Skip to comments.ALLIES DRIVE TO TURN ALBAN LINE AND CLOSE IN ON FOE FROM EAST; AIR BLOWS CAP A RECORD MONTH (6/1/44)
Posted on 06/01/2014 4:08:35 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for War 1 June 44
Pray let me have a statement setting out the full establishment of the service of psychiatrists in the Army, including all dependent and ancillary personnel.
Winston S. Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy
Americans advance on Rome
Thursday, June 1, 1944 www.onwar.com
American forces advance towards Rome [photo at link]
In Italy... Forces of the US 5th Army advance toward Rome. The US 2nd and 6th Corps, exploiting the capture of Velletri, attack through the Alban Hills toward Albano and Valmonte. With the breach of the Caesar Line, German Army Group C (Kesselring) orders a withdrawal north of Rome. Rearguards delay the American advance.
On the Eastern Front... German forces continue to attack near Jassy. Elements of the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front counterattack and regain possession of the ground lost during the recent fighting.
In the Mediterranean... A German convoy bound for Crete from occupied Greece is attacked by RAF planes. Several ships are sunk.
From London... In the evening, the BBC broadcasts the first code message intended as a warning to the French resistance that a invasion is imminent. The Germans appreciate the significance of the message and alert some units in occupied France.
In New Guinea... On Biak Island, American forces resume their offensive and the infantry gain some ground with armored support. On the mainland, Japanese forces continue their attacks around the Aitape beachhead and the American defenders continue to fall back.
June 1st, 1944 (THURSDAY)
ÉIRE: Dublin: The Irish people today gave Eamon de Valera the vote of confidence denied him by the Dail and returned him to power with a majority of 14 over the combined opposition. His Fianna Fail party increased its representation from 67 deputies to 76. Political commentators think that one reason for the result is de Valera’s strict neutrality policy, maintained to the point of defying Allied attempts to dislodge Axis missions from the Irish capital. The negative result of that policy is Eire’s increasing economic isolation. This will be a priority for the new government; the poll followed a defeat over transport proposals.
UNITED KINGDOM: London: The BBC transmits the first of two quotations from the poetry of Verlaine as a message to the French Resistance that invasion is imminent. Some German units go on alert.
Britain: Operations Fortitude North and Fortitude South, to convince the Germans that the invasion force will strike at both Norway and the Pas-de-Calais, come to an end.
Britain: Crucial to the success of “Ultra” the operation at Bletchley Park, are the Bombes, the machines that do the deciphering of the German Enigma codes. Initially these were wholly mechanical, but earl in 1943 an electro-magnetic version came into service. And today a new all-electronic model, codenamed Colossus, became operational. This has been developed at the Post Office Research Laboratory at Dollis Hill, in North London, and will radically speed up deciphering.
The USAAF’s Ninth Air Force in England dispatches about 100 B-26 Marauders to bomb airfields and coastal defence batteries from the Belgian border to the Cherbourg Peninsula.
The German Perspective
Thursday, June 1, 1944
Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt is looking over the latest roster of his army. At present he commands (including the eight divisions in Holland and Belgium) some 59 divisions.* Of these, 34 are considered -bodenstaendige- or reserve. They could at best only be used in defensive operations. Of the remaining 25 that were considered fit for combat, 13 were actually mobile infantry (`mobile’ here being used in the loosest sense; this might mean a wild mixture of anything from horse-drawn wagons to bicycles to a wild mixture of a variety of old pre-war vehicles or motorbikes). Two more divisions were paratrooper, without the airdrop capability, of course.
Another 11 divisions were panzer divisions, with four of these being SS units - the 1st SS, 2nd SS, 12th SS, and the 17th SS Panzergrenadier. Three are designated as OKW reserves: the 12th SS Panzer and Panzer Lehr are inland, away from the Normandy coast. The 1st SS Panzer is up in Belgium, between Brussels and Antwerp.
One panzer division, the rebuilt 21st, is equipped with many substandard vehicles.
Of the three that Rommel controls, the 21st is now near Caen, with a regiment of panzer-grenadiers on each side of the Orne River. The 2nd and 116th Panzer are on the other side of the Seine River, in 15th Army’s sector.
Three panzer formations are allocated down south, in Blaskowitz’s Army Group G. The 11th Panzer is inland from Bordeux, the 2nd SS Panzer about 70 km north of Toulouse, and the 9th Panzer-near Avignon.
One more panzer division, the hard-fought and depleted 19th, was coming west to Holland to refit and reform. It would not be allocated to any kind of combat.
Most of the ten available panzer divisions were still understrength -— testimony to the ferocity of the Soviet army.
Von Rundstedt looks at his watch. Time to go for a walk. He takes his walking stick and leaves out the back. He’d stop for a drink somewhere as soon as he ditched the Gestapo agent that was tasked with following him.
Rommel goes to his study after breakfast and looks over the morning reports. A few hundred bombers had hit some radio and radar stations on the coast the night before; But the Navy reports that there are many still operating. That’s good.
Rommel wonders about the invasion date. Why didn’t they attack in May? There were something like 18 days of near-perfect weather, and the month ended on a bright, sunny day. And the tides were right. Every- one know by now that the Allies are in a high state of readiness. The landing, he reasoned, IF THERE IS TO BE ONE, can only be a few weeks away. More and more, it seems like the invasion will probably tie in with the expected Soviet offensive, estimated to come late in June, after the late Polish thaw ends.
He still feels that the invasion will be up the coast — away from Normandy, and somewhere in the 15th Army sector. For one thing, Allied reconnaissance flights up there outnumber those over the Seventh Army by a 2-to-1 ratio. Still, he cannot take any chances. All of Heeresgruppe B is in an alert status, although it is a low-grade one.
That morning, Rommel confers with Assistant Secretary Bernd, a member of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry. They discuss how to psychologically influence the enemy at the moment of invasion. Clearly, Rommel is not leaving any stone unturned.
Things seemed quiet, and in the afternoon, Rommel takes advantage of the good weather. He and Lang take off for another look at the coast. They go northeast to inspect the fortress at Dieppe and the shoreline covered by the 245th and 348th Divisions up there.
While examining beach defenses, Rommel is told that the incomplete 170mm battery near Ault has now twice been bombed. He directs that the guns be withdrawn until the concrete emplacements are finished.
That evening, after returning to his headquarters, he sits back and relaxes at a small celebration party given by his staff. Von Tempelhoff had been promoted to full colonel. At the same time, they officially welcomed into their staff a new member, Major Winrich Behr. The nickname “Teddy Bear” is soon being used. On the other hand they bade a heartfelt farewell to Colonel Heckel and a few other officers who have acted as their quartermaster staff for a while.
It is dark now. 15th Army Signals Center is busy with routine interceptions of BBC transmissions. As usual, they are analyzed for content. The office door to Oberstleutnant Meyer. 15th Army Intelligence Officer, is flung open by his sergeant on watch. “Sir,” he says breathlessly. “The first part of the message. It’s here.”
Meyer looks up sharply. “The Verlaine poem?” he replies.
“Yes, -Herr Oberstleutnant.- I just heard it.”
Meyers quickly follows him over to the watch office and hears the wire recording of the intercept. It is the first verse. Admiral Canaris’ information had been right. And now the invasion would come in a few days. They would have to notify all major commands immediately.
Meyer calls picked up the telephone and called 15th Army Chief of Staff, -Generalleutnant Rudolf Hofmann, and tells him about the intercept. Hoffmann puts 15th Army on alert.
Before Meyer sends a message to all major commands, he listens to the intercept again, those seven French words echoing in his ears.
“-Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne...-”
Alfred Jodl, sitting at his desk at the “Little Chancellery” in Berchtesgaden, receives a message from Meyer at Fifteenth Army. The first verse of the Verlaine poem had been sent. More spy intelligence crap. Well, he is pretty sure that after von Rundstedt reads it, he will put all of France on alert, so Jodl decides he does not need to.
He puts the dispatch on his desk, along with the rest of the day’s message traffic, and forgets about it.
* While actual numbers vary, most sources agree that von Rundstedt commanded anywhere from 58 to 60 divisions at this time.
Pete Margaritis (156)
ITALY: US II and VI Corps drive toward Rome through the Alban Hills.
Field Marshal Kesselring orders a fighting withdrawal north of Rome.
U.S.S.R.: A Russian counterattack near Jassy begins to get results despite strong German resistance.
CHINA: Japanese troops capture Pingchien and Changshouchie in a fourth attempt to take Changsha.
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: The submarine USS Narwhal (SS-167) lands 16-men and 25 tons of supplies on the southwest coast of Mindanao Island. The sub takes out two men to help plan future missions.
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: 2 B-24s from Shemya (Aleutian Islands) photograph and bomb installations at Buroton Bay, in the Kurile Islands, including a suspected seaplane base and the harbor area. Of 2 B-25s and 4 P-38s staking off for guardship cover mission, 3 aircraft abort with engine trouble. 2 other B-25s fly a negative antishipping sweep. (Edward S. Miller)
At 1300 hours local, the Japanese Kiska Invasion Force departs Kashiwabara, Paramushiru Island, Kurile Islands bound the Kiska Island in the Aleutian Islands.
Rear Admiral Theobald, USN, in the light cruiser USS Nashville (CL-43), enters the Gulf of Alaska to join Task Group 8.6 (the heavy cruisers USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and USS Louisville (CA-28) and the light cruisers USS St. Louis (CL-49) and USS Honolulu (CL-48). They will position themselves 400 miles (644 km) south of Kodiak Island to “exploit opportunities.” Unfortunately they are too far away, and with the policy of radio silence are effectively out of the upcoming invasion of Attu and Kiska and the air attacks on Dutch Harbor.
The submarine USS Herring (SS-233), Commanding Officer David Zabriskie, Jr., is lost. Possibly sunk by a Japanese shore battery -Kurile Is. All hands are lost. (Joe Sauder)
CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 428, Shimushu Island in the Kuriles was bombed by Ventura search planes of Fleet Air Wing Four before dawn on May 30 (West Longitude Date). Moderate antiaircraft fire was encountered. Ventura search planes of Fleet Air Wing Two, Dauntless dive bombers and Corsair fighters of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, and Navy Hellcat fighters bombed and strafed enemy positions in the Marshalls on May 29. Runways, piers, and antiaircraft batteries were hit. Meagre antiaircraft fire was encountered.
CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 429, Guam Island was bombed by Liberators of the Seventh Army Air Force during daylight on May 28 (West Longitude Date). Approximately ten enemy fighters attempted to intercept our formation. One fighter was probably shot down. Antiaircraft fire ranged from moderate to intense.
Truk Atoll was attacked by Seventh Army Air Force Liberators at night on May 30. The airstrips were hit, and a fire started which was visible one hundred fifty miles. One enemy plane was in the air over the target. Anti- aircraft fire was meagre.
Wake Island was bombed on May 30 by Seventh Army Air Force Liberators, which obtained hits on Peacock and Wilkes Islands and Heel Point. Moderate antiaircraft fire was encountered.
Ponape Island was raided by Seventh Army Air Force Mitchells during daylight on May 30. Gun positions, runways, and defence installations were hit. Antiaircraft fire was meagre and no interception was attempted.
Enemy positions in the Marshall Islands were bombed and severely strafed on May 30 by Ventura search planes of Fleet Air Wing Two, Dauntless dive bombers and Corsair fighters of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing and Navy Hellcat fighters. Blockhouses, barracks and coastal guns were hit. Antiaircraft fire was meagre. (Denis Peck)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Airships of the U.S. Navy’s Airship Patrol Squadron Fourteen (ZP-14), assigned to antisubmarine operations around Gibraltar, completed the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by non-rigid airships. The flight of these K-Class airships began 29 May from Naval Air Station (NAS) South Weymouth, Massachusetts, and ended at NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco, covering a distance of 3,145 nautical miles (5,825 km) in 58 hours. Including time for stop overs at NAS Argentia, Newfoundland and Terceira, Azores Islands, the airships moved their area of operations across the Atlantic Ocean in 80 hours.
Frigate HMCS Alwington renamed HMCS Royalmount.
HMCS Peterborough commissioned.
HMCS Algoma arrives Bermuda for workups. (DS)
ICELAND: Iceland severs ties with Denmark and becomes an independent republic. (DS)
I believe the Type 95 Ha Go was the type tank encountered on Biak. It was a light tank mounting a 37mm gun that was outclassed by the M2 Stuart and no match against the Sherman.
Interesting p8 article saying there are now 60 allied carriers in the Pacific.
An obvious exaggeration. Maybe trying to frighten the Japs?
That sounds about right; by my rough count in June ‘44 there were 10 Essex class fleet carries, all 9 Independence class light carriers, and nearly all the Casablanca class (50 by July ‘44)jeep carriers.
“Rommel wonders about the invasion date....More and more, it seems like the invasion will probably tie in with the expected Soviet offensive, estimated to come late in June, after the late Polish thaw ends.”
Late in JUNE!!!
Wait...What? I was talking to my mom yesterday in north central Massachusetts and they are still waiting for a little Spring warmth to arrive. Looking at my Atlas I see that Poland is at the same latitude as Newfoundland or British Columbia! It doesn’t have the Gulf Stream to warm it up like the UK. While the Polish thaw speculation is interesting, I doubt Rommel was expecting the invasion to come at the END of June. No way the coiled spring could be restrained for that long, IMO...
In her last incarnation, under the name Serpa Pinto, she made more crossings of the Atlantic during the Second World War than any other civilian vessel, leading to her being termed the Friendship vessel or Destiny ship.[