Axis offensive in Tunisia expanding
Monday, February 15, 1943 www.onwar.com
Axis troops filling water containers before the battle [Photo at link]
In Tunisia... Troops under the command of Rommel, now commanding the Italian 1st Army, join the Axis offensive. A detachment of the 15th Panzer Division, along with Italian armor, strikes Gafsa and captures the town. Most of Rommel’s forces are defending the Mareth Line where the last of the rearguard is now arriving from Libya.
February 15th, 1943 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Submarine HMS L-27 completed ASW training Harbor Grace; to USA for refit.
Frigate HMS Berry commissioned.
Destroyer HMS Trafalgar laid down.
Submarines HMS Visigoth and Supreme laid down.
Submarine HMS Templar commissioned.
Frigate HMS Berry commissioned.
Sloops HMS Modeste and Nereide laid down.
GERMANY: A man from U-635 took his own life in Hamburg. [Maschinengefreiter Werner Grande].
U-350, U-1007, U-1132 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
FINLAND: Marshal Mannerheim states for the first time openly that he won’t order any offensive operations anymore. Earlier he had promised to attack after Germans have taken Leningrad. Germans have been putting hard pressure to Finnish leadership throughout the 1942 to cut the Lend and Lease supply route. USA has on the other hand threatened to declare war if Finns try to stop Lend and Lease shipments. Ryti is elected for the president of the republic for the second term. (Gene Hanson)
U.S.S.R.: The rear-guard of the 40th Panzer Corps escapes annihilation by the Fourth Ukrainian Front. (Gene Hanson)
NORTH AFRICA: Rommel’s 15th Panzer Division attacks the US II Corps and succeeds in taking Gafsa.
Submarine USS Pickerel torpedoes and sinks SS Tateyama Maru (1990 BRT) off the east coast of Honshu in position 39.18N, 142.08E.
Submarine USS Gato torpedoes and sinks stores ship Suruga Maru (991 BRT) in Bougainville Strait in position 06.27S, 156.02E.
Submarine USS Guardfish ends her 3rd war patrol at Brisbane.
Submarine USS Tunny sinks a Japanese sampam with gunfire east of the Bonin Islands in approximate position 25.00N, 147.00E. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: USS PC-597 commissioned.
USS SC-1019 commissioned.
USS YMS-16 commissioned.
USS SC-1305 launched.
USS YMS-235 launched.
Submarine USS Tullibee commissioned.
Destroyer escorts USS Neuendorf and Manning laid down.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-225 (Type VII) is sunk in the North Atlantic, position 55.45N, 31.09W, by depth charges from a British B-24 Liberator aircraft (Sqdn 120/S). 46 dead (all hands lost). (Alex Gordon)
The Atlantic Sun had developed engine trouble and straggled from the convoy ON-165. At 1000, the tanker tried to catch up with the convoy when struck by two torpedoes from U-607 on the port side 150 miles off Cape Race. The first torpedo split the ship in half abaft the midships house and the other blew a large hole in the bow. The forward section sank in 20 minutes. The after section appeared sound enough to be taken into port under power. After the ship broke in two, 22 men led by the chief officer abandoned the after section. They returned two hours later and reboarded the after part of the ship, going below to change clothing. 30 minutes later with the men still below, a third torpedo from U-607 struck near the stern post, causing the stern to sink 30 minutes later. After the hit a lifeboat with eight men cleared the ship half-swamped and without oars. Others went over the side into the sea just before the ship turned over keel up and sank. The ordinary seaman William Golobich was picked up by the U-boat from the water and took him to St. Nazaire. He eventually went to Milag POW camp. Those who remained behind faced moderate seas and 25° weather. None of the ten officers, 36 men, 19 armed guards (the tanker was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and one passenger on board survived except the man that was taken prisoner.
USCGC Calypso removed 42 persons from lifeboat of SS Buarque (Brazil) east of Cape Henry. (Dave Shirlaw)