Skip to comments.NAZIS CLAIM OLYMPUS AND LARISSA; LONDON SUFFERS BRIEF HEAVY RAID (4/20/41)
Posted on 04/20/2011 5:26:44 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
News of the Week in Review
Outstanding Events in a Crucial Week (map) 10
Twenty News Questions 11
Germany Makes Gains in First Spring Moves 12-13
Britons in a Grimmer Mood 14
Wars Lengthening Shadow Falls Across Continents and Seas (map) 15
Desert Fights for Britain in the Defense of Egypt 16-17
Answers to Twenty News Questions 17
Greeks forced to surrender
Sunday, April 20, 1941 www.onwar.com
In the Balkans... Allied forces still active have all passed through the Thermopylae position. The Greek forces in Epirus that have been fighting the Albanian campaign are forced to surrender to the SS Leibstandart Adolf Hitler Division.
East Africa... The 1st South African Brigade is fighting Italians in defensive positions south of Dessie.
April 20th, 1941
Plymouth: Heavy air raids wipe out an area of 600 yards radius around the Guidhall; mediaeval buildings simply vanished.
In all 1,000 people have died, with 30,000 made homeless as 18,000 houses have been destroyed.
However, Devonport dockyard - the bombers’ target - is still working. The Royal Navy is clearing the wreckage and the lord mayor and lady mayoress, Lord and lady Astor have been raising morale. A band is playing on Plymouth Hoe for open-air dancing. At night 50,000 people leave Plymouth to shelter on the moors, in barns, in churches, even cow-sheds.
Gen-Leut Kurt Student, leader of the new XI. Fliegerkorps which took under its control all air transport units, suggests to Goring that an attempt be made to invade Crete from the air.
Allied forces pull back to Kalamata, Nauplia and Monemvasia. They are retreating southwards through Thermopylae, with some detachments remaining to slow the German advance.
Japan captures Ningbo.
New York: Reuters News Agency announced:
Undersecretary-of-State Patterson of the US War Department, and other American and Canadian leaders, have seen a demonstration of the first 28-ton tanks built for the US Army. The new tanks have a 400-hp airplane engine, a maximum speed of 24 mph and are equipped with several heavy machine-guns and one 37-mm cannon.
Yorktown and four destroyers are transferred from Pacific to Atlantic Fleets. (By the summer, three battleships, one aircraft carrier, four light cruisers, seventeen destroyers and 16 auxiliaries had been transferred.) (Marc Small)
The motion picture “That Uncertain Feeling” is released in the U.S. The film, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, stars Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith, Alan Mowbray and Eve Arden. This romantic comedy is about a married couple (Oberon and Douglas) who have problems and get involved with an absurd pianist (Meredith). The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Music category. (Jack McKillop)
President Roosevelt announces an exchange of defence articles with Canada. (Jack McKillop)
Day 598 April 20, 1941
British CIC Middle East, General Wavell, is aware that Rommels Afrika Korps is receiving a full Panzer division to reinforce the under strength 5th Light Division. Worried about holding Tobruk and the Egyptian frontier due to the parlous state of his worn out armour, he appeals to London for more tanks particularly the fast but lightly armoured cruiser tanks. Churchill has always wanted to send tanks through the Mediterranean, so he redirects a convoy that is set to sail for Egypt via Cape of Good Hope, reducing the travel time from 50 days to 10 days (Operation Tiger). He adds an additional ship to carry 67 more cruiser tanks, realizing that all may turn on a few hundred armoured vehicles (total, 295 tanks).
In a speech, Irish Prime Minister Eamon De Valera protests German bombing of Belfast (in British Northern Ireland) saying they are our people we are one and the same people and their sorrows in the present instance are also our sorrows.
Greece. 100 Luftwaffe dive bombers attack Athens and Piraeus sinking Greek destroyer Psara (37 killed, 119 survivors) but they are engaged by 15 RAF Hurricanes (10 Hurricanes shot down, Germans lose 22 aircraft). Most Allied troops pass through Thermopylae, although the retreating column is still 10 miles long and under dive bomb attack. General Tsolakoglou takes unauthorized command of Greek Army of Epirus, which has been fighting the Italians in Albania, in order to surrender to the local German commander (Sepp Dietrich of Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Regiment). This will be blocked by Mussolini who insists, with Hitlers agreement, that Italy must take the Greek surrender.
At 3.32 AM 400 miles West of Ireland, U-73 sinks British SS Empire Endurance (previously German ship SS Alster, captured during the invasion of Norway) carrying supplies and 2 anti-submarine motor launches to Alexandria, Egypt, via the Cape of Good Hope. 64 crew members and 1 passenger are lost. 20 crew and 4 passengers are picked up on April 21 by Canadian corvette HMCS Trillium. 5 crew are picked up after 20 days by British passenger ship Highland Brigade.
British anti-submarine trawler HMT Topaze is accidentally rammed by British battleship HMS Rodney and sinks in the Clyde Estuary, Scotland (18 crew lost).
As far as the Time's war coverage goes, they seem to be pretty current on developments in Greece. More so than the coverage of action in North Africa. I suppose it is harder to control information originating near a heavily populated city like Athens than out in the desert.
Especially enjoyed all the maps in today’s posting of world events. 20 questions was a good lesson, too.
So “Tiger” is underway. I smell a “Battle Axe” in Wavell’s future.And a few 88s in the Cruiser tanks’.
I question their answer to #16. "Four stars on his uniform" suggests two on each shoulder. Making the officer in question a lowly major general. Not a full general, like Marshall.
.....and not just websites. Most of the World War 2 books that I have referenced not only have wrong dates for certain battles, but I'm seeing wrong units (on the German side), and in a couple of cases wrong divisional commanders. Then we have cases of inaccurate weapons being cited, mainly armored types but also artillery and in one case even the wrong German sub being designated for sinking a tanker.
When it comes to newspaper articles written at the time of the event this might be understandable, but it shouldn't be happening with books that were written more than 50 years after the fact.
From the 20 news questions:
10: The British Empire has about fifty fully equipped army divisions. does Germany have about (a) seventy-five; (b) 150; (c) 250 divisions?
answer 250 divisions;
For you thinkers, How many divisions were needed in Americas original war plan and how many did we actually form?
Another question. How many men were in a division?
Third question. Did Germany really have 250 divisions? I don’t think so but am willing to be corrected.
Fourth Question. What is the definition of a division?
Big Short Sunderland flying boats assisting in the evacuation of key British personnel from Greece. ULTRA intercepts gave Allied planners the chance to second guess the Germans and evacuate troops from safe locations.
A day later at the Metsovon Pass high in the Pindus Mountains Greek and German forces clashed in a desperate battle. Realising that further fighting would only cause unnecessary losses the Greek commander surrendered his forces.
On Hitler's orders this was kept secret from the Italians and in recognition of their valour the officers were permitted to keep their side arms. The soldiers were disarmed and permitted to return home. Mussolini, however, insisted that the 1st Army should also surrender to the Italians, with whom the Greeks had fought for a further two days. On April 25 the Greek commander signed a second surrender agreement that included the Italians.
On April 19 the Greeks agreed that W Force should be evacuated. On the same day men of the German XVIII Gebirgsjager Corps entered Larissa and captured the airfield and British supply dumps. Ten truck loads of rations and fuel allowed the mountain troops to keep up their advance. At the port of Volos. which fell on April 21, the Germans again captured large quantities of petrol, oil and lubricants (POL). These captures were invaluable for the Germans whose supply lines were restricted by bad roads, demolitions and poor weather. They had even used Greek fishing vessels and lighters to move stores along the Aegean coast.
The access to ULTRA decrypts allowed the British to second guess the German moves and, in Operation 'Demon', evacuate not only many of their men, but also King George II of Greece, who flew out to Crete.
Luftwaffe reports said that British troops were being evacuated from Salamis, and 20 large and 15 small ships were in the Athenian port of Piraeus and four large and 31 smaller vessels in Khalkis. All the ports were reported to be well protected by AA batteries.
THE BALKANS AND NORTH AFRICA 1941 - 1942- Will Fowler
Wow.. That is a very interesting story about George gallup’s polling results of “men and women in every corner of the United States”. The resistance to committing troops to foreign wars was apparently far stronger then than it is now.
Also, the front page once again has a few stories (tough on my eyes, but I make out most of the words) about the unions/communists holding America’s defense and national security hostage to its demands.
Also of interest to me was the story about the 28 captured Nazi airmen who escaped from an “internment camp” near Lake Superior in Canada. The escape was believed to have been planned to coincide with Hitler’s birthday. My opinion is that it was a coincidence, alright.
As always, thanks for your pings and for your amazing efforts with this project.
That all changed when Hitler attacked their beloved Soviet Union.
26+6=1...though De Valera had a chance last year to unify Ireland which would have made that IRA slogan mute.
I sent “On War” an e-mail with a detailed breakdown of the development the Adolf Hitler unit along with my source material on the subject. I also made sure to thank them for their site since it has been very useful here.
Another question. How many men were in a division?
Third question. Did Germany really have 250 divisions? I dont think so but am willing to be corrected.
Fourth Question. What is the definition of a division
I have no clue - but I look forward to the answers.
I question their "answer" to question #19 - Switerland. I googled the question to double check and there were several sites that claim San Marino is the oldest republic....which I wouldnt have guessed right either....
Thanks for that. Better they should hear from somebody who knows what he's talking about. I would just have been relating second-hand info. Which I probably would have gotten garbled. Anyway, I know you wouldn't want me to neglect the post for the day I was working on. One of the most important events of the war occurred in May 1941, and I want our coverage to be thorough. That's right - the premier of "Citizen Kane."
These campaigns in the Balkans and Greece were in hindsight a fatal error for Hitler. They delayed the start of Barbarossa and thus allowed the winter of 1941-2 to stop the Wehrmacht as much as the Soviets themselves. Moscow came within a hairsbreadth of falling and who knows what would have happened if it had. The entire war situation might have been different.
It turns out Stalin my have saved himself by purging the Red Army in 1938, because there might have been a very good chance he would have been overthrown in a coup had he not.
A friend gave me a book on WW II for Christmas. Among the most blatant errors: Stating Manstein was a Field Marshal in 1940, claiming Guderian was returned to Panzer command in 1943, showing a photo claimed to be Admiral Yamamoto, which is actually Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo.
That’s right!! Citizen Kane if a very significant historical event. I might have to make that the picture for the month of May on the Year in Review thread.
I know how that feels. I got a video series called “Definitive History of WWII” for Christmas a few years ago and there were so many errors in the first DVD that I never even watched any of the other ones.
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