June 15th, 1944
UNITED KINGDOM: Frigate
HMS Blackwood takes a hit from a Zaunkönig fired by U-674
(Oberleutnant zur See Hanskurt von Bremen). The explosion blows off her (sic)
bows but she remains afloat and is taken in tow until foundering on the
following day, 23 miles SE of Portland. There are 58 casualties. Subsequently
assessed as a bottomed U-boat, a Canadian escort group engaged in A/S operations
depth charge the wreck which sets off her own cargo of depth charges in a
terrific explosion! Location: 50 04N 02 15W.
Frigate HMS Mourne takes a hit from a Zaunkönig fired by U-767 (Oberleutnant zur See der Reserve Walter Dankleff) which hits her forward and blows off her bows. She sank within a minute. Location: English Channel 49 20N 05 30W. (Alex Gordon)(108)
The USAAF's Eighth Air Force in England flies Mission 414: 1,361 bombers are dispatched in eight forces to bomb an oil refinery Germany and numerous tactical targets in France, including nine airfields, an aircraft plant, CROSSBOW (V-weapon) sites, eleven bridges, a marshalling yard, and various scattered targets; two B-17s are lost:
1. Of 747 B-17s dispatched, 172 hit the Hannover/Misburg oil refinery, 16 hit Wilster, 16 hit Wesermunde, two hit the Hannover area and one hits Helgoland Island, Germany; in France, 144 hit Bordeaux/Merignac Airfield, 71 hit Nantes railroad bridge north, 71 hit La Poissonniere rail viaduct, 70 hit Angouleme marshalling yard, 59 hit Beauvoir V-weapon site, 46 hit Nantes railroad bridge south, 12 hit Gael Airfield and ten hit a viaduct north of Nantes; two B-17s are lost.
2. Of 614 B-24s dispatched to France, 89 hit Le Port Boulet railroad bridge, 61 hit Evreux/Fauville Airfield, 59 hit Tours-la-Frillerie, 54 hit Tours-La Rice railroad bridge, 46 hit Guyancourt Airfield, 45 hit Etampes/Modesir Airfield, 44 hit Cinq Mars bridge, 27 hit St Cyr, 21 hit Buc Airfield, 12 hit Tours-La Riche highway bridge, 12 hit Le Mans Airfield, 12 hit Orleans/Saran Airfield and eight hit targets of opportunity; 12 B-24s use Azon missiles against Etaples railroad bridge and seven others use the missiles against the Pecrone railroad bridge.
Fighter operations are:
1. 96 P-38 Lightnings, 202 P-47 Thunderbolts and 211 P-51 Mustangs escort the bombers and claim 5-0-5 Luftwaffe aircraft; two P-38s and a P-51 are lost.
2. 36 P-47s bomb Etaples, France; 1 P-47s is lost.
3. 177 P-38s fly a fighter sweep in front of the bomber forces without loss. (Jack McKillop)
The USAAF's Ninth Air Force in England dispatches 550+ B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs against fuel and ammunition dumps, rail and highway communications, and an armoured division HQ south of the bridgehead on the Douve River; 1,400+ fighters fly armed reconnaissance in the Valognes-Cherbourg area, the western part of the Cherbourg Peninsula, and along communications lines south to Loire; fighters also attack shipping between the Channel Islands and the Cherbourg Peninsula. (Jack McKillop)
Minesweeper HMS Rowena launched.
Frigate HMS Loch Craggie commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
NORTH SEA: U-987 sunk in the North Sea west of Narvik, in position 68.01N, 05.08W by torpedoes from submarine HMS Satyr. 53 dead (all hands lost). (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: Normandy: Generals Montgomery and Bradley agree on Cherbourg as their next primary target.
The US VII Corps liberates Quineville.
At 0803, the USS LST-280, in a convoy of landing ships, was hit by a Gnat from U-621 off St Malo. The ship was towed to port, repaired by Britain and returned to service as HMS LST-280 on 26 Oct 1944. (Dave Shirlaw)
U-2502 launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
FINLAND: This evening the Finnish GHQ decides to abandon the attempts to recapture the lost positions on the VT-line. HQ of the Isthmus Troops is instructed to start preparations of withdrawal to the third line of defence, VKT-line. The VKT-line runs from Viipuri in west through Kuparsaari to Taipale on the southern shore of Lake Ladoga. Its eastern half after Kuparsaari runs along the river Vuoksi, and had been fortified to certain extent already before the Winter War, but its western half from Viipuri to Kuparsaari is in practice only a line on map.
Battlegroup Puroma's battle at Kuuterselkä goes on until this morning, when the IV Corps orders it to abandon its attempts to regain the VT-line. During the early morning hours the Battlegroup received reinforcements (the 2nd and 3rd companies of the Assault Gun Battalion), but these were insufficient to counter the growing Soviet strength. Losses were mounting, and at 10 am. Battlegroup Puroma withdrew from battle. It had gained valuable time and caused serious losses to the enemy, but suffered grievously in the process.
The three battalions of the Jäger Brigade present at the battle lost 627 men, 161 of them KIA or MIA. The Assault Gun Battalion lost five of its StuG IIIg's (more than half of its total losses of eight StuG IIIg's during the whole war) and 24 men, five of them killed (among the dead was Capt. Werner von Troil, CO of the 2nd Assault Gun Company). Russian sources admit the loss of 40 tanks at Kuuterselkä.
Finnish armour officer and historian Lt. Col. Pekka Kantakoski has commented, that while the individual assault guns fought bravely, the Battle of Kuuterselkä is a testimony of the sad state of Finnish armoured tactics at the time. Assault guns were fed to battle in ones and twos to support the infantry, and their speed wasn't exploited. The Finnish offensive advanced as fast as the infantry walked.
At Siiranmäki Lt. Col. Adolf Ehrnrooth's Battle Group Ehrnooth, a motley force with its core coming from Infantry Regiment 7 faces this morning yet another Soviet attack. Red Army penetrates the Finnish positions, and by afternoon threatens to overrun the regimental command post. However, bold attacks on enemy flanks drives the Soviets back to their starting positions by tomorrow morning. Battle Group Ehrnrooth has withstood the attacks of at least eight Red Army regiments, which came from 178th and 381st divisions of the 97th Corps and the 177th and 281st divisions of the 98th Corps. By repelling the Soviet attacks, IR 7 saved the Finnish units south of it, along the coast, being isolated by a Red Army thrust, thus preventing a truly fateful disaster.
Today is given the general order for the civilian population to evacuate the whole Karelian Isthmus. For the second and final time people are forced to leave their homes and become refugees. Karelians left their homes for the first time during and immediately after the Winter War, but many returned after the lost territories were re-conquered in summer and autumn of 1941. Many had left on their own initiative as soon as the seriousness of the military situation dawned to them, and the roads and trains were filled with people on their way to west, trying to take with them as much of their belongings as possible. But the evacuation proceeds relatively smoothly, largely thanks to the ability of the Army to delay the advancing enemy. (Mikko Härmeinen)
U.S.S.R.: Black Sea Fleet: MS "T-411 "Zaschitnik"" - by U-boat, in Sukhumi area. (Sergey Anisimov)(69)
ITALY: Weather cancels bombing operations of the USAAF's Fifteenth Air Force in Italy. P-51s and P-38s strafe La Jasse, Orange/Plan de Dieu, Orange/Caritat, Avignon/Chateau-Blanc and Avignon/Pujaut Airfields in France. (Jack McKillop)
JAPAN: During the night of 15-16 June, 47 of 65 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses of the 58th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy), Twentieth Air Force, staged through Chengtu, China to drop 221 tons of bombs on a steel plant in Yawata, Kyushu, Japan. The B-29s were based in India. This was the first B-29 mission against Japan. (Jack McKillop) Claims in the US Congress that the raiders hit targets in Tokyo and other cities were quickly denied by Tokyo radio, however. It is saying that little damage was done and six US planes were shot down.
SAIPAN : The 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions under General HM Smith land on this island in Operation Forager. Admiral RK Turner is in a familiar command of landing vessels and support ships, which include the carrier USS Midway.
The defending Japanese are commanded by General Saito and the 43rd Division and Admiral Nagumo.
The underwater remains of the battle can be
BONIN ISLANDS: Parts of US TF 58 raid the Islands, taking a break from operations against the Marianas Islands. Carrier-based aircraft of the USN's Task Groups 58.1 and 58.4 attack Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands and Chichi Jima and Haha Jima in the Bonin Islands during the afternoon. The attacks are an attempt to block the only viable route for the Japanese to reinforce the Mariana islands with land-based aircraft. The main targets are airfields, fuel supplies and barracks. U.S. losses are two TBM Avengers, two SB2C Helldivers and three F6F Hellcats; all of the crews of the seven aircraft are lost. (Jack McKillop)
TRUK ATOLL: British Task Group 111.2, RADM E.J.P. Brind, consisting of aircraft carrier IMPLACABLE, escort carrier RULER, light cruiser SWIFTSURE, NEWFOUNDLAND, HMCS UGANDA and HMNZS ACHILLES, and destroyers TERMAGENT, TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TERPSICHORE and TEASER, commences air strikes on Truk just after 1100. Prior to that, the four light cruisers and destroyers TEASER, TENACIOUS and TROUBRIDGE shell Truk. They continues attacks against Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands begun yesterday. (Jack McKillop and Tim Lanzendörfer)
NEW GUINEA: A Japanese counterattack on Biak Island fails.
AUSTRALIA: The Far East Air Force (FEAF) is formed with jurisdiction over the USAAF's Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). Lieutenant General George C Kenney becomes Commanding General FEAF, with headquarters in Brisbane, Australia; Headquarters, Fifth Air Force moves from Brisbane to Nadzab, New Guinea and Lieutenant General Ennis C Whitehead becomes Commanding General Fifth Air Force. (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: Submarine HM S/M L 23 arrived Digby Nova Scotia for ASW training.
Submarines HM S/M L 26 and L 27 arrived Bermuda for ASW training.
Corvette HMCS Huntsville commissioned.
Minesweeper HMS Marmion launched Port Arthur Ontario.
Corvette HMCS Strathroy launched Midland Ontario. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: The "Hart Inquiry" by Admiral Thomas C. Hart, USN (Retired) concludes. The inquiry began on 12 February 1944 in an attempt to determine who was responsible for the Pearl Harbor debacle. The Hart Report is 565 printed pages. (Jack McKillop)
CINCPAC COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 49, Operations for the seizure of Saipan Island in the Mariana Group have been initiated by strong Pacific Ocean Areas forces.
Assault troops have effected landings on Saipan Island, following intensive preparatory bombardment of Saipan, Tinian Pagan,Guam and Rota Islands by carrier-based aircraft and by a portion of the battleships, cruisers and destroyers of the Pacific Fleet.
Landings are being continued against strong opposition under cover of supporting bombardment by our air and surface forces.
Initial reports indicate that our casualties are moderate.
CINCPAC COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 50, Assault troops have secured beachheads on Saipan Island and are advancing inland against artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire. Virtually all heavy coastal and antiaircraft batteries on the island were knocked out by Naval gunfire and bombing. Our troops have captured Agingan Point. In the town of Charan Kanoa, brisk fighting is continuing.
The enemy has attempted several counterattacks with tanks. These attacks have been broken up by our troops with the support of ships and aircraft.
In general, fighting is heavy but good progress is being made against well organized defences. (Denis Peck)
Escort carrier USS Rendova laid down.
Destroyer escort USS Peiffer commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Density commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-860 sunk in the South Atlantic south of St Helena, in position 25.27S, 05.30W, by depth charges and rockets from 7 Avenger and Wildcat aircraft (Task Group 22.10) of the US escort carrier USS Solomons. 42 dead and 20 survivors. Two Avengers were shot down in this battle. (Dave Shirlaw)
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