Monday, July 30, 2018

August 25, 1941: Iran Invaded

Monday 25 August 1941

Finnish troops near Viipuri, 25 August 1941
Finnish troops fire (perhaps) a Lahti L-39 anti-tank rifle (20mm x 138mm Solothurn) outside Viipuri (Vyborg), 25 August 1941 (colorized from SA-Kuva). The soldiers appear to be wearing foreign helmets.

Iran Invasion: The British and Soviet Armies jointly invade Iran from different directions on 25 August 1941. The two nations divided Iran into separate spheres of influence in 1908, making the division of the country preordained. The invasion is an immediate success with no serious issues encountered by the invaders from either the defenders or the terrain.

In Operation Countenance, RAF aircraft based in Iraq beginning bombing Tehran, Qazvin, and other targets before dawn. The Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy, under the command of Commodore Cosmo Graham, land at Abadan (Operation Demon), Khorramshahr and Bandar Shapur in the Persian Gulf. Resistance is extremely light, and the British sink two Iranian gunboats and quickly seize 7 Axis ships. The British are aided by clandestine reconnaissance missions conducted since the collapse of resistance in Iraq in May 1941. The invading units are organized as "Iraq Command."

Soviet troops entering Iran, 25 August 1941
Soviet troops of the 44th Army cross the Iranian border, 25 August 1941.
The Soviet 44th, 47th and 53rd armies of the recently formed Transcaucasian Front (General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov) invade by land primarily from Transcaucasia. The Soviets use about 1,000 T-26 tanks and quickly occupy large portions of Iran's northern provinces. Red Air Force and naval units also participate where they can be used, with planes bombing Tabriz, Ardabil, and Rasht.

The Iranian Army is taken by complete surprise. It mobilizes nine infantry divisions, two armored. The Iranians have good equipment, including the vz. 24 rifle that compares with the Wehrmacht's Mauser, and also has about 100 tanks (FT-6 and Panzer 38(t) light tanks that the Wehrmacht also uses). In addition, the Iranian army has La France TK-6 armored cars. However, the Iranian equipment by and large is obsolete, poorly handled, and overwhelmed by tactical surprise.

Iranian generals argue for a "scorched earth" policy of destroying bridges and other infrastructure in order to at least slow the invasion. Reza Shah refuses because he is proud of the great advances in roadways and buildings made in Iran during his reign and does not want to destroy them.

Iranian leader Rezā Shāh Pahlavi quickly summons Sir Reader Bullard and Andrey Andreyevich Smirnov, the British and Soviet ambassadors to Iran, to demand an explanation. They refer to two previous warnings made on 19 July and 17 August to expel German nationals which had not been carried out. There indeed are many Germans and Italians working on railways, telegraphs and the like, but they have been there for decades. Reza Shah also sends a telegram to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt lamely responds that the "territorial integrity" of Iran should be respected, but otherwise does nothing.

Electricity goes out in Tehran at around 22:00, causing the lights to go out everywhere, including the Shah's palaces. For many Iranians, this is the first that they learn of the invasion.

By the end of the day, the British are control of Abadan after fierce hand-to-hand fighting around the refinery. There are light casualties on both sides, but the Iranian Naval Commander in Chief Rear Admiral Bayendor dies in defense of the naval base. Other areas such as Qasr Sheikh and Khorramshahr, both near Abadan also fall today. The Soviet troops capture Jolfa and drive south toward Tabriz and Lake Urmia against virtually no resistance. The Soviet Caspian Sea Flotilla (Rear-Admiral Sedelnikov) lands troops in Gilan Province wile 44th Army enters the same province by land. The Iranians score some rare successes at Pahlavi Harbour in Bandar Pahlavi, where they prevent a Soviet landing by sinking barges at the entrance to the harbor and fiercely defend Rasht.

Iranian gunboat sunk during Operation Countenance, 25 August 1941
Iranian gunboat Babr sunk at Khorramshar, Iran, on 25 August 1941 (Iranian government).
Eastern Front: In the Far North sector, the Soviet 115th and 123rd Rifle Divisions continue their attempt to throw leading Finnish elements of Light Brigade T back across the Vuoksi river. Soviet artillery kills Light Brigade T's commander, Col. Tiiainen. Finnish reinforcements soon arrive, however, and force the Soviets back. Finnish reinforcements soon arrive, however, and force the Soviets back.

Further north, Finnish troops find themselves blocked in their attempt to cut the Murmansk railway line at Loukhi. General Hjalmar Siilasvuo, commander of III Corps, tells General Falkenhorst, commander of Army of Norway, that the attack has failed and that he needs a fresh Finnish division to resume the offensive. Falkenhorst arranges a meeting with Siilasvuo for the 29th.

Finnish 36 Corps, operating between Nurmi Lake and Nurmi Mountain, is trying to cut off Soviet troops who have discovered an unmarked logging road. The Finns managed to cut the escape route today, trapping at least some of the fleeing Soviet troops. The weather improves, and bombers and dive-bombers are able to attack the Soviet troops. The Soviets, though, refuse to give up on their escape route and fight savagely to reopen it.

Soviet soldier in BA-20 armored car, 25 August 1941
A young Soviet soldier in a BA-20 light armored car. Red Army armor crossed the Iranian border on 25 August. 1941.
In the Army Group North sector, the Germans capture Novgorod south of Leningrad. German LVI Corps (General von Manstein) and 39 Corps (motorized) attack east of the Volkhov River toward Lyuban and the Neva River. The Soviets defend with the 4th, 52nd, and 54th Armies. German LVI Corps pushes the Soviet 34th and 11th Armies back to the Lovat River.

In the Army Group Center sector, General Guderian has Panzer Group 2 begin its offensive south toward Kyiv from Starodub, while the 2nd Army also joins in 75 miles to the west. Second Army quickly seizes a key bridge, but Panzer Group 2 just as quickly runs into fierce Soviet resistance which slows his advance to a crawl. Panzer Group 3 continues fighting into Velikiye Luki.

In the Army Group South sector, General von Kleist's Panzer Group 2 captures Dnepropetrovsk south of Kyiv. Kleist aims to secure the town and its important river crossing and then head north to meet Guderian's Panzer Group 2 heading south to encircle the Soviet troops at Kyiv. Fighting dies down on the Odesa perimeter, with the Romanians relying on artillery based at Kubanka to wear down the defending Soviet troops.

Luftwaffe ace Hermann-Friedrich Joppien, an Experten with 70 victories (42 on the Western Front), is shot down and killed southwest of Bryansk. A Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighter shoots him down while Joppien and his wingman are attacking three Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers. He receives a posthumous Wehrmachtbericht mention on 29 August 1941, his third mention.

Hauptmann Hermann-Friedrich Joppien, KIA 25 August 1941
Hauptmann Hermann-Friedrich Joppien, Kommandeur of I./JG 51. KIA 25 August 1941 in the Soviet Union.
European Air Operations: During the day, RAF Bomber Command sends six Blenheim bombers on a routine patrol to the mouth of the River Scheldt without incident.

During the night, the RAF sends 37 Wellington and 12 Stirlings against Karlsruhe and 38 Hampden and 7 Manchester bombers against Mannheim. There are 2 Wellingtons and one Stirling lost on the Karlsruhe raid and 3 Hampdens lost over Mannheim. The weather is poor over Karlsruhe, leading to poor accuracy, while the RAF does moderate damage to Mannheim.

One of the Vickers Wellington bombers going to Karlsruhe doesn't make it for an odd reason. Near Niederdonven, a bolt of lightning strikes it, causing the plane to explode. All six crewmen perish and are temporarily buried in Niederdonven cemetery, where a memorial plaque is placed.

There are scattered Luftwaffe raids across northeast England, with reports of five reconnaissance aircraft crossing the coast. Slight damage at Ashington, Whitley Bay, and Wallsend.

Battle of the Baltic: The German 3rd S-Boat Flotilla lays 30 TMB mines off Cape Ristna (Dago). German minelayers Brummer and Roland lay 170 EMC mines in minefield Rusto north of Cape Ristna.

The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks Soviet tanker Zheleznodrozhnik and freighters Daugava and Lunacharsk. There are seven deaths on the Lunacharski.

Soviet icebreaker Truvor hits a mine and sinks in the Gulf of Finland. There are 22 survivors.

Auxiliary Soviet river gunboat Vernyy is sunk during action while assisting the Red Army.

HMS Newark, damaged on 25 August 1941
HMS Newark, damaged on 25 August 1941 (© IWM (FL 3299)).
Battle of the Atlantic: Royal Navy antisubmarine trawler HMS Vascama (Lt Walgate) joins with an RAF Catalina J of No. 209 Squadron based at Reykjavik, Iceland to sink U-452 south of Iceland. U-452 (Kptlt. Jürgen March) was on its first patrol out of Trondheim. All 42 men on the submarine perish.

U-752 (Karl-Ernst Schroeter), on its first patrol out of Kirkenes, torpedoes and sinks 553-ton-ton Soviet minesweeping trawler Dvina (T-898 (No. 44)) about 80 miles east of Cape Chernyj northwest of Svyatoy, Russia. Some accounts state that U-752 also torpedoes auxiliary minesweeper Nenets as well, but that may refer to the same ship by another name.

Royal Navy minelayers Adventure, Port Quebec, and Southern Prince lay minefield SN-70A in the North Atlantic. While returning to port, 10,917-ton Southern Prince is spotted by U-652 (Oblt. Georg-Werner Fraatz), which is on its second patrol out of Trondheim, and torpedoed and damaged midway between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. There are no casualties, and Southern Prince makes it back to Scapa Flow and later Belfast for repairs.

Royal Navy destroyer Newark, formerly USS Ringgold, is torpedoed while in the company of Southern Prince. It is towed into Belfast for repairs. It is under repair until May 1942. It is unclear if U-652 also hit Newark or if it was another vessel or plane.

German 2288-ton freighter Troyburg is stranded and lost at Farsund, southwest Norway.

US aircraft carrier USS Wasp leads American Task Group TG.2.6 on a neutrality patrol out of Hampton Roads today.

Royal Navy minelayer HMS Welshman (Captain Wiliam H. D. Friedberger) is commissioned and corvette Loosestrife is launched.

United States Navy submarine USS Finback is launched.

U-333 (Kptlt. Peter Erich Cremer) is commissioned. The Kriegsmarine places orders for 61 new U-boats.

Young boy smoking on Russo-Finnish front, 25 August 1941
"Small boys prefer to smoke cigarettes than eat candy. In this picture, a 2.5-year-old tot easily identifiable as male." - Russo-Finnish front, 25 August 1941.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Operation Treacle, the replacement of Australian troops at Tobruk with Polish troops of the Carpathian Brigade, continues. Minelaying cruiser Abdiel and destroyers Jackal, Hasty, and Kandahar take the troops from Alexandria to Tobruk late in the day. The Luftwaffe spots them and attacks at twilight but scores no hits.

Royal Navy minelayer Manxman completes laying its mines off of Livorno, Italy as part of Operation Mincemeat and heads back to Gibraltar.

Royal Navy submarine Rorqual (Lt. Napier) lays mines off Cape Skinari, Greece.

Nine Wellington bombers based on Malta attack Tripoli, causing moderate damage. One Wellington crashes while landing at Luqa airfield.

Battle of the Pacific: German blockade river Munsterland departs from Yokohama carrying supplies for other raiders in the Pacific.

Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front, 25 August 1941
Soldiers of the Waffen-SS looking over a map on the Eastern Front, 25 August 1941.
Special Forces: Operation Gauntlet, a raid on Spitzbergen, begins at 04:30 when destroyer HMS Icarus lands a signal party at the Kap Linne radio station at the entrance to Isfjoren on Spitzbergen Island. At first, the local Norwegians think the soldiers are Germans, but soon spot the flag of Norway on an officer's shoulder. Finding no resistance (the Norwegians are happy to see the British and there are no Germans), the Royal Navy ships steam into Isfjorden and then on to Grønfjorden at 08:00. The ships anchor at Barentsburg, populated by Russians who also are happy to see the Royal Navy. Brigadier Arthur Poss, commander of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, goes ashore and offers the Russians safe transport to Archangelsk if they wish. Facing no opposition, other Canadian units occupy strategic points along the coast. The locals now have a tough choice of whether to stay on the island or be evacuated.

Hitler, Mussolini, Jodl, and Keitel, 25 August 1941
The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Hitler, Major-General Alfred Jodl and Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel confer at Hitler’s headquarters in East Prussia, the Wolfsschanze, on 25 August 1941.
German/Italian Relations: Mussolini visits Hitler at the latter's headquarters at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) headquarters in East Prussia along with Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano. Hitler rails against Franco, who still refuses to join the war, while Mussolini complains that his army is disloyal. Hitler asks for more Italian troops to take over garrison duty in the Balkans to free up German troops to serve on the Eastern Front. The men then depart for an inspection tour of captured towns in Ukraine. This will be Mussolini's longest visit with Hitler of the war, lasting until 29 August.

German/Japanese Relations: Hitler meets with Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima in East Prussia.

US/Italian Relations: US authorities seize 5039-ton Italian tanker Colorado at San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is renamed Typhoon under Panamanian registration.

Soviet troops in Iran, 25 August 1941
Soviet soldiers gathered outside the headquarters established at the only hotel in Qazvin, Iran, 1941 (George Rodgers).
Italian/Argentinian Relations: The Argentine government seizes 16 Italian freighters in Argentine ports and puts them into Argentine service under new names.

German Military: Ernst Udet, Director-general of Equipment for the Luftwaffe, reports sick. Udet indeed is sick, but it is not a physical illness - he is beset by depression and raging paranoia.

In essence, Udet's job is to decide what plane designs get built and which to terminate. An ace pilot and World War I hero, Udet finds administrative work extremely stressful - though he is good at it and largely responsible for turning the Luftwaffe into a deadly instrument of war. Udet is a great friend of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, to whom he owes his position, and feels that he has let both Goering and himself down by failing in the Battle of Britain. Udet is replaced for the time being by Inspector General Erhard Milch.

Soviet Military: General Malinovsky takes over the Soviet 6th Army.

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy begins converting 10,020-ton tanker Shinkoku Maru into a naval auxiliary at Naniwa Dockyard, Osaka.

Fred Astaire and son on cover of Life, 25 August 1941
Fred Astaire and son on the cover of Life magazine, 25 August 1941.
US Military: Richard "Dick" Winters enlists in US Army. He becomes famous later in the war for commanding Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division. He is a major character in "Band of Brothers" (2001).

Holocaust: In the Tykocin pogrom, the SS takes about 1400-1700 Jewish residents of Tykocin in occupied Poland to nearby Łopuchowo forest and execute them.

German SS and civilian authorities meet at Vinnytsia, Ukraine to discuss the fate of 20,000 Hungarian Jews interned at Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine. The plan arrived at is to liquidate them by 1 September.

German authorities in Belgrade transport about 8000 Jewish residents to Topovske Supe for execution.

Norwegian fishing boat blown up on 25 August 1941
Fishing/excursion boat "Hod."
Norwegian Homefront: A group of about 20 Norwegian citizens attempting to flee the Germans boards fishing boat "Hod" at Ulstein. They leave for England on the evening of 25 August 1941. The boat is never seen again, but one woman's body is found later offshore and the boat's registration plate and some parts of it are later found. It is speculated that a German patrol plane spotted the boat offshore and bombed it.

Italian embassy staff in Essen, 25 August 1941
Members of the Italian Consulate in Essen. Note Queen Elena's picture on the wall (Federal Archive, Bild 212-303). 

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


Saturday, July 28, 2018

August 24, 1941: Finns Surround Viipuri

Sunday 24 August 1941

Train derailed by partisans in Yugoslavia, 24 August 1941
German transport destroyed by partisans on the railway line Sarajevo - Visegrad, Yugoslavia, 24 August 1941.
Eastern Front: General Halder is furious with General Guderian on 24 August 1941. Guderian had been drafted by Halder, Army Group Center commander Field Marshal von Bock, and others to change Hitler's mind about the wisdom of attacking Moscow rather than Kyiv during their meeting on the 23rd. Halder writes a scathing critique of Guderian's failure. He notes that Guderian told Hitler that his troops could not attack south due to weariness and lack of fuel, then notes that today Guderian has completely changed his position and now maintains that he can, in fact, immediately attack south. Halder writes:
My reply to [Guderian] is that I had no sympathy for such a 100% change of mind. His retort was: What he told us yesterday was framed with a view to furnishing OK  with arguments against the ordered operation to the south. Now, having become convinced by his interview that the Fuehrer was firmly resolved to execute this drive to the south, it was his duty to make the impossible possible in order to put those ideas into effect.
Halder concludes that "This conversation shows with devastating clearness with what complete irresponsibility official reports are twisted to fit any specific purposes."

In the Far North sector, the Soviet 115th and 123rd Rifle Divisions launch a counterattack against the Finnish bridgehead across the Vuoksi River. The Finnish Light Brigade T is partially surrounded and forced to fight for its life. Things look grim, but the Finns have reinforcements available while the Soviets do not, and the Soviet units are tired from long marches. The Finns quickly send units of IV Corps which are due to arrive on the 25th.

Finnish 8th Division (Col. Winell) crosses Viipuri Bay unopposed, isolating the Soviet forces in Viipuri by cutting their escape route along the coast. The Soviet troops are not going to retreat without orders anyway, as they know from experience that bad things happened to troops that retreated on their own initiative during the Winter War and the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa. Thus, the Soviets essentially allow the Finnish crossing because they are staying put anyway.

Finnish 36 Corps continues advancing in the area of Nurmi Lake and Nurmi Mountain. On their right flank, the Finns take the village of Vuoriyarvi, while in the left the Finnish 6th Division is racing to cut off Soviet troops that are trying to escape to the north along a logging road that they have found which is not on maps.

Fighting at Novgorod, 24 August 1941
Fighting at Novogord, 24 August 1941 (Kempe, Federal Archive, Bild 183-L19934).
In the Army Group North sector, the fighting features only local actions. The Soviets at Tallinn (Reval) realize their plight as German 18th Army presses in and organize a convoy to transfer troops and any remaining dependents back to Leningrad - with disastrous results (see below). Heavy fighting at Novgorod.

In the Army Group Center sector, Soviet General Ivan Konev attacks toward Gomel, recently taken by the German 2nd Army. Second Army itself is planning an attack on the south in conjunction with General Guderian's Panzer Group 2, which is about 75 miles to the east at Starodub. General Hoth's Panzer Group 3 continues thrusting in the direction of Velikie Luki, advancing to within a mile of the city.

Field Marshal von Bock is bitter about the emphasis on Kyiv and Leningrad over Moscow, writing:
This is the seventh or eighth time in this campaign that the army group has succeeded in encircling the enemy. But I'm not really happy about it, because the objective to which I have devoted all my thought, the destruction of the enemy armies, has been dropped. Perhaps we will overrun the Russians in from of my northern wing and thus get things going to the point that at least pressure on my eastern front is relieved...If, after all the successes, the campaign in the east now trickles away in dismal defensive fighting for my army group, it is not my fault"
Soviet T-26B surrenders, 24 August 1941
A Soviet tanker surrenders his T-26B tank, August 1941 (Friedrich, Federal Archive, Bild 101I-267-0115-24).
In the Army Group South sector, the Romanian 4th Army is bogged down around Odessa. The Soviet defenders are fighting desperately, helped by timely bombardments from the Black Sea Fleet and, as with their comrades in Karelia, a lack of authorization to retreat. The Romanians report that they have suffered 5,329 killed and 27,307 total casualties. On the bright side for the Romanians, they have inflicted heavy casualties on the defenders, and their artillery at Kubanka is pounding the Soviet port facilities. OKH agrees to send some spare battalions to help the Romanians get their attack moving again.

There is heavy fighting at Dnepropetrovsk and south of Kyiv. German 6th Army continues pulling the noose tight around Kyiv. German 11th Panzer Division reaches the Desna at Oster, but the retreating Soviets set it on fire.

Luftwaffe Oblt. Hans Philipp of II./JG 54 receives the Eichenlaub, becoming the 33rd soldier to receive it. Philipp has 62 kills, over 40 in the USSR.

Whitley V bomber, 24 August 1941
This is a Whitley V from RAF No. 51 (Z6505/MH-F). It was one of two Whitleys based at Dishforth, Yorkshire lost during the Düsseldorf raid of 24 August 1941 (actually shot down at 01:30 on the 25th). Lt Hans-Dieter Frank of I./NJG1, flying a Bf 110 G-4b/R3, shot it down. 
European Air Operations: During the day, six RAF Blenheim bombers raid Bremerhaven. They attack a ship but miss. There are no losses.

RAF Bomber Command mounts a large raid over Düsseldorf with 25 Whitleys, 12 Hampdens, and 7 Halifax bombers (44 total). It is cloudy and accuracy is very poor. The RAF loses 2 Whitleys and one Halifax.

The RAF mounts a special operation targeting searchlights in the Wesel area. Six Hampden bombers mount a sustained attack against searchlights that are illuminating another bomber and find that directly attacking them causes them to either go out (either from being destroyed or voluntarily) or lose their tracks on other bombers.

The Luftwaffe takes advantage of low cloud cover over England to send six planes against targets from Blyth to Teesside. The RAF responds, and a tragedy results. There is a friendly fire incident when RCAF Hurricane Mk. I Hurricanes of No. 1 Squadron based at Northolt, Middlesex mistake two Blenheim bombers for Junkers Ju-88s and shoot them down.

Battle of the Baltic: The Germans are closing in on Tallinn (Reval), Estonia, so the Soviets send a convoy carrying departing troops and refugees. The convoy sails into a German minefield off Cape Juminda (near Keri Island), with disastrous results. The following ships hit mines and sink:
  • Destroyer Engels (formerly the Desna)
  • Minesweeper T-209/Knecht
  • Minesweeper T-213/Krambol
  • Minesweeper T-212/Shtag
  • 3618-ton freighter Lunacharski
  • 1430-ton freighter Daugava
  • 2029-ton freighter Zheleznodorozhnik
Soviet tanker No. 11 also sinks in the Gulf of Finland, it is not clear if this was part of the convoy.
The Luftwaffe bombs and damages Soviet freighter VT-532 in the Baltic. The master manages to beach the freighter near Prangli Island. There are 44 deaths.

HMS Black Swan, damaged on 24 August 1941
HMS Black Swan, damaged on 24 August 1941, in Londonderry on 26 February 1942 (© IWM (A 7309)).
Battle of the Atlantic: The Luftwaffe bombs British 1283-ton freighter Skagerak with a FAB-XI aerial a mine and sinks it in the River Orwell, Harwich. There are 18 deaths, including the river pilot, and six survivors. This is a new German mine and its first success.

Royal Navy anti-submarine whaler Kos XVI collides at 23:30 with destroyer Wolsey in the Irish Sea and sinks just after midnight in the early hours of the 25th. Wolsey remains in service.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages Royal Navy sloop Black Swan while Black Swan is escorting a convoy in the Irish Sea. Black Swan makes it to Milford Haven for repairs that take three weeks.

An RAF Catalina sights an attack a U-boat about 30 miles southwest of the River Tagus near Lisbon but apparently misses.

In Operation Cutting, Royal Navy sloop Milford departs from Freetown escorting 1984-ton British freighter Lady Denison-Pender. The latter ship is to cut and remove the Dakar-Pernambuco cable.

The Newfoundland Escort Force (NEF), established at St. John's on 23 May, continues adding ships and expanding its operations. Today, Canadian corvettes Agassiz, Alberni, Chambly, Cobalt, Collingwood, Orillia, and Wetaskiwin depart from Halifax for St. John's, while corvette Kenogami arrives there.

Royal Navy Force A, beginning operations in the Arctic, arrives at a point 60 miles west of Isfjord, Spitsbergen. It prepares to conduct Operation Gauntlet, a Royal Navy raid on Spitzbergen scheduled to begin in the early hours of 25 August.

First Lord of the Admiralty A.V. Alexander visits Scapa Flow for an inspection tour of battleship HMS Prince of Wales.

Royal Navy minesweeper Fort York is launched.

Norwegian Navy submarine HNoMS Uredd, formerly HMS P-41, is launched (the formal transfer to the Norwegians is on 7 December 1941).

Convoy SC-41 departs from Sydney, Cape Breton bound for Liverpool, Convoy SL-85 departs from Freetown bound for Liverpool.

HMS Manxman, part of Operation Mincemeat on 24 August 1941
HMS Manxman, a key part of Operation Mincemeat.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Operation Mincemeat gets into gear as minelayer HMS Manxman, disguised as a Vichy French destroyer, lays 140 mines (70 contact mines, 70 magnetic) off Livorno, Italy. Royal Navy aircraft carrier Ark Royal sends Swordfish torpedo-bombers on a sweep over Sardinia, dropping incendiary bombs west and southwest of Tempio. Later, the Ark Royal sends off ten more Swordfish to bomb Tempio airport.

The Italian fleet, led by battleships, continues patrolling off the western Italian coast but does not locate the British ships. The Royal Navy, however, does spot the Italian fleet. After aerial reconnaissance reveals the presence of battleships, the British head back to Gibraltar. In any event, the British have accomplished their main objective, the minelaying of Manxman.

The Italian Navy sets up a patrol line of five submarines and 13 motor torpedo (MAS) boats across the Sicilian Strait in order to waylay an expected Royal Navy move through the Mediterranean. Other submarines take up position southwest of Sardinia. The Italian fleet sets up station at the entrance to the Sicilian Strait, waiting for the British - while ships of the Royal Navy now are heading in the other direction. Royal Navy submarine Upholder spots the fleet and attacks light cruiser Luigi Di Savoia, but misses.

The Royal Navy officially writes off submarine P-33 (Lieutenant R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson). It is the second U-Class submarine lost in two days, the other being P-32.

Operation Treacle, the replacement of Australian soldiers at Tobruk with Polish troops of the Carpathian Brigade, continues. The Polish troops depart from Alexandria aboard minelaying cruiser Latona and destroyers Griffin, Kingston, and Kipling. The mission proceeds without incident.

British patrol planes from Malta spot Italian patrol boat Grazioli Lante between Tripoli and Benghazi and sink it. Nine Wellingtons attack Tripoli and damage the docks and the city.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet submarine L-4 (Lt Cdr Polyakov) lays 20 mines off Cape Olinka, Romania. The Soviets have four other submarines patrolling off the Romanian coast while two others patrol off the Bulgarian coast.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Ceres collides with 6129-ton Norwegian tanker Gylfe off Bombay. Ceres sustains major damage to its stem, fracturing it, but proceeds with its mission anyway, escorting Convoy BM-8 to Port Swettenham, Trincomalee.

Australian coaster Dellie, 24 August 1941
Australian coaster Dellie, sunk on 24 August 1941.
Battle of the Pacific: Australian coaster Dellie (formerly Sphene) runs aground and is wrecked at Tweed Heads, Fingal Light, New South Wales, Australia while on a voyage to Tasmania. Her crew of 15 survives.

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy begins reconstructing patrol boat PB-2, adding 4.47-inch/45 cal main guns. It also is modified to be able to carry and launch two 46-foot Daihatsu landing craft.

British Government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill addresses the House of Commons:
Napoleon in his glory and genius spread his Empire far and wide. ... Napoleon's armies had a theme. They carried with them the surges of the French Revolution - Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. ... There was a sweeping away of outworn, medieval systems and aristocratic privilege. There was the land for the people, a new code of law. Nevertheless, Napoleon's empire vanished like a dream.
Both sides use historical precedent throughout the war, with the British awkwardly using the example of Napoleon (and subtly appealing to Gallic pride) and the Germans just as awkwardly using the example of the Teutonic Knights battling Russia - both of whose forces lost.

China: Japanese planes sink Chinese gunboats Chiang Hsi and Chiang Kum at Patung, Szechuan, China.

Holocaust: During his radio address to the nation today, Winston Churchill refers to the "scores of thousands" of executions of civilians by the Germans. He does not, however, mention that the primary victims are Jews.

The Germans in Vilna, Lithuania arrest local leader Dr. Jacob Wigodsky, 86 years old. They schedule his execution to take place in a week.

German graves of men KIA 24 August 1941
German graves of 11/506 in Estonia, all three KIA 24 August 1941.
German Homefront: Reacting to public pressure stirred up by sermons delivered by the Bishop of Münster von Galen and others, Hitler terminates the Aktion T4 euthanasia program (a name not actually used by the Germans themselves, T4 stands for Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of the Berlin headquarters of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil- und Anstaltspflege which runs the euthanasia program - it is a euphemism, "Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care"). The T4 program targets those "deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination." Naturally, the criteria are subjective, and some people judged "insane" and exterminated aren't necessarily mentally ill at all. They may, however, have offended someone important or said something ill-advised.

It is a rare instance of popular pressure within the Reich forcing Hitler's hand. Hitler, however, knows that the Catholic Church is one of the only institutions that have a large following other than him - and privately he vows retribution after "final victory." This also is a rare case of the Church opposing Hitler, something for which it gets scant credit in postwar histories. The killings, however, continue within concentration camps after this date. It is estimated that about 70,000 people perish before this date and about 20,000 people after under the T-4 program, including one of Hitler's own relatives.

The now-unemployed T-4 personnel are not out of work for long. They soon are shipped to the Eastern Front, where they turn their extermination expertise against Jews.

King Haakon and Crown Prince Olaf, 24 August 1941
King Haakon taking the salute at the March Past. Left to right: Commodore F A Buckley, CB; His Majesty King Haakon of Norway; Commander Collett-Muller, RNN; Crown Prince Olaf of Norway; Commander W W Sitwell, RN." 24 August 1941 (© IWM (A 5256))
British Homefront: Winston Churchill makes a radio speech in which he summarizes the Atlantic Charter and the world situation. The public has been underwhelmed by his meeting with President Roosevelt because many hoped that the meeting would result in a war alliance, so Churchill plays up the results:
This was a meeting which marks forever in the pages of history the taking up by the English-speaking nations, amid all this peril, tumult and confusion, of the guidance of the fortunes of the broad toiling masses in all the continents, and our loyal effort, without any clog of selfish interest, to lead them forward out of the miseries into which they have been plunged, back to broad high road of freedom and justice.
He warns Japan that Great Britain will aid the Americans in the Pacific if war breaks out.

American Homefront: Tom Dewey, District Attorney of New York County, gives a speech to the Williamstown Institute of Human Relations. He concludes that "Only by a respect for the rights of every other individual can we protect our own rights."

Today is the first performance of the Dodger "SymPhony" (a named coined by announcer Red Barber), a five-man pop band that becomes an institution at Brooklyn Dodgers home games at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn.

Future History: Paola Pitagora is born in Parma, Italy. Paola becomes an Italian television hostess in 1960, then makes her theatrical debut in debut in "Gog e Magog." Pitagora goes on to become a major Italian film and television star, debuting in motion pictures with "Shot in Three-Quarter Time" (1965) and continuing through "Help Me Dream" 1981). Paola Pitagora also has written some popular songs for children. She continues to work as of this writing in 2018.

Paola Pitagora, born on 24 August 1941
Paola Pitagora, born on 24 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


Thursday, July 26, 2018

August 23, 1941: Go to Kiev

Saturday 23 August 1941

Defacing Stalin in Finland, 23 August 1941
A Finnish soldier threatens a Stalin statue with his "puukko" knife, 23 August 1941. What appears to be a cut or two in the statue's cheek are actually scratches on the surface of the photograph (SA-Kuva).
Eastern Front: OKH Chief of Staff General Franz Halder has a big day on 23 August 1941. He meets with Army Group Center commander Field Marshal von Bock and General Guderian at Army Group Center headquarters in Borisov, then flies to the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia to confer with Hitler. Guderian flies with Halder and makes an impassioned plea to Hitler for authorization to drive on Moscow. Hitler, however, rejects it and argues that advances in the north and south were ""tasks which stripped the Moscow problem of much of its significance." He tells Guderian that the situation at Kyiv represents "an unexpected opportunity, and a reprieve from past failures to trap the Soviet armies in the south."

Hitler, in fact, feels that there will be plenty of time to move on Moscow later. He says:
the objections that time will be lost and the offensive on Moscow might be undertaken too late, or that the armored units might no longer be technically able to fulfill their mission, are not valid.
Guderian and Halder return to the front with clear orders to push Guderian's Panzer Group 2 south to link up with Army Group South and encircle the Soviet troops at Kyiv. This is a bitter blow for Guderian, Halder, and von Bock, who all feel that a quick attack on Moscow will be decisive.

Finnish Maxim machine gun team, 23 August 1941
Finnish Maxim machine gun team in a position defending a river crossing, 23 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).
In the Far North sector, the Finns continue their advance on the Karelian Isthmus. The Finns capture the village of Taipale on the northwestern shore of Lake Ladoga. In addition, the Finnish 10th and 15th Divisions clear a "motif" (fortified position) held by Soviet 142nd Rifle and 198th Motorized Divisions on the Kilpola islands just off the shore of Lake Ladoga. The Soviets, however, have had time to evacuate 26,000 troops from the motif across the lake by boat.

A little to the southwest, the Soviet 115th and 123rd Rifle Divisions prepare to attack advance Finnish detachments of the Finnish Light Brigade T that have crossed the Vuoksi river. Finnish Group F, struggling forward toward Ukhta (Kalevala) on Ozero Sredneye Kuyto Lake, take another small village, Korpiyarvi, northwest of Ukhta. The Soviets are putting up fierce resistance, and the numerous small lakes and marshes in the area favor the defense.

Finnish 6th Division of 36 Corps have trapped some Soviet troops at Nurmi Lake and Nurmi Mountain, and the Soviet troops there are in desperate straits. The Finns intercept a Russian radio message during the night that claims the troops are in "complete encirclement." The Finns, though, also are very strained, and today use the last of their own reserves to extend its line northward to prevent the Soviets from escaping. The Soviets, though, discover a logging road which is not on any maps north of the lake along which they begin to withdraw. The battle becomes a race between the retreating Soviets and the extension of the Finnish troops to the north through rough terrain.

In the Army Group North sector, Marshal Voroshilov, in command at Leningrad, assigns 48th Army to the Northern Front and gives it responsibility for defending the approaches to Leningrad. General Alexander Novikov becomes his air commander.

Germans in Gomel, 23 August 1941
German soldiers in the ruins of Gomel, 23 August 1941.
In the Army Group Center sector, the Soviets plan an offensive to be led by reinforced 24th Army. It is planned to begin on 30 August. The plan is to smash a small hole through some weakened German divisions. It is hoped that this will force the entire Wehrmacht front back. Meanwhile, since General Guderian now has plans to head south with his Panzer Group 2, the Germans will have few reserves to counter a massive offensive - though the Soviets do not know this. On the German side, General Hoth's Panzer Group 3 continues attacking toward Velikiye Luki.

In the Army Group South sector, the Romanian 4th Army is bogged down in front of Odessa. The Soviet Black Sea Fleet has been instrumental in providing artillery support. Both sides have taken heavy casualties, but the Romanians have an easier time bringing in reinforcements than the Soviets, who can only be supplied by sea.

Soviet partisans 23 August 1941
A Soviet Army soldier teaches Russian partisans how to operate a Browning Hi-Power handgun. Near Smolensk, Russia, Soviet Union. 23 August 1941.
European Air Operations: There is no major action today by either side. The RAF is beginning to equip Bristol Beaufighters with airborne radar sets, and these are beginning to make an impact. Beaufighter pilot John Cunningham, in particular, is developing a reputation in the press as "Cat's Eye Cunningham," but his eyes are nothing special - this is just a cover for his use of radar.

Later in the afternoon, six Luftwaffe Heinkel He-111H-5s of KG 26 attempt to intercept a reported convoy in the North Sea. One crashes into the sea after being hit by destroyer fire. The five crewman take to a dinghy and are taken prisoner by the British.

Battle of the Baltic: The Germans are pressing in on the port of Tallinn (Reval), Estonia, so Soviet cruiser Kirov and destroyers Gordy, Leningrad, and Minsk provide supporting gunfire.

Soviet minesweeper T-204 Fugas hits a mine and sinks west of Kronstadt.

Peter Ferdinand Freiherr von Malapert-Neufville, 23 August 1941
Peter Ferdinand Freiherr von Malapert-Neufville (2 February 1922 – 23 September 1999) becomes an ace today. While flying a Bf 109 F-2 in 7 Staffel of JG 54, he shoots down an I-16 over Jan-Jedrow east of Ilmensee (Lake Ilmen) for his fifth victory. He is shot down and taken as a prisoner on 11 September 1941. There are sketchy reports that he collaborated with the Soviets thereafter, writing leaflets to Luftwaffe pilots urging them to defect. He receives the Eichenlaub and Ritterkreuz on 8 June 1942. After the war, he joins the Bundesluftwaffe and rises to the rank of Obstlt.
Battle of the Atlantic: The Germans have been stalking Convoy OG-71, and their reconnaissance is bearing fruit. The convoy loses several ships today, adding to two lost on the 22nd.

U-564 (KrvKpt. Reinhard Suhren), on its second patrol out of Brest, sank two ships of Convoy OG-71 west of Portugal on the 22nd, and today it adds a third. Suhren torpedoes and sinks 900-ton British corvette HMS Zinnia (K-98, Lt Cdr C. G. Cuthbertson DSO RNR). There are 49 deaths and 36 survivors.

U-564 also damages 2129-ton British freighter Spind from Convoy OG-71. U-552 (ObltzS Topp) then tries to finish off Spind with two torpedoes and then twenty rounds from its 88mm deck gun. The crew of Spind abandons ship but it remains afloat, blazing. Later Royal Navy destroyer Boreas scuttles Spind.

U-201 (Kptlt. Adalbert Schnee), on its third patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and sinks two ships in Convoy OG-71:
  • 787-ton British freighter Stork (19 deaths)
  • 1974-ton British freighter Aldergrove (one death).
Elsewhere, U-143 (Oblt. Ernst Mengersen), on its fourth patrol and operating 130 miles northwest of Butt of Lewis, Scotland, torpedoes and sinks 1418-ton British freighter Inger. There are nine deaths (7 Norwegians, 2 British) and 14 survivors.

Finnish 1847-ton freighter Cisil hits a German mine and sinks off Kolberg, Germany.

The RAF bombs 4845-ton Finnish freighter Wisa in the Ems estuary with an aerial mine. Wisa is towed into Emden.

Royal Navy minesweeper Speedwell collides with 1951-ton British freighter St. Julian in the North Sea, damaging both ships. However, the destroyer's damage is minor.

Operations EGV1 and EGV2, whose objectives are to provide convoy protection in northern waters near Murmansk and Archangel, begin when Force M departs from Scapa Flow. It is led by heavy cruisers Devonshire and Suffolk.

German raider Orion (FKpt Weyher) arrives in the Gironde Estuary escorted by U-75 and U-205, completing its 510-day raiding mission by docking at Bordeaux. During that time, Orion sank 9 1/2 ships of 57,744 tons on its own and 7 ships in concert with raider "Komet." Perhaps just as importantly, Orion and the other raiders have spread fear and panic in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas that otherwise the Germans cannot reach.

The Royal Navy receives reports of a German raider south of Bermuda, so it dispatches Canadian AMC Prince David to search. In addition, AMC Circassia is dispatched from Freetown to search for it. The reports may have referred to Orion, which makes port.

Royal Navy heavy cruiser Devonshire leads a group of minelayers to lay minefield SN-70A east of Iceland.

US Navy battleship USS New Mexico returns to Hampton Roads from a Neutrality Patrol.

Convoy OS-4 departs from Liverpool bound for Freetown.

Royal Navy submarine HMS P39 is launched.

Canadian Corvette HMCS Calgary is launched in Sorel, Province of Quebec.

US Navy destroyer USS Emmons is launched.

U-155 (Kapitänleutnant Adolf C. Piening) is commissioned, U-629, U-630, and U-755 are laid down.

RAF training in Florida, 23 August 1941
"The presentation of diplomas by Mr Paul Riddle to Royal Air Force cadets of the first course, Class 42-B, at Embry-Riddle Company. The cadets wear the white flash identifying aircrew in their caps. Shirts and trousers are USAAC issue." Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, Florida, August 1941 (© IWM (TR 80)).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Tetrarch torpedoes and sinks two Italian ships near Sirte:
  • 413-ton freighter Fratelli Garre 12 miles northwest of Sirte
  • 395-ton freighter Francesco Garre 1 miles north of Sirte
Royal Navy submarine P-33, reported overdue on the 21st, is sunk while attacking a convoy off Pantelleria by Italian torpedo boat Partenope. This action may have taken place on 18 August.

An RAF Bristol Blenheim bombs and sinks 582-ton Italian freighter Constanza south of Lampedusa.

Italian aircraft bomb and sink Royal Navy destroyer Fearless south of Sardinia.

Italian aircraft bomb and damage Royal Navy light cruiser Manchester south of Sardinia.

Due to sightings of Italian ships sailing to Bardia, the Royal Navy dispatches destroyers Jackal and Napier to intercept them. However, no contact is made because the Italian ships change course back to the north.

Italian minelayers Aspromonte and Reggio lay minefield SN-44 in the Sicilian Strait. This is a massive minefield of 1125 mines.

Having heard of the departure of Royal Navy Force H from Gibraltar (Operation Mincemeat), the Italian fleet goes to sea. Led by battleships Littorio and Veneto based at Taranto and heavy cruisers Bolzano, Gorizia, Trento, and Trieste, along with five destroyers from Trapani and three light cruisers from Palermo, the fleet patrols off the western Italian coast.

There is a heavy air raid on Malta after dark. Corrodino, the area northeast of Ta Silch, Safi, and St. George's Barracks are hit with incendiary bombs. In addition, five incendiaries fall on the dockyard area, but they are put out quickly.

The RAF at Malta sends 10 Wellingtons to bomb the area northwest of Tripoli, while 5 Blenheim bombers attack a convoy.

British Air Raid warden, 23 August 1941
"An Air Raid Precautions Warden reports for duty to the Chief ARP Warden, Mr Davies, at his local ARP post in Springfield, Essex." August 1941 (© IWM (D 4263)).
War Crimes: Strict new rules imposed by the German occupation authorities go into effect. The order by the Kommandant of Greater Paris, General Schaumberg, provides in part that due to the recent assassination of a German naval cadet at a Paris train station:
...all Frenchmen taken into custody, either by the German authorities in France or on orders originating with them, will be regarded as hostages. Should any further criminal action occur, hostages will be shot in a number corresponding to the seriousness of that action.
This practice of taking hostages from the civilian population and executing them is a common tactic by the Germans during World War II and is considered a war crime.

Partisans: Italian troops of the 2nd Army begin relieving German troops on garrison duty in the former Yugoslavia. The German troops' next assignment is the Russian Front, where replacements are badly needed.

US/Italian Relations: US authorities seize a handful of Italian freighters at Norfolk, Virginia and New York City:
  • 5932-ton Laconia  in Norfolk (becomes Panamian Elwood)
  • 6131-ton Alberta in NYC (becomes Panamanian Ballot)
  • 5441-ton Aussa in NYC (becomes Panamanian Africander)
  • 5060-ton Guidnia in Norfolk (becomes Panamanian Plaudit)
  • 6140-ton Pietro Campanella in Norfolk (becomes Panamanian Equipoise)
Authorities also seize 5234-ton Italian freighter Ada O in New Orleans, which becomes Panamanian Hermes.

P-36 Hawks of the 18th Pursuit Squadron lined up at Elmendorf Field, Alaska, 23 August 1941
P-36 Hawks of the 18th Pursuit Squadron lined up at Elmendorf Field, Alaska, August 1941 (US Army Air Forces USGOV-PD).
US/Japanese Relations: The Japanese inform Ambassador Nomura that there have been reports in US newspapers about shipments of US goods to Russia. Tokyo instructs Nomura to explain to the US that shipments to Russia via Japanese coastal waters will be looked upon with disfavor. Nomura calls on Secretary of State Hull and expresses Japan's desire for peace, which Hull reciprocates. Hull, however, notes that the Japanese press has been touting a new policy of Japanese expansion in the Pacific. Nomura responds that his government knows about US oil shipments to Vladivostok and feels that this evinces a lack of sincerity on the US side.

Nomura returns to see Hull again later in the day and tells him that his government wishes the two countries' heads of state to have a summit meeting before 15 October 1941. He also asks that the US stop shipping supplies to Russia and delay a proposed Allies conference at Moscow. Hull is noncommittal but promises to tell President Roosevelt about the requests.

German/Japanese Relations: The Japanese are keeping their negotiations with the Americans secret and have been lying to the Germans about what they are doing. German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop meets with his Japanese Ambassador Oshima in Berlin and admits that the war in the USSR may last into 1942 - a very rare admission. When communicated to Tokyo, this reinforces the hotly contested decision not to invade the Soviet Union.

Canadian Military: Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King addresses 10,000 Canadian troops in Aldershot, England. He receives a mixed reception, as the soldiers are tired of waiting for action. Some boo and hiss his speech.

Soviet Military: Soviet Transcaucasus Military District is redesignated Transcaucasus Front, commanded by General Kozlov. He has four armies - 44th Army, 45th Army, 46th Army, and 47th Army - and it is given responsibility for the entire coastal region from Turkey to Tuapse.

Shokaku, 23 August 1941
Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku, which enters service on 23 August 1941.
Battle of the Pacific: Imperial Japanese Navy 30,000-ton aircraft carrier Shokaku departs from Yokohama on a shakedown cruise. Afterward Shokaku docks at Ariake, Tokyo and becomes the flagship of 1st Air Fleet of Carrier Division 5.

The IJN begins converting 7397-ton freighter Awata Maru into an auxiliary cruiser at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe, Japan.

The IJN begins converting 5181-ton freighter Hide Maru into an ammunition ship at Osaka Iron Works.
Vichy French Government: Premier Petain authorizes courts to impose the death penalty for offenses deemed to be by terrorists.

Last Night of the Proms, 23 August 1941
Prommers at Last Night of the Proms, 23 August 1941.
British Homefront: It is Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall - the first-ever, as previously the annual event was held at the Queen's Hall at Langham Place, which was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in June 1941. Chief conductor Sir Henry Wood leads the London Symphony Orchestra through the night and gives the first-ever "Conductor's Speech."

American Homefront: "Daddy" by Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye with the Kaye Choir marks its eighth non-consecutive week at the top of the Billboard singles chart.

The Ryder Cup begins at Oakland Hills Country Club. Bobby Jones captains the Challengers and Walter Hagen is the U.S. Ryder Cup Captain. The US team defeats the British 8 1/2 to 6 1/2 on 24 August. Over 20,000 people attend. Jones wins his match against Henry Picard, 2 and 1.

Future History: Margaret Julia Leon is born in Ringwood, Hampshire, United Kingdom. As Julia Lockwood (her mother's last name), she becomes a child actress, first appearing in "Hungry Hill" (uncredited) and turns to television in the 1950s, appearing in shows such as "The Royalty" (1956-58), "Don't Tell Father" (1959), and "Birds on the Wing" (1971). Julia continues to act occasionally but mostly retired in 1976.

23 August 1941
On 23 August 1941, an unidentified drummer during a jam session at the 'NW3 Group', a rhythm club in London. Original Publication: Picture Post - 858 - ...And This Is A Rhythm Club's Jam Session - pub. 1941 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Getty Images).

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