germans are somewhat nonplussed when the charitable gesture is followed by the RAF planes attacking the airfield.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command attacks Cologne and Duisburg. These cities both have been bombed recently so these can be considered follow-up raids.

The RAF puts 62 bombers (42 Hampdens, 17 Whitleys, and 3 Wellingtons) over Cologne. The RAF loses 5 Whitleys and a Wellington. The attack achieves little, with no casualties and only one casualty.

The RAF puts 41 Wellingtons over Duisburg, losing two planes. The weather is clear, so the attack on railway yards is a success.

There is a minor raid by 11 Whitleys and 7 Wellingtons to Dunkirk, and one training sortie over Europe, both without loss.

The Luftwaffe sends a few bombers across to raid the Tyneside and Teesside areas. These are pinprick raids that occasionally hit a populated building, tonight West Hartlepool suffers a tragedy when an ambulance depot is hit with 23 people killed and 45 injured. In addition, about 100 people are made homeless. In Norton, bombs hit a house on Benson Street, killing three people, while next door three others are killed.

David Bensusan-Butt, a civil servant in the War Cabinet Secretariat and an assistant of Lord Cherwell, chief scientific advisor to the Cabinet, submits his "Butt Report" on the accuracy of RAF bombing. The results are startling because they conclude that bombing accuracy is horrendous. Among the more prominent conclusions of the report:

  • Only one aircraft of three that claims to have attacked a target actually got within 5 miles (8 km).
  • Over Germany, the ratio is even worse, with only one in four bombers getting within five miles and one in ten over the industrial Ruhr river valley
  • Accuracy depends upon the amount of moonlight available, with accuracy rising to two in five when there is a full moon and falling to one in fifteen during a new moon.

The "Butt Report" does not even go far enough, as post-war studies show that 49% of RAF bombs fall in open countryside. Butt's report also excludes all bombers that never reached the target due to mechanical reasons, weather, or enemy action.

Fortunately for the British, they have navigational aids such as GEE, Oboe, H2S, and other navigational aids in various stages of development. In fact, today RAF Bomber Command orders GEE (the codename for a long-range navigational aid) into production at Dynatron and Cossor.

Battle of the Baltic: Soviet destroyer Statnyi hits a mine and sinks in Moon Sound off Saaremaa (Oesel).

The Luftwaffe attacks Leningrad harbor and sinks 2170-ton Soviet freighter Axel Carl.

Freighter Longtaker, torpedoed on 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Freighter Longtaker under her former name Sessa (photo courtesy of Danish Maritime Museum, Elsinore, and Uboat .net).

Battle of the Atlantic: At 02:50, U-38 (KKpt. Heinrich Schuch), on its 11th patrol out of Lorient and operating with wolfpack Grönland, torpedoes and sinks 1700-ton Panamanian-flagged (but actually controlled by the United States) freighter Longtaker (previously Danish ship Sessa) midway between the southern tips of Greenland and Iceland (300 nautical miles or 560 km southwest of Iceland). The ship goes down in only one minute and most of the crew, 24 men, perish. After nineteen days at sea, US destroyer USS Lansdale picks up three surviving crew (the Danish first officer, a Swede, and a Portuguese crewman - two Portuguese and a Canadian perish while they await rescue) on 5 September. The ship's cargo holds supplies for the US garrison on Iceland. The Danish officer, Hendrik Bjerregaard, maintains a log that receives widespread publicity in the American media.

This is U-38's final victory of the war, though it does go on one more patrol for an even dozen. During its time in service, U-38 sinks 35 commercial ships of 188,967 tons and damages one ship of 3,670 tons.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Quorn its a mine between Chatham and Harwich. Quorn makes it to Chatham for repairs completed on 13 September.

Convoy HG-71 departs from Gibraltar bound for Liverpool. A Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-88 spots convoy OG-71 shortly after it leaves port and radios in its position.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Badsworth (Lt. Commander Michael S. Townsend) is commissioned and destroyer Mahratta is laid down.

Canadian minesweepers HMCS Fort William, Kenora, and Milltown are laid down in Port Arthur, Ontario.

Free Netherlands destroyer depot ship HNLMS Columbia (Commander Cornelis Hellingman) is commissioned.

Destroyer USS Badsworth is commissioned.

U-188 is laid down.

Cant Z506 flying boat shot down, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
An Italian CANT Z506 flying boat shot down by RAF fighters off Tripoli. The photo is dated 18 August 1941. Note the crewman in the water near the wing. This appears to be damage from an RAF attack made against the flying boat base in Syracuse Harbor on the 17th, with this a reconnaissance photo taken on the 18th - but that is only a guess.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The Royal Navy loses two submarines in one action today. It is a black day for the submarine force, and only two men from two submarines survive.

Royal Navy submarine HMS P-33 (Lt R. D. Whiteway-Wilkinson DSC), operating off Tripoli and with 32 crewmen, disappears on or around 18 August while attacking an Italian convoy. This is one of the unsolved disappearances of submarines that are common during World War II. An Italian Cant Z501 is flying overhead and sends a ship to look for survivors that the plane's crew see in the water, but it is unclear if it sees survivors of P-33 or another ship. It is assumed by some that P-33 is destroyed by a depth charge attack by an Italian torpedo boat either today or on 23 August, but there is no confirmation of that. Nobody survives.

Royal Navy submarine P-32 (Lt. D. A. B. Abdy)is operating near P-33 and surfaces while an Italian depth charge attack is underway nearby. It is very close to the entrance to Tripoli Harbor. Lieutenant Abdy attempts to run under a known minefield to get into better firing position but surfaces too soon and P-32 hits a mine. This sends P-32 to the seafloor at a depth of 210 feet with the entire area forward of the control room flooded, killing 8 crew. Abdy manages to escape through the conning tower hatch along with Coxswain E. Kirk, but the rest of the crew in the engine room proves unable to use their escape hatch for some reason. This is likely because an iron bar may have been welded over the rear hatch (though this is not proven). The commander of the Italian ship that picks up Abdy and his mate agrees to stick around to await more survivors, but nobody else gets out. It one of the most dramatic escapes from a submarine during the entire war, as a depth of over 150 feet is considered fatal. A total of 30 men perish.

There are still thousands of Commonwealth troops hiding out on Crete. Royal Navy submarine Torbay (Lt. Comdr. Miers) enters Messara Bay and picks up 28 British and 12 Greek soldiers. Torbay stays in the area submerged on the sea floor and enters the bay again on the 19th, picking up an additional 92 men and returning them to Alexandria.

Royal Navy submarine Tetrarch fires torpedoes into Benghazi Harbor, damaging the port boom defense.

The RAF based on Malta bombs Tripoli with five Wellington bombers.

Royal Navy destroyers Jackal and Kingston make the nightly supply run from Alexandria to Tobruk and back without incident. The relief of Australian troops is in progress, with replacement Polish soldiers landed.

Dneiper dam blown by retreating Soviets, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
In order to slow down the Germans, the Red Army blows up the Dniproges Dam. There is a 120m x 10m hole in the Dnieper hydroelectric dam (Dniproges) at 16:00 on 18 August 1941, producing a monstrous wave that sweeps from Zaporizhia to Nikopol, killing local residents as well as soldiers from both sides.

Battle of the Black Sea: The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks Soviet submarine depot ship Boug at Cherson (Kherson).

The retreating Soviets scuttle freighter Volochaevka at Cherson.

Soviet auxiliary minesweeper T-503 is lost on this from unknown causes.

Propaganda: Joseph Goebbels calls President Roosevelt the "agent of international Jewry."

Finnish Ambassador Hjalmar Procope, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish Ambassador Hjalmar Procope.

US/Finnish Relations: The Soviet Union uses US Secretary of State Sumner Welles as an intermediary to discuss peace terms with Finland. The Soviet proposal is to modify the Peace of Moscow of 1940, which ended the Winter War, to grant Finland some concessions. Finnish Ambassador Hjalmar Procope replies to Welles that the future of Finland depends upon what happens to the Soviet Union after the war, and requests a guarantee to Finland from the Western powers that they will protect Finland if Germany loses the war (which nobody expects at this point). Welles refuses to even consider such a guarantee. The peace feelers go no further.

US/Japanese Relations: At 16:00, Ambassador Grew meets with Foreign Minister Toyoda in Tokyo. Toyoda speaks for two and a half hours straight. He defends Japanese actions in the Pacific and denies that Japan is acting in concert with Germany and says its only objective is the settling of issues in China. For these reasons, a summit meeting between the leaders of the two powers should occur. Grew responds that the Japanese position has not responded adequately to President Roosevelt's concerns, but he will forward the Japanese request for a summit meeting to the US government with his personal support (which he does).

German/Finnish Relations: The Germans confer the Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz) on Marshal Mannerheim.

Italian Cant Z501,18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
An Italian Cant Z501, of the type that organized the rescue of the two survivors of P-32.

Anglo/US Relations: President Roosevelt's White House issues a statement announcing that the US will institute an air transport service from the United States to Africa via Brazil, thence to Egypt. A new aerial "ferry service" is to link up with this in order to deliver military planes to Egypt for the British. The statement reads in part:
The ferry system and the transport service provide direct and speedy delivery of aircraft from the ‘arsenal of democracy’ to a critical point in the front against aggression. The importance of this direct line of communications between our country and strategic outposts in Africa cannot be overestimated.
Pan American Airways, Inc. quietly on 24 July has formed three subsidiaries to conduct the operations:

  • Pan American Air Ferries, Inc.
  • Pan American Airways Co.
  • Pan American Airways-Africa, Ltd.

The ferry service is to take the military planes across the Atlantic to Africa, while the transport service is to return the pilots to the United States, with the third company handling administrative details. Pan Am and the US government already have signed agreements on 12 August to start the service. The British also sign agreements with Pan American Airways-Africa and Pan American Air Ferries - the transport company, the one that returns the pilots to the United States, is not their concern.

The ferry service supposedly derives from a request by Winston Churchill at the Atlantic Charter conference and a subsequent meeting between Roosevelt and Pan Am chairman Juan Trippe on or about 18 August 1941. However, as indicated from the earlier formation of the Pan Am corporations, the idea actually has been under consideration for some time and the conference itself is just a formality to finalize it.

Wounded Polish pilot Sergeant Giermer, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Sergeant Wacław Giermer of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron in conversation with a nurse while recovering in a hospital, 18 August 1941." Giermer was injured during a raid on Lille on 8 July 1941. (© IWM (HU 128141)).

US Military: The War Department tasks the Coast Guard with patrolling the sea lanes in Alaskan waters and keeping them open.

The US Marine Corps 1st Defense battalion arrives at Wake Island aboard US freighter Regulus (AK-14).

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy requisitions 10,020-ton tanker Shinkoku Maru and puts it under the control of the Kure Naval District.

US Government: President Roosevelt signs into a law a modification of the 1940 Selective Service Act that extends the term of service of inductees from 12 to 30 months. The bill passed the House of Representatives by only one vote because there is widespread opposition throughout the country to any peacetime draft.

Congressman John Dingell of Michigan sends President Roosevelt a letter in which he proposes to take 10,000 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii as hostages for Japan's "good behavior." This is the earliest suggestion of incarcerating Japanese-Americans.

HMS Prince of Wales crew with PM WInston Churchill, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"The ship's company of HMS PRINCE OF WALES poses for a photograph with Winston Churchill and his staff at Scapa Flow after the Atlantic Meeting with President Roosevelt, 18 August 1941." © IWM (A 5004).

British Government: Following the Atlantic Conference in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and a brief stop in Iceland, Prime Minister Churchill returns to Scapa Flow, Scotland aboard battleship HMS Prince of Wales.

Burma: The Japanese have heard about the American Volunteer Group (AVG, or "Flying Tigers") assembling at Kyedaw, Burma, so they send a reconnaissance plane overhead.

Holocaust: Following a widely discussed series of sermons in German churches condemning euthanasia, Hitler orders a halt - or, more accurately, a pause - in the program. About 50,000 mentally challenged and elderly people have been put to death under the program, including a relation of Hitler himself.

Hitler orders the deportation of what remains of Berlin's Jews to the East.

The concentration camp at Amersfoort, Netherlands, opens.

Brazilian Homefront: A Lockheed 18-10 Lodestar operated by Panair do Brasil crashes into Serra da Cantareira on approach to São Paulo at night. Five of nine passengers and one of four crew members survive the crash. Note that this is one day after Walt Disney and party arrives by air at Rio de Janeiro on a goodwill trip for the US government.

German Homefront: "Swing kids" (Swingjugend) have become an underground phenomenon in the Reich, and the government is not happy at this intrusion of decadent foreign culture. The Swing Kids listen to American and British records, tend to have long hair, dispute authority, and mock military customs such as the Hitler Salute. In general, the police forces (led by Reinhard Heydrich) see this as a dangerous infusion of "anglophile tendencies" that cannot be tolerated.

Today, the police decide to end this scourge. They send men into the clubs, arrest over 300 Swing Kids, and institute various punishments against them. These punishments range from sending the kids back to school or to concentration camps. Some boys are sent to the youth camp at  Moringen and girls to the women's camp at Ravensbruck. This incites further resistance by Swing Kids who aren't captured, of course, and they begin doing anti-government acts like handing out anti-fascist leaflets.

Lili Marleen, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Electrola EC 6993/ORA 4198-2. First recording of Lili Marlen, 2. August 1939, Electrola Studio, Berlin. Label of one of the different variants that appeared during the war. The oldest label shows that the original song title was first called Song of a young sentry. (Mediatus - Eigenes Werk (own work); Digital eingelesene Platte aus meiner Sammlung)

Yugoslavian Homefront: Radio Belgrade (Soldatensender Belgrad (Soldiers' Radio Belgrade)) plays a second-hand record collected by a lieutenant on leave in Vienna. It is "Lili Marleen" (aka "Lili Marlen," "Lilli Marlene," and "Lily Marlene," "Lili Marlène" and various other permutations) sung by Lale Andersen. The record was in the bargain bin after selling only 700 copies in its release in 1939. The station only has a few records to play, so it plays "Lili Marleen" over and over and over.

Joseph Goebbels hates the song and demands Radio Belgrade to stop playing it. However, Axis soldiers across the Mediterranean hear the song and love it, including General Erwin Rommel. He asks the station to continue playing the song. Goebbels, who is a friend of Rommel's, relents and allows the song to be played. The song becomes the sign-off tune of the station at 21:55 every night, and soldiers on both sides start to tune in at that moment to hear the song every night. It becomes the most famous song of the war and sells over a million copies.

Contrary to popular belief, the famous version of "Lil Marleen" is not by Marlene Dietrich, though she does record a version (retitled "Lili Marlene" in her honor) for the Morale Operations Branch of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1944.

Lale Andersen, Lili Marleen 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Lale Andersen and her hit "Lili Marleen."

Dutch Homefront: The German occupation authorities suppress what remains of the Dutch government and impose a strict occupation government.

British Homefront: The newly organized National Fire Service - which combines numerous previously independent local fire departments into one seamless organization - comes into being under Sir Aylmer Firebrace, a former London fire chief. The 118,000 men in 1400 local fire brigades, with 180,000 auxiliaries and 60,000 women, are combined into 200 "divisions" and 37 "fire forces." This became necessary because some local fire departments were refusing to come to the aid of local municipalities out of fear that their own towns might be hit. In addition, there were stories of extortion by some fire departments in exchange for providing fire services.

American Homefront: Chesty Manly, the Washington, D.C. correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, publishes a story claiming that a "leak" has informed him that President Roosevelt has plans to send an American expeditionary force to Europe.  The story creates an uproar in the capital, and a vigorous debate breaks out in the press about the truthfulness of the story. It is one of several stories run by the isolationist Manly that is of questionable veracity.

The Reverend John A. O'Brien makes a radio address that urges the world to "choose the road to peace." He rhetorically asks what the warring powers have accomplished by two years of war and deplores war's futility. He concludes with a plea to President Roosevelt to put his power "into the Christ-like work of halting the brutal European strife."

Judy Garland, 18 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Judy Garland on the cover of Animatografo, Issue no. 41, 18 August 1941.


August 1941

August 1, 1941: More Executions on Crete
August 2, 1941: Uman Encirclement Closes
August 3, 1941: Bishop von Galen Denounces Euthanasia
August 4, 1941: Hitler at the Front
August 5, 1941: Soviets Surrender at Smolensk 
August 6, 1941: U-Boats in the Arctic
August 7, 1941: Soviets Bomb Berlin
August 8, 1941: Uman Pocket Captured
August 9, 1941: Atlantic Conference at Placentia Bay
August 10, 1941: Soviet Bombers Mauled Over Berlin
August 11, 1941: Rita Hayworth in Life
August 12, 1941: Atlantic Charter Announced
August 13, 1941: The Soybean Car
August 14, 1941: The Anders Army Formed
August 15, 1941: Himmler at Minsk
August 16, 1941: Stalin's Order No. 270
August 17, 1941: Germans in Novgorod
August 18, 1941: Lili Marleen
August 19, 1941: Convoy OG-71 Destruction
August 20, 1941: Siege of Leningrad Begins
August 21, 1941: Stalin Enraged
August 22, 1941: Germans Take Cherkassy
August 23, 1941: Go to Kiev
August 24, 1941: Finns Surround Viipuri
August 25, 1941: Iran Invaded
August 26, 1941: The Bridge Over the Desna
August 27, 1941: Soviets Evacuate Tallinn
August 28, 1941: Evacuating Soviets Savaged
August 29, 1941: Finns take Viipuri
August 30, 1941: Operation Acid
August 31, 1941: Mannerheim Says No



2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

August 17, 1941: Germans in Novgorod


Sunday 17 August 1941

Germans enter Novgorod, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German troops entering the Kremlin of Novgorod, 17 August 1941 (Federal Archive, Bild 183-H26513).

Eastern Front: The Wehrmacht on 17 August 1941 continues to hold the initiative, but every day more trucks break down and more men get killed and more tanks need new tracks and engines and other maintenance. Generalleutnant Wolfgang Fischer at the 10th Panzer Division headquarters notes in the war diary that there are no spare parts available, and when trucks break down, the choice either is to leave them or to tow them.

In the Far North sector, Finnish 18th Division crosses the Vuoksi River and establishes a secure bridgehead. Other Finnish forces continue putting pressure on trapped Soviet troops throughout the Karelian Isthmus. For most of them, the only possibility of escape is by boat across Lake Ladoga.

German artillery near Narva, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Infantry support gun (7.5 cm light infantry gun) of the German 291st Infantry Division on the firing position near the Narva River, on or about 17 August 1941.

In the Army Group North sector, the Germans take Narva, Estonia, and 56th Panzer Corps of Panzer Group 4 strengthens its grip on Novgorod. The Wehrmacht is busy transferring three divisions from Army Group Center to Army Group North, but Field Marshal von Bock at the former is resisting releasing one of the motorized divisions because of the ongoing Soviet offensive south of Lake Ilmen.

In the Army Group Center sector, General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 continues driving toward Bryansk, while 2nd Army advances on Gomel. The Soviets continue attacking the exposed German "lightning rod" position at Yelnya, but the Germans are holding fast. Field Marshal von Bock calls off an offensive planned against Mozir. Halder talks with von Bock during the day, and the latter remains fixated on the possibility of renewing the attack on Moscow as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Soviet 24th Army attacks a German bridgehead at El'nia.

In the Army Group South sector, Romanian 4th Army scores a major success by capturing the water supplies of Odessa. The Soviets are under strict orders to hold the city for as long as possible, an order underscored by Stalin's Order No. 270 issued on the 16th which prescribes death for anyone who exhibits dereliction of duty. The Romanians still have not made a real assault on the city, however.

The Soviets are retreating in the vicinity of Dnepropetrovsk, which the German Panzer Group 1 captures. The Luftwaffe sends fighter-bombers from I. and II./JG 3 along with III./JG 52 against the city. The Luftwaffe pilots claim to shoot down 33 Soviet planes, including 29 bombers. The Soviets complete their evacuation from Nikolayev, covering their final withdrawal with 8 destroyers of the Black Sea Fleet. The Germans also take Nikopol on the Dneiper.

British Home Guard on exercises, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Home Guard troops practice defending a roadblock with smoke and rifle fire, 17 August 1941.

European Air Operations: Today's RAF missions are distinguished by few losses. However, the results of the missions are mediocre, so not much is accomplished by either side. All in all, it is a fairly unremarkable day in the air.

During the day, the RAF sends 20 Blenheims on the usual coastal sweeps. These include all three major types of aerial operations: Circus, Roadstead, and Rhubarb operations. Some shipping is attacked off Terschelling. All of the aircraft return safely.

After dark, the RAF continues its series of heavy attacks on German. Tonight's targets are Bremen and Duisburg.

The RAF puts 39 Hampdens and 20 Whitleys over Bremen. The targets are the Focke-Wulf factory and railways yards. The Germans shoot down two Hampdens. The RAF pilots claim hits on the airplane factory.

The RAF puts 41 Wellingtons over the Duisburg railway yards, with all of the planes returning. Not much is accomplished on this raid because the weather prevents accurate aiming.

Also during the night, a dozen Hampdens also lay mines off of Denmark, a Wellington raids Dunkirk, and 6 bombers go on training missions over Europe. No losses on these missions.

Battle of the Baltic: Soviet submarine Shch-307 hits a mine and sinks near Suursaari Island (Gogland).

German torpedo boat S.58 sinks Soviet minesweeper/patrol boat No. 80 in the Gulf of Finland.

German auxiliary minesweeper M-1707 hits a mine and sinks in the Gulf of Finland.

Soviet patrol boats attack a German convoy in the Gulf of Finland off Cape Domesnas. They cause the ships to engage in evasive maneuvers, during which German minesweeper M.1707 "Luneburg" comes under fire from Soviet coastal artillery, which causes Luneburg to engage in more evasive maneuvers. The end result is that Luneburg blunders into a German minefield off Arensburg, Ösel Island and strikes a mine, and sinks.

Estonian submarines Kalev (Lt. Cmdr. Nyrov) and Lembit (Lt. Cmdr. Poleschuk) lay mines off Bornholm.

Soviet submarine ShCh-216 is commissioned.

Battle of the Atlantic: Royal Navy submarine HMS Tigris torpedoes and sinks 1482-ton Norwegian freighter Haakon Jarl off Svaerholt, Norway in the Barents Sea. There are three deaths.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 1999-ton British freighter Kindersley a few miles off Blyth. Kindersley makes it to the Blyth on the 18th.

The Luftwaffe attacks Convoy WN-68 off Aberdeen but scores no hits.

In Operation Kedgreree (part of Operation Ration), the Royal Navy sends ships to sea to intercept what is believed to be a Vichy French convoy carrying contraband destined for Germany. There is a similar mission in the Indian Ocean by cruisers HMS Hawkins and HMAS Australia, with the same code names. Neither of these operations spots any French ships.

A Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor of I,/KG 40 spots Convoy OG-71 and radios the location to BdU in Paris. The Kriegsmarine vectors in U-201 (ObltzS Adalbert Schee), which shadows the convoy.

Spanish freighter Navemar departs from Lisbon bound for Cuba and New York. The ship is overcrowded with 1800 refugees, mainly Jews fleeing Hitler, and conditions are terrible. The ship acquires the nickname "the floating concentration camp."

Convoy WS-10 arrives at Freetown

Men of the doomed HMS Neptune, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Group photos of some Royal Marines aboard either HMS Neptune or HMS Kandahar, 17 August 1941. These men all lost their lives later in the year when their ship hit a mine and sank. (Neptune Association).

Battle of the Mediterranean: Dutch submarine O-23, operating in the Sicilian Strait, attacks an Italian convoy sailing from Naples to Tripoli. O-23 torpedoes and badly damages 5479-ton Italian freighter Maddalena Odero. The freighter, escorted by Italian torpedo boats Pegaso and Sirtori, heads for Lampedusa. The RAF (Bristol Blenheim aircraft of No. 105 Squadron) later attacks Maddalena Odero twice, setting its cargo on fire. Maddalena Odero is written off on the 18th.

Tonight's Tobruk run is made by Royal Navy destroyers HMS Kipling and Nizam. They land supplies and rotate in some Polish troops, then make it back to Alexandria without incident.

Royal Navy submarine Regent is damaged at the dock in Alexandria when one of its own torpedoes explodes. Nobody is injured, but the submarine is damaged.

At Malta, RAF Hurricanes shoot down a Caproni seaplane east of  Zonqor Point. RAF No. 800 Squadron Swordfish attack the Italian convoy that O-23 also attacks, claiming hits on three ships, but only the hits on Maddalena Odero are confirmed. Three Hurricanes attack seaplanes in Syracuse harbor, claiming hits on several targets.

Battle of the Pacific: German raider Komet (AMC Schiff 45), operating southeast of the Galapagos Islands, captures 7322-ton Dutch freighter Kota Nopan. The cargo includes valuable commodities including 2800 tons of sago, 1500 tons of rubber, 1200 tons of tin, and 1200 tons of manganese. The Germans put a prize crew on the ship and send it to France (where it arrives safely in November). This is Komet's second success in the area in recent days after a long quiet period in the vastness of the Pacific.

Partisan hanging in Belgrade, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Public hanging in Belgrade, 17 August 1941 (Muzej Revolucije Narodnosti Jugoslavije).

Spy Stuff: German agent Juan Pujol Garcia, who has been sent to London via Lisbon, instead is camping out in Lisbon and only pretending to be in London. His mission is to recruit British spies - in London. Today, from Lisbon, he radios his handler, Friedrich Knappe-Ratey aka "Frederico," and claims that he has successfully recruited a local agent. At this time, Garcia is not yet working as a double-agent - he is simply making up believable nonsense and reporting it as fact.

Partisans: The Germans stage a public hanging on Terazije in Belgrade. This is becoming standard punishment for suspected partisans and terrorists.

Tito, who has led the partisan movement in Yugoslavia, begins to coordinate his partisan activities with Moscow (Comintern).

Maleme Airfield, Crete, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The repair workshop on Maleme airfield, Crete, where the dozens of Luftwaffe transports damaged during Operation Mercury are being repaired (Krempl, Federal Archive, Bild 183-B10713).

US/Japanese Relations: With President Roosevelt back in Washington following the Atlantic Conference, Secretary of State Cordell Hull brings Japanese Ambassador Nomura in to see him. This is the fourth meeting between Roosevelt and Nomura. Responding to Nomura's request for a summit meeting between Roosevelt and the leader of the Japanese government, Prince Konoye, Roosevelt says he requires a clear statement of Japan's intentions in the Pacific. Roosevelt says that the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union wished for peace for in the Pacific, but few others did (a veiled reference to the Tripartite powers).

Roosevelt seems open to a summit meeting with Konoye. However, he says it cannot be in Hawaii because "I am not permitted to travel in an airplane." He proposes that Konoye come to Juneau, Alaska, Seattle, Washington, or San Francisco. Nomura casually mentions that such a meeting would best be held by mid-September.

Anglo/US/Chinese Relations: The Nationalist Chinese government in Chungking indicates its approval of the Atlantic Charter - though everybody in Asia is scratching their heads about its implications for the region. A common interpretation is that the Americans have refused to go along with British attempts to drag the United States into the war and thus may be more accommodating to the Japanese than previously thought.

Benigno Aquino Sr. (4th from left) with President Manuel L. Quezon, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Benigno Aquino Sr. (4th from left) with President Manuel L. Quezon, August 17, 1941.

Soviet Military: Admiral Vladimir Tributs is put in charge of the defense of Leningrad.

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy continues requisitioning merchant ships for use in various roles within the navy. Today, those include:

  • 6486-ton freighter Kenyo Maru
  • 7158-ton Sanuki Maru
  • 17,526-ton liner Kamakura Maru

The IJN converts the Snauki Maru into a seaplane tender, mounting two 150-mm/45 cal single-mount guns, two 80-mm single-mount guns, two 13.2-mm single-mount machine guns, and a catapult. The IJN converts Kamakura Maru into a charter vessel for the Yokosuka Naval District.

American Aggregates railroad car, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
American Aggregates railroad car in service at the Oxford, Michigan, gravel pit, 17 August 1941. It remains in existence in 2018 in a railway museum (Donald S. Moore photo from IRM Collection).

British Government: Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden submits a report to the War Cabinet on the current state of morale in Italy. The report finds that Italian civilian and military morale has plummeted during the war and that many Italians dislike the Germans and like the British. The reports cautions, however, that:

The chances of knocking Italy out of the war (ie forcing her to a separate peace) can now be discounted since the Germans would certainly forestall any such move in Italy by converting the present moral occupation into a physical occupation of the country. But the more depressed and restless the Italians become the less effective is the Fascist Government’s contribution to the German effort, and the greater do Germany’s policing responsibilities in Italy become.
The report concludes:
The moral of this is that, even though we cannot now hope to knock Italy out, we should not relax efforts to hit metropolitan Italy by air and from the sea whenever opportunity offers.  Each blow against Italy is a blow against Germany.
The RAF based at Malta has been bombing Rome, Milan, and Naples, but overall it has not suffered nearly as much from Allied bombing as has Germany.

Australia: The government approves the formation of the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS).

Memorial to the Ludza Massacre, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Memorial to the Ludza Massacre of 17 August 1941 (Find a Grave).

Holocaust: From now until 27 August, the Jews of Ludza, Latvia, about 800 people, are taken 7 km out of town. There, they are marched into two long pits, shot, and buried.

Walt Disney and party in Rio de Janeiro, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Walt Disney, wife Lillian, and his party arrive in Rio de Janeiro, 17 August 1941.

American Homefront: Walt Disney begins a goodwill tour of Latin America. Accompanying Walt on the trip, which is underwritten by a $70,000 government grant, is his wife Lillian and studio personnel Mary Blair, Frank Thomas, Bill Cottrell, Ted Sears, and a dozen other animators. Flying Pan American Airways, the group arrives today in Rio de Janeiro. This is the beginning of a 10-week journey. Thomas later recreates the trip in the documentary "Walt and El Grupo." Thomas credits the trip with enhancing Mary Blair's skills - she becomes one of the most renowned artists, animators, and illustrators in Disney history.

Future History: John Wesley Powell is born in Lakeland, Florida. As "Boog" Powell, he becomes a Major League baseball player best known for his years on the Baltimore Orioles. He wins the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1970 and plays on championship teams in Baltimore in 1966 and 1970. Boog Powell retires in 1977. Boog later explains that "Boog" is a shortening of "bugger," an affectionate nickname for children in the South.

Fritz Wepper is born in Munich, Germany. He becomes a well-known German actor in the late 1950s and plays Inspector Harry Klein in crime series "Derrick."

Francesco Columbu is born in Ollolai, Sardinia. He becomes a renowned bodybuilder who wins Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981. He alternates titles with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wins the 1980 Mr. Olympia, and the two become friends, with Columbu serving as Schwarzenegger's best man during his marriage to Maria Shriver. Columbu generally is considered to be Schwarzenegger's most famous contemporaneous bodybuilding competitor. Like Schwarzenegger, Columbu branches out into acting, appearing in movies such as "Conan the Barbarian" (1982) and "Ancient Warriors" (2003), as well as television shows and commercials. Schwarzenegger appoints Columbu to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, where he serves from February 2006 to January 2014.

Gabriella Farinon is born in Oderzo, Italy. Farinon becomes an actress in films such as "Space-Men" (1960) and a prominent television presenter on Italian television public broadcasting company RAI. She remains active throughout the 1960s-1990s and apparently is retired as of this writing in 2018.

Wesel, Germany, 17 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Wesel, Brückstraße, Altstadt. In the background Willibrordi Cathedral (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archive, Bild 212-291)

August 1941

August 1, 1941: More Executions on Crete
August 2, 1941: Uman Encirclement Closes
August 3, 1941: Bishop von Galen Denounces Euthanasia
August 4, 1941: Hitler at the Front
August 5, 1941: Soviets Surrender at Smolensk 
August 6, 1941: U-Boats in the Arctic
August 7, 1941: Soviets Bomb Berlin
August 8, 1941: Uman Pocket Captured
August 9, 1941: Atlantic Conference at Placentia Bay
August 10, 1941: Soviet Bombers Mauled Over Berlin
August 11, 1941: Rita Hayworth in Life
August 12, 1941: Atlantic Charter Announced
August 13, 1941: The Soybean Car
August 14, 1941: The Anders Army Formed
August 15, 1941: Himmler at Minsk
August 16, 1941: Stalin's Order No. 270
August 17, 1941: Germans in Novgorod
August 18, 1941: Lili Marleen
August 19, 1941: Convoy OG-71 Destruction
August 20, 1941: Siege of Leningrad Begins
August 21, 1941: Stalin Enraged
August 22, 1941: Germans Take Cherkassy
August 23, 1941: Go to Kiev
August 24, 1941: Finns Surround Viipuri
August 25, 1941: Iran Invaded
August 26, 1941: The Bridge Over the Desna
August 27, 1941: Soviets Evacuate Tallinn
August 28, 1941: Evacuating Soviets Savaged
August 29, 1941: Finns take Viipuri
August 30, 1941: Operation Acid
August 31, 1941: Mannerheim Says No



2018