November 18th, 1940
UNITED KINGDOM: Churchill berates the First Lord of the Admiralty about the number of destroyers available for service in the North-western Approaches. Out of 151 destroyers available only 84 are serviceable, and of these only 33 are marked for use in the area. What has happened to the American destroyers, are repairs and construction falling behind?
GERMANY: Chancellor Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano over Italian Premier Benito Mussolini’s disastrous invasion of Greece. Hitler, had been caught off guard, especially since Mussolini had led Hitler to believe he had no such intention. Even Mussolini’s own chief of army staff found out about the invasion only after the fact! At their meeting in Obersalzberg, Hitler excoriates Ciano for opening an opportunity for the British to enter Greece and establish an airbase in Athens, putting the British within striking distance of valuable oil reserves in Romania, which Hitler relies upon for his war machine. It also meant that Hitler will have to divert forces from North Africa, a high strategic priority, to Greece in order to bail Mussolini out. Hitler considers leaving the Italians to fight their own way out of this debacle-possibly even making peace with the Greeks as a way of forestalling an Allied intervention. But Germany will eventually invade, in April 1941, adding Greece to its list of conquests. (Jack McKillop)
Hitler orders that all confiscated works of art be brought to Germany and placed at his personal disposal. (Peter Kilduff)
ITALY: Rome: Mussolini says that he had to invade Greece because it had given the Allies use of important air and sea bases.
ALBANIA: Dimitry Statharos’ unit is lobbing artillery shells on the Italians in Koritsa which he will capture around the 22nd. (Steve Stathros)
EAST AFRICA: The cruiser HMS Dorsetshire bombards Zante in Italian Somaliland.
CANADA: HMC MTB 1 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: Washington: Telegram from Roosevelt to Churchill:
When he was informed by the American Charge d’Affaires in Vichy of my offer with regard to the battleships Petain replied:
The most solemn assurances have been given by me that the French fleet, shall never fall into the hands of Germany. .... These ships will be used to defend the possessions and territories of France. ... I cannot sell those ships ... under the terms of the armistice. ... France is under Germany’s heel and impotent.
Three Texas National Guard cavalry units are inducted into Federal Service, the 56th Cavalry Brigade and the 112th and 124th Cavalry Regiments (Horse). (Jack McKillop)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-65 sank SS Congonian. (Dave Shirlaw)
Day 445 November 18, 1940
Overnight, RAF bombers raid Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr, bombing the Scholven/Buer hydrogenation plant, making aviation base gasoline, and Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG plant, converting bituminous coal to synthetic oil.
U-65 continues raiding shipping off the West coast of Africa, sinking British tanker Congonian 125 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, at 6.02 PM (1 killed, 35 crew picked up by cruiser HMS Devonshire and landed at Freetown on November 29). 250 miles Northwest of Ireland, Italian submarine Baracca sinks British SS Lilian Moller (all hands lost).
British cruiser HMS York departs Port Said, Egypt, with a battalion of troops for Suda Bay, Crete, and anti-aircraft guns for Piraeus, mainland Greece.