Skip to comments.RUSSIANS FLANK KHARKOV, CLAIM TOLL OF 12,000; FIERCE REAR GUARD BATTLES RAGE IN CRIMEA (5/18/42)
Posted on 05/18/2012 4:28:25 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
From Magnificat, a Roman Catholic publication edited by Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P.
* Quarterly feature to follow evolution of American reading habits. The Moon is Down leads the pack in fiction. War related books dominate the general category. Here are the earlier lists. They are near the end of the post in each case.
British carriers bring planes to Malta
Monday, May 18, 1942 www.onwar.com
HMS Argus [photo at link]
In the Mediterranean... British carriers Argus and Eagle of Force H bring 17 more Spitfires to Malta.
From London... Admiral Harwood is appointed to command the British Mediterranean Fleet.
May 18th, 1942
UNITED KINGDOM: Belfast: Led by Private Marvin O’Neal from South Dakota, the largest contingent of American fighting men yet to arrive in the United Kingdom today disembarked after a convoy voyage hidden by fog. They include artillery and armoured units; soon after landing, 14-ton tanks rumbled from the docks.
Many of the men have Irish forefathers, as did some of the nurses from Harvard university, who arrived wearing trousers to the dismay of Irishmen waiting to whistle them ashore. A new US army helmet resembling the German “coal scuttle” also attracted attention. Some British authorities question the wisdom of the US Army publicizing links between emigrants and the old country, particularly as controversy still rages over the IRA’s murder of Constable Patrick Murphy in Belfast a month ago. Six teenage gunmen face hanging as a result, but 207,000 people have signed a reprieve petition.
Cordell Hull, the American secretary of state, is pressuring the British foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, not to hang the killers because “hanging six for one would shock public opinion.”
Rescue tug HMS King Salvor launched.
Sloop HMS Redpole laid down.
Minesweeper HMS Alarm commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Berlin: 27 Jews are shot for organizing a display of anti-Nazi posters.
Members of a resistance group which consists largely of Jewish youths tonight attacked an anti-Soviet exhibition being staged in the Berlin pleasure gardens. Eleven people were injured in the attack during which the protesters sought to set alight some of the exhibits assembled under the ironic title “The Soviet Paradise” by the Nazi authorities in the city.
Members of the resistance group, believed to be led by an electrician called Herbert Baum, left leaflets attacking “Gestapo lies” during their raid on the exhibition. The Gestapo is now leading the hunt for Baum and his colleagues.
U-718 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: At the end of the Battle of Kerch, two entire Soviet armies have been annihilated by six German and Romanian Panzer and infantry divisions.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: HMS Argus and HMS Eagle ferry 17 Spitfire fighters to Malta.
Admiral Harwood assumes command of the British Mediterranean Fleet.
BURMA: Chiang Kai-shek sends the Chinese Fifth Army to take up defensive positions at Myitkyina.
AUSTRALIA: Melbourne, Australia: The third victim of the “Brownout Strangler”, 40 year old Gladys Hosking was found dead this morning. Gladys and her friend Dorothy Pettigrew left the Melbourne University that dark, wet night. They said goodbye to each other. She was apparently later seen sharing an umbrella with an American serviceman. A short time later, Private Noel Seymour, an Australian soldier, saw an American soldier covered in mud. Private Seymour was guarding some Army vehicles positioned just outside of Camp Pell. The American asked Seymour how to catch a tram to Camp Pell. Seymour asked him where he had been and the American soldier replied that he had fallen in some mud coming through the park and indicated that he lived in Area One in Camp Pell in the street near the zoo. A few hours later Gladys Hosking’s body was found in a slit trench near Camp Pell. (Denis Peck)
TERRITORY OF HAWAII: The USAAF’s 7th Air Force is placed on alert in anticipation of a possible attack on Midway Island. For the next ten days the old Martin B-18 Bolos on hand are used on sea searches to supplement the B-17 Flying Fortresses. The VII Bomber Command receives an influx of B-17s during this period, and one squadron is converted from B-18s to B-17s. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: United States signed agreement at Panama concerning the use of Panama defense areas by United States forces.
Escort carrier USS Prince William laid down.
Destroyer USS Spence laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Three more unarmed U.S. merchant vessels are sunk by German submarines. U-156 sinks a freighter east of Barbados while U-125 sinks a tanker and a freighter in the Gulf of Mexico. (Jack McKillop)
At 0606, the unescorted and unarmed Mercury Sun was hit by two torpedoes from U-125 about 125 miles south of Cape Corrientes, Cuba, while steaming a zigzag course at 8.5 knots. The torpedoes struck on the port side at the #4 and #5 tanks and broke the back of the ship. The carbon dioxide smothering system on the tanker successfully kept the cargo from igniting after the first torpedo hit, but when the second hit the ship burst into flames. 29 of the nine officers and 26 crewmen managed to abandon ship in two lifeboats. At 0635, a coup de grâce struck the vessel on the starboard side at #8 tank, but the ship remained afloat and sank about three hours after the first attack, sagging in the middle. The master, chief mate, second mate and three crewmembers were lost. The lifeboats stayed near the burning ship until daybreak and then sailed towards the coast. 28 survivors were picked up nearly 40 hours after the attack by the American steam merchant Howard and landed on 19 May at Mobile, Alabama. One seriously injured crewman was transferred to a US Coast Guard boat at the Tampa Sea Buoy.
At 1018, the unescorted and unarmed Quaker City was hit by one torpedo from U-156 about 300 miles east of Barbados. The torpedo struck in the stern near the waterline and caused the ship to sink in ten minutes. The explosion shattered the propeller, the rudder and the after part of the ship and killed ten crewmen. The surviving ten officers and 20 crewmen immediately abandoned ship in four lifeboats and were questioned by the Germans. They were given the course to Barbados before the U-boat left the area. On 22 May, seven survivors in one boat were picked up by USS Blakeley at 15°01N/57°38W and landed at Trinidad on 24 May. On 24 May, the 15 survivors in the boat of the master landed at Barbados and eight survivors in another boat made landfall on the north coast of Dominica on 26 May. An oiler later died ashore from injuries.
At 1852, the unescorted San Eliseo was hit on the starboard side under the bridge and amidships by two torpedoes from U-156. The tanker had been spotted five hours before and continued after counter-flooding, firing into the direction of the U-boat, which surfaced and tried to get into a new firing position. At 0439 on 19 May, a third torpedo was fired that hit on the starboard side aft of the bridge but apparently only caused minor damage because the tanker still continued. Even a fourth torpedo hit at 0739 on the starboard side near the engine room could not stop her. At 0917, a stern torpedo was fired at the ship from the port side but missed because the tanker zigzagged wild from 120° to 330°. The U-boat had finally to give up the chase because it was ordered by the BdU to set course on Martinique immediately and the chance to score another hit on the alarmed tanker was very small. The San Eliseo arrived at Barbados on 20 May for temporary repairs, later continued to the USA where she returned to service after permanent repairs were made.
At 0210, the Beth was hit by two torpedoes from U-162 and sank. 21 men, including the master reached Barbados in two lifeboats after 36 hours, nine others landed at Tobago in a third lifeboat on 20 May.
At 0615, the unescorted Fauna was hit by one stern torpedo from U-558 and sank after 17 minutes. The U-boat misidentified her victim as the Towa. The survivors landed on Providence Island the same day.
SS William J Salman sunk by U-125 20.08N, 83.46W.
We’ve heard from Admiral Harwood before.
In September 1936 Harwood was appointed Commodore and given command of the South American Division of the America and West Indies Station, whilst at the same time serving as Commanding Officer of the cruiser HMS Exeter. At the outbreak of the Second World War, command of HMS Exeter passed to Captain F.S. Bell.
Harwood commanded the squadron consisting of the heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland and HMS Exeter, and the light cruisers HMS Achilles and HMS Ajax, which flew his broad pennant in the action against the Admiral Graf Spee at the River Plate.
The war pretty much dominated everything didn’t it?
Koscielec, Poland, 4 March 1884 - Hartheim, Austria, May 18, 1942
The Blessed John Martin Oprzadek, professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor, was born in Koscielec (Cracow), Poland, March 4, 1884. During the Second World War and I find martyrdom in the gas chambers at the town of Hartheim Linz, Austria, May 18, 1942. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13 June 1999.
Roman Martyrology: At Hartheim and near Linz in Austria, Oprządek Blessed Martin, Priest and Martyr of the Order of Friars Minor, 'which, of Polish nationality, the same way at the same time and the preceding reached the heavenly kingdom.
John was born in Oprzadek Koscielec, in the diocese of Cracow, March 4, 1884. He became a Friar Minor in the Province of Santa Maria degli Angeli in 1912. After Mom died of an incurable disease, and brother, loving care given to such HAD, was then immediately called to military service Prestar. Back in the convent at the end of the war, the complete novice in 1921 and the Temporary Occupation EMIS 15 septembre 1921 and THAT solemn October 4, 1924, taking the name of Martin. Usual and was gladly make several offices of the fraternity, more even and more pleasant, always serving the Lord with Joy. He was arrested Aug. 26, 1940 with the other brethren of the Convent of Wloclawek and deported to Sachsenhausen and at first, in December of that year and was interned Hartheim, near Linz, Austria. Here May 18, 1942 was brutally killed in the chamber and gas, remaining faithful until the end of his Christian vocation and Francesca. John Paul II beatified him and Warsaw (Poland) 13 juin 1999 with 107 other Polish martyrs, including your brother the other four figures. In today's date is commemorated by the new Roman Martyrology on the anniversary of his glorious martyrdom.
More on the Hartheim facility here:
A comparatively low volume operation specifically dedicated to the purpose.
Right, the best seller list. Yeah, existential threats tend to get a lot of attention.
I see the Japanese know where the Enterprise and Hornet are. I guess they won’t have to worry about them being in the Central Pacific.
Very good description of the destruction wrought by the winter fighting on the road from Moscow to Klin. The article does not have a byline indicating its contributor. I would not doubt that it was picked up from Alexander Werth, a British correspondent serving in Moscow. To the extent the Stalinist Soviets could “trust” a western correspondent, they trusted Werth and gave him access that other western correspondents (and even some of the allied military missions) could only dream of.
Werth’s account of his war time assignment is found in “Russia at War,” an excellent book on how the Soviets fought their desperate battle against the Germans. It is a must read for any serious student of the war in the east. Given some time I will post a few excerpts.
Very good description of the destruction wrought by the winter fighting on the road from Moscow to Klin.
Your two comments remind me of a big reason I enjoy doing these posts so much. I have read a little about the war on the eastern front, and a little about the war in North Africa, and a bit more about the war in the Pacific. But nowhere else have I been able to view the war in such full context. After the Coral Sea battle the focus shifted to the Kharkov-Crimea front so fast I almost got whiplash. I have now seen how the focus will revert to the Pacific in a few weeks, after resting for a spell on North Africa. Ill bet there were lots of Americans who, as they tried to digest what they were reading about in the paper, started their own map rooms to help them keep it straight.
Not Homers father though. I recall from my own time in basic training that news from the outside world comes to a halt until it is over. So far he as missed the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, the Doolittle raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the renewed fighting in Russia. And if anything new develops before the end of July he will miss that too.
Ha! “Shameless Project Promotion Alert!”
Reading the New York Times from 70 years ago gives you the full flavor of World War II as a titanic global human effort. You see on a daily basis the war economy as a domestic issue, and the fighting taking place from far-flung regions like Madagascar, North Africa, Burma, tiny Pacific Islands and the vast expanses of the USSR. The war was so huge that in history books it has always been broken down into chunks to discuss individual battles and campaigns. Too look at it as a global effort staggers the imagination. Yet more than anyone else, this global effort required the attention of Ernest King, Hap Arnold, George Marshall and their British counterparts. The Germans, Japanese and Soviets didn’t have the same global challenges.
These threads also challenge me to check and re-check my own sources. My first thought on reading the Japanese report of “we know where your carriers are” was “Wrong-O Bucko!” But upon checking my sources to verify, I was reminded that the Enterprise and Hornet were actually where the Japanse reported them. I would have made an assumption and been wrong. It was all about an intelligence cat-and-mouse game that the two sides were playing.
The American carriers deliberately let themselves be spotted; why? Because we knew the Japanese had targeted Midway, and wanted them to think our carriers were in the South Pacific. They had actually been dispatched to help with the battle of Coral Sea, but could not get there in time. So Nimitz let them be spotted, then sped them back to Pearl.
Why would the Japanese report that they knew our carriers were there? So that the Americans would infer that there would be more operations in the South Pacific, and provide security for Operation MI.
Obviously, the reader of the Times didn’t know all of this, nor did they know we had more or less broken the Japanese Naval Code. So after the Coral Sea Battle, the reader would assume the spotting of our carriers in the South Pacific meant more fighting down there. Reading the Times shows not only what was reported, but what was not, and you can now see why it was reported and how it related to what was really going on. That’s what makes these threads so provocative.
Thanks again for doing this.
So I call your “shameless promotion” and raise you an ass-kissing!
"One method the Nazis used to discourage rebellion was the shooting of hostages, especially women and children, in retaliation for acts of resistance.
Five women, about to fall victims to a firing squad, were among 100 Slovenians shot in the village of Celje in 1942.
The Nazis believed that the shooting of women and children would be especially effective in discouraging resistance activity.
Yet, even such atrocities did not completely halt the actions of the Yugoslavian partisans."
"Their work done, the 30 troops of the German firing squad in Celje turn on their heels, leaving their five victims sprawled awkwardly in death.
The bodies were removed on gurneys and taken to a mass grave for burial."
That must have been in the article by Alvin J. Steinkopf on page 1. I missed that one.
Interesting article on oil reserves and refining capacity. Also interesting on the pressure to build more merchant shipping. Maybe this was the “logistics issue.”
I also found the gymnastics article pretty interesting. It's funny how half the skills he shows off here can be done by my 8 year old son today. How that sport has changed.