Skip to comments.ROOSEVELT CAUTIONS VICHY, APPEALS TO PEOPLE; GERMAN PLANES ENTER SYRIA TO ASSIST IRAQ (5/16/41)
Posted on 05/16/2011 5:55:38 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Luftwaffe conducts the last night Blitz
Friday, May 16, 1941 www.onwar.com
Over Britain... German fighter-bombers raid southeastern England. The last bombing of the “night Blitz” on British cities is carried out by 111 Luftwaffe aircraft striking Birmingham and West Midlands.
In the Mediterranean... There are powerful German air attacks on the island of Crete. These are in preparation for the coming landing and are designed to subdue the garrison and compel the RAF to withdraw its few aircraft from Crete.
Over Germany... The RAF attacks Cologne, causing fires on both banks of the Rhine.
Over Occupied Europe... RAF raids targets in France and Holland.
Over Iraq... German He111 bombers strike Habbaniyah, causing serious damage.
In Bolivia... The government nationalizes the German-owned airline Lloyd Aero Boliviano.
From Berlin... Rommel is instructed to concentrate the German Afrika Korps against the British at Sollum and leave Italians to guard Tobruk.
In Occupied Denmark... The Icelandic Parliament issues a formal declaration of independence from Denmark.
May 16th, 1941
UNITED KINGDOM: Mr Percy Barnard Weller (d. 1979), a worker in an explosives plant, rescued a man from a blazing building after a blast. Unfortunately the man died. (Edward Medal)
Corvettes HMS Lavender and Jasmine commissioned.
Frigate HMS Exe laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: U-385, U-386 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
LIBYA: The British withdraw from gains achieved yesterday near Halfaya Pass on the border of Egypt and Cyrenaica.
Rommel is ordered to attack Sollum and leave Tobruk to the Italian army.
ETHIOPIA: Amba Alagi: The Italian army is seeking terms of surrender. The Duke of Aosta and his 18,000 troops had made a last stand here in the arid mountains of Tigre. The defences seemed unscaleable, but the morale of the Italians weakened. The Eritrean levies deserted them when they learnt of Britain’s promise to give self-determination to Eritrea.
With over-stretched defences, and believing that the main attack would come through the Falaga Pass in the east, the Italian western defences crumbled when attacked by Indian and British troops.
TURKEY: Iraqi-Soviet exchange of notes at Ankara establishing diplomatic relations.
IRAQ: Baghdad: Iraqi Headquarters announced:
No change on the western front. on the southern front, three British aircraft released several bombs over an Iraqi city. The ground defenses succeeded in shooting down one Wellington bomber. The Iraqi air force undertook reconnaissance flights over enemy bases and all aircraft returned undamaged. Our aircraft overflew the area around Ar Rutbah and successfully bombed enemy armoured vehicles. British aircraft attacked our military barracks but no major damage was done. One enemy aircraft was probably shot down. Our troops in the desert fought throughout the day and are continuing to keep the situation under control.
3 German He-111s of the special Junck unit, bombed the British at Habbaniya. Then the aircraft of the British Fleet Air Arm raided the Iraqi airfield at Mosul and destroyed one He 111 bomber and 2 Me 110 destroyers of the Junck force.
Corvette HMCS Shawinigan launched Lauzon, Province of Quebec.
Corvette HMCS Levis commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ICELAND: Iceland severs personal union with Denmark.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0548, the unescorted Rodney Star was hit in the stern by one of two torpedoes from U-105 about 420 miles WSW of Freetown. The ship was hit in the bow and amidships by two coup de grâce at 0620 and 0746, but remained afloat. The U-boat surfaced and fired 91 high explosive rounds and 22 incendiary rounds from the deck gun into the waterline. During this action, the deck gun on U-105 exploded, wounding six crewmembers. Shortly before the ship sank by the stern in 05°08N/19°15W at 0930, a shell exploded in the barrel which was tore apart and wounded six men of the gun crew. The survivors were picked up after six days by HMS Boreas and Batna and landed at Takoradi on 23 May. (Dave Shirlaw)
Day 624 May 16, 1941
Operation Brevity. Colonel von Herff wants to withdraw, believing the British force to be bigger than it really is. Rommel suspects the Allied attack is a major breakout from Egypt to relieve the besieged forces at Tobruk and orders von Herff to counterattack. In the face of German reinforcements, Brigadier Gott withdraws British tanks and infantry from the desert around Sollum and Fort Capuzzo, Libya, to consolidate a hold on Halfaya Pass.
Amba Alagi, Ethiopia. At 7.30 AM, with the drinking water of the Italian fortifications contaminated, Duke of Aosta sends an envoy, Colonel Tramontano, to request fresh water. When the British refuse, Tramontano asks for a ceasefire until 7 PM to allow a senior officer, General Volpini, to negotiate terms for surrender. However, Volpini is killed en route by Ethiopian guerrillas who have begun terrorizing the Italian troops. British extend the ceasefire until noon tomorrow.
Luftwaffe bombs British anti-aircraft emplacements and RAF airfields on Crete, to weaken British air defenses in preparation for the invasion (2 Hurricanes of 33 Squadron at Maleme are shot down). Suda Bay is also bombed, sinking several freighters and causing further damage to crippled British cruiser HMS York. Destroyer HMS Encounter in drydock at Malta is hit again by German bombers.
Iraq. 3 Heinkel He111 bombers attack RAF Habbaniyah (1 British Gloster Gladiator shot down, 1 Heinkel is damaged and ditches in the desert). Kingcol is attacked for the second day by Luftwaffe aircraft, causing some casualties but no damage.
Between 5.48 and 9.30 AM 400 miles off Sierra Leone, U-105 sinks British SS Rodney Star with 4 torpedoes and shellfire (all 83 hands escape in lifeboats, picked up 6 days later by destroyer HMS Boreas and SS Batna). A shell explodes in the barrel of U-105s deck gun wounding 6 of the gun crew.
10 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, German bombers sink British troopship SS Archangel carrying troops back from the Orkneys (40 crew and 12 troops killed, 35 crew and 400 troops rescued by destroyer HMS Blankney).
Overnight, RAF bombs Bramsfeld in the industrial Ruhr Valley, Germany, hitting the Atlantik rubber works.
When the tunnel was first proposed many NY politicians objected and instead wanted a six-lane bridge built instead.
It’s remarkable but in those days wonders like that tunnel were common events in this growing country.
And meanwhile, in Hawaii:
"His real name was Ensign Takeo Yoshikawa; under the cover name of [Tadishi] Morimura he had been detailed to Hawaii for espionage purposes...
"The nature of Morimuras business in Oahu was clear. [Navy investigator, Lieutenant Denzel] Carr noted with an underline on May 16 :
'Morimura seems to spend most of his time outside the office.
At first I assumed it was a coincidence or that he was sick, but now have decided he is the outside man.'
[Carr's associate, FBI agent Frederick G. Tillman, who was the case agent assigned to Morimura] "initialed the report and highlighted it for Washington.
"Morimuras espionage operations in Hawaii fall into two phases: from March 29 to August 21, 1941, and from August 21 to December 6.
In the first phase he sent twenty-two messages to Tokyo.
The Army and Navy intercept stations at Corregidor, San Francisco, Fort Hunt, Virginia, and Mackays Station X in Washington obtained nineteen of the messages.
In these intercepts, Morimura reported on types of warships and aircraft he saw operating from Pearl Harbor and at Army airfields.
He located the Navy and Army radio transmitting facilities on Oahu, but missed Station H.
Station FIVE, General Shorts intercept unit at Fort Shafter, also escaped scrutiny not only by Morimura, but by Japans new Consul-General Nagao Kita and by Okuda.
During a ceremonial visit to Fort Shafter in April to honor Kitas arrival at the diplomatic post, both failed to notice the unit, which was located in an old laundry building near the main gate.
"For over fifty years top FBI officials have denied knowledge of Morimura/Yoshikawas activities prior to December 7, 1941.
Their denials are another major Pearl Harbor cover-up.
"Two dozen FBI and Navy documents dated before the attack link Morimura with espionage in Hawaii.
According to these documents, senior American intelligence officials, including the President, knew of Morimuras espionage at the Honolulu consulate.
His reports clearly pointed to Pearl Harbor as a prime target of Japanese military planners."
Stinnett, Robert (1999). Day of Deceit, chapter 6
A little something for the conspiracy theorists:
The eighth Washington (BB-56) was laid down on 14 June 1938 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched on 1 June 1940; sponsored by Miss Virginia Marshall, of Spokane, Wash., a direct descendant of former Chief Justice Marshall; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 15 May 1941, Capt. Howard H. J. Benson in command.
Her shakedown and underway training ranged along the eastern seaboard and into the Gulf of Mexico and lasted through American entry into World War II in December 1941. Sometimes operating in company with her sistership North Carolina (BB-55) and the new aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8), Washington became the flagship for Rear Admiral John W. Wilcox, Commander, Battleship Division (ComBatDiv) 6, and Commander, Battleships, Atlantic Fleet.
Assigned duty as flagship for Task Force (TF) 39 on 26 March 1942 at Portland, Maine, Washington again flew Admiral Wilcox’ flag as she sailed for the British Isles that day. Slated to reinforce the British Home Fleet, the battleship, together with the carrier Wasp (CV-7) and the heavy cruisers Wichita (CA-45) and Tuscaloosa (CA-37), headed for Scapa Flow, the major British fleet base in the Orkney Islands.
While steaming through moderately heavy seas the following day, 27 March, the “man overboard” alarm sounded on board Washington, and a quick muster revealed that Admiral Wilcox was missing. Tuscaloosa, 1,000 yards astern, maneuvered and dropped life buoys while two destroyers headed for Washington’s wake to search for the missing flag officer. Planes from Wasp, despite the foul weather, also took off to aid in the search.
Lookouts in the destroyer Wilson (DD-408) spotted Wilcox’ body in the water, face down, some distance away, but could not pick it up. The circumstances surrounding Wilcox being washed overboard from his flagship have never been fully explained to this day; one school of thought has it that he had suffered a heart attack.
At 1228 on the 27th, the search for Wilcox was abandoned, and command of the task force devolved upon the next senior officer, Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen, whose flag flew in the cruiser Wichita. On 4 April, the task force reached Scapa Flow, joining the British Home Fleet under the overall command of Sir John Tovey, whose flag flew in the battleship HMS King George V.