Skip to comments.MUSSOLINI PUTS FAITH IN NAZI MIGHT; ADMITS DEFEATS, GIBES AT U.S. FEARS (2/24/41)
Posted on 02/24/2011 4:48:04 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
British battle Germans
Monday, February 24, 1941 www.onwar.com
In North Africa... British and German forces engage in the desert for the first time.
February 24th, 1941
UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: The first operational flight by Avro Manchesters takes place with a raid on Brest by aircraft of No. 207 Squadron.
At a meeting of British and Greek political and military leaders, Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, said Britain could offer three infantry divisions to help Greece, the Polish Brigade and an armoured brigade, a total of 100,000 men. (Anthony Staunton) Destroyer HMS Inconstant launched.
Minesweeper HMS Cromarty launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: VICHY FRANCE: Admiral Darlan is appointed head of the government.
GERMANY: Munich: "Now our sea warfare can begin in earnest," Hitler told a hand-picked audience here today. He was speaking in a charged atmosphere at the beercellar where what became the Nazi Party was founded in 1919. he pulled no punches. "Our Nazi methods were unattractive to many," he said. "But I was a soldier and had come from the front, where I had got used to a rough tongue." Hitler reported on the progress of the intensive training of U-boat crews to man the new boats streaming out of his shipyards.
His claim that U-boats have sunk 190,000 tons of shipping in the last two days, may be exaggeration; that is more like the month's total. Nevertheless it is far more than the Allies can afford.
U-512 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
BALKANS: Italian forces repel a British attempt to capture the island of Kastellórizo (Καστελλόριζω) in the Dodecanese.
This involved a commando assault on the island. On 23 Feb the destroyers HEREWARD and DECOY embarked commandos at Suda Bay and proceeded to Kastellórizo with the cruisers GLOUCESTER and BONAVENTURE and the river gunboat LADYBIRD. The troops were landed at dawn on the 25th from the destroyers, while LADYBIRD landed marines.
Although the island was quickly occupied the Italian forces in Rhodes reacted with vigour and bombed the island heavily between 0800 and 0930. LADYBIRD, slightly damaged, re-embarked the marines and left for Cyprus.
Some off topic trivia: It was off Kastellórizo in WWI that the aircraft carrier HMS BEN-MY-CHREE was sunk, the only carrier lost to enemy action in WWI and the only one ever sunk by shore batteries.
It had been intended to transport a permanent garrison for Kastellórizo on the armed boarding vessel HMS ROSAURA, but after the setback of 25 February the troops were instead embarked in the HM destroyers HERO and DECOY at Alexandria. (Ric Pelvin)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Destroyer HMS Dainty, escorting supplies to Tobruk with the Inshore Squadron, is sunk off the port by German Ju87s. There are 33 casualties.
The monitor, HMS Terror, which has been of valuable assistance to the army in North Africa, sinks off Derna in Libya, after three days of air attacks.
LIBYA: A troop of guns of the British 16th Anti-Tank Company and two troops of the Kings Own Dragoon Guards are ambushed near Aghelia by a patrol of German tanks, armored cars and motorcycles. This is the first contact on the ground between British and German forces. (Jack McKillop)
JAPAN: Tokyo: In the clearest statement yet on Japan's expansionist policy and the ideology behind it, foreign minister, Yosuke Matsuoka, today declared Japan's belief in its "natural right" to Oceania - the western Pacific, including Australia.
Speaking to the Japanese parliament he said: "I believe the white race must cede Oceania to the Asiatics." Mr Matsuoka said that the region has sufficient natural resources to support 600-800 million people. "I believe we have a natural right to migrate there," he said.
The name Oceania usually refers to the islands of the Pacific, but an Oceania for 600 million would also have to include Australasia."
CANADA: Corvettes HMCS Brantford and Midland laid down Midland, Ontario.
U.S.A.: Washington: The US has ruled out the possibility of the dispatch of US Navy capital ships to Singapore. The US view is that the loss of Singapore, while it would be unfortunate, would not have a decisive effect on the outcome of the war but could imperil the US Pacific Fleet.
The US announced its decision at the Anglo-American staff conversations which opened here (Singapore) last month. The US Representative at these talks is RADM "Speck" Purnell, Chief of Staff of the US Asiatic Fleet.
Associated Press reports from Washington:
OPM plus ACCND equals maze.
That is not an algebraic formula but statement of fact. OPM is the Office of Production Management. ACCND is the Advisory Commission to the Council of National defence. Maze is what their variety of overlapping functions add up to.
So complicated is the labyrinth of committees, commissions, and co-ordination offices encircling the defence organisation that men long experienced in drawing charts of government agencies have been baffled.
It defies mapping. Officials spent several weeks trying to prepare a chart, but each tentative draft struck a snag when official approval was sought. The government is still without a blueprint of its defence machinery.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0053, a second torpedo was fired from U-123 which struck after two minutes, stopping SS Grootekerk. At 0105, a coup de grâce was fired, but this was a surface runner, which struck in that part of the ship where the crew was lowering the lifeboats. The ship sank shortly thereafter. There were no survivors among the crew of 18 Dutch and 34 Chinese.
At 2143, SS Nailsea Lass, a straggler from Convoy SLS-64, was hit under the bridge by one torpedo from U-48 and sank by the bow at 2219 hours 60 miles SW of Fastnet. Five crewmembers were lost. The master and the chief officer were taken prisoner, landed at St Nazaire on 27 February and taken to the German POW camp Milag Nord. The second officer and 18 crewmembers landed at Ballyoughtraugh, Co. Kerry and the third officer and nine crewmembers near Berehaven, Co Cork.
SS Waynegate sunk by U-73 at 58.50N, 21.47W.
At 004, SS Cape Nelson in Convoy OB-288 was torpedoed and sunk by U-95 southwest of Iceland. The master and three crewmembers were lost. 34 crewmembers were picked up by the British merchant Harberton and landed at Halifax on 4 Mar, 1941.
At 0027, U-95 fired one torpedo at the convoy OB-288 about 300 miles NNW of Rockall and missed the intended target, the CO thought that he hit another ship beyond. This is not confirmed from Allied reports. At 0028, the U-boat fired a second torpedo, which struck Marslew in the stern and observed the ship sinking. The master and twelve crewmembers were lost. The British SS Empire Cheetah picked up 21 crewmembers and two gunners. SS Templemoat sunk by U-95 at 59.27N, 20.20W in Convoy OB-288.
At 0116, SS Linaria, dispersed from Convoy OB-288, was torpedoed and sunk by U-96 SW of Reykjavik. The master, 30 crewmembers and three gunners were lost.
SS Sirikishna sunk by U-96 at 58N, 21W in Convoy OB-288. At 0624, steam tanker British Gunner in convoy OB-289 was torpedoed and damaged by U-97 273 miles northwest of Cape Wrath. Four hours later, the corvette HMS Petunia ordered the crew to abandon ship in 61°16N/12°20W, even though the master reported that his ship could be towed to port. Three crewmembers were lost. The master, 38 crewmembers and two gunners were picked up by the corvette and landed at Stornoway, Hebrides.
At 0818, U-97 attacked Convoy OB-289 for the third time and damaged the G.C. Brøvig with one torpedo. The tanker lost the bow, but the bulkhead held and the engines remained intact. She continued her voyage at slow speed with steering tow assistance by corvette HMS Petunia, arriving at Stornoway on 27 February. With permanent repairs made in Falmouth, she returned to service after three months. At 0212, U-97 fired two torpedoes at Convoy OB-289 SW of the Faröe Islands and reported one ship sunk. In fact the Mansepool and Jonathan Holt were hit and sunk. The master, 38 crewmembers, two gunners and ten passengers from the Jonathan Holt were lost. Two crew embers and one passenger were picked up by corvette HMS Petunia and landed at Stornoway. Two crewmembers and one passenger were picked up by the British rescue ship Copeland and landed at Greenock. Two crewmembers from Mansepool were lost. The master, 19 crewmembers and two gunners were picked up by the British SS Thomas Holt and later transferred to HMS Petunia which had earlier rescued 17 other crewmembers from the same vessel and brought them all to Stornoway.
Day 543 February 24, 1941
At 7.58 AM 300 miles south of Iceland, U-107 finally sinks British ocean boarding vessel HMS Manistee (all 141 hands lost). U-95, U-96 and Italian submarine Bianchi attack convoy OB-288 (now dispersed & unescorted), sinking 7 merchant ships before dawn. Most crews drown, although all 41 men from SS Waynegate take to the lifeboats and are picked up by Free French destroyer Léopard. In the same area, U-97 sinks 3 British steamers in convoy OB-289 (most crews rescued by corvette HMS Petunia) and damages Norwegian tanker G.C. Brøvig, which loses its bow but is towed to Stornoway by HMS Petunia.
Rommel has deployed 3 Italian divisions and part of German 5th Light Division to Sirte on the Libyan coast, 150 West of the Allied defenses at El Agheila, to block any further Allied advances and conduct reconnaissance raids to acquaint the British with the arrival of the German force. A German patrol with tanks, armoured cars and motorcycles ambushes a British and Australian patrol, taking 3 prisoners, near El Agheila.
At 7 PM, 3 Heinkel He111 bombers attack British destroyers HMS Dainty and HMS Hasty in Tobruk harbor. HMS Dainty is hit by a 500kg bomb which explodes in the Captain’s cabin detonating the magazine (16 killed). HMS Hasty comes alongside Dainty and takes off 140 survivors (including 18 wounded) before Dainty sinks.
British submarine HMS Regent sinks damaged Italian steamer Sabbia (torpedoed by HMS Ursula 3 days ago) off Tripoli.
“American Built Planes on Duty in the Far East for the Netherlands”
World War II : Dutch East India
The occupation of the Netherlands by German troops in May 1940 had placed the Dutch East Indies in a very vulnerable position. The royal family and the Dutch government had fled to London, where a government-in-exile was established, which was recognized by the administration in Batavia. Yet, the Dutch East Indies could expect little in terms of reinforcements in case of a Japanese attack.
Japan demanded the delivery of raw materials, most importantly OIL from Sumatra. The Dutch administration complied; yet in March 1942 the Japanese invaded, occupying most of the archipelago (southern New Guinea escaped Japanese occupation). The Dutch residents, in total 170,000, were INTERNED, a Japanese military administration established; the Japanese partitioned the archipelago in three zones, Sumatra, the Central and the Eastern Islands; many Indonesians found employment in the new administration. Dutch was replaced, as language of administration, education and jurisdiction, by Bahasa Indonesia and Japanese. Indonesian political leaders SUKARNO and HATTA, held in detention by the Dutch, were liberated by the Japanese and made leaders of Indonesian political organizations. In 1943 the Japanese promised SELF-GOVERNMENT to the Indonesians; it did not materialize during the war. The Japanese exploited both Indonesia’s natural resources (oil, rubber, tin etc.) and employed FORCED LABOUR (romusha); resistance was regional.
Late in World War II, positions in the eastern Dutch East Indies (HOLLANDIA Apr. 22nd 1944, MOROTAI Sept. 15 1944, TARAKAN April 30th 1945, HALMAHERA, NORTH SUMATRA June 1945) were liberated by Australian, Dutch forces and Acehnese rebels. Military targets all across the archipelago were attacked by Allied air raids.
When it became obvious that the war was lost, Indonesian patriots seized Japanese weapons; Sukarno and Hatta declared Indonesian independence immediately after Japan’s surrender.
"The other day we staged a mounted review for the division which was quite impressive and to my mind a great tribute to the officers and men composing it, as without a rehearsal they did an excellent job. We now have some three thousand draftees...They are a surprisingly good lot of men and will be a great credit to us. I am apparently in permanent command, although newspapers to the contrary notwithstanding, I am not a major general, but that will probably come in time." - George S. Patton to General Pershing
He also send a letter to General Harbord on the tanks he is receiving.
"Things are going very well with us here, and we are getting tanks faster than we could reasonably hope. We have just received 67 mediums...although not all of the latest type of vehicle. Still a tank is a tank, and it makes no difference so far as the enemy is concerned which type he gets killed by." - George S. Patton to Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord
That strikes me as a dumb remark. If the enemy's tank is superior to Patton's tank it might not be the enemy who is killed. I imagine the tankers themselves were more desireous of having the current year's model.
It was a dumb remark as many American (and British)armored units were doomed to discover after encountering German Panthers, Tigers and Panzer IVs in Normandy.
Considering the inferiority of the M4 Sherman to just about anything the Germans rolled at them,Patton would have been better served quoting Lenin [or was it Stalin?]: “Quantity has a quality all its own’.
From what I’ve read too many U.S tankers believed their own government’s propaganda, until they learned otherwise for themselves.
I would have to agree that it is a pretty dumb statement to make. Patton will grow to appreciate the merits of some of the heavier tanks, but still will prefer a tank that is not necessarily the biggest, but the fastest provided that it had the firepower to hit the bigger and slower tanks. Overall though he would have to make the most that he could with the Sherman.
I meant to mention this in my ping reply, but I forgot. How would you like to spend a couple hours chatting with a veteran of Gettysburg? That was possible in 1941 (See article on #5). 1941 was farther from 1863 than 2011 is from 1941. But not by much. One day soon someone might say, “Imagine being able to have a conversation with a veteran of D-Day.”
I had the same thought after reading that article. I recently lost the last relative in my family that was old enough to remember the Second World War. All that are left that were alive during the time were only 2 and 3 years old during the conflict. They are going away in a hurry.
I used to talk to a veteran of D-Day all the time. My Pop. Hiy Utah Beach with the Combat Engineers of the 4th I.D. He passed going on 10 years. I still talk to a veteran of north Africa, Scicily, and France. His brother, my uncle and Godfather.
I doubt if Shermans were inferior to Panzer Mark IVs, since that's what they were designed to match & beat.
So, was there ever a time and battle when German Tigers & Panthers outnumbered even their own older Mark IIIs & IV's?
Both the US (Pershing) and Britain (Centurian) developed answers to the Germans' newer tanks, but those didn't reach battle fields until war's very end.
It has even been claimed, possibly apocryphally, that no less than Patton himself delayed production on the new Pershings, because they did not support his ideas of how battles should be fought.
I doubt that, but others did oppose the Pershing.
My only point is that it was not clear to everyone at the time that Shermans could not do the job.
The Mark IV was originally intended as an infantry support tank, and was armed with a low velocity 75mm cannon for that purpose. The Germans, however, designed the turret [same as with the Mark III] for future ‘upgunning”.
With the success of the various models of Sturmgeschutz in the infantry support role, and the inadequacy of the Mark IV’s original gun [and it was Germany’s heaviest tank until the introduction of the Mark Vs and VIs in 1942] in the anti-tank role, the Mark IV was re-armed with a long barreled high velocity 75 mm gun. That gun was far superior to the M4’s 75, and allowed the Mark IV to ‘kill’ Shermans at distances the Sherman couldn’t match.
Consider the fact that as a main battle tank [and it was the most produced tank of the Third Reich] the Mark IV was basically obsolete on the Eastern Front, but doing just fine on the Western Front. And it was clear to U.S, British and Canadian tank crews that, in most circumstances, the Sherman could not do the job. Hence, the Sherman Firefly.
Sadly Western Allied tank doctrine was premised on winning by numbers. The tank crews were treated as expendable. I used to be a tanker. While you would love to have the absolute superiority of an M1A Abrams, you hope for, at least, a chance in combat. The Sherman gave the Allied governments that chance. It didn’t for the crews.
Americans today tend to forget how different were attitudes of most very-senior US military during WWII from those ideas which came later.
I think, for example, even Patton viewed his tanks as primarily infantry support, rather than anti-tank weapons.
Consider that Lt. Col Creighton Abrams, after whom the M1 is named, was a battalion tank commander in the WWII European theater.
And yet, after Patton himself, what other famous tankers did we have?
Compare to Rommel, Guderian or any number of others on the German side.
PzLdr: "I used to be a tanker. While you would love to have the absolute superiority of an M1A Abrams, you hope for, at least, a chance in combat."
I have a former tanker in my family, an in-law who did have that absolute superiority. So attitudes have changed.
I'm only saying, there seems to have been a surprising lack of senior American commanders' demand for better tanks to fight the new German models.