Soviets pentrating German defenses
Monday, December 21, 1942 www.onwar.com
On the Eastern Front... The Red Army makes a deep advance with the troops of General Golikov’s Voronezh Front. Manstein appeals to Hitler to order Paulus to breakout, but Hitler refuses citing Paulus report of a fuel shortage.
In Burma... British troop advancing toward Akyab capture Alethangyaw.
December 21st, 1942
Destroyer HMS Zambesi laid down.
Frigate HMS Lagan commissioned.
Escort carrier HMS Stalker commissioned.
Submarine HMS Sportsman commissioned.
Sloop HMS Pheasant launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
U-682, U-722 laid down.
U-277, U-487 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: Hitler uses Paulus’ reporting of fuel shortages to refuse Manstein’s request to order the German 6th Army to withdraw from Stalingrad.
NORTH AFRICA: Not a soldier entered the Catholic Church at Tobruk without taking off his hat, though the roof was open and six inches of water lay on the floor. On the pedestal of the Virgin Mary at right, every inch was covered with the scratched names and prayers of many soldiers, mostly Italians. Off left were the bell ropes of the three church bells, still undamaged, which every British soldiers rang at least once before he left. In a Cyrenaican town farther west the British found an Italian priest who had stayed with his church through five occupations. He said: “All the colonists are gone, but the priest must never leave his church. Religion is above wars. There must be many Catholics among the British in the army and I can help them.
Wing Commander Bobby Gibbes, an Australian, is leading his squadron of Kittyhawk fighter-bombers on a strafing attack against an Italian airfield in the Western Desert. During the attack several aircraft are destroyed on the ground, two by Gibbes, but his formation comes under heavy anti-aircraft fire. One of their number is shot down and a second is forced to crash-land a few miles from the target.
Although his own aircraft has been hit by shrapnel, Gibbes goes to the aid of his downed fellow pilot. With the rest of his formation providing cover, he lands and taxies his single-seat Kittyhawk across the rocky desert for a mile until stopped by a depression. He jettisons the external fuel tank to reduce the weight of his aircraft before pacing out a take-off strip as his comrade evaded Italian troops and ran to meet him.
Gibbes ditched his own parachute to allow his friend to sit in the seat before climbing in after him and sitting on his lap. Then as he took off, his undercarriage hit a small ridge, and he watched in horror as the port wheel falls off.
Escorted by his squadron pilots, Gibbes heads for base. With fighters in short supply, he decides against a belly landing but comes down on his one remaining wheel, thus causing minimal damage to his aircraft.
During the First World War such exploits had been recognised with a VC, and Gibbes was recommended for the supreme award. In the event he received an immediate DSO. (Daily Telegraph, 25/04/2007)
BURMA: British forces capture Alethangyaw in their advance toward Akyab.
Destroyer escorts USS Moore and Keith launched.
Minesweeper USS Starling commissioned.
Destroyer USS Stembel laid down.
Destroyer escort USS Hill laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
U-562 sank SS Strathallan in Convoy KMF-5.
U-591 sank SS Montreal City in Convoy ONS-152. (Dave Shirlaw)