Skip to comments.GERMANS 13 MILES PAST LIEGE IN FLANK DRIVE; CLAIM TO HAVE CROSSED HOLLAND TO NORTH SEA (5/13/40)
Posted on 05/13/2010 4:58:32 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
* This is a quarterly feature. Sorry about the blurry print. I made the print a little larger to help us squinters. See the links below if you wish to compare it to previous listings. I see some familiar names in fiction: How Green Was My Valley, Kings Row, Mr. Skeffington, Kitty Foyle, Native Son. The winner in the General category appears to be How to Read a Book. I guess we should check that one out first.
The list is on image #6.
Germans achieve crossing of the Meuse
Monday, May 13, 1940 www.onwar.com
On the Western Front... The German panzer divisions cross the Meuse River in two places at Sedan and Dinant. The French troops opposing them have not prepared their positions properly and are quickly demoralized and terrorized by heavy dive-bomber attacks. At Sedan Guderian is right at the front, urging his troops on and at Dinant the young commander of the 7th Panzer Division, General Rommel, is also doing well. Farther north the Germans take Liege and in Holland the defense has now been totally disrupted. The advancing German ground troops have linked with the paratroops at Moerdijk. French 7th Army (Giraud) is in full retreat.
In Holland... Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Government are taken to London at different times during the day.
In Norway... The Allied forces start their advance toward Narvik from Harstad. The first landings on the way, at Bjerkvik 10 miles north of Narvik, are successfully carried out by French troops.
From London... Prime Minister Churchill makes the first of a famous series of inspirational speeches in a radio broadcast. He says, “I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
May 13th, 1940
UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group (Whitley). Bombing - road/rail communications - Maastricht and Eindhoven. 58 Sqn. 6 aircraft. One returned early U/S, two bombed, three brought bombs back in accordance with existing regulations as they were unable to locate their targets. Later the regulations were changed to allow aircraft to bomb any other identifiable military targets, which were termed ‘Self Evident Military Objective’ (SEMO) or ‘Military Objective Previously Attacked’ (MOPA).
Westminster: Today Winston Churchill made his first speech in the House of Commons as Prime Minister. He told MPs that he was forming an administration “on the broadest possible basis” in accordance with “the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation.” He said that he had formed a “war cabinet ... of five members, representing with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation.” Further appointments will be made tomorrow.
The Prime Minister went on to remind the House that: “we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are action in many points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home ... I would say to the House, as I have said to those who have joined this Government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
“We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask what is our policy?”
“I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give to us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.”
“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory - victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire; no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.
But I take up my task with bouyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”
(Full text of the speech, courtesy of Jay Stone)
Attlee assures the Labour Party annual conference that “the whole party is joining the coalition, not just individuals. We go in,” he told them, “as partners and not as hostages,” and he was sure that the war effort needed ‘the application of the Socialist principle of service before private property.’ Their aim would be to win liberty ‘on the sure foundation of social justice.’ (148 p.90 and Harris, Attlee, p.178)
WESTERN FRONT: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her government are on their way to Britain by RN destroyer HMS Hereward, the government travel on HMS Windsor.
BELGIUM: German Panzer divisions under Guderian, Reinhardt and Rommel cross the Meuse at Sedan.
Guderian’s XIX Panzer Corps crosses the Meuse at Sedan. Reinhardt’s XXXXI PanzerKorps crosses the river to the north, at Montherme. Rommel’s 7. Panzer Division, as part of Hoth’s XV. Panzerkorps, crossed still farther north at Dinant.
The battle on the covering line, along the Tirlemont-Hannut-Huy line begins at 11 am. The French Cavalry Corps was attacked by 16 Panzer Corps, and at 4 pm began falling back by stages, until it reached an intermediate position on some high ground on the Louvain-Ardennes road, some 9 miles or so in front of the main line of resistance, where the First Army was hastily rushing up its last forward units.
The Ninth Army is attacked on the Meuse, near Dinant.
NETHERLANDS: The German 22nd Infantry Division (under Lt. Gen. Count Sponeck) find themselves hard pressed northwest of Rotterdam, where they made an airborne landing on May 10th. Meanwhile the 9th Panzer Division (under General Hubicki) and the 3rd Battalion of the 16th Infantry Regiment (under Lt. Col. von Cholitz) crossed through the city up to the Meuse bridge.
A Dutch destroyer that sailed right up to Rozenburg Island despite a mine barrier, and opened fire on the German aircraft and crews who had landed there. The paratroops were completely wiped out in an hour and a half of artillery fire. All the aircraft were badly damaged by the gunfire and many were aflame. (Dave Shirlaw)
Submarines HNLMS O-23 and O-24 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: German troops through back a French force at Sedan and at Dinant in Belgium.
NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN: Allied troops advance on Narvik from Harstad.
HMS Glorious and HMS Furious remain at Greenock pending orders to head for Norway. HMS Sparrowhawk remains quiet. Meanwhile, HMS Ark Royal, in position 69.47N, 15.38E, continues to support Operation “OB”. Weather having improved, the day begins at 0215 when two 800 Squadron Skuas led by Lt. K. V. V. Spurway, RN departed for Harjangsfjord and a peaceful patrol. At the same time, a single 810 Squadron Swordfish, with 2x250 lb and 8x20 lb bombs was dispatched on a armed reconnaissance flight for the Army, but was forced to return early due to fog.
At 0425, Lt. J. A. Rooper, RN led two more 800 Squadron Skuas to Bjerkvik to cover the fleet. They were able to perform their defensive patrol, Rooper set 6K:L3001 down at Sandsoy, both he and his observer, Petty Officer Airman W. Crawford, RN quickly reaching friendly forces. Skua 6M:L2938 set down South of Harstat at Tjeldoy, the crew, Petty Officer Airman R. E. Burston, RN (P) and Naval Airman first class G. W. Hallifax, RN eventually getting to HMS Brazen. At the same time another 810 Squadron Swordfish tried to carry out the armed recon flight requested earlier, but weather again cancelled the effort.
Meanwhile, a six plane bombing mission followed at 0430. Led by the OC of 820 Squadron, Lt-Cdr. G. B. Hodgkinson, RN, each Swordfish carried 4x250 lb bombs. They were to bomb the important railway tunnel at Sildvik. Surrounded by fog after takeoff, they climbed to 7,000 feet before breaking into the clear and continued onward. The two sub flights attacked separately, one hitting the target at both ends. Weather made the return flight difficult, and two aircraft, 4A Captain A. C. Newson, RM (P), Lieutenant-Commander Hodgkinson, RN (O), and Leading Airman R. H. McColl, RN (AG)) and 4G, (Lieutenant H. de G. Hunter, RN (P) and Leading Airman D. Smith, RN (AG)) were forced to put down in Norway, again the crews finding friendly forces ashore.
Flying was suspended after the departure of the striking force until the fog cleared at 0700. At 0710 another fighter patrol left (trio from 801 led by Lt. R. L. Strange, RN) to cover the fleet at Bjerkvik, but it was forced to return early due to fog. At the same time, two 810 Squadron Swordfish departed the ship: one for an armed reconnaissance over the high ground near HMS Aurora, the other to attack a surfaced U-Boat reported by the returned 820 Squadron. Both 2L:L2814 (Sub-Lieutenant(A) A. N. Dixon, RN (P), Midshipman(A) H. B. Dangerfield, RN (O), and Naval Airman first class V. Labross, RN (AG)) came down on a frozen lake near Reisen. Eventually the airframe was disassembled and shipped back to England. Meanwhile, 2K (Lieutenant H. E. Corbet-Milward, RN (P), Captain K. L. Ford, RM (O), and Leading Airman J. Black, RN (AG)) safely landed on the swampy Skaanland landing ground. This plane will be heard from again later. By 1200, weather had again shutdown flight operations, this time for the rest of the day.
U.S.A.: The Bell XFL-1 Airabonita naval fighter makes its maiden flight. (Jack McKillop)
Day 256 May 13, 1940
Norway. Allies launch their first amphibious assault of WWII to capture Bjerkvik and Øyjord, for use as staging post for landings at Narvik across the Rombaksfjord. Cruisers HMS Aurora & Effingham and battleship HMS Resolution bombard Bjerkvik at midnight, broad daylight in the latitude of Narvik but dark enough at Trondheim to prevent German aircraft taking off. French Foreign Legion and light tanks come ashore at Bjerkvik in landing craft at 1 AM (36 casualties). Many Norwegian civilian die in the fighting. French motorcycle troops ride along the coast and take Øyjord unopposed. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/UK-NWE-Norway/maps/UK-NWE-Norway-9.jpg
Northern France. In the morning, Rommel sends motorcycle troops across River Meuse over a weir & lock gate at Dinant, while Guderians troops cross in rubber boats at Sedan in the afternoon following intensive bombing of French defensive positions. Despite French artillery bombardment, they both establish bridgeheads and by the evening they have pontoon bridges in place and tanks are rolling over.
Holland. German 9th Panzer Division reaches the outskirts of Rotterdam and 22nd Flieger Division holds onto bridges in the city. Dutch Queen Wilhelmina leaves at noon on HMS Hereward. Her government exiles to London at 5.20 PM on HMS Windsor.
Belgium. Battle of Hannut continues. To cover the Gembloux gap, French tanks line up abreast in a long thin line. Large groups of Panzers easily punch through, causing havoc in the French rear and Prioux retreats to the defensive line at Gembloux. Over 2 days French lost 105 tanks, Germans 160.
Winston Churchill first enters the House of Commons as Prime Minister, accompanied by his predecessor Chamberlain who receives a better reception by far. Churchill gives his Blood, toil, tears and sweat speech (text and MP3 at http://www.fiftiesweb.com/usa/winston-churchill-blood-toil.htm)
Nazi Drive in Low Countries Reported Forseen By Him (Gamelin) and Preparations Made
Mainstein and the German High Command were counting on that.
Japanese are getting testy
Did LA declare a boycott on Britain?
In some places it looks like Grapes of Wrath is still selling too.
How often do you think the House of Commons has such unanimous votes?
That must be where the French got their military reputation
Again, I can't say enough about Shirer’s book. Although Shirer was something of a “lefty” (he admired Blum’s socialist “Front Populaire” but hated the conservative Chautemps), he did a fine job illustrating the fatal weaknesses of the French 3rd Republic.
The real failure was not the troops themselves; I believe it is unfair to label them as "spineless cowards." France's fall was entirely a failure of leadership at virtually every level. At the national level, Daladier and Reynaud only halfheartedly pursued war with Germany. At the national military level, the French had an inept military bureaucrat in Gamelin. Everyone who has ever worked in a sizable organization has known a “Gamelin.” He's the smartest guy in the room who can't properly tie his own shoes, gets bogged down in “procedure” but can't get a job done. Villeume, the French head of the air forces refused to take aggressive action against the air assault against 55th Division. To call him incompetent would be a compliment; I I believe he repeatedly showed cowardice in the face of the enemy by not ordering his air force to engage the Germans. The French finished the Battle of France with more operational first-line fighters than when they started. Finally, it came down to a few regimental command officers who panicked and deserted their posts.
I do not blame the infantrymen of 55th Division at all for the rout at Sedan. Soldiers are never better than their leaders. For the better part of the day, they cowered in their holes under tremendous air assault. They had to wonder “where are our planes?” Even a token appearance by French fighters to contest the skies might have given them the heart to fight back. Instead, as Shirer points out, when their morale was ground down and their officers ran away, you just can't expect the men to stay and fight.
Sounds very good. I can’t imagine seeing those headlines everyday. It was such a huge war involving so many countries it makes our TV anchors standing in front of an Iraqi map look ridiculous.
On this day the Germans are doing handsprings out of happiness. They realized Sichelschnitt was a huge gamble but right now they are fairly convinced it’s working. They know the French 1st and 7th Armies and the BEF are all taking up lines deep in Belgium and have walked into the trap. And as Cougar pointed out yesterday, they can’t believe they haven’t been resisted in the Ardennes.
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