Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives
June 1, 1942
The Battle for the Gazala Line: Massive air attacks
by German Stuka dive bombers hit the British 150th Brigade positions.
German tanks followed close on the heals of the air raids and by 1400, the 150th
Brigade was destroyed. General Bayerlein (Rommel’s new Chief of Staff) said
after the war, “If we had not taken [the 150th Brigade Box] on June
1, you would have captured the whole of the Africa Korp. However, with the
demise of the British position in his rear, his supply lines secure and his
flanks well protected, courtesy of the British minefields, Rommel was safe. The
Gazala Line was breached and the first stage of the battle was won, although not
yet decisively, by Rommel.
In other news …
In reprisal for the destruction of the cathedral at
Cologne, German bombers hit Canterbury.
Japan opens a major offensive along the rail line between
Canton and Nahkow.
All Jews in France and Holland are ordered to wear the Star
of David badge.
June 2, 1942
8th Army finally makes a concerted attack on the
DAK around Sidi Muftah. By this point, Rommel had his vaunted “88’s” and
other anti-tank guns emplaced. He had also concentrated his considerable
artillery force in the area. The German guns ruled the day and the British
attacks were cut to pieces.
The German 11th Army opens up a massive
artillery bombardment on the fortress city of Sevastopol. 620 guns, nearly half
between 190mm and 420mm, including a battery of 615mm mortars and the mammoth
800mm “Dora” gun (which is carried on a double rail line), pounded the
Soviet positions. The bombardment would last for five days.
June 3, 1942
Japanese carrier aircraft bomb Dutch Harbor, Alaska in an
attempt to draw the US Navy away from their intended target at Midway. With the
intercepted messages in hand, Nimitz would not fall for the diversion.
Catalina scout planes spotted the Japanese support group
heading for Midway. Nimitz, knowing the disposition and plan of the IJN forces,
now had a good idea of the location of the Japanese carrier force operating in
advance of the support group. Nagumo was still operating under the assumption
that the Americans were still in Pearl Harbor. During the night, torpedo armed
Catalina’s and B-17 heavy bombers operating out of Midway struck the support
British commandos raided the Boulogne-La Touquet area on
the French coast.
June 4, 1942
The Battle of Midway was fought. This was the
decisive turning point in the war Pacific as Japanese naval supremacy was
forever reversed. Using intercepted messages, the US Navy, lead by Chester
Nimitz, moved the fleet to ambush the Japanese invasion force destined for to
take the island.
At dawn, both sides launched scout planes. The Japanese
force also launched a strike on the Island of Midway with a force of 108
aircraft (2/3 being bombers).
Shortly after the Midway raid was launched, Catalina flying
boats spotted the Japanese carrier force. Enterprise and Hornet
turned to the southwest and prepared to launch their strike.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Midway air raid was spotted on
radar by the island’s defenders and all aircraft were scrambled. Although the
Marine aviators fought bravely, the raid went in. The raid proved to be
destructive but not decisive and the raid commander recommended a second attack
Nagumo, fearing that the US carriers may be in the area,
had his Kate bombers armed with torpedoes. Having heard nothing from his scouts,
he decided to rearm the Kate’s with bombs and launch the follow-up raid. This
proved to be a fatal decision.
It was now 0700 and the first US aircraft, those scrabbled
off Midway, approached the Japanese carriers. Japanese fighters intercepted the
attacking Marines and scattered the raid. Meanwhile, Enterprise and Hornet
had launched all available strike aircraft.
Shortly after this initial contact, Nagumo received
information from one of his scouts that American warships were north of Midway,
but they failed to report on the composition of the force. Nagumo was in a bind.
If this was the American carrier force, his Kate bombers, now armed with high
explosive bombs, would be ineffective against the ships. Nagumo could not make
up his mind. This indecision proved his fatal mistake.
Between 0815 and 0830,
Nagumo’s already fragile confidence was further shredded by a dive bombing
raid from Marine planes from Midway, a high-level bombing raid from B-17s, a
torpedo attack by the US submarine Nautilus and the return of the Midway
air raid force, now desperately short of fuel.
Nagumo ordered the recovering of the raid force and
rearming of the Kate’s torpedoes and Val dive-bombers with armor piercing
bombs for an anti-shipping strike. By 0920, the strike force of 36 Vals and 54
Kates were on the carriers’ decks and ready for take-off.
During the time of Nagumo’s indecision, the strike
flights from Enterprise and Hornet had become scattered and lost
contact. Around 0850, they should have made contact with the enemy carriers, but
Nagumo had turned northeast to recover his Midway strike planes. The Naval
aviators took off in different directions searching for the Japanese carriers.
By 0930, the Americans had spotted the Japanese and were
closing on the targets, now packed with rearmed and refueling planes. The
Japanese were at their most vulnerable disposition and had only their previously
launched combat air patrols of Zero fighters protect them.
The Americans came in in uncoordinated attacks. The
American torpedo bombers, flying low and slow on their attack runs were easy
pickings for the Japanese fighters. A wave of dive bombers came in and the last
of the fighters were committed to repulse this attack.
Finally, a third wave of American dive-bombers came in. The
sacrifice of the previous attacks had stripped away the Japanese fighter
protection and this raid came in unhindered except for the flak from the enemy
Akagi, Nagumo’s flagship, was struck by two bombs.
One penetrated the deck and detonated
torpedoes in the hanger below deck. The second bomb hit on deck and started
fires top side. The fires and secondary explosions doomed the ship.
Kaga was hit by four bombs, one hitting a fuel truck
on deck which engulfed the bridge in flames killing everyone. The other bombs
blew up planes on the deck and in minutes the entire ship was burning.
Soryu suffered the same fate as Akagi. It was
hit by three bombs, one penetrating the deck and starting fires on the hanger
deck. She too was doomed by the fires.
In five short minutes, the raids were over and the once
invincible Japanese carrier force lay in complete ruin. Three of the four fleet
carriers were on fire, and sinking.
The surviving Japanese carrier, Hiryu, was not
sailing with the others at the time of the raid as she was still recovering
planes from the Midway strike. After witnessing the destruction of their
comrades, they launched an immediate counterstrike.
Not knowing the location of the American force, the strike
leader followed the returning planes to the American carrier Yorktown.
The Japanese aviators showed their skill in the attack. Even after taking
horrific losses to the American fighters protecting the carrier, they delivered
three bombs on target. One bomb hit the funnel, bringing the ship to a stop as
the boilers had no draft. A second bomb penetrated four decks into the bowels of
the ship. Many fires started and the forward magazine was threatened.
Repair crews got the ship moving again, just in time to
take on a second attack, this time from Hiryu’s torpedo bombers. Once
again, the American fighters exacted a toll on the incoming enemy planes, but
those that made it past the fighters delivered a devastating blow to the Yorktown,
hitting with two torpedoes. Yorktown took on an immediate 26o
list to port and was in danger of capsizing because pumps for counter flooding
were inoperable. Yorktown was abandoned.
Meanwhile, a second American strike was heading for the
lone surviving Japanese carrier. The strike came in shortly after Hiryu
recovered the planes from the strike on Yorktown The ship was defenseless
and took four bomb hits. One tore the forward elevator loose and through it into
the bridge. Fires and secondary explosions tore through the ship. She too was
As night fell, the battle was over. The pride of the
Japanese fleet were piles of burning wrecks soon to slip beneath the waves. Her
proud airmen, were shot out of the sky and killed. The Japanese had reached as
far as they were and would not recover from this defeat.
In other news ….
Reinhard Heydrich, died of his wounds received on May 27. Editor’s Note: Good Riddance!
June 5, 1942
Yamamoto, unable to lure the American’s close enough to
the guns of his surface fleet, orders the fleet home and abandons the attack on
Midway. During the early morning hours, the US submarine Tambor engaged
four Japanese cruisers. The cruisers made radical turns but the Mogami
failed to make the turn and rammed Mikuma. Mogami’s speed was reduced
to 12 knots and she was leaking oil. The two ships were left behind by the group
and American dive-bombers attacked in the morning, finished off Mogami while
Mikuma made good her escape.
8th Army mounts another attack against the
Germans at Sidi Muftah in the area known as “the Cauldron”. The British
attacks were poorly coordinated but did manage to penetrate the outer positions
of the Germans. However, this was simply part of Rommel’s plan for the
attackers were simply lured onto his anti-tank gun traps, and subsequently
destroyed. The British armored formations lost all cohesion and attempted to
withdraw. Rommel counterattacked in the afternoon and drove the confused British
forces before him. By nightfall, the 8th Army had taken 6000
casualties, 4000 were taken prisoner and 150 tanks were destroyed.
June 6, 1942
Due to the high death rate at Camp O’Donnell (1,600
Americans and 20,000 Filipinos had died since the camp opened after Bataan
fell), all American prisoners were sent to Cabanatuan. The surviving Filipino
prisoners were paroled.
June 7, 1942
German infantry launches concerted attacks in the
Sevastopol area after a five day bombardment. The assaults are concentrated on
the Kamyshly-Belbek axis on the North Bay and along the Yalta Highway in the
south. Casualties were very heavy on both sides and the Germans achieved only a
small advance in one area.
The abandoned Yorktown had survived the night of
June 4/5 drifting with the currents. On June 5, a salvage crew was placed on
board and she was taken in tow. It looked as though she would make it to port
when the Japanese submarine I-168 attacked, putting two torpedoes into
her, sinking the proud ship.
Fierce fighting is reported in the city of Chuhsien in
Chekiang Province as Japanese forces strike at the Chinese.
June 8, 1942
Unable to follow-up his victory in “the Cauldron”
battle three days earlier, due to lack of resources and the threats to the north
and south, Rommel decides to secure his position by turning on the Free French
position to the south at Bir Hakeim on the Gazala Line. 15th Panzer
Division joined Trieste and 90th Light Divisions to assault the
position. Heavy fighting was reported by the badly outnumber French Brigade.
June 9, 1942
The town of Lidice, Czechoslovakia dies. On the direct orders of Hitler himself, the small mining village of Lidice was ordered obliterated from the face of the earth. The SS moved into the city in the early morning yours. The women, 198, and children, 98, were put onto trucks and shipped to death camps. The men, 105, were lined up and shot. All the livestock and dogs were killed. Every building was destroyed; the entire village was completely and utterly obliterated. All of this was done in retaliation for the death of the pervert Heydrich.
June 10, 1942
After two days of
heavy fighting, supplies dwindling to nothing, the Free French position at Bir
Hakeim was abandoned. The Frenchmen, after two weeks of valiant struggle, capped
their amazing defense by bringing the bulk of their forces out of the
encirclement in tact. However, half of the Gazala Line was now in Rommel’s
hands. The 8th Army still held a strong position in the north and had
extended their defenses along an east-west axis toward Tobruk. The battle was
far from over.
The Germans open up a offensive in the Kharkov area to secure jump-off positions for the coming summer campaign. Thirty-three divisions, five of them Panzer Divisions, strike the Volchansk Front which gives ground almost immediately.
The German U-boat
U-373 begins laying mines off Massachusetts, Delaware, and the Chesapeake Bay.
A young 25 year old
German officer, Michael Kitzelmann was executed in Orel. The winner of an Iron
Cross for valor in combat, Kitzelmann had the audacity to question the
persecution of citizens in the conquered terrirories.
American bombers hit Japanese positions at Kiska in the Aleutians.
June 12, 1942
In a desperate
attempt to reinforce their positions in the central Mediterranean Sea, British
convoys set sail from Alexandria and Gibraltar. Axis aircraft sink 6 merchants
and 6 escorts. The Italians sortied the cruiser Trento which was sunk by
The climax of the
Battle of Gazala begins as a massive melee of German and British armor clash.
Casualties are heavy.
June 13, 1942
The battle royal between the tanks of
the Afrika Korp and the 8th Army behind the Gazala Line ends with
heavy losses on both sides. However, the British XIII Corp is threatened with
being surrounded and the British armor is decimated. The British are down to
their last 75 tanks.
Albert Speer and 35 other Berlin big shots went to a demonstration at Peenemunde. They saw the first launch of the A4 (aka V-2) rocket. The 20-ton rocket with the 1-ton warhead launched well but fell to earth a mile away.
June 14, 1942
General Ritchie, commander of the
British 8th Army, orders a general retreat from the Gazala Line. The
battle that started with a foolhardy advance by Rommel and came close to
complete disaster for the Desert Fox ends in victory.
Elements of the elite 22nd
Air Landing Division take Fort Stalin in the Sevastopol defenses.
German U-boats land saboteurs near
Amagansett, Long Island and Jacksonville, Florida. Editor’s Note: This is
the incident which led to the capture and execution of these men as spies and is
being used today to persecute Taliban soldiers at Camp X-Ray.
US Marines begin landing in New Zealand.
June 15, 1942
While the rest of 8th
Army retreats into Egypt, Tobruk once again prepares for an extended siege. The
Commonwealth forces defending the vital North African port include the 2nd
South African Division, remnants of the 32nf Armored, 201st Guard and 11the
Indian Brigades. The wealth of supplies stockpiled In Tobruk border on the
embarrassing. However, the defensive perimeter has fallen into considerable
disrepair as there are several gaps in the thinned minefield, many of the
anti-tank ditches are filled in and gun emplacements no longer in place.
U-boat ace, Erich.
Topp (U-552), sinks 5 ships of convoy HG84.
June 16, 1942
The cruiser HMS Hermione is sunk by torpedoes from German submarine U205, north of Sollum (87 sailors are lost). A convoy from Gibraltar to Malta made it to its destination but the convoy from Alexandria to Malta/Tobruk was forced back by air attacks.
Working off information from a Czech traitor, the seven men who had executed the assassination of Heydrich were found in Prague. Refusing to surrender, they killed 14 Germans before being subdued. Jan Kubis, the man who threw the grenade that caused Heydrich’s death was severely wounded and died later.
June 17, 1942
At Sevastopol, Fort
Siberia falls to the Germans.
After nearly two
weeks of extremely heavy fighting, the German infantry of the 54 Corp (11 Army)
breaks through to the shores of the North Bay during the drive on Sevastopol.
The massive Maxim Gorky Fort is taken after serious hand to hand fighting.
Casualties were very heavy on both sides.
June 19, 1942
FDR and Churchill meet to discuss the opening of a second front in Europe and the development of the A-bomb.
June 20, 1942
Rommel launches an
attack on the Tobruk defenses. His attack concentrates on the southeast corner
of the perimeter at first light. By 1600 the airfield was overrun and by
nightfall, 21 Panzer had entered the port.
Fort Lenin falls as
the Germans continue to make slow but steady advances into the Sevastopol
June 21, 1942
The Tobruk garrison
spent the day destroying supplies and making plans for a breakout. Despite
extraordinary efforts, 33,000 prisoners were taken, 2000 tons of fuel and 5000
tons of food along with 2000 trucks and other transports were captured. This
singular victory for Rommel won him promotion to Field Marshal, but more
importantly allowed him to push his forces on in pursuit of the British 8th
Army without pause to resupply.
With Sevastopol not
yet subdued, Hitler is compelled to postpone the start of the German summer
offensive until the fortress falls and the 11th Army, and more
importantly, the Luftwaffe aircraft, can be repositioned.
The Luftwarre raids Southampton, England.
June 22, 1942
informs his staff that “Operation Heydrich”, the deportation of Western
European Jews would commence and the target goal was 1000 “deportations” per
day to Auschwitz.
A Japanese submarine
shells Fort Stevens, Oregon, the first time the continental United States has
been attacked since the War of 1812.
June 23, 1942
The few remaining
Soviet forces on the North Bay at Sevastopol withdraw into the city.
German forces reach
the Libyan-Egyptian border as they pursue the fleeing British.
The British launch
their third “1000 Bomber” raid. Bremen is target of this raid. Meanwhile,
the Germans begin a series of night raids against Birmingham.
The first groups of
Polish mental patients were “deported” to Auschwitz as the Germans
accelerated their euthanasia program.
June 24, 1942
German, Italian and
Croatian forces launch another offensive against Tito’s partisans in
Sollum and Sidi Barrani are evacuated as the British 8th Army continues its retreat into Egypt.
June 25, 1942
The United States
announces the establishment of a European Theater of Operations and assigns the
command to Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The bulk of the
British 8th Army retreats past Mersa Matruh as Rommel’s DAK
occupies Sollum, Haifaya Pass and Sidi Barrani. Ritchie, coming off his drubbing
at Gazala, loss of Tobruk and headlong retreat into Egypt is sacked as commander
of the British 8th Army and Gerneral Auchinleck takes his place.
The last of the
surviving aircraft at Sevastopol are evacuated to the Caucasus, giving the
Luftwaffe free reign over the city. Artillery ammunition is running short. Time
is running out for the Russians.
June 26, 1942
The 142nd Infantry Brigade arrives in Sevastopol. This would be the last reinforcement that would be sent into the city as the German noose around the fortress tightens.
June 27, 1942
The FBI announces the arrest of eight alleged German spies.
June 28, 1942
The German summer
offensive, “Case Blau” begins. Army Group South (von Bock) is split into two
Army Groups for the summer campaign – Army Group “A” and “B”. Army
Group B (von Bock) consists of three
armies, 6th (Paulus), 4 th Panzer (Hoth) and 2nd (Weichs). The force
of 33 divisions (11 of them Panzer divisions) attacks along the front between
Kharkov and Kursk in a massive assault whose objective is nothing short of the
Stalingrad. To the South, Army Group A (List) with 1st Panzer Army (Kleist) and
17th Army attacked along the Donets River, aiming initially for Rostov, but
ultimately the Caucuses oilfields 400 miles to the south. By the end of the day,
penetrations had been made in the lines of the Soviet 13th and 40th
Armies and the tanks of the 48th Panzer Korp (4th Panzer Army) were
advancing deep into Russian territory. The
Russians, unlike the previous summer, were giving ground quickly, and although
casualties were high, the large pockets of Soviet prisoners were not to be.
At Sevastopol, the
German 11th Army launches an amphibious attack across the North Bay,
establishing a beachhead behind the Soviet defenses, capturing Inkerman in the
June 29, 1942
Heavy German attacks
at Fedyukhin and Novyye Shula achieve major breakthroughs in the assaults on
June 30, 1942
The Soviets, running
our of ammunition, food, water, and space, begin the evacuation of Sevastopol.
The vanguard of
Rommel’s forces, exhausted, low on fuel and water, reach the British lines at