Yesterday           Tomorrow

June 17th, 1939 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Minesweeping trawler HMS Ellesmere launched.

FRANCE: Eugene Weidman is the last man to be guillotined in France in public after being found guilty of six murders. 

Minesweepers FS Annamite, Chevreul, Gazelle and La Surprise launched.

U.S.S.R.: Soviet Submarine USSR SC-424 renamed one more time to SC-424.

U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Hughes launched.

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17 June 1940

Yesterday     Tomorrow

June 17th, 1940 (MONDAY)


RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group (Whitley). Bombing - oil plant at Gelsenkirchen - Mining River Rhine.

10 Sqn. Seven aircraft 'W' bombs in Rhine. Four aborted, three bombed. Three aircraft to Gelsenkirchen. Flak intense. All bombed.

51 Sqn. Seven aircraft to Gelsenkirchen. Flak intense. All bombed. Four aircraft 'W' bombs in Rhine. Three aborted, one bombed.

58 Sqn. Ten aircraft to Gelsenkirchen. Nine bombed, one FTR.

77 Sqn. Nine aircraft to Gelsenkirchen. Two returned early, seven bombed.

London: "Let us brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire lasts for a thousand years men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’." With this inspirational peroration Winston Churchill today ended a speech in the House of Commons. It was later repeated in a broadcast to the nation. The Prime Minister faced up squarely to the chance that Britain might now have to fight alone and he told MPs: "Our professional advisers of the three services unitedly advise that we should continue the war and that there are good and reasonable hops of final victory."

The Prime Minister said that it was not yet certain that France’s military resistance to the Germans was over. Britain had not felt able to release the French from their treaty obligation not to make a separate peace. But whatever happens, he continued: "We will fight on, if necessary for years." The Battle of Britain was about to begin and Hitler knew that he "will have to break us in these islands or lose the war."

Mr Churchill said that 1,250,000 men are now under arms in Britain. Behind them are 500,000 Local Defence Volunteers, and soldiers from the Dominions have also arrived. These forces include seven out of every eight soldiers originally sent to France, while many of the remainder are still operating alongside French forces with considerable success. As for the immediate future, the Prime Minister reminded the House of Commons that Britain has home defence forces which are now expanding rapidly, with "very large additions" to their weaponry expected soon. He then said that the survival of Christian civilisation as the well as the continuity of British life must depend on the outcome of the Battle of Britain. He warned the United States that, if Germany wins, then the whole world, including America, "will sink into the abyss of anew dark age". The Commons decided to go into secret session before the end of the week for further discussion of the dire military situation. Churchill told MPs that the scope of the debate would not be too restricted. He was insistent that the service chiefs are prepared for enemy parachute landings and other ingenious invasion tricks, including, he said, help from a "fifth column".


FRANCE: St. Nazaire: Operation 'Aerial': The Cunard White Star liner 'Lancastria' (16,234 GRT, Captain Rudolphe Sharpe, Master) is sunk off Saint Nazaire with the loss of nearly 3,000 men. Five aircraft from KG30 (Kampfgeschwader 30) flying Do-17's, using the SC-500 high-explosive ordnance, dive-bombed and machine-gunned the liner as she lay at anchor. Survivors claimed later that the Germans had continued to fire after the ship had sunk and men were struggling in the water. The liner had been converted into a troopship. Most of the passengers were troops from the BEF and the RAF returning to England. In addition there were Church Army workers and a number of French people fleeing the German occupation. The horror was not over with the sinking.

The Luftwaffe aircraft continued to circle. Diving out of the sky, the planes strafed the survivors in the water and on the sinking ship. Some aircraft dropped incendiaries into the water in an attempt to light the free-flowing oil which leaked from the doomed LANCASTRIA".

This is Britain's worst maritime disaster. She arrived off St. Nazaire at 0400 on 17 Jun and anchored in the Charpentier Roads. Destroyers and other craft were used to ferry people out to the troopship. An estimated 6,000 servicemen and a number of civilian women and children when onboard, although some reports indicate that as many as 9,000 people may have been in the ship when it was hit by four bombs as approximately 16 -00. One bomb was a direct hit, which went down the ship's large single funnel and exploded in the engine room. The ship capsized at 16 -15 and sank soon afterwards. The bomb explosion in the engine room ruptured one of the ship's bunkers and flooded the sea with heavy fuel oil, making rescue operations extremely difficult. Fewer than 2,500 people survived. The large liner Oronsay (20,000 GRT) was also bombed but she remained afloat and reached port safely. News of the disaster was suppressed by the British Government because of the impact it might have had on the country's morale. It was announced over a month later. Captain Sharpe survived the sinking and went on to become the master of the liner Laconia (19,695 GRT). He was with her when she was sunk on 12 Sep 42 by U-156, Kptlt Werner Hartenstein, CO, off the coast of West Africa. Captain Sharpe was among the more than 2,000 lost in this event, making it the second worst British maritime disaster. See

Brooke continues supervising the embarkation of his forces using the French telephone system to talk with subordinate commanders. This afternoon he learned learns from London that a French-German armistice might be concluded at any moment and the he and his troops might be interned under terms of that armistice. In the evening at St. Nazaire he, and his party of 14, embarked on H.M.T. Cambridgeshire which was to be part of a convoy escort. (Jay Stone)

Guderian reaches Pontarlier almost to the Swiss Border. German forces reach Brittany, Loire and Normandy.

Dijon is captured by elements of Hoepner's XVI A.K. (mot.) (Jeff Chrisman)

With German forces pouring through the Maginot Line, Petain’s government sues for peace.

The 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th French Armies are cut off in the Maginot Line and fighting on two fronts.

GERMANY: U-206 laid down.

U-106 launched.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The French sink an Italian submarine off Oran in Algeria.

This sub was the Provana, the first Italian submarine to be sunk in the Mediterranean, which went down after being rammed. Five more Italian boats would be lost in the Mediterranean before the end of June (and four more in the Red Sea), making it a tough month for the Italian "somergibili." (Andy Etherington and Mike Yaklich)

U.S.S.R.: Moscow: Stalin sends troops to occupy Estonia and Latvia in order to "pre-empt joint defence measures against the USSR."

FRENCH INDOCHINA: Japan starts a blockade to cut off military supplies to China.

U.S.A.: The French surrender raises concerns in the U.S. about the French fleet but French Minister for Foreign Affairs Paul Baudouin advises the Deputy U.S. Ambassador to France that the fleet "would never be surrendered to Germany."

The Chief of Naval Operations asks Congress for the money to build a two-ocean Navy.

ICELAND: The 146th Brigade arrive to reinforce the 147th Brigade of the British occupying forces. (Dave Hornford)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: SS Elpis sunk by U-46 at 43.46N, 14.06W.

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Yesterday   Tomorrow


17 June 1941

Yesterday                        Tomorrow

June 17th, 1941 (TUESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: The RAF bombs Cologne, Duisburg and Dusseldorf.
Minesweeper HMS Blyth commissioned.

ASW trawler HMS Polka commissioned.

Destroyer ORP Kujawiak (ex-HMS Oakley) commissioned.

FRANCE: Corvette FS Alysse commissioned.

GERMANY: Hitler decides on June 22, 1941 for the invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa.


This evening the British public was let into the secret of radio-location (also known as RDF, or radar) for the first time. Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert, who last week took over RAF Coastal Command, paid tribute to Robert Watson-Watt, the scientist who pioneered the system which did much to help win the Battle of Britain. He gave no technical details, but he did say that it was a system of rays "which are unaffected by fog or darkness. Any aircraft or ship in the path of this ray immediately sends back a signal to the detecting station." Watson-Watt himself, who has been made a CB and Fellow of the Royal Society, insists: "I am just an ordinary man."

FINLAND: Helsinki: Finland today ordered general mobilisation of its armed forces, effective in three days time. Notices on street corners order all reservists up to the age of 44 to report for duty.

Tension is running high here as rumours that Hitler is preparing to march on the Soviet Union sweep the city. There is no doubt that if the Germans do attack Russia the Finns will fight alongside them. The bitter memories of the "Winter War" in which the Russians crushed Finland despite its gallant defence run too deep for any other course; there are reports that the 10,000 German troops who arrives in Finland recently, ostensibly on their way to northern Norway, are still in Finland preparing for a joint thrust with the Finns at Leningrad.

The Finnish army, with its knowledge of the country and ability to use the terrain, would also be able to hold the Russian army in the north while the Germans launched a Blitzkrieg towards Moscow. Many in Britain will be sad to see the Finns allying with Hitler, but hatred of Russia outweighs all other considerations.

EGYPT: Cairo:

A grim faced Commander-in-Chief flew in from the Western Desert today and dictated a cable to London which began: "I regret to report the failure of 'Battleaxe'." General Wavell's first major counter-offensive has ended in defeat, with 91 British tanks destroyed against German losses of 25. On London, Churchill - who had sent a fast convoy of reinforcement tanks under the code name "Tiger" and had high hopes for Battleaxe - took the news calmly. He has already decided to replace Wavell.

Wavell, too, had been optimistic, although he had grave doubts about the mechanical capacity of many of his tanks. He had not allowed for Rommel's intelligence which forewarned of the attack; or the devastating use by the Afrika Korps of the 88mm "ack ack" gun as an anti-tank weapon. With armoured support, Indian troops fought hard to take the Halfaya Pass; but a hastily improvised Panzer counter-attack was the decisive factor.

The British forces by now are 30 miles east of the position they started out from three days ago and morale is low. Although losses are not large, less than a thousand men killed, wounded and missing, 91 tanks had been lost and 80% of the British tanks were out of action. The Germans lost 12 tanks.

LIBYA: Halfaya Pass: In the evening the Germans advanced upon the British forcing them to retire, firing as they left. Within 15 minutes the 2nd RTR had only five tanks left and they were unable to hold the rapid advance of the Germans. With the enemy occupation if Sidi Suleiman the action ended.

SYRIA: Concerned that the French counter-attack may swing westward and cut off 7 Division in the mountains of Lebanon, Lt-Gen Lavarack orders 21 Brigade (Brig Stevens) to halt the coastal advance and detach a battalion to reinforce Jezzine. On the Eastern axis 2nd Bn Queens attack from Deraa and drive French forces out of El Quneitra. An initial thrust by Free French Senegalese against Ezraa is repulsed but a second attempt drives out the French forces and take 160 prisoners. In the central sector the French again attack Jezzine but are driven off by elements of 25 Aust Bde. 70 weary and hungry Vichy Senegalese troops are taken prisoner. 2/2 Pioneer and 2/25 Bns under Brig Berryman attack Merdjayoun but are driven back by fierce French resistance. (Michael Alexander)

CANADA: Minesweeper HMCS Lockeport laid down North Vancouver.

Lt Denis James Patrick O'Hagan RCNVR awarded George Medal.

United States and Canada set up Joint Economic Committees. (“ . . .to study and to report to their respective governments on the possibilities of (1) effecting a more economic, more efficient, and more coordinated utilization of the combined resources of the two countries in the production of defence requirements (to the extent that this is not now being done) and (2) reducing the probable post-war economic dislocation consequent upon the changes which the economy in each country is presently undergoing"

Destroyer HMCS St Clair is heavily damaged in a collision with the oiler Clam soon after joining the Newfoundland Escort Force. St Clair is diverted to St. John's for repairs that will last until 2nd December 1941. It is highly unlikely that Clam and St Clair were engaged in underway refuelling at the time of the collision. Clam was used for 'afloat tankage' and for shuttling fuel to St. John's from Halifax. Fuelling was done alongside the oilers while they lay either at a berth or at mooring buoys. This was also the RN practice at Greenock.

Corvette HMCS Rosthern commissioned.

U.S.A.: Washington:
President Roosevelt">Roosevelt has ordered all 24 German consulates in the USA to shut by 15 July and all consular staff to be expelled. Diplomats in the embassy here are not affected.

Although US-German relations are deteriorating generally, the administration complains that the consulates are not being shut down for that reason but because they were being used for espionage and fifth-column activities "wholly outside the scope of their legitimate duties." The reason why the administration did not take this step sooner is that it is bound to lead the Germans to close US consulates, which are useful listening posts inside Europe.

In the U.S., baseball star Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees extends his hitting streak to 30 games in a row in a game against the Chicago White Sox. This breaks the team record held by Roger Peckinpaugh and Earl Coombs.

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Yesterday Tomorrow

June 17th, 1942 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Minesweeping trawler HMS Gweal launched.

Minesweeper HMS Shippigan commissioned.


U-466, U-664 commissioned.

U-527 launched.


U.S.S.R.: (Sergey Anisimov)(69)Baltic Fleet, Ladoga and Onega Flotillas: Shipping loss. GB "Volga" - by aviation, at Kopellaht bay.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Tug HMS Vixen lost in the Mediterranean.

NORTH AFRICA: The British 4th Armoured Brigade loses 30% of its tanks in an attack on Sidi Rezegh.

JAPAN: American diplomatic staff today board the Asama Maru at Yokohama. They have been interned in the US embassy compound since the outbreak of war. They had access to the Japanese media and one small radio, until being allowed to leave today.

39 year old Park Soowan is killed by police during an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Tojo Hideki. Later Ken Inukai is arrested and charged with financing and abetting the assassination attempt. (Lois Shapley Bassen and Sharon Domier)(132 and 133)

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: In the Aleutians, a Kiska Harbor bombing mission by the USAAF's 11th Air Force is cancelled due to weather as is a patrolling mission by heavy bombers.


CANADA: Fairmile HMC ML 080 commissioned.

Ordered, CT TANAC tugs, a total of 265 of these vessels ordered in Canada during WW II, all were completed including those underway when the war ended. There were two distinct styles, 35 wooden hulled and the other 230 were welded steel. They were all diesel powered and fitted with a variety of engines, Fairbanks Morse and Vivian being the most common. At first the British Government ordered them direct but most were in fact ordered and paid for by Canada under the 'Mutual Aid Board' concept. Deliveries started in January 1943 and some stragglers were completed in early 1946. The builders were: a. Central Bridge Company, Trenton, ON, 156 steel units. b. Canadian Bridge Company, Walkerville ON, 69 steel units. c. Russell Brothers Industries Ltd, Owen Sound, ON. 5 steel units (see below) d. Smith and Rhuland, Lunenburg NS, 10 wooden units. e. Industrial Shipping Ltd. Mahone Bay, 25 wooden units. TANAC units built were: a. Canadian Bridge built #1 to 30, 51 to 60, and 101 to 129. b. Central Bridge built 31 to 45, 51 to 60, 66 to 85, 130 to 250. c. Russell Brothers built 46 to 50. (They were to build 51 to 60 but these ten units were later transferred to Canadian Bridge allowing Russell to concentrate on Glen and Ville class tugs) d. Smith and Rhuland built 96 to 100 and 261 to 265. e. Industrial Shipping built 61 to 65, 86 to 95 and 251 to 260. The tugs were sent all over the world, about 38 served in the RN, (last one in naval service No.83, sold Aug 79) The TANAC tugs ended up in just about every Port you can think of. The last 50 vessels ordered were not completed at the end of the war. They were all completed and sold by the War Assets Disposal Corporation. Fifteen were sold to China and most of the balance remained in Canada. The wooden tugs were somewhat different in size, being longer, at 67.7'x 16.5'x7' and generally about 57grt. The wooden tugs also varied in size between the two building yards by a few inches in one direction or another. Wooden vessels are a lot harder to hold to standard dimensions than steel. The steel tugs also changed somewhat over the years in which they were built. The last group of 50 (35 steel and 15 wooden) had a reduced registered depth, at 6.5' in depth and 50 grt versus the 7.8' deep, 65grt versions. The change only seems to apply to the steel versions. It is not thought that the hulls were actually different on the outside but the measurement of tonnage is taken to the top of the floors in a vessel so deeper floors would in fact reduce the registered depth and hence the tonnage. It doesn't make sense but that is how it was done. They were actually given a slightly different name convention, (TANAC V 222 as an example. The V meant a Vivian engine was fitted versus the Fairbanks Morse engines fitted in the earlier hulls. The Vivian engined required deeper floors to get the engine high enough in the hull to maintain the shaft line and this triggered a reduction in the calculated tonnage. Vivian engines are a 4-cycle engine and have a greater height dimension than the Fairbanks-Morse engines, which are 2 cycle. Both engines have the same piston stroke, but the Vivians cylinder heads are higher, because of the valve mechanisms in the head, the Fairbanks-Morse had no valves in the heads, because of their 2-cycle design. Which may account for the different deck levels and registered tonnage. TANAC tugs prenamed "LAC" were actually some of the earlier ones built and they were all originally registered in England, then brought back to Canada years later. McKeil Marine had 4 of these tugs in service, although they have been modified and repowered. They are (1) LAC COMO (ex HALIFAX), (2) LAC ERIE (ex TANAC 74), (3) LAC MANITOBA (ex MANITOBA), (4) LAC VANCOUVER (ex VANCOUVER). The Irving Company at one time had the IRVING ALDER (ex TORONTO) and the IRVING POPLAR (ex TANAC 42). DOT had the TANAC V 222. Others were COLINETTE (ex LAC OTTAWA) owed by Waterman's Services Ltd, Toronto, still more LAC St LOUIS (ex HAMILTON), LAC QUEBEC (ex LAC MICHIGAN). A Capt J.E. McQueen had a contract to deliver CT tugs to different ports, during the WW.II. They would have a crew on each tug and would follow the leader to New York (via the ErieCanal) or to Chicago and down the Mississippi River. Then were then loaded on ship's and sent all over the world

U.S.A.: Japanese, German and Italian diplomatic staff today left the US on board the Swedish liner Gripsholm. They have been on board since June 11th. Prior to that they were interned at Greenbrier, a luxury resort owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. They enjoyed access to US media and each other.

The development of Pelican, an antisubmarine guided missile, was undertaken by the National defence Research Committee with the US Navy's Bureau of Ordnance sponsorship. This device consisted of a glide bomb which could automatically home on a radar beam reflected from the target.

The U.S. Navy awards a contract to Goodyear for the design and construction of a prototype model M scouting and patrol non-rigid airship with 50 percent greater range and volume, 625,000 cubic feet (17,698 cubic meters) than the K Class airship. Four model M airships were procured and placed in service during World War II.

The German submarine U-202 lands four German agents/saboteurs at Ponte Vedra Beach south of Jacksonville, Florida. These agents are part of the team that landed on Long Island on 13 June.

YANK, the weekly magazine for the U.S. armed services, begins publication.

The War Department announces that it will not “accept for service with the armed forces, Japanese or persons of Japanese extraction, regardless of citizenship status or other factors”. (Gene Hanson)

Minesweeper USS Staff launched.

Destroyer USS Mervine commissioned.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: After parting company with convoy HG.74, the British destroyer HMS WILD SWAN is damaged in an air attack by Ju.87's and sinks after colliding with a Spanish fishing vessel (three of which also sank after being hit by aircraft) south of Bantry Bay 49 52N, 10 44W. (Alex Gordon)(108)

A mine, laid by U-701, sinks the US merchant ship SANTORE, a collier, off Virginia, killing three of the crew. At 1348, the Santore struck a mine laid on 11 June by U-701 in the Chesapeake Bay. The ship was manoeuvring into her position in Convoy KS-511 when a explosion occurred on the port side and extensively damaged the #1, #2 and #3 side tanks and the #1 and #2 holds. The vessel was quickly flooded, developed a list of 90° to port and sank rapidly. The eight officers, 29 crewmen and nine armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) abandoned ship on one raft and by jumping overboard because no lifeboats could be launched due to the sharp list. Three crewmen were lost. The survivors were picked up after 30 minutes by US Coast guard vessels and landed at Little Creek, Virginia. The wreck of Santore was sold in August 1954 for scrapping.

About 1300, the unescorted Moira was hit by one torpedo from U-158 off Corpus Christi and was then sunk by gunfire after the crew had abandoned ship. One crewmember was lost and three were injured. The survivors in two lifeboats were found by a fishing boat the next day and towed to Port Isabel, Texas. On 20 Aug 1942, the master, William Thorsen, took over the command of the Frontenac, which was torpedoed and badly damaged by U-436 on 27 Oct 1942.

At 0450, U-158 fired two torpedoes at the unescorted San Blas, the first missed the stern but the second struck at the port quarter. The explosion destroyed the stern, blew away the #4 hatch cover and the mainmast, stopped the engines and caused the ship to sink by the stern with a heavy starboard list after four minutes. The master, 26 crewmembers and three armed guards of the 39 crewmembers and five armed guards on board were lost. The survivors had no time to launch any lifeboats and abandoned ship on four rafts. They were picked up on 29 June by a US Navy Catalina flying boat in position 28°01N/96°02W and landed at Corpus Christi. The master Anders Weesgaard had already experienced another sinking when his last ship, the Ontario was sunk by U-507.

U-129 sinks an armed US freighter off the north coast of Cuba. At 2303, the unescorted Millinocket was hit by one torpedo from U-129, while steaming on a nonevasive course at 9 knots off La Isabela, Cuba. The torpedo struck between the #4 and #5 holds above 12 feet below the waterline. The explosion opened a large hole in the hull, blew some men overboard and killed the chief gunner. The ship sank rapidly on even keel within three minutes. No distress signals were sent and the guns were never manned (the ship was armed with one 6pdr and two .30cal guns). Only one lifeboat and two rafts were launched, while some men had to jump into the water to escape. Witt questioned the second assistant engineer about the name of the ship, tonnage, cargo, origin and destination. He also gave them a first aid kit for the wounded men when the engineer asked him for one. The master, three officers, five crewmen and two armed guards of the seven officers, 22 crewmen and six armed guards on board were lost, most of them by drowning. The survivors were picked up by a Cuban motor boat and two Cuban fishing boats about 13 hours later and landed at La Isabela and taken to Sagua La Grande, where the eight injured were treated at the hospital. (Dave Shirlaw and Jack McKillop)

Yesterday Tomorrow


17 June 1942 17 June 1943

Yesterday     Tomorrow

June 17th, 1943 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: The first units of supporting naval forces sail for the invasion Sicily, Operation Husky.

The BBC warns civilians in occupied Europe to evacuate the vicinity of all factories working for the German war effort.

No. 186 Squadron RAF flying the Hawker Hurricane MK IID makes the first rocket attacks against targets at Flushing in the Netherlands. (22)

MAC ship SS Empire Mackay launched.

Escort carrier HMS Campania launched.

Minesweeping trawlers HMS Lindisfarne and Skomer launched.

Destroyer HMS Terpsichore launched.


U-858 launched.

U-984 commissioned.

ITALY: The RAF bombs Naples.

PACIFIC OCEAN: During the night of 17/18 June, four B-24 Liberators of the USAAF's Seventh Air Force take off from Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Islands at 2-hour intervals to bomb Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. One aborts and another fails to find the target. The two B-24s bombing the target hit runways, silence an AA battery, and blow up an ammunition dump. The raid is a diversion in support of the first night photo-reconnaissance mission by the VII Bomber Command, during which three B-24s photograph Mille Atoll in the Caroline Islands and nearby waters in the Marshall Islands.

U.S.A.: Minesweeper USS Dextrous launched.

Frigate USS Coronado launched.

Light fleet carrier USS Monterey commissioned.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: HMT Yoma sunk by U-81 at 33.03N, 22.04E.

An RAF 206 Sqn Fortress damaged U-338, killing one and wounding three.

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17 June 1944

    Yesterday                        Tomorrow

June 17th, 1944 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: Germany's long-threatened pilot-less planes or flying bombs are now falling thick and fast on London and south-east England. They first arrived four days ago, but a full-scale attack was only announced yesterday by Herbert Morrison, who claimed that damage was "relatively small". No so: it is now becoming severe. According to figures issued at 6am today, 18 people have died and 166 have been injured in flying-bomb explosions since the first six casualties in Bethnal Green, in London, on 13 June. Yesterday 73 fell on Greater London, and today 24 people died in a single blast in a London pub.

The new weapon, today christened "V1" (V for Vergeltungswaffe - Reprisal Weapon) by Hitler, is a low-flying bomb launched from the Pas-de-Calais, fitted with stubby wings and a primitive pulse jet engine which is programmed to cut out over London. The V1 then nosedives silently to earth in 15 seconds with its warhead of nearly a ton of explosive. The damage can cover a quarter of a mile in radius, mainly by blast. Windows are shattered, and debris lacerates anyone upright in the vicinity. Many are buried alive. The most demoralizing factor is the moment when the engine cuts out. People stare in silence and then fling themselves flat to wait for the explosion. The V1s are being called "doodlebugs" or "buzz bombs" for the drone of their engines.

The USAAF's Eighth Air Force in England flies three missions against targets in France, primarily airfields; two B-17 Flying Fortresses are lost; fighters fly 1,027 sorties during the day and destroy 15 locomotives, train cars, trucks and other vehicles.

Mission 418: 232 of 332 bombers attack targets in FRANCE:

1. Of 174 B-17s, 52 hit Monchy-Breton Airfield, 31 hit a railroad bridge at Noyen, 18 hit Chateaudun Airfield and 18 hit Villiers/L'Eveque Airfield; two B-17s are lost; escort is provided by 43 P-38 Lightnings, 39 P-47 Thunderbolts and 90 P-51 Mustangs; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; one P-51 is lost. 

2. Of 158 B-24s, 28 hit Laval Airfield, 26 hit Guyancourt/Caudron Airfield, 18 hit Le Mans/Arnage Airfield, 17 hit Bretigny Airfield, 12 hit Brunnelles, one hit Melun Airfield, one hits Dreux, one hits St Valery and one hits a target of opportunity; escort is provided by 87 P-47s and 170 P-51s; they claim 2-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 3-0-0 on the ground.99 P-38s fly fighter-bomber missions against railroad bridges at Corbie and Peronne; four P-38s are lost. 

Mission 419: Of 312 B-24s dispatched, 80 hit Angers Airfield, 75 hit Laval Airfield, 55 hit Tours Airfield, 38 hit Essay airstrip, 25 hit Lonray airstrip and one hits LeMans; one B-24 is lost; escort is provided by 122 P-47s and 148 P-51s; a P-51 is lost. 49 P-38s and 39 P-47s, escorted by 47 P-38s, make fighter-bomber attacks on Corbie-Peronne railroad bridges; two P-38s are lost. 

Mission 420: Nine B-17s drop leaflets in France during the night.

The USAAF's Ninth Air Force in England dispatches 265 B-26 Marauders to attack fuel dumps, a bridge and a railway line south of the battle area; 1,300+ fighters fly escort and top cover, and strafe and bomb troop concentrations, military vehicles, bridges, gun emplacements, tanks and other tactical targets.  

FRANCE: Rommel, Rundstedt and Hitler meet at Soissons in the underground bunker built for the Führer in 1940, when he talked of invading Britain. Hitler was pale and haggard; hunched on a stool, he fiddled with his glasses as Rommel said that the struggle was hopeless against Allied superiority in the air, at sea and on land. At least, Rommel argued, they should pull back out of range of the Allies' devastating naval guns. The Führer would have none of it. He blamed the two field marshals for the success of the Allied landings, and dismissed Rommel's complaints that fuel shortages and enemy fighter-bomber attacks ruled out a major German offensive.  

They talked from 9am to 4pm, with a lunch of rice and vegetables, which Hitler wolfed down with an array of pills. The Führer  promised that the V-1's will force Britain out of the war. There were "masses of jet fighters" on the way to drive the enemy out of the sky. At this point, Hitler was interrupted by Allied planes passing overhead. And then, shortly after von Rundstedt and Rommel departed, Hitler was shaken by a huge explosion. One of his own V1s had misfired and hit the bunker roof.

The US 9th Division reaches the west coast of Normandy.


U-828 commissioned.

U-2509, U-3503 laid down.

U-779 launched.

FINLAND: In the Karelian Isthmus the Finnish troops start their withdrawal to the third line of defence, VKT-line. Their mission is to delay the enemy on their way, in order to gain time to transfer troops from the other parts of the Fenno-Soviet front. The 4th Division (Maj. Gen. Aleksanteri Autti) and 3rd Brigade have already arrived and are attached to Lt. Gen. Taavetti Laatikainen's IV Corps, and the 17th Division (Maj. Gen. Alonzo Sundman) and 20th Brigade (Col. Armas Kemppi) are just disembarking from trains near Viipuri. From Maaselkä Ishmus Maj. Gen. Einar Wihma's 6th Division starts its transfer to Karelia.

However, the aggressively advancing Red Army is not complying with the plans. The Finnish units, lacking the weapons to fight the heavy Soviet tanks, occasionally panic. On the southernmost part of the front, the 10th Division, which was already battered on the first days of the Soviet offensive, and the Cavalry Brigade experience great difficulties, and the enemy breaks through their defences. Finnish 10th Division and Cavalry Brigade receive new commanders. Col. Kai Savonjousi [Col. Kai Savonjousi was the first student of the Military Academy (established in 1919) to receive a divisional command. Another example of a succesful commander who made his career in summer 1944 was commander of the 2nd Division Maj. Gen. Armas-Eino Martola. He became a corps commander in July, and retired a lieutenant general after the war. He war promoted to General of Infantry in retirement in 1982] (one of the resourceful and successful commanders who rose to the occasion)  replaces Maj. Gen. Jussi Sihvo as commander of the 10th Division, and Col. Urho Tähtinen replaces Maj. Gen. Lars Melander as commander of the Cavalry Brigade, which at the same time is subordinated to Col. Savonjousi's 10th Division. He managed to infuse the battered units under his command with new spirit, and only few days later it was Col. Savonjousi's men who repelled the first Soviet attempts to advance west after the capture of Viipuri. They start a disorganized retreat, and units of the Armoured Division are sent to reinforce them. On the left flank of the IV Corps the 3rd Brigade and 4th Division are fighting in Summa, the famous battlefield of the Winter War.

One veteran later remembered the impression made by Col. Savonjousi. At the time he was a private in the Infantry Regiment 1 of the 10th Division, a unit that had been in the center of the Soviet assault on the first days of the offensive, and suffered greatly in the retreat accross the Isthmus. Col. Savonjousi arrived to inspect the unit during the days when battles after the loss of Viipuri raged. After walking past the assembled men, he held a speech. As reported by the veteran 38 years later: "From here on we won't retreat, he said, because we can't. On the next line there are our mothers, sisters, children and parents, whole open heart of Finland. Here we die. I have come here to die. We are through with running, my good men. Now it's again time to be a Finnish defender of [one's] country. If someone tries to run, I will myself be there holding him, that's my lot." It impressed the men. "It was no militarist speaking, but a soldier and sensible realist, a sober man, who had been given a mission." After the war Savonjousi had a succesful career, rising to the rank of lieutenant general (a very high rank in a peace-time army where there's only one four-star officer in active service at a time).

To the north, on the southern shore of Lake Ladoga Lt. Gen. Hjalmar Siilasvuo's III Corps has so far been spared the full fury of the Soviet offensive. Now it also starts to withdraw towards the VKT-line. Its 18th Division (Maj. Gen. Paavo Paalu) has been transferred to act as reserve near Viipuri, and it had received Maj. Gen. Armas-Eino Martola's distinguished 2nd Division, which had just repelled three days of Soviet attacks in Siiranmäki. Unlike its neighbour, the III Corps's withdrawal largely goes as planned, though the 2nd Division has to fight fierce delaying actions on its way.

Oberstleutnant Kurt Kuhlmey's Stukas and Fw 190's start arriving at the Immola airfield in southern Finland. The unit has been formed out of units in Lapland and Baltic region, and consists of 32 Stukas and 30 Fw 190 fighter-bombers.

ITALY: The French 9th Colonial Division lands on the island of Elba.

KURILE ISLANDS: 12 B-25s fly three air missions for a Naval Task Force on withdrawal, following the shelling of Kurabu Cape installations on Paramushiru Island.

MARIANAS ISLANDS:  After heavy preliminary bombardment  by the US Navy yesterday, the US V Amphibious Corps (Marines) has stormed ashore on the Japanese-held island. 

With an armada of 535 fighting ships and transports carrying 127,000 US soldiers and marines, the Marianas operation is the biggest amphibious assault of the Pacific War. Coming within two weeks of the Normandy invasion, it highlights the enormous combat resources now available to the Allies.

The marines headed for the beaches of Saipan at 7am on 15 June. They went ashore in a four-mile long phalanx of 600 amphibious craft. Facing them were 32,000 Japanese troops, but by tonight the beach-head was secure and the US forces are consolidating their position. Japanese leaders realize that defeat here is inevitable, but pride compels them to carry on to the bitter end.

Today, the 165th mounted three attacks and reached the edge of the airfield by dusk while the 105th Infantry Regiment and the 27th Infantry Division headquarters came ashore.

IJN aircraft mount several attacks against U.S. shipping in the Marianas: 
At about 1750 hours local, five torpedo bombers, Nakajima B5N Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bombers, Allied Code Name "Kate," and one night fighter, a Nakajima J1N1-S Navy Type 2 Gekko, Allied Code Name "Irving," from Truk attack landing craft east of Saipan. One infantry landing craft (LCI) is sunk while three "Kates" are shot down by AA fire.

Between 1850 and 1912 hours local, 17 Kugisho D4Y Navy Carrier Bombers Suisei, Allied Code Name "Judy," 31 Mitsubishi A6M Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters, Allied Code Name "Zeke," and two P1YN Navy Bombers, based on Yap, attack Task Force 52 escort aircraft carriers The carriers scramble 46 FM Wildcats but give them the wrong vector taking them out of the action. AA fire from the ships down several D4Ys and both P1Ys. The escort aircraft carrier USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) is struck by a bomb that penetrates the after elevator and explodes in midair above the hanger deck, killing 14 and wounding 23. Fire breaks out and the fire main is ruptured, flooding several compartments aft. In just under an hour, the damage was brought under control, but the ship is listing 3 degrees to port and settles 6-feet (1.8 m) by the stern.

After controlling the fires, the ship sets sail for Pearl Harbor and battle damage repairs.

Japanese air attacks against U.S. naval ships supporting the invasion of  the Marianas Islands commence today. At about 1750 hours, five Nakajima B6N Navy Carrier Attack Bomber Tenzans, Allied Code Name "Jill," and one Nakajima J1N1-S Navy Night Fighter Gekko, Allied Code Name "Irving," based on Truk Atoll attack landing craft east of Saipan; one LCI is destroyed and three B6Ns are shot down. At about 1830 hours, 17 Yokosuka D4Y Navy Carrier Bomber Suiseis, Allied Code Name "Dot," 31 Mitsubishi A6M Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters, Allied Code Name "Zeke," and two Yokosuka P1Y Navy Bomber Gingas, Allied Code Name "Frances," based on Yap, damage an LST and then begin an attack on the escort aircraft carriers of Task Force 52 between  1850 and 1912 hours. The carriers launch 46 Eastern Aircraft FM Wildcats but they are given an incorrect vector and miss the Japanese aircraft.

Gunners on the ships shoot down several "Dots" and both "Frances'" but a  bomb seriously damages USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70), At 2115 hours, a US submarine reports that a large force of Japanese ships is headed east toward the Marianas.

The USAAF's Thirteenth Air Force dispatches 41 B-24s to bomb Truk Atoll, hitting targets on Eten and Dublon Islands.

PACIFIC OCEAN: Allied CINCPAC COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 53, United States Marines supported by elements of an Army Infantry division have improved their positions on Saipan Island, and are driving forward toward Aslito airdrome.

Harassment of our beachheads by enemy mortar fire has been considerably reduced.

On the night of June 14 (West Longitude Date) enemy torpedo planes launched an attack against our carrier force, but were repulsed without damage to our ships. Our heavy surface units bombarded Guam Island on June 15.

Liberators of the Eleventh Army Air Force bombed Matsuwa, Paramushiru and Shimushiru on June 14. Five enemy aircraft were airborne near Matsuwa but only one attempted to attack our force, and did no damage. Fourteen enemy fighters appeared over Paramushiru and several made attacks causing damage to one of our planes. One enemy fighter was probably shot down and an enemy medium bomber was damaged. Ventura search planes of Fleet Air Wing Four also bombed Paramushiru and Shimushu on June 14. Fifteen enemy fighters attacked our force, causing minor damage to several of our aircraft.

Shimushiru was again attacked by Eleventh Army Air Force Liberators on June 15.

Army, Navy and Marine aircraft of Central Pacific Air Forces bombed objectives in the Marshall Islands and Eastern Caroline Islands on June 13 and 15 (West Longitude Date.)


United States Marines and Army troops advancing east across the southern portion of Saipan Island, made gains averaging 1500 yards during the night of June 15-16 and on June 16 (West Longitude Date).

The area now held by our forces extends from a point just south of Garapan for a distance of approximately five and one half miles to Agingan and extends inland two miles at the point of deepest penetration. Our forces have captured Hinashisu due east of Lake Susupe.

Our positions were under sustained enemy fire during the night of June 15-16, and before dawn on June 16 the enemy launched a determined counter-attack. This attack, which was broken up, cost the enemy heavily in lives and destroyed more than 25 enemy tanks.

Early in the morning of June 16 our troops launched the offensive which resulted in general advances. Some of our forward echelons penetrated the Naval air base at Aslito Airdrome but were later withdrawn under severe enemy fire.

During the action on June 16 our aircraft bombed and strafed enemy positions, and during the night of June 15-16 enemy strong points were shelled by our ships.

On June 15 one of our destroyer transports encountered five enemy coastal cargo ships and sank them. Twenty-nine survivors were rescued and made prisoners of war.

CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 448, As the South Pacific has become relatively quiet, Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., U. S. Navy, has been relieved of command of the South Pacific Area and the South Pacific Force. He will henceforth command the Third Fleet which will operate in the Pacific Ocean in the same way that the Fifth Fleet is operating under command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN. (Denis Peck)

CANADA: Corvette HMCS Cobourg arrived Halifax from builder Midland Ontario.

Patrol vessel HMCS Grizzly paid off.

Corvette HMCS Belleville launched Kingston, Ontario.

U-737 set up an automatic weather station on Bear Island.


Large cruiser USS Alaska commissioned.

Destroyer escort USS Robert F Keller commissioned.

Destroyer escort USS French launched.

ICELAND declares full independence and became a republic.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-423 (Type VIIC) is sunk northeast of the Faroes, in position 63.06N, 02.05E, by depth charges from a Norwegian Catalina aircraft (Sqdn. 333/D). 53 dead (all crew lost). (Alex Gordon)

Two crewmembers of U-853 were killed in an attack by aircraft from USS Croatan.

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17 June 1945

Yesterday                        Tomorrow

June 17th, 1945 (SUNDAY)

CHINA: Japanese troops start withdrawing between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

JAPAN: The US continues to make advances in the Kunishi Ridge area of Okinawa.

Okinawa: Admiral Minoru Ota, the commander of the Japanese naval base, commits suicide.

25 Twentieth Air Force B-29s mine Shimonoseki Strait and waters around Kobe, Japan; 2 others mine alternate targets.

US bombers start a series of raids on civilians, targeting 58 secondary cities.

The USAAF's XXI Bomber Command in the Mariana Islands flies one mining and four incendiary missions against Japan during the night of 17/18 June. 

Mission 205: 25 B-29 Superfortresses mine Shimonoseki Strait and waters around Kobe; two others mine alternate targets.

Mission 206: 117 B-29s attack the Kagoshima urban area and one hits an alternate target; 2.15 sq mi (5.57 sq km) are destroyed; one B-29 is lost.

Mission 207: 116 B-29s hit the Omuta urban area and three hit alternate targets; the was the heaviest attack of the four incendiary missions but only 0.217 sq mi (0.56 sq km), 4.1 percent of the city's area, are destroyed.

Mission 208: 130 B-29s hit the Hamamatsu urban area; 2.44 sq mi (6.32 sq km) are destroyed.

Mission 209: 89 B-29s attack the Yokkaichi urban area; 1.23 sq mi (3.19 sq km) are destroyed.

33 P-47s from Ie Shima Island bomb and strafe shipping, the airfield, villages, a bridge and radar and radio facilities on Amami Gunto Island and Tokuno, Japan. During the night of 17/18 June, two P-61 Black Widows from Ie Shima Island fly an unsuccessful (due to weather) intruder strike over Amami Gunto and Kyushu, Japan; this begins a campaign of night and day intruder missions over Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands by the night fighters (12 more are flown during June).

KURILE ISLANDS: Aircraft of the Eleventh Air Force and Fleet Air Wing Four (FAW-4) fly several missions to the Kurile Islands. Four North American B-25 Mitchells attack ships at Kataoka Naval Base on Shimushu Island while four other B-25s fly an anti-shipping strike between Shimushu and Paramushiru Islands sinking one ship and setting another on fire. Two B-24s attack two ships west of Paramushiru Island and one is shot down. Five B-24s bomb Shimushu Island damaging an ammunition dump while three other B-24s off Shimushu sink and unescorted vessel and slight damage two other vessels.

Two Lockheed PV-2 Harpoons of FAW-4 bomb shipping in Paramushiru Straits using radar and two others bomb Suribachi Air Field on Paramushiru Island.

CANADA: Corvettes HMCS Cobalt and Long Branch paid off Sorel, Province of Quebec.

Corvette HMCS Eyebright paid off and returned to RN at Belfast.

Trawlers HMS Anticosti, Ironbound, Liscomb, Magdalen, Manitoulin and Miscou paid off and returned to RN at Belfast.

Fairmiles HMC ML 060 and ML 064 paid off.

U.S.A.: General of the Army Henry H "Hap" Arnold, Commanding General US Army Air Forces, requests of Lieutenant General Albert C Wedemeyer, Commanding General US Forces in China, that Lieutenant General George E Stratemeyer replace Major General Clare L Chennault as head of USAAF units in China.

Light cruiser USS Little Rock commissioned.

Submarine USS Cubera launched.

Destroyer USS Kenneth D Bailey launched.

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