May 16th, 1943 (SUNDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Frigate HMS Plym commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson
(1918-44) leads RAF squadron 617 in an attack on Ruhr dams.
This raid which will become known as the "Dambusters Raid" utilizes specially
constructed bombs with special bombing techniques. The dams are on the Möhne and Eder
rivers. Two of the 3 dams are bombed. Damage is not as severe as expected.
Gibson is awarded the Victoria Cross for deliberately drawing fire away from his comrades.
NETHERLANDS: The Germans confiscate all wireless sets.POLAND: The Nazi SS troops in Warsaw blow up the synagogue in the Warsaw Ghetto. Their actions in the Ghetto result in 14,000+ killed and 40,000+ sent to the death camp at Treblinka.
Warsaw: A month after he launched the operation which he reckoned would take a few days only, SS Major-General Stroop has reported to Himmler: "Warsaw Ghetto is no more." Besides the 14,000 Jews killed in the fighting or sent to the Treblinka death camp, another 42,000 are being deported to labour camps near Lublin.
Stroop rounded off his destruction of the ghetto at 8.15 this evening by blowing up the Thomaebi synagogue. Then he set sat down to prepare his report. Only eight buildings have survived: the police lodgings, quarters for factory guards and a hospital. But he says that the ruins contain "a vast amount of stones and scrap metal which could be useful". He is having the report illustrated with many photographs, typed on top quality paper and bound in fine leather. Stroop has been promised the Iron Cross, first class, for his achievement.
The remnants of the Jewish resistance, driven from their bunkers by poison gas, still refused to give in. One man attacked the Germans with stones; he was beaten with rifle butts, kicked and left soaked in blood. The bodies of two young women lay in the road, and cats and crows appeared to tear pieces of flesh from their faces. Though Stroop says that the ghetto has been destroyed, small groups of Jews are still in hiding there and some others have escaped through the slime of the sewers to seek refuge in the Christian districts of Warsaw.
One of them wrote in his diary: "Though our hearts are still beating, there will never be a joy of life in them again."
FINLAND: Thornycroft motor torpedo boat Raju hits an underwater boom obstacle in Koivisto Sound and repair of the old boat is not worth the efforts. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: Volga Flotilla: GB "Krasnii Dagestan" - mined close to Gusinii Is., in Stalingrad area (Sergey Anisimov)(69)
German troops launch Operation Gypsy Baron, a three-week drive to capture Soviet partisans.
ITALY: 20 RAF Wellingtons of No. 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group attack the Rome area at night. Eighteen bomb the Lido di Roma airfield dropping 34.6 tons of bombs, one bombed a target of opportunity dropping 2.3 tons of bombs and one drops leaflets. (Jack McKillop)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Submarine HMS Unruly torpedoed and damaged the Italian merchant Nicolo Tommaseo (4573 BRT). (Dave Shirlaw)
NEW GUINEA: Japanese troops in the Salamaua area are reorganised:
Salamaua Defence Force (Maj Komaki), Mubo Defence Force (Lt-Col Maruoka), and Nassau Defence Force (Maj Takamura). [Dexter p 47](Michael Alexander)
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Japanese forces on Attu
retreat to Chichagof Harbor to regroup for a final stand.
Major General Albert E. Brown, Commanding General 7th Infantry Division is relieved and replaced by Major General Eugene M. Landrum. The Southern Landing Force again attacks Jarmin Pass without success however, the Northern Landing Force attacks Moore Ridge and secures a foothold on the northern end thus gaining control of the whole ridge. Realizing that they were vastly outnumbered by the Americans and could be taken from the rear, the Japanese withdraw from Moore Ridge during the night of 16/17 May and take up positions in Chichagof Harbor for a final stand.
The USAAF's air-ground liaison B-24 Liberator bombs Chichagof Harbor with unobserved results. Another B-24 drops supplies to ground forces while 8 B-24s, 12 B-25 Mitchells, and 12 P-38 Lightnings are dispatched to fly ground support missions; because of the weather, only the P-38s get through and strafe AA guns, installations and barges, scoring several hits. The bombers are redirected to bomb Kiska Island joining two P-40s flying reconnaissance missions over the island.
A large Japanese Naval Force consisting of the battleships HIJMS Musashi, HIJMS Kongo and HIJMS Haruna; the aircraft carrier HIJMS Hiyo; the heavy cruisers HIJMS Tone and HIJMS Chikuma; and five destroyers depart Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands fro Tokyo for eventual duty in the Aleutian Islands. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: During WW II, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) produced numerous documents, most commonly known are the Intelligence Bulletins. The Military Intelligence Special Series continues with "The German Rifle Company for Study and Translation." (William L. Howard)
Minesweeper USS Scrimmage launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-228 transferred wounded crewmembers to the milkcow U-461.
U-182 sunk NW of Madeira Islands, in position 33.55N, 20.35W, by depth charges from destroyer USS Mackenzie. 61 dead (all hands lost).
U-463 sunk in the Bay of Biscay in position 45.57N, 11.40W by depth charges from an RAF 58 Sqn Halifax. 57 dead (all hands lost). (Dave Shirlaw)
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