Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives

June, 1942

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.

The secret of the Nazi death camps became public knowledge as the Warsaw underground paper, Liberty Barricade, published an account of the murders at Chelmno. The story was that of Jakub Grojanoski, an escapee from the camp, who helped bury the bodies of the victims killed in the “gas vans.”

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.

The Germans executed 131 Czechs in reprisal for the attack on Heydrich.

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 group.

British commandos raided the Boulogne-La Touquet area on the French coast.

The Germans launched Operation Kottbus, attacking Russian partisans in the Lepel area. 16,000 combat troops were dedicated to the attack. Although a great number of partisan suspects were killed, the action did nothing to improve the situation for the Germans in the area.

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 be launched.

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 ships.

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 doomed.

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.

An explosion at a munitions plant in Elmwood, Illinois killed 49 workers. Editor’s Note: Not all those who fought and died to stop fascism carried a gun.

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.

The Japanese landed on the islands of Attu and Kiska in western Alaska. The occupation was unopposed. This would be the only land taken by the Axis in North American during the entire war.

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.

A Japanese submarine bombards the port of Sydney, Australia

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.

The British aircraft carrier Glorious is sunk in surface action in the Norwegian Sea.

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.

June 11, 1942  

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 British planes.

The climax of the Battle of Gazala begins as a massive melee of German and British armor clash. Casualties are heavy.

US bombers operating out of Egypt make their first operational raid on the Ploesti oil fields.

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.

The US merchant Robert C. Tuttle became the first victim of a submarine placed mine off the American coast. The 11,000 ton tanker hit the mine and run aground at Virginia Beach.

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.

The Afrika Korp closes on and surrounds Tobruk cutting the coastal road to Bardia.

June 18, 1942

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.

Bernard Robinson was commissioned as an ensign – the first black man to become an officer in the US Navy.

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 fortifications.

A Japanese submarine shells a radio station on Vancouver Island, the first shots fired in Canadian territory in the war.

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

Adolf Eichmann, 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.

German attacks in the Kharkov area wind down as the area between the Donets and Oskol River is cleared. The Germans, pleased with the advances, are somewhat concerned that there was no large capture of Russians in the action. Unlike the previous summer, the Soviet forces did not stand fast and get surrounded.

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.

The first contingent of British prisoners arrives at Bampong, Thailand, where construction of the Burma Railroad (remember “Bridge Over the River Kwai”?) started.

June 24, 1942

German, Italian and Croatian forces launch another offensive against Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia.

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. 

Bomber command hits Bremen again with a “1000-bomber raid”. Casualties are heavy as 49 bombers are lost in the attack. The Focke-Wulf factory and 27 acres of the city are destroyed.

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 process.

The British 8th Army begins to take up defensive positions at El Alamein, ending their rout from the Gazala line.

June 29, 1942

Heavy German attacks at Fedyukhin and Novyye Shula achieve major breakthroughs in the assaults on fortress Sevastopol.

Rommel’s forces take Mersa Matruh, capturing 6000 men. Alexandria is bombed and preparations for the evacuation of Cairo begins.

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 El Alamein.

While returning from a patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, U-158 is sunk by US aircraft off Bermuda.
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