World War II Day by Day - Page 16 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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By Doug64
#15318368
June 15, Saturday

Carve-up continues as Russian troops invade Lithuania


The Red Army marches into Lithuania today. There is no resistance as Soviet troops cross the frontier in great strength, and President Smetona flees by plane from the capital with his family and other leading Lithuanians.

Two hundred Soviet tanks lead the occupation of Kaunas. Russian soldiers have taken up positions at all the public buildings. Planeloads of Soviet officials, including NKVD agents, are pouring into the airport. One of the first acts of the secret policemen is to arrest General Skucas, the Minister of the Interior, and Mr. Povilaitus, the chief of the state police. Martial law has been declared, and there is a night-long curfew.

The Lithuanians, who realize that there is nothing they can do to resist the Russians, are resigned to the occupation of their country, but there is considerable excitement among the local German population, which besieges its legation today, demanding to go home.

The occupation is seen here as another move by Stalin to build a barrier of occupied countries between the Soviet Union and Germany. He has the eastern part of Poland, he has forced Finland to give up strategic territory, now he has Lithuania, and the other Baltic states tremble. Where will the Russian bear strike next?
#15318504
Rich wrote:Hitler didn't have a blitzkrieg strategy. Why do historians get this so wrong?

Whatever you want to call it, Hitler’s plan was to avoid a long, drawn-out war. He did not want to put Germany on a war economy, with all that entails. So the plan for France, like Poland and Norway, was to get the war over fast.

Mind, neither he nor the upper military leadership expected things to go as fast as they did, that was Guderian. He constantly pushed for faster, faster, faster. That pushing included creative interpretation of orders fit to make any Perfectionist judge green with envy. Not that Hitler and the German high command didn’t have a point—the French military was both larger and better equipped, and Guderian’s tanks were hideously vulnerable to a counterattack on the flanks if the French had been able to organize one. Obviously, they didn’t.
By Rich
#15318515
Doug64 wrote:Whatever you want to call it, Hitler’s plan was to avoid a long, drawn-out war. He did not want to put Germany on a war economy, with all that entails. So the plan for France, like Poland and Norway, was to get the war over fast.

Hitler's vision was for a long term sustainable war society. Women remaining in the home was a vital part of that vision. This was needed to replace losses and to expand the population. Even to achieve the relatively modest goal of doubling the population in thirty years would probably require a reproduction rate of maybe 4.4 children per women. note in a lot of modern western countries we struggle to produce 1.4 children per woman. Nazism, which at the end of the day was just a form of extreme militarism was totally incompatible with feminism.

Of course military leaders love quick overwhelming victories, but in war there is no plan that can guarantee this against peer powers. The fundamental philosophy of the German army had not changed since 1860 and at its most basic level had not changed from considerably earlier. Objectively the situation for Germany looked dire at the end of the nineteen thirties. Blitzkrieg as a term was popularised by the German and western media. But Blitzkrieg as strategy was something both Hitler and his generals desperately wanted to avoid. Yes they would love an overwhelming quick victory, but they didn't want to bet the bank on it.

Hitler and the high command were actively trying to slow Guderian down. And with good reason. With hindsight we can say the faster the advance the better. With hindsight we can say that it was a mistake to pause outside of Dunkirk. But at the time these were rational and prudent choices. Hitler had no special plan to avoid a long drawn out war, all he had was hope a determined and competent army and tactical air-force and a lot of luck.

In 1939 the war looked lost for Germany. The pact with the Soviet Union gave Hitler some time. They were not fighting on the insanely tight timetable of the Schliefen plan, but even after Poland was over run the prospects for Germany looked dire. Between April and June 1940 they pulled off a near miraculous victory. At then end of June 1940 Hitler had won. He then blew his victory.
By Doug64
#15318521
June 17, Monday

Churchill proclaims the “finest hour”


“Let us brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire lasts for a thousand years men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.” With this inspirational peroration Winston Churchill today ends a speech in the House of Commons. It is later repeated in a broadcast to the nation. The Prime Minister faces up squarely to the chance that Britain might now have to fight alone, and he tells MPs: “Our professional advisers of the three services unitedly advise that we should continue the war and that there are good and reasonable hopes of final victory.”

The Prime Minister says that it is not yet certain that France’s military resistance to the Germans is over. Britain has not felt able to release the French from their treaty obligation not to make a separate peace. But whatever happens, he continues: “We will fight on, if necessary for years.” The Battle of Britain is about to begin, and Hitler knows that he “will have to break us in these islands or lose the war.”

Mr. Churchill says that 1,250,000 men are now under arms in Britain. Behind them are 500,000 Local Defence Volunteers, and soldiers from the Dominions have also arrived. These forces include seven of every eight soldiers originally sent to France, while many of the remainder still operate alongside French forces with considerable success. As for the immediate future, the Prime Minister reminds the House of Commons that Britain has home defense forces which are now expanding rapidly, with “very large additions” to their weaponry expected soon. He then says that the survival of Christian civilization and the continuity of British life must depend on the outcome of the Battle of Britain. He warns the United States that if Germany wins, the whole world, including America, “will sink into the abyss of a new dark age.” The Commons decides to go into secret session before the end of the week for further discussion of the dire military situation. Churchill tells MPs that the scope of the debate will not be too restricted. He insists that the service chiefs are prepared for enemy parachute landings and other ingenious invasion tricks, including, he says, help from a “fifth column.”

Troopship is sunk by German bombers

More than half the 5,000 people on board the Cunard White Star liner Lancastria die today in an attack by five German aircraft. They dive-bomb and machine-gun the liner as she lies at anchor in the harbor of St. Nazaire, France. Survivors will claim later that the Germans continue to fire after the ship sinks and men are struggling in the water.

The famous cruising liner had been converted into a troop ship, so most passengers today were troops from the British Expeditionary Force and the RAF returning to England from France. In addition, there were Church Army workers and a number of French people fleeing the German occupation.
By Doug64
#15318613
June 18, Tuesday

Mussolini and Hitler meet in Munich to plan a fascist future


In the Fuhrerhaus, where Neville Chamberlain signed away Czechoslovakia two years ago, Mussolini and Hitler meet today to discuss the armistice terms to be imposed on France. Mussolini has been surprised at the German insistence on moderate terms for the defeated enemy.

The Fuhrer aims to encourage the French to break with the English and discourage them from continuing the war in North Africa. Petain and the peace lobby must be encouraged, Hitler says. So Mussolini has been told he won’t be allowed to seize huge areas of southern France.

De Gaulle rallies the “Free French”

General Charles de Gaulle, who became Undersecretary for National Defense in the last days of the Reynaud government, has flown to England and broadcasts this appeal:

“Speaking in full knowledge of the facts,” he says, “I ask you to believe me when I say that the cause of France is not lost.” He calls on French officers and men, including civilians, to contact him. “Whatever happens,” declares the general, “the flame of French resistance must not and shall not die.”

Before this month, de Galle, a career officer who fought in the Great War and against the Bolshevik invasion of Poland in 1919, is scarcely known even in France, except as a tank expert who derided the defensive theories current in French military thought.

However, he commanded an armored division with determination during the battles of early June and was chosen by Paul Reynaud as his military deputy in the closing days of his government. De Gaulle emerged as the strong man in Bordeaux and was flown to Cornwall by the RAF last Sunday.
By Rich
#15318823
It should be noted that after Germany occupied Denmark, they did not annex the territory that they had lost to Denmark after WW1. The Nazis had no wish to conquer Norway, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands, but hoped that they would of their own free volition join a greater Germanic union. The occupation of Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands is clear sign that Hitler had an anti blitzkreig strategy. If he'd been confident of defeating France by Blitzkrieg by the end of June and as he expected peace with Britain to follow swiftly on from a French defeat, there would have been no need to occupy Norway or the Netherlands.

He needed Norway to secure his Iron ore supplies for a sustained war and he wanted air and naval bases in the Netherlands to improve his military projection over the North Sea, south east England and maybe over Belgium. Hitler didn't necessarily assume that Army Group A would reach the Sea or that Army Group B would fully occupy Belgium in the initial offensive. So yes the invasion of Poland had gone pretty well, but it had been helped by the invasion of the Soviets. Hitler had spent four years fighting the British and French in World War I, why on earth would Hitler have expected to knock out France in a matter of weeks in the winter of 39/40?
By Doug64
#15318832
June 20, Thursday

Empire stands loyally by mother country


Despite Britain’s defeats, most of its Empire remains loyal to the motherland. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are sending troops. In East Africa, a key test of the Empire’s loyalty, Sudanese, Somalis, Kenyans, and South Africans are fighting the Italians in Ethiopia. Ironically, in terms of population, the highest proportion of new volunteers comes from Ireland, part of the Commonwealth although no longer part of the Empire, with a neutral and apparently anti-British government. In India, however, the Hindus and the Congress Party seem “above” the war. In Egypt, some nationalists see Britain’s difficulty as Egypt’s opportunity.

Japan gets its way on French colonies

Japan today takes advantage of the fall of France by warning the French administration in Indochina that it must stop helping the Chinese Nationalist government in Chungking immediately.

The protest is delivered by Japan’s foreign minister, Mr. Tani, to the French ambassador. He is warned that France’s governor in Indochina must stop the transit of war materiel across the Chinese border or face severe repercussions. At the same time, Japan has formally asked Germany and Italy to preserve the status quo in Indochina.

Reports that Japanese forces are massing on Hainan Island have increased fears that Japan is about to invade the French colony. French and British ships have been told not to call at Indochinese ports.
#15318833
…And so European imperialism guarantees that the European war has become a World War.
By Doug64
#15318893
June 21, Friday

RAF detects bent beam guidance system


The suspicion held for some time by the Air Ministry scientific intelligence expert Dr. R.V. Jones and others that the Luftwaffe has a system of radio beams for guiding its bombers onto targets in England is finally confirmed.

An Avro Anson from the RAF’s Boscombe Down-based Blind Flying Development Unit locates one such beam. Using a powerful US Hallicrafter receiver, the crew identify a beam transmitted from Germany passing over the Rolls-Royce airplane engine factory at Derby. It is tracked down to a transmitter in Schleswig-Holstein.

Urgent research is underway to counter the deadly system that the Germans call Knickebein [crooked leg].
By Doug64
#15318968
June 22, Saturday

French surrender is signed in a railway carriage


Shortly after 6:30 this evening, General Wilhelm Keitel loses patience with the French. He tells them to sign the armistice terms within the next hour or they will be sent packing, and the war will go on. In less than ten minutes the French capitulate.

In a voice choked with emotion, General Charles Huntziger, the leader of the French delegation, says: “Forced by the fortunes of war to give up the struggle in which she was engaged on the side of her Allies, France sees very hard demands imposed on her under conditions which underline their severity.” He hopes that Germany “will be guided by a spirit which will permit the two great neighboring peoples to live and work in peace.”

Seated at a table in the railway carriage where the Germans had been forced to sign the surrender at the end of the Great War, Huntziger signs the armistice terms. They are less harsh than had been expected. The Germans will occupy three-fifths of metropolitan France, but a French government will be responsible for the unoccupied zone and will be permitted to raise a small force to preserve order. However, all warships must be recalled to France and laid up under German or Italian supervision.

The armistice teams met for the first time yesterday afternoon, with a triumphant Hitler, Goering, and von Rittentrop present. A preamble to the terms, read by Keitel, consists of a tirade against the 1918 armistice terms imposed on Germany “although the enemy had not defeated the German army, navy, or air force in any decisive action.” This ceremony in the coach at Compiegne will “block out once and for all ... the greatest German humiliation of all time.”

After listening to this polemic, the Fuhrer gives the Nazi salute and leaves the carriage. Outside, he reads, with a grim expression, the inscription on the granite memorial to the 1918 Armistice and then orders the stone to be blown up.

Since the beginning of the month, Weygand and Petain have been resigned to defeat. When de Gaulle urged them to continue the war from North Africa, Weygand responded contemptuously, “Nonsense. In a week Britain will have her neck wrung like a chicken.”

As the armistice is being signed, French troops are surrendering en masse. In Alsace-Lorraine, 500,000 have laid down their arms; in Brittany and the west, 200,000; over 1,500,000 French troops are now in German hands. Panzers are roaming at will in central France; General Rommel, in a letter to his wife, cheerfully likens his advance for a holiday excursion. The charade of French military press conferences has been abandoned.

Anglo-French union offered by Churchill

It is revealed that last Sunday, His Majesty’s Government offered France a solemn union with Great Britain. The offer was conveyed to the Reynaud government by the British ambassador, Sir Ronald Campbell, who proposed that France and Britain should no longer be two nations but one Franco-British Union.

The union’s constitution would set up joint institutions for defense, finance, and foreign and economic policy, and every citizen of each country would become a citizen of the other—but France declined.

Mr. Churchill comments, on the news of the fall of the French government, that “nothing will alter our feelings towards [the French people] or our faith that the genius of France will rise again.”
By Doug64
#15319064
Rich wrote:Hitler's vision was for a long term sustainable war society. Women remaining in the home was a vital part of that vision. This was needed to replace losses and to expand the population. Even to achieve the relatively modest goal of doubling the population in thirty years would probably require a reproduction rate of maybe 4.4 children per women. note in a lot of modern western countries we struggle to produce 1.4 children per woman. Nazism, which at the end of the day was just a form of extreme militarism was totally incompatible with feminism.

The Nazis' vision was of a long-term sustainable totalitarian vision, of which the military was a central aspect. And yes, Hitler was looking forward to a war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, but he didn't expect it to be a long war. Hitler had a very poor opinion of the staying power of the French and British peoples. He hadn't expected them to declare war when he invaded Poland, he hadn't expected them to refuse a negotiated peace after he and the USSR divided Poland between them, he didn't expect Britain to stay at it once France is conquered--which is a problem, because, to paraphrase General Heath in Gettysburg, [the British] just wouldn't leave. And the last thing Hitler wanted to do was put Germany on a true war economy ... i.e., rationing--it brought back bad memories of WWI.

Of course military leaders love quick overwhelming victories, but in war there is no plan that can guarantee this against peer powers. The fundamental philosophy of the German army had not changed since 1860 and at its most basic level had not changed from considerably earlier. Objectively the situation for Germany looked dire at the end of the nineteen thirties. Blitzkrieg as a term was popularised by the German and western media. But Blitzkrieg as strategy was something both Hitler and his generals desperately wanted to avoid. Yes they would love an overwhelming quick victory, but they didn't want to bet the bank on it.

Hitler and the high command were actively trying to slow Guderian down. And with good reason. With hindsight we can say the faster the advance the better. With hindsight we can say that it was a mistake to pause outside of Dunkirk. But at the time these were rational and prudent choices. Hitler had no special plan to avoid a long drawn out war, all he had was hope a determined and competent army and tactical air-force and a lot of luck.

Hitler and the German High Command had a variation of the Schlieffen Plan that they'd used to open WWI--suck the enemy out of position, swing around and hit him in the flank and rear, then swing back and finish off the enemy troops to your south. Like the Schlieffen Plan, it was supposed to win the war in a single campaign. And like the Schlieffen Plan, it would have failed without Guderian because of the High Command getting cold feet.

Rich wrote:It should be noted that after Germany occupied Denmark, they did not annex the territory that they had lost to Denmark after WW1. The Nazis had no wish to conquer Norway, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands, but hoped that they would of their own free volition join a greater Germanic union. The occupation of Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands is clear sign that Hitler had an anti blitzkreig strategy. If he'd been confident of defeating France by Blitzkrieg by the end of June and as he expected peace with Britain to follow swiftly on from a French defeat, there would have been no need to occupy Norway or the Netherlands.

He needed Norway to secure his Iron ore supplies for a sustained war and he wanted air and naval bases in the Netherlands to improve his military projection over the North Sea, south east England and maybe over Belgium. Hitler didn't necessarily assume that Army Group A would reach the Sea or that Army Group B would fully occupy Belgium in the initial offensive. So yes the invasion of Poland had gone pretty well, but it had been helped by the invasion of the Soviets. Hitler had spent four years fighting the British and French in World War I, why on earth would Hitler have expected to knock out France in a matter of weeks in the winter of 39/40?

Because Hitler didn't think either France nor Britain had the backbone to stick it out. As it turned out, neither did most of the French leadership (for either themselves or for Britain). There were elements of the French political and military leadership that actively discouraged France's Prime Minister and some of his Cabinet from fleeing to North Africa to continue the fight. As for Norway, it was certainly vital to Germany's war industry, but it was a sideshow with neither Germany nor Britain devoting major resources to it.

Potemkin wrote:…And so European imperialism guarantees that the European war has become a World War.

Actually, it's Japanese imperialism that guarantees that the European war becomes a world war. It was the deteriorating diplomatic conditions between Imperial Japan and the US that will kick that off, and that deterioration is driven more by Japan's brutal invasion of China than anything else.
By Doug64
#15319071
June 23, Sunday

Hitler tours the sights of Paris


Adolf Hitler, the artist turned conqueror, fulfills a long-held ambition today and tours the great monuments of Paris, accompanied by the three intellectuals he likes best—two architects, Albert Speer and Hermann Giesler, and a sculptor, Arno Breker.

Hitler flies to Le Bourget airport at 4 am and enters the city, which he says he had ordered his troopers to spare “because it was important to preserve this culture for generations to come.” A photographer and a movie cameraman record his visit.

At Les Invalides, he gives orders for the remains of the son of Emperor Napoleon I to be brought from Vienna to lie next to his father. “That,” the one-time Viennese painter will say later, “was the greatest and finest moment of my life.” At the Opera, he asks the usher, who refuses a 50-mark tip, to show him a near-forgotten room that he knows of from architectural plans. Hitler boasts of his knowledge. A newsboy offers him a French newspaper, Le Matin, but runs away when he sees who his customer is. Two million other Parisians have already fled.
By Doug64
#15319155
June 24, Monday

France signs peace deal with Italy


France faces its final humiliation today when the terms of the armistice with Italy are published. Although Italian troops made little headway against fierce French resistance during the few weeks of campaigning, demilitarized zones are to be established in France, Tunisia, and Algeria—with Italian troops remaining on their advanced lines. The French are required to clear the battlefields of mines. France will allow Italy “full and constant right” to the port of Jibuti in Somaliland.
By Doug64
#15319186
June 25, Tuesday

French colonies vow to fight on


Despite a call by the Petain government in Bordeaux to cease hostilities, French colonies show no sign of giving up the battle against Germany. At least one commander, General Nogues in North Africa, has refused orders from Marshal Petain to return to France. French generals in Somaliland have cabled their support for the Allies; calls have come from Syria and Lebanon for France to continue the fight, and the French Governor-General in Indochina has refused to lower the tricouleur.
By Doug64
#15319321
June 28, Friday

De Gaulle recognized as leader of France


The British government today gives its formal recognition to General Charles de Gaulle as leader, in exile, of the French nation.

The move follows de Gaulle's formation of a French National Committee in London on June 23rd. Two days ago the general, who was Undersecretary for National Defense in the Reynaud administration, also announced the creation of a French volunteer legion in Britain and of a French center for armament and scientific research. De Gaulle believes the Petain government gave in too easily to the Germans “before all means of resistance had been exhausted,” as he said in a broadcast on the 23rd.

He went on, “The French National Committee will take under its jurisdiction all French citizens at present on British territory, and will assume the direction of all military and administrative bodies who are now, or may be in the future, in this country.”

De Gaulle, who was a little-known colonel two months ago, ended on a defiant note: “The war is not lost, the country is not dead, hope is not extinct. Vive la France!”

Red Army occupies Bessarabia, part of Romania

The Soviet Union has forced the Romanians to give up the rich provinces of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Throughout the day motorized units and tanks of the Red Army have been entering the areas. King Carol has ordered general mobilization. This, however, is a move aimed not at Russia but at Romania’s smaller neighbors. The fear here is that Bulgaria and Hungary will exploit Romania’s weakness. Hungary has claims on Transylvania, and Bulgaria has already demanded the return of its former Black Sea territory, Bobruja.
By Doug64
#15319447
June 30, Sunday

Swastika flies over Channel island


The first Major John Sherwell, the attorney general of Guernsey, knows of the German occupation is a telephone call telling him that a Junkers aircraft had landed at the small airport. A little while later, there is a knock on his door. Two German officers are admiring his early roses. Sherwill invites them in.

“Please use the side door,” he requests. “The children are asleep in the hall.” The Germans are happy to oblige.

It has been a most orderly surrender as white flags fly over British soil and German troops begin to land in numbers on the Channel Islands. No shots have been fired, and the only reported resistance has come from an Irish worker who punched a German soldier on the nose in a pub brawl.

The decision to demilitarize the islands—which lie only a few miles from the French coast—was taken earlier this month when it became obvious that there was no way in which they could be defended without huge loss of civilian life. Panic ensued as British-born nationals crowded onto the few available boats and drained the local banks of funds. Thousands of dogs and cats were shot on the quayside before the last boat left five days ago. The widely predicted German move came in the form of orders dropped in canvas bags with red streamers attached.

White crosses were to be painted on the airport runway, the main square, and a car park. Every building was to fly a white flag. “If these signs of a peaceful surrender are not observed ... heavy bombardment will take place,” the Germans threatened. A white sheet was to be flown from every house as the Islanders awaited the Germans’ arrival. First reports suggest that German behavior is “correct” and that the civil population is obeying instructions to offer no resistance.

A Guernsey shop is advertising cycles (“your best friend in months to come”), and the Regal movie house in St. Peter Port is showing Tommy Trinder in “Laugh it Off.”

Across the water, the larger island of Jersey awaits its turn as German aircraft circle. Alderney has been completely evacuated, but the Germans have yet to meet the formidable Dame of Sark.

Britain prepares to resist invasion, expected any day now

An island fortress is preparing to repel invaders expected at any moment. Sea fronts and sands on the south and east coasts are bare of visitors and children, while gun emplacements; barbwire; and pill-boxes; disguised as chalets, teastalls, even haystacks spring up everywhere. Scaffolding and concrete blocks cover beaches, and piers have been cut off from the shore. To prevent troop gliders from landing, open spaces, downs, and golf courses are strewn with obstacles—old cars and buses, carts, even iron bedsteads. All signposts have been removed, and station names painted out. Motorists must lock and immobilize parked cars. Church bells are silent—to be rung if the invasion should come.

Anzac reinforcements arrive in Britain

The first convoy bringing in Australian and New Zealand troops for the defense of Britain has landed in England. The Anzac arrivals, who include a battalion of Maoris from New Zealand, are congratulated on their safe arrival by a Mr. Shakespeare, the Under-Secretary for the Dominions, who speaks of “a thrill in every heart and every home in this country.”

Already, Australian and New Zealand troops are stationed in Palestine. “It has fallen to your lot to come to the United Kingdom itself,” King George tells the new arrivals in a welcome message, “and as you take your place beside us, you find us in the forefront of the battle.”

Churchill’s mimic broadcasts speech

On June 4th, Britons were moved to hear Mr. Churchill’s magnificent “We shall fight on the beaches” speech on the radio, which had been delivered earlier that day in the House of Commons. It can now be revealed that the broadcast was, in fact, made by an actor, one of the BBC’s repertory staff, Norman Shelley, because Churchill was too busy. Churchill approved his stand-in’s reading in advance.
By Doug64
#15319507
July 1940

July 1, Monday

Romania backs the Axis powers


Oil-rich Romania, the chief source of Hitler’s oil supplies, today renounces the Anglo-French guarantee of its frontiers and sends “important emissaries” to Berlin.

These moves confirm the Allies’ fears that King Carol would look to the Nazis for protection following Russia’s occupation of the provinces of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia.

For the moment everything is quiet in the capital, although there are reports of clashes between troops and workers at the port of Galatz.
By Doug64
#15319605
July 3, Wednesday

Britain destroys French navy at Oran


British sailors weep unashamedly as their 15-inch guns pound the near-helpless French fleet today, sinking three battleships with the loss of 1,297 men—their allies until a few days ago. A battlecruiser, the Strasbourg, and five destroyers manage to escape under a pall of smoke.

The decision to open fire is a distressing one for senior officers. It came after six hours of tense negotiation with Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville on his flagship, HMS Hood, who offered the French four choices: join the British; sail to British ports with reduced crews; sail to French West Indies ports with reduced crews; or scuttle within six hours. A fifth, unstated, option was for the French ships to demilitarize in their present berths.

Operation Catapult takes five minutes. The battleship Bretagne becomes a sheet of flames in a matter of seconds with the loss of 977 men. The British fire is returned by ships and shore batteries, but they score no hits.

With Britain facing invasion—and heavily dependent on naval superiority—the tough decision is made by Churchill, despite a pledge by Admiral Darlan, the Vichy Naval Minister, that French ships would not fall into German hands.

French ships already in British ports are seized by the Royal Navy today.
#15319624
Doug64 wrote:July 3, Wednesday

Britain destroys French navy at Oran


British sailors weep unashamedly as their 15-inch guns pound the near-helpless French fleet today, sinking three battleships with the loss of 1,297 men—their allies until a few days ago. A battlecruiser, the Strasbourg, and five destroyers manage to escape under a pall of smoke.

The decision to open fire is a distressing one for senior officers. It came after six hours of tense negotiation with Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville on his flagship, HMS Hood, who offered the French four choices: join the British; sail to British ports with reduced crews; sail to French West Indies ports with reduced crews; or scuttle within six hours. A fifth, unstated, option was for the French ships to demilitarize in their present berths.

Operation Catapult takes five minutes. The battleship Bretagne becomes a sheet of flames in a matter of seconds with the loss of 977 men. The British fire is returned by ships and shore batteries, but they score no hits.

With Britain facing invasion—and heavily dependent on naval superiority—the tough decision is made by Churchill, despite a pledge by Admiral Darlan, the Vichy Naval Minister, that French ships would not fall into German hands.

French ships already in British ports are seized by the Royal Navy today.

Harsh, but absolutely necessary.
By Doug64
#15319631
Potemkin wrote:Harsh, but absolutely necessary.

Very true. There was no way to trust the Nazis to honor any agreement they might make when it became inconvenient.
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