Skip to comments.NAZIS DRIVE RUSSIANS BACK IN CRIMEA; SOVIET OPENS AN ATTACK ON KHARKOV (5/14/42)
Posted on 05/14/2012 4:22:15 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Here's a suggestion for readers who enjoy historical novels and also like the WWII + 70 years realtime format. I happened upon a book called The Rising Tide, by Jeff Shaara, which follows the course of the war from North Africa in May 1942 to Italy in 1944. The characters are all real people, from Eisenhower and Rommel to enlisted tank crewmen and paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne. Shaara presents their stories as he imagines they saw things. The chapters are divided into sections that give the dates of the events covered, thus making it convenient to follow along with these threads. Shaara also wrote some books on the Civil War, including Gods and Generals, which was made into a movie. I havent read the book or seen the movie. The only other book by Shaara I have read is the sequel to The Rising Tide, which covers 1944 through D-Day and the weeks that followed.
The action in The Rising Tide begins on May 27, 1942 with Rommels breakthrough at Gazala. Thats about two weeks away.
Americans read Japanese plans for Midway
Thursday, May 14, 1942 www.onwar.com
In Washington... The first indications of Japanese planning for an attack on Midway Island, in the Central Pacific, reach the code breakers.
May 14th, 1942
UNITED KINGDOM: London: Despite British assurances that Madagascar will be returned to France after the war, de Gaulle sends Free French troops to claim the island.
Stockings have hit the headlines with a request from the board of trade that women should go without in the summer so that there are enough stockings for the winter. And parents are being asked not to be concerned about their daughters going bare-legged to work.
While their younger sisters are being urged back into the ankle-socks of their childhood, some women are opting for the “liquid stocking” in preference to revealing their legs to the world. They colour them with anything from suntan lotion to onion skins, and then draw in seams down the back with eyebrow pencil.
Destroyers HMS Hardy and Zebra laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Rastenburg: Hitler obsessed with winning the Russian war, refuses Admiral Dönitz’s plea for all-out war on Allied merchant shipping.
The air offensive against Germany’s industrial heartland - the Battle of the Ruhr - has reached a new intensity in the past 48 hours. On 12-13 May the inland port of Duisburg was hit for the fifth time in a raid led by ten target-marking “Oboe” Mosquitoes, which were followed by 562 heavy bombers. The total weight of explosive dropped on this one town is now 5,157 tons. On 13-14 May much of Bochum, a coal-rich area near Dortmund, was also reduced to burning rubble. So dense was the coverage that one Stirling returned with three incendiary bombs embedded in its wings.
Yet the raids also extended far beyond the “Happy Valley” of the Ruhr. Targets have included Berlin, Czechoslovakia and Belgium; American Flying Fortresses are tonight attacking the General Motors plant at Antwerp, US-owned before the war. The total bomb tonnage delivered in this 48-hours was 4,000. Seventy-two aircraft have been lost, but Bomber Command reluctantly accepts such losses as inevitable.
U-622, U-663 commissioned.
U-239, U-240, U-968 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: Soviet destroyer Dzerjinsky sunk on a “friendly” mine. (Dave Shirlaw)
ARCTIC OCEAN: Cruiser HMS Trinidad which had been repaired at Kola after sustaining a hit by one of her own torpedoes, is subjected to air attacks after leaving Murmansk and has to be scuttled in the Barents Sea 100 miles N of Murmansk at 73 37N 23 53E.There are 81 casualties. (Alex Gordon)(108)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Fred was damaged by a mine laid by U-561 off Port Said.
Hav struck a mine laid on 14 April by U-561 off Port Said. Two crewmembers were killed and several of the survivors were injured and taken to a hospital ship in the harbor. The ship immediately began to sink, but tugs towed her to land where she was beached in 29ft of water in 31°17´57N/32°21´09E. Later that summer she was on fire six times and declared a total loss.
Mount Olympus sank after hitting a mine laid by U-561 on 14 April off Port Said. The wreck, which broke in three, lies in 31°19´45N/32°23´15E. (Dave Shirlaw)
PACIFIC OCEAN: The first Japanese coded radio messages are broken that indicate the upcoming Japanese operation at Midway.
CANADA: Minesweeper HMCS Blairmore launched Port Arthur, Ontario. (Dave Shirlaw)
NEWFOUNDLAND: An area off St. John’s is mined by U-213.
U-213 also lands a German spy near the town of St. Martins, New Brunswick. The spy, Lieutenant M.A. Langbein, has documents identifying him as “Alfred Haskins” of Toronto, Ontario and his task is to monitor convoy traffic leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia. Upon landing, he buried his uniform and supplies, and made his way to Ottawa, Ontario, where he lived on the funds he had been provided. In late 1944, he turned himself into Canadian authorities but was not punished since he had not conducted any spying. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: The Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps is established.
It’s first director is Oveta Culp Hobby, the wife of a prominent politician and publisher in Houston, Texas.
President Manuel Quezon established Philippine government in Washington.
Corvette HMCS Snowberry completed forecastle extension refit Charleston, South Carolina. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRENCH WEST INDIES: French High Commissioner consented to the immobilization of French warships at Martinique and Guadeloupe (as a result of conversations between Admiral Georges Robert, French High Commissioner, and Rear Admiral John. H. Hoover, commander of the Caribbean Sea Frontier and Samuel Reber, assistant chief of the European division of the State Department. The Laval Government had insisted that under the terms of the armistice it could not turn over to the United States its tankers and other merchant ships in the French possessions. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 1812, the unescorted Comayagua was hit by one torpedo from U-125 about 14 miles west by south of Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The torpedo struck just forward midships in the boiler room, killing six crewmembers on watch below. At 18.30 hours a second torpedo hit about 20 feet from the stern and blew it off, causing the ship to sink immediately. The rest of her crew of 38 men and four armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in gun aft and two .30cal guns, one on each bridge wing) abandoned ship in boats and rafts. U-125 surfaced and the master was questioned by Folkers and he told him that land was only 10 miles away. Apparently Folkers did not understand the name of the ship correctly; he misidentified the vessel as the British steam merchant Cayuga. 15 minutes later a USN aircraft appeared and tried to locate the U-boat without success. It then flew off to Georgetown where the pilot dropped a note in the Commissioners garden, informing him of the survivors. The motor schooner Cimboco was sent to pick up the survivors and returned them to Georgetown. The Jr. Engineer had been badly burned and died later in the hospital at Georgetown. One armed guard was also badly burned but survived.
MS Brabant sunk by U-155 at 11.32N, 62.43W.
At 0202, the unescorted British Ardour was torpedoed and sunk by U-162 90 miles northeast of Bridgetown, Barbados. Four crewmembers were lost. The master, 39 crewmembers and three gunners landed 13 miles north of Bridgetown.
At 0547, the unescorted David McKelvy was hit by one torpedo from U-506 about 35 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, as she proceeded on a zigzag course at 10 knots. The torpedo struck amidships on the port side at about the #4 tank. A huge explosion set the ship on fire and the water around the tanker quickly became covered with burning oil. U-506 surfaced, Würdemann examined the vessel and decided to leave without to do further damage. The master and the three deck officers perished as the bridge crumpled in the flames. 23 men among the eight officers, 28 men and six armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in and two .50cal guns) abandoned ship 20 minutes after the hit in the #3 lifeboat. Some others jumped overboard and swam to two rafts. These survivors were picked up by the USCGC Boutwell and taken to the section base at Burwood, Louisiana. Four were badly burned and were taken to the Marine Hospital in New Orleans, where one crewman died. The Chief Engineer and the pumpman survived by standing in the fresh water tanks of the ships double bottom until the fire burned out. The two men were picked up by the Norwegian motor tanker Norsol the next day and taken to Key West, Florida. Four officers, 11 men and two armed guard died. A salvage crew reboarded the burned out tanker on 29 May and prepared to tow her to the beach. After beaching on the coast of Louisiana, she was declared a total loss.
At 0717, the unescorted and neutral Potrero del Llano was torpedoed and sunk by U-564 off Florida. The survivors were picked up by USS PC-536 and taken to Miami. Prior to the attack, Suhren had noticed a illuminated flag painted on the side of the ship and the identification books indicated that the ship had to be Italian, but this was not possible due to the position and route of the vessel so he decided to sink the tanker. The Mexican flag has the same colours like the Italian but has an eagle in the central part. The problem was that only ships of the Mexican Navy were permitted to show the eagle on the flag, the Mexican merchants were only allowed to paint the flag without eagle on the side of their ships, this resulted in the misidentification of their nationality.
SS Stavros damaged by U-593 at 39.45N, 72.35W. (Dave Shirlaw)
During this second “Happy Time,” the first six months of 1942, U-Boats sank 585 allied ships of 3,081,000 tons. By far the majority was off the US coast and in the Caribbean Sea.
Germany started the year with 91 operational boats. By the end of June, she had 140.
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