This day in the war in Europe 65 years ago

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
10 December 1941

SOUTH AMERICA: USN PBY Catalinas of Patrol Squadron Fifty Two (VP 52) supported by seaplane tender (destroyer) USS 'Greene' (AVD-13) and small seaplane tender USS 'Thrush' (AVP-3), begin antisubmarine patrols over the south Atlantic from Natal, and thus inaugurate operations from Brazilian waters.

NORTH AFRICA: British General Sir Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in- Chief Middle East Command, tells British Prime Minister Winston Churchill:
"Enemy is in full retreat."
The siege of Tobruk is lifted after eight months as the Polish garrison breaks out of town early in the morning and joins other British Eighth Army forces in the Acroma area. A forward supply base is soon organized at Tobruk.

EDIT: Contributions by members will be marked with name of the contributor in parenthesis, like this: (Njaco).
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I will sticky this thread. I also have a really good book in German called the Day by Day Chronicals of WW2 as well as the Complete War diaries of the OKW so I will add to this thread whenever possible.
Come on you guys..... start posting. I'm busy with the Pacific thread


12 December 1941
: 5 NZ Infantry Brigade starts the attack on Gazala.

A quote from one of the solidiers who had been through Greece and Crete. Sergeant Hargreaves,44 who was on the left flank of the advancing company, has also left a stirring account:
'… So steady was the advance that the gunners could not range quickly enough with the result that the shells were bursting behind our line, though to me it seemed that several direct hits were made on the right flank but the boys came out of the smoke and dust still in line, never faltering. It was a magnificent sight to see that thin line moving steadily forward into a hail of lead, with shells of all sizes … bursting all around…. the fact that the ground was sandy saved more casualties…. One more dash brought us to within bayonet reach. We crossed the ground swiftly, some of the boys shouting encouragement to each other. From my position on the left flank, I could see our line, straight enough to bring joy to any bayonet instructor, stretching away to the right flank. Roaring "Forward!", I came up ready for the final dash. It made the blood sing to see the boys leap forward, a steady line of gleaming steel backed by grim faces. Nothing short of death could stop them now.'
(posted by kiwi)


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13 December 1941
NORTH AMERICA: The United States declares war on Germany and Italy. Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador soon follow.

GERMANY: Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slowakia announce they are at war with the US and England with Germany. Romania and Hungary declare war on the USA.

WESTERN FRONT: In Paris the Germans begin searching door to door for Jewish residents.
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13 December 1941

EASTERN FRONT: The Red Army launches a counter-offensive from the Kalinin area toward besieged Leningrad. German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte evacuate Tula.

NORTH AFRICA: XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, opens an attack on the German's Gazala line and meet firm resistance. Both sides suffer heavy losses.

MEDITERRANEAN: On 11 December, the British destroyers HMS 'Legion' (G 74), Maori F 24) and 'Sikh' (F 82) and the Dutch destroyer 'Isaac Sweers' leaves Gibraltar for the Eastern Mediterranean. During the night, they receive a radio message from a patrolling RAF Wellington about two Italian light cruiser steaming southwards. These ships are carrying a cargo of fuel for German forces in North The destroyers steam at 30 knots through the Skerki-channel and spot several light flashes and vague silhouettes near Cape Bon, Tunisia, at about 0200 hours. The flotilla rounds the Cape and sights the two approaching Italian light cruisers R.N. 'Alberto da Barbiano' and 'Alberico di Giussano'. HMS 'Sikh' is leading the group, then HMS 'Legion', HMS 'Maori' and finally HNMS 'Isaac Sweers'. Two of the four fire torpedoes; topredoes from HMS 'Sikh' strike the first cruiser, which is also hit by one torpedo of and gunfire from HMS Legion and another torpedo from HMS 'Maori'. The cruiser is ablaze and quickly starts to sink. The second cruiser opens fire but misses and is then sunk by one torpedo from HMS 'Legion' and the concentrated gunfire by all destroyers. HNMS 'Isaac Sweers' then encounters the Italian torpedo boat 'Cigno', which is attacked by gunfire and missed with four torpedoes. The destroyer reports also the sinking of an Italian motor torpedo boat, but this is not confirmed by the Italian Admiralty. The Allied destroyers arrive at Malta on 13 December.

In the Ionian Sea, the Italians begin a major convoy to Benghazi, Libya, using their main fleet, with battleships, as escort. Two of the transports are sunk today by the British submarine HMS/M 'Upright' (N 89) about 40 nautical miles (74 kilometers) east-southeast of the Italian naval base at Taranto, Italy, in position 40.10N, 18.00E.
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14 December 1941

: The Soviet 114th Division attacks in the Svir sectorin Finland and takes the village of Gora. Battles continue for nearly a month.

German forces evacuate Kalinin 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Moscow.

MEDITERRANEAN: While escorting a troop convoy, the Italian battleship R.N. 'Vittorio Veneto' is torpedoed by the British submarine HMS/M 'Urge' (N 17) about 17 nautical miles (32 kilometers) south-southwest of Messina, Sicily, in position 37.53N, 15.29E. The convoy is recalled and the battleship returns to base for repairs.

While escorting a convoy, the British light cruiser HMS 'Galatea' (71) is torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine 'U-557' about 36 nautical miles (67 kilometers) west of Alexandria, Egypt, in position 31.17N, 29.13E. Four hundred sixty nine of the crew are lost and about 100 survivors are picked up by two destroyers. (Jack McKillop)
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15 December 1941

German submarine 'U-127' is sunk about 170 nautical miles (315 kilometers) west-northwest of the Tangier Zone in position 36.28N, 09.12W, by depth charges from the Australian destroyer HMAS 'Nestor' (G 02) which is escorting the 32 ships in convoy HG-76 (Gibraltar to the U.K.); all 51 crewmen are lost.

EASTERN FRONT: On the central front north of Moscow, the Red Army takes Klin, on the rail line to Leningrad.

: The Government in Egypt breaks diplomatic relations with Hungary and Romania.

MEDITERRANEAN: A British supply convoy bound for Malta leaves Alexandria.
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16 December 1941

: Rommel begins the withdrawal from Gazala to El Agheila. A second Italian supply convoy for Rommel sails from Italy. Covered by 4 battleships, 5 cruisers and 21 destroyers, this convoy is commanded by Admiral Iachino.
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17 December 1941

: German submarine 'U-131' is sunk about 191 nautical miles (353 kilometers) east-northeast of the Madeira Islands in position 34.12N, 13.35W, by depth charges and gunfire from the British destroyers HMS 'Exmoor' (L 08 ), 'Blankney' (L 30) and 'Stanley' (I 73), the corvette HMS 'Pentstemon' (K 61) and the sloop HMS 'Stork' (L 81), and by depth charges from a British (F4F) Martlet of No. 802 Squadron in the escort carrier HMS 'Audacity' (D 10) all of which are escorting the convoy HG76 (Gibraltar to the U.K.); all 47 U-boat crewmen are lost. HMS 'Stanley' is the former USN destroyer USS 'McCalla' (DD-253) which was commissioned as HMS 'Stanley' (I-73) on 23 October 1940, as part of the destroyers-for-bases deal.

EASTERN FRONT: In the Crimea, German attacks by the 54.Korps of the German Heeresgruppe Sud begin against the city of Sevastopol despite continuing Soviet offensives in other areas.

The Soviet submarine 'M-59' is sunk by depth charge by Romanian destroyer 'Ferdinand' in the Black Sea.

MEDITERRANEAN: Yesterday, a large Italian convoy left Naples, Italy, and by the time it had reached Sicily, it was escorted by the battleship R.N. 'Caio Duilio', the light cruisers R.N. 'Emanuele Filiberto Duca'd'Aosta', 'Raimondo Montecuccoli' and 'Muzio Attendolo' and a few destroyers. Not too far away, a second group, composed of the battleships R.N. 'Littorio', 'Andrea Doria' and 'Giulio Cesare', the heavy cruisers R.N. 'Trento' and 'Gorizia' and several destroyers, provided additional support. Such a display of force is unnecessarily caused by the mistaken spotting of two British battleships in Malta. Today, a Luftwaffe reconnaissance plane spots a British formation proceeding from Alexandria, Egypt, toward the central Mediterranean. A battleship, identified as part of the group, is actually a tanker, but the faulty identification is repeated several times. During the day British naval Force K, composed of the light cruisers HMS 'Neptune' (20), 'Aurora' (12), 'Penelope' (97) and destroyers HMS 'Kandahar' (F 28 ), 'Lance' (G 87), 'Lively' (G 40) and 'Havock' (H 43), joins Admiral Vian's Force B from Alexandria. Tonight this British force meets the Italian convoy escort. The action, the First Battle of Sirte, is spent protecting the convoy and is therefore indecisive. Both navies are simply escorting their convoys, but each thinks of the other as in pursuit of a naval engagement. The British are actually trying a double convoy attempt, one eastbound and one westbound. While the British commander Admiral Cunningham orders the convoy commander Admiral Sir Philip Vian to avoid direct contact, Italian Admiral Angelo Iachino was in active pursuit of a direct confrontation. The distance between the two groups, and some British avoidance maneuvers, did not allow the battleship R.N. 'Littorio' group to sight the British until almost dusk. The sighting is aided by the antiaircraft guns of the British forces which are actively trying to repulse an Axis aerial attack. The 'Littorio' opens fire at about 32 kilometers (17.3 nautical miles) from the British force; too far a distance for the British unit to reply. Admiral Vian immediately attempts a retreating maneuver with the aid of a smoke screen. British units receive some direct hits, but they were able to disappear into the darkness of the night. The British ships run into a newly-laid Italian minefield; the light cruiser HMS 'Neptune' (20) hits four mines and is sunk and there is only one survivor from a crew of 767 and the destroyer HMS 'Kandahar is sunk but all of her crew are taken off first. The light cruiser HMS Aurora is badly damaged and destroyer HMS 'Penelope' is slightly damaged.

The Government of Albania declares war on the U.S.

UNITED KINGDOM: Major General James E Chaney, Chief Special Observer Group, U.S. Army (SPOBS), writes to the Adjutant General, U.S. Army on the "Construction Program of U.S. Forces in UK," which indicates a shortage of accommodations for proposed U.S. forces in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
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18 December 1941

ATLANTIC OCEAN: German submarine 'U-434' is sunk about 225 nautical miles (416 kilometers) north-northwest of the Madeira Islands in position 36.15N, 15.48W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS 'Blankney' (L30) and 'Stanley' (I73) which are escorting Convoy HG76 (Gibraltar to the U.K.); 42 of the 44 crewmen survive.

The first German submarine involved in Unternehmen DRUMBEAT (Paukenschlag) , 'U-125', sails from Lorient. Unternehmen DRUMBEAT is an attack on shipping along the North American coast by five U-boats.

GERMANY: Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, Commander in Chief of the Army, resigns his post due to ill health .

NORTH AMERICA: Censorship is imposed with the passage of the first American War Powers Act. This act is passed by Congress, authorizing the president to initiate and terminate defense contracts, reconfigure government agencies for wartime priorities, and regulate the freezing of foreign assets. It also permits him to censor all communications coming in and leaving the country. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints the executive news director of the Associated Press, Byron Price, as director of censorship. Although invested with the awesome power to restrict and withhold news, Price takes no extreme measures, allowing news outlets and radio stations to self-censor, which they do. Most top secret information, including the construction of the atom bomb, remains just that. The most extreme use of the censorship law seems to have been President Roosevelt signs Executive Order No. 8984 that provides that the Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet will take supreme command of the operating forces of all Navy fleets and coastal frontier commands, and be directly responsible to the President.The State Department announces that Rear Admiral Frederick J. Horne and Admiral Georges Robert, French High Commissioner at Martinique, French West Indies, have reached an agreement neutralizing French Caribbean possessions.

WESTERN FRONT: During the day, RAF Bomber Command aircraft bomb Brest and the crews reported that, at long last, the German battleship 'Gneisenau', still harbored in the port, is hit during an attack by 47 aircraft.
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19 December 1941

The British destroyer HMS 'Stanley' [I 73, ex-USN USS 'McCalla' (DD-253)] is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine 'U-574' about 336 nautical miles (622 kilometers) north of the Madeira Islands in position 38.12N, 17.23W. 'Stanley' is escorting about 30 ships in convoy HG76 (Gibraltar to the U.K.); only 25 of her 161 man crew survive. Within 12-minutes, 'U-574' is sunk by ramming and depth charges from another escort, the British sloop HMS 'Stork' (U 81); 16 of the 44 crewmen on the sub survive.

EASTERN FRONT: The Germans continue their attack on Sevastopol, while the Soviets bring 14,000 men and supplies into the area as reinforcements.

GERMANY: With the retirement of Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch as Commander in Chief of the Army yesterday, Chancellor Adolf Hitler himself assumes personal command of the Army, especially of its operations on the Eastern front. Initial success leads Hitler to a hypnotic belief in his ability. When the success turns, Hitler remains convinced and therefore believes that the efforts of others is at fault.

MEDITERRANEAN: While on their way to intercept an Italian convoy bound for Tripoli the British Force K [light cruisers HMS 'Neptune' (20), 'Aurora'(12), 'Penelope' (97) and the destroyers HMS 'Kandahar' (F 28 ), 'Lance' (G 87), 'Lively' (G 40) and 'Havock' (H 43)] run into a newly laid Italian minefield. HMS 'Neptune' sinks while HMS 'Aurora' and 'Kandahar' are badly damaged and HMS 'Penelope' is lightly damaged. HMS 'Aurora' is patched up at Malta before returning home for repairs at Liverpool from April to June 1942. HMS 'Penelope' is repaired at Malta but is bombed on 26 March 1942 while still under repair. She leaves Malta on 8 April 1942 for full repairs at the New York Navy Yard in the U.S. These repairs are completed in September 1942.

NORTH AFRICA: During the night of 18/19 December, the Italian submarine R. Smg. Scir launches three SLC (Slow Moving Torpedo) human torpedoes off the British naval base at Alexandria. The SLCs are a 21-inch (53 centimeter) torpedo fitted with an electric motor powered by batteries with an explosive charge in the detachable head. The weapon is manned by two operators using breathing apparatus. After release the SLCs, the submarine returns to La Spezia, Italy. Anticipating the return of the British Force B to Alexandria, the harbor nets are left open allowing the three SLCs to slip in and direct their weapons toward the designated targets. Since the expected aircraft carrier HMS 'Eagle' (94) is no longer in the harbor, the three attach their explosive charges to the battleships HMS 'Valiant' (02) and 'Queen Elizabeth' (00) and the large tanker SS 'Sagona'. Two Italian frogmen are captured, Lieutenants Luigi Durand de la Penne and Bianchi. They refuse to divulge any information until moments before the explosion (because they are being interrogated right above the area of the keel where the explosion is to occur). At 0600 hours local, the first charge detonates under the tanker SS 'Sagona' and badly damages both the tanker and the destroyer HMS 'Jervis' (F 00), which is moored alongside for refueling. The charge under HMS 'Valiant' detonates at 0620 hours, and the one under HMS 'Queen Elizabeth' at 0624 hours. The depth of water is 15 to 50 feet (4,6 to 15 meters) and the charges weighed about 300 kilograms (661 pounds). Both battleships were severely damaged and remained out of the war for a period of time. The Italians are interned in a POW camp for the rest of the war. This attack, which neutralizes the ability of the British to oppose the Italian Regia Marina with its battleships, allows deeply needed convoys to supply Axis forces in Africa. Additionally, de la Penne and Bianchi are awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valour in 1945 by Vice-Admiral Charles Morgan, the 'Valiant's' skipper at the time.

Axis forces continue their retreat in Cyrenaica. The XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, continues to follow the withdrawing Axis forces, the Indian 4th Division advancing along the coast to Derna and the British 7th Armoured Division across the desert. Dictator Benito Mussolini requests German assistance for his hard-pressed troops in the Cyrenaica region of Libya in the form of a Panzer Division and various logistical support.

NORTH AMERICA: The US Selective Service (draft) Act is amended requiring the registration of all males 18-64. The age for those subject to military service is 20-44. Lieutenant General John DeWitt, Commanding General of the Fourth Army and the Western Defense Command, recommends to the War Department to round up
"all alien subjects 14 years of age or over, of enemy nations and remove them to the Zone of the Interior (ZI),"
because the West Coast had become a wartime Theater of Operations. DeWitt also writes,
"...that there are approximately 40,000 of such enemy aliens and it is believed that they constitute an immediate and potential menace to vital measures of defense."
....Vice Admiral Randall Jacobs relieves Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.

The U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1942 is graduated early, due to the National Emergency.

SOUTH AMERICA: Colombia breaks relations with Germany and Italy; Mexico breaks diplomatic relations with Hungary and Nicaragua declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.
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21 December 1941

The German submarine 'U-751' puts three torpedoes into British escort aircraft carrier HMS 'Audacity' (D 10) causing her to sink about 441 nautical miles (817 kilometers) northeast of Lagens Field, Azores Islands, in position 43.45N, 19.54W. In the general counter-attack, German submarine 'U-567' is detected and sunk by depth charges from the British sloop HMS 'Deptford '(U 53) and corvette HMS 'Samphire' (K 128 ) about 444 nautical miles (822 kilometers) northeast of Lagens Field in position 44.02N, 20.10W; all 47 crewmen on the U-boat are lost. All of the British vessels are escorting convoy HG76 (Gibraltar to the U.K.).

German submarine 'U-451' is sunk about 18 nautical miles (33 kilometers) west-northwest of the Tangier Zone in position 35.55N, 06.08W, by depth charges from a British Fleet Air Arm Swordfish Mk. I, aircraft of No. 812 Squadron based at Gibraltar. The Swordfish is equipped with air-to-surface vessel (ASV) radar. This is the first submarine to be destroyed by an aircraft at night. Only one of the 45 man crew in the U-boat survives.

The USN light cruiser USS 'Omaha' (CL-4) and destroyer USS 'Somers' (DD-381), operating out of Recife, Brazil, encounter a darkened ship that acts suspicious and evasive when challenged. USS 'Omaha' fires a starshell and illuminates the stranger; USS 'Somers' sends an armed boarding party that learns that the merchantman nearly fired upon is the Soviet freighter SS 'Nevastroi'.

GERMANY: Chancellor Adolf Hitler issues a proclamation to the armed forces after taking over as Commander-in- Chief of the Army, saying,
"After fifteen years of work I have achieved, as a common German soldier and merely with my fanatical will-power, the unity of the German nation, and have freed it from the death sentence of Versailles."
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23 December 1941

The second German submarine involved in Operation Drumbeat, 'U-123', sets sail from Lorient for North America.

EASTERN FRONT: The outer ring of Russian forts around Sevastopol is finally captured by the Germans.

MEDITERRANEAN: German submarine 'U-79' is sunk about 69 nautical miles (129 kilometers) east of Tobruk, Libya, in position 32.15N, 25.19E,, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS 'Hasty' (H 24) and 'Hotspur' (H 01); all 44 crewmen survive.

NORTH AFRICA: Because of supply difficulties, which increase as pursuit progresses westward, elements of XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, are forced to remain in place. However, the Indian 4th Division seizes Barce, on the coast, and forward elements of the 7th Armoured Division force the Germans to retire from Antelat to Agedabia.

NORTH AMERICA: Free French forces seize control of the colony of St. Pierre and Miquelon, two islands off the coast of Newfoundland. These islands had been governed by pro-Vichy French officials.
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24 December 1941

The third German submarine involved in Operation Drumbeat, 'U-66', sets sail from Lorient for North America.

MEDITERRANEAN: German submarine 'U-568' torpedoes and sinks the British corvette HMS 'Salvia' (K 97) about 104 nautical miles (193 kilometers) west-northwest of Alexandria, Egypt, in position 31.46N, 28.00E. All 106 crewmen on the corvette are killed.

NORTH AFRICA: A detachment of the 7th Armoured Division, XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, enters Benghazi and finds that the Germans have withdrawn.

NORTH AMERICA: The USN commissions the light cruiser USS 'Atlanta'(CL-51) at the New York, New York Naval Shipyard. The USN now has 20 light cruisers in commission.

Free French Naval Forces take possession of the two islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the south coast of Newfoundland without firing a shot. A strong protest is lodged by U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull but after several weeks of bickering between U.S., Canadian and British diplomats and "the so called Free French" as Hull describes them the coup remains a fait accompli.

UNITED KINGDOM: The Avro Lancaster Mk. I enters service with No. 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, England. The Lancaster does not make its operational debut until 3 March 1942.
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25 December 1941

: The Soviet winter offensives continue to gain ground. The Germans have lost significant strength at approximately 75 percent of their June strength. Guderian has less than 40 panzers available.

NORTH AFRICA: The British 8th Army enters Benghazi and Agedabia.
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26 December 1941

ATLANTIC OCEAN: British submarine HMS/M H-31 (N 31) sailed from Falmouth, Devon, England, and left its escort on 19 December for a patrol in the Bay of Biscay, about 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) west-southwest of Brest, France. She is reported overdue today. The cause of her loss is unknown but it is possibly a German minefield or a drifting British mines. All hands are lost.

EASTERN FRONT: Soviet landings at Kerch on the Black Sea in the eastern Crimea threaten some units of the German 11.Armee which continues their attacks on Sevastopol.

NORTH AFRICA: General Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in- Chief Middle East Command, is notified that four RAF fighter squadrons are to be transferred from the Middle East to the Far East.
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27 December 1941

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The last two German U-boats involved with Operation DRUMBEAT, 'U-109' and 'U-130', set sail from Lorient for the North American coast.

EASTERN FRONT: The Red Army continues its counter-offensive in the Kalinin area 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Moscow.

NORTH AFRICA: The British 7th Armored Division, XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, attacks the German's Agedabia position, which is well-suited by nature for defense, but makes no headway.

NORTHERN FRONT: The first Combined Operations of the war against German-held territory (Operation ARCHERY) takes place today when the British Navy lands commandos on the island of Vaagsoe on the Norwegian west coast. The Royal Navy has eight ships involved in the attack, the light cruiser HMS 'Kenya' (14); destroyers HMS 'Chiddingfold' (L 31), Offa (G 29), 'Onslow' (G 17) and 'Oribi' (G 66); submarine HMS/M 'Tuna' (N 94); and troop transports HMT 'Prince Charles' and 'Prince Leopold'. The commandos are from the Royal Army's 3Commando with six troops, supported by two troops from No 2 Commando and the Norwegian Independent Company 1 known in Norway as the Linge Company (Kompani Linge) for a total of 51 officers and 525 other ranks (enlisted men). Air cover is provided by the RAF with two squadrons of Beaufighter Mk. Is and three squadrons of Blenheim Mk. IVFs supporting the troops while two squadrons of Hampden Mk. Is attack the fortress at Rugsuns in the target area, including making smoke, six Blenheim Mk. IVs attack German shipping near Sola Aerodrome to intercept the fighters from flying north to Vaagsoe. Thirteen Blenheims attacked Herdla Aerodrome, so the German fighters could not land here after being over the target area and refuel and rearm. The object of this raid is, while harassing the German defences on the coast of Norway, is to attack and destroy a number of military and economic targets in the town of south Vaagsoe, including the nearby island of Maaloy, and to capture or sink German shipping found in Ulvesund. Once ashore, the island of Maaloy and the town of south Vaagsoe is to be captured and anything of value to the Germans, such as fish oil factories, destroyed. After carrying out a number of rehearsals the force sailed on 24 December, arriving at an anchorage yesterday. Very heavy weather is encountered. During the passage the secretary to the captain of one of the infantry landing ships invites the commanding officer to his cabin and shows him a table moving rhythmically up and down the wall, a distance of some 6 inches (25,4 centimeters) . It is eventually discovered that this levitation is due to the heavy seas, which is literally squeezing the sides of the ship. The infantry landing ships suffer some damage. This is repaired, but since the weather does not immediately abate, it is decided to postpone the operation for 24 hours. The men are therefore able to eat their Christmas dinner in comfort. The weather having improved, the force sails at 1600 hours yesterday with the promise of still further improvement. By the time the Norwegian coast is reached, weather conditions are perfect. In the van was the light cruiser HMS 'Kenya' and in line astern came the infantry landing ships. While it is still dark, landfall is made exactly at the estimated position and time. When the attack was over ten RAF aircraft are lost, two of ten Hampdens over the target area, two of 14 Beaufighters over the target area, four of six Blenheims while attacking a enemy convoy off the southwest coast and two of 13 Blenheims are lost during attacking Herdla Aerodrome. Ninety eight German prisoners are taken back to the U.K. Probably four German aircraft were lost over the target area. The attack was a success and the idea of Combined Operations was adjusted and used later during the war. The raid is enough to persuade German Chancellor Adolf Hitler to divert 30,000 troops to Norway, upgrade coastal and inland defences, and send the battleships 'Gneisenau', 'Scharnhorst' and 'Tirpitz' and the heavy cruisers 'Admiral Hipper', 'Lutzow' and 'Prinz Eugen' to Norway, a major diversion of effort and forces that could have had significant impact elsewhere. Hitler mistakenly thought that the British might invade northern Norway to put pressure on Sweden and Finland.

NORTH AMERICA: Rubber rationing is instituted by the U.S. government, due to shortages caused by World War II. Tires are the first items to be restricted by law.

Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress.
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28 December 1941

: The British commence Operation ANTHROPOID, the assassination of SS-Obergruppenfuhre r (U.S. Lieutenant General) Reinhard Heydrich, the German Protector of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. During the night of 28/29 December, two Czech resistance fighters, Jozef GabcÃ*k and Jan Kubis, are dropped by parachute into Czechoslovakia landing near Pilsen. They are to get in touch with the Czech underground and help them plan acts of resistance.

The Germans make some gains in the Fort Stalin area during their attacks on Sevastopol with the 22nd and 24th Divisions.

GERMANY: The final RAF Bomber Command bombing raids of the year are made during the night of 28th/29th December when 217 sorties were flown with Wilhelmshaven, Hüls and Emden the main targets.

NORTH AFRICA: XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, continues the assault on Agedabia with the 22d Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, whose tank strength by this time has been greatly reduced because of mechanical failure. After a futile effort to get behind the Axis position, the 22d Armoured Brigade falls back to El Haseiat. Both sides suffer heavy tank losses. The Italian Trieste Division captures key documents in a British Command Tank.

MEDITERRANEAN: German submarine 'U-75' is sunk about 138 nautical miles (256 kilometers) east of Tobruk, Libya, in position 31.50N, 26.40E, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS 'Kipling' (F 91); 30 of the 44 crewmen survive.

The government of New Zealand scrapes the bottom of the manpower barrel and comes up with three battalions to defend the country. There are no tanks, very few guns, and almost no vehicles. However, the New Zealand 2nd Division is regrouping in Egypt to continue battling the Axis forces.

NORTH AMERICA: The USN Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks, Vice Admiral Ben Moreell, requests authority from the Bureau of Navigation to create a contingent of construction units able to build everything from airfields to roads under battlefield conditions. These units will be known as the "Seabees" for the first letters of Construction Battalion.
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29 December 1941

EASTERN FRONT: The seaport town of Feodosia, on the shores of the Black Sea on the eastern Crimea, is the scene of new Soviet landings with troops of the 51st and 44th Armies. These forces along with those of the 26th Army at Kerch will pose a serious threat to the German 11.Armee. The Germans will halt their advance on Sevastopol to eliminate this threat. Feodosia was captured by the German 46. and 170. Infantriedivisions on 3 November. As the attack on Sevastopol was about to take place, most of the German forces were withdrawn to concentrate on the forthcoming battle. Left behind in the city were a small detachment of troops and all the wounded soldiers convalescing in the city's hospitals.

On 18 January 1942, after their failure to capture Sevastopol, the Germans are able to return and recapture Feodosia. They find that most of the German military personnel had been murdered. Wounded soldiers had been thrown out of the windows of the hospital to make room for Russian wounded. Water was then poured on the near dead bodies and then left to freeze. On the beach, piles of bodies are found where they were thrown from a wall several meters high after being beaten and mutilated, their bodies left in the surf so that the sea water froze and covered them with a sheet of ice. There are about 12 survivors who had hidden in cellars when the Russian troops arrived. Their testimony before a German court of inquiry confirmed that some 160 wounded soldiers are liquidated this way.

NORTH AMERICA: All German, Italian and Japanese aliens in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington are ordered to surrender contraband.
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