World War Two Timeline of Events - 1941

Sourced from the Forces War Records Historic Document Archives, the 'Timeline of Events from 1939-45' provide a fascinating picture of the war as it was viewed at the time. Looking at this detailed timeline of WWII you can see wht it was called a World War, with so many countries involved across land, sea and air.

Within this timeline you will also discover Victoria Cross recipients with citations, Shipping losses, Battles, actions, RAF operations and so much more.

World War II Day by Day - 1941

1940 Second World War Timeline & detailed history of WWII

JANUARY 1941

January 1, 1941

  • The R.A.F. carries out two heavy night raids on shipping in Tripoli harbour. Bombs straddle the south-east mole and five cruisers moored there. The customs jetty and various ships, including two large motor-vessels, are hit and seaplane hangars are set on fire. In the Western Desert there is a further series of raids on Bardia. Meanwhile, preparations for the land assault continue.
  • Nearer home there is a terrific aerial onslaught on Bremen. At least 20,000 incendiaries are dropped in addition to a large number of high-explosive bombs. For their part, the Germans raid London and Merseyside. A few bombs are also mysteriously dropped in Eire; subsequent investigation shows that they are German.

January 2, 1941

  • Elbasan, in Albania, is raided with considerable success. High-explosive and incendiary bombs fall in the centre of the town and on the main road. Three large fires are started.
  • The preparations for the final attack on Bardia are pushed forward without the slightest attempt by the garrison or the rest of the Italian Libyan army to interfere with them.
  • The R.A.F. pays Bremen another devastating visit and Emden is also brought within the sphere of the night’s operations.
  • The Italians announce that their Air Force is to be reinforced by German help, but are careful to add that the command will remain Italian.
The crew of the 'Ceylon'
The crew of the 'Ceylon' whose adventures include an attack on their aircraft
during the return flight from Bremen on 2nd Jan 1941

January 5, 1941

  • President Roosevelt announces that his most intimate friend, Mr. Harry Hopkins, is going to England forthwith as his representative to establish personal contact with the British Government and ascertain Britain’s needs at first hand.
  • The Admiralty announce that the submarine Thunder-bolt (formerly Thetis) has sunk an Italian submarine which was proceeding under escort to a base in enemy-occupied territory.
  • Just after dawn Australian Forces, supported by tanks, penetrate a sector of the defences of Bardia. By the evening the Australians have captured those defences on a frontage of nine miles and to a depth of two miles. Their casualties have been comparatively light. The attack is supported by a naval bombardment through-out the day, the battle fleet providing a heavy concentration on enemy support troops, tanks and motor transports. There are no casualties or damage except a few casualties in the gunboat Aphis from a near miss.
  • In Albania the Greeks advance about three miles and capture 12 guns, 20 machine-guns and 500 prisoners.
  • The German night “hate” is on Bristol, where the usual mixture of high-explosive and incendiary bombs does considerable damage, mainly to buildings of no military importance whatever. Bremen is bombed for the third successive night by the R.A.F. By the end of the operations the general conflagration finally obscures all detail in some industrial districts and nothing can be seen but a swirling mass of flame.

January 4, 1941

  • By nightfall the Italian troops occupying the whole of the northern sector of the defences of Bardia are forced to surrender. British troops penetrate into Bardia itself and resistance is confined to a restricted area in the south-east zone of the perimeter defences. The prisoners already number more than 15,000.
  • Throughout the night and all day long the R.A.F. supports the operations with incessant bombing attacks on the enemy aerodromes in Eastern Libya.
  • Coastal Command aircraft attack Brest shortly after dusk. A Blenheim hits a destroyer three times. Before the raid is over the ship is shrouded in smoke and its guns are silent. German fighters try to intervene without success. Hudson aircraft patrolling the Norwegian coast drop three bombs on the deck of a German supply ship and at least three on another.

January 5, 1941

  • Shortly after mid-day the Italian garrison at Bardia surrenders. The prisoners are estimated at 30,000 and it later transpires that the number exceeds 40,000.
  • The Greeks announce that their submarine Katsonis, after unsuccessfully attempting to torpedo an Italian munition-carrying tanker, sank it by gun-fire.
  • The Admiralty announces that the trawler Kennymore and the drifter Harvest have been lost.
  • Coastal Command renews the attack on Brest, where shipping and an enemy aerodrome are bombed.

January 6, 1941

  • President Roosevelt, in an address to Congress, states that the fate of America is intimately bound up with events now happening elsewhere in the world. He says that her most useful role is to act as an arsenal for herself as well as for those nations which are now in actual war with aggressor nations. The latter do not need man-power, but they do need billions of dollars’ worth of weapons of defence. America cannot and will not tell them they must surrender because of their present inability to pay for weapons which she knows they must have.
  • While the British army in Libya is pressing on towards Tobruk, further raids on that town are carried out by R.A.F. bombers. The foreshore and military objectives in that town are repeatedly hit. The enemy aerodrome at El Adem, near Tobruk, is found to be evacuated and forty aircraft in an unserviceable condition owing to R.A.F. bombing are captured.
  • In Albania, Valona is again attacked in bad weather; many fires are caused and buildings and warehouses near the jetties are damaged.
  • Off the coast of Norway, a Blenheim attacks three enemy merchant vessels and badly damages one of them. Other Blenheims score a direct hit on the bow of a 5,000-ton enemy tanker off the Dutch coast.
  • In the Atlantic the Greek merchant SS Antonis, bound for the U.K. with 4800 tons of coal, was stopped by the Kormoran. All twenty-nine crew and seven sheep were taken aboard before the ship was scuttled. According to reports ‘The sheep are cooked and the crew taken prisoner’.

January 7, 1941

  • Merchant shipping losses have again been substantially reduced in the week ended 29th September. The total is seven ships with a tonnage of 37,556.
  • Enemy aircraft resume scattered daylight activity over parts of England, including London, where bombs cause minor damage.

January 8, 1941

  • In Libya R.A.F. bombers make a successful attack on Benina aerodrome and numbers of the hangars and barracks are gutted. At least 12 aircraft are set on fire.
  • At night a heavy attack is made on Bengazi, and Tobruk is also raided. At the same time, battleships, merchant shipping, docks and the railway station at Naples are the objectives of a particularly heavy raid. Bombs fall either on or very near the stern of a battleship of the “Littorio” class. Palermo also comes in for attention. The northern mole and a wharf are straddled and explosions are caused on or near shipping.
  • Nearer home night aircraft of the Bomber Command attack the naval dockyards at Wilhelmshaven and Emden.
  • The George Cross is awarded to Squadron-Leader John Noel Dowland for removing an enemy bomb wedged in the deck of a steamer. He had previously performed a similar duty on a trawler.
  • It is announced that the submarine Tuna has reported having a spirited engagement by night on the surface with a U-boat in enemy waters. She hit the U-boat on the conning-tower and chased her until forced to dive on the appearance of enemy escort vessels.
  • Owing to the diversion of shipping for war purposes to the Middle East, the meat ration is to be varied at short notice within the range of 1s. to 1s. 6d.
  • It is announced that the total British and Australian casualties in the capture of Bardia were less than 600.

January 9, 1941

  • The Prime Minister speaks at a farewell luncheon to Viscount Halifax before his departure for the United States. He says that we are sending the United States “an envoy who comes from the very centre of our counsels and knows all our secrets.”
  • The synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen is the main objective at night. The inland ports of Duisberg-Ruhrort and Duesseldorf and factories, blast-furnaces and railways are also attacked. In occupied France, aircraft of Coastal Command make a successful attack on the docks at Brest. General Wavell reports that in Abyssinia patriots, encouraged by support from the R.A.F., have compelled the Italians to evacuate the post of Gubba and are closing round the fleeing Italian garrison.
  • It is announced that the Free French submarine Narval has been sunk by enemy action in recent operations with the allied forces.
  • In Kenya one of our mobile columns enters Buna unopposed.
  • H.M.S. Pandora sinks both S.S. Palma and S.S. Valdivagna off Sardinia. H.M.S Parthian sinks SS Carlo Martinolich off Calabria.
  • Maiden flight of the Lancaster bomber - The aircraft, which was initially designated Avro Type 683 Manchester III but was later renamed the Lancaster, took to the air for its first flight from Woodford, Manchester on 9th January, 1941, just six weeks after the Air Ministry gave Avro the okay to proceed with development of the aircraft. The first prototype, Manchester MK.III BT308, initially had good reports, with the only negative comment being that the aircraft lacked directional stability.
Lancaster bombers on the assembly line
Lancaster bombers on the assembly line at a Ministry of Aircraft Production factory.

January 10, 1941

  • In Albania the Greeks gain a notable success by the capture of Klisura.
  • British air power is growing apace for to-day there has been a powerful onslaught on the enemy in broad daylight. A strong force of fighters accompanies R.A.F. bombers on an extensive sweep over the Pas de Calais. Several enemy aerodromes are bombed and machine-gunned, and attacks are also made from a low level on military installations and patrol vessels.
  • A bill giving the President the widest powers to secure the provision of aid for Britain is introduced in the United States Congress.
  • In Libya the aerodromes at Benina and Berka are raided and Bengazi is also attacked. Elsewhere aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm carry out a raid on Palermo, where great damage is done to shipping.
  • Important naval news comes from the Mediterranean. While a naval squadron is escorting a convoy through the Sicilian Channel two Italian destroyers are met. A chase ensues in the course of which one is sunk. H.M.S. Gallant is subsequently damaged by mine or torpedo, but manages to make port. Shortly afterwards German dive-bombers from Sicily make bold and spectacular attacks on the escorting vessels. The aircraft-carrier Illustrious is damaged but reaches port. The cruiser H.M.S. Southampton is also damaged and subsequently has to be sunk. But the convoy gets through and at least 12 enemy aircraft are destroyed.

January 11, 1941

  • The Germans make another fire raid on London, but the fire-watching precautions prove effective and there is no repetition of the damage done on 29th December.
  • In Libya a railway and the docks at Bengazi are attacked at night, one large explosion occurring. There is also bombing activity in Italian East Africa.

January 12, 1941

  • Counter-measures to the German assault on the Navy in the Mediterranean are soon taken. The aerodrome at Catania in Sicily is heavily raided by R.A.F. bombers. Hangars are demolished or fired, a petrol dump is set on fire and at least nine aircraft, thought to be German Junkers 87s, are destroyed.
  • In Libya attacks are made on Benina and Berka.
  • Once again, the Air Force shows that it is in a position to strike by day as well as night. Fighters patrolling the French coast make low level attacks on troops in trenches as well as shipping and ground defences. At night R.A.F. bombers are over Germany, Belgium and Italy with orders to make oil targets their main objective. The targets include important oil refineries near Venice and the well-known installation at Regensburg. Other air activities include an onslaught on the docks at Brest. Le Havre and Lorient and aerodromes at Vannes, Chartres, Evreux. Morlaix and elsewhere.

January 13, 1941

  • The German main objective for night raiding is Plymouth, where a concentrated attack lasts three hours. The Prime Minister expresses London’s admiration for the way in which its ordeal was endured.
  • Britain’s air arm is not idle cither. In Albania military concentrations at Berat are bombed. A small force of Coastal Command aircraft makes a successful attack on the submarine base at Lorient, where damage is done to naval ordnance works and buildings in the docks.
  • Another Italian general “resigns on account of ill-health”. This time it is General Soddu, who was called in to deal with the disastrous situation created by the speedy collapse of the offensive against Greece.

January 14, 1941

  • Merchant shipping losses for the week ended 5th January again show a very welcome reduction. Only four ships of a total of 14,687 tons are lost.

January 15, 1941

  • The R.A.F. make another night raid on Catania, in Sicily, the base of the newly arrived German air units. A heavy explosion and a large fire are caused at the north-west hangar. Another large fire is caused among the administrative buildings and a third near the east hangar. Several aircraft are seen ablaze and explosions are also caused among aircraft dispersed along the boundary of the aerodrome.
  • Coastal Command aircraft pay a lucrative visit to Norway. A direct hit is scored on a hangar at Mandal; a stick of bombs falls on an aerodrome at Stavanger and two direct hits are made on the stem of a supply ship in Stavanger roads.
  • The naval base at Wilhelmshaven is the main objective of British night bombers. The fires caused by the first wave of aircraft are so enormous that later waves are led by the glare in the sky right across Holland and some 50 miles into Germany. The areas of raging fires which our pilots report cover thousands of square yards on each side of the harbour, and a large proportion of the military objectives of Wilhelmshaven lying within this area.

January 16, 1941

  • German dive-bombers, escorted by Italian fighters, make a heavy attack on the harbour of Malta. Five enemy aircraft are destroyed by our fighters and five more by anti-aircraft fire. There is a good deal of damage to civilian property.
  • Germany’s nightly “hate” is mainly concentrated on the city of Bristol, which is raided in successive waves for many hours. A number of fires, some of them serious, result in substantial damage, but the casualties are not heavy.
  • Severe icing conditions and electrical storms do not prevent R.A.F. bombers from once more making the naval base at Wilhelmshaven their main objective. Many huge fires are caused, especially in the area of the railway station and the oil storage tanks. Other aircraft attack docks at Emden, Boulogne and Calais, a railway junction at Ostend and an aerodrome in occupied France.
  • The proceedings of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives again draw the eyes of the world. The Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson, emphasises where America’s interests and duty lie. He says that the present situation is more critical than 1917 and the Government should have absolute authority to determine how, when and where American-made munitions of war should be distributed.
  • Another sign of the times is that President Roosevelt introduces a measure to provide for the immediate construction of two hundred merchant vessels.

January 17, 1941

  • Colonel Knox, the United States Secretary of the Navy, makes some powerful points when addressing the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. He summarises the Administration’s case by saying that if the United States does not wish to face the consequences of the establishment in South America of an aggressive military power, we should now prevent Germany from overturning British sea power which holds the Nazis in Europe.
  • R.A.F. bombers raid Tobruk, causing a huge fire. The large transport yard at Assab, military buildings at Hargeisa. the enemy camp at Umm-Haggar and Asmara are also bombed.

January 18, 1941

  • Malta is heavily raided by large forces of German dive-bombers. There is no serious damage to R.A.F. property and ten German aircraft are lost at a cost of two British fighters.
  • It is officially announced from Vichy that Marshal Petain and Laval have met and that the differences resulting in Laval’s dismissal in December have now been accommodated.

January 19, 1941

  • German and Italian aircraft make another heavy raid on Malta. Though inflicting a certain amount of damage, the enemy pays a very severe price. Nineteen aircraft are destroyed, including nine Ju 87’s, eight Ju 88’s, one CR.42 and one Cant Z 506.
  • The R.A.F. is not idle either. In Albania a successful raid is made on military concentrations, motor transport and buildings at Berat. In Africa, Massawa is twice raided; other attacks are made on Assab and Hargeisa and motor transport and gun positions south-east of Tessenei.
  • Kassala in the Sudan has been reoccupied and the large Italian force which has been holding it is in retreat, pursued and harassed by our mobile detachments.

January 20, 1941

  • Recent rumours that Hitler and Mussolini would be meeting very shortly turn out to have substance after all. The two dictators meet in the presence of their Foreign Ministers, but nothing is vouchsafed as to what transpired other than the usual banalities about the resultant identity of views on matters of common interest.
  • The Italian withdrawal on the Kassala front continues and the strong fortified positions about Sabderat and Tessenei are abandoned. Italian casualties in the Kassala fighting since July are estimated to have been between 1,700 and 2,000.
  • President Roosevelt takes the oath of office as President and makes another speech which is a trumpet-call to America to secure the defeat of aggression.
  • Colonel Donovan, President Roosevelt’s personal emissary, arrives in Bulgaria on a visit to the Government.

January 21, 1945

  • The fate of Bardia overtakes the town of Tobruk as soon as the Army of the Nile is ready for the assault. By dusk the attack has penetrated the defences to a depth of eight miles and our forward troops have firmly established themselves in positions directly overlooking and within three miles of the town itself.
  • Elsewhere in Africa the news is equally favourable. The Italians are 40 miles east of the frontier in the Kassala sector, giving ground east of Metemma and hastily retiring across the Abyssinia-Kenya frontier.
  • In Albania military objectives in Elbasan are raided, military buildings and the railway line being hit.

January 22, 1941

  • The Admiralty, reviewing the assistance given by the Mediterranean Fleet in the African operations, report that apart from frequent bombardments of enemy positions the co-operation had consisted of the supply of large quantities of stores and the removal by sea of prisoners and booty. In one short period more than 3,000 tons of water were landed for the use of our army in the Bardia area. More than 54,000 prisoners and many captured tanks had been taken back.
  • In a speech on the man-power problem the Prime Minister rejects the proposal for a small War Cabinet of four or five men freed from departmental duties. In the next six months we should have for the first time an intense demand on our man-power and woman- power. While our army was growing every week and a decisive expansion of the Air Force was in progress it was the munition factories and agriculture which would make the chief demand for man-power. The 60,000 British lives lost by enemy action in this war was far less than the lives lost in a single protracted battle on the Western Front in 1916, 1917 or 1918.
  • The capture of Tobruk is completed. Over 14,000 prisoners are taken, including a corps commander, a divisional commander, two other generals and an admiral. The booty includes 200 guns. Our losses are under 500. The R.A.F. gives active support and raids the barracks at Apollonia. Nor are its operations confined to Africa for lucrative visits are paid to Berat in Albania and the aerodrome of Maritza in Rhodes. Nearer home small forces of bombers attack targets in the Duesseldorf area and in other parts of the Ruhr.

January 23, 1941

  • General Wavell’s army, advancing westwards, reaches the vicinity of Derna and Mckili.
  • Fighters from a famous Polish squadron carry out sweeps over Northern France, making low-level attacks on enemy aircraft at several aerodromes and on troops and ground defences.
  • Colonel Lindberg, giving evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives, opposes the “Lease-and Lend” Bill, but says that he does not think Germany can invade Britain and does not believe America can drop the position already taken.

January 24, 1941

  • Lord Halifax, our new Ambassador to the United States, arrives at Annapolis on board the new British battleship King George V. President Roosevelt creates a striking precedent by going to meet him.
  • The Iron Guard revolt against the government of General Antonescu collapses.
  • H.M. Submarine Parthian has sunk a heavily laden Italian supply ship of about 7,000 tons south of Italy.
  • In Libya the advance to the west continues and in Eritrea Italian forces have evacuated Keru and Aicota and are continuing their retreat. According to messages from countries adjoining Italy there is a mighty commotion in that country over the long series of Italian defeats. Unrest in the northern cities is said to have expressed itself in wholesale rioting; it is added that there has been much bloodshed and German troops intervened to prevent the spread of disorder

January 25, 1941

  • The trawlers Strathrannork, Galvani and Philippe cripple an enemy aircraft and set it on fire.
  • The British Army in Libya is in close contact with the enemy three miles cast of Derna. Six Italian tanks are captured or destroyed. The number of prisoners from Tobruk is estimated to be at least 20,000.
  • Lord Halifax, after his first visit to Mr. Cordell Hull, says that Hitler missed a great opportunity last June but is making a desperate effort to achieve victory by intensifying the blockade at sea by submarines and otherwise. American help was vital in these directions.
  • In East Africa General Cunningham launches an attack on Italian East Africa. 11th African Division and 12th African Division advance into Italian Somaliland from Kenya with little resistance from Italian forces who have withdrawn 100 miles behind the Juba River.

January 26, 1941

  • German aircraft attack shipping off the East Coast.
  • H.M.S. Wallace and the drifters Fisher Boy and Reids are in action and destroy at least two aircraft. Another is destroyed by the anti-aircraft guns of the merchantmen. The trawler Galvani is attacked by a Ju88 bomber which is driven off and damaged so seriously that it crashes soon afterwards on the Norfolk coast.
  • Mr. Wendell Willkie, the defeated Republican candidate for the United States presidency, arrives in England, after travelling by air from America. He says that his visit is quite unofficial and that he has “come over to look and not to talk”.
  • Another stage in the invasion of Eritrea is reached by the capture of Biscia, the western terminus of the railway from Asmara and Massawa, the port on the Red Sea.

January 27, 1941

  • R.A.F. bombers carry out a heavy raid on Cadodichino aerodrome near Naples. Bombs fall on a large building, setting it on fire. The central railway junction and marshalling yards at Naples are also attacked, fires and a violent explosion being caused.

January 28, 1941

  • While British forces concentrate in the Derna area mobile forces press forward in Eritrea and over 1,200 prisoners have been captured up to date.
  • The R.A.F. helps on the good work by attacking enemy stores, landing-grounds and lines of communication in Italian East Africa, Albania and Libya. The railway stations at Keren and Aisha and the railway bridge and road east of Adarte are bombed. Other targets are stores and warehouses at Assab and dispersed aircraft at Gura.
  • German aircraft are rather more active over this country by day. London has four alerts after a week of peace and in South-East England several aircraft drop bombs through the clouds.
  • The King and Queen return from a short tour of aerodromes.
  • The Admiralty announces that H.M. Submarine Triton is overdue and must be considered lost.
  • In the House of Commons, the Minister for Economic Warfare says that he has little evidence that exports from the United States to the Soviet Union reach Germany directly, but he had ample evidence that the Soviet were exporting Russian goods to Germany and replacing them by imports from the U.S.A. As the result of conversations in Washington, he hopes it may be possible to have some steps taken to reduce this practice.
A group of RAF officers and men photographed in January 1941 after being decorated by the King
A group of RAF officers and men photographed in January 1941 after being decorated by the King

January 29, 1941

  • The allied cause receives a heavy blow this morning with the death of the Greek Premier, General Metaxas. The King of Greece, in a proclamation to his people, says that the work of the dead hero will be carried on and the people will rival the efforts of their victorious army to bring the struggle to a triumphant conclusion.
  • Lord Reith, Minister of Works, announces that he has set up a committee which inter alia will advise as to the steps to be taken to prevent speculation in land from hampering reconstruction after the war.
  • Mr. Wendell Willkie sees the Minister of Supply and attends a meeting of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress.

January 30, 1941

  • On the anniversary of the inauguration of the Nazi regime Hitler makes a speech in Berlin. There is the usual fantasy about the creation and growth of the British Empire, the usual contrast between the misery of the masses in England and the social achievements of Nazism in Germany; but he reiterates that he will strike a decisive blow at the chosen moment and for the first time notifies the United States that “every ship within range of German submarines will be torpedoed”.
  • The Foreign Affairs Committee of the American House of Representatives passes the Lease and Lend Bill by seventeen votes to eight, qualifying its approval by certain amendments.
  • More progress in Africa. Derna is captured this morning after a much stiffer resistance than usual has been overcome. In Eritrea the concentration of the imperial forces in the Agordat-Barentu sector is proceeding.
  • Major-General J. H. Beith (“Ian Hay”) resigns the appointment of Director of Public Relations at the War Office and is succeeded by Colonel Walter Elliott, M.P., M.C.

January 31, 1941

  • It is announced that the trawler Pelton has been sunk and the Dutch authorities in London report the loss of a Dutch submarine in joint operations.
  • The R.A.F. has a field day in Libya, carrying out a heavy raid on the docks at Tripoli, where ships and seaplanes in the harbour are the target. An 8,000-ton merchant vessel is hit and set on fire. A 4,000-ton ship is also hit and another of 8,000 tons damaged. The aerodrome at Barce is visited, and hangars, buildings, tents and the barracks receive direct hits.

FEBRURY 1941

February 1, 1941

  • Another triumph is achieved in Africa when the imperial force operating in Eritrea captures Agordat, taking many hundreds of prisoners with guns and mechanical transport. British and Indian units greatly distinguish themselves. The Italians also evacuate wide areas of Abyssinia before our advancing columns.
  • The R.A.F. is active both in Africa and the Middle East generally. The port of Valon a is attacked from a low level, despite intense fire, and bombs are dropped on store-houses, munition dumps and a timber depot. Fighters beat off an enemy raid on Malta. South African units attack motor transport in Abyssinia and aerodromes in Eritrea.
  • The Germans and Italians raid shipping and shore installations in Libya.
  • There is trouble in Johannesburg when the Republican and pro-Germ an element find that the soldiers are not prepared to tolerate too openly unpatriotic activities. A serious riot has to be suppressed.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – 2nd Lieutenant Premindra Singh Bhagat of the Royal Bombay Sappers & Miners wins the first Victoria Cross for the British Indian Army in WWII for a "...continuous feat of sheer cold courage" clearing 15 minefields & 55 miles of roads in 48 hours.

February 2, 1941

  • The R.A.F. returns to the new tactics of the day offensive. Bombers attack the docks at Boulogne and Ostend. Formations of fighters carry out offensive sweeps over the Strait of Dover and enemy-occupied territory.
  • There is much coming and going in France in connection with the new Hitlerian effort to get France into the war in the guise of “collaboration”. Laval, under German inspiration, organises a pro-Nazi party in Paris, and Darlan returns to Paris with Marshal Petain’s reply to Hitler’s latest summons.

February 3, 1941

  • The Isolationists in America are still making a determined stand against the Lease and Lend Bill. In spite of Colonel Knox’s assurance on Saturday that he was “tremendously worried” as to whether American help to Britain would be too late for the approaching crisis, several opponents of the bill profess to believe that his alarm is imaginary.
  • Hitler appoints Erwin Rommel to command the newly-created Deutsches Afrikakorps, which will soon be sent to North Africa.

February 4, 1941

  • Both on the ground and in the air the noose is being drawn tighter round the necks of the Italians in Africa. General Wavell’s army in Libya enters Cyrene. In Eritrea the Italian retirement from Agordat continues, and our troops are nearing Keren. The Italian force beaten at Barentu is pursued to the south R.A.F. bombers raid Berka aerodrome at Bengazi, dropping bombs on aircraft dispersed on the ground. The rail-way station at Barce is peppered, motor transport is destroyed, and in the vicinity, troops marching on the road are subjected to six separate attacks.

February 5, 1941

  • Mr. Wendell Willkie includes a flying visit to Mr. de Valera and a reception by the King and Queen in his hectic programme for the day.
  • German air activity by day proves somewhat expensive in view of the very minor scale of the operations. Four aircraft of various types are shot down.
  • An important announcement is made about the future of Abyssinia. The claim of the Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne is recognised, and the reappearance of an independent Ethiopian state is welcomed. Any assistance and guidance which it may need in economic and political matters should be the subject of international agreement at the conclusion of peace.
  • The figures of shipping losses for the week ended 26th January are again comparatively encouraging. They amount to nine ships of 33,604 tons in all.
  • The Greeks make more progress in Albania after what appears to have been a temporary hold-up. They capture an important pass north of Himara and report that Tepelini is burning as if about to be evacuated.
  • The R.A.F. continues to embarrass the Italians in their rapid retirement to Bengazi. There are repeated raids on Barce, Berka, Benina and their lines of communication to that town.

February 6, 1941

  • A great day in British military annals. Bengazi, the capital of Eastern Libya, surrenders. In a brilliant operation British armoured forces move south of the Gebel Akhdar and establish themselves astride the Italian line of communications leading southward from Bengazi while the Australians press forward from Derna. The remnant of the Italian armies makes a desperate effort to break through the cordon barring their retreat.
  • Bad weather does not stop the R.A.F. from attacking the docks at invasion ports in Northern France. Several large fires are started at Boulogne, Dunkirk and Dieppe, and the docks at Calais and Fecamp are also bombed.
  • In Albania military objectives west of Tepelini and the Krahad area are bombed and direct hits on military stores and motor transport concentrations are observed.
The King and Queen visit Portsmouth and tour bombed areas
The King and Queen visit Portsmouth on the 6th February 1941 and tour bombed
areas, His Majesty inspects VAD Nurses

February 7, 1941

  • It is announced that a Dornier twin-engined bomber has been shot down by H.M.S. Vanity while attempting to attack a convoy.
  • The victory at Bengazi has immediate and important results. General Weygand, at Algiers, dashes German hopes that the enemy will be granted the use of the naval base of Bizerta in order to check British progress in Libya. Nor is there much hope that Admiral Darlan will yield up the French Fleet or France’s Mediterranean naval bases.

February 8, 1941

  • The United States House of Representatives passes the Lease-and-Lend Bill by 260 to 165 votes; but it incorporates the amendment that nothing in its terms shall be construed to authorise the use of American naval vessels for convoy purposes or to permit American ships to enter a war area.
  • Certain ministerial changes are announced. Mr. Malcolm MacDonald is to be High Commissioner in Canada, Lord Moyne becomes Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Ernest Brown Minister of Health, and the Duke of Norfolk Joint Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture.
  • It is announced in Vichy that Marshal Petain has offered Laval office in the Government as Minister of State and Member of the Directing Committee, but Laval has declined.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out attacks on industrial targets at Mannheim and single aircraft bomb objectives at Rotterdam and Flushing.
  • It is revealed that in the operations leading up to the capture of Bengazi, a British armoured formation made a forced march of 150 miles in 30 hours, brushing aside resistance in order to close the enemy’s last line of retreat.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Subadar Richpal Ram, 6th Rajputana Rifles awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - “During the assault on enemy positions in front of Keren, Eritrea, on the night of 7-8th February, 1941, Subadar Richpal Ram, who was second-in-command of a leading company, insisted on accompanying the forward platoon and led its attack on the first objective with great dash and gallantry. His company commander being then wounded, he assumed command of the company, and led the attack of the remaining two platoons to the final objective. In face of heavy fire, some thirty men with this officer at their head rushed the objective with the bayonet and captured it. The party was completely isolated, but under the inspiring leadership of Subadar Richpal Ram, it beat back six enemy counter-attacks between midnight and 0430 hours. By now, ammunition had run out, and this officer extricated his command and fought his way back to his battalion with a handful of survivors through the surrounding enemy. Again, in the attack on the same position on 12th February, this officer led the attack of his company. He pressed on fearlessly and determinedly in the face of heavy and accurate fire, and by his personal example inspired his company with his resolute spirit until his right foot was blown off. He then suffered further wounds from which he died. While lying wounded he continued to wave his men on, and his final words were " We'll capture the objective ".The heroism, determination and devotion to duty shown by this officer were beyond praise, and provided an inspiration to all who saw him.”

February 9, 1941

  • There are changes at Vichy, but in the direction of stiffening French resistance to German demands going beyond the armistice terms. M. Flandin resigns and is succeeded by Admiral Darlan, who is also appointed Vice-Premier.
  • Italy suffers a new, surprising and terrible blow. At dawn the port of Genoa is very heavily bombarded by the Western Mediterranean Fleet under Admiral Somerville. Over three hundred tons of shells are fired at military targets such as power stations, docks and war installations. A troop transport is among the casualties and any German design of using Genoa as the starting- point for an expedition to Bizerta is effectively thwarted. Simultaneously, naval aircraft are active at other points in the Gulf of Genoa. They drop several tons of bombs and a large number of incendiaries on the oil refinery of the A.N.I.C. at Leghorn and hit the aerodrome and railway junctions at Pisa.
  • Such glorious news inspires the Prime Minister to a rousing review of the Empire’s achievements since his previous broadcast to the nation five months ago. On the credit side he says that the whole Italian army in the East, an army which was reputed to exceed 150,000 men, has been captured or destroyed, and the entire province of Cyrenaica, nearly as big as England and Wales, has been captured; Hitler had not dared to attempt the invasion of Britain last autumn and his subsequent effort to break the spirit of the British nation by the bombing, first of London and afterwards of our other great cities, had been proved futile. American help was rolling up but we must meanwhile brace ourselves to receive and surmount the shock of a ferocious onslaught on these islands.
  • The Empire’s armies are pressing on everywhere in Africa. In Libya, El Agheila is reached. In Eritrea, preparations are going forward to tackle the Italians in their mountain stronghold at Keren.
  • Aircraft of the Coastal Command attack enemy destroyers off the Norwegian coast and hit one amid-ships.

February 10, 1941

  • It is announced that the trawlers H.M.T. Almond and H.M.T. Arctic Trapper have been sunk.
  • Admiral Darlan is appointed Head of the State in the eventuality of anything happening to Marshal Petain.
  • German long-range bombers attack a convoy west of Portugal and claim to have sunk 24,500 tons of shipping. Others attack an aerodrome in Iceland.
  • Imperial forces invade Eritrea from a fresh point in the Sudan. Advancing south along the coast they occupy Mersa Taclai and Karora. The South Africans reach the Hobok area, fifty miles inside Southern Abyssinia.
  • The British Government withdraw all their representatives from Rumania.
  • A large force of British fighters and bombers make another daylight sweep over the French coast, bombing shipping and dockside buildings. At night the industrial area of Hanover is given a very heavy hammering lasting six hours, at the end of which fires too numerous to be counted are raging.

February 11, 1941

  • The Navy is at work again, this time in a heavy bombardment of Ostend where the harbour works are seriously dam aged and m any fires observed. Enemy fighters make vain attempts to prevent or limit the disaster.
  • Mr. Wendell Willkie, giving his evidence before the Foreign Relations Committee of the American Senate, advocates that the United States should let Britain have from five to ten destroyers a month.
  • Mr. Herbert Morrison announces that a new type of table air-raid shelter for use inside the house will soon be available.
  • Thirty three members of 11th Special Air Service Battalion, together with an R.A.F officer and a local interpretor, Fortunato Picchi, known for the operation as X Troop, destroy the aqueduct at Tragino, Italy. Their escape was hampered when the submarine they were expecting to be evacuate them, H.M.S Triumph, failed to arrive. All were captured and became Prisoners of War (POW’s). Except Picchi, who, after a year in prison was executed by the Italians.

February 12, 1941

  • Referring to Mr. Wendell Willkie’s plea that America should send more destroyers to Britain, the United States Secretary of the Navy, Colonel Knox, says that, in his opinion, the country has none to spare at the present time.
  • Interesting news of the disintegration of the Italian Air Force under the blows of the R.A.F. comes from the Middle East. Eighty-six unserviceable enemy aircraft have been found by our forces on the landing-ground at Benina in Libya.
  • The good work is continued during the day, particularly in Africa. In the Keren area the railway station, dumps, motor transport, and enemy gun positions are continuously bombarded. Warehouses and other military targets at Assab are raided. In Italian Somaliland the South African Air Force bomb Afmadu and motor transport between Jelib and Brava.
  • A Junkers 88 bomber is destroyed by anti-aircraft fire in East Scotland, and another is engaged and promptly destroyed by the drifter Eager.
  • General Franco has a meeting with Mussolini at Bordighera. There is much speculation as to the object of his visit, but it is generally supposed that Mussolini wishes to provide a way of escape into Morocco for the remnant of his armies in Tripoli.

February 13, 1941

  • After his meeting with Mussolini General Franco has an interview with Marshal Petain, and returns to Spain.
  • No doubt, with a view to further terrorisation of the unhappy Bulgaria the Germans proclaim that a large British convoy has been attacked with devastating results, “at least thirteen merchant ships” having been sunk. The true figure is six.
  • The Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate pass the “Lease and Lend” Bill by fifteen votes to eight.

February 14, 1941

  • The R.A.F. is again active in the Middle East and Africa. Heavy bombers attack Lindos harbour in the island of Rhodes. The Greek army in Albania is assisted by heavy raids on military camps, supply dumps, gun emplacements, motor transport, and main roads.
  • The Italians report that British parachute troops, armed with machine-guns, hand grenades, and dynamite recently landed in Southern Italy in order to sabotage communications and water supplies. The enemy claim that they were rounded up before they could do any damage.
  • In Italian Somaliland a great success is achieved with the capture of the important port of Kismayu by a force comprising troops from all parts of Africa. The Italians are driven out of Kurmuk, the Sudanese post which they captured in July, when Kassala and Gallabat were evacuated. No Italians now remain on the soil of Egypt, the Sudan, or Kenya, except as prisoners.

February 15, 1941

  • It is now known that guns captured in the battle south of Bengazi number 103 field, two heavy anti-aircraft and two light anti-aircraft. There is progress on all fronts in north-east Africa; in Italian Somaliland South African troops occupy the important Italian port of Kismayu. In its harbour one ship is found scuttled, three have been damaged, and the oil storage tanks are on fire.
  • Aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm have sunk a merchant ship in the Central Mediterranean. Heavy raids are made on Rhodes and in Albania considerable damage is inflicted on troop concentrations and transport columns. At night bombers carry out heavy attacks on Catania, Syracuse, and Brindisi. Aircraft of the Bomber Command drop leaflets in the Katowice and Cracow areas of Poland. This expedition constitutes the longest operational flight of the war, for the distance there and back is 1,750 miles.
  • Sir Reginald Hoare, British Minister in Bucharest, leaves Constanza for Istanbul with his staff. The last link with Rumania is broken.

February 16, 1941

  • The R.A.F. is very active giving help to the Greek army in Albania. In a concentrated attack on enemy positions near Tepelini direct hits are registered on gun positions and military buildings at Buzi, while at Laitiza bombs burst in a large tented camp and on motor transport concentrations. Retreating enemy columns are severely handled. Military operations are assisted in Eritrea, Abyssinia, and Italian Somaliland, and it is announced that Fleet Air Arm aircraft have sunk a 7,000-ton merchant ship off the coast of Tunis.

February 17, 1941

  • Preparations are being made to deal with any danger to Singapore. It is announced that mines will be laid in a certain area in the vicinity, and vessels wishing to pass through it must apply to the naval authorities for a route.
  • R.A.F. bombers again raid Italian aerodromes in the Dodecanese.
  • The Germans resume night raids on London. This time the operation takes the form of what appears to be an attempt to start a ring of fires in the inner suburbs.
  • The Germans attempt to relieve the situation of the Italians by raiding Bengazi. Though the Italians evacuated the town in order to save the inhabitants, the Germans have no compunction in slaughtering them from the air in the hope of damaging the British.
  • The Bulgarian and Turkish Governments issue a joint statement in which they declare that they have arrived at what is tantamount to a pact of non-aggression. The understanding is construed in different ways in various quarters. The Germans and their friends say that it means that Turkey will take no action if Germany invades Greece through Bulgaria. But Britons are quietly confident that it presages no harm to their cause because the pact is expressed to be “without prejudice to engagements with other countries”, and no doubt is felt that Turkey will remain faithful to her alliance with us.
An enemy bomber brought down in the Home Counties
An enemy bomber brought down in the Home Counties on the night of 17th February 1941

February 18, 1941

  • The Germans again raid Bengazi. In the last two days the Royal Australian Air Force have shot down one of the raiders and damaged several others so badly that it is unlikely that they reached their base. In Albania the reinforced R.A.F. lend effective help to the Greek operations. Yesterday and to-day concentrated attacks have been made on Italian positions in the Tepelini area. Troop concentrations and military buildings have been heavily bombed.

February 19, 1941

  • R.A.F. support for the various offensives in Africa are concentrated and sustained. Attacks are made on a motor transport park and repair shops at Dessie, on buildings and hangars at Asmara aerodrome, on barracks at Javello. Other squadrons carry out offensive reconnaissance’s in support of our troops in the Juba River area. German aircraft attacking Bengazi suffer losses both from our fighters and anti-aircraft fire.
  • Coastal Command aircraft attack the enemy naval bases at Brest and the docks at Calais.
  • The German threat against imports to this country is revealed in a fierce raid on Swansea, one of the gates of entry from overseas.

February 20, 1941

  • It is announced that Mr. Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, and General Sir. John Dill have arrived in Cairo for conferences on the situation in the Near East.
  • The Italian empire in Africa is cracking at another point. In Italian Somaliland our troops have successfully crossed the River Juba, driving off enemy counter-attacks. In Southern Abyssinia, the important key town of Mega, on another route to Abbis Ababa, is captured by the South Africans, who take 600 prisoners.
  • Another effect of the war on established and cherished practice is Mr. Herbert Morrison ’s announcement that local authorities are to be allowed to sanction the Sunday opening of places of entertainment in industrial areas and on a larger scale than heretofore.
  • Criticisms of the War Damage Bill have had their effect; important concessions have been announced by the Government.
  • It is announced that the 5,051 - ton armed auxiliary vessel H.M.S. Crispin has been sunk.
  • In broad daylight a single aircraft of the Bomber Command drops bombs on the docks at Ijmuiden in occupied Holland. A large fire breaks out on the quay-side. Night activities of the R.A.F. are confined to an offensive patrol over certain aerodromes in Northern France.
  • In the Mediterranean area a determined R.A.F. onslaught is made on the aerodromes at Catania and Comiso in Sicily. After a highly successful raid several large fires are believed to have been enemy aircraft burning in or near the hangars.
  • The German air attack on Swansea is renewed.

February 21, 1941

  • There are increasing reports that German troops have actually crossed the Danube and entered Bulgaria. But whether they are true or not, no one seriously doubts that an unresisted invasion is inevitable in the very near future.
  • R.A.F. bombers overcome bad weather and the formidable defences of Wilhelmshaven to attack the dock yards and ship building works. Near the Bauhafen there is a large fire seen by several pilots and soon afterwards a succession of explosions. Military objectives in the Ruhr are also attacked as well as aerodromes in enemy-occupied territories from which attacks are made on this country.
  • A third air attack is launched on Swansea.

February 22, 1941

  • German preparations for the occupation of Bulgaria are reported to be complete. In Sofia a German officer throws a bottle of wine at the head of the American Minister.

February 23, 1941

  • British submarines have been highly successful in operations against Italy's overseas communications of late. The Upholder has sunk two supply ships aggregating 13,000 tons. H.M.S Rover has accounted for an oil tanker. H.M.S Regent, H.M.S. Utmost and H.M.S. Truant have disposed of ships aggregating 14,000 tons. It is revealed that H.M.S. Triton sank two supply ships, one of which was about 8,000 tons, before she was lost in January.
  • The Admiralty also reports that the standard of conduct exhibited by the enemy in warfare in the Mediterranean has undergone a marked change since it became necessary for Germany to render assistance to Italy. The hospital ship Dorsetshire has been twice attacked by German aircraft, fortunately without success. Imtarfa Hospital at Malta has been deliberately attacked. The town of Bengazi has been subjected to recurrent air attacks of an indiscriminate nature carried out by German aircraft.
  • Mussolini makes a surprisingly frank speech dealing with Italian disasters in Greece and Africa. He says that the British attack in the Western Desert anticipated an Italian attack by five or ten days. One tenth of the Italian army had been destroyed and one-fifth of the air force. Italy has had a bad time but her powers of recovery were immense.
  • The news from Africa shows that the bad time is continuing. The enemy front in Italian Somaliland is giving way. Imperial forces have occupied Jumbo, near the mouth of the River Juba, capturing prisoners together with quantities of war material.

February 24, 1941

  • Night aircraft of Bomber and Coastal Commands attack the docks at Brest where an enemy cruiser of the “Hipper” class is known to be lying. The attack is pressed home and the target straddled in all directions by many sticks of heavy bombs.
  • The Admiralty announces that a large area in the Central Mediterranean is dangerous to shipping. As the area includes Sardinia, the Sicilian Channel, part of the Southern Adriatic and the coast of Tunisia and Libya, any operations by Britain’s enemies in that sea will henceforth be seriously hampered.
  • Hitler makes another of his braggart speeches in Munich. There is the usual fantastic story of the iniquities of Versailles and the rise to power of the Nazi party. Mussolini is given words of comfort. The only valuable part of the speech is the promise that real sea warfare is about to begin now that Germany’s new U-boats have appeared.

February 25, 1941

  • In the House of Commons Mr. R. A. Butler, referring to the Japanese Foreign Minister’s intimation that Japan would be prepared to mediate, reveals that Mr. Churchill informed him that “in a cause of the kind for which we are fighting - a cause in no way concerned with territory, trade or material gains but affecting the whole future of humanity - there can be no question of compromise or parley.”

February 26, 1941

  • Fighter pilots of the R.A.F. have again proved their mastery of the air over the English Channel and the Strait of Dover. This is a day of intense activity, which includes escorting a squadron of bombers in a raid on the docks at Calais, offensive sweeps along the northern coast of France and the routine patrols of our own coastline.
  • The British and Spanish Governments have come to a provisional arrangement with regard to Tangier; its most important feature is that the Spanish Government has given an assurance that there will be no fortification of the zone.

February 27, 1941

  • A short official announcement is issued that as the result of the conferences between the British Foreign Secretary and Chief of the General Staff with the Turkish leaders in Ankara complete agreement has been readied on all problems affecting the two countries.
  • The former American Ambassador to France tells his countrymen that the United States is not doing nearly enough or working fast enough in the present crisis. He advocates that a national emergency should be declared.
  • The R.A.F. in the Middle East distinguishes itself in a particularly heavy attack on the aerodrome at Valona, where hangars and administrative buildings are hit repeatedly while other bombs do considerable damage to the landing-ground. In Eritrea it assists in what is becoming the siege of Keren by bombing and machine-gunning enemy troop positions and attacking the railway between that stronghold and Asmara.

February 28, 1941

  • It is announced that our forces which landed on the island of Castellorizo have now been withdrawn, having accomplished their object.
  • News is received of the safe arrival of another ship of the convoy which was attacked by a German raider, probably the cruiser Hipper, near the Azores on 12th February.
  • In Eritrea the imperial force invading the country from the coastal side is now in contact with enemy troops holding covering positions north of Keren.
  • The R.A.F. assisting the Greeks in Albania obtain a sensational success while on patrol over the front. Our fighters intercept an enemy formation numbering about 50, and although outnumbered by nearly two to one shoot down 26 without loss to themselves.

MARCH 1941

March 1, 1941

  • Mr. Winant, the new United States Ambassador to this country, is greeted by the Duke of Kent on his arrival by air. On his w ay to London by rail he is met and welcomed by His Majesty the King.
  • Bulgaria form ally adheres to the Three Power Pact and simultaneously German forces enter the country and make for the Greek and Turkish frontiers. The Bulgarian Prime Minister protests that his country has merely yielded to the logic of events, but the Greek leaders proclaim that neither threats nor a fresh enemy will prevent her from continuing to the end.
  • A Free French force from Equatorial Africa achieve a striking success in compelling the surrender of the Italian garrison holding the oasis of Kufra, in the Sahara. One thousand prisoners are captured.
  • Aircraft of the Bomber Command attack Cologne, causing serious fires in many parts of the target areas.
  • Other aircraft successfully attack docks, railway targets and oil installations in the Ruhr, Rotterdam and Boulogne. One of the pilots in the Cologne raid says that he left a “raging inferno” behind him.

March 2, 1941

  • Coastal Command aircraft make a daylight attack on enemy aerodromes at Borkum and Hamstede and the port of Harlingen. At both aerodromes’ hits are obtained on hangars and other buildings. Other aircraft of the same Command attack a convoy of enemy supply ships in the North Sea. A vessel of about 2,000 tons is torpedoed amidships.
  • At night a strong force of heavy bombers makes a successful attack on the docks at Brest, from which enemy surface raiders and submarines attack our shipping in the Atlantic. Many sticks of bombs are seen to burst about the dry dock where a German cruiser of the “Hipper” class has recently been located.
  • In Albania the R.A.F. stages a very heavy attack on the aerodrome at Berat.
  • The Greek town of Larissa suffers very severely from an earthquake. Italian bombers make their appearance and do their best to interfere with the work of rescue, in which great assistance is given by the R.A.F.
  • Mr. Eden and Sir John Dill arrive in Athens from Ankara for discussions with the Greek Government and military leaders.

March 3, 1941

  • There is an interesting development in the European scene. Everyone is asking what Soviet Russia is thinking of German penetration into the Balkans. A hint of the answer is given. The Moscow wireless says that the Soviet Government disapproves of Bulgaria’s action in admitting the Germans, which it thinks will lead to the war spreading to that country.
  • Speaking of the growing tension in the Pacific, Mr. Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, says that Australians should not let themselves become the victims of the habit of believing that conflict was inevitable. He believed, except in the case of Europe, where the burglar had to be thrown out of the house, that there was no such thing as the inevitability of conflict.
  • The Italians repeat their dastardly bombing of the scene of earthquake desolation at Larissa. But this time they have to pay for their crime. Three of their bombers are caught and shot down on the way home.
  • A strong force of bombers again attacks the industrial centre at Cologne, causing a large number of fires. Other attacks are made on objectives in the Ruhr, the docks at Boulogne, Ostend and Brest.

March 4, 1941

  • Hitler sends President Ineunu of Turkey a personal message, believed to contain an assurance that Germany has no designs on that country. But Turkey knows the value of Hitler’s promises and is taking no chances.
  • The advance towards Abyssinia from Italian Somaliland is making rapid progress. The total number of prisoners captured is now approaching 10,000, revealing the absurdity of the Italian claim that Italian Somaliland has been evacuated voluntarily.
  • At dawn, 500 men from 3 Commando and 4 Commando, supported by a section of 55 Field Company, R.E. and Norwegian Independent Company 1, land on Lofoten Islands, Norway in Operation Claymore, the first large-scale commando raid of the War. The commandos destroy several fish oil factories, nine merchant ships and all depart safely. But not before retrieving the rotor wheels and code books of the Enigma machine onboard the trawler Kreb. These are later used at Bletchley Park to read the German Naval codes.

March 5, 1941

  • The British Foreign Minister and Chief of the General Staff leave Athens after several valuable conferences with the Greek political and military chiefs. In an official statement it is said that the two Governments have found themselves in agreement on all aspects of the situation and all their efforts have been exerted to prevent an extension of the war.
  • The Admiralty announces a highly successful raid against German interests in the Lofoten Islands. Norwegian marines and British troops were landed. Enemy merchant shipping totalling 18,000 tons was sunk, plant used for the production of fish oil was destroyed, and 215 German prisoners, 10 “local quislings” and a large number of Norwegian patriots were brought back to this country.
  • Mr. Rendel, the British Minister to Bulgaria, sees the Bulgarian Minister and hands him a note intimating that Great Britain has broken off relations with his country on the ground that so far from desiring to maintain neutrality in the present conflict the Bulgarian Government are now prepared actively to co-operate with Germany.
  • The First Lord of the Admiralty makes a heartening speech on the position and prospects of the Navy. He says that new construction, acquisitions from allies and captured enemy ships have replaced more than two-thirds of British merchant tonnage lost by hostile action. The number of naval vessels available is greater than at any time since the war began.
  • R.A.F. bombers, escorted by fighters, make a heavy attack on the docks at Boulogne and fighters carry out an offensive sweep over the Channel and Northern France.
  • A big German force makes a heavy raid on Malta. Sixteen enemy aircraft are shot down and many others damaged without achieving any substantial result.

March 6, 1941

  • The Yugoslav Minister for Trade, broadcasting from Germany, makes a speech emphasising his country’s friendship with Germany and indicating that some agreement for collaboration is in prospect.
  • Italian prisoners in Greece confirm that three transports have recently been torpedoed when carrying reinforcements to Albania. In one of them 1,500 Italian Alpini had lost their lives. The Greek Admiralty announces that a Greek submarine torpedoed and sank an Italian supply ship towards the end of February.
  • The Italian submarine Anfitrile, attempting to attack a British convoy in the Aegean, is immediately sunk by our escort craft.

March 7, 1941

  • The Admiralty announces that five Italian merchant ships, with a total tonnage of 28,153, fell into our hands as the result of the capture of the port of Kismayu in Italian Somaliland. Four other ships scuttled them- selves. The 7,021-tons German Uckermark tried to scuttle herself; the attempt was frustrated but she subsequently sank while in tow.
  • In daylight raids aircraft of the Coastal Command sink an enemy supply ship off the Dutch coast and bomb the naval harbour at Den Helder and the enemy-occupied aerodrome at Ockenburg. In Africa the main operation of the R.A.F. is a heavy attack on the harbour at Tripoli and raids on aerodromes in Tripolitania. In the Balkans the Greek offensive is supported.
  • The Greeks open a vigorous local offensive against the Italians in the Tepelini sector in Albania. Much material and 1,050 prisoners are captured.

March 8, 1941

  • It is announced that the destroyer H.M.S. Dainty has been sunk.
  • The Greek offensive continues with success and the bag of prisoners is increased by more than 1,000.
  • The Germans make a very heavy night raid on London in the course of which a well-known restaurant is hit, causing serious casualties among the guests, dance band and staff.
  • In further support of the Greek offensive R.A.F. bomber formations attack Italian troop concentrations and motor transport in Tepelini and on Glava-Buzi road.
  • The invasion of Abyssinia from Italian Somaliland makes rapid headway. Gabre Darre on the main road from Mogadishu to Harar is occupied.
  • The United States Senate passes the Lease and Lend Bill by 60 voles to 31.

March 9, 1941

  • In Abyssinia the patriot forces, having driven the Italians out of Burye, pursue the retreating garrison in the direction of Debra Marcos.
  • The Germans make another raid on London.
  • General Smuts, on his return from Egypt, says that there is every hope that we shall not have to face a prolonged campaign in Abyssinia.

March 10, 1941

  • The Admiralty announces that a New Zealand cruiser, H.M.S. Leander, caught and sank the Italian Ramb I in the Indian Ocean. The latter was a merchant ship armed with 4.7-in. guns and was acting as a commerce raider. It is also announced that an Italian cruiser of the “Condottieri” A class has been torpedoed and almost certainly sunk by one of our submarines. The Italian communique confirms that the ship was sunk.
  • Admiral Darlan threatens to use his warships to convoy French food ships through the British blockade. He says that the blockade is useless and that the Germans are more generous towards France than the British, ignoring the fact that the Germans give back but an infinitesimal part of the food stocks of which they rob France.
  • The Italians in Albania react to the recent Greek attack by commencing a heavy counter-attack.
  • Enemy aircraft make a very heavy attack on Portsmouth. It lasts more than six hours and a heavier toll than usual is exacted. Here and elsewhere eight bombers are destroyed during the night.

March 11, 1941

  • The United States House of Representatives passes the Lease and Lend Bill as amended by the Senate.
  • The Air Minister, Sir Archibald Sinclair, gives a very encouraging review of the strength and progress of the Air Force. Both absolutely and relatively to the air strength of Germany it was greater in numbers of aircraft and pilots in the front line and under training.

March 12, 1941

  • The Empire’s effort in the air is mounting apace. The R.A.F.’s attacks on the enemy extend from Berlin to Boulogne. Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin are the main targets and the onslaught on them makes the heaviest blow which Bomber Command has yet struck against Germany.
  • Equally determined and effective are the R.A.F.’s blows in the Middle East and Africa. A heavy attack is made on enemy aerodromes on the island of Rhodes.
  • The Germans attempt their first large-scale raid for many months, attacking Merseyside in force. On this occasion, however, the damage and casualties bear no relation to the scale of the attack, very little being achieved beyond serious damage to private houses.
  • On the fourth day of the Italian offensive in Albania all the enemy’s attacks are repelled, in spite of Mussolini’s presence at the front.
  • The Prime Minister, referring in the House of Commons to the passing of the Lease and Lend Bill, says that “the Government and people of the United States have in fact written a new Magna Carta,” and offers our gratitude for her “inspiring act of faith”.
  • The Acting Prime Minister of Australia announces that a contingent of the Australian Imperial Force has arrived in the Middle East.
  • The Imperial Force which has conquered Italian Somaliland is well into Southern Abyssinia. Enemy losses since our crossing of the Juba River have been over 31,000.

March 13, 1941

  • Hamburg is subjected to the most severe bombing attack yet made on this port. The objective is the docks and shipyards, where submarines and ships of all kinds are built. Within three hours the glare of fires and the clouds of smoke over the city make it difficult to pick out details on the ground. Oil storage plants at Rotterdam are also attacked.
  • German night raiders over this country have an unhappy time. The bright moonlight being favourable to interception, 13 enemy bombers are destroyed, 11 by our fighters, one by anti-aircraft gunfire and one by “other means”.
  • The R.A.F. is equally successful in Albania. Our fighters, though greatly outnumbered, attack a formation of enemy bombers, shooting down 14 and severely damaging a number of others.
  • In day light a squadron of bombers escorted by fighters attack the German-occupied aerodrome at Calais.
  • In what seems to be a despairing effort, the Italians make a tremendous onslaught on the Greek positions at Tepelini. It nowhere gains any ground, in spite of tremendous losses.

March 14, 1941

  • The great Italian attack in Albania comes to an end, having accomplished nothing at an estimated cost of 50,000 casualties.
  • In order to co-ordinate the joint efforts of the United States and the British Empire in the spheres of shipping and food, it is announced that Sir Arthur Salter and the Hon. Robert Brand will go to America at once.
  • The R.A.F. makes a particularly heavy raid on Duesseldorf, where the industrial area is treated to a prolonged hail of high-explosive and incendiary bombs.
  • Major air raids by the Luftwaffe on the 13 and 14 March destroy most of Clydebank.
The Home Guard mount guard at Buckingham Palace
The King praised the Home Guard in a special order giving them permission to
mount guard at Buckingham Palace on 14th March 1941

March 15, 1941

  • Duesseldorf is raided again and fires started on the previous night are seen to be still burning. The submarine base at Lorient is also on the visiting list.
  • In heavy raids on Valona and Berat the R.A.F. in Albania destroys many planes on the ground and damages others. A petrol dump at Berat is set on fire.
  • The Germans make one of the severest attacks on London for many months; one bomb hits a crowded dance-hall causing severe damage and several casualties.
  • President Roosevelt, broadcasting to the world, makes perhaps the finest of his many great speeches. The core of his message is that America as a united nation realises the danger that confronts her, and that to meet that danger the democracies have gone into action.

March 16, 1941

  • Italian prestige suffers another heavy blow when imperial troops landed from ships recapture Berbera in British Somaliland. Aircraft assist in the operation, and, indeed, the R.A.F. and its empire comrades give the Italians many unpleasant reminders of their existence. Enemy positions in and around Keren and motor transport, troop concentrations, railways and roads are heavily bombed.
  • In Albania, in spite of interception by a large number of enemy fighters, our bombers press home an attack on an aerodrome and other military objectives at Tirana. Valona aerodrome is also raided.
  • The main night effort of the Germans is against Bristol, the raid lasting some hours.
  • The Minister of Labour, in a broadcast to the nation, announces comprehensive plans to fill the gaps in war industries. He says that from now on there will be a tremendous call on man-power for the Forces and civil defence. Men between 41 and 45 and girls of 20 and 21 are to be conscripted for industry; men of 41 and 42 and girls of 20 are to register in April.
  • Hitler makes a speech at the commemoration of Germany’s war dead. In what appears to be his only reference to President Roosevelt’s great speech on Saturday he says that “Providence will not let anyone win who strives to master the world through the size of his money bags.”

March 17, 1941

  • The Germans announce that their crack liner Bremen is blazing as the result of a fire of mysterious origin. They also make the entirely fanciful claim that they had torpedoed two British battleships in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • The R.A.F. heavily bomb Wilhelmshaven and Bremen and set fire to petrol storage tanks at Rotterdam.
  • Imperial troops occupy Jijiga in Abyssinia.

March 18, 1941

  • The British and Turkish Foreign Ministers meet in Cyprus for a further conference.
  • R.A.F. attacks on the seaports of Northern Germany are resumed and mainly directed against the dockyards and the industrial centre of Kiel.

March 19, 1941

  • There is a heavy German raid on London which the enemy proclaims to be the start of the loudly proclaimed spring offensive. It is largely concentrated on the dock area and several hundred bombers are said to have been engaged in it.
  • The R.A.F. has a suitable retort. Cologne is subjected to a fierce onslaught. Communications and the industrial quarter on the cast bank of the Rhine are the main targets. Several factories are hit, one large building disintegrates and two other factories are set on fire. The oil storage tanks at Rotterdam and three aerodromes in the Low Countries are also attacked. Coastal Command aircraft attack the submarine base at Lorient.
  • Fighting continues round Keren and the Italians, suffer particularly heavy losses in their counter-attacks. Enemy positions in the hills around the town are repeatedly dive-bombed and machine-gunned by our aircraft. In Libya much damage is caused to a concentration of shipping by air attack.
  • In Albanian Italian attempt at a renewal of their disastrous offensive is speedily frustrated with heavy losses and the destruction of three tanks.
  • It is revealed in the United States that we have asked the American Government for the use of United States Navy yards.

March 20, 1941

  • British submarines have had further striking successes. H.M.S. Utmost attacked an escorted convoy of two Italian transports crowded with troops. It is considered certain that at least one was completely destroyed. H.M.S. Unique almost certainly sank a fully laden Italian supply ship of about 3,000 tons. H.M.S. Triumph sank two heavily laden Italian supply ships.
  • A German dive-bomber is destroyed by Lewis gun fire from the drifter Young Mun which it is attacking.
  • Mr. Anthony Eden returns to Cairo after his meeting in Cyprus with the Turkish Foreign Minister M. Sarajoglu.
  • Pursuing the campaign against shipping, ship building and ports, the Germans make an exceptionally heavy raid on Plymouth where the defence services stand up well against the strain. Our counterstroke against the German campaign is an attack on Lorient where the German submarines ranging the Atlantic have an important base.
A soldier observes the desolation following Luftwaffe attacks on Plymouth
A soldier observes the desolation following Luftwaffe attacks on Plymouth on 20th and 21st March 1941

March 21, 1941

  • The Luftwaffe and the R.A.F. repeat their programmes of the previous night but British bombers add Ostend to their visiting list.
  • The German pressure on Yugoslavia is mounting to a climax. There are rumours of dissensions in the Cabinet but it is believed that the majority is prepared to surrender to Hitler’s demands. The country is seething with dissatisfaction and there is great surprise among its friends in the anti-Axis camp.
  • Jarabub, the last centre of Italian resistance in Libya, surrenders.

March 22, 1941

  • In the Keren area local successes are obtained by our troops and military operations are well supported by the air arm. At Asmara the railway station is subjected to a heavy attack. In Abyssinia at least one train is destroyed on the Jibuti-Add is Ababa railway.
  • Many enemy bombers escorted by fighters raid Malta, but they are chased out to sea by our fighters.

March 23, 1941

  • German pressure on Yugoslavia is meeting with some resistance in the Belgrade Cabinet. Four ministers have resigned and no one seems willing to take their place. Officers’ associations and the leaders of the Orthodox Church voice the views of the vast majority of the nation in protesting against the step contemplated by the Government. Somewhat curiously, the latter hands over M. Stoyadinovitch, a well-known pro-German, to British keeping for safe custody.
  • Berlin has a taste of the mounting weight of the British air offensive in a night operation which includes Kiel and Hanover also. While the attacks on the inland cities are directed against the enemy’s industrial organisation, that against Kiel is concentrated on docks and shipyards and is thus an organic part of the Battle of the Atlantic.
  • Coastal Command units destroy a German barrack block at Quiberon and score a direct hit on an escort vessel near Brest. French fishermen and people near the beaches wave cheeringly to the British airmen.

March 24, 1941

  • The German terms to Yugoslavia become known. They comprise her adherence to the Axis in exchange for the guarantee of her integrity. But it is also known that there are secret clauses, one of which is that the Germans can use the main railway through Yugoslavia for the passage of war material and hospital supplies.
  • Although the country as a whole is strongly opposed to submission to Germany. M. Tsvetkovitch, the Prime Minister, and Cincar Markovitch, the Foreign Minister, leave for Vienna accompanied by the German Minister in Belgrade.
  • Reassuring news is received of Russia’s attitude to Turkey, doubts about which had been hampering the latter. The Soviet Government has given Turkey an assurance that Russia will remain neutral if she finds herself in conflict with a third power. In practice this means that Turkey need have no anxiety for her front in the Caucasus.

March 25, 1941

  • Greece celebrates the 120th anniversary of the war of independence.
  • The Yugoslav ministers sign the Tripartite Pact in Vienna and Ribbentrop proudly boasts that another deadly blow has been dealt to the failing power of Britain.
  • It is announced that British casualties in all the fighting in Africa have been under 3,000 while the Italians have suffered over 20,000 casualties and lost 180,000 in prisoners. Marshal Graziani, Italian Commander-in-Chief in Africa, has resigned “at his own request”.
  • Merchant shipping losses for the week ended 16th March are lower at 23 ships, to totalling 71,773 tons.
  • In the Atlantic the liner SS Britannia was intercepted and sunk by by the armed merchant cruiser Thor.  The crew and 320 passengers, mostly troops but including 12 women, abandoned ship and took to the lifeboats. Except one man who fell off a raft and was picked up by Thor. Planning to rescue the lifeboats the crew of Thor believed they heard a radio signal from a British warship and left them for the ship to recover. The ship never arrived. One of the boats floated all the way to Brazil (23 days) and others were rescued by Spanish freighters SS Bachi, SS Cabo De Hornos and British SS Raranga. Of the 520 people who took to the lifeboats, only 331 survived.

March 26, 1941

  • Colonel Donovan, broadcasting in America on his recent tour, says that as regards the African campaign, “the British have done a superb job, a better job than they have let the world discover”.
  • Ferment in Yugoslavia shows that the Government’s ignominious surrender in Vienna the previous day is repudiated by the nation. In spite of arrests and the breaking up of meetings by the police, there are demonstrations everywhere and the return of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister is greeted with ominous silence. In the House of Commons Mr. Butler reveals that the British Government had sent a note to the Yugoslav Government expressing shock at the country’s abandonment of its neutrality and placing responsibility for the results upon the ministers concerned.
  • The submarine Sturgeon has sunk an enemy tanker of about 8,000 tons off the Norwegian coast.
  • A pilot of Coastal Command torpedoes and sinks an enemy supply ship of about 6,000 tons.
  • In the debate on the National Service Bill, Mr. Ernest Bevin says that the natural inclination to join the traditional services had resulted in inadequate recruitment for the civil defence services, and so it was necessary to make older men liable for service in the armed forces also liable for civil defence.
  • Speaking in New York, Lord Halifax says that the people of Britain would stand up better under bombings than the Germans would under the bombings they might now expect.

March 27, 1941

  • A great day for all friends of freedom. In the early hours of the morning the whole position in Yugoslavia is changed by a coup d’état, inspired and carried out by the army, in which the Government is overthrown and the Regent Prince Paul, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are arrested. The new Prime Minister is General Simovitch. Everyone realises that this event means the end of Yugoslavia’s adherence to the Three-Power Pact. Announcing this great news, the Prime Minister says that “the British Empire and its allies will make common cause with the Yugoslav nation, and we will continue to march and strive together until complete victory is won”.
  • A force of Italian warships is discovered to the east-ward of Cape Passero in Sicily, steering to the east.
  • In East Africa two resounding blows are dealt at what is left of Italian power. After fierce fighting for nearly a fortnight, British and Indian troops, strongly-supported by the R.A.F., have occupied Keren. In Abyssinia the all-conquering troops under General Platt, comprising contingents from South and West Africa, have cleared the Italians out of Harar.
  • Mr. Herbert Morrison warns the country that it must be prepared for the use of gas by the Germans.
  • The R.A.F. carries out very heavy attacks on Cologne and Duesseldorf.
Mr Winston Churchill signs lease of British Bases to U.S.A
Mr Winston Churchill signs lease of British Bases to U.S.A on 27th March 1941

March 28, 1941

  • In the morning, an Italian naval force, comprising three battleships and several heavy and light cruisers and destroyers, is sighted by our light forces. On detection it turns and makes for home. During the day British aircraft score hits on cruisers, and destroyers and naval aircraft inflict such damage on a Littorio class battleship that her speed is very greatly reduced.
  • Admiral Cunningham’s fleet appears on the scene at night and destroys three heavy cruisers, the Pola, Fiume, and Zara, and two destroyers. A light cruiser also was probably sunk, and it is extremely likely that the Littorio class battleship foundered during the night.
  • There are scenes of tremendous enthusiasm all day in Belgrade, particularly at the taking of the oath by King Peter II.
  • It is announced that the submarine Parthian has torpedoed a supply or troopship of about 6,000 tons and a large tanker of about 10,000 tons.
  • The figures of civilian air raid casualties in Britain are given as 28,859 killed and 40,166 seriously injured.

March 29, 1941

  • The Germans react to the volte face of Yugoslavia by proceedings reminiscent of the preliminaries to their attack on Poland. They publish venomous and mendacious accounts of atrocities directed against their nationals.
  • Aircraft of Bomber and Coastal Commands seek out and attack enemy shipping off the Dutch and French coasts.

March 30, 1941

  • An ugly incident shows that Vichy is not averse to measures calculated to hamper the efforts of France’s liberation. Four merchant ships, escorted by a French destroyer and believed to be carrying important war material for Germany, are summoned to stop for search by British light forces. French shore batteries in the vicinity open fire on our ships, which are compelled to reply, and during their return to Gibraltar they are twice attacked by French bomber formations but suffer neither damage nor casualties.
  • Mr. Matsuoka, the Japanese Foreign Minister, leaves Berlin for Rome.
  • The Italians are driven out of Diredaw a on the Addis Ababa-Jibuti railway.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out a very heavy raid on Brest, where two enemy battle-cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, are known to be lying. Although it cannot be established that either was hit, the docks in which they are lying are straddled from all directions by medium, large and very large bombs.

March 31, 1941

  • Mr. Matsuoka arrives in Rome.
  • German long-range guns from France shell the Dover area and damage some houses but cause no casualties.
  • Mr. Eden and General Sir John Dill arrive in Athens for further consultations.
  • The main target of the R.A.F.’s night sorties is the industrial centre of Emden. It is officially announced that a new type of bomb is used here, the effect of which is officially described as “devastating”. Masses of debris flying through the air are outlined against the glow of the fires. The shipbuilding yards of Bremen are also heavily attacked.
  • Blenheims of the Bomber Command bomb and machine-gun warships, supply ships, gun emplacements and German troops. Two tankers are set on fire off Le Havre and left sinking. A destroyer off the Frisian Islands is hit twice.

APRIL 1941

April 1, 1942

  • The R.A.F. attacked German shipping and coastal gun emplacements in course of patrols of French and Dutch coasts. Enemy merchant vessel torpedoed off Demark.
  • In the War against Italy, Asmara, capital of Eritrea, surrendered.
  • Cairo reported that penetration into southern Abyssinia was enlarged particularly north of Lake Rudolf.
  • A single German raider dropped bombs at a point near south and east coasts. Raiders also attempted a number of small attacks on aerodromes. Most were ineffective but some damage done to buildings.
  • Five enemy bombers destroyed. German aircraft crashed in Erie.

April 2, 1941

  • The Admiralty reports that an Italian destroyer of the Pantera class, which had left Massawa, was located, attacked and sunk by naval aircraft. One of our submarines in the Mediterranean has sunk an Italian submarine and an Italian tanker of over 3,000 tons.
  • Italian troops and transport withdrawing southwards from Asmara are heavily attacked by Imperial and Free French aircraft. The harbour of Tripoli is raided, a number of high-explosive and incendiary bombs being dropped and hits obtained on the Spanish mole. The German thrust into Cyrenaica is hampered by a heavy bombing attack on enemy motor transport at Ras Lanuf in Tripolitania.
  • A Blenheim scores four hits on an armed merchant ship off the Dutch coast.

April 3, 1941

  • Lieutenant-General Sir James Marshall-Cornwall and Air Vice -Marshal Elmhirst arrive in Angora for further consultation with the Turkish General Staff in view of the obvious threat to Yugoslavia.
  • Mr. Matsuoka leaves Rome for Berlin.
  • The Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Teleki, commits suicide. The Nazis are pressing his country to join in war against Yugoslavia, and Teleki prefers death to the dishonour of tearing up the recent neutrality pact between that country and his own.
  • The German Legation leaves Belgrade.
  • The advanced British covering force in Cyrenaica withdraws further before heavy German pressure and evacuates Bengazi.
  • H.M.S. Locust has some good practice when three Messerschmitt 110’s attack a convoy in the Thames estuary which it is escorting. One is seen to crash into the sea, another is hit and so badly damaged that its escape is considered unlikely, and the third is also seen to be hit.
  • The military element in Iraq engineer a coup d’état which overthrows the parliamentary government.
  • Two Italian destroyers, the Sauro and Danicle Manin are sunk by naval aircraft in the Red Sea.
  • A strong force of R.A.F. bombers attack the naval base at Brest and more especially the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau which are sheltering there.

April 4, 1941

  • British successes in Eritrea have brought disaster to what remains of the Italian naval squadron in the Red Sea. The “bag” of destroyers has been brought up to five in three days. R.A.F. bombers make another heavy raid on Tripoli.
  • There is further daylight activity by British aircraft over northern France and Belgium. Aerodrome buildings, landing grounds and aircraft on the ground are machine-gunned.
  • The United States Government rejects the protests of Germany and Italy against the seizure of their ships.
  • Hitler has another meeting with Mr. Matsuoka in Berlin as the latter sets out on his return journey.
  • Hitler commits himself to declaring war on the U.S.A should America enter into hostilities with Japan.
  • The R.A.F. renew their attack on the German battlecruisers lying in the harbour of Brest. In spite of a fierce barrage some of our pilots come down to as low as 1,000 feet, and one of them claims a direct hit or a very near miss.

April 5, 1941

  • As a fitting conclusion to a brilliant campaign, General Cunningham’s army enters Addis Ababa in the evening. In Eritrea the imperial forces march from Asmara on the port of Massawa.
  • Marshal Petain, broadcasting in a series which foreshadowed animosity against Great Britain, produces a surprise by emphasising that French honour forbids any action against the former allies of the country.
British forces entered Addis Ababa, capital of Abyssinia on 5th April 194
British forces entered Addis Ababa, capital of Abyssinia on 5th April 1941, a famous
Transvaal regiment, headed by pipers are marching through

April 6, 1941

  • Germany throws off the mask in the Balkans, if there ever was one, by invading Greece and Yugoslavia at daybreak. Though the Greeks hold well in the Rupel Pass and at other important strategic points, the German armoured divisions soon prove too much for the Yugoslavs, heroically though they fight. West of the Bulgarian frontier these divisions soon make headway.
  • Though Belgrade is declared an open town, the Germans make ferocious air onslaughts upon it in an attempt to repeat their infamous exploit at Rotterdam.
  • It is promptly announced in London that in readiness for this long-threatened German invasion of the Balkans, an army has been sent to Greece, comprising troops from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, to join the Greeks in the defence of their native soil. The British Air Force has been strongly reinforced in that region.
  • Another straw in the wind is the announcement that a non-aggression agreement has just been concluded between the Soviet Government and Yugoslavia.
  • The concentration of troops to meet the German thrust into Cyrenaica is proceeding smoothly.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Flying Officer, 72446, Kenneth CAMPBELL, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell, 22 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. On 6th April 1941 over Brest Harbour, Flying Officer Campbell attacked the German battle-cruiser Gneisenau. He ran the gauntlet of concentrated anti-aircraft fire and launched a torpedo at point-blank range. The ship was severely damaged below the waterline and was obliged to return to the dock whence she had come only the day before. Flying Officer Campbell's aircraft then met a withering wall of flak and crashed into the harbour.

April 7, 1941

  • The German drive in to Yugoslavia carries them close to Kumanovo, Skoplje and Kotchane. In Thrace the Greeks continue to hold out in the western mountain passes, but abandon the eastern portion in conformity with their original plan, which has the disadvantage of severing connection with Turkey but gives them a short front. The Germans raid Belgrade again.
  • The R.A.F. subject Kiel to the heaviest attack ever delivered by any air force on any town in the course of this war. Many tons of high explosive and more than 30,000 incendiaries are dropped in an operation which plays havoc with the docks, ship building yards and industrial centres. Emden and Bremerhaven are also attacked.
  • Help is also given to the struggling Yugoslavs by strong attacks on large motor transport concentrations near Strumitza.
  • The main features of the new budget are 10s. income tax, reduced allowances, and what amounts to a system of compulsory saving.

April 8, 1941

  • The Germans reach Skoplje in the Vardar valley, thus severing railway connection between Yugoslavia and Greece and more or less separating the two armies.
  • The R.A.F. raid Kiel again in almost the same strength, and the previous night’s devastation is repeated.
  • In Eritrea the port of Massawa capitulates.
Coventry children searching for books in the ruins of their school
Coventry children searching for books in the ruins of their school after aerial attacks on 8th April 1941

April 9, 1941

  • The German armoured division, which broke through the Yugoslavian defences in the south-eastern corner of the country, turns south and enters Salonika. The Yugoslavs admit the loss of Skoplje but say that they are resisting to the east of it and that they are invading Albania from the north.
  • In Libya the Germans, finding Tobruk held in force, leave it on their flank and occupy Bardia. Among the comparatively few prisoners whom they have captured they have the good fortune to include Generals Neame, O ’Connor and Gambier-Parry, who distinguished themselves so greatly in our operations against the Italians.
  • The R.A.F. makes a particularly heavy raid on Berlin which lasts over three hours. Some of the new bombs, of enormous explosive power, are again used in this raid. The Germans are obviously very alarmed at the growing intensity of British air attack, for they pretend that the raid was intentionally directed against “cultural institutions”, and promise terrible reprisals.
  • A British submarine has made a successful attack on an enemy convoy in the Eastern Mediterranean; a 12,000-ton ship was hit with two torpedoes and another of about 6,000 tons with one.
  • Our casualties to date have been as follows: 29,846 civilians killed and 40,897 wounded, 37,607 members of the armed forces killed and missing and 29,895 wounded.

April 10, 1941

  • The British Foreign Secretary and Sir John Dill return home after their long absence in the East Mediterranean area.
  • The Germans in Northern Greece come up against the British defence line north of Mount Olympus. But the Yugoslavs, their main communications severed, are in a very serious plight. The Germans have occupied Belgrade and, in the south, have captured Monastir and Jannitsa and are joining hands with the Italians in Albania. The R.A.F. does its valiant best to hinder them. Enemy columns between Bitolj and Prilep are bombed and a number of tanks receive direct hits, several being destroyed and others overturned.
  • Success again attends the efforts of our night fighters in dealing with enemy bombers. Ten of the latter are shot down and so far, the total of the week is 30.
  • The German cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, sheltering in Brest, are given another heavy pelting, this time with bombs designed to pierce armour. The dry docks in which one is lying and the quayside moorings of the other are repeatedly straddled by sticks of heavy bombs.

April 11, 1941

  • President Roosevelt proclaims that the Red Sea is no longer a war area, so that it can be used by American shipping.
  • It is made known that from the commencement of present operations in Eritrea up to the capture of Massawa, the prisoners number 41,000, of which 1,000 are Italian officers, 14,000 Italian other ranks, and 26,000 colonial troops. At Addis Ababa 5,000 prisoners, including 4,000 Italians, were taken.
  • It is announced that the British commander in Greece is Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, under the supreme command of General Papagos.

April 12, 1941

  • Britain’s mounting power in the air is revealed by extensive daylight operations over the North Sea, enemy occupied territory and Germany. Industrial targets north of the Ruhr and in Holland and Belgium are attacked.
  • At night the offensive is continued against the naval base at Brest, the submarine base at Lorient and the aerodrome at Merignac.
  • After repelling fierce attacks all day, the Imperial army on the Olympus line withdraws to a new position further south as the result of a Greek retirement on its left.
  • The Yugoslavs seem to be offering more effective resistance for the moment but their collapse appears to be a matter of time. The British line along Mount Olympus beats off all attacks and the R.A.F. does what it can to support our Balkan allies by attacking motor convoys in the Monastir area and another proceeding towards Valona, and helping to beat off a German night attack on the Piraeus.

April 13, 1941

  • In Libya the Germans have reached Solium and made a preliminary attempt to test the defences of Tobruk which we are firmly holding.
  • The retirement to the new line of defence in Greece is assisted by a large number of sorties by our bomber aircraft against enemy columns moving on roads in the theatres of operations. Enemy bombers suffer severely from our fighters in the Koritza area.
  • Nearer home enemy shipping is again attacked off the Dutch and German coasts and at night there is a renewed attack on Merignac aerodrome, near Bordeaux.
  • Soviet Russia enters into a neutrality pact with Japan.

April 14, 1941

  • In Libya the Germans attempt to storm Tobruk, that thorn in their flesh which is hampering their further advance. Tanks and infantry co-operate in the effort, which is frustrated by a counter-attack by our tanks. The situation is completely restored and the enemy suffers very serious losses in tanks and personnel.
  • A seventh night attack is made by the R.A.F. on the German battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the docks at Brest. Hundreds of heavy bombs are dropped.
  • The Air Arm lends further powerful support to the defence in Libya by continuous bombing and machine-gun attacks on enemy aerodromes and concentrations of troops and motor transport. The Luftwaffe suffers heavily in this theatre, 15 dive-bombers and several other types being shot down.
  • The British submarine Tigris sinks an armed and heavily laden tanker of about 10,000 tons which was bound for a port in enemy-occupied France.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Corporal NX15705 John Hurst EDMONDSON, Australian Army awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Corporal John Hurst Edmondson, 2/17th Battalion, Australian Military Forces. During the night of 13th/14th April 1941 at Tobruk, Libya, Corporal Edmondson was severely wounded while serving with a party which was counter-attacking the enemy who had broken through the barbed wire defences. He continued to advance, however, under heavy fire and went to the assistance of his officer who was in difficulties – he had his bayonet through one of the enemy, who in turn was clasping the officer round his legs, and another of the enemy was attacking from behind. Corporal Edmondson, in spite of his wounds, immediately came to the rescue and killed both of the enemy. He died shortly afterwards.

April 15, 1941

  • The Germans break through the right flank of the Greeks in a westerly direction, causing a general retirement of the Greek army in Albania and imperilling its chance of joining up with the national forces further south.
  • At a dinner in New York Lord Halifax says that there is nothing to be gained by underrating the grave repercussions caused “by the events of the last few days in the Balkans and North Africa”.

April 16, 1941

  • In the course of the night our naval forces in the Mediterranean have dealt a hearty blow at German designs in Libya. A convoy of five supply ships, escorted by three destroyers, is intercepted between Sicily and Tripoli. Two of the supply ships, heavily laden with motor transport, are sunk. A munition ship and two others, probably transports, are blown up.
  • The three escorting Italian destroyers are sunk. On our side we lose the destroyer H.M.S. Mohawk.
  • The Germans make a concentrated night attack of unprecedented severity on London. It was expected by those who had noticed the howl of rage in the German Press over the latest British raid on Berlin. The Nazis frankly gloat over the indiscriminate nature of what they openly boast is a reprisal. But the R.A.F. is not idle. A number of North German towns, Bremen in particular, are heavily attacked. At Bremen the objects of special interest are the great shipyards and the industrial centres on the right bank of the Weser.
  • The Anglo-Greek front is subjected to a fierce attack all day. The Germans succeed in crossing the river Vistritza at two points and on the Greek sector they force the important Kalabaka Pass.
  • In Libya a determined enemy attack on Tobruk is beaten off and 25 officers and 767 other ranks are taken prisoner.

April 17, 1941

  • The Germans claim that all organised Yugoslav resistance has ceased, the army having capitulated.
  • The British Navy has intervened very effectively in the Libyan campaign with an extremely severe bombardment of Fort Capuzzo in the Bardia area.
  • If the main enemy had any hope of obtaining peace for Berlin by his onslaught of yesterday, he is soon undeceived. More R.A.F. bombers carrying more bombs than ever before spread fire and ruin in the very centre of the German capital.
  • The British and Australian Air Forces give invaluable help to our army in North Africa by harassing the enemy with repeated bombing and machine-gun attacks.
  • The fighting in central Greece has taken an unfavourable turn, the Greek front having yielded to the German pressure, compelling the Anglo-Greek armies to begin a retirement to a shorter front farther south.

April 18, 1941

  • The British Government announces that in view of the German threat to bomb Athens and Cairo, a systematic bombing of Rome will be commenced if either of these two cities is molested.
  • Blenheims of the Coastal Command attack an enemy convoy of the Norwegian coast. A supply ship of 7,000 tons is set on fire and another of 3,000 tons is sunk.
  • President Roosevelt tells the Press Conference that he does not think that public opinion in America is yet fully aware of the gravity of the military crisis in Europe or its implications for the safety of the United States.
  • Greece suffers a severe loss by the sudden death of the Prime Minister. M. Korizis. His place as head of the Government is taken by King George himself, with Admiral Sakelariou as Deputy Prime Minister

April 19, 1941

  • Heavy attacks by German armoured formations and infantry along the whole of the British front in Greece are repulsed with severe losses to the enemy. But the withdrawal to a shorter line continues.
  • It is announced that in accordance with the terms of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance strong imperial forces have arrived in Basra to open up lines of communication through Iraq.
  • The enemy has made another futile assault on Tobruk. His operations are still hampered by the far-flung operations of the Imperial Air Force which continues to inflict heavy casualties and damage on enemy personnel and material in Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.
  • There is another severe German raid on London.
Underground railway lines and platforms provide safe dormitories from the Air Raids
Underground railway lines and platforms provide safe dormitories from the Air Raids above in the
Aldwych shelter in the stretch of Underground between Aldwych and Holburn

April 20, 1941

  • The great round-up of the remnant of the Italian armies in Abyssinia continues. South African forces advancing on Dessie are now in close contact with the enemy holding covering positions. The Imperial Army in Greece is approaching its new defensive line, the withdrawal having been covered in the most effective fashion by Australian and New Zealand troops. The R.A.F. has a field day, 16 enemy aircraft having been shot down, 14 of them in a fierce air battle over Athens.
  • Nearer home there are heavy night raids on objectives at Cologne, Duesseldorf and Aachen, several aerodromes, oil stores at Rotterdam and the docks at Dunkirk and Ostend.
  • The mine-sweeper Basselt brings down two out of four Me.110’s by which it is being attacked.

April 21, 1941

  • The submarine H.M.S. Tetrarch has sunk a fully laden enemy tanker on its way to Tripoli.
  • A German armoured column crosses the Hindus mountains at Metsovo and comes down on the rear on the Greek army in Albania, thus compelling its surrender. The Imperial Army is now in its new line. A heavy bombardment of the port of Tripoli is carried out by our naval forces at dawn, the fleet action being accomplished by bombing carried out by the R.A.F. and naval aircraft. Six transport or supply ships, one destroyer, the oil depot, the railway station, the naval headquarters and other targets are hit.
  • Plymouth is the target of a very heavy German raid.
  • During the night Australian troops in Tobruk capture 17 Italian officers and 430 other ranks in a sortie.

April 22, 1941

  • Naval aircraft have had a series of successes against supplies intended for the enemy armies in the Balkans. Among them are a tanker of about 10,000 tons torpedoed; a supply ship of about 6,000 tons torpedoed: an ammunition ship of about 7,000 tons torpedoed.
  • R.A.F. fighters, though heavily outnumbered, successfully intercept a large force of enemy aircraft over Tobruk and shoot down four.

April 23, 1941

  • The armistice between the Greek Albanian army and the Germans and Italians is signed at Salonika. Mussolini issues a ridiculous proclamation in which he announces to his ever-beaten troops that victory has crowned their sacrifices and that the Fatherland is proud of them.
  • The Imperial forces are still retiring; they are in touch with the enemy but there is no major action.
  • The South African army and its Imperial associates fight the hardest battle of the Abyssinian campaign in the Kombolcha Pass, driving the Italians from their last defences covering Dessie. The enemy suffers heavy casualties and nearly 1,000 prisoners are taken.
  • One of our new and formidable Stirling bombers gives a foretaste of things to come by bombing the important electricity power-station at Ibbenburen, near Osnabrueck, in broad daylight and from a height of but a few hundred feet.
  • At night the R.A.F. makes another determined attack on the two German battle cruisers at Brest.

April 24, 1941

  • Colonel Knox, the United States Secretary of the Navy, strikes a noble note in summoning his country to accept any risk to ensure the arrival of American supplies in Britain. He says: “We can no longer occupy the immoral and craven position of asking others to make all the sacrifices for this victory which we recognise as so essential to us.”
  • Mr. Fadden, the Acting Prime Minister of Australia, reveals that the Imperial army in Greece is engaged in an evacuation. “We are seeing the last stages of a most gallant rear-guard action.” He adds that the paramount military consideration now is the defence of Egypt.
  • H.M. submarine Urge has torpedoed and sunk a heavily laden oil tanker of over 10,000 tons which was endeavouring to run the blockade.
  • The enemy make a further heavy attack on the outer defences of Tobruk. This onslaught is repulsed with heavy losses.
  • The shipyards and industrial areas of Kiel and the docks at Wilhelmshaven are the main targets of R.A.F. night operations. Much damage is done, especially to the Germania and the Deutsche Werke yards which build both submarines and surface warships. In Libya there is another attack on Tripoli harbour.
  • After three nights of continual bombing by the Luftwaffe, the coastal city of Plymouth is left with 30,000 homeless people.

April 25, 1941

  • The Imperial army in Greece continues its withdrawal in an orderly fashion, inflicting severe losses on the enemy. German parachute troops capture the isthmus and town of Corinth.
  • President Roosevelt endorses Colonel Knox’s speech and another to the same effect by Mr. Cordell Hull. He says that they spoke for themselves and the great majority of the American people. He also says that Greece could count on the help and support of the American nation to recover her political independence.
  • The R.A.F. spends a very active day and night. During daylight supply ships are successfully attacked off the Norwegian, Danish and Dutch coasts. At night Hamburg is the main target. Powerful bombs and thousands of incendiaries are dropped and fires are started in the industrial and dock areas.
  • It is announced that the new battleship H.M.S. Prince of Wales is now in service with the Fleet.
  • The Prime Minister tours Merseyside, which has suffered much in recent air raids.
H.M.S 'Prince of Wales'
H.M.S 'Prince of Wales'

April 26, 1941

  • Lord Gort, V.C., is appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar.
  • In Abyssinia the Imperial column from the south captures the important centre of Dessie and drives the Italian remnant towards the Italian stronghold of Amba Alagi.
  • The Germans and Italians are still held up at Tobruk but at Solium two columns attempt to push forward to the east.
  • German troops enter Athens. The British withdrawal continues and a substantial part of the army has already been evacuated from beaches on the south coast of the Peloponnesus.
  • The British submarine Regent performs a remarkable exploit. It arrives at Kotor to find the whole area occupied by the Italian army. A search is made for the British Minister to Yugoslavia, and though he is not found the submarine, escapes unscathed.

April 27, 1941

  • The highlight of the day is a fine broadcast by the Prime Minister. He says that the expedition to Greece was not only a moral obligation but was also considered a military opportunity, and that all the Dominion Governments had been consulted and agreed with the decision. He reveals that the arm y sent to Greece was half British and half from Australia and New Zealand.
  • While the enemy columns attempting to advance eastwards from Solium are held up the R.A.F. continues to hamper enemy movements by bombing and machine-gunning troops and transport. At Benina a number of Ju.52 troop-carriers are machine-gunned while embarking troops on the ground.

April 28, 1941

  • In vigorous day operations two enemy destroyers are hit by Blenheims. Emden docks are bombed by a Stirling, and ships are attacked off the coasts of France and Holland.
  • German operations in Libya are further hampered by heavy R.A.F. raids on enemy aircraft at Benina and Derna aerodromes and also on Bengazi harbour.
  • The Australian Minister for the Army announces that so far, the evacuation of Australian troops from Greece has proceeded successfully.
  • Plymouth again suffers severely from German air attacks at night.

April 29, 1941

  • The evacuation of the Imperial army from Greece is completed, at least 45,000 out of 60,000 having been brought away.
  • There is another heavy German attack on Plymouth but the enemy has to pay toll. Eight bombers are destroyed, five by anti-aircraft fire and three by night fighters.
  • The British contribution to the story of the air war is an attack in force on Mannheim; some of the latest and most powerful bombs are used.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Sergeant 7930 John Daniel HINTON, New Zealand Infantry awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - No. 7930 Sergeant John Daniel Hinton, 20th Battalion, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (The Canterbury Regiment). On 28th/29th April 1941 at Kalamai, Greece, New Zealand troops heading for the port to await evacuation were attacked by enemy machine-gun fire and self-propelled 6-inch guns. Although the order to retire had been given, Sergeant Hinton rushed forward to the nearest gun and hurling two grenades, killed the crew. He continued towards the quay, clearing out two light machine-guns and a mortar with grenades, then dealt with the garrison of a house where some of the enemy were sheltering. Later, when they were attacked by the main enemy force, Sergeant Hinton, was only subdued and captured after being severely wounded.

April 30, 1941

  • The Germans and Italians make a most determined effort to capture Tobruk. The onslaught against the outer perimeter is directed against the south-western corner and the defences are penetrated to a depth of two miles. But the attempt to extend the gap fails.
  • There are signs of coming trouble in Iraq following the seizure of power by Rashid Ali. The usurper replies to the landing of Imperial troops at Basra by concentrating Iraqi forces round the British aerodrome at Habbaniyah.
  • To hamper enemy designs in Libya R.A.F. bombers raid the harbour and other military objectives at Bengazi. Ships and an ammunition dump are blown up.

MAY 1941

May 1, 1941

  • The attack on the outer defences of Tobruk continues all day. In one sector a counter-attack is highly successful and the enemy is driven back, losing 11 tanks and suffering heavy casualties. But fighting proceeds with unabated fury.
  • In spite of requests for the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from the vicinity of Habbaniyah, these are reinforced, and it becomes obvious that German intrigue is at work with a view to provoking a stab in the back which may secure the Mosul oil-field for the Axis.
  • The Germans make a severe attack on Merseyside.
  • The R.A.F. plays an important part in the defence of Tobruk, our fighters engaging the dive-bombers employed in support of the attack. All over Cyrenaica British aircraft bomb enemy positions and communications. At night the harbour of Bengazi is again attacked, and the aerodrome at Benina is bombed.

May 2, 1941

  • The Prime Minister and Mrs. Churchill pay a visit to Plymouth which has suffered so severely in raids.
  • Cheering news of the evacuation from Greece comes in. General Blarney reports that the operation is complete and the total number of men got away is estimated at 45,000. The Commander - in - Chief of the New Zealand contingent says that the division is intact and that its losses do not amount to more than 100 to 200 killed, 500 to 600 wounded, and about 800 missing.
  • The battle for Tobruk reaches its climax. There is fierce fighting all day, the Germans striving to extend the area of the outer perimeter which they have succeeded in penetrating. But they fail and are themselves forced back on the defensive.
  • Hostilities break out in Iraq with a bombardment of Habbaniyah aerodrome by the Iraqi troops in the vicinity, some training aeroplanes are destroyed on the ground and there are a few casualties. The R.A.F. at once intervenes and destroys some enemy guns by bombing.
  • The Germans carry out another severe raid on Merseyside. The R.A.F. inflicts great damage to docks and industrial quarters at Hamburg and also raids Emden.
Crew of a captured Breda gun look for enemy aircraft
In Tobruk the crew of a captured Breda gun are using it to our advantage as they look out for enemy aircraft

May 3, 1941

  • General Smuts announces in the South African House of Assembly that the South African contingent will go to Egypt now that the Abyssinian campaign is virtually over.
  • The Prime Minister broadcasts to the Polish nation on Poland’s National Day. He says that the day will dawn, perhaps sooner than we think, when the insane attempt to found a Prussian domination on racial hatred, the armoured vehicle and the secret police will pass like a monstrous dream.
  • The enemy attempt to capture Tobruk comes to an inglorious end with the withdrawal of the remaining tanks under heavy artillery fire. At night our troops launch a counter-attack.
  • For the third night in succession the Germans make a heavy raid on Merseyside. The R.A.F. counter-action is a further onslaught on the industrial area of Cologne, while another strong force of bombers again attacks the naval base at Brest.
  • It is announced that the armed merchant cruiser H.M.S. Voltaire is overdue and must be considered lost.

May 4, 1941

  • Shelling of Habbaniyah aerodrome by Iraqi guns is resumed but is kept down by R.A.F. attacks on enemy mechanised troops and transport. Our bombers also attack petrol dumps and magazines at Moascar Rashid, the Iraqi aerodrome outside Bagdad.
  • Hitler makes a ranting speech to the Reichstag in the course of which he says that the decision to send British troops to Greece was one of the most notable mistakes of this war. He also utters the glaring lie that German casualties in Greece were about 5,000 - about one - eighth of the true figures.
  • President Roosevelt reiterates his faith in democracy and adds the highly important pronouncement that lie is in favour of ensuring delivery of cargoes to Britain, whether by convoy, aeroplane accompaniment, or any other method which experts may advise.
  • The Germans attack Merseyside for the fourth night in succession; but seven German bombers are destroyed.

May 5, 1941

  • The R.A.F. practically destroys the Iraqi Air Force. British aircraft fly unhindered over Bagdad, dropping leaflets urging the population to expel the usurper.
  • The enemy attack at Tobruk is at an end, at any rate, for the time being. Three thousand prisoners have been taken by the defenders.
  • The Germans make widespread raids over the country at night. Nine of their bombers are destroyed.
  • The R.A.F. carries out a heavy attack against industrial towns in the Middle Rhine district, Mannheim being the principal target, though Frankfort-on-Main shares its attentions.
  • Haile Selassie enters Addis Ababa.

May 6, 1941

  • The United States Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson, startles the world by telling his countrymen that they must use their fleet to ensure the triumph of democracy.
  • Mr. Anthony Eden reviews recent events in the Middle East and justifies the decision to send a military expedition to Greece.
  • British troops and Iraqi levies operating from Habbaniyah eject the enemy from positions on the plateau overlooking the cantonment.

May 7, 1941

  • The Prime Minister, in perhaps the finest of many fine speeches, review s recent events in general and the Balkan campaign in particular, and defends the decision to send an imperial army to Greece. The vote of confidence results in 447 for the motion and only three dissentients.
  • Another step in the long and arduous road to victory over the night raid er is taken by the R.A.F. in destroying 24 bombers for certain, with many more damaged. Nor have the Germans any equivalent success. Only two British bombers are lost in the course of fierce attacks on Brest, St. Nazaire and the docks at Bremen. The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are both hit with heavy armour-piercing bombs.
  • In Iraq, Bagdad airport is bombed and a magazine and military buildings at Washash and dispersed aircraft at Hanaidi are also attacked successfully. In Libya heavy raids are made on Bengazi.

May 8, 1941

  • The night’s R.A.F. successes are followed up by a great triumph during the day when 10 enemy fighters are shot down for the loss of a British fighter, the pilot of which is safe.
  • It is announced that H.M.S. Patia, an auxiliary vessel, has been sunk by a German bomber which it shot down.
  • The real meaning of war is brought home to our main enemy by “a seemingly unending procession by the largest force as yet sent over Germany in a single night”. Hamburg and Bremen bear the brunt and decisive results are achieved in spite of strong opposition. Berlin. Emden and other targets in North -Western Germ any are the object of subsidiary attacks.
  • The miscarriage of the Iraqi attack on the aerodrome at Habbaniyah has had important results. The Iraqi force retires to Ramadi and Fallujah, leaving guns and other important war material in our hands. Iraqi aerodromes are again successfully bombed. At Sharaban, Baquba and Hanaida many aircraft are destroyed or irretrievably damaged.
  • Lord Halifax, speaking in Chicago, says that no peace that would be a real peace could be made with Hitler and his Huns. He also mentions that the United States and the British Empire control the bulk of the world’s supplies of oil, copper and rubber, which are “trump cards in the hands of freedom”.
  • Thirteen more German bombers are destroyed during the night when their principal concentrations are on the Humber area and a North Midlands town.

May 9, 1941

  • A German armed merchant cruiser, acting as a commerce raider in the Indian Ocean, has been intercepted and sunk by H.M.S. Cornwall.
  • The Soviet Government formally admits the loss of sovereignty of Belgium, Norway and Yugoslavia by declining to recognise their diplomatic standing anymore.
  • A boarding party from the R.N destroyer H.M.S Bulldog boards the German submarine U-110. The first U-boat to be captured intact, the submarine had been abandoned by its crew when they thought they were about to be rammed by the destroyer. Onboard the boarding party find an intact Enigma machine and code books. The capture of these and the subsequent work done on them at Bletchley Park to break the German codes is estimated to have shorted the War by two years and saved tens of thousands of lives. No awards were given for the capture of U-110, as like all of the Bletchley Park work it remained classified until the 1970’s.

May 10, 1941

  • The Germans carry out an indiscriminate night attack of exceptional ferocity on London. They claim it is a “reprisal” and gleefully boast of the damage done to historic monuments which include Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the British Museum. But the defence also can boast of record success; 34 of the raiders are brought down.
  • Last major attack on London of the 1940-41 Blitz.
  • The main weight of our blow falls on the ship yards and industrial quarters of Hamburg, but smaller forces attack Bremen, Emden, Rotterdam and objectives in Berlin.
  • Empire forces are closing in on the last nuclei of Italian resistance in Abyssinia. From north and south Amba Alagi is being besieged. The enemy is retreating from Debra Marcos and in the south our leading troops approach Adola and Alge.
  • The sensation of the war is the escape from Germany of Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Fuehrer, in an aeroplane piloted by himself. He lands at night on a farm in Scotland and gives himself up under a false name. It transpires that he was hoping to land on the Duke of Hamilton’s estate.
The wreckage of a Messerschmitt ME110, the plane used by Rudolf Hess to fly
from Augsburg to Scotland on 10th May 1941, he landed by parachute

May 11, 1941

  • The imperial jaws are closing on Amba Alagi where two further important features are captured and 150 prisoners taken.
  • The Rudolf Hess mystery deepens. He is taken to a hospital, having been slightly injured, and is there seen by a hospital official who identifies him as none other than Rudolf Hess. Meanwhile the Germans are in a quandary. Before any British announcement is made, they say that he has gone up in a plane and not returned. As soon as it is known that he is in Britain they say that he has for some time been mentally deranged.
  • The R.A.F., scenting German operations against British-occupied islands in the Eastern Mediterranean, raid the aerodromes at Maritza and Galato. Fires are started and many bombs fall near dispersed aircraft.
  • Enemy aircraft raid Malta, causing slight damage to the aerodrome, but considerable damage to civilian property.

May 12, 1941

  • Five mechanised columns set out from Solium, but after advancing about 30 miles are vigorously attacked by air and ground forces and beat a precipitate retreat.
  • Free French squadrons take an active part in aerial operations in Abyssinia carried out by a combined force consisting of South Africans, Rhodesians and British R.A.F. The Free French bombard machine-gun the fort at Chilga.
  • There are further signs of an impending German attack on Crete. Enemy aircraft make a continuous attack on Suda Bay.

May 13, 1941

  • The Germans keep up the attack on Suda Bay but again fail to cause any damage. They also raid Malta, killing civilians and causing some damage to civilian property.
  • The Fleet Air Arm joins in the task of extinguishing the rebellion in Iraq. Their aircraft attack Amara barracks and compound, damage the insurgent arms factory at Musaid and bomb a petrol dump at Rashid and motor transports.

May 14, 1941

  • The R.A.F. does its best to thwart an incipient German attack on Crete by fierce raids on German-occupied aerodromes in Greece. Large fires are started and many aircraft are destroyed on the ground. In Libya Bengazi and Benina are bombed again.
  • Over 1,000 Jews are arrested by French Police and given to the Germans for deportation.
  • The last Italian stronghold in Northern Abyssinia, Amba Alagi, is at its final gasp. It is completely surrounded and the South African contingent has closed in on the peak itself.

May 15, 1941

  • There is a nasty surprise for the Germans in Libya. In a limited operation carried out by covering forces our troops occupy Halfaya Pass, Musaid and Solium, causing serious casualties and taking many prisoners. The R.A.F. assists with constant bombing and machine-gunning, as well as attacks on mechanised units and troop concentrations in Cyrenaica.
  • The industrial centre of Hanover is the main target for our night bombers and large fires are started. Berlin, objectives in Hamburg and Cuxhaven and the docks at Calais, Boulogne and Dieppe are also attacked. Germany’s plans in Iraq are hampered by onslaught on the Syrian aerodromes at Palmyra, Damascus and Rayak.
  • In a broadcast to French listeners, President Roosevelt says that America cannot believe that the present French Government could lend itself to a plan of voluntary alliance which would apparently deliver up France and her empire.

May 16, 1941

  • The Lord Mayor lays down a figure of £100,000,000 as the sum to be raised in London’s War Weapons Week.
  • The R.A.F. continues its good work. During the day effective attacks on supply ships are carried out and at night a strong bomber force hammers the industrial districts of Cologne. The results are obvious enough to the pilots who visit the city again on the following night.
  • The little victory on the Libyan border is followed up. All day British mechanised troops struggle with the German garrison for the possession of Fort Capuzzo. Over 500 prisoners have been taken. At Tobruk the British and Australian defenders are successful in a limited counter-attack.
  • President Roosevelt again refers to the dangers to America inherent in the collaboration between Vichy and Hitler. He once more makes it clear that America will send cargo ships to the Red Sea and drops a significant hint about the wars his country has fought for “the freedom of the seas”.

May 17, 1941

  • Cologne suffers again in a devastating night raid. But the Middle East is the main scene of R.A.F. activity. Many troop-carrying aircraft are destroyed in Greece. The extent of German intervention in Iraq is shown by the presence of their aircraft in the country; a large number of these are destroyed or damaged on the aerodrome at Mosul.
  • It is revealed that the French are sending trainloads of war material from Syria to Iraq.
  • The Germans recover possession of Solium through a counter-attack by concealed tanks.

May 18, 1941

  • Very important news comes from Northern Abyssinia. The Italian army surrounded at Amba Alagi by South African and Indian troops gives up the ghost. The Italian Commander-in-Chief in East Africa, the Duke of Aosta, has sent emissaries to seek terms of surrender for the whole of the Italian forces in the area.
  • General Dentz, the French High Commissioner in Syria, justifies French inaction with regard to the German use of Syrian aerodromes and calls upon his army to oppose British counter-measures.
  • Another important speech shows how the American attitude towards the Axis is stiffening, Mr. Cordell Hull says: “We will find a way to ensure that the weapons pouring in ever greater volume from our factories will reach the hands that eagerly await them. We will not permit this purpose to be frustrated.”
  • The air assault on Germany continues, R.A.F. bombers attack Kiel and do further damage to its important shipyards. The port of Emden is also bombed.
  • German efforts to recover lost ground round Solium are a failure. Two strong mechanised columns are broken up and driven back by British light mechanised forces.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Petty Officer P/JX.130821 Alfred Edward SEPTON, Royal Navy awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Petty Officer Alfred Edward Sephton P/JX. 130821, Royal Navy. On 18th May 1941 in the Mediterranean, south of Crete, Petty Officer Sephton was a director layer on HMS Coventry when she went to the assistance of a hospital ship which was being attacked by German dive-bombers. When the enemy engaged Coventry, raking her with machine-gun fire, Petty Officer Sephton was mortally wounded, a bullet actually passing through his body and injuring an able seaman beside him. Although in great pain and partially blinded, nevertheless he stuck to his instruments and carried out his duties until the attack was over. He died of his injuries next day.

May 19, 1941

  • Vichy makes an important and humiliating announcement about the stage reached in Franco-German “co-operation”. Easier and more extensive intercourse is to be allowed between the occupied and unoccupied territories. A number of French prisoners are to be repatriated. It is not difficult to guess at Germany’s price for these concessions.
  • The surrender of the Italian forces at Amba Alagi begins.
  • British action continues against the aerodromes in Syria used by the Germans. German aircraft are destroyed or damaged at Palmyra, Damascus and Rayak. In Libya there are air attacks on enemy tanks between Fort Capuzzo and Halfaya and serious damage is inflicted on many motor transport vehicles.
  • There is a recrudescence of aerial activity by day in the Channel area. German efforts to force a way inland are unsuccessful. Five German fighters are shot down by four Spitfires.
  • The doom of Rashid Ali’s adventure begins to be sounded. British forces, partly taken by troop-carriers, occupy the town of Falluja. The important bridge over the Euphrates is found to be intact.
  • A portent of things to come is the heavy and sustained German attack on our aerodromes in Crete.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Sergeant KR/145 Nigel Gray LEAKEY, King's African Rifles awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - No. KR.145 Sergeant Nigel Gray Leakey, 1/6th Battalion, King's African Rifles. On 19th May 1941 near Colito, Abyssinia, when two allied companies had established a bridgehead against strong opposition, the enemy made a sudden counter-attack with light and medium tanks. In the face of withering fire, Sergeant Leakey leaped on top of one of the tanks, wrenched open the turret and shot all the crew except the driver, whom he forced to drive to cover. He then, with three other men, stalked the rest of the tanks, jumping on one of them and killing a member of its crew before he himself was killed. His superb courage was responsible for the enemy's defeat in this action.

May 20, 1941

  • The curtain rises on a new drama. After concentrating very large numbers of aircraft for several days on the aerodromes of Southern Greece, the Germans launch an air invasion of Crete in the early hours of the morning. The New Zealand, British and Greek garrison is commanded by General Freyberg, V.C. After intense bombing of Suda Bay and the various aerodromes in the neighbourhood, about 1,500 enemy troops wearing New Zealand battle-dress, land by gliders, parachutes and troop-carriers in the Canea-Maleka area. By the end of the day all have been mopped up except a fairly strong enemy party south of the Canea-Maleka road.
  • The Prime Minister says that the surrender of the Duke of Aosta and his forces must be considered to bring all major organised resistance by the Italians in Abyssinia to an end. He adds that on the orders of General Smuts the South African army is moving forward to the Mediterranean.
  • In Paris the French Resistance leader Gabreil Peri is arrested by the Gestapo. He is executed in December along with 100 other French citizens.

May 21, 1941

  • In Crete fierce fighting still continues for the possession of the three aerodromes, though precise news is vague. At night the Germans try to land troops from the sea. A large convoy is intercepted by the British Navy which frustrates the intention and causes indescribable havoc. It is estimated that at least 6,000 German troops are killed or drowned.
  • The R.A.F. carries out a successful attack on Bengazi harbour where the cathedral mole is hit, fires and explosions being caused.
Bengazi Harbour after an R.A.F Air Raid
Bengazi Harbour after an R.A.F Air Raid

May 22, 1941

  • Mr. Anthony Eden makes a very important statement in the House of Commons as to the British Government’s attitude towards Vichy and Franco-German collaboration. He says that we have accumulated much evidence about the various ways in which France is helping Germany to our detriment and being a party to leakages in our blockade, and he proclaims that we hold ourselves free to attack the enemy wherever he may be found and in so doing we shall no longer feel bound to draw any distinction between occupied and unoccupied territories.
  • In Iraq, rebel forces under German direction make a fierce but futile attempt to recover Fallujah.
  • The Prime Minister throws some light on the somewhat confused position in Crete. Our troops hold the aerodrome at Heraklion though Germans are in the town. In the Retimo area the enemy has failed to capture the aerodrome. He has succeeded in capturing the aerodrome at Maleme, but it is under our artillery fire. The Greek King and Government leave the island during the night.
  • The Germans make another attempt to land an army from ships. The British Navy again intervenes; the transports scatter and while they are being pursued our ships are fiercely and constantly attacked by dive-bombers. The German theory that the air masters the sea is being put to the proof.
  • The Italians admit the loss of a submarine.

May 23, 1941

  • In Crete the position at Heraklion and Retimo has been completely restored but the counter-attack to recover the vital aerodrome at Maleme is only partially successful. Sixteen German troop-carrying aircraft have been destroyed by A.A. fire since the invasion of the island began.
  • Admiral Darlan, broadcasting to the nation on the negotiations with Germany, attributes France’s defeats to her democratic governments and says that the country must have its place in the European “New Order” which Germany is establishing. France, having to choose between life and death, chooses life. Germany does not want the French fleet or army. She considers she can win the war against any possible combination.
  • British submarine successes off Libya are announced. A troopship of about 9,000 tons and a tanker of about 7,000 tons have been sunk; an Italian destroyer has been torpedoed and probably sunk.
  • The Regent of Iraq returns to his country and it is obvious that the collapse of the rebellion is at hand.
  • Many daylight attacks are made on enemy shipping off the French and Dutch coasts and at night a further heavy attack is made on Cologne.

May 24, 1941

  • General Smuts is made a British field-marshal on his 71st birthday.
  • German aircraft on the aerodrome at Aleppo are attacked and a direct hit is obtained on a hangar.
  • The new German battleship Bismarck is detected with the cruiser Prinz Eugen off the coast of Denmark. An action ensues in which the British battleship H.M.S. Hood is sunk in a few minutes. There are only three survivors. The Bismarck is at once the centre of a stern chase. She is hit by a torpedo from naval aircraft.
  • The position in Crete deteriorates. The Imperial force is driven farther from Maleme aerodrome and German airborne reinforcements are steadily flowing in. The Germans carry out mass bombing attacks on Clanea, Retimo and Heraklion.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lieutenant Commander Malcolm David WANKLYN, HMS Upholder awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Lieutenant-Commander Malcolm David Wanklyn, Royal Navy. On 24th May 1941 in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn, commanding HM Submarine Upholder, torpedoed a troopship which was with a strongly protected convoy. The troopship sank and Upholder then endured a strong counter-attack in which 37 depth charges were dropped in 20 minutes, before she got clear. By the end of 1941 Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn has sunk nearly 140,000 tons of enemy shipping, including a destroyer and troopships, tankers, supply and store ships.

May 25, 1941

  • The chase of the Bismarck continues. The Prince of Wales, Norfolk and Suffolk continue to shadow her successfully for a time but she is then lost in low visibility.
  • The R.A.F. has a good day in assisting our army in Crete. Heavy attacks are made on enemy positions and aircraft. At least 24 of the latter are destroyed and many others are damaged. A valiant attempt is made to prevent the enemy from deriving any advantage from his occupation of Maleme aerodrome.
  • Day light air attacks on convoys in the North Sea yield important results. A 6,000-ton ship is blown to pieces, a 4,000-ton ship is set on fire and many others are damaged.
The King and members of the Home Guard watch the descent of parachute troops
H.M. the King and 5,000 members of the Home Guard watch the descent
during a demonstration by parachute troops on 25th May 1941

May 26, 1941

  • The Bismarck is located in the morning by an American - built Catalina aircraft about 550 miles west of Land’s End. In the evening aircraft from the Ark Royal score torpedo hits on her and damage her steering so that her speed is reduced. But she is still striving to reach safety in Brest or some other port in occupied France.
  • The operations in Crete continue to take an unfavourable turn. Secure in the possession of Maleme aerodrome the Germans break in to our positions covering Canea and the vital naval base at Suda Bay.

May 27, 1941

  • The net closes on the Bismarck. After torpedo attack from aircraft and destroyers in the early hours of the morning she is soon rounded up and put out of action by heavy ships. She sinks just after 11 o ’clock, torpedoes from H.M.S. Dorsetshire giving her the coup de grace.
  • The Admiralty lets us know the result of the naval intervention in the operations in Crete. All German attempts to land reinforcements by sea have been frustrated but the price has not been inconsiderable. As the result of incessant air attack the cruisers H.M.S. Gloucester and H.M.S. Fiji and the destroyers H.M.S. Juno, H.M.S. Greyhound, H.M.S. Kelly and H.M.S Kashmir have been sunk.
  • The Imperial forces have had to give way before the German attack in Western Crete. Canea and Suda Bay have had to be abandoned and the constant reinforcement of the enemy by air makes the position critical.
  • President Roosevelt delivers an address to the nation which leaves no doubt as to where America stands. She will see that her war material reaches Britain and she will not allow Germany to secure further strategic footholds on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

May 28, 1941

  • Now that the British Fleet has withdrawn and it is safer to do so, Italian troops from the Dodecanese land on the eastern end of Crete. Imperial troops have their hands full at the western end, so there is no opposition.
  • The R.A.F. gives what help it can from its distant bases. In particular, a heavy attack is made at night on the Germ an-occupied island of Scarpanto in the Dodecanese. More than 100 enemy aircraft are successfully attacked on Cretan beaches.
  • We are forging ahead in Iraq and progress would be even more rapid were it not for floods and demolitions. As it is. British forces reach points five miles north and nine miles west of Bagdad and the force from Basra has reached Ur.
  • Great successes by British submarines against the enemy’s reinforcements and supplies for his armies in Libya are announced. A troop-carrying liner of 18,000 tons is sunk; a French tanker of about 5,000 tons is sunk; a 5,000-ton transport or supply ship is torpedoed and probably sunk and a heavily laden oil tanker of about 4,000 tons is hit by torpedo.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Sergeant 10725 Alfred Clive HULME, New Zealand Infantry awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Sergeant Alfred Clive Hulme, 23rd Battalion, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (The Canterbury Regiment). During the period 20th – 28th May 1941 in Crete Sergeant Hulme displayed outstanding leadership and courage. At Malerne he led a party against the enemy who were attacking with rifles, machine-guns and mortars. At Galatos he drove the enemy away from a school building with hand grenades. At Suda Bay he killed five snipers and at Stylos he wiped out a mortar crew and accounted for three more snipers.

May 29, 1941

  • Further German airborne reinforcements reach Crete. Intense dive-bombing is continued throughout the day, and though exacting a heavy toll from the enemy, the Imperial force has had to withdraw further in places. Suda Bay, in particular, is lost.
  • It is announced that H.M.S. York, a cruiser of 8,250 tons, which was damaged some time ago and was under repair in Suda Bay, must now be regarded as a total loss.
  • The British submarine H.M.S. Usk has been lost.
  • It is announced that eggs will be rationed before long.

May 30, 1941

  • An Italian supply ship on its way to Libya takes refuge from the R.A.F. in the French port of Sfax, in Tunisia. It is there bombed. The Vichy Government protests, and not only because other objects are accidentally also hit.
  • The continuous reinforcement of the Germans in Crete has had its inevitable result. Their troops from Canea join up with those landed at Retimo. Heraklion is captured by parachutists. The German High Command claims that the operations are virtually over and that the remaining British troops are being pursued to the south coast.
  • The Royal Navy is attaining a high degree of skill in dealing with enemy bombers. H.M.S. Tartar has destroyed a Heinkel III and the trawler Chiltern has shot a twin-engined bomber into the sea off the West Country.
  • Rashid Ali considers discretion the better part of valour. His revolt having failed, he flees from Bagdad and makes for Iran.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Second Lieutenant 8077 Charles Hazlitt UPHAM, New Zealand Army awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Second Lieutenant Charles Hazlitt Upham (8077), 20th Battalion, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (The Canterbury Regiment). Between 22nd and 30th May 1941 in Crete, Second Lieutenant Upham displayed outstanding leadership and courage in the very close-quarter fighting. He was blown up by one mortar shell and badly wounded by another. He was also wounded in the foot, but in spite of his wounds and a severe attack of dysentery, he refused to go to hospital. He carried a wounded man back to safety when his company was forced to retire on 22nd May and on 30th May he beat off an attack at Sphakia, 22 Germans falling to his short-range fire.

May 31, 1941

  • In the early hours of the morning German aircraft bomb various parts of Dublin causing many deaths and casualties. The Eire Government makes a strong protest to Berlin.
  • The news leaks through that Admiral Boehm, the German naval Commander-in-Chief in Norway, and a friend of Rudolf Hess, has committed suicide.
  • Admiral Darlan makes another violent speech against this country, claiming that even in the impossible event of a British victory France would be merely a second-rate continental power.
  • The Italian supply ship sheltering in Sfax is again attacked; clouds of black smoke follow three direct hits.

JUNE 1941

June 1, 1941

  • The fight in Crete having now become too unequal, the Imperial army is withdrawn by sea from the island. In spite of the most frenzied efforts by the Luftwaffe, the delicate and dangerous operation is successful.
  • Civilian clothing is rationed for the first time in Great Britain.
  • As the Germans are now using Bengazi to reinforce their troops in Libya, it is frequently the target of British bombers. A severe attack is delivered at night and a number of explosions is caused in the harbour area.

June 2, 1941

  • It is announced that the armed merchant cruiser H.M.S. Salopian has been sunk.
  • It is reported that the withdrawal from Crete has begun after twelve days of the fiercest fighting of the war. Enormous losses have been inflicted on the enemy but ours, too, have been severe, and the number of men brought away is 15,000.
  • British troops enter Bagdad and the offer of an armistice by the committee taking the place of the fleeing Rashid Ali is accepted. The rebellion in Iraq has terminated ignominiously. But there is serious rioting in Bagdad.
  • British fighters spend the day ranging over Northern France and the Channel, coming down low out of the clouds to attack motor transport, aerodromes and an E-boat.
  • Hitler and Mussolini meet once more at the Brenner Pass. It is thought that they discussed the developments to follow the conquest of Crete and also planned some announcement as to the establishment of the “New Order” in Europe.
  • The Bomber Command makes daylight attacks on shipping in the Kiel Canal and at night aircraft of the same Command attack targets in Berlin, Duesseldorf, the inland port of Duisburg-Ruhrort and other objectives in the Ruhr.

June 3, 1941

  • By the overwhelming vote of 2,430,000 to 1,900 the Labour Party conference reaffirms its approval of the war and repudiates any compromise peace.
  • The Vichy Government consider what steps to take if we invade Syria to prevent its further use as a German base of operations in the Middle East. General Weygand arrives from North Africa and confers with Darlan’s cabinet all day.
  • Following yesterday’s rioting in Bagdad the Iraqi Government declares martial law and order is restored. British troops occupy Mosul.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack a convoy of enemy merchant vessels escorted by destroyers proceeding southwards off the Tunisian coast. A ship of about 8,000 tons blows up. Another ship of about 5,000 tons is left blazing and others are damaged. Bengazi is attacked again.
  • Mr. Winant, the United States Ambassador to this country, sees President Roosevelt, having returned specially to make a report on affairs in this country.

June 4, 1941

  • British air activity is general and continuous. During the day Bomber Command aircraft repeat their attacks on enemy shipping and coastal targets. A supply ship of about 5,000 tons is set on fire off Norway. During an attack on Zeebrugge a 500-ton ship is blown clean out of the water by a direct hit and much damage is done to the mole. There is an onslaught on docks and shipping at Boulogne. One German bomber and four fighters are destroyed. In the Middle East an aerodrome on the island of Rhodes is attacked.
  • The Germans concentrate their night efforts on the Midlands and lose five bombers. London gets a few bombs after 24 successive peaceful nights. In a first heavy raid on Alexandria, they concentrate on the native quarter and cause many casualties.
  • General Weygand arrives in France from North Africa. He has a long conference with Marshal Petain and is understood to be opposing Admiral Darlan’s design to attack the colonies which went over to General de Gaulle.
  • The Egyptian Cabinet resigns.

June 5, 1941

  • The enemy in Syria is given no rest. Italian aircraft on the aerodrome at Aleppo are attacked; the hangars and tarmac are damaged and one aeroplane destroyed with a direct hit.
  • It is announced that the trawler H.M.T. Ben Gairn and the drifter Jewel have been lost.

June 6, 1941

  • The Germans have lost more than the Bismarck in their recent attempt to devastate our Atlantic shipping routes. After she was sunk our naval forces encountered and despatched three of her supply ships and an armed trawler.
  • America takes another vital step in her campaign of aid to Britain. The President is given power to commandeer all idle foreign ships in American ports.
  • South African troops from Abyssinia have arrived in Egypt, where they are inspected by Colonel Stallard, representing Field Marshal Smuts.
  • The Vichy Government meets, ostensibly to consider the situation in Africa, but there is a tendentious announcement that hostilities may be expected in Syria because the British are apparently determined to invade that country.
  • The Minister of Labour says that “this next three months will be the most vital in our history”. He also says that we are behind with our aerodromes and some of our factories, and makes a special appeal to the building industry.

June 7, 1941

  • The Germans carry out a heavy and totally indiscriminate raid on Alexandria under the pretext of attacking the British naval base and military installations. Hundreds of civilians are killed. A general flight of the natives begins. Malta is also raided by the enemy but without causing damage or casualties.
  • The R.A.F. make heavy raids on the aerodromes at Derna and Capuzzo, and numerous fires, followed by explosions, are caused in two attacks on the harbour at Bengazi. Nearer home the German naval base at Brest is the main objective. Many sticks of bombs are dropped across the docks. During the day an enemy convoy off the Dutch coast is caught and two ships, each of about 5,000 tons, are set on fire and probably destroyed.
  • It is announced that the submarine H.M.S. Undaunted is overdue and must be considered lost.

June 8, 1941

  • The R.A.F. make a heavy night attack on the Ruhr. At Dortmund fires are caused in the town, at docks and on railways, and conflagrations ravage Essen. Heavy bombers also carry out prolonged raids on Derna and Bengazi; machine-gun attacks are made on dispersed aircraft at Derna and Gazala and on camp and motor transport concentrations near Martuba.
  • At dawn an allied force, comprising Free French, Australian, British and Indian elements under the command of General Wilson, enter Syria to clear the Germans out of that vitally important strategic area.
  • Fresh progress is made in a new area in Abyssinia.
  • West African troops have crossed the River Omo, making a good haul of prisoners, guns and lorries.

June 9, 1941

  • The Admiralty give further particulars of naval losses in the evacuation from Crete. The destroyer Hereward was last seen heading towards the coast after being damaged by air attack; but it is known that 229 survivors are prisoners of war. The destroyer H.M.S. Imperial had to be sunk after being damaged by air attack. The anti-aircraft cruiser H.M.S Calcutta was also lost.
  • The allied advance into Syria has progressed, so far without encountering anything worth calling opposition. Certain French elements have come over to our side.
  • There is a good deal of air activity during the day in the area of the Channel and South-East England. British fighters prove themselves more than a match for the enemy, including his new “stratosphere” fighter, the Me 109F.
  • President Roosevelt means business in putting an end to strikes in American War Industries. U.S.A. troops occupy the North American Aviation Company’s plant near Los Angeles and the strikers go back to work.
  • A Fire Service Council has been formed to co-operate with the Home Office in carrying out the recent fire-fighting reforms.

June 10, 1941

  • In an interesting debate on the struggle for Crete the Prime Minister repeats that the inevitable lack of air support was responsible for its loss, but says that the only alternative was the impossible one of abandoning the island without a struggle.
  • Trouble is brewing between the United States and Germany. It is announced that the American merchantman S.S Robin Moor was torpedoed in the South Atlantic on May 21.
  • The allied advance into Syria is proceeding satisfactorily, and the general impression is that Arab reaction to the arrival of our forces is favourable.
  • In the course of great activity in Cyrenaica a convoy of enemy land transport is broken up and 30 vehicles are destroyed.

June 11, 1941

  • There is further evidence of the British aerial offensive by day. Aircraft of the Bomber Command attack the docks at Ymuiden and damage storehouses. Coastal Command units bomb the Mole and shipping at Zeebrugge and destroy an enemy tanker of about 5,000 tons.
  • At night there is a heavy attack on Duisburg, Duesseldorf and Cologne. A n enormous fire is started at Cologne and at Duisburg large buildings both in the docks and in other industrial quarters are swept by flame.
  • Sir Stafford Cripps, the British Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., arrives in this country for consultation.

June 12, 1941

  • In Syria Australian troops capture the key position of Merj Ayoum and other allied forces are within easy reach of Damascus.
  • The Admiralty announces that the 7,200-ton monitor H.M.S Terror and the gunboat H.M.S. Ladybird have been lost as the result of enemy action off the coast of Libya.
  • There is a conference at St. James’s Palace of representatives of all the allied Powers. The British Prime Minister makes one of his greatest speeches. The clarion call is again sounded: “We cannot yet see how deliverance will come, or when it will come, but nothing is more certain than that every trace of Hitler’s footsteps, every stain of his infected and corroding fingers will be sponged and purged and, if need be, blasted from the surface of the earth”.
  • It is made known in the United States that the American merchant vessel S.S. Robin Moor was sunk by a German submarine on 21st May.
  • The Ruhr suffers the most severe all-night bombardment it has ever received. The docks at Brest and Antwerp and targets near Rotterdam are also bombed.
  • A German pocket battleship escorted by a number of destroyers is sighted off Norway by a Blenheim aircraft of Coastal Command which reports its presence.

June 13, 1941

  • The pocket battleship, despite its destroyer screen, is hit by torpedoes from British bombers. The whole force is subsequently observed to be retiring towards the Skagerrak at greatly reduced speed.
  • The cross-Channel steamer S.S. St. Patrick is sunk by German dive-bombers between Ireland and England, with serious loss of life among the passengers.
  • In a memorandum in reply to the Vichy note of protest against the British entry into Syria it is stated that responsibility for the consequences of the assistance given to the Germans by the French authorities in that country must rest with Marshal Petain’s government.
  • Mr. Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour and National Service, makes a very important statement: “I shall be the last to hold out false hopes, but the day is not far distant when you will be equally safe at night in your beds as you are now during the daytime.” Though there are widespread and persistent reports that the Germans are massing against Russia, the Moscow wireless denies that there are any grounds for them or that the Germans are trying to compel fresh concessions.
  • Bombers of the R.A.F. in the Middle East have attacked a convoy in the Mediterranean and accounted for a merchant vessel of 7,000 tons.
  • The air offensive against the Ruhr is continued and a particularly heavy attack is made on the industrial district of Schwerte where extensive damage is done.
  • The German warships lying in Brest harbour are given another hammering.
Crew of the Beaufort aircraft watch as ground crew load thier plane with a torpedo
Crew of the Beaufort aircraft which torpedoed a German pocket battleship off the coast of Norway
on 13th June 1941 watch as ground crew load thier plane with a torpedo

June 14, 1941

  • President Roosevelt orders the freezing of all the United States assets of Germany and Italy and all countries under their control.
  • In Syria the Vichy troops evacuate Kiswe and take up another position just south of Damascus. British naval units bombard Sidon all day and imperial forces close in on it.
  • The operation of rounding up the supply ships of the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen results in the interception and sinking of another, the sixth. During the day British fighters make sweeps over Northern France, attacking an aerodrome near Cherbourg, while bombers plaster airfields at St. Omer. At night heavy bombers raid industrial targets in the Cologne area. In Libya there is a heavy attack on Bengazi, an enemy camp at Bardia and a landing- ground at Derna.

June 15, 1941

  • Imperial troops capture Sidon and make local progress on other fronts.
  • A Beaufort aircraft torpedoes and almost certainly sinks a supply ship of about 6,000 tons, one of a convoy escorted by anti-aircraft vessels off the Dutch coast.
  • Fighting flares up again on the frontier of Libya and Egypt where British tanks and armoured fighting vehicles make a fierce raid on the Fort Capuzzo area.
  • The air offensive continues both by day and night. The search for enemy shipping proceeds apace. In the Ems estuary a cargo ship is hit; off the Dutch coast a ship of 4,000 tons is set on fire and an escorted supply ship of about 6,000 tons is hit and damaged. At night strong bomber forces fire industrial targets in Western Germany and do extensive damage in the Ruhr and the Cologne and Flanover areas.

June 16, 1941

  • It is reported that the destroyer H.M.S. Jersey has been sunk by an enemy mine.
  • It is announced in America that agencies of the German Reich, including consular establishments, have been engaged in improper activities outside the scope of their legitimate duties; orders have accordingly been issued for their closing and the removal of all their personnel from German territory.
  • In Abyssinia General Pralormo with 2,000 Italian troops has surrendered in the Soddu area.
  • The Coastal Command makes a day light attack on Boulogne where the railway station and a large storehouse are hit by bombs. At night there is another heavy attack on objectives in the Ruhr and the Rhineland.
H.M.S Jersey was a J-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.
H.M.S Jersey was a J-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.

June 17, 1941

  • There is good news for the home front Mr. Attlee tells the House of Commons that our scientists have enabled us to make great progress towards locating and destroying enemy aircraft.
  • In Libya our further advance from Fort Capuzzo is held up by German tank reinforcements from Tobruk.
  • There is another heavy raid on industrial areas in Western Germany.

June 18, 1941

  • Germany and Turkey enter into a treaty of peace and friendship but without prejudice to their existing commitments to other countries. The arrangement is obviously meant to secure Germany’s flank in the case of any action against Soviet Russia.
  • The R.A.F. day light offensive against Germany continues. This time a military camp is the objective and the effort to protect it cost the enemy nine lighters against four of ours. At night the systematic onslaught takes the shape of a further tremendous attack on Bremen and other coastal areas and another visit to Brest.
  • We have had further submarine successes in the Mediterranean. Two supply ships, a tanker, an auxiliary ailing vessel, three caiques and a schooner have been sunk.
  • General Dentz, is invited to withdraw his troops from Damascus to save military action against that ancient city.

June 19, 1941

  • The allied force in Syria enters the suburbs of Damascus, the Vichy troops counter-attacking furiously, while to the south Kuneitra is recovered and the French force at Merj Ayoum surrounded.
  • Oxford University confers the degree of Doctor of Civil Law on President Roosevelt.
  • Industrial targets at Cologne and Duesseldorf are attacked during the night.
A British armoured passes through the streets of Damascus
Crowds stand by to allow a British armoured car a clear passage through one of
the ancient streets of Damascus

June 20, 1941

  • The Soviet Government still professes to be disinterested in the German armies massed on its frontier but gives news of vigorous army manoeuvres which are taking place.
  • Mr. Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, comes to England on the invitation of the British Government for discussions on the general situation.
  • British and allied merchant shipping losses for the month of May amount to 98 ships of 461,328 tons. The Germans claim that the figure should be doubled. It is also announced that the enemy has lost 3,211,000 tons of shipping since the beginning of the war.
  • President Roosevelt says that the sinking of the Robin Moor is “outrageous and in defensible”, but that the German Government may be assured that the United States will neither be intimidated nor will it acquiesce in plans for world domination which the present leaders of Germany may have.
  • Kiel is the main target of the R.A.F. at night.

June 21, 1941

  • The R.A.F. score a notable day light success when 28 German fighters are destroyed for a loss of five. The massive night offensive continues with another attack by strong bomber forces on objectives at Cologne and Duesseldorf. The docks at Dunkirk and Boulogne are also bombed.

June 22, 1941

  • (Operation Barbarossa) At 4 a.m. the German armies invade the territories of Soviet Russia on an enormous front. The frontier districts are held comparatively lightly by the Russian Army and the Germans are soon able to announce the capture of towns such as Brest-Litovsk which are within easy reach. The perfidious and sudden German attack also means that the Luftwaffe has a certain amount of success in destroying Russian aircraft on the ground.
  • The British Prime Minister at once tells the world where the Empire stands. Though he has been relentless and unrepentant opponent of Communism for twenty-five years he says that “any man or State who fights against Nazism will have our aid. Any man or State who marches with Hitler is our foe.”
  • Italy declares war on Russia announcing that her troops will fight side by side with Germany. Romania would also make a declaration of war on the Soviet Union on this date.
  • Germany is rapidly learning that the R.A.F. can be hard by day as well as by night. Another 30 German fighters are shot down over the northern coast of France for the loss of only two British fighters. At night Brem and Wilhelmshaven are once more the main target though Emden, Bremerhaven and Duesseldorf also get their share.

June 23, 1941

  • News of the actual position on the Russo-German frontier is vague and somewhat contradictory. The Russians admit that they have lost certain stretches of territory lightly held by frontier guards, but say that their main armies are coming up and the real battle has not yet begun. The Germans mine the Baltic and carry out heavy raids on Russian towns lying behind the front and the Russian Air Force replies with raids into East Prussia and other centres of German concentration.
  • Turkey proclaims her neutrality in the war between Germany and Russia.
  • There is important news from Syria. British troops have reached Palmyra, on the oil pipe-line north-east of Damascus.
  • More day light air fighting over Northern France has brought further successes. British fighters escort formation of 50 bombers which attack and damaged industrial plant near Bethune. In this and a subsequent sweep, 19 more German fighters are brought down. The night offensive comprises attacks on the industrial districts of Cologne and Duesseldorf and the naval base of Kiel.
  • The number of prisoners captured at Jimma in Abyssinia is estimated at 8,000.

June 24, 1941

  • In the Russo-German war the Germans make the main efforts in the directions of Shaulai, Kaunas, Grodno Volkovysk, Kobryn, and Vladimir-Volynsk. The Russians bomb Danzig, Koenigsberg, Lublin and Warsaw and set Constanza on fire. They claim that it’s the first three days of fighting they have lost 374 aeroplanes, most of them damaged on aerodromes, while destroying 161 German aircraft in air fights and 22 on the ground.
  • Our fourteenth consecutive night raid on Germany comprises further heavy attacks on objectives at Cologne and Duesseldorf and on the naval base at Kiel. Germany has had a greater tonnage of bombs in the last fortnight than during the whole month of April.
  • In Syria the French stronghold at Merj Ayoum has been recaptured so that the bold French counter-attack has been finally frustrated.

June 25, 1941

  • The fog of war is very thick in the East, but it can be seen that the main German thrusts are in the direction of Vilna, Minsk and Kiev. The Russians annihilate one motorised regiment in the region of Siauliai and inflict a serious setback on the Germans in tank battles near Brody. They also bomb Danzig, Koenigsberg, Lublin and Warsaw as reprisals for raids on Kiev, Minsk, Libau and Riga. They say that Finland and Rumania have placed their territory at the disposal of the Axis powers.
  • The Swedes break their neutrality by permitting a German division to cross from Norway into Finland.
  • During an R.A.F. daylight sweep over northern France, great damage is caused to the railway goods yards at Hazebrouck and an ammunition train is blown up. At night there is another fierce attack on Kiel and Bremen.
  • The Tobruk garrison makes another deep bite into the German salient in the outer defences.

June 26, 1941

  • The chief feature of the operations on the eastern front are the vast and ferocious tank battles which are taking place in several sectors. It is plain that German armoured divisions have broken through towards Vilna and Minsk, but the Russians are preventing the German infantry from following up. In the tank battles round Luck, the Russians have the advantage and in Bessarabia they throw back all attempts to cross the River Pruth, though the Germans shamelessly assert that they have effected a crossing on a wide front. In the air the Russians hold their own and they bomb the Rumanian oilfields with great success.
  • The R.A.F. has given the foe a shrewd blow in the Mediterranean. A convoy consisting of merchant vessels, each of 20,000 tons, is caught off the south coast of Sicily. At least two are hit by torpedoes and a third is hit amidships by a heavy bomb.
  • Another R.A.F. daylight sweep results in more heavy German losses. In the last six days 108 German fighters have been destroyed for a British loss of 19 fighters and 16 pilots. At night Kiel and the industrial districts of Cologne and Duesseldorf are the main targets.

June 27, 1941

  • A Dutch submarine in allied service has sunk an enemy tanker of about 7,000 tons and a supply ship of about 5,000 tons.
  • Sir Stafford Cripps and a British mission, comprising military, naval and Air Force officers and various officials, arrives in Moscow.
  • In the northern and central sectors of the vast eastern front the Russians withdraw for regrouping in new positions. Russian air attack in Rumania is proving a factor of some note. The important dockyards and oil tanks at Constanza are destroyed and the whole port is devastated.
  • The daylight aerial offensive continues. A German supply ship is sunk, another dive-bombed and a Polish squadron distinguishes itself by shooting up an aerodrome and destroying three Messerschmitts on the ground. At night there is a concentrated attack on Bremen; the shipyards there and at Vegesack are plastered with bombs and there are minor raids on Emden, Wilhelmshaven and other German, Dutch and French ports. Twelve R.A.F. bombers are lost.

June 28, 1941

  • The Russians hold up tank thrusts in the region of Minsk and struggle valiantly to prevent the main bodies of German infantry from joining up with their motorised advance guard. The great tank battle in the region of Luck continues with varying fortunes and in the Lwow area the defence holds out admirably. In the southern sector everything goes well for the Russians; the German claim to be across the Pruth and clearing Bessarabia is shown to be false propaganda designed to impress wavering neutrals.

June 29, 1941

  • Cabinet changes are announced. Lord Beaverbrook becomes Minister of Supply, Sir Andrew Duncan President of the Board of Trade, and Mr. Oliver Lyttelton vacates the latter office to take up special duties in the Middle East.
  • The Germans issue a highly dramatic and sensational account of the course of the campaign in Russia to date. They claim to have overrun Lithuania, captured Dvinsk and reached the Dvina, and that cast of Bialvstok two Soviet armies are now completely encircled. The booty is said to be 40,000 prisoners, over 600 guns and 2,233 tanks, while 4,107 Soviet aeroplanes are alleged to have been destroyed. Even allowing for the absurd exaggeration, there has been substantial achievement, though the much-desired decision has not been attained.
  • Hamburg and Bremen are again the night objectives of the R.A.F.

June 30, 1941

  • The daylight air offensive enters upon another stage early this morning when aircraft of Bomber Command, making good use of cloud cover, bomb the docks at Bremen and railway yards south of Oldenburg. An escorted convoy is also attacked and two ships, one of about 3000 tons and the other of about 6000 tons, are set on fire.
  • The Russians repulse repeated attacks on the Soviet-Finnish frontier. On the Baltic front German attempts to advance eastwards are brought to a halt and they make little progress in the Minsk sector, but the Russians evacuate Lwow.
  • Replying to the bombastic German story yesterday, the Russians say that the German attempt at a swift knock-out has entirely failed, and that the German losses have been 1500 aircraft and 2500 tanks.

JULY 1941

July 1, 1941

  • The Germans have not yet mopped up the two encircled Russian armies, but their advanced tanks have reached the banks of the historic Beresina. Elsewhere the Russians are holding their own, though slowly falling back on the Stalin Line.
  • In the U.S.A, all male citizens over 21 are obliged to register for the draft in case of open hostilities.
  • General Wavell is transferred to the chief command in India and his place in the Middle East is taken by Sir Claude Auchinlech.
  • In another daylight raid over Germany an attack is made on Oldenburg and military objectives in the vicinity. The German seaplane base at Borkum is also visited.

July 2, 1941

  • The German thrust at Murmansk in the extreme north is successfully resisted in fierce fighting. Elsewhere on the Finland frontier the enemy has no success. Hard fighting continues in the Dvinsk, Borisov, Slutsk, Bobruisk and Luck sectors. The Germans claim to have captured 160,000 Russians in the Bialystok area.
  • There is mass conscription in Japan. It brings over one million men into military service, at least half destined to reinforce operations in China.
  • It is announced that the Japanese Government has taken “important decisions” with regard to the existing situation, but no hint is given as to what they are.
  • Blenheim bombers, with fighter escort, successfully attack Merville aerodrome near Lille. Eighteen enemy fighters are destroyed for a loss of two bombers and eight fighters.
  • Tonight’s item in the air invasion of Germany is a concentrated attack on Bremen, Cologne and Duisburg. The docks at Cherbourg and oil storage tanks at Rotterdam receive their customary visit.

July 3, 1941

  • General Haining is appointed Intendant-General in the Middle East.
  • The main fighting in Russia is along the Dvinain the northern sector and on the banks of the famous Beresina in the centre. The Germans effect a crossing of the first but are held up on the second. The Russians claim the destruction of 61 enemy aircraft for a loss of 28. In a broadcast to the Russian nation Stalin calls for a united effort to beat back Nazi aggression.
  • Following a strong attack by a British armoured force the Vichy stronghold of Palmyra in Syria surrenders.
  • The Italian force at Debra Tabor in Abyssinia agrees to surrender on the same terms as those given to the Duke of Aosta at Amba Alagi.
  • Bombers, with fighter escort, make a day light attack on railway targets in the Hazebrouck - St. Omer area. Eleven enemy fighters are shot down for a loss of one bomber and six fighters. At night Krupps works at Essen are the principal target though other objectives in the Ruhr are not neglected.
  • In Africa enemy shipping is bombed at Tripoli and heavy attacks are also made on the harbour at Bengazi and many aerodromes in Libya.

July 4, 1941

  • There are further Italian surrenders in Abyssinia; the only pocket of resistance left is in the Gondar area.
  • The Russians are still containing the German thrust across the Dvina but the enemy effects a crossing of the Beresina at several points.
  • The daylight air attack on Northern France extends to Germany, where Bremen is bombed from a very low level. In Syria there is a heavy attack on military installations at Beirut. The enemy carry out a sharp raid on Malta.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Wing Commander 39005 Hughie Idwal EDWARDS, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: -  Wing Commander Hughie Idwal Edwards (39005), 105 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 4th July 1941 over Bremen, Germany, Wing Commander Edwards led a force of bombers, in daylight, at a height of about 50 feet through telephone wires and high-tension cables, to attack the heavily defended port. The bombers successfully penetrated fierce anti-aircraft fire and a dense balloon barrage, but further fire over the port itself resulted in the loss of four of the attacking force. His task completed, Wing Commander Edwards brought his remaining aircraft safely back, although all had been hit.

July 5, 1941

  • In Russia there are fierce battles with large German mechanised forces in the Ostrov, Borisov, Bobruisk and Novograd-Volinsk sectors. In a counter-attack the Germans are thrown back from Ostrov and lose hundreds of tanks and much of their motorised infantry.
  • British bombers range far and wide over Western Germany at night. Even Magdeburg is reached and a great w eight of bombs is thrown on Munster, Osnabrueck and Bielefeld.

July 6, 1941

  • The air onslaught of last night is followed up by daylight attacks to-day. Four enemy patrol vessels in the North Sea are sunk and two others damaged. A steel and engineering works at Lille is hit by sticks of high-explosive bombs. At night our heavy bombers carry on the good work with a vengeance. Military objectives in Munster are again heavily attacked and the onslaught covers Dortmund, Duesseldorf, Cologne, Emden and Rotterdam. Italy, too, gets a share. The harbour at Palermo is heavily pasted and many large ships are hit.
  • The Admiralty announces that an Italian 8-in. gun cruiser, probably the Gorizia, was sunk by a British submarine on June 29. There have been equally successful submarine attacks on shipping in the Mediterranean.
  • Over 250,000 Jews are murdered by Lithuanian militia under German control.
  • An armed Italian merchant cruiser of about 9,000 tons has been torpedoed and three supply ships of about 1,600, 6,000, and 8,000 tons respectively have been torpedoed and sunk.
  • The Russian fighting is still concentrated mainly in the Ostrov, Polotsk, Borisov and Novograd-Volinsk sectors and it is plain that the Russians are assembling for the real struggle in their famous Stalin Line.
  • In Abyssinia the prisoners are pouring in and include no less than ten generals.
  • The attack begins on the French positions defending Beirut in Syria. The Australians cross the River Damour.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lieutenant, N.X.12378 Arthur Roben CUTLER, Australian Army awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Lieutenant Arthur Roden Cutler (NX.12378), 2/5th Field Artillery, Australian Military Forces. During the period 19th June – 6th July 1941 in the Merdjayoun-Damour area, Syria, the exploits of Lieutenant Cutler included the repair of a telephone line under heavy fire, the repulse of enemy tanks with an anti-tank rifle, the setting up of an outpost to bring under fire a road used by enemy transport, and the demolishing, with a 25-pound field gun, of a post threatening to hold up the British advance. While laying a line to his outpost at Damour, he was seriously wounded, and by the time he was rescued 26 hours later, his leg had to be amputated.

July 7, 1941

  • There is highly important and significant news from the United States. American forces are in Iceland. In a message to Congress President Roosevelt says that it is imperative that Germany should not be able to seize strategic points in the Atlantic.
  • The German effort to make a great haul of prisoners at and east of Minsk meets with no success. The northern column thrusting through to Smolensk is forced back at Lepel. The southern is held up near Bobruisk. Elsewhere along the great battle-front there is no significant change in the situation. The Russians win a striking success against German mechanised forces on the Ukraine front. The enemy loses 300 tanks and a number of heavy guns.
  • In daylight, heavy bombers, escorted by fighters, attack an aircraft works at Meaulte, near Albert, and a power station and chemical factory near Bethune.
  • Six ships in a strongly escorted convoy are hit by bombs off the Dutch coast. They are left either sinking or thoroughly alight. At night there is what the Air Ministry calls an “invasion of Germany,” with concentrated attacks on the Ruhr and the Rhineland.
  • In Syria the Australians, having crossed the Damour, are at grips with the main French position, while the column which captured Palmyra is approaching Homs.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Sergeant NZ/401793 James Allen WARD, Royal New Zealand Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Sergeant James Allen Ward, Royal New Zealand Air Force, serving with 75 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 7th July 1941 after an attack on Munster, Germany, fire broke out in the Wellington bomber in which Sergeant Ward was second pilot. The skipper of the aircraft having told him to try to put out the fire, the sergeant crawled out through a narrow astro-hatch, scrambled to the back of the starboard engine which was alight, and smothered the flames with an engine cover. His crawl back over the wing in which he had previously torn hand and foot-holes, was more dangerous than the outward journey, but he managed it with the help of the aircraft's navigator. The bomber was eventually landed safely.

July 8, 1941

  • There is another daylight offensive into Germany. Some of our biggest bombers visit Wilhelmshaven and others attack a synthetic oil plant between Lens and Bethune.
  • The Russians launch a series of powerful counter-attacks at points where the Germans have secured a lodgement in the Stalin Line. The Rumanian and German troops in Bessarabia suffer a severe local reverse and are thrown back over the Pruth.

July 9, 1941

  • The main German line of thrust in Russia is towards the nerve centres of Leningrad and Moscow. The first operation is held up by strenuous resistance. The second is made more difficult by a successful Soviet counter-stroke in the Lepel sector. Our ally destroys two motorised regiments, and the invaders here are forced to a precipitate retreat.
  • The unfortunate war in Syria is coming to a speedy end. The French High Commissioner in Syria, General Dentz, applies to the British authorities for a discussion of terms leading to an armistice. Meanwhile the French stronghold of Damour is captured and our columns are making satisfactory progress towards Aleppo and Homs.
  • The Prime Minister describes the American military occupation of Iceland as “of first-rate political and strategic importance.”
  • In the afternoon heavy bombers of the R.A.F., escorted by fighters, attack a power station near Bethune. At night, the main weight of our blows falls on Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), the centre of an industrial area rich in coal and minerals, though visits are also paid to Osnabrueck, Bielefeld, Munster, and the docks at Ostend. A severe attack is also made on the railway station at Naples. In Tripoli harbour, two ships of 10,000 tons, one of 12,000 and one of 7,000 are damaged or set on fire.
Free French troops wearing the smile of victory.
Some of the men who gave British and Imperial troops stout aid in the Syrian advance,
Free French wearing the smile of victory.

July 10, 1941

  • Australian troops occupy Beirut, the capital of Syria.
  • We have a major success in the unrelenting war on German shipping. In an afternoon attack on ships at Cherbourg and Le Havre, six totalling over 20,000 tons are hit and almost certainly destroyed. Heavy bombers attack a chemical works and railway sidings at Chocques. Twelve German fighters are destroyed for a loss of 10 fighters and two bombers.
  • Naples is again bombed for three hours, while Cologne and objectives in the Rhineland are the main targets nearer home.
  • The Germans make no real headway in Russia. The Russian Air Force - alleged to have been destroyed -successfully holds up the German advance in the direction of Ostrov and Novograd-Volinsk. In one area a whole German division is trapped and destroyed.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Private WX2437 James Heather GORDON, Australian Army awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - No. WX,2437 Private James Heather Gordon, 2/31st Battalion (Queensland and Victoria), Australian Military Forces. On 10th July 1941 at Djezzine, Syria, Private Gordon's company was held up by intense machine-gun and grenade fire, but on his own initiative, he crept forward alone and succeeded in getting close to the machine-gun post. He then charged it and killed the four machine-gunners. His action completely demoralized the enemy in this sector and the company advanced and took the position.
Crowds line the streets of Beirut to welcome Australian troops
Crowds line the streets of Beirut to welcome Australian troops as they march into the liberated city

July 11, 1941

  • The Vichy Government rejects the British armistice terms but gives General Dentz authority to meet the situation as he thinks fit. The latter loses no time and at midnight fighting ceases, preparatory to the discussion of armistice terms.
  • The Russians maintain their air onslaught on mechanised and motorised enemy forces. The Germans make no progress. The Russians again bomb the Rumanian oil-fields and refineries at and around Ploesti. The Russian armies are divided into three sectors, the northern commanded by Marshal Voroshilov, the central by Marshal Timoshenko, and the southern by Marshal Budyonny.
  • In the morning and afternoon British heavy bombers attack military objectives in Northern France, the targets being a shipyard at Le Trait, on the Seine, and the railway yards at Hazebrouck. Nine enemy fighters are destroyed for a loss of four.

July 12, 1941

  • The armistice conference begins in Syria.
  • The Germans make sensational claims in a report of a wholesale onslaught on the Stalin Line. They say that they are standing immediately before Kiev, are advancing on Leningrad and have progressed 125 miles east of Minsk. The Russians maintain that there have been no significant changes on the whole front.
  • An agreement of far-reaching importance is reached between the British and Soviet Governments. They undertake to give each other mutual assistance and support against “the Hitlerite Government”, and neither will make a separate peace without the consent of the other.
  • Bremen is the chief target of our night bombers.

July 13, 1941

  • The Germans insist that they have pierced the Stalin Line in four vital sectors, and that the interior of Russia lies open to them. The Russians again maintain that there has been no significant change.
  • There is another heavy air attack on German shipping. Off Tripoli a convoy is bombed and the enemy loses a 7,000-ton ship and a three-masted schooner. Our night attack is again on military and industrial objectives in North-Western Germany. In Libya there are heavy raids on Bardia and Bengazi.

July 14, 1941

  • The Russians hold up the enemy offensive of tanks and motorised units and inflict heavy losses in repeated counter-attacks. In the western sector their troops and air force destroy about 100 tanks and a great number of enemy armoured-cars.
  • The war in Syria ends. In the evening armistice terms are signed which give us military control over the country for the duration.
  • Submarine successes reported from the Mediterranean include the sinking of the 5,000-ton Italian tanker, Strombo, a supply ship of about 5,500 tons, and a large sailing-vessel transporting troops and military stores.
  • Early in the morning Blenheim bombers attack the docks and shipping at Cherbourg and Le Havre. A ship of about 6,000 tons is hit and set on fire; another of the same tonnage is hit and left half-submerged in an attack on a convoy a vessel of 6,000 tons receives three direct hits, another of 3,000 tons and an escort vessel of 1,500 tons are hit. At night Bremen and Hanover are heavily attacked.
  • Air raid casualties in Britain in June were 399 killed and 461 seriously injured.

July 15, 1941

  • The Russians hit back hard in the Pskov area; German mechanised and motorised forces are surrounded and destroyed piecemeal, and the Russians make a heavy haul of booty. They hold their own in the other sectors and their air force again bomb places in Rumania, including the oil-fields at Ploesti.
  • The Prime Minister set at rest all doubts as to the exact relations between the Empire and Soviet Russia by explicitly describing them as “an alliance”.
  • The air offensive on Germany is steadily maintained. This time the R.A.F. concentrates on Duisburg and other parts of the Ruhr.

July 16, 1941

  • The R.A.F. have a great day. Early in the morning bombers play havoc with an enemy convoy of the coast of Tripolitania. An 8,000-ton ship is completely destroyed and another damaged in the bows. In the afternoon there is a daring raid on enemy ships in the docks at Rotterdam. Flying as low as 50 feet, our aircraft score direct hits on large vessels, including one of over 15,000 tons and many others ranging between 2,000 and 10,000 tons. A supply ship of about 3,500 tons is set on fire off the French coast. Late in the evening Beauforts sink a 6,000-ton tanker in the Channel. At night there are further visits to industrial areas in Hamburg and several other objectives in North-West Germany.
  • The entire Japanese cabinet resigns with a view to the formation of a fresh Government to deal with the international situation.
  • In Russia hard fighting continues in the Pskov, Smolensk, Bobruisk and Novograd-Volynsk sectors. The Russians bomb the Rumanian oil region, notably Ploesti and the ports of Sulina, Tulcea and Saccea. The Germans claim the capture of Smolensk.
  • There is another patrol operation from Tobruk which results in a deep penetration of the enemy lines.

July 17, 1941

  • Mr. Harry Hopkins, personal representative of President Roosevelt and in charge of the administration of the Lease-Lend Act, arrives in England again and makes history by attending a British cabinet meeting.
  • The fighting continues in Russia in the same areas but without significant change. The Germans make a grandiose announcement that 9,000,000 men are engaged in the critical struggle for a decision in the east.
  • Prince Konoye undertakes the formation of a new cabinet in Japan.
  • In air combats during the day five enemy fighters are destroyed for a loss of two. One Spitfire pilot brings down three. At night the main weight of the R.A.F. attack switches to Cologne.

July 18, 1941

  • Mr. Harry Hopkins reveals that America will build at least 6,000,000 tons of merchant shipping in 1942 and substantially more in 1943. As regards aeroplane production, America will turn out vastly increasing numbers of the heavy four-engined bombers “which can reach to the eastern most parts of Germany and knock out their factories and sources of supply.”
  • The Germans claim that their breach in the Stalin Line has extended eastwards beyond Smolensk. The Russians deny that any significant change has occurred on any of the fronts.
  • The Czechoslovak Republic and the U.S.S.R. conclude an agreement for mutual assistance in the present war.
  • Mr. Matsuoka is dropped from the new Japanese cabinet. He was violently pro-Axis, but he also engineered the Japan-Soviet Pact, and his exclusion may indicate a reversal of Japanese policy. Lord Halifax warns Japan that pressure of the struggle in Europe does not mean that we will allow our legitimate rights and interests in other parts of the world to be ignored or set aside.

July 19, 1941

  • The R.A.F. attack on enemy shipping reaches a climax. Two very successful attacks are made on escorted convoys. In all, eight ships, totalling about 48,000 tons, are badly damaged and probably destroyed. At night R.A.F. bombers concentrate on the industrial areas of Hanover; large fires are started which are visible for many miles.
  • The Bolivian Government discovers a German plot to install a Nazi regime and asks the German Minister to leave.

July 20, 1941

  • The fighting in Russia is still concentrated in the Polotsk-Nevel, Smolensk and Novograd-Volynsk areas, but there is no outstanding change in the general position.
  • Stalin becomes the supreme head of the Russian armies with Marshal Timoshenko as Vice-Commissar of Defence.
  • The air attack on shipping claims another victim, a tanker discovered between Le Touquet and Berck-sur-Mer. At night Cologne is the target.
  • The “V” campaign in the occupied countries is officially begun by a British broadcast and the Prime Minister sends an in augural message.
  • Some changes in the Government. Mr. Brendan Bracken takes Mr. Duff Cooper’s place at the Ministry of Information and Mr. R. A. Butler becomes President of the Board of Education.

July 21, 1941

  • The three main battlefields in Russia remain unchanged and there is no outstanding change in the situation. The Germans claim victory in the extreme south, but the boast is without foundation.
  • During the day R.A.F. bombers escorted by fighters carry out attacks on a factory at Lille and on enemy shipping off the French coast. At night an improvement in the weather enabled strong bomber formations to find and attack industrial targets in Frankfurt and Mannheim where a great deal of damage is done.
  • For a change the German bombers display some activity at night and cause a little damage at a few points in East Anglia.

July 22, 1941

  • All eyes are turned to the Far East. The Japanese Ambassador in Vichy has a meeting with Admiral Darlan and there is much evidence that Japan intends to occupy naval, military and air bases in French Indo-China.
  • To the main theatres of action on the Russian front are added Petrozavodsk in the Finnish sector where the Germans and Finns try both to cut the Murmansk railway and to cut in behind Leningrad from the north. The effort is held up.
  • In the afternoon Blenheim bombers attack and damage the ship building yards at Le Trait on the Seine, where German submarines are built. At night severe thunderstorms do not prevent the R.A.F. from delivering heavy attacks on Frankfurt and Mannheim. The docks at Dunkirk, Rotterdam and Ostend are also bombed with good effect.

July 23, 1941

  • The Vichy Government announces that the Japanese have asked for military, naval and air bases in French Indo-China and that the request has been granted because France cannot by herself defend that part of her empire against aggression such as she had experienced in Syria. In the House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary specifically denies the ridiculous suggestion that we have any designs on Indo-China or Thailand.
  • The Germans make little progress on any of the fronts in Russia. The Russians deny that Smolensk is in enemy hands and report an attack by their destroyers and bombers on German transports in the Baltic; ten German ships are destroyed. Moscow is bombed by the Germans for the third night in succession but without doing much damage.
  • R.A.F. bombers have further success in their daylight attacks on enemy shipping and also bomb objectives near St. Omer. A daylight attack is made on the Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen at Brest and the Scharnhorst which is discovered to have moved down the coast to La Pallice.
  • An important British convoy passing through the Mediterranean has a lively passage. Escorted by the Renown and the Ark Royal, among other ships, it is attacked by torpedo-carrying aircraft and high-level bombers. The onslaught is abortive but the destroyer H.M.S. Fearless is hit and has to be sunk.

July 24, 1941

  • The attack on the three German warships is continued; “Fortress” bombers, operating from the stratosphere, are also employed and heavy damage is inflicted on the two German battle-cruisers. The enemy losses are 33 fighters and our losses are 15 bombers and seven fighters.
  • In Russia there is stubborn fighting in the areas of Porkhov, Smolensk and Jitomir. The Russians destroy the German 5th Infantry Division.
  • At night the R.A.F. drops heavy loads of bombs on naval objectives at Kiel and Emden; smaller forces attack Wilhelmshaven and the docks at Rotterdam.
  • The Mediterranean convoy is attacked both by E-boats and from the air. One ship in the convoy is hit but carries on under her own power. One cruiser and one destroyer are damaged. One E-boat is sunk and at least 12 Italian and German aircraft are destroyed.

July 25, 1941

  • The Russians make a series of counter-attacks against the Smolensk wedge; the Germans claim that they are being beaten off, but the fact remains that neither here nor elsewhere are they making any noticeable progress.
  • Japanese assets are “frozen” throughout the British Empire as reprisals for the Japanese seizure of French Indo-China. Mr. Anthony Eden tells the House of Commons that the Japanese action is a potential threat to our territories and interests in the Far East and we are in close communication with the American and Dutch Governments.
  • At night the R.A.F. offensive is concentrated on Hanover and Hamburg but a small force of 4-engine bombers attacks Berlin, which has been left in peace since 2nd June.
  • An Indian patrol carries out a daring raid from Tobruk in the course of which enemy garrisons are ejected from four strong points and sustain considerable casualties.

July 26, 1941

  • Early in the morning a number of enemy E-boats and torpedo-carrying craft try to enter the harbour of Malta; none of them succeeds and it is believed that not one of the assailants escapes destruction.
  • The Germans make claims to have destroyed various large formations on the Russian front but their progress is nil.

July 27, 1941

  • Mr. Harry Hopkins. President Roosevelt’s personal representative, in a broadcast talk to the British nation, says that no enemy action can stop the ceaseless tide of ships coming here daily.
  • The United States Government freezes Japanese assets and virtually brings Japan’s trade with America to a standstill.
  • The German thrusts in Russia are still being held in the four vital sectors. In their counter-action in the Smolensk area the Russians destroy two German divisions.
  • Bombing weather is decidedly unfavourable but a small force attacks the docks at Dunkirk and there is much mining of enemy waters. After a long spell of tranquillity London is raided by German bombers.

July 28, 1941

  • Being in no position to announce further progress the Germans are reduced to proclaiming that the Battle of Smolensk is ending with the annihilation of vast but unspecified Russian formations. They make a mass raid on Moscow with between 140 and 150 aircraft but the Russians say that only four or five get through the defences and that very little damage is done.
  • The R.A.F. achieves a brilliant success in an attack on aerodromes in Sicily. Without losing a single aircraft it destroys 34 enemy aircraft of various types and damages many others.

July 29, 1941

  • An attack on our shipping off Cyrenaica by German dive-bombers escorted by fighters costs the enemy four Ju. 87’s and two fighters.
  • In the course of a brilliant speech devoted in the main to our progress in war production the Prime Minister again emphasises our peril from invasion. “We have to reckon with the gambler’s desperation. We stand here still the champions. If we fail all fails.” Mr. Eden says that Hitler is desperately trying to keep his promise to the German people that the war shall end this year in a victorious German peace. He will make a peace offer, and probably it will be plausible and look enticing, but we state in advance that “we are not interested in any peace terms that Hitler and his Government may put forward.”
  • There is little change on the Eastern Front but the Germans claim that the Rumanians have “liberated” the whole of Bessarabia.
  • Finland breaks off diplomatic relations with Great Britain.

July 30, 1941

  • British air power strikes in a new area. Naval aircraft, working from an aircraft-carrier, attack German shipping and installations in the harbours of Kirkenes and Petsamo in Northern Scandinavia. The German warship Bremse is twice hit. In the Heligoland Bight four ships of a convoy are sunk or damaged. At night there are heavy attacks on industrial targets in the Aachen and Cologne areas, the harbour at Bengazi and encampments at Bardia.
  • In Russia, further stiff fighting in the Novorzhev, Nevel, Smolensk and Jitomar sections has no outstanding result. German aircraft fail in three attempts to bomb Leningrad by daylight.
  • Mr. Eden refers to the various economic steps which have been taken against Japan and adds that lie cannot believe that statesmanship in that country is entirely dead or blind; he hopes that her statesmen will pause before it is too late.

July 31, 1941

  • Fighting continues without significant result in the same areas on the Russian front, but the Germans claim some success in the Ukraine where the Russian Commander, Marshal Budyenny, issues a stirring appeal to the civil population to create chaos behind the German lines. The Russians sink a German destroyer in the Baltic.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack shipping in the harbour at Messina and also the harbour of Bengazi and its installations. Fleet Air Arm aircraft attack an enemy convoy in the Central Mediterranean and one ship is apparently hit by torpedoes.

AUGUST 1941

August 1, 1941

  • The 3rd Canadian Division reaches its quarters in England after crossing the Atlantic in a convoy of record size.
  • Blenheim bombers, escorted by fighters, attack enemy vessels in convoy off the Belgian coast. Two ships are straddled and a 2,000 tons vessel is left burning and sinking. Enemy shipping is also attacked at Lampedusa Island. At night there is a heavy attack on enemy-occupied aerodromes on the island of Crete.
  • President Roosevelt says that the Russian resistance is magnificent and “frankly better than any military expert in Germany thought it would be.”
  • The day is comparatively undramatic on the Russian front, though in the Smolensk sector the German 137th Infantry Division is completely routed.
  • In the Mediterranean British destroyers enter the roadstead of Alghero and the harbour of Porto Conte in Sardinia. The seaplane slipway and hangars at Porto Conte are severely damaged by gunfire. At Alghero the aerodrome is bombarded and this is followed by an attack by naval aircraft

August 2, 1941

  • By daylight a large number of German dive-bombers attack naval vessels off the north coast of Africa. Four German bombers and a fighter are destroyed. Our fighters carry out many offensive patrols over Northern France and Fortress aircraft drop bombs on the docks at Kiel. Maryland bombers of the South African Air Force bomb enemy gun positions in the Tobruk area. At night objectives in Berlin are bombed in one of the heaviest attacks yet made on the city. Simultaneous attacks are made on Hamburg, Kiel and the dock area at Cherbourg.
  • There is no change in the Russian situation except in the Ukraine, where the Germans press forward south-east of Kiev, and there is fierce fighting at Bielaya Tserkov. The Russians report successes against a convoy in the Baltic; it was turned back with the loss of one transport and one torpedo-boat sunk, while other vessels were damaged.

August 3, 1941

  • Mr. Sumner Welles describes Vichy’s surrender of Indo-China to Japan as of direct importance to the vital problem of American security. President Roosevelt leaves for a cruise in his yacht Potomac.
  • The Admiralty announces that an Italian 6-in. gun cruiser, either the Eugenio di Savoia or the Emmanuele Filiberto Duca d' Aosta, has been attacked and torpedoed by one of our submarines in the Mediterranean.
  • Heavy fighting still continues west and south of Kiev. The Russians report an engagement between 300 tanks in which the Germans lose at least 100. The Germans again raid Moscow at night and the Russians make a heavy attack on the Rumanian port of Constanza.
  • Weather is unfavourable for night bombing but there are attacks on industries and communications at Hanover and Frankfurt-am-Main. A large number of Italian fighters are destroyed on the ground at Reggio.
  • There are also vigorous air operations in Libya, the objectives being shipping in Tripoli harbour, the port of Derna and landing grounds at Gazala and Martuba.

August 4, 1941

  • The Japanese intrusion into French Indo-China has further important reactions. Mr. Cordell Hull describes it as proof of a long-planned resolve to dominate the world by force. The Australian Minister for the Army says that Australia must continue her preparations in the light of events and Major-General Sir Iven Mackay is appointed Commander-in-Chief in Australia.
  • The South African Air Force in the Middle East again distinguishes itself by heavy attacks on the enemy landing grounds at Gazala and Tmimi, the harbour at Bengazi and the port area at Derna.

August 5, 1941

  • Sergeant James Allen Ward, of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, is awarded the Victoria Cross for extinguishing a fire in a bomber by crawling along the starboard wing.
  • In Russia the main centre of interest is still in the Ukraine though the Germans in the northern sector reach out farther cast by pushing through to Kholm, representing a potential threat to both Leningrad and Moscow.
  • A Russian submarine in the Baltic sinks an enemy transport with troops and munitions on board, and Russian naval aircraft attack a Finnish harbour and destroy a Finnish transport.
  • A gale of wind at night does not prevent a large force of our bombers from attacking objectives at Mannheim, Frankfurt and Karlsruhe with conspicuous success. Factories and railways at Aachen and the docks at Ostend were other targets.

August 6, 1941

  • The Fleet Air Arm catches an enemy convoy of six merchant vessels, escorted by six destroyers, off the island of Lampedusa, at night. Two vessels, totalling 14,000 tons, are sunk. At night our bombers in unfavourable weather deliver attacks on Frankfurt Karlsruhe, and Mannheim.
  • The Germans publish a review of their achievements to date in which they claim that the so-called Stalin Line has been broken in three areas, south of the Pripet Marshes, in the direction of Smolensk and south of Lake Peipus. The figures given for Russian losses are truly staggering - 4,000,000, of which 3,000,000 are killed.
  • The British Foreign Minister issues another warning to Japan that any action against the independence of Thailand would be regarded as threatening our imperial security.

August 7, 1941

  • At night a great weight of the heaviest bombs is dropped on the armament factories of Essen, Dortmund, Hamm, and the docks at Boulogne are also attacked.
  • Blenheim bombers carry on the good work against the rest of the enemy convoy in the Mediterranean; another 8,000-ton ship is hit, and probably sunk, and a ship of 6,000 tons is hit and badly damaged.
  • The centres of the fighting in Russia are Kexholm, on Lake Ladoga, Kholm, Smolensk, and Bielaya Tserkov. Though the Germans claim that the mighty Smolensk battle has ended in their favour, it is plain that their initial plan of a violent onrush straight to Moscow has been frustrated. But they are securing an important success in the Ukraine.
  • The Japanese officially deny that they have any aggressive designs against Thailand or that Anglo-American fears have any real basis.

August 8, 1941

  • The liner Georgic is damaged by enemy action, but there is only one casualty and she was carrying no troops.
  • The Russians issue an official reply to the fantastic German claims made on 6th August as to their losses in men and material. They say that the German losses in men are 1,500,000 against their own of about 600,000; in tanks 6,000 against the Russian 5,000; in guns 8,000 against the Russian 7,000; in aircraft 6,000 against the Russian 4,000.
  • The heaviest fighting in Russia is in the sectors of Leningrad and the Ukraine. The Germans make no progress in the former but meet with some success in the latter, and in fact claim that they have captured the 6th Soviet Army intact.
  • At night, R.A.F. bombers carry out sustained and accurate bombing of the docks and shipyards at Kiel and enormous fires are left burning. Hamburg is also attacked.

August 9, 1941

  • It is announced that a Dutch submarine, operating with the British Navy, sank an enemy supply ship in the Mediterranean and severely damaged an auxiliary.
  • There is great aerial activity both by day and night in the west. In the morning fighters escort Blenheim bombers, which bomb objectives on the coast near Gravelines. In the afternoon there are several fighters sweeps over the Channel and Northern France. In all 18 German fighters are destroyed for a loss of 10. In North Africa there are air attacks on barracks, blockhouses, motor transport vehicles, and petrol trailers, and at night gun repair shops at Bardia and enemy landing-grounds at Gazala come in for attention.
  • An Italian attack on one of our posts of the Tobruk defences is beaten off and hardly a man escapes.

August 10, 1941

  • It is announced that the destroyer H.M.S Defender has been sunk, but there was no loss of life.
  • The Prime Minister and President Roosevelt meet on board the battleship Prince of Wales, presumably somewhere off the Canadian coast. The two statesmen also confer on the United States cruiser Augusta, which has brought the President from America.
  • Her Majesty the Queen broadcasts to the American people a message of gratitude for all their sympathy and help.
  • The British and Soviet Governments give Turkey a formal assurance that they have no aggressive designs or claims with regard to the Dardanelles and offer her every help and assistance in the event of her being attacked by a European Power.
  • The Russians have suffered a heavy reverse in the centre of their Ukrainian front and it appears to involve a general withdrawal to the eastern bank of the Dnieper. They bomb Berlin at night for the third time.

August 11, 1941

  • The German thrust into the Western Ukraine makes further progress and brings them comparatively close to the famous Black Sea ports of Odessa and Nikolaiev. Elsewhere there is no noteworthy change in the situation. The Russians accomplish a very striking and valuable feat by a most destructive air attack on the great Chernovody railway bridge and pipe-line in Rumania. They also bomb Berlin again, all their aircraft returning safely.
  • Our night bombers extend their activities to Krefeld, Rheydt, and Muenchen-Gladbach. Rotterdam docks are also bombed. Soviet aircraft also bomb Berlin.
  • In the Mediterranean area our bombers successfully attack the chemical works at Crotone, in Southern Italy, leaving the whole objective a mass of flames. In Libya there are further attacks on the landing grounds at Gazala, military buildings at Bardia and the mole at Derna.

August 12, 1941

  • The R.A.F. carries out its heaviest and most dramatic daylight raid. Six squadrons of Blenheims attack the great Cologne power stations at Quadrath and Knapsack. A great number of direct hits are made and the targets are left in flames. Twelve Blenheims and eight fighters are lost.
  • Marshal Petain gives Admiral Darlan supreme power under him as Minister for War, the Navy, the Air, and the Colonies. General Weygand is thus placed under his orders.
  • Air activity in North Africa suggests that a German attack on Egypt may be in prospect. The R.A.F. and South African Air Force keep up a ceaseless attack on the likely bases and Tripoli, Bardia, and Derna are heavily bombed at night.

August 13, 1941

  • The Russians admit the evacuation of Smolensk some days ago. The Germans press on from the Uman district towards the Black Sea ports of Odessa and Nikolaiev. A Russian submarine sinks a 15,000-ton German tanker in the Baltic.
  • Useful work is done by British bombers in the Mediterranean area. There is another attack on the Corinth Canal which renders it unusable for some time to come. Tripoli is attacked again and Fleet Air Arm aircraft raid the submarine base at Augusta and barrack blocks at Syracuse.

August 14, 1941

  • News of the meeting of the Prime Minister with President Roosevelt in the Atlantic is given by Mr. Attlee in the House of Commons. He says that they have agreed a statement of common principles as to their aims in the conflict and put forward eight points as the bases of the future peace.
  • In the Western Ukraine the Germans make further progress. They isolate Odessa and push forward towards the lower Dnieper, capturing the iron ore district of Krivoi Rog. But their claim that Russian resistance in this sector has collapsed is an attempt to conceal the truth that Marshal Budyenny is successfully withdrawing his armies and evading encirclement.
  • In day light air battles over the French coast fourteen enemy fighters are shot down for a loss of five. Three Polish squadrons greatly distinguish themselves. No less than 300 British bombers take part in night raids in which the main targets are industries and communications at Hanover, Brunswick and Magdeburg. Twelve of our aircraft are lost. There is an important success in the Mediterranean area also. Fleet Air Arm aircraft attack a convoy of five merchant vessels escorted by destroyers. One ship of 6,000 tons, another of 3,000 tons and a destroyer are sunk. Shipping in Catania and the harbour of Augusta are bombed.

August 15, 1941

  • It is announced that the Prime Minister and President Roosevelt have sent a message to M. Stalin in which they suggest that a conference should be held in Moscow for joint consideration of supply questions.
  • In a broadcast speech to the American Army Mr. Stimson says: “We have good reason to believe that Germany will attempt a major advance in Africa.”
  • A Polish-Russian Military Agreement is signed providing for the formation of a Polish army in Soviet Russia. There is little change on the Russian front though the Germans get to grips with the problem of capturing Odessa.
  • Blenheim bombers hit two tankers and two schooners between Tripoli and Bengazi; one tanker blows up and the other is set on fire. At night heavy bombers of the R.A.F. raid Catania in Sicily, bombing the Central Mole, the railway station, Customs buildings and warehouses, causing one large fire and many smaller ones. In Libya the aerodromes of Berka and Benina and the ports of Bardia and Bengazi are raided. The enemy raids Malta four times during the night but only very minor damage is done.

August 16, 1941

  • In day light air operations over Northern France railway communications and an aerodrome near St. Omer are bombed. Fortress aircraft drop bombs on the docks at Brest. At night considerable forces of Bomber Command aircraft heavily bomb objectives in Cologne, Duesseldorf and Duisburg. Addressing a Bomber Group, the Secretary of State for Air tells them that it is the Bomber Command which is “going to smash the war industries of Germany and break the will to win of the German people.”
  • German bombers make a heavy but unsuccessful attack on one of our convoys; there are no casualties in the ships and one bomber is destroyed, two others being severely damaged.

August 17, 1941

  • The German advance in the Western Ukraine at last yields something more tangible than hitherto. The Russians evacuate the port of Nikolaiev on the Black Sea after blowing up the docks. The Germans make much of capturing a large warship on the stocks but it is announced that she has not yet had her engines put in. In the Black Sea Russian submarines sink two large Rumanian transports and bomb the oil centre of Ploesti.
  • The British and Soviet Governments make strong representations to the Iran Government about the number of Germans in important positions in Iran.
  • A force of over 100 R.A.F. bombers carry out night attacks on West and North-West Germany, the main objectives being the port of Bremen and industrial districts at Duisburg. There is a highly successful attack on an enemy convoy in the Mediterranean. A tanker and two merchant ships are sunk or disabled.

August 18, 1941

  • It is announced that the Anglo-American proposal for a joint conference in Moscow has been accepted by the Soviet Government and that a large trade agreement has been signed between Britain and Russia where by each country supplies the most important war materials which the other urgently requires.
  • On the Russian front activity in the Leningrad region flares up again. The Germans capture Kingisepp on the Tallinn-Leningrad railway. In the Baltic Russian torpedo-boats and aircraft sink a German submarine and two transports.
  • The Prime Minister arrives back in this country on his return from the meeting with President Roosevelt.
  • In daylight Blenheim bombers sink three patrol vessels off the Dutch coast and bomb an industrial plant at Lille and other targets.

August 19, 1941

  • The Prime Minister arrives back in London and receives an enthusiastic welcome. It is revealed that he travelled on the new battleship Prince of Wales and called at Iceland on his way home.
  • The Germans press forward towards Leningrad and there is a fierce fight for the town of Novgorod. An enemy attack on Odessa is beaten off. A particularly violent battle rages in the vicinity of Gomel.
  • In daylight Blenheim bombers attack the railway yards at Flazebrouck and shipping off the Dutch coast.
  • In bad weather R.A.F. bombers attack Kiel and other objectives in North-West Germany while fighters raid aerodromes in enemy-occupied territory.

August 20, 1941

  • The Germans achieve a substantial success at Gomel, in the centre of the Russian front. Their claim of 80,000 prisoners captured is no doubt exaggerated but it is clear that the Russians have suffered a local reverse. The Russian Information Bureau announces that the German losses to date amount to nearly 2,000,000.
  • The Australian Parliament holds a secret session to discuss the project of sending Mr. Menzies to represent the Dominion for the duration.
  • In a daylight attack Blenheim aircraft bomb the aerodrome at Alkmaar, in Holland.

August 21, 1941

  • German submarines make a concerted attack on a British convoy of 21 ships in the Bay of Biscay. Three ships are lost.
  • The proposed visit of the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, to London leads to a deadlock in the Dominion. The Labour Party is strongly opposed to the step. The Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, arrives in London on a visit to this country. He says that he does not favour the idea of an Imperial War Cabinet.
  • Three attacks on enemy-occupied territory are made by bombers, escorted by fighters. Direct hits are obtained on an iron and steel works at Ijmuiden and industrial targets and railway communications in the St. Omer and Bethune areas are bombed.
  • In Russia, fierce battles continue in the region of Kingisepp, Novgorod and Gomel. Marshal Voroshilov issues a stirring summons to the people of Leningrad to rise as one man and emulate the example of their brothers in the front line.

August 22, 1941

  • The submarine attack is renewed at night on the convoy in the Bay of Biscay and four more ships are sunk. The total loss is seven ships, of about 11,000 tons, but the Germans promptly announce the destruction of the entire convoy which they say amounts to over 140,000 tons.
  • Lord Halifax, British Ambassador in Washington, returns home for a short visit.
  • President Roosevelt, replying to a criticism that not one tank had yet reached the British, says that hundreds of modern designs have been sent.
  • The Russian main fighting is still in the same areas. Soviet bombers destroy three German transports and damage others at a Rumanian port in the Black Sea.
  • The main objective of our night attack is the industrial town of Mannheim but subsidiary attacks are made on the harbour at Le Havre and the docks at Ostend and Dunkirk.

August 23, 1941

  • In a further attack on Tripoli heavy bombers of the R.A.F. drop nearly 20 tons of bombs on the docks and on supply and petrol dumps. Two schooners and an escort vessel are sunk in the Gulf of Sirte.
  • On the Russian front the Soviet army of General Koniev delivers a highly successful counter-stroke in the central area and the enemy’s attempt to capture Odessa leads to a useless holocaust. The 3rd Rumanian Division is practically destroyed.

August 24, 1941

  • The fighting in Russia is fiercest in the areas of Kexholm, in Finland, Novgorod, south of Leningrad, and Dnepropetrovsk, in the Ukraine. In the Baltic four German transports are destroyed by Russian naval forces. In a heavy attack on Odessa the Rumanian forces receive a terrible mauling. The 5th Rumanian infantry division loses nearly 9,000 men in killed and wounded and severe losses are suffered by the 7th Rumanian infantry division which is systematically bombed by Soviet air squadrons.
  • The Russians bring down 63 German aircraft during the day.
  • Bombing operations at night are still restricted by bad weather but communications and industrial objectives at Duesseldorf are sharply attacked.
  • The Prime Minister makes one of his historic speeches in a broadcast to the nation. Speaking of the magnificent Russian resistance, he says: “the aggressor is surprised, startled, staggered; for the first time in his experience mass-murder has become unprofitable.”

August 25, 1941

  • The Iranian Government’s reply to the request to remove Germans having been unsatisfactory, Soviet and British troops enter the country at many points. There is slight resistance in some areas, but the Russians in particular make a rapid advance from the north. The Soviet Government reveals that the Germans in Iran were planning a military coup d’état.
  • On the Russian front the main focus of interest is Estonia where the Germans concentrate round the naval base of Tallinn. But the pressure against Leningrad is kept up and after fierce fighting the Soviet troops evacuate Novgorod. In the Ukraine the Germans continue their advance to the Dnieper and capture the town of Dnepropetrovsk. The Luftwaffe has another bad day in the east; 93 German aircraft are brought down for a loss of 18 Soviet aircraft.

August 26, 1941

  • The Australian Labour Party again declines to take part in a Coalition Government and calls upon Mr. Menzies to resign and let a Labour Government take over. Mr. Menzies declines.
  • The R.A.F. gives an excellent demonstration of what it can do in broad daylight. In the morning Blenheims attack a convoy off the German Frisian Islands; in the afternoon another convoy is dealt with off the Dutch coast and enemy patrol vessels are bombed. Many ships are sunk or burnt.
  • The Soviet and British forces make rapid advances into Iran. While one British column penetrates towards Kermanshah other forces take steps to secure the oil producing areas in the south. Airborne troops are also employed and landings are made at points on the Persian Gulf. The British and Soviet Governments inform the Turkish Government that they have no designs on the independence or integrity of Iran.
  • On the Eastern Front the Germans claim the isolation and destruction of the 22nd Soviet Army east of Velikie Lugi in the Leningrad area.
  • The position in Libya is warming up. Tripoli harbour and dumps near the town are again heavily bombed and further attacks are made on Beneazi and Bardia.

August 27, 1941

  • Laval and Marcel Déat, editor of L’ Oeuvre, are shot at and severely wounded in Paris by an alleged Communist, Paul Colette.
  • Referring to a Japanese protest against American shipments of oil to Vladivostok, Mr. Cordell Hull says that America will maintain her point of view with regard to the freedom of the seas.
  • The British advance into Iran continues and the oil region around Abadan is effectively secured.
  • On the Russian front there is little change except at Tallinn and Viipuri where German and Finnish attacks are intensified and both towns are in danger.
  • There are fierce fighter combats over Northern France during the day and at night R.A.F. bombers carry out a heavy raid, the forty-seventh, on Mannheim. Bengazi harbour and the port of Bardia are attacked.

August 28, 1941

  • The Iranian Government orders a cessation of hostilities and opposition by the Iranian Army is abandoned. The Russian forces occupy Urmia.
  • Mr. Menzies resigns and is succeeded as Premier of the Commonwealth by Mr. Fadden.
  • The Russians evacuate Dnepropetrovsk and announce that they have blown up the great dam over the Dnieper. They destroy 41 German aeroplanes for a loss of 23, make a successful raid on Koenigsberg and sink two German transports in the Baltic. The Germans capture Tallinn, which is evacuated by the Russians in order to concentrate more troops for the defence of Leningrad. The Germans also claim the capture of nearly 12,000 prisoners and just under 300 guns and that many Russian warships and transports are sunk in their mine-fields while trying to escape towards Leningrad.
  • The initiation of discussions between the United States and Japan advances a step further when President Roosevelt meets the Japanese Ambassador to receive a personal letter from Prince Konoye.
  • “Target for To-night” is Duisburg, where a heavy and successful attack is made on industrial objectives. In the afternoon Blenheim bombers, escorted by Spitfires, bomb the docks at Rotterdam from a very low level. Many ships are hit, both in the docks and building slipways.

August 29, 1941

  • The Germans announce that there has been a meeting between Hitler and Mussolini in the course of a tour by the latter of the front in Russia. The German attack on Leningrad makes slow if costly progress but, in the centre, General Koniev’s counter-attack towards Gomel achieves a degree of success which brings him special congratulations from Marshal Timoshenko. The Germans have a particularly bad day in the air, for the Russians shoot down 125 of their aircraft for the loss of only 24.
  • The fighter battles over Northern France continue and there is many a stern contest, as the Germans have increased the number of Messerschmitts employed. R.A.F. bombers carry out a particularly effective raid on Tripoli. Two ships, of 8,000 tons and 5,000 tons, are hit and set on fire. Another ship is hit, great fires are started on the Karamanli Mole, and a petrol dump explodes.

August 30, 1941

  • Bad weather restricts night bombing operations which are confined to attacks on the docks at Cherbourg and ground defences near the Dutch coast.
  • On the Russian front the Finns capture Viipuri and the Russian counter-attack makes further progress in the central sector.
  • There are further heavy R.A.F. raids on Tripoli, where the quays and ships are bombed. Aerodromes on the island of Rhodes are also attacked.

August 31, 1941

  • In the course of frequent sweeps over occupied territory bombs are dropped on industrial targets in the Lille area, on the German aerodrome at Lannion in Brittany, on railway communications at several points and on the shipbuilding yards at Le Trait, near Rouen. A Fortress aircraft on reconnaissance bombs objectives at Bremen. At night Germany gets a heavy battering from both sides. British bombers attack objectives in the Ruhr and Rhineland, principally in the Essen and Cologne districts. The Russians raid Berlin, Koenigsberg, Danzig and Memel. Libya again feels the weight of the R.A.F. The harbour and shipping at Tripoli, aerodrome buildings at Mellaha, shipping at Bengazi, and other objectives are bombed.
  • Recent submarine successes in the Mediterranean include an attack on three Italian light cruisers, the sinking of a schooner laden with oil, a supply ship of 4,000 tons, another vessel of some 2,000 tons, and the probable sinking of a 4,000-ton tanker.
  • President Roosevelt makes a stirring speech on America’s Labour Day. He says that “the task of defeating Hitler may be long and arduous. There are a few appeasers and Nazi sympathisers who say it cannot be done.” But America will do everything in her power to crush Hitler and his Nazi forces.

SEPTEMBER 1941

September 1, 1941

  • The Russians issue an interesting summary of their achievement to date. The Germans have lost more than 2,000,000 men in killed and wounded. In three weeks alone the Russians have eliminated 12 German tank regiments, 37 infantry divisions, 8 motorised divisions, 3 S.S. divisions.
  • The R.A.F. objective at night is Cologne but the attack is not on a heavy scale.

September 2, 1941

  • The centre of interest in the Russian theatre is Leningrad, to which the Germans have drawn closer by taking Luga and cutting another railway line running south-east from the capital. A fierce and concentrated assault upon the city is in progress.
  • Beaufort aircraft attack an enemy convoy off the Norwegian coast, hitting and probably destroying the largest vessel. A Fortress aircraft bombs the port of Bremen.
  • The bombardment of industrial Germany is maintained with heavy attacks on Frankfurt, Berlin and Mannheim.
  • The Government of Iran accepts the Anglo-Soviet terms which include the occupation of a south-western area by British forces and of a north-western area by Soviet forces.

September 3, 1941

  • The land fighting on the Russian front produces no significant change. The Russians have a good day in the air, bringing down no less than 56 German planes.
  • Recent rumours that Finland might be prepared for peace with Russia now that she has recovered her national territory are dispelled by an order issued by Field-Marshal Mannerheim in which he says that Finland must fight on.
  • First trials of Zyklon B poison gas (on Soviet POW’s) as a weapon of mass destruction at the Auschwitz death camp.

September 4, 1941

  • It is announced that the cruiser Hermione recently cut in half an Italian submarine which was attempting to “crash” dive.
  • The Berlin press reaches unprecedented heights of fury over the R.A.F.’s biggest raid on the capital on 2nd September. Meanwhile the good work goes on. During the day Blenheim bombers, strongly escorted by fighters, attack an industrial plant at Mazingarbe, near Bethune, and the docks at Cherbourg. Tripoli and many other objectives in Libya are also heavily bombed.
  • The first American shots of World War II - The German submarine U-652 tries to torpedo the American destroyer U.S.S. Greer in the Atlantic. The first attack on a U.S naval vessel by German forces. The destroyer immediately attacks the submarine with depth charges, thus being the first American unit to engage in action in WW2. In defiance of the known facts, the German Government maintains that the Greer attacked first.
  • During the day the Soviet artillery kills at least 15,000 German officers and men and destroys over 100 guns.
  • Leningrad is still outside the German grip. In a non-stop day and night battle the enemy’s advance is held and the city’s communications with the outside world are kept open. The Russians deny the German claim to have captured the important junction of Briansk. The Russians bring down 61 enemy planes.
  • A tanker bringing the first American oil for Russia arrives at Vladivostok, the Japanese having taken 110 action to stop it.

September 5, 1941

  • In Libya heavy bombers hit a merchantman in an attack on Tripoli and destroy or damage aircraft on the ground and motor transport at various aerodromes.
  • We have had important submarine successes in the Mediterranean. An enemy cruiser of the 10,000-ton class, armed with 8-in. guns, has been hit and seriously damaged. A large liner of over 20,000 tons has been torpedoed and almost certainly sunk. A tanker and a supply ship of about 8,000 tons have been sent to the bottom and severe damage has been done to the supply ship Aquitania of nearly 5,000 tons. President Roosevelt, speaking of the attack on the Greer, says that more than one attack was made and that every effort had been and would be made to destroy the submarine.

September 6, 1941

  • Fortress aircraft attack enemy shipping in Oslo harbour and are reported incidentally to have driven the notorious Major Quisling to cover. At night our heavy bombers raid the important synthetic rubber factory at Huls in the Rhineland. Coastal Command aircraft set a Norwegian fish oil factory on fire.
  • In the Mediterranean area the Fleet Air Arm gets two ships out of three in a protected convoy. Bengazi and other objectives in Libya are bombed and a most successful attack is made on aerodromes in Sicily where a number of aircraft on the ground suffer damage, if not destruction.
  • It is announced that the Australian Commonwealth is sending the Minister of Commerce, Sir Earle Page, on a mission to London.
  • All Jews in Germany over the age of 6 are ordered to wear a yellow Star of David.

September 7, 1941

  • In the course of unremitting and hard slogging on the Russian front there is no change in the situation except in the Leningrad area, where German armoured forces, with support from the Luftwaffe, capture the town of Schluesselburg on Lake Lagoda and reach the River Neva. They claim that the ring round Leningrad is thus complete, but the Russians deny it. The Russians report the capture of a German submarine in the Barents Sea.
  • On the anniversary of the first big German raids on London the R.A.F. carries out a very heavy attack in great strength on Berlin. A huge fire in the Alexander Platz is caused and immense havoc is wrought among buildings, factories, warehouses and railway yards. Kiel too is not forgotten.

September 8, 1941

  • It is announced that British submarines have sunk the Italian liner Esperia, of over 11,000 tons, and a ship of the Ramb class, of just under 4,000 tons.
  • A mixed Canadian, British and Norwegian force was recently landed in Spitzbergen to prevent the enemy from using the rich coal mines there. This object was effected without opposition and, in addition, a large number of Norwegian miners with their families were brought away to this country.
  • The Russians announce the conclusion of a highly successful operation in the central sector resulting in the recapture of the town of Yelnya and the dispersal of eight enemy divisions.
  • German long-range guns shell the Dover area at night during operations in which an enemy convoy of two supply ships, strongly escorted, is intercepted by our patrols. Both ships were torpedoed and one was sunk.
  • During the day a fighter destroys an anti-aircraft ship and small enemy ships are damaged in the Channel. Two Fortress aircraft do not return from a long-distance reconnaissance flight. There is a very heavy raid on Cassel at night.

September 9, 1941

  • The submarine HMS P 33 (Lt. Reginald Denis Whiteway-Wilkinson, D.S.C., R.N.) is reported lost.
  • It is announced that a Hudson aircraft of Coastal Command recently attacked a German submarine in the Atlantic, forcing it to the surface. The U-boat was captured intact and brought to this country.
  • The Iranian Government accepts the Soviet and British terms, which include the closing of enemy legations and the surrender of German nationals.
  • The chief points in an important review of the war situation by the Prime Minister are the improvement in the Battle of the Atlantic, the enormous damage to German and Italian shipping and the immense German losses in Russia.

September 10, 1941

  • After a nine months’ interval the R.A.F. visit Northern Italy at night. A very heavy attack is made by our biggest bombers on the royal arsenal at Turin and other targets. In the Mediterranean area Messina is bombed and in Libya the harbour of Bengazi and various aerodromes are plastered.
  • The battle for Leningrad rages fiercely without any noteworthy change in the position, but in the central sector Marshal Timoshenko makes further progress westwards after his victory at Yelnya.
  • It is made known that in the course of a visit to the Middle East General Wavell has conferred with Russian staff officers in Iran.

September 11, 1941

  • In a broadcast to the American nation President Roosevelt makes an historic pronouncement. Referring to the Greer and other incidents he says that it is a Nazi design to acquire absolute control and domination of the seas for themselves and that “Nazi submarines are the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic.” He therefore warned Germany and Italy that henceforth their warships would at their peril enter waters deemed part of the United States defence zone.
  • The Prime Minister says that hundreds of British fighters are being sent to Russia, many of which have arrived already.
  • Russia makes a strong protest to Bulgaria against allowing her territory to be used as a jumping-off ground for Axis military action against the Soviet Union.
  • The American-owned steamer S.S. Montana is torpedoed and sunk by a submarine between Greenland and Iceland. This act is presumed to be Hitler’s reply to President Roosevelt’s recent proclamation.
  • The R.A.F.’s main night attack is on Baltic ports, Rostock and Kiel, used by the Germans for their naval operations against the Russian Baltic fleet. During the day Blenheim bombers attack an enemy convoy off the Dutch coast, setting one of the larger ships on fire. During a German night attack on one of our North Sea convoys one ship of under 3,000 tons is damaged and H.M.S. Vimiera brings down a bomber.

September 12, 1941

  • While the stubborn struggle for Leningrad continues the Germans commence a new thrust south-east of Gomel. They reach the River Desna and the Russians evacuate the town of Chernigov. The threat to the rear of Kiev is thus intensified.
  • Romance seems to be one of Hitler’s chief answers to the American challenge. The Germans claim to have attacked a convoy and sunk 22 ships, totalling 134,000 tons!
  • To-night sees the conclusion of an attack begun on Thursday on an enemy convoy in the Central Mediterranean. Aircraft of the R.A.F. and the Fleet Air Arm probably destroy three merchant ships and not one of the ships in the convoy escapes damage.
  • Industrial objectives in the Rhineland and the docks at Cherbourg are the night targets.
Tanks prepared for inspection by the King
Lines of tanks which were prepared for inspection by the King during his visit to the
Eastern Command on 12th September 1941

September 13, 1941

  • Brest is the scene of the R.A.F. night attack and the battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau heavily bombed. Fighters attack several enemy aerodromes. In Libya heavy bombers raid Tripoli, Bengazi and Barce. Carrying the war nearer the vitals of Italy. Fleet Air Arm aircraft bomb Gerbini aerodrome in Sicily.
  • The great battle for Leningrad rages with undiminished fury. German and Rumanian troops make a mighty onslaught on Odessa but are beaten off with heavy loss. A German attempt to land on the island of Oesel is frustrated and four enemy transports are sunk. The Russian Air Force bombs Galatz, Sulina and Constanza, in Rumania.
  • There is a recrudescence of military activity in North Africa. During the night our patrols from Tobruk carry out a series of brilliant raids on the eastern sector. In retaliation, a strong enemy force with tank support overruns one of our posts but is dispersed by artillery fire and three tanks are captured.

September 14, 1941

  • A further German-Rumanian attempt to capture Odessa meets with an equally decisive repulse. At Leningrad the Germans claim to have penetrated through the outer belt of forts, but there is no corroboration on the Russian side.
  • On the Libyan frontier two enemy columns, starting from Solium, penetrate into the Western Desert in the direction of Sofafi. South African Air Force bombers attack them, dispersing motor transport and armoured fighting vehicles. Our fighters attack a large concentration of enemy aircraft on Gambut landing ground and destroy or badly damage a large number. This attack is renewed at night by Fleet Air Arm aircraft.

September 15, 1941

  • The magnificent defence of Leningrad still thwarts the gigantic enemy efforts but in the far south the Russians are less successful. The Germans force crossings of the Dnieper at various points and they make some progress eastwards, threatening the isolation of the Crimea.
  • Bulgaria is mobilising, giving rise to the belief that she intends to join the ranks of Russia’s enemies.
  • Excellent visibility over Hamburg gives the R.A.F. a fine opportunity for a shattering raid delivered with the full force of about 200 bombers. Other German ports, including Bremen, Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven, are also bombed.

September 16, 1941

  • This is the first day for the application of America’s new measures against the Axis pirates. From now on, in Colonel Knox’s words, “the American Navy will provide protection as adequate as we can make it for ships of every flag carrying Lease and Lend supplies between the American continent and waters adjacent to Iceland.”
  • The Shah of Iran abdicates.
  • The enemy stages a somewhat heavy raid on Cairo in which 39 people are killed and 93 injured. The main weight of the R.A.F.’s night attack falls on Carlsruhe.
  • The Germans make a concerted air attack on the Russian fortifications round Kiev; this is linked up with elaborate preparations to surround the city from the east. In the central sector the Russians complete a successful operation in driving the enemy back from Yurtsevo.

September 17, 1941

  • In spite of the most desperate efforts the capture of Leningrad still eludes the Germans. In his extremity General von Leeb scatters leaflets threatening to burn down the city if it is not surrendered. In the south German “armoured armies”, striking north from Kremenchug and south from Gomel, make very dangerous progress towards their junction.
  • It is a day of great activity in the air in the West. Very large numbers of our fighters appear over Northern France, operating both on their own and also on escort for Blenheim bombers which attack a power plant at Mazingarbe.
  • Daylight activity is also a feature of operations in the Mediterranean area. Munition factories at Licata, in Sicily, are raided, large buildings being hit and demolished.
  • Karlsruhe is the target of our night bombers and only one aircraft is lost.
  • Colonel Knox, the United States Secretary of the Navy, makes it clear that America will use convoys and many other methods to secure safe passage for Lease-Lend cargoes.
  • British and Russian troops reach the immediate vicinity of Teheran.
  • The Japanese Government protests to the Soviet against the presence of Russian floating mines in the Sea of Japan.
  • De Havilland Mosquiro W4055 of 1 P.R.U (Photographic Reconnaissance Unit) safely completed a reconnaissance mission to France. In which it easily outran 3 Messerschmitt Bf-109’s. This was the first operational sortie by the newly introduced aircraft.

September 18, 1941

  • In the Ukraine the Germans achieve perhaps the biggest success of the war when their forces east of Kiev join up, thus isolating large Russian forces in and round the city and ensuring its capture. In the Leningrad area successful Russian counter-attacks rob the Germans of some ground recently gained and give the defenders more room for manoeuvre.
  • The R.A.F. has another busy day over Northern France. A power station near Rouen is bombed and various ships are sunk or damaged. The only night target is Le Havre. In the recent engagement with enemy columns in the Western Desert, British and South African mechanised units have captured ten German tanks for the loss of one armoured car.
  • Allied troops occupy Teheran.
  • H.M. the King inspects the Third Canadian Division which recently arrived in this country.
  • British submarines attack a convoy of three large Italian liners which, heavily escorted, are carrying reinforcements to Libya. Two of the liners are sunk and the third is probably damaged.

September 19, 1941

  • Elaborating on their success east of Kiev the Germans claim that they have penetrated into the city and that four Russian armies are encircled and in course of annihilation. They also say that they have reached Poltava, far to the east of Kiev. The Russians inflict losses of several thousand of German troops trying to reach Murmansk along the coast and successfully resist all German attempts to make further progress towards Leningrad. A Russian infantry division fords the lower Dniester and advances eastwards towards the Sea of Azov with a view to isolating the Crimea. Before evacuating Kiev, the Russians destroy everything of value in the city and leave it completely wrecked.
  • There is news of successes by Dutch submarines. Two of them have recently sunk two 6,000-ton Italian supply ships and a 1,200-ton sailing vessel.
  • A German supply ship is repeatedly hit during day-light by Blenheim bombers and our fighters attack supply trains, enemy troops, and a patrol ship with cannon and machine-gun fire.
  • The Germans sink another American-owned ship, the Pink Star, in the Atlantic.

September 20, 1941

  • The number of Russian prisoners captured in the Kiev salient is very large though not coming up to the fantastic figure claimed by the Nazi communiques. Though still thwarted round Leningrad the Germans capture the islands of Worms and Moon in the Gulf of Riga and proceed to attack Oesel and Dago.
  • During the day Blenheims attack the power station at Gosnay, near Bethune, and Hampden’s bomb railway objectives at Lille. At night Berlin and Frankfurt are the main targets.

September 21, 1941

  • In view of the disorders in Occupied France and attacks on members of the German army, Marshal Petain broadcasts an appeal to the nation to avoid all action which may bring down reprisals.
  • Italian motor torpedo-boats attack shipping in the harbour of Gibraltar. They succeed in sinking one hulk. But that does not prevent the Italians from claiming officially that they destroyed four ships totalling 34,000 tons.

September 22, 1941

  • Members of the British and American Mission arrive in Moscow for the joint conference.
  • King George of the Hellenes, with members of his family and government who had escaped after many adventures in Crete, arrives in England.
  • The Germans now claim that the Russian forces isolated at and east of Kiev amount to 50 divisions, in four armies. Though the figure is obviously fantastic, there is no doubt that a substantial number of Russian divisions have failed to be withdrawn in time. In the Leningrad area no German progress is recorded, and in the centre Marshal Timoshenko halts after cutting down the German salient east of Smolensk.
  • A Beaufort aircraft of Coastal Command bombs a 5,000-ton German supply ship off the Norwegian coast, coming down so low that one of its aerials is carried away by the ship’s mast.

September 23, 1941

  • Speaking of the position in Russia, the Soviet Ambassador, M. Maisky, says that the German losses in Russia to date have been about 3,000,000 and that the number of their aircraft destroyed is about 8,500. We might expect that the war in that theatre would not be stopped or held up by the advent of winter.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed Warden of the Cinque Ports.
  • Further changes are made in the Free French organisation by the establishment of a National Committee and a National Advisory Council. General de Gaulle remains Commander-in-Chief of the Free French forces.

September 24, 1941

  • News is given of the first operations carried out by the R.A.F. contingent now in Russia. The wing is commanded by Wing-Commander H. N. G. Ramsbottom Isherwood, comprises men from all parts of the Empire and has already destroyed seven German fighters for a loss of one.
  • There are encouraging features of the situation in Russia. For a loss of 25 aeroplanes the Soviet Air Force destroys 75 enemy machines. A German transport is sunk in the Gulf of Finland. The Russians frustrate a fresh thrust towards Murmansk and Leningrad remains inviolable.
  • Our submarines have had further successes against enemy shipping in the Mediterranean. Hits have been scored on a transport (which was set on fire), supply ships of 1,500 and about 5,000 tons, an Italian mine-layer and a schooner.

September 25, 1941

  • A new element in the military situation in Russia is the beginning of a German attack on the Crimea with a drive for the Perekop isthmus which connects it with the mainland.
  • An indication of British military activity in France is given in an order issued by the German commander of the Army of Occupation which prescribes the death penalty for any Frenchman giving assistance to British parachutists or personnel who have made forced landings.

September 26, 1941

  • General Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, India, and General Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, meet in Bagdad for important conferences to arrange for co-operation in establishing the anti-Axis front from Syria to the left flank of the Russian armies.
  • Our new 12 gun and 4 cannon-gun Hurricane fighters make their official bow to-day. They attack four enemy mine-sweepers and two anti-aircraft ships off Dunkirk. Two of the mine-sweepers are set on fire and both anti-aircraft ships damaged.
  • The prowess of Russia in the air is signally illustrated to-day. At a cost of 31 aircraft Soviet airmen destroy no less than 98 enemy machines.

September 27, 1941

  • Italian aircraft make a series of attacks on an important British convoy passing through the Central Mediterranean. Four torpedo bombers and a C.R.42 fighter are destroyed by naval fighter aircraft and six torpedo bombers and one fighter are shot down by gunfire from the fleet. H.M.S. Nelson is hit by one torpedo and her speed is slightly reduced There are no casualties.
  • Harbour installations and works at Rhodes are bombed by the R.A.F., good work is also done in the afternoon by Blenheim bombers which sweep Northern France with strong forces of fighters. The railway centre at Amiens and a railway junction near La Bassée are bombed. We lose 14 fighters but 21 enemy fighters are destroyed.
  • The special “Tanks for Russia” Week in this country ends with a triumph, the increase in production being nearly 20 per cent. The Soviet Ambassador. M Maisky, expresses Russia’s thanks in a broadcast message to the British people.
  • Our fighters on the Russian front have shot down two more enemy fighters without loss to themselves. Their present job is to escort Soviet bombers on offensive operations. Our bombers in the Mediterranean area again demonstrate the vulnerability of Italy. At Elmas, in Sardinia, the base and aerodromes are raided. At Marsala, in Sicily, seaplanes are machine-gunned and damaged and attacks are made on a hangar and wireless station buildings.

September 28, 1941

  • R.A.F. bombers make a successful attack on Palermo where the power station, merchant vessels in the harbour and the dry dock area are hit. In the north objectives at Genoa, Turin and elsewhere are attacked.
  • At Genoa industrial areas are bombed and large fires are started in the docks.
  • Lord Beaverbrook, leading the British delegation to the Moscow Conference, arrives in the Soviet capital with Mr. Averell Harriman, who is in charge of the American representatives.
  • The grim Russian defence still holds. The Soviet Baltic Fleet sinks two German transports of 8,000 and 5,000 tons and, with the assistance of coastal batteries, sinks a cruiser and a destroyer and damages another destroyer. The Black Sea Fleet sinks a German tanker of 6,000 tons.
  • The heroic resistance of the Czechs leads the Germans to extreme measures of repression. A state of emergency is declared in many districts; Baron von Neurath is replaced by Himmler’s foulest assistant Heydrich.

September 29, 1941

  • Powerful forces of Bomber Command attack Stettin, Germany’s important sea base on the Baltic, the docks area at Hamburg and the docks at Cherbourg and Le Havre. The attack on Stettin lasts for over five hours.
  • The first meeting of the Moscow Conference takes place with the Soviet Foreign Minister. M. Molotov, presiding.
  • The German terror in Europe is reaching ever greater heights. News comes from Prague that the infamous Heydrich has made hundreds of arrests and already shot 20 representative men.

September 30, 1941

  • In Russia confused fighting takes place along the whole front. After a fierce struggle the Russians evacuate the town of Poltava, famous as the scene of their victory over Charles X II of Sweden.
  • The Prime Minister has some encouraging news to give in a further review of the situation. From July to September our shipping losses have been only one third of those in the previous three months, whereas in the same period the shipping losses we inflicted on the enemy were 50 per cent greater. Russia would hold on but in general the enemy retains the initiative. His only shortage, “a very serious one”, is in the air.
  • The Italian garrison at Wolchefit, in Abyssinia, numbering 3,000 men, surrenders.
  • Russia is assisted by another heavy attack on Stettin while other objectives are Hamburg and Cherbourg.

OCTOBER 1941

October 1, 1941

  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that we are now spending £13,000,000 a day and that since the war started our expenditure has been over £7,000,000,000.
  • At the close of the Moscow Conference, Mr. Averell Harriman and Lord Beaverbrook announce that America and Great Britain will be willing and able to let Russia have all the war material for which she has asked.
  • General Eliash, the Czech puppet Prime Minister, is condemned to death by the Germans.
  • During the day some of our new Hurricane fighters attack a number of German E-boats off the French coast. Operations at night are hampered by bad weather but a small force bombs objectives at Stuttgart and elsewhere in South-Western and Western Germany. Channel ports are also attacked.
  • The Germans commence a new and extremely violent offensive on the most colossal scale in the Moscow sector. It is plain that they are determined to stake everything on the capture of the Russian capital.

October 2, 1941

  • The growth of the Imperial forces in the Middle East is illustrated by the fact that the troops in the Western Desert have now been grouped into one army and those in Palestine and Syria into another.
  • The Russians announce a success on the Ukraine front where in one sector nearly 3,000 Germans are killed and 41 guns and many men are captured.
  • The great German offensive against Moscow continues, but there is no detailed news on either side.
  • It is announced that on Saturday there will be an exchange of British and German prisoners of war who are entitled to repatriation under the Geneva Convention as unfitted by wounds or sickness for further service.
  • There is a little enemy night activity over East Coast districts and three German bombers are destroyed. British bombers attack Brest, where the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are still lying, and the docks and shipyards at St. Nazaire.

October 3, 1941

  • Hitler, paying a flying visit to Berlin from the front, makes a sensational speech in which he refers to the “gigantic operation” in progress which is to bring Russia to her knees, and says that the Russians have lost 2,500,000 prisoners, 22,000 guns, 18,000 tanks and over 14,500 aircraft. But neither Germans nor Russians give any details and all that is known is that the former are all out for Moscow at any cost.
  • In the Australian House of Representatives, Mr. Fadden’s Government is defeated. Mr. Fadden resigns and a Labour cabinet is formed under Mr. Curtin, whose first act is to proclaim that the new Government will devote themselves with singleness of purpose to the desire of the Australian people to concentrate on the prosecution of the war.
  • News is received that the tanker L. C. White, with an American crew, has been torpedoed without warning by a German raider.
  • The imperial air arm is making its weight felt everywhere. In broad daylight R.A.F. bombers attack the important railway junction, power station and munition factory at Marino di Catanzaro, on the south coast of Italy. A number of factory buildings are blown up and general havoc is created. There is another onslaught on Bardia harbour. Nearer home the docks at Dunkirk, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brest are hammered. Aerodromes at Aalborg, in Denmark, and in Northern France are other targets.

October 4, 1941

  • The Germans have raised difficulties about the exchange of prisoners but negotiations are still continuing.
  • The initial momentum of the drive on Moscow has carried the Germans some way towards their goal but detailed news is still lacking. In the south Marshal Budyenny has turned on his pursuers and achieved a notable local success in the vicinity of Melitopol.
  • The French liner Theophile Gaulier, travelling in an Italian convoy, is sunk in the Aegean by a British submarine.

October 5, 1941

  • It is announced that America produced 1,914 aircraft in September. The same month witnessed a record output in this country. This week has produced another record in tank output.
  • In the Mediterranean aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm attack an Italian convoy of four large merchant ships. The biggest ship and one other are left sinking and a third is seriously damaged.

October 6, 1941

  • The Germans go back on the arrangement made with regard to the repatriation of prisoners of war. They now say that they will only return an equivalent number, though equality of numbers is immaterial under the provisions of the Hague Convention.
  • The new Australian cabinet is announced.
  • R.A.F. fighters attack enemy shipping off Ostend during the day; one trawler is seen to be sinking and two others are damaged.
  • Of the loans raised during the war £1,000,000,000 has been contributed by the savings of the small man.
  • There is again no definite news of any German progress towards Moscow. In the south Marshal Budyenny’s coup to help the defence of the Crimea has been frustrated by a German attack from the east.

October 7, 1941

  • It is announced that in view of the German Government’s change of front the exchange of prisoners cannot be carried out.
  • We have had more submarine successes in the Mediterranean. An Italian torpedo-boat, a supply ship of about 3,500 tons, a guard vessel and a sailing ship laden with Italian troops have been sunk.
  • The degree of success achieved by the Germans in their frantic drive on Moscow becomes clearer. They have reached the vicinity of Briansk and Vyazma, where they claim that vast Russian forces are encircled. They have also captured the strategic town of Orel, south-west of Moscow.
  • A German attack on an aerodrome used by the R.A.F. wing on the Russian front is driven off; three Ju 88s are destroyed and nearly all the other enemy bombers are damaged.

October 8, 1941

  • As part of our help to Russia naval aircraft attack shipping and communications in the Vest Fjord area of Norway. Supply ships are hit and pylons of the electric power system on Grond Island are destroyed. Naval aircraft are also active in the Mediterranean area. A 6,000-ton merchant vessel is sunk by torpedo and another of the same size is badly damaged.
  • The German enveloping movement in the Moscow sector achieves a solid success, the Russians abandoning the important town and railway centre of Orel. The Germans also reach Mariupol, thus placing themselves in rear of the Russian force aiding the defence of the Crimea by attacks in the region of Melitopol.
  • The loss of the auxiliary vessel, H.M.S. Corfield, is announced.

October 9, 1941

  • A trade agreement is signed between Turkey and Germany under which the latter gets no deliveries of Chrome - all-important for war purposes - until 1943.
  • The Home Secretary officially turns down the suggestion for better street lighting at night until an air raid warning is actually given.
  • In the great battle for Moscow the Russians abandon Orel, two hundred miles south of the capital. But the German advance from this town, the right claw of their enveloping movement, is firmly held further north.
  • Another surprise in a war fertile in surprises is announced. The trawler H.M.T Lady Shirley sinks a German U-Boat. Its depth charges force the German vessel to the surface and its guns then compel surrender as the only alternative to destruction. The U-Boat later sank.
  • In a message to Congress calling for the revision of the Neutrality Act to allow the arming of merchantmen, President Roosevelt says that “it is time for this country to stop playing into Hitler’s hands and to unshackle our own…. Hitler knows that he is racing against time. He has heard the rumblings of revolt among the enslaved peoples.”
  • At night Hudson aircraft of Coastal Command attack a concentration of German ships in the docks and fjord anchorages at Aalesund, on the west coast of Norway.
  • In the Mediterranean area naval aircraft and R.A.F. bombers make night attacks on an Italian convoy and torpedo three ships and damage others by bombs. Harbours in Libya are also heavily raided.

October 10, 1941

  • Lord Beaverbrook, on his return to this country from Moscow, says that Great Britain is supplying Russia on Lease-and-Lend terms. The Prime Minister had laid down that we do not ask to put munitions of war on the basis of payment, but wish to be treated as we ourselves are being treated.
  • The Russians deny the German claim to have eliminated Marshal Timoshenko’s main armies and separated them from their northern and southern neighbours. The announcement that “there is no longer any front in Russia” is scoffed at by our Allies. In addition to the Moscow sector there is fierce fighting at Melitopol, just north of the Sea of Azov.
  • Large scale night bombing of Western Germany is resumed. More than 200 heavy bombers are engaged in widespread activities. Cologne, the Ruhr and the docks at Rotterdam, Ostend, Dunkirk, and Bordeaux are the main targets. Ten bombers are missing.

October 11, 1941

  • Emden and other objectives in North-Western Germany are heavily attacked and large fires are left burning. In the Mediterranean area the usual Libyan ports and aerodromes receive their usual visit and a merchant vessel in the Central Mediterranean is bombed by naval aircraft. Other naval aircraft machine-gun a barrack building at Cape Passero in Sicily.
  • The ferocious battle for Moscow continues all day but without success for the Germans who have a particularly bad time in the air. They lose 16 aircraft in combat and 116 on the ground.
  • Polish troops are participating in the defence of Tobruk. They have a fine success in a night attack on an enemy strong point.

October 12, 1941

  • In a broadcast to the nation Lord Beaverbrook tells what has been done, is being done, and must be done to help Russia. He gives an interesting account of the Moscow Conference. An enlightening detail is that the Russians have most skilfully developed two new types of aircraft, the M.I.G.3 fighter, comparable to our Hurricanes and Spitfires, and the Stormovik dive-bomber which has proved an outstanding success in attacking troop concentrations and breaking up enemy formations.
  • One of the heaviest and most successful raids of the war is made to-night, the principal objectives being at Nuremberg, in Bavaria. More than 300 aircraft are employed, including four-engined Halifaxes and Stirlings. During the day Blenheims bomb the docks at Boulogne and an enemy convoy off the coast of Holland. A tanker and a large supply vessel are hit. In the Mediterranean area there is a notable attack on oil installations in Piraeus harbour.

October 13, 1941

  • The Russians have denied the German claim to have surrounded large forces at Briansk and Vyazma, but they admit the evacuation of the latter town.
  • President Roosevelt announces that all munitions, including tanks, aeroplanes and lorries, promised at the Moscow Conference for October delivery will be sent to Russia before the end of the month.
  • A feature of daylight air activity is an attack by Blenheims on the chemical works and power station at Mazingarbe, near Bethune. Twenty German fighters are destroyed for a loss of 12 of ours and one Blenheim. In Libya, a convoy of enemy petrol lorries comes in for heavy punishment.
  • Duesseldorf, Cologne, and other objectives in Western Germany are the night’s targets in the West. In Libya Tripoli and Bengazi again figure on the menu.

October 14, 1941

  • In the Ukraine sector the Russians withdraw from Mariupol. Elsewhere they hold their own and there is no real German progress. To compensate for the lack of actual results the Germans issue a wild claim that their haul of prisoners in the new battle for Moscow exceeds half a million.

October 15, 1941

  • Two New Zealanders, Second-Lieutenant Charles Hazlitt Upham and Sergeant 10725 Alfred Clive Hulme, are awarded the Victoria Cross for deeds of outstanding heroism in the operations in Crete.
  • In the eastern theatre attention is concentrated on the area of Kalinin, 100 miles north-west of Moscow. Here desperate German attempts to break through are stubbornly frustrated. The Russians carry out a strong counter-attack, in which 10,000 Germans are killed, in the Leningrad sector. In the south it is claimed that the Germans and their allies have reached the Don.
  • Aircraft of Bomber Command are over Western Germany at night, Cologne being the main target.

October 16, 1941

  • The Japanese Cabinet resigns and it is officially announced that this step is due to differences of opinion among its members.
  • In Russia, the Soviet troops complete the evacuation of Odessa which has been in progress for some time. Of course, the Germans claim they fought their way in after a great victory over the defenders. The Germans make no progress against Moscow. Part of the Soviet Government and the Foreign Embassies and Missions begin to leave Moscow for a centre farther east.
  • Marshal Petain announces sentences of confinement in a fortress which he has passed on Daladier, Leon Blum and General Gamelin.
  • Bomber Command is let loose on Duisburg and other places in the Ruhr, and night operations also include docks at Channel ports. In the Mediterranean area there is a most successful attack on Naples, where the royal arsenal, the torpedo factory, the Alfa-Romeo works and other notable targets are hit.

October 17, 1941

  • Continuous Russian counter-attacks in the Moscow area are bringing the German advance to a standstill. The German 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions suffer particularly heavy losses. Nor is the German advance to the Donetz basin unopposed. Near Mariupol five important points are recovered by the Russians.
  • The United States destroyer Kearny has been torpedoed south-west of Iceland and within the zone prescribed by the American Government as essential to the security of the country.
  • The new Premier of Japan is General Tojo, a supporter of the Axis and presumed to be in favour of a more aggressive policy.
  • The New Zealand forces get another Victoria Cross in the person of Sergeant 7930 John Daniel Hinton. He earned his distinction in Greece.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack the seaplane base at Syracuse in daylight. Naval aircraft attack an enemy convoy in the Central Mediterranean, torpedoing three ships, and at night bombing attacks are made on the aerodromes at Elmas, in Sardinia, and Trapani, in Sicily.

October 18, 1941

  • The new Japanese Cabinet is sworn in. It is officially stated that it will continue the policy of its predecessor but the prevalence of the military element suggests that it will be more aggressive.
  • Mr. Wendell Willkie appeals to the American nation to repeal the Neutrality Act. “Let us stop deluding ourselves. Berlin, Tokyo and Rome are irrevocably linked by a dangerous dream of world conquest.”
  • British and Russian troops withdraw from Teheran in Iran, in accordance with a promise given to the Iranian Government.
  • In the Moscow area the Russians rout a flank attack in the Briansk sector and successfully beat off all attacks elsewhere.

October 19, 1941

  • The Minister of Labour says that to give effective aid to Russia and to keep our armed forces properly equipped as well British factories must increase output by 30 or 40 per cent this winter.
  • The Russians keep up their victorious resistance in the central area. They report a counter-attack by General Khaminko’s troops in the Kalinin sector and say that Siberian and Mongolian reinforcements are arriving.
  • In a special announcement to the nation Stalin says that Moscow will be defended to the last extremity.
  • The Rumanians annex Odessa and an area beyond the Dniester, thus revealing their expansionist aims.
  • R.A.F. bombers make a very heavy raid on Tripoli, where the Customs House, the Spanish Mole, ships, a seaplane station and warehouses are hit. Bengazi harbour receives its usual visit.

October 20, 1941

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Holtz, German Commander of the Nantes region, is shot dead at Nantes.
  • The fiercest fighting in the Moscow sector continues
  • in the vicinity of Mojaisk and Malo Yaroslavets, and in the Ukraine sector near Taganrog. A new German thrust due west of Moscow makes a little initial progress.
  • Our fighters are active over France during the day. An ammunition train and a supply column, troops, gun positions and enemy aircraft on the ground are shot up. German night raids on this country are heavier than usual, a Merseyside town being the special target. In Sicily bombers raid a factory and railway sidings north of Catania. A strong bomber force from this country attacks Bremen, the main target, Wilhelmshaven and Emden. Coastal Command aircraft bomb an enemy seaplane base and a factory in Northern Denmark.

October 21, 1941

  • The fighting in the Moscow sector continues in the same areas but the Germans admit that for the moment their onslaught is held up. The town of Kuibishev, formerly Samara, is the new Soviet centre of government but Stalin remains in Moscow.
  • It is announced that the American steamer Lehigh has been torpedoed by a German submarine.
  • The Germans shoot fifty hostages at Nantes as a reprisal for the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Holtz.
  • During fighter patrols over France attacks are made on an oil-storage tank near Ostend, goods trains and oil tank wagons in the Abbeville area and hangars and German troops on the aerodrome at Le Touquet. There is another tremendous bombing attack on Naples. Even the Italians admit that huge havoc is wrought in raids lasting five hours.

October 22, 1941

  • Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan broadcast appeals to the French nation to refrain from all actions against the occupying German troops which bring down reprisals on hostages.
  • On the Russian front the Germans make some progress in forcing their way into the Perekop isthmus, connecting the Crimea with the mainland. Their efforts to break through to Moscow at Mojaisk and Malo Yaroslavets are frustrated and they lose 24 aircraft in attempts to bomb Moscow. There is fierce fighting for Kalinin, north-west of Moscow, and for the great industrial town of Stalin in the Ukraine. The Russian army commands are reorganised. The front is divided into two sectors, the northern commanded by General Zhukov and the southern by Marshal Timoshenko. Marshals Voroshilov and Budyenny are forming new armies in the rear.
  • In what has become known as the Odessa Massacre, German SS and Romanian troops begin the slaughter of local, mostly Jewish civilians, in retaliation for a time-bomb that was placed in the Romanian Army HQ. Around 25,000-34,000 were machine-gunned or burnt to death in the next few days.
  • In France 48 civilians (mainly communist activists) are executed by firing squad, in retaliation for the recent assassination of Lieutenant-Colonel Karl Hotz, Feldkommandant of Nantes.

October 23, 1941

  • The weather at night is bad, but not bad enough to stop powerful forces of bombers from attacking enemy ports and naval bases in North-West Germany. The docks at Brest, Cherbourg and Le Havre are also bombed.
  • It is announced that Great Britain is returning 40 tankers lent by the United States.
  • Lord Beaverbrook tells the House of Lords of the Moscow Conference and says that however serious the Russian losses of territory and industrial power we should not be too depressed about them. Britain had reconstructed her industrial system after May 1940, and Russia would do the same.

October 24, 1941

  • An Italian armed merchant cruiser of the “Citta di Genova class” (about 5,000 tons) has been torpedoed and probably sunk by a British submarine in the Mediterranean.
  • Colonel Knox, the United States Secretary for the Navy, says that the Government is satisfied that the Japanese have no intention of giving up their expansion plans. “If they pursue that course collision is inevitable.”
  • The Russian armies fight hard in the vicinity of Taganrog (on the Sea of Azov) and Makeevka; but the mention of these names shows how much progress has been made by the Germans towards the conquest of the famous and important Donetz basin.
  • The Japanese Diet is summoned for a session on 15th November; it is believed that this is a hint to the United States to accept Japan’s terms before that date.

October 25, 1941

  • The Germans shoot 50 French hostages at Bordeaux, but postpone the execution of 100 others in order to give more time to find the actual “murderers” and thus spare French lives. They fine the city of Bordeaux ten million francs.
  • It is announced that the destroyer H.M.S. Broadwater has been torpedoed and sunk while on escort duty in the North Atlantic.
  • The German line west of Moscow is officially given as Kalinin – Mojaisk - Malo Yaroslavets – Kalinga - north of Orel. Stalin is still in Moscow.
  • Moscow is bombed day and night. All German attacks produce no significant change on the Eastern Front, with the exception of the capture of Kharkov.
  • Great Britain resumes diplomatic relations with Mexico, thus fortifying the democratic front.
  • Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, commanding the Mediterranean Fleet, says that in one way or another the Germans and Italians are losing half the ships they send to North Africa. He thinks that the Italians may now have five battleships fit to fight.
  • In Libya naval aircraft make a night attack on anti-aircraft and coastal defence guns at Bardia.

October 26, 1941

  • Bengazi is bombed by the R.A.F. at night. During the day motor transport on the coastal road of the Gulf of Sirte is heavily machine-gunned and m any vehicles are hit. Nearer home Germany again feels the weight of the R.A.F. Many squadrons of bombers attack Hamburg and other objectives in North-West Germany and Coastal Command aircraft bomb the docks and shipping at Egersund in South Norway and at Nantes.

October 27, 1941

  • Our bombers are again active both by day and by night over the sorely battered town of Bengazi where the Cathedral Mole and harbour works are plastered once more. This follows a day of adventures in Southern Italy where medium bombers attack a goods train near Cotrone and blow it up. A railway station and a railway bridge receive direct hits.
  • The Germans announce that the execution of the remaining hostages in Nantes and Bordeaux has been suspended on the instructions of the Fuehrer, in order to give further time for the French nation to assist in the search for the assassins.
  • To celebrate the American Navy Day, President Roosevelt makes a speech which is a clarion call to action. It is full of trenchant and significant phrases. “We Americans have cleared our decks and taken our battle stations.” Hitler can be stopped and compelled to dig in, which means victory for his enemies because 1918 showed that when faced with successful resistance Germany can crumble rapidly and go to pieces.

October 28, 1941

  • After operations lasting 10 days the Germans break into the Crimea through the Russian defence lines across the Perekop isthmus. In a new offensive south of Moscow, they make some progress north of Orel towards Tula. In the Ukraine they capture Kramatorsk and advance towards the Donetz.
  • British bomber operations are hampered by a gale but our four-engined aircraft penetrate far into Germany, attacking objectives in the south and south-west. During the day our fighters attack barges and other targets in the Dunkirk area and Hudson aircraft of Coastal Command bomb an enemy convoy off Terschelling.
  • Axis press comment on President Roosevelt’s speech rises to fresh heights of vituperation. Japanese criticism is more guarded but the Government spokesman, Mr. Ishii, says that Japan cannot withdraw from the policy announced by General Tojo. Mussolini, in a bragging speech, claims that Russia is finished and that the Axis will triumph over her British and American allies.

October 29, 1941

  • After intense fighting for 10 days the Germans force their way into the Crimea through the Russian defences across the Perekop isthmus. The Russians complete the evacuation of Kharkov, after removing the most important factories and plants, railway rolling stock, raw material stores, and other valuables. They say that the German losses have been 120,000 in killed and wounded in the fighting for Kharkov. They shoot down 47 German aircraft over the approaches to Moscow. They also raid Berlin at night.
  • In daylight offensive patrols over France and Belgium barges and lock-gates on a canal, enemy ground positions, an aerodrome, and aircraft on the ground are attacked and damaged. At night heavy bombers attack Brest and enemy aerodromes in the Low Countries. Simultaneously, Hudson aircraft hit seven enemy ships as well as a fish-oil factory and barracks at Aalesund, and the docks at Bergen. In the Mediterranean area there are heavy attacks on Tripoli, Bengazi. Tmimi, Bardia, Heraklion, and Suda Bay.
  • The special representative of the Australian Government, Sir Earle Page, arrives in this country.
  • Speaking at Harrow School as an Old Harrovian, the Prime Minister says that these are not “dark”, but only “sterner” days. “These are great days; the greatest days our history has seen.”

October 30, 1941

  • In a review of the military position the Russians say that there is a serious situation in the Volokolamsk and Tula sectors, but that desperate German efforts to progress at Kalinin have been frustrated. The Germans advance farther into the Crimea, and reach the upper course of the Donetz at some points.
  • During the day fighter aircraft attack aerodromes, trains, and ships across the Channel.

October 31, 1941

  • The crisis of the fighting east of Moscow is now round Tula, where a prolonged and desperate German effort to break through is held up. In the Crimea the Russians retire on Kerch and Sebastopol.
  • Our fighter patrols attack an electricity transformer station, factory buildings, railway communications, and canal barges in France by daylight. At night there are tremendous R.A.F. raids on Naples and Palermo, and in home waters Coastal Command aircraft inflict severe loss on a German convoy.
  • The American destroyer U.S.S Reuben James is the first American naval casualty of the War when sunk by U-552 whilst engaged in convoy escort in the Atlantic.

NOVEMBER 1941

November 1, 1941

  • The Germans continue their advance into the interior of the Crimea. Rumanian and German troops enter Simferopol, the capital, which the Russians have evacuated. Sebastopol is bombed by German aircraft. In the Moscow sector and elsewhere the enemy makes no progress. Marshal Shaposhnikov is appointed Russian Chief of Staff in place of General Zhukov.
  • The Soviet Government asks Great Britain to declare war on the Rumanians, Hungarians, and Finns.
  • The Nazi Government, enraged by President Roosevelt’s revelations on Navy Day, assert that his statements about Germany’s partition of South America and the abolition of religion are “too ridiculous for the Reich Government to reply.”
  • The Turkish President makes an important speech in which, while asserting Turkey’s desire to remain on terms of friendship with Germany, he confirms that she will remain faithful to her alliance with Great Britain.
  • The Minister of Labour says at Swansea: “Don’t be under any delusion about an invasion. We know the preparations that are being made by Hitler.”
  • There are further night attacks on Naples and Palermo, though not so heavy as yesterday. In North Africa Bengazi is raided again. Objectives at Derna are also bombed, and our aircraft successfully machine-gun motor transport on the Benina-Bengazi road.

November 2, 1941

  • The Minister of Food announces an extension of food rationing which, as from 17th November, will include canned meat, canned fish, and canned beans.
  • General Sir Archibald Wavell arrives at Singapore by air.
  • During the day Spitfire pilots put out of action engines and goods trains in Northern France. At night Hudson bombers of Coastal Command find and bomb four enemy ships off the coasts of Norway and Holland. A fish oil factory, a wireless station, and a warehouse are also attacked.
  • There is little to report from the Russian front except that Soviet bombers have a particularly successful day, destroying 30 tanks, 280 motor lorries, many armoured cars, field guns, and vehicles carrying ammunition.

November 3, 1941

  • The United States has informed the government of Finland that if Finland is to remain on terms of friendship with America Finnish troops must be withdrawn from any further operations against Russia. It is made known that the latter offered Finland satisfactory peace terms as long ago as 18th August.
  • British motor torpedo-boats attack a large enemy supply ship and the vessels escorting her. The former was either sunk or beached and the escort vessels sustained damage and casualties.

November 4, 1941

  • Some light is thrown on our successes against submarines by an Admiralty communique. A total of 1,276 officers and men have been rescued from sunken enemy submarines. It is also reported that an attempt by a Vichy convoy to bring contraband from the East to France for German use was recently frustrated off South Africa. The attempt to scuttle three ships out of the five was prevented.
  • The German thrust through the Crimea has carried them to the southern coast, and they have captured Feodosia. Elsewhere there is fierce fighting round Mojaisk and Kalinin and at the approaches to Kursk.
  • It is made known that British Hurricanes accompanied Soviet bombers on a raid near Murmansk.
  • Our home-based fighters have a busy day. In the Cherbourg peninsula gas-holders, oil tanks, and a petrol lorry are set on fire. An aerodrome, a factory, goods trains, troops, and gun positions are also attacked.

November 5, 1941

  • The Japanese liner Kebi Maru is sunk by a floating mine in the Sea of Japan, and the Japanese promptly accuse the Russians. The Japanese Government appoints Mr. Saburo Kurusu to assist its ambassador in Washington in the prolonged “negotiations” with the United States.
  • Sir Walter Monckton is appointed head of the propaganda and information department under the Minister of State in Cairo.
  • Three more enemy supply ships, two of about 4,000 tons and the other of about 1,500 tons, have been sunk by our submarines in the Mediterranean.
  • Over Northern France our fighters blow up an ammunition dump and attack goods trains, army lorries, barge lock houses, and gun positions.

November 6, 1941

  • The terrible weather conditions and the resolute Russian army continue to hold up the Germans to the west of Moscow. In the Crimea they reach the Black Sea coast between Yalta and Feodosia, and come up against the defences of Sebastopol and the Kerch Peninsula. The Russian air force destroys 250 loaded lorries, 104 aircraft, and 70 tanks.
  • Stalin makes an important speech to the Moscow Soviet. He says that Russia has had to bear the full weight of the German army in the absence of a second front, which he hopes will soon be formed. Russia has been seriously inferior in the number of tanks. The German losses have been over four million, the Russian half that number, and Germany has failed in her design to isolate and destroy the Soviet Empire.
  • Bad weather hampers night flying, but our heavy bombers carry out widespread mining operations in enemy waters and attack Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg, and other places in North-West Germany. In Libya the R.A.F. offensive continues with further heavy attacks on Bengazi.

November 7, 1941

  • The R.A.F. turns out a new phenomenon, bomb carrying Hurricanes. These aircraft fly over Northern France, bomb a factory, and attack an enemy supply train with their guns.
  • Stalin holds a review of the Soviet army in the Red Square in Moscow. In the course of a stirring speech, he says that the Germans are throwing in their last forces. In a period from a few months up to a year Germany will disintegrate under the weight of her own crime.
  • It is stated that the corvette H.M.S. Gladiolus has been sunk.
  • Berlin, Cologne, and Mannheim are the main objectives in the greatest R.A.F. night offensive of the war. Unfortunately, the weather suddenly deteriorates to such a degree that many of our aircraft are unable to get back owing to icing. Altogether 37 are missing. In Italy the main objective is Brindisi, where much damage is done to an aircraft factory.

November 8, 1941

  • An enemy convoy, consisting of eight ships escorted by destroyers is sighted south of Taranto by a Maryland aircraft, which notifies the Navy.
  • Hitler makes a speech the whole object of which is to represent Germany’s dastardly and treacherous attack on Russia as a movement by “United Europe” to destroy Bolshevik Russia. As usual, he says that the Soviet armies are finished, and he lets the cat out of the bag when he adds that his object is that the wealth of Russia’s soil shall be used for the benefit of Europe.
  • Friday night’s most unfortunate experience with the weather does not prevent another heavy attack on Western Germany, with Essen as the principal objective.

November 9, 1941

  • The Axis convoy seen yesterday has been joined by another, and is found by a naval force consisting of the light cruisers Aurora and Penelope and the destroyers Lance and Lively. Two Italian 10,000-ton heavy cruisers disappear, and nine of the ten enemy supply ships are set on fire and sunk. The tenth, a laden tanker of about 10,000 tons, is left blazing furiously. Four enemy destroyers are sunk in this gallant action against heavy odds. On the way home our naval force is vainly attacked by torpedo-carrying aircraft.
  • Another heavy night attack is made on Western Germany, this time with Hamburg as the principal objective; the ports of Cuxhaven and Emden are also visited.
  • It is announced from Finland that that country will reject the summons of the United States to break with Germany and terminate operations against Russia.
  • In the Mediterranean area there are heavy raids on Messina, Naples, and the submarine base at Augusta.

November 10, 1941

  • There is a new turn in the situation on the northern sector of the Russian front. The Germans thrust east from the River Volkhov and reach Tikhvin, over 100 miles on the way to Vologda, junction for Archangel. The isolation of Leningrad thus approaches completion.
  • In the course of an important speech at the Mansion House, the Prime Minister makes the significant announcement that the R.A.F. is now at least equal in size and numbers to the German air power. Dealing with the position in the Far East, he announces that should the United States become involved in war with Japan, the British declaration will follow within the hour.
  • Naples and Brindisi are the night targets of the R.A.F. in the Mediterranean.
  • Enemy fighters on the ground at an aerodrome near Calais are attacked by one of our fighters, and several are hit. German bombers make several attacks on railway trains in this country during the day.
  • Captain Agnew, of the Aurora, receives the C.B. for the action against the two Axis convoys. As a set-off to that triumph, it is announced that the famous destroyer H.M.S. Cossack has been sunk.

November 11, 1941

  • British submarines in the Mediterranean have sunk four more enemy troopships or supply ships and two sailing ships, while two-armed merchant ships and two supply ships have been seriously damaged.
  • President Roosevelt, in an Armistice Day speech, says that America considers it a duty “to make the world a place where freedom can live and grow into the ages.”

November 12, 1941

  • In the comparative inaction of the Russian front the Germans say that their advance is being held up by extremely bad weather. But the Russians know that another violent onslaught on Moscow is only waiting for the hardening of the ground.
  • It is announced that a convoy of 100 ships has recently crossed the Atlantic to Britain without loss.
  • The Prime Minister tells the House of Commons that Hess revealed that Hitler had relied on starvation to beat Britain. If so, the plan has completely failed to date. In the four months ending June we lost two million tons of shipping. In the last four months the figure dropped to less than three quarters of a million.
  • The Finnish Government rejects the American plea that Finland shall terminate hostilities with Russia now that her old frontiers have been restored.

November 13, 1941

  • The United States House of Representatives by a majority of 18 follows the Senate in permitting the arming of merchantmen and allowing them to enter belligerent waters. But there is strike trouble threatening in many American industries.
  • The only change on the Russian front is that the Russians appear to be withdrawing from the Kerch peninsula to the Caucasian mainland. They announce that between 5th November and 7th November they sank two enemy transports in the Barents Sea and three in the Baltic. The Germans lost 22,000 tons of shipping.
  • Sir Hugh Dowding is appointed to overhaul the establishments of the R.A.F.
  • The last Italian stronghold in Abyssinia, Gondar, is gravely threatened. It is surrounded on all sides. South African aircraft bomb Azozo aerodrome, and enemy positions at Celga, and there is a successful raid on the Kulkaber-Ferroaber position.

November 14, 1941

  • It is announced that American marines are to be withdrawn from China stations. The Japanese special envoy, Mr. Saburo Kurusu, arrives in the United States for the discussions over the situation in the Far East.
  • The Glasgow bus strike collapses.
  • The famous aircraft-carrier, H.M.S. Ark Royal, so often claimed to have been sunk by the Germans and Italians, has at last fallen a victim to a German torpedo near Gibraltar.
  • Renewed German efforts in the regions of Kalinin and Tula meet with no better success. In the latter area a strong Russian counter-attack drives the enemy back five miles behind their starting-point. Fifty-two German aircraft are destroyed.
  • Colonel Knox, the American Navy Secretary, says that the United States is the only country which can supply crews for the huge number of merchantmen now building. It is possible that America may establish bases in the British Isles.
  • In the Mediterranean area the R.A.F. makes night attacks on marshalling yards at Catania, Brindisi, and the Libyan ports.
  • A small force of commandos from No.11 (Scottish) Group under Colonels Laycock and Keyes land from submarines on the coast of North Africa for Operation Flipper, an attempt to assassinate Rommel. The attempt is unsuccessful and most are either killed or captured.

November 15, 1941

  • It is announced that a contingent of Canadian troops has arrived in Hong-Kong.
  • Our night bombers have difficult icing conditions to contend with in these days, but in spite of them a smart attack is made on Emden and other ports in North-West Germany.

November 16, 1941

  • A foretaste of events to come is given by the announcement that the Imperial Forces in the Western Desert are now the Eighth Army.
  • The Russian line holds everywhere. In the Kalm in area the Germans make a particularly violent effort, which is frustrated with very heavy loss.

November 17, 1941

  • In the Russian theatre the principal item of news is the German claim to have cleared the eastern part of the Crimea by the capture of the port of Kerch. More than 100,000 prisoners are also claimed. The announcement is in substance true, though the figure of prisoners is enormously exaggerated.
  • A Dutch airman working with the R.A.F. distinguishes himself in a daylight attack on a large German supply ship, which is hit twice and left with a heavy list.
  • Sir Walter Monckton, whose plane has been missing for three days, turns up at Teheran.
  • The Bill revising the United States Neutrality Act is signed by the President, and becomes law.
  • The American Government announces that the German ship Odenwald was captured by an American cruiser in the Atlantic on 6th November. It was disguised as an American ship, and was flying the American flag.
  • The Japanese-American “crisis” moves to another stage with the first meeting of Mr. Kurusu and Admiral Nomura with President Roosevelt and Mr. Cordell Hull. In Tokyo, General Tojo creates a war atmosphere by proclaiming that Britain and the United States are thwarting Japan’s legitimate aspirations.
  • R.A.F. bombers are again busy in the Mediterranean area. Naples and Brindisi are raided again.
  • General Udet, Germany’s most famous ace in the last war, and one of the heads of the Luftwaffe in this war, dies as the result of an air accident.

November 18, 1941

  • This may prove a great day in the military annals of the Empire. At dawn, the 8th Army, commanded by General Sir Alan Cunningham, bursts into Libya from the coast east of Solium as far south as Jarabub. The Germans and Italians are surprised, and before they have recovered our columns are sweeping round the southern flank of their positions, and making for points from Tobruk west to the Egyptian frontier. Two German and one Italian armoured divisions are concentrated in this area. The Italian unit is soon neutralised, but the two German divisions fling themselves into what promises to be the greatest tank battle in history. A second front, if not the second front, has been made. Imperial air units give yeoman support throughout the day, attacking aircraft, aerodromes, tanks, and motor transport.
  • Changes in the British High Command are announced. The C.I.G.S., Sir John Dill, will shortly retire, and be succeeded by Sir Alan Brooke. Lieutenant-General Paget will succeed Sir Alan Brooke as Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lieutenant Colonel 71081 Geoffrey Charles Tasker KEYES, Royal Scots Greys awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Charles Tasker Keyes (71081), Royal Scots Greys, Royal Armoured Corps (11th Scottish Commando). On 17th/18th November 1941 at Beda Littoria, Libya, Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes, commanding a detachment of a force which had landed 250 miles behind enemy lines, led his men, without guides, in dangerous and precipitous country to attack the house which was believed to be General Rommel's headquarters. When they reached their objective, Colonel Keyes took only one officer and one Non-Commissioned Officer with him and having evaded the guards and dealt with the sentry, he dashed into the first room he encountered and shot the occupants. He then rushed into the second room where the occupants were the first to fire and Colonel Keyes was mortally wounded.
New Zealand Maori troops advance in Libya 18th November 1941
New Zealand Maori troops advance in Libya 18th November 1941

November 19, 1941

  • By the evening British advance elements in Libya have captured Sidi Rezegh, south of Tobruk, and the whole enemy position to the east is threatened.
  • The first tank encounter takes place when a force of lighter American-built tanks meets a body of the heaviest German tanks between Gambut and the frontier. The action is inconclusive, the Germans losing 26 tanks against 20 of our own.
  • During the night our naval patrols and coastal forces sink one E-boat, probably sink two more and damage others in smart engagements off the East Coast.
  • Furious German efforts against the Moscow defences continue without appreciable result. The fighting is fiercest in the direction of the Riga-Rzhev-Moscow railway and round Volokolamsk and Tula. In the south Rostov-on-Don is the scene of a frantic German attempt to capture this key city.
Australian soldiers sing along to gramaphone near Tobruk
Australian soldiers sing along to gramaphone near Tobruk, November 1941

November 20, 1941

  • The approach having been effected the battle in Libya begins in earnest this afternoon. A concentration of German tanks is found in the vicinity of Sidi Rezegh and after a stiff fight withdraws with the loss of 70 tanks and 33 armoured cars. Nearer the Egyptian frontier another concentration is found and forced to withdraw westwards. The Imperial air forces lend valiant help, bring down 24 enemy machines and carry out attacks on ground targets at Messina, Naples and Brindisi.
  • Our submarines have again been active in the Mediterranean. The Italian tanker Tampico has been torpedoed and seriously damaged, a medium German supply ship torpedoed and almost certainly sunk and a schooner carrying petrol set on fire.

November 21, 1941

  • The Admiralty announces that the corvette Marigold has sunk the German submarine which was almost certainly responsible for the loss of the Ark Royal.
  • The mine-layer H.M.S. Latona has been sunk.
  • The Russians announce that in the Barents Sea they have sunk enemy ships totalling 19,000 tons.
  • In Libya a great tank battle rages all day in the triangle between Fort Capuzzo, Gabr Saleh and Sidi Rezegh. The Tobruk garrison emerges and strikes to join hands with our troops holding Sidi Rezegh. It is stated that in all areas the situation is developing to our advantage.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Rifleman, 6849167, John BEELY, King's Royal Rifle Corps awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - No. 6846197 Rifleman John Beeley, The King's Royal Rifle Corps. On 21st November 1941 at Sidi, Rezegh, Libya, at an airfield being attacked by Rifleman Beeley's company, progress was held up by short range fire. All the officers of the company were wounded so, on his own initiative the rifleman ran forward over open ground, firing his Bren gun and at 20 yards range put an anti-tank gun and two machine guns out of action. He was killed but his bravery inspired his comrades to further efforts to reach their objective, which was eventually captured, together with 700 prisoners.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Second Lieutenant 143906 George Ward GUNN, Royal Horse Artillery awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Second Lieutenant George Ward Gunn, 3rd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery. On 21st November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh, Libya, an attack by 60 German tanks was countered by four anti-tank guns under the command of Second Lieutenant Gunn. During the engagement this officer drove from gun to gun in an unarmoured vehicle, encouraging his men, and when three of his guns were destroyed and the crew of the fourth, except the sergeant, were all dead or disabled, he took charge of this remaining weapon the portee of which was alight. There was danger of the flames exploding the ammunition with which the portee was loaded, but he managed to fire 50 rounds and set two enemy tanks on fire before he himself was killed.

November 22, 1941

  • The great tank battle in Libya continues in the region of Sidi Rezegh. Meanwhile New Zealand forces, advancing from the frontier, quickly capture Fort Capuzzo and Sidi Azeiz and by thrusting along the Trigh-Capuzzo road reach positions south of Gambut, after leaving a detachment to occupy Bardia. British forces from Tobruk push southwards.
  • In Washington Mr. Cordell Hull has a long conference with the representatives of Great Britain, China, Australia and Holland with reference to his discussions with Admiral Nomura and Mr. Kurusu. Nothing is more disturbing to Japan than this evidence that she cannot get America to disinterest herself in her Asiatic designs on the possessions of Germany’s enemies in the Far East.
  • The Imperial air forces are learning the business of co-operating with the land forces in action. A strong offensive is maintained in the area of the battle in Libya. There are bombing and low-flying attacks on tanks and motor transport, lorries, petrol tankers, road communications and aircraft on the ground.

November 23, 1941

  • An Italian cruiser, part of a force of three cruisers and three destroyers, has been torpedoed by a submarine. An enemy destroyer has been hit by two torpedoes and probably sunk and two supply ships have been torpedoed.
  • In Russia the focus of the fighting is still in the areas of Klin, Volokolamsk, Tula and Rostov-on-Don. There is a fierce struggle in the very streets of this last city and the Russians say that in the last two days the enemy has lost 55 tanks and suffered casualties amounting to many thousands.
  • The tank battle is still the main feature of the struggle in Libya. Air co-operation is excellent, German and Italian fighters and bombers being kept away from the battle area and great damage being done to concentrations of troops, tanks and transport. Our surface patrols in the Central Mediterranean sink a southbound convoy consisting of two supply ships of medium tonnage. Escorting destroyers manage to escape.
  • At night heavy bombers of the R.A.F. attack German naval bases at Lorient and Brest and the docks at Dunkirk.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Acting Captain Philip John GARDNER, Royal Tank Regiment awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Acting Captain Philip John Gardner, Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps. On 23rd November 1941 at Tobruk, Libya, Captain Gardner took two tanks to the rescue of two armoured cars of the King's Dragoon Guards, which were out of action and under heavy attack. Whilst one tank gave covering fire the captain dismounted from the other, hitched a tow rope to one of the cars, then lifted into it an officer, both of whose legs had been blown off. The tow rope broke, so Captain Gardner returned to the armoured car, but was immediately wounded in the arm and leg. Despite this he managed to transfer the wounded man to the second tank and returned to British lines through intense shell-fire.

November 24, 1941

  • In Libya the great tank battle continues with unabated vigour in the region of Sidi Rezegh while the New Zealand force continues its westward march towards Tobruk, capturing the important point of Gambut on the way. The German frontier fortress line at and south of Solium is being taken in reverse and Indian troops capture forts at the southern end.
  • The United States Government is to take over the defence of Dutch Guiana. This foothold in the South American continent will prove very valuable if Germany secures the use of the French base at Dakar.

November 25, 1941

  • In Russia all eyes are again fixed on the Moscow sector where the Germans make a superhuman effort to save Hitler’s face and realise their many boasts that nothing can save the Soviet capital. They penetrate at one point to within 40 miles of the city and round Tula, a hundred miles to the south, thrust forward a certain distance towards the vital railways connecting Moscow with the eastern bases. The Moscow wireless makes a stirring and dramatic call to the defenders to stand firm at all costs.
  • In the south the boot is on the other leg, for Marshal Timoshenko’s new armies sweep forward from the Donetz basin and the world enjoys the spectacle of German armies in retreat.
  • The battleship H.M.S Barham, on patrol in the Mediterranean hunting Italian convoys, is hit by three torpedoes from U-331. At least one of the torpedoes and Barham rolls over and sinks inside four minutes. 862 crew are lost with 449 survivors rescued by the escort ships.
  • The great tank battle in Libya abates somewhat both sides being in urgent need of an interval for refitting and reorganisation.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Temp. Captain 69102 James Joseph Bernard JACKMAN, Northumberland Fusiliers awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Temporary Captain James Joseph Bernard Jackman, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. On 25th November 1941 at Torbruk, Libya, the assault on El Duda ridge was being slowed down by fierce enemy fire from anti-tank guns and Captain Jackman as calmly as though on manoeuvres, led his machine-gun company to ease the situation on the right flank of our tanks. Then, standing up in his vehicle, he led the trucks across the front between the tanks and the guns and got them into action on the left flank. His coolness and complete disregard of danger not only inspired his own men but also the tank crews. He was killed the next day.

November 26, 1941

  • Enemy patrol vessels and barges attacked in the Straits of Dover. Night attack on Emden and North west Germany as well as the docks at Ostend.
  • On the Russian Front the Germans made small gains on Moscow front at the price of very heavy losses. Russian advance on Ukraine front.
  • In Africa after regrouping and reinforcements on both sides, a second great tank battle began in Libya, mainly around Sidi Rezegh. To the south Indian troops captured Jalo. German armoured column crossed Egyptian frontier south of Sidi Omar, but was attacked and split up.
  • Lebanese independence proclaimed by Free France.

November 27, 1941

  • Enemy supply ship sunk off The Hague by Beauforts. Enemy convoy oil coast of Normandy attacked by Fighter Command, also shipping at Boulogne and aircraft at Berck. Night attacks on Dusseldorf, docks at Ostend and enemy aerodromes.
  • On the Russian Front Germans claimed capture of Klin, north-west of Moscow, and Tula was almost encircled. Russian counter-drive in Southern Ukraine continued.
  • In the Mediterranean there was a night raid on Naples by R.A.F. Royal Arsenal hit.
  • In Africa elements of British main forces in Libya linked up with detachments advancing from Tobruk. Sidi Rezegh lost and recaptured. In Abyssinia, Gondar, the last Italian stronghold, surrendered.
  • Few raiders over East Anglia and South Coast by night.

November 28, 1941

  • On the Russian Front Further Russian advance in the Southern Ukraine. Soviet troops recapture several villages to the north-west of Moscow. Slight Russian advance on Leningrad front.
  • In Africa Axis forces contained east of a line Tobruk-Sidi Rezegh reorganized for an attempt to break out. Italian Bologna division badly cut up in an action east of Tobruk. British forces captured Bir el Hamid. Heavy night raid on moles, shipping, and stores at Benghazi.
  • Slight enemy activity by night over South Wales and South West England.
  • More reinforcements reached Singapore for the Malaya Command.
  • Two German soldiers killed in a Paris restaurant.

November 29, 1941

  • Admiralty communique announced that H.M. submarine Tigris had sunk five enemy ships and seriously damaged a sixth and that H.M. submarine Trident had sunk 3 enemy ships and seriously damaged 4 others in the Arctic. Two were transports packed with troops for the Murmansk front.
  • On the Russian Front Soviet forces crossed the Don and drove the Germans out of Rostov. Von Kleist's army forced to retreat in disorder towards Taganrog. Russians recaptured several villages south-east of Kalinin.
  • In Africa a big new tank battle began. Gen. Yon Ravenstein, commander of the 21st German Panzer division, captured. British patrols reached Cyrenaican coast between Jedabia and Benghazi. Night raids by R.A.F. on Derna and Benghazi.
  • All leave for British troops in Singapore stopped.
  • Two more Germans soldiers killed by an explosion in Paris.

November 30, 1941

  • The R.A.F. dropped over 150 tons of bombs dropped on Hamburg, one of the many targets of Bomber Command's night attacks. Emden, Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, and Lubeck also bombed.
  • On the Russian Front Marshal Timoshenko’s armies steadily pursued Von Kleist’s forces towards Taganrog and drove back Hungarian and Rumanian troops in Donetz Basin. Little change on Moscow front, where the Germans claimed the capture of Volokolamsk. Russians admitted loss of Tikhvin.
  • In Africa the R.A.F. announced that from start of Libyan battle to midnight on Nov. 30, 176 enemy aircraft had been destroyed for certain. Furious tank battle continued near Sidi Rezegh. Heavy night raid by R.A.F. on Benghazi.

DECEMBER 1941

December 1, 1941

  • A surface force under Capt. Agnew in H.M.S. Aurora sank two Italian supply ships and the escorting destroyer R.M. Alvise da Mosto in the Mediterranean.
  • Hudson aircraft of Coastal Command made night raid on docks at Kristiansund, Norway.
  • On the Russian Front, Russians continued their advance in the Rostov sector. Moscow thrusts held. Germans claimed capture of Balaclava, in Crimea.
  • In Africa hard fighting still going on at Sidi Rezegh. Forces of 15th Panzer division succeeded in getting through to the west before British closed gap between Tobruk and Sidi Rezegh. Italian Ariete division suffered heavy losses.
  • German raiders dropped bombs dropped on S.W. Coast town after dark. One enemy raider destroyed. H.M.S. Mendip shot down a Heinkel III off Fast Coast.
  • State of Emergency proclaimed in Singapore and the Federated Malay States.
  • Retain and Darlan had a secret meeting with Goering at St. Florentin-Vergigny, 80 miles S.F. of Paris.

December 2, 1941

  • Powerful units of Britain’s Eastern Fleet arrived at Singapore. Australian Government announced loss of H.M.A.S. Sydney after she had sunk the German armed merchantman Steiermark.
  • On the Russian Front Rostov pursuit of Nazis continued. Soviet troops sweeping south-west from Voroshilovgrad drove Italian and Hungarian troops towards Saalino, 100 miles north-west of Rostov.
  • In Africa Rommel succeeded in breaking through the Tobruk corridor and linking up his 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions. Germans recaptured Sidi Rezegh and Bir el Hamid. Command H.Q. at Nairobi announced that enemy prisoners taken at Gondar numbered 11,500 Italian and 12,000 native troops. The attacking force numbered less-than half the enemy.
  • Enemy activity at night over S.W. England. Two enemy raiders destroyed.
  • Mr. Churchill described Government’s new man-power policy in the House of Commons.
  • Italian official Stefani agency reported a “vast conspiracy against the State.”
  • Three Axis divisions reported engaged against Serbian forces in Western Moravia.

December 3, 1941

  • While the battle for Moscow rages with undiminished intensity the Russians score a great success in the south by reaching Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov west of Rostov. The Russians began to evacuate the fortress of Hango, their outpost on Finnish soil at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland.
  • General Sikorski, the Premier and Commander-in-Chief of Poland, has a long discussion with Stalin in Moscow on the subject of the functions and equipment of the Polish army forming in Russia.
  • President Roosevelt announces that Lease-Lend aid will be given to Turkey, as the safety of that country is considered vital to American defence.

December 4, 1941

  • The fighting in Libya is concentrated in three areas. Three enemy attacks on El Duda, south-east of Tobruk, are beaten off. Near Bir el Gobi, Indian infantry drive the enemy out of a prepared position and destroy 14 Italian tanks. West of Menastir New Zealand troops scatter an enemy column.
  • The Moscow battle is at its climax. The Germans make frantic attempts to batter through east of Mojaisk and also to close the ring round Tula.

December 5, 1941

  • Japan delivers a reply to President Roosevelt’s note asking for an immediate explanation why the Japanese are hurrying reinforcements and supplies into French Indo-China. With supreme hypocrisy the Japanese deny that they are taking military measures and profess that their action is dictated by considerations of internal security.
  • The Admiralty announces that when the German submarine U-501 was sunk, its commander Hugo Forster left his crew to their fate and jumped on board a corvette.
  • The R.A.F. makes a. heavy attack on Naples.

December 6, 1941

  • In Libya heavy pressure is kept up against the enemy and the Imperial air forces have a particularly busy day. Our fighters attack motor transport, the aerodrome at Jedabia and dive bombers and lorries on the landing-ground at Tmimi. At night there is another heavy R.A.F. raid on Naples. The total number of prisoners captured in the operations to date is given as 3,000 Italians and 2,000 Germans in the rear areas, and 1,000 Germans and 1,500 Italians in the forward areas.
  • The British cruiser Dorsetshire intercepts and sinks a German commerce raider in the South Atlantic.

December 7, 1941

  • [Attack on Pearl Harbour] Undoubtedly a day to be remembered in the history of the world. At dawn the Japanese open hostilities with the United States by bombing Hawaii and Honolulu and the American naval base of Pearl Harbour. The American fleet is taken by surprise and loses the battle-ships Arizona and Oklahoma, the destroyers Cassin, Downes and Shaw, the minelayer Oglala and the target ship Utah. The casualties are 2,729 killed and 656 wounded. A simultaneous attack is made on Manila, in the Philippines. Not till after this treacherous attack does the Japanese High Command declare war on Great Britain and the United States.
  • The attack on the British Empire begins with the Japanese seizure of the International Settlement at Shanghai and the sinking of a British gunboat in its harbour. Then follow air attacks in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong. The Japanese invade Thailand, which after five hours abandons what can only have been a token resistance.
  • What turns out to be the last wave of German attack against Moscow breaks against the defences with terrible loss. Though the onslaught against Tula proceeds with the utmost violence the worst is over and Marshal Timoshenko sweeps on in the south.
  • As from midnight the British Empire is at war with Finland, Hungary and Rumania.
  • In Libya the battle flares up again. Armoured forces are fighting round Bir el Gobi and contact is again established with Tobruk.
USS 'Shaw' destroyer wreckage lieing in floating dry dock of Pearl Harbour
 USS 'Shaw' destroyer wreckage lieing in floating dry dock of Pearl Harbour 7th December 1941

December 8, 1941

  • The Cabinet meets at midnight and a few hours later Great Britain declares war against Japan. After a few hours’ interval President. Roosevelt officially informs Congress of what has happened and America declares war on Japan. The British Dominions follow the example of the mother-country and the Government of the Netherlands East Indies sets a fine example by promptly throwing in her lot with the democracies.
  • The Japanese make landings in the Philippines and also in Northern Malaya where they try to seize the aerodrome of Khota Bahru after heavily bombing the other British aerodrome in the Peninsula in order to prevent interference by Imperial fighters.
  • In Libya General Rommel breaks off the action between the-armoured forces and begins to withdraw westwards, freeing Tobruk and abandoning his garrisons on the Egyptian frontier and the whole area so strenuously fought over at the outset of the British campaign.
  • In Russia the Germans suffer a severe reverse in the Tula sector; the Moscow-Tula highway is recovered. In the south the Russian pursuit continues east and north-east of Taganrog. Near Leningrad the Russians recapture Tikhvin.

December 9, 1941

  • The Germans attempt to cover their discomfiture before Moscow by explaining that the onset of the Russian winter has brought offensive operations to a close and only local activity must now be expected. But Russian practice shames German theory. Soviet forces recapture the important town of Yeletz, causing the Germans 12,000 casualties and scattering the 45th and 95th Divisions.
  • The Italian freighter, MV Sebastiano Venier, carrying c2000 Allied POW’s from North Africa to mainland Europe, is torpedoed by the submarine H.M.S. Porpoise about 5 miles south of Greece. Somewhere between 300 and 500 P.O.W’s were killed but 1600 survived, many due to the heroicis of L/Cpl Bernard Friedlander who endured a 90 minute swim to take a rope onshore from which the rest of the men aboard could be rescued. L/Cpl Friedlander was awarded the George Medal for his actions.
  • In the Far East the Japanese continue their strategy of trying to invade Malaya from Thailand. Fresh Japanese reinforcements land at various points but the actual land fighting is still indecisive. At the moment the enemy enjoys superiority in numbers in the air. Japanese air activity is widespread in the Pacific area. Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila are bombed. The Japanese claim that they have landed on the American island of Guam, sunk a 15,000-ton American transport in Manila Bay and captured a large British armed merchantman off Hong Kong.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Squadron Leader 37693 Arthur Stewart King SCARF, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Squadron Leader Arthur Stewart King Scarf (37693), 62 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 9th December 1941 in Malaya, near the Siam border, all available aircraft had been ordered to make a daylight raid on Singora, in Siam. Squadron Leader Scarf, as leader of the raid, had just taken off from the base at Butterworth when the enemy aircraft swept in destroying or disabling all the rest of the machines. The Squadron Leader decided nevertheless to fly alone to Singora. Despite attacks from roving fighters, he completed his bombing run and was on his way back when his aircraft became riddled with bullets and he was severely wounded. He managed to crash-land the Blenheim at Alor Star, without causing any injury to his crew, and was rushed to hospital where he died two hours later.

December 10, 1941

  • The Russians have recovered the railway town of Yeletz, which was lost early in December. The 45th and 95th German divisions were routed and the enemy suffered 12,000 casualties. In the south the Germans still hold Taganrog and the Russian pursuit is by-passing that town.
  • The British Empire and all the enemies of the Axis receive a very severe shock to hear that H.M.S. Prince of Wales and H.M.S. Repulse have been sunk to-day by Japanese torpedo-carrying aircraft and bombers off the coast of Malay. Sir Tom Phillips, the Commander-in-Chief of our Eastern Fleet, is lost in the disaster.
  • In a Japanese attack off Luzon in the Philippines American military bombers sink the 29,000-ton Japanese battleship Haruna. The Americans and Filipinos beat off a Japanese attempt to land at Lingayen.
  • Bomber aircraft renew daylight raids over Germany, effectively attacking a tanker in the mouth of the Ems and a railway junction near Wilhelmshaven.

December 11, 1941

  • There has not been much night raiding of late, owing to the weather, but to-night heavy bombers attack objectives in the Cologne area and the docks at Le Havre and Brest are also bombed.
  • In Libya the Imperial advance goes forward relentlessly. New Zealand troops from Tobruk reach the vicinity of Gazala. Bad weather hampers land and air operations but there are heavy attacks on petrol carrying and other transport and road communications.
  • Three large troop-carrying aircraft are shot down into the sea by our fighters.
  • Hitler, in a message to the Reichstag, and Mussolini, in Rome, announce that Germany and Italy have declared war on the United States of America. President Roosevelt, in a message to Congress, requests that they recognise a state of war with those two countries.

December 12, 1941

  • In the Philippines the Americans cope with Japanese landings at four points in the island of Luzon; Aparri, Vigan, Legaspi and off the west coast of Zambales. It is announced that American naval forces had contacted the Japanese fleet some distance from Manila but the latter evaded an action.
  • In Malaya there is heavy fighting all day long in the Kedah area. The Imperial positions are breached in some places. There is another air attack on Penang but without material damage to military objectives.
  • In a Russian special announcement dealing with the German failure to capture Moscow it is stated that on 16th November the Germans employed 51 divisions and that between that date, and 6th December the Russians captured nearly 1,500 tanks and 700 guns, and the German losses in killed alone were 85,000.
  • Hampden aircraft raid North-West Germany in daylight and bomb an oil refinery at Emmich and a factory near Bremen.

December 13, 1941

  • The Japanese issue an ultimatum to the defenders of Hong Kong which is proudly rejected.
  • In Malaya there is little change in the Kedah area, though the Japanese advance southwards is not being stemmed and the threat to Penang is serious. Dutch submarines score a great success in sinking four fully loaded Japanese transports off Patani in Southern Thailand.
  • In Libya New Zealand troops are encircling enemy forces at Gazala and the pursuit continues west of that place. Our mobile columns cause great confusion and destruction among scattered columns of German and Italian troops and transport withdrawing north-west.
  • Before dawn this morning a force of destroyers in the Mediterranean under the command of Commander G. H. Stokes attacks and sinks two Italian cruisers and an E-boat and severely damages a torpedo-boat.
  • Among the victorious four destroyers is the Dutch ship, Isaac Sweers.

December 14, 1941

  • The chase continues in Libya. Rommel throws in all his remaining tanks and lorried infantry in a furious counter-attack which is manfully withstood and beaten off by an Indian division.
  • M. Litvinov, Russian Ambassador to the U.S.A., throws light on the Russian attitude to Japan when he includes that country among the “gangsters” and says that he is sure a complete understanding exists or will be arrived at between the Allies as to how to co-ordinate their action against all enemies.
  • The Russian advance to the west and south of Moscow surges forward and further points are gained, particularly in the vicinity of Tula.
  • One hundred Frenchmen are sentenced to be shot by the Commander of the Army of Occupation in France as part of the reprisals for recent attacks on German soldiers in that country.
  • Bulgaria declares war on Great Britain.

December 15, 1941

  • Colonel Knox, the American Secretary of the Navy, confirms in a frank statement the loss of the Arizona and five other warships in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
  • In Malaya Japanese numbers and infiltration compel another British retirement into Southern Kedah. At Hong Kong a fierce Japanese onslaught is rapidly developing. British troops withdraw from Kowloon to the island of Hong Kong, which is subjected to heavy bombardment.
  • The Russians achieve further outstanding success in their great counter-assault. Among a number of places recaptured is the critical point of Klin.
  • The highlight of the Russian successes to-day is the recapture of the important town of Kalinin, 100 miles north-west of Moscow.

December 16, 1941

  • The submarine H.M.S. Tetrarch is overdue and must be considered lost.
  • The position in Northern Malaya is difficult, attributable, as the Governor of the Straits Settlements says, to the complicity of Thailand in Japanese designs, which has enabled our Far-Eastern foe to have bases on the very doorstep of Malaya.
  • The Japanese land troops at Miri and Labang on the northern coast of Borneo, but the oil refinery, wells and other installations have been totally destroyed.

December 17, 1941

  • The Americans have been quick to act on the disaster to their fleet at Pearl Harbour. Its commander, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, has been relieved of his post and succeeded by Rear-Admiral Chester V. Nimitz. There is a simultaneous change in the command of the air forces.
  • The Governor of Hong Kong informs the Home Government that he has received a further summons to surrender from the Japanese and has firmly rejected it. The home authorities approve his decision and tell him to “hold on.” The Japanese immediately commence a heavy bombardment of the island by land, sea and air.
  • In Malaya the Japanese continue their gradual southward progress though fighting continues on the line of the River Muda. They also carry out landings at points in Sarawak with a view to seizing the Miri and Seria oilfields. But their main object is frustrated, for the wells, refineries and other installations have been totally destroyed.
  • In the Philippines the Americans say they have the situation well in hand. American submarines have been busy and two out of three attacks were successful.

December 18, 1941

  • The National Service (No. 2) Act is passed. All men and women aged 18-60 are now liable to some form of national service, including military service for those under 51.
  • The Japanese carry out a heavy bombardment of the island of Hong Kong and after dark succeed in effecting landings at various points in the neighbourhood of North Point and Taikoo.
  • After five days of intense fighting in Libya the enemy’s front has everywhere been broken and our troops are 30 miles to the east and have reached the general line of the Tmimi-Mekili road.
  • It is announced that a force of allied troops has been landed in Portuguese Timor owing to the activities of the Japanese in the vicinity and the inability of the tiny Portuguese garrison to defend that possession if attacked.
  • In Malaya our forces in South Kedah are successfully disengaged and reorganise south of the Sungei Krian. General Wavell says that the Japanese have derived undoubted advantages from their treachery but “there is no reason to think that the enemy has achieved more than a preliminary measure of success.”

December 19, 1941

  • The Japanese succeed in landing further forces on Hong Kong and extend their footing in spite of the fiercest resistance. Sir Mark Young, the Governor, issues a stirring message to the defending troops. In the Philippines the Japanese dig their claws deeper into Luzon. Cavite Bay and Manila are bombed and the enemy effects another landing at Legaspi.
  • In Malaya it is announced that Penang has been completely evacuated. In the House of Commons, it is stated that Mr. Duff Cooper has been appointed Resident Minister at Singapore for Far Eastern Affairs.
  • On the Russian front the German withdrawal is in full swing. The enemy admits a break-through in the southern sector.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – WO2 H.6008 John Robert OSBORN, Winnipeg Grenadiers awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - No. H.6008 Warrant Officer Class II (Company-Sergeant-Major) John Robert Osborn, Canadian Infantry Corps. On 19th December 1941 during the attack on Mount Butler, Hong Kong, a part of one company led by Company Sergeant-Major Osborn, captured and held the hill until the position became untenable, when he helped stragglers to the new company position, exposing himself to heavy fire to cover their retirement. Later the enemy were hurling grenades which he picked up and threw back, until one landed in a position where it was impossible to return it in time, whereupon he shouted a warning and then threw himself on the grenade which exploded, killing him instantly.

December 20, 1941

  • Hard on the heels of the retreating Axis forces in Libya our troops have occupied Derna and Mekili without opposition.
  • The position in the Philippines becomes more serious. At dawn the Japanese make a landing at Davao, the capital of the island of Mindanao and further forces are landed at various points on Luzon.
  • An important broadcast by Goebbels throws a flood of light on the unhappy plight of the German armies in Russia. He says that German civilians must make a Christmas present of their warmest clothing, both outer and under, for their valiant brothers on the Eastern Front.

December 21, 1941

  • Our troops pushing westwards through Cyrenaica reach points 25 miles east of Bengazi. The remnants of General Rommel’s armoured force are concentrated round Jedabya. It is announced that one of our mechanised patrols recently penetrated 150 miles into Tripolitania and demolished an enemy aerodrome.
  • In Malaya the fighting line is round Kuala Kangsar but the Japanese southward advance is still progressing.
  • One of the greatest sensations of the war is provided by the announcement that the Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch, has been dismissed and replaced by none other than Hitler himself. The Fuehrer says that he will “follow his intuitions” and personally decide all questions. Something must certainly be done for the Russians cross the Volkhov River to-day and by capturing Bodgosch and Chudovo visibly loosen the German stranglehold on Leningrad.

December 22, 1941

  • The Japanese have occupied the eastern half of Hong Kong but their efforts to penetrate the western portion are strenuously resisted. Chinese forces acting in the rear of the Japanese army reach points 30miles from Hong Kong.
  • In Malaya there is further Japanese infiltration and the enemy makes an ineffectual raid on Kuala Lumpur. Our bombers raid Sungei Patani aerodrome.
  • The Japanese make a landing on the island of Wake. In the Philippines they make the greatest landing of the war in the Bay of Lingayen on the western coast of Luzon. It is estimated that they are attempting to disembark between 80,000 and 100,000 men, of whom a substantial portion get ashore before the day is over.

December 23, 1941

  • It is announced that the Prime Minister, accompanied by Lord Beaverbrook, has arrived in the United States to discuss with the President all questions relevant to concerted war effort.
  • In Burma the Japanese make a mass raid on Rangoon. There are heavy casualties among the civilian population but little damage is done to military objectives. American and British fighters bring down 10 Japanese aircraft for the loss of three.
  • The Hong Kong garrison is still holding out in the three main positions. The Canadian contingent delivers two counter-attacks which prove unsuccessful.
  • Addressing the Press Conference in Washington, the Prime Minister says that plans for unified action by the Allies in the Pacific are being worked out. Singapore will be held. We must rely on military victory rather than internal collapse to bring Germany down.
  • The German submarine U-559 attacks and sinks the liner SS Suntien, just east of Tobruk. Onboard are 1,100 German and Italian P.O.W’s being transferred to Alexandria. c700 P.O.W’s are killed, along with 6 crew.

December 24, 1941

  • The Japanese extend their operations to a new area in the East Indies. They land troops at Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, in spite of British bombing attacks on their transport.
  • The defenders of Hong Kong make a notable stand at Mount Cameron, despite heavy fire from dive-bombers and mortars, but the countryside all-round the hill is set on fire by incendiary bombs.
  • The Free French stage a somewhat startling coup by seizing the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, near Newfoundland, and setting aside the governor.

December 25, 1941

  • Hong Kong’s brave defence is over. After furious fighting on the island for a week the military and naval commanders advise the governor that no further effective resistance can be made.
  • In Burma the Japanese get a nasty shock when they stage a mass raid on Rangoon. American and British fighters attack them in a manner reminiscent of the Battle of Britain, bring down 13 fighters and four bombers, damage many more, for a loss of three.
  • General Wavell returns to India after a three-day visit to Chungking to confer with General Chiang Kai-Shek and the American Major-General Brett.
  • There is seasonable news from Libya. Bengazi has been recaptured and what is left of the Axis army is withdrawing south and west into Tripolitania.
  • Admiral Muselier follows up his Free French stroke of yesterday by holding a plebiscite in the captured French islands. The result is a practically unanimous vote in favour of General de Gaulle. But the Allies are greatly perturbed. They do not wish to appear to be carving up the French Empire.

December 26, 1941

  • The British Prime Minister makes history when he addresses the American legislature in joint session to-day. As ever, he shows no tendency to burke unpleasant realities but is full of quiet confidence. Perhaps the most telling remark was that if Britain and America had kept together after the last war “the renewal of this curse would never have fallen upon us”. We must hope to walk together in future.
  • In the Philippines continuous Japanese pressure compels the Americans and Filipinos to withdraw from Manila which is declared an open town to save it from the horrors of aerial bombardment. Japanese aircraft fly over but drop no bombs.
  • The Premier of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, arrives in Washington to take part in the discussions between President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill.
  • It is announced that Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Pownall, the new Commander-in-Chief, Far East, has arrived in Singapore.

December 27, 1941

  • There are to be no “open towns” for the Japanese. Their aircraft appear over Manila and bomb it fiercely and indiscriminately, concentrating if anything on places associated with Western culture and Christianity. The Japanese announce that they will consider Manila an open city only if the Filipino army surrenders.
  • At the close of all-day conferences of political, military and economic chiefs in Washington, President Roosevelt says that “the position of the United States and of all nations aligned with us has been strengthened immeasurably.”
  • In Libya our main activity is in the air. Bombers of the R.A.F. and the Free French Air Force assail the enemy garrison at Bardia and at night there are heavy bombing raids on the quays, the Castello, the railway station and shipping in the harbour at Tripoli.
  • A combined force from the Navy, Army and R.A.F. carries out a brilliant raid on the islands of Vaagso and Maaloy in Norway. Most of the German garrisons are killed or captured and industrial and military installations and many ships, totalling 16,000 tons, are destroyed.
British wounded helped back through town of Norway
British wounded helped back through town - Norway commando raid on 27th December 1941

December 28, 1941

  • It is made known that the British Foreign Secretary and M. Maisky, the Soviet Ambassador to Great Britain, have been in Moscow for conferences with M. Stalin and the Soviet Government covering the prosecution of the war and the post-war organisation of peace and security in Europe, and more particularly the measures necessary to prevent any repetition of German aggression in future.
  • A new feature of Japanese operations round Malaya is an attack on Medan aerodrome in the Dutch island of Sumatra. A widespread report that parachutists have been landed proves to be unfounded.
  • The Dutch Air Force is playing a worthy part in the Far East. Their bombers attack an assembly of Japanese ships off Kuching, in Borneo, and do considerable damage.
  • In Libya, the Axis army, or what is left of it, is concentrated in the vicinity of Jedabya. For the moment it hopes to maintain itself there as our columns closing in from the south are strongly resisted. Our aerial attack on the garrison at Bardia is kept up at full strength.
  • Bomber Command aircraft attack many important targets in Western Germany, notably the great chemical works at Huls, near the Ruhr, where synthetic rubber is manufactured. Wilhelmshaven and Emden again figure in the list.

December 29, 1941

  • The British Prime Minister extends his travels to Canada. He arrives in Ottawa to-day from America.
  • The Russians produce a military sensation by landing troops in the Eastern Crimea which proceed to reoccupy Kerch and Theodosia.
  • In Libya, Rommel’s attempt to break away south of Jedabya is frustrated; 22 German tanks are destroyed and 20 others seriously damaged.

December 30, 1941

  • In the Canadian Parliament the Prime Minister repeats his triumph in the American Congress. He says that the tide against the Hun is turning.
  • Halifax bombers, escorted by fighters, make a heavy daylight attack on the German naval base at Brest.
  • The Russians land more troops in the Eastern Crimea.
  • In Libya, General Rommel employs the whole of his remaining tank strength in trying to prevent our envelopment of his southern flank.
  • Mr. Anthony Eden arrives back in London from his journey to Russia and says that he is extremely satisfied with his visit.

December 31, 1941

  • The Germans end the year in Russia by making frantic but belated efforts to retrieve the position in the Crimea. They make strong air attacks on the Soviet forces at Theodosia as well as their communications across the Black Sea.
  • In Malaya there is fighting at Kuantan on the east coast and in Northern Perak, where our withdrawal continues. The Japanese make two-night raids on Singapore.

Acknowledgements

Various sources have been used to create this timeline but a large proportion have come from ‘Hutchinson’s Pictorial History of the War’ within the Forces War Records Document Library

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