October 21st, 1944
NORTH SEA: The German patrol boat F 631 attacked U-245 in the North Sea by error. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Aachen finally
surrenders to US forces. The extended battle by elite German formations
including paratroopers, and ten day siege leaves much of
it in ruins.
The city was taken only after close-quarter battles fought from house to house. Five brave attempts to break the siege line were made last night, all broken by American fire-power. This morning the garrison commander, Col. Gerhardt Wilck, sent two US captives as messengers to negotiate surrender. With about 400 men he marched to the headquarters of Lt-Col. John Cortez to insist upon proper treatment for his defeated soldiers.
From the back of a US Jeep he told his men: "I believe further fighting is useless. I have acted against my orders, to fight to the last man. The American commander says I cannot give you 'Sieg Heil' or 'Heil Hitler', but we say it in our hearts."
The garrison, totalling 1,626 men, had run out of food, ammunition and water. Most of the town's ancient streets had become impassable because of debris. In the centre only the mediaeval cathedral was still basically intact. The civilian population demanded a surrender ten days ago.
Berlin: Once again Grand Admiral Donitz has shown himself to be a formidable opponent. The Royal Navy hoped that the war at sea would be virtually over as soon as the Allied forces captured the heavily-armoured French bases which have harboured the U-boats for most of the war.
Donitz was ahead of them. He moved the main U-boat fleet out to bases in Norway and has been rapidly refitting the fleet with a newer and more sophisticated Schnorkel. Yet despite the new device, the Allies managed to sink 19 U-boats last month.
The advantages of the Schnorkel were demonstrated by Count von Matuschka in U-482. He did a round voyage from Norway of 2,729 miles, over 90% of which was under water. He preyed undetected on the main sea route north of Ireland and sank the corvette HMS HURST CASTLE and four ships.
The Schnorkel is a long tube which extends up to the surface and enables air to be drawn into the submarine while it is submerged. It has a valve which closes if a large wave sweeps over the tube. The valve stops water getting in - but it also cuts off the air, brings the U-boat crew near to suffocation, and hurting their eardrums when the air rushes in again. The Germans first started experimenting with Schnorkel devices as early as 1940.
Donitz started to fit them in large numbers as soon as he realized that British aircraft were decimating the U-boats. The Schnorkel not only allows them to stay submerged but also enables them to pick up long-range wireless signals undetected by the British. It does tend to slow a U-boat by several knots. So far German successes have been small in number. But the presence of the Schnorkel boats is still tying up a large number of Royal Navy ships in escort duties for merchant ships.
U-2356, U-2357, U-2536 laid down.
U-3513, U-3514 launched.
U-2341 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
ITALY: The British V and Canadian I Corps continue crossing the Savio River.
Pte. Ernest Alvia Smith (b.1914), Canadian Army, destroyed two tanks and two self-propelled guns and routed a number of German troops. (Victoria Cross)
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: US forces capture Dulag Airfield and Tacloban village on Leyte Island. They are still unable to link their bridgeheads. Naval support is from the US 7th Fleet and one group of TF 38. Airstrikes on Cebu, Panay, Negros and Masbate islands, also in the Philippines, are made by 2 other groups of TF 38.
US forces repel a night attack killing over 600 Japanese.
PALAU ISLANDS: The Japanese resistance on Angaur Island ends. Losses are: Japanese 1,300 KIA and 45 POW; US 264 KIA and 1355 WIA. US heavy bomber units are already operating from Angaur. The Palaus were declared secure on September 30 by US Admiral Fort.
CANADA: Light cruiser HMCS Uganda (ex-HMS Uganda) commissioned Charleston, South Carolina. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: Major General Clayton L. Bissell becomes Assistant Chief/Air Staff, Intelligence (A-2) in Washington, DC. He was formerly CG of the US 10th Air Force. (Jack McKillop)
Submarine USS Chub commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
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