July 10th, 1943 (SATURDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The USAAF's VIII Bomber Command in England flies Mission Number 72: 121 B-17 and five YB-40 Flying Fortresses are dispatched to the Caen/Carpiquet Airfield and 64 B-17's are dispatched to the Abbevile/Drucat Airfield, both in France; 34 hit Caen at 0832 hours while 36 hit Abbeville at 0729-0735 hours; they claim 17-7-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; a B-17 is lost. In a second raid, 101 B-17s are dispatched against Le Bourget Airfield, Paris but the mission is abandoned due to cloud cover. (Jack McKillop)
Submarine HMS Varangian commissioned.
Frigates HMS Aylmer and Balfour launched.
Patrol vessel HMS Kildwick launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
EIRE: B-24D-95-CO Liberator, USAAF s/n 42-40784, named "Travelin' Trollop" makes a forced landing on the beach at Lahinch, County Clare. The crew was "interrogated" in the local pub, before being spirited over the border with Northern Ireland and going on to complete 35 missions with the Eighth Air Force. In 1993, a plaque commemorating this event was unveiled on the wall of O'Looney's bar at Lahinch. (Jack McKillop)
GERMANY: U-289 and U-315 are commissioned.
U-767 is launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
ITALY: OPERATION HUSKY begins as British and U.S. troops invade Sicily. General Patton lands in the Gulf of Gela on Sicily. General Montgomery lands at Syracuse.
Syracuse, SICILY: For a few desperate hours, with a sudden storm churning the Mediterranean into a mass of huge white-capped waves, disaster threatened the greatest seaborne invasion of the war. For thousands of troops in small, flat-bottomed landing craft, the battle was against seasickness until, almost unnaturally, the wind dropped, the sea settled and the huge armada of 3,000 ships headed for the Sicilian beaches and entry into Axis-controlled Europe.
The planning for Operation Husky was immaculate. The vast convoy - which had set out from ports in Egypt, North Africa, Malta and the United States - assembled exactly on cue. Only the unseasonal storm delayed H-Hour, but by no more than an hour while the convoy sorted itself out.
By dawn this morning more than 150,000 British and American soldiers were safely ashore, with a further 320,000 preparing to join them over the next two days. The storm had convinced the Italian defenders that a landing was impossible: most of them stayed in bed and woke to surrender in their hundreds. Not until the last moment did the defenders really believe that Sicily was the invaders' target. The brilliant deception - involving the use of a corps with false documents - had convinced Hitler that Sardinia was the convoy's destination. Only two German divisions are in place on Sicily, but both are veterans of the North African campaign.
The invaders had contrasting fortunes. As American troops struggled to hold their beach-head in the south of Sicily, the British were resting in Syracuse. The Eighth Army was lucky to meet only light resistance.
The American Rangers came face to face with the crack Hermann Göring Panzer Division with its 56-ton Tiger tanks, and faced a stiff fight until naval gunfire - called up the beach-head with newly invented "walkie-talkies" - forced the tanks to disperse. On one American beach-head, the Rangers captured an Italian command post to find the telephone ringing. A war correspondent who had been stationed in Rome before the war answered in Italian. "Where are the Americans?" asked the voice at headquarters. "Americans? It's all quiet here, " he replied. It stayed that way on the beach-head. However, the storm caused chaos in the air for paratroopers.
Of the 137 British Airspeed Horsa gliders released, 69 came down in the sea, drowning some 200 men. A further 56 landed in the wrong part of Sicily and only 12 reached the target area - a vital bridge south of Syracuse. US paratroopers fared almost as badly. Their pilots were inexperienced and the navigators were working from daytime photographs in darkness. Dust, anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters compounded the problems, and most of the 2,781 paratroopers were scattered over a 50-mile radius. These included men of the 504th PIR who were tasked with capturing Gela.
The airborne chaos was to the Allies' advantage in one sense. The sudden presence of so many paratroopers had the effect of confusing the defenders, convinced that the invasion was on an even bigger scale than they had first thought, and reserves were held back from the beach-heads.
The invasion plans have been heavily-modified by General Montgomery, who is anxious that his Eighth Army should be the first into the port of Messina. He plans to fight his way northwards to the east of Mount Etna. The commander of the US Seventh Army, Lt-Gen George S. Patton, is less than happy about his role to fight westwards to Palermo.
Destroyer USS Maddox was pounded by two 250-pound bombs by a lone JU-88 bomber. One struck the magazine and the other struck the rear No. 5 gun turret. The magazine demolished her stern and then the Maddox rolled over and sank in two minutes, the fastest a US vessel ever sunk in WWII. 210 of her crew went down with the ship and 74 survivors were picked up by a tug nearby. In 1998, the pilot of the JU-88 who sank the Maddox was invited to attend their survivor’s reunion, which the German ex-pilot was delighted to go to. (Dave Shirlaw)U.S.S.R.: Model's attacks north of Kursk halt. The 5th Guards Tank Army is moving to assist the Soviets holding the southern German force. The Germans have gained just five miles at the expense of 25,000 men, 200 aircraft and 200 tanks.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: At 1241, U-371 fired torpedoes at Convoy ET-22A about 30 miles east of Bougie and damaged the Matthew Maury and Gulfprince (in station #22). The convoy was about eight hours out of port. Gulfprince was struck by one torpedo on the starboard side at the #7 tank. The torpedo penetrated 20 feet into the empty but non-gas-free tank before exploding. The explosion ripped a 20-foot hole in the side, destroyed the steering engine, brought down the main mast and started fires in the tanks carrying fuel. The engines were secured and the ship listed to starboard. Within minutes the complement of eight officers, 28 crewmen and 27 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in two lifeboats, three rafts and by jumping overboard. All men were picked up by trawler HMS Sir Gareth and the British SS Empire Commerce, but one of the armed guards later died from burns on board. A salvage crew boarded the vessel and the tugs HMS Weazel and Hudson towed her to Algiers, arriving on 12 July. Rather than declaring the vessel a total loss, the US War Shipping Administration bought her and chartered the tanker to the US Navy for use as a mobile storehouse in North Africa. In March 1945, the tanker was laid up at Taranto and was sold to Italy on 20 Feb 1948 for scrapping. The Matthew Maury was struck by one torpedo in the stern. The explosion blew off the propeller, bent the shaft and flooded the #5 hold. The ship went out of control and gradually lost way. The eight officers, 35 crew men, 28 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) and seven passengers went to their boats stations but did not abandon ship. Two British corvettes stood by and later towed the ship to Bougie. After two days, tugs towed the Matthew Maury to Algiers for temporary repairs. On 22 November, she arrived at Gibraltar and laid there until 19 Aug 1944 when she left for Norfolk, Virginia, USA, arriving on 8 September. The final repairs were made in Newport News, Virginia, USA. (Dave Shirlaw)
TUNISIA: Pte. Charles Alfred Duncan (b.1908), Parachute Regt., threw himself onto a live grenade which landed among his comrades. He was killed instantly. (George Cross)
INDIAN OCEAN: At 1205, the unescorted Alice F.
Palmer (Master George Pederson) was struck by a torpedo on port side at the #5
hold. The explosion destroyed the stern, blew off the prop and rudder, flooded
the engine room and the #5 hold, put the after gun out of action and broke the
ship’s back. With the stern dropping at a 45° angle some of the complement of
eight officers, 35 men and 25 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 3in and
nine 20mm guns) abandon ship in two lifeboats ten minutes after the attack. The
order to abandon ship came about twenty minutes later and the remaining crew
left in the other two lifeboats.
U-177 surfaced and signalled the men to come alongside. After questioning
the crewmen for 20 minutes, the U-boat took a position off the port side of the
Alice F. Palmer and began shelling her. About 20 shells were fired and
U-177 left with the ship
burning. She slowly sank by the stern and disappeared at about 14.00 hours. The
four lifeboats became separated as they sailed to Madagascar. Three days later,
a British Catalina aircraft picked up
the occupants of the #3 boat, in charge of the 2nd mate with the master and the
gunnery officer, 60 miles southeast of Madagascar. On 26 July,
boat #2 in charge of the Chief mate, with 11 crewmen and 11 armed guards made
land at Bazaruto Island, Mozambique. On 29 July, the boat
#1 in charge of the Bosun, with 15 men landed near Lourenco Marques. On
30 July, boat #4 in charge of the 3rd Mate, with 22 men
landed on the north shore of Madagascar. (Dave Shirlaw)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Thirteenth Air Force B-24s pound Kahili Airfield on Bougainville Island.
USN Seabees report a 3,300-ft (1,006 m) airstrip at Segi Point on New Georgia Island available for limited operations; this provides an emergency landing field only 40 mi (64 km) from Japanese facilities at Munda. (Jack McKillop)
NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-25s pound Salamaua, Logui,
and the southeast bank of the Francisco River in support of the American and Australian
ground forces linkup at Buigap Creek. Mubo is cut off from Salamaua by Australian and US
forces. (Jack McKillop)
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: USAAF's Eleventh Air Force attacks the Japanese Home Islands for the first time as eight B-25 Mitchells raid Paramushiru Island in the Kurile Islands, scoring hits on the southern part of Shimushu Island, Paramushiru Island, Kurile Strait, and northern Paramushiru Island, in dead reckoning runs when solid cloud cover prevents a maximum altitude attack. No AA fire is encountered and no enemy aircraft are sighted. The B-25s stage through Attu Island on returning to Adak Island. Six B-24s, originally slated to accompany the B-25s to Paramushiru Island and five other B-25s are on short notice dispatched to attack a convoy off Attu Island. They claim two medium freighters sunk in deck-level strikes; they were actually two picket boats that were heavily damaged. A Navy PBY-5 Catalina of VP-45 based on Attu radar bombs Kashiwabara harbor on Paramushiru Island. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: Escort carrier USS Gambier Bay laid down.
Destroyer escort USS Wintle commissioned.
Destroyers USS Brown and Thompson commissioned.
Destroyer USS Knapp launched.
Frigate USS Knoxville launched.
Escort carrier USS Manila Bay launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0051, the Scandinavia was
stopped by U-510 off Dutch
Guyana. At 0250, she was torpedoed and sunk in accordance with the prize rules
in 07°58N/48°06W after the crew had abandoned ship. (Dave Shirlaw)
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