June 2nd, 1944 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Soham, Cambridgeshire: Driver Benjamin Gimbert (1903-76) and Fireman James William Nightall (b.1922), LNER, were moving a burning, bomb-laden wagon to a safe spot when it exploded, destroying the station and damaging 600 buildings. Nightall was killed and a signalman later died, but Gimbert, amazingly, survived. (George Crosses)
The French Committee of National Liberation changes its name to: The Provisional Government of the French Republic.
FRANCE: Rocket-armed Hawker Typhoon's of Nos. 198 and 609 Squadrons RAF blast radar installations at Dieppe/Caudecote. (22)
The Western Front
Friday, 2 June, 1944
It is another lovely day in France. There is a slight, cool
breeze in the air. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, '
commander, Army Group B, at the express request of
the Fuehrer himself, puts out a directive granting the
fortress commanders along the French coast greater
powers of authority regarding the defence of their
Again, no real signs of Allied activity regarding any landing
operations are reported.
That afternoon, Rommel, some staff members, and a
few local hunters go on a "battue"* with the Marquis de
Choisy. They trample around in his woods for a few hours,
scaring up only a few squirrels. The hunt though, does give
them some splendid views of the placid Seine River valley
on that nice day, so the afternoon time is not completely
wasted-- except of course, by the scene far off in the
distance of the enemy bombing bridge crossings.
Today, Alfred Jodl, Operations Chief, OKW, talks to Hitler
about the upcoming invasion. His staff has been checking
moon phases, with an eye towards the port of Cherbourg.
Hitler is told that a favorable time period between the 5th
and the 13th of June exists.
Late afternoon. General Marcks, commanding officer of the
LXXXIV Corps, is standing on a long, sandy bluff overlooking
the English Channel. Leaning on his good leg, he gazes out
over the water, lost in thought.
His gut feeling that has served him so well in the past now
tells him that Rommel is wrong about the Somme Estuary
being the target for the invasion. And the skies have been
clear. This would make a good time for a landing. Besides,
the timing seems right, evidenced by the recent air raids,
targeting all those bridges along the main rivers. Clearly,
the Allies are trying to isolate western France for some
Though there has been intensive enemy air reconnaissance
through the area last month, the air activity along his coastal
sector is now relatively quiet. Yes, something is up. He can
Marcks turns to look at his aide. "If I know the British," he
says, "they'll go to church again next Sunday, and then
come on Monday. After Tuesday, they won't have another
chance for the tides until the 28th." *
He pauses. "Army Group B says they're not going to come
yet, and that when they do come, it'll be at Calais. So I think
we'll be welcoming them on Monday, right HERE," he
concludes, poking his cane in the sand. He turns back to
look out again silently over the water.
* From the French word, "beaten. A type of hunt
where herders beat the brush in front of (bird hunting)
or towards (ground hunting) the hunters. Rommel's
Treff (which means "hit" in German, as in "hit the
mark") went with the field marshal for this hunt.
Elbow is gone, having been sent home for Lucie.
** Marcks was right on the money. Monday would
be June 5th. And Marcks probably had not seen the
weather reports yet predicting the storm that would
hit the coast.
EUROPE: Operation Frantic, in which 130 Flying Fortresses shuttle from North Africa to Russia, bombing targets in Hungary and Romania on the way, commences, as does Operation Cover, to convince the Germans that the invasion will take place at the Pas-de-Calais.
The role of the USAAF's Eighth Air Force in England from 2-5 June in preparation for the invasion of Normandy on 6 June includes continuation of attacks against transportation and airfield targets in northern France and the institution of a series of blows against coastal defenses, mainly located in the Pas de Calais coastal area, to deceive the enemy as to the sector to be invaded (Operation COVER). To accomplish their mission, the Eighth Air Force flies two missions:
Mission 384: In the morning, 521 of 633 B-17s and 284 of 293 B-24 Liberators hit V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area without loss.
Mission 385: In the afternoon, 242 B-17s are dispatched to railroad targets in the Paris area; 163 hit the primaries, 49 hit Conches Airfield, 12 hit Beaumont-sur-Oise Airfield and one hits Caen/Carpiquet Airfield; 77 B-24s are dispatched to Bretigny Airfield in France; 13 hit the primary target, 47 hit Creil Airfield and 14 hit Villeneuve Airfield; two B-17s and five B-24s are lost.
One of those B-17s is piloted by Dick Johnson. Today is my mother's 44th birthday and the first anniversary of my first ever airplane ride when I started learning to fly a PT 17 Kaydet. It's hard to believe that in one year I am going on my 8th mission as co-pilot of a B-17! And, we are to bomb Paris! My diary reads:
"Paris, France Marshaling yard. Five tenths cloud cover. Moderate FLAK-No damage to our plane. saw hundreds of landing craft on the English coast. Invasion soon maybe."
Our 303rd Bomb Group furnished 14 planes to the 41st combat wing. Each plane carried six, 1000 pound bombs and 1,700 gallons of gas. Our target was the Juvissy Marshaling yards, eleven miles southwest of downtown Paris. This was an afternoon mission and we took off at 5:30 PM double war time. We bombed at 8:30 PM well before the sun went down. We then flew a circle around Paris at 21,000 feet and headed for Le Harve where we departed the enemy coast. It was getting pretty dark on the ground and while over the channel we met a large group of Lancasters on their way out for their nightly bombing.
This had been the first day of "Operation Cover" during which we were trying to convince the Germans that the invasion would be at Calais. The weather was turning really bad but the 303rd flew missions on June 3rd and 4th. Our crew got a two day break and our next mission would be on June 5th. Guess where? Score: Milk runs: 4 Others: 4.(Dick Johnson)
Three of seven of P-38 Lightnings hit the Ostend Bridge, Belgium without loss.
Three B-17s fly weather reconnaissance over the Atlantic.
During the evening, five B-17s drop leaflets on targets in Belgium and France; and 18 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER operations.
In support of tactical operations, a special conference for ground liaison officers is held by 21 Army Group officers who present a detailed exposition of the plan for the landings in Normandy.
The USAAF's Ninth Air Force dispatches about 350 B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs to bomb NOBALL (V-weapon) targets and coastal defence batteries along the English Channel coast in France; P-38s and P-47 Thunderbolts dive-bomb targets in the area, including V-weapon sites, fuel dump, railroad junctions and bridges. (Jack McKillop)
GERMANY: The second flight of the Blohm und Voss Bv 40 V1 glider takes place today. This aircraft is an Ersatzjäger (substitute fighter). It is to be towed into combat behind a standard fighter and then make a head-on gliding attack on to fire a small battery of rockets into an Allied bomber. It is cheap to construct and the pilot needs less training than for a conventional aircraft. (21)
ITALY: The Allied forces make good progress towards Rome.
The US 100th Infantry Battalion participates in the breakout to Rome by attacking and capturing Lanuvio. (Gene Hanson)
The 442nd RCT arrives at Naples harbour
and on June 10th meets the 100th Infantry Battalion in Civitavecchia, northwest
of Rome. (Gene Hanson)
Kobashigawa, Yeiki, Tech. Sgt., 100th Infantry Battalion, for actions at Lanuvio will later be awarded the MOH.
Nakamine, Shinyei, Pvt., 100th Infantry Battalion (Sep), for actions at La Torreto, will later be awarded the MOH. (Posthumous).
The USAAF's Fifteenth Air Force in Italy starts shuttle-bombing between Italy and the USSR (Operation FRANTIC). Under command of Major General Ira C Eaker, Commanding General of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF), 130 B-17s, escorted by 70 P-51 Mustangs, bomb the marshalling yard at Debreczen, Hungary and land in the Soviet Union, the B-17s at Poltava and Mirgorod and the P-51s at Piryatin. One B-17 is lost over the target; 27 other B-17s, forced off course en route to the Oradea, Romania marshalling yard, also hit Debreczen. Nearly 400 other B-24s attack marshalling yards at Szeged, Miskolc and Szolnok, Hungary and Simeria, Romania. P-51s and P-38s provide escort. (Jack McKillop)ALGERIA: Algiers: The French Committee of National Liberation changes its name to: The Provisional Government of the French Republic.
BURMA: Allied forces lay siege to the Japanese garrison in Myitkyina, as Indian troops force a slow Japanese withdrawal from Kohima.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) accept the British plan that air links to China should be improved so that aviation units in China can better assist in the war against the Japanese. Because of this agreement, the capture of the Myitkyina, Burma Airdrome becomes a high priority item. (Jack McKillop)
JAPAN: CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 430, Shimushu in the Kurile Islands was bombed by Ventura search planes of Fleet Air Wing Four before dawn on May 31 (West Longitude Date). Several large and small fires were started in the vicinity of the airfield. Antiaircraft fire was moderate. All of our planes returned. (Denis Peck)
U.S.A.: Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-388 was commissioned at Los Angeles. Her first commanding officer was LT Homer H. Freed, USCGR. He was succeeded by LTJG J. E. Emmett, USCGR, who was succeeded in turn by LTJG R. I. Cox, USCGR, on 23 April 1945, and by LTJG O. D. Springer, USCGR, on 24 November 1945. She was assigned to and operated in the Southwest Pacific area, including Leyte, etc. during the war. (Dave Shirlaw)
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