Yesterday            Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1939 (FRIDAY)

ÉIRE: Dublin: The government passes a law banning the IRA.

FRANCE: Paris: France and Turkey sign a defence treaty.

U.S.A.: Congress established the Coast Guard Reserve. This volunteer force of men and women was created to assist the Coast Guard and the recreational boating public.

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Yesterday                  Tomorrow


23 June 1940

Yesterday      Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1940 (SUNDAY)

RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group (Whitley). Bombing - industrial works.
10 Sqn. Eight aircraft to aluminium works Ichendorf. All bombed. Opposition severe.
51 Sqn. Ten aircraft to aluminium works Ichendorf. All bombed. Opposition severe.
58 Sqn. Eight aircraft to aluminium works Lunen and Ludwigshaven. two returned early, six bombed.

London: General Charles de Gaulle announces the formation of a French national committee.

The BBC launches its 'Music While You Work' programs for the war factories. They are a great success, believed to have considerably increased efficiency and therefore war production. (Antoine Capet) This program did have  its moments; for example, the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas" had to be banned because all the workers would stop to clap hands at the appropriate moments. "Yes, my darling daughter" was discouraged, because of a foot-stamping sequence at the end of each verse. (Cris Whetton)


Paris: Pierre Laval is appointed vice-premier of France. General de Gaulle is officially cashiered by General Weygand. de Gaulle was then sentenced to death _in absentia_, and all his possessions on French territory were confiscated. (Antoine Capet)

The first British commando raid fails to capture German guards and defence information at Bordeaux.

Paris: Hitler tours Paris accompanied by the three intellectuals he likes the best: two architects, Albert Speer and Hermann Giesler, and a sculptor, Arno Breker.

Hitler flew to Le Bourget airport at 4am, and entered the city which he said he had ordered his troops to spare "because it was important to preserve this culture for generations to come." His visit was recorded by a photographer and a cine-cameraman. At Les Invalides he gave orders for the remains of the son of the Emperor Napoleon I to be brought from Vienna to lie next to his father. "That was the finest and greatest moment of my life." said Hitler. At the Opera he asked the Usher, who refused a 50-mark tip to show him near-forgotten rooms which he knew of from architectural plans. Hitler boasted of his knowledge.

17 French Morane fighter planes of 1 Squadron, 1st Fighter Group and 2 Squadron, 2nd Fighter Group took off to assault the motorised units of Guderian in the Rhone valley. They found no tanks but 2nd Lt. Marchelidon of 2 Squadron shot down a German Henschel Hs126 reconnaissance plane. This was the last French kill of the campaign.

Destroyer HMCS Restigouche engaged in French evacuation operations off St Jean de Luz engaged in French evacuation operations.

ITALY: Rome: The Italian High Command announced:

‘ The Regia Aeronautica has continued its activity in the Mediterranean. It has successfully bombed the naval base at Alexandria, the present site of the British Fleet. Italian aircraft have bombed Bizerta and enemy vehicles in the eastern Mediterranean. One Italian aircraft has not returned. Our operations in North Africa have proved successful. Our aircraft took vigorous measures against armoured cars . One four-engined British aircraft was shot down. The enemy bombed the city of Trapani, but inflicted damage only on civilian dwellings. There were 20 dead and 38 wounded.’

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: HMS Ark Royal arrives at Gibraltar. She joins Force H under Sir James Somerville.

EGYPT: Cairo: The British Middle East Air Force in Egypt announced:

‘During the night of Friday to Saturday, three Italian aircraft flying over Alexandria and its environs, dropped 20 bombs at random on the city, seaport and surrounding villages; additional bombs fell into the sea.’


INDIAN OCEAN: Off French Somaliland Italian submarine 'Toricelli' is sunk by destroyers HMS KANDAHAR and HMS Kingston and sloop HMS Shoreham. During this action, destroyer HMS Khartoum suffers an internal explosion and sinks in shallow water off Perim Island. She is a total loss.
Brooks Rowlett adds: This is one of those cases which isn't really clear and may constitute an Italian success. The Italians at least partly claim it and the British don't really acknowledge the possibility that the Italian claim is justified

This was a >surface action<. The TORICELLI exchanged gunfire with the British vessels and scored a hit on KHARTOUM, amidships, in the vicinity of the torpedo tubes. I believe it was actully after the close of the action that an air flask exploded on a torpedo in the tube. Splinters from the torpedo and tube cut into other torpedoes and tubes in the mount; the superstructure and deck, and a fire started. With the involvement of the torpedoes and their warheads, the fire became impossible to control....

The point being, that it is entirely likely that the air flask exploded because a splinter from the Italian shell hit, had penetrated the tube and torpedo and nicked the flask (with air at a few hundred PSI) which eventually ruptured with explosive force. The British have contended that it was a mere accidental coincidence.

Mike Yaklich adds: Meanwhile, on June 23rd another Italian submarine found itself involved in a dramatic surface shoot-out. The TORICELLI had been assigned to the area off the well-defended French port of Djibouti. In an encounter with Allied escorts it, too, had been damaged, leaving the vessel unable to submerge. Nonetheless, the TORICELLI's skipper, Lt-Commander Pelosi, decided to try to run the Straits of Perim on the surface, benefiting from the cover of darkness to the greatest possible extent. In a nail-biting passage Pelosi had managed to manoeuvre the boat through the area of the thickest Royal Navy patrols during the night, but shortly after dawn on the 23rd the TORICELLI was sighted by the enemy gunboat SHOREHAM. Soon the Italian sub was being chased not only by the SHOREHAM, but also by another gunboat and three RN destroyers, the KINGSTON, KHARTOUM, and KANDAHAR. Realizing that he could not outrun his pursuers, at about 5:30 am Pelosi decided to turn and fight. The decision was virtually suicidal. The TORICELLI was another large, long-range boat, but it mounted only a single 100-mm deck gun (plus four 13.2-mm AA machineguns on two twin mounts). The five British ships chasing it had a combined firepower of eighteen 4.7-inch (120-mm) and four 4-inch guns, not to mention copious light automatic AA weapons. But the Italian sub initiated the engagement by firing the first shot. Moreover, the Italian shooting was very good. Their second 100-mm round struck the SHOREHAM, causing enough damage that the British gunboat immediately left the fight and headed back to its base. As the fight continued, the TORICELLI managed to evade some 700 shells (and about 500 rounds from the automatic AA as the vessels closed) over the course of the next 35 minutes, remaining completely unscathed by all the metal directed its way.

Meanwhile, its own gunners continued to score, now hitting the destroyer KANDAHAR, starting fires which apparently caused that ship to blow up and sink shortly after the conclusion of this spirited little engagement. The Italian sub also managed to empty all eight of its torpedo tubes, not hitting anything but forcing the enemy vessels to take evasive action, and further postponing the inevitable. That inevitable moment finally came, a little less than forty minutes into the fight, when a British shell struck square on the TORICELLI's conning tower. Lt-Commander Pelosi was wounded, although he continued to direct his sub's actions, but more importantly the TORICELLI's steering was knocked out, leaving the boat out of control. At this point the plucky Pelosi gave the order to abandon ship, and the TORICELLI was scuttled. Most of his crew was picked up by the British and taken back to Aden as prisoners, where the British officers who had been present expressed their admiration for the courageous and effective Italian fight against long odds. They feted Pelosi at a testimonial dinner, and the British admiral commanding at Aden insisted on meeting the Italian sub-driver personally.

Sloop HMS Pathan is torpedoed and sunk by Italian submarine Galvani in the Indian Ocean off Bombay at 18 56N 72 45E. 5 of the crew are killed and 22 are wounded. It had not been thought that Axis submarines operated so far to the East. (Galvani is rammed and sunk by HMS Falmouth on the following day.) (Alex Gordon)(108)


CANADA: Sgt. Henry A. Larsen leaves Vancouver on the RCMP schooner St. Roch bound for Halifax via the Northwest Passage; ship will take southerly route through Arctic islands, and after two winters trapped in the ice, will reach Halifax Oct. 11, 1942; first ship to make the voyage from west to east, and in both directions, and to circumnavigate North America; St. Roch declared national historic site in 1962; berthed at Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Armed yacht HMCS Vison departed Halifax for conversion and arming Pictou Nova Scotia.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: Rescue tug HMS Coringa lost in North Atlantic due to unknown reasons.

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Yesterday           Tomorrow


23 June 1941

Yesterday                              Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1941 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Churchill states:
The Russian danger is our danger and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for his hearth and home is the cause of free men and free people in every country of the globe.

Destroyers HMS Eggesford, Melbreak and Tantaside laid down.

Minesweeping trawler HMS Nogi bombed and sunk off Cromer.

GERMANY: The Germans have unleashed a massive war machine on the USSR. The three million troops (including those held in reserve) have the support of 3,350 tanks, 7,184 guns and 2,815 aircraft. In addition, eight divisions have been deployed to Finland.

This leaves Hitler with just 61 divisions (amounting to 600,000 men) to cover the rest of Europe and North Africa, but divisions from Finland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, plus some Italian forces, should leave for the USSR in a the near future, as it seems likely that those countries will declare war on the USSR.

The USSR has about 132 divisions including 34 armoured divisions (2,500,000 men) in the border districts of the west, a further 20 facing Finland, and 133 divisions in the interior and Far East. This will more than double once mobilisation is complete. The Russian tank armoury has some 20,000 machines, although many are obsolete, with new, more powerful, types only just being introduced. First line fuel, ammunition and tank radios are in short supply. The Red Air Force has 18,000 aircraft, of which well over half are in the west. Most are obsolete, and over 3,500 have already been lost. Even more serious are Stalin's refusal to prepare for an invasion, his unfinished reorganisation of the Red Army, and his purge of many of his best commanders before the war.

Berlin: The German News Office announced:-

Early Sunday morning 9 Russian Glenn Martin bombers flew into East Prussia and 7 of them were shot down by German fighter planes. In another attempted raid on military installations in the General Government of Poland close behind the front lines, all but 2 out of 35 Russian bombers were destroyed by German fighter planes.

The Wehrmacht High Command announced:-

In the east the struggles of the German army and the Luftwaffe against the Red Army are proceeding successfully according to schedule. Very weak forces of the Red Air Force dropped bombs in East Prussia without notable effect. [German ace] Lt. Col. Molders won his 72nd air victory yesterday.

U-519 laid down.


Soviet destroyer Gnevny mined and sunk in Baltic.

Soviet submarine M-78 sunk by U-144 west of Widawa in Baltic Sea.

U.S.S.R.: Moscow: Communiqué No. 1 of the Red Army High Command stated:-

Early in the morning of June 22, the troops of the German-Fascist Wehrmacht attacked our border forces along the entire line extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The enemy Luftwaffe bombed a number of our airfields and villages, but everywhere it encountered energetic resistance from our fighter planes and ground defences, which inflicted heavy losses on the Hitlerite Fascists. Sixty-five German aircraft were shot down.

Moscow is attacked by 115 bombers

German attacks on the Eastern Front continue to make progress. In the north Fourth Panzergruppe has advanced almost 50 miles. The Russian defence in the south is somewhat stronger and the First Panzer Group is not making progress as well as those of the north. Luftwaffe attacks on the Red Airforce have been very effective.

The following Soviet submarines are lost:

M-78 Baltic Fleet Ventspils area (sunk by U-144)

S-1 Baltic Fleet Liepaja (scuttled at Libau)

Ronis Baltic Fleet Liepaja (scuttled at Libau)

Spidola Baltic Fleet Liepaja (scuttled at Libau)

M-71 Baltic Fleet Liepaja (scuttled at Libau)

M-80 Baltic Fleet Liepaja (scuttled at Libau)

(Mike Yared)(146 and 147)

LITHUANIA: Vilnius and Kaunas are liberated by Lithuanian freedom fighters, a declaration of the restoration of independence is broadcast on the radio. A national government will operate from June 24 to August 5 without German recognition. (Henrik Krog)

ROMANIA: In response to a formation of Soviet bombers approaching Constanta, Locotenent Aviator [lieutenant] Horia Agarici took off from nearby Mamaia Airfield in his Hurricane No. 3 which he ended up flying without its engine cowling which had been removed for servicing (three other aircraft of the escadrila were already grounded for maintenance or much-needed overhaul), and which was the only fighter to make contact with the incoming Soviet formation of seven (or nine, I've seen both numbers listed) SB-2 bombers.  Agarici pressed his attacks until running out of ammunition, shooting down three and driving off the remaining bombers -- one source reports two shot down over land with wreckage later identified and a third downed over the Black Sea, while another source reports all three crashed on land, but generally he's credited with three kills that, under the Romanian practice of counting twin-engined aircraft as "double points" made  him an ace in a day with six official victories to his score.


Now, as if being an "ace in a day" and on only the second day of the Barbarossa campaign to boot was enough, Agarici became an overnight sensation in the eyes of the Romanian public due to a grammatical happenstance of "Agarici" rhyming with "Bolshevici"  -- as in the refrain "Agarici has gone to hunt Bolshevici" in a little ditty quickly composed by his brother-in-law, an aspiring poet.  This song somehow became one of those pop hits that ended up being sung throughout the country, and Agarici became more of a household name than perhaps was warranted.  By war's end, Horia Agarici, now a Capitanul [captain] had succeeded in racking up a fairly modest total of eight kills -- six confirmed and two probable -- which even with the double-scoring bomber credits came to only thirteen overall victories, not enough to include him in even the upper half of Romania's roster of fighter aces.  On the other hand, his much promoted popularity backfired following Romania's defection from the Axis in August 1944 and the subsequent rise of communist power in the ensuing pro-Soviet regime.  Details are sketchy, but Agarici's postwar career was abruptly brief, a victim of Soviet vengeance. (Greg Kelley)(courtesy Denes Bernad's Rumanian Aces of World War 2 (Osprey, 2003) and Rumanian Air Force: The Prime Decade (Squadron/Signal, 1999) ; also his and Jean-Louis Roba's From Barbarossa to Odessa: The Luftwaffe and Axis Allies Strike South-East, June-October 1941 [volume 1] (Midland/Ian Allen 2007) as well as Mark Axworthy's Third Axis Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945 (Arms and Armour, 1995) and probably assorted other notes dredged from the filing cabinets of the fabled Archives...)

LIBYA: The Italian and German air forces bombard Tobruk.

SYRIA: The British forces from Iraq advance to Palmyra, Syria, with the Vichy garrison still holding.
RAF Blenheims of 11 Sqn. raid the Vichy French airbase at El Qusseif where French LeO 451 bombers are stationed.

2/33 Bn with strong artillery support captures Ibeles Saki, outflanking Merdjayoun. Patrols discover French withdrawn from Merdjayoun. A small Vichy French Foreign Legion force in Palmyra continues spirited resistance against attacks by four allied cavalry regiments (including the Arab Legion) and an infantry battalion. Despite numbering less than three companies, they will not surrender until 3 July, continuing the FFL’s tradition of defence against hopeless odds. On the coastal axis, Brig Stevens complains personally to Gen Wavell that he cannot get ammunition for his battalions’ 3-inch mortars. Next day 320 bombs arrive for each battalion. (Michael Alexander)

On this flank the 2/33rd had been patrolling and had discovered not only that the impetus of the enemy's drive had been exhausted but that he was abandoning some of his gains. On the night of the 20th a patrol found that Fort Khiam was unoccupied, and on the night of the 21st that the French had abandoned Khiam village and Bmeriq. On the eve of the planned attack on Ibeles Saki, Berryman ordered that a troop of horsed cavalry be formed by the 6th Cavalry to patrol the rugged hills of the Anti-Lebanon and protect his right. It will be recalled that, on the 16th, Captain Bennett's roving company of the 2/33rd had captured thirty-two good cavalry horses at Rachaya. In the ranks of the 6th Cavalry were many countrymen and some who had served at home in light horse regiments of the militia. From such men was formed a cavalry troop, at first of eighteen men but in a few days increased to forty, when saddles and packs arrived from Palestine; its unofficial title was the "Kelly Gang". On the night of the 22nd, a few hours after the horses had been taken over, Lieutenant Burt (a dairy farmer in civil life) led the force to Bmeriq and patrolled the area beyond; and, in the following days, the cavalrymen, then under Lieutenant Millard, rode through the country bounded by Bmeriq, Kafr Hammam, Kafr Chebaa and Mazraat Islamiye in the tangled mountains overlooking the Merdjayoun valley from the east. (Daniel Ross)(197)

CANADA: Corvette HMCS Snowberry arrived Halifax with convoy OB.332.

NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN: The Convoy HX-133, in the North Atlantic, begins a concentrated fight against a U-Boat wolfpack. During the next 6 days and nights, as the largest convoy to date crosses the Atlantic, the battle will rage. Ten U-boats will ultimately join the wolfpack. Initially there are 4 escorts assigned. The escort will be strengthen by nine additional escorts from other convoys. The convoy will lose five ships. As part of the loss from this battle the two merchants from other convoys must be included.


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Yesterday        Tomorrow


23 June 1942

Yesterday Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1942 (TUESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Germany's latest fighter, a Focke-Wulf FW190, is captured intact when it mistakenly lands in Wales.

Corvette HMCS St Thomas (ex HMS Sandgate Castle) laid down at the Cammel Laird shipyard, South Bank, Stockton-on-Tees.

Escort carrier HMS Emperor laid down.

Submarine HMS Storm laid down.


GERMANY: Rastenburg: Hitler is fascinated by the report of Albert Speer, the arms minister, on the latest atomic weapons research.

POLAND: Auschwitz: The first selections for the gas chamber take place, on a trainload of Jews from Paris.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The Malta based Beauforts are in action again.

BLACK SEA: Soviet destroyer Smishlionny mined and sunk in Black Sea.

EGYPT: The leading German troops cross into Egypt behind the withdrawing British 8th Army. Rommel captures Mersa Matruh with relative ease. His depleted armour, now down to 60 tanks, against a force of 160 British tanks, won through by relying on surprise.

AUSTRALIA: Minesweeper HMAS Kapunda launched.

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: The survivors of the sinking of the submarine USS S-27 (SS-132) which ran aground and sunk on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians on 19 June, are sighted by a PBY Catalina crew. The aircraft lands and takes off with 15 of the crew. The remainder of the crew are rescued by three PBYs tomorrow.

U.S.A.: Washington: After a weekend of talks, Roosevelt">Roosevelt and Churchill announced that they were preparing "the earliest maximum concentration of war power upon the enemy." They refused to go into details, but Harry Hopkins, the head of the US munitions assignment board, promised "a second, third and fourth front if necessary to pen the German army in a ring of steel." He said he was "getting tired of hearing people say the British cannot fight". They had fought against "almost unbelievable odds. We owe Britain a great debt which we intend to repay in full."

Submarines USS Pogy and Sawfish launched.

Minesweeper USS Sustain launched.

Submarine USS Sawfish launched.

Minesweeper USS Sustain launched.

Destroyer USS Knight commissioned.

Corvette HMCS Trillium completed refit in Galveston, Texas.

CARIBBEAN SEA: At 0720, the Andrea Brøvig (Norwegian but in RFA service) was torpedoed, shelled and sunk by U-128 off Trinidad. The survivors later reported that the U-boat fired on the lifeboats with machine guns, but missed (Perhaps some shots fired at the tanker hit the water near the boats and the crew thought they were the target.) On 25 June, the survivors reached Trinidad and get aboard the American passenger ship Robert E. Lee, which was sunk by U-166 enroute to New Orleans with 268 passengers (mostly survivors of other sinkings) on 30 July. All Norwegian passengers were saved. The engineers from Andrea Brøvig worked later on the Norwegian motor merchant Balla (2565grt), which was equipped with two German motors from 1930, a type meant for U-boats. This vessel had to be laid up in the USA during 1942, due the continuous problems with her engines, but the engineers from the tanker kept them running.

At 0840, the unescorted Major General Henry Gibbins was torpedoed and sunk by U-158 about 375 miles west of Key West, Florida. The torpedo struck the port side at #2 hold, causing the ship to take a sharp port list. 20 minutes later, a second torpedo struck amidships between #3 hold and the engine room, causing the ship to sink shortly after the hit. The 47 crewmembers and 21 US Army armed guards abandoned ship after the first hit in three lifeboats. A flying boat directed the schooner Dolphin to two of the lifeboats. The survivors in these boats were picked up and flown to Pensacola, Florida on 26 June. The survivors in the third boat were picked up the next day and also taken to Pensacola.

The Arriaga had left Baltimore in convoy to the Yucatan Channel, where the convoy was dispersed on 18 Jun 1942. At 1933 the unescorted Arriaga was struck by a torpedo from U-68 on the port side just forward of the after house ripping a huge hole in the side of the ship, destroying the port lifeboat, killing the Chief Engineer Harry L. Hovland and blowing a hole in the engine room bulkhead. Also the steering gear was out of action causing the ship to swing 90° before stopping. U-68 surfaced 100 yard from the Arriaga and shelled her for a short time. The two armed guards on board returned fire with the old 6-pdr gun on the after part of the ship with no results. The tanker was abandoned by the remaining 22 crewmen and two armed guards in the starboard lifeboat and one raft, before she sank 10 minutes after the attack about 50 miles off the coast of Colombia. On 25 June, a Colombian fishing vessel took the boat in tow and later dropped the tow near the small town Pajaro. The crew rowed the distance to the beach and was then towed to Rio Hacha by another Colombian fishing vessel. At this place the British consul took care of the survivors and they were eventually taken to Barranquilla and then by plane to Miami. 

ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 1710, U-172 stopped the Resolute with 2cm gunfire and sunk the abandoned vessel with hand grenades near Saint Andrews and Old Providence. The survivors claimed that they were machine-gunned after abandoning the ship, but this was apparently a misinterpretation of shots that missed the vessel. More explanations about such incidents can be found in the following article: Treatment of Merchant Ship Survivors by U-boat Crews 1939 - 1945 written by Ken Dunn.

SS Torvanger sunk by U-84 at 39.40N, 41.30W.

Yesterday Tomorrow


23 June 1942 23 June 1943

Yesterday   Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1943 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: Winston Churchill has ordered a military mission, led by a senior British officer to join Tito in his campaign against the Germans in Yugoslavia. After years of being unable to decide whether to back Tito's partisans or the rival Chetnik army led by General Mihailovich, the British now believe that the former have emerged as the only effective force against the Axis in Yugoslavia.

But although the Chetniks are co-operating with the Italians against Tito's partisans, the British will continue to drop supplies to them, largely because of pressure from the Yugoslav government in exile.

Frigates HMS Curzon and Dakins laid down.

Minesweeper HMS Rattlesnake commissioned.

Corvette HMCS St Thomas (ex HMS Sandgate Castle) laid down South Bank-on-Tees.

GERMANY: Obersalzberg: Hitler tells an acquaintance who has questioned the deportation of Jews in occupied Europe: "Germany has lost half a million .... on the battlefield. Am I to preserve and minister to these others? .... You must learn how to hate."

U-1223 is launched.

NEW GUINEA: The Second Battle of Labadia Ridge ends. (Michael Alexander)

AUSTRALIA: A censure motion on the government of Prime Minister Curtin is defeated by one vote. The PM announces that he will advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament.

PACIFIC OCEAN: US troops land in the Trobriand Islands, southeast of New Guinea, without meeting any opposition.

U.S.A.: The motion picture "Dixie" is released in the U.S. This musical biography of pioneer minstrel Dan Emmet, is directed by Edward Sutherland and stars Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Marjorie Reynolds and Eddie Foy, Jr. Two of the songs in the film are "Dixie," written by Emmet, and "Sunday, Monday or Always."

Destroyer escort FS Tunesien (ex-USS Crosley) laid down.

Destroyer escort USS Marsh and Tills laid down.

Heavy cruiser USS Quincy launched.

Frigate USS Stoddert launched.

Destroyer escort USS Parks commissioned.

Destroyer USS Capps commissioned.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: Submarine HMS Unshaken sinks the Italian merchant Pomo (former Jug. Nico Matkovic, 1425 BRT).

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Yesterday           Tomorrow


23 June 1944

Yesterday    Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1944 (FRIDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: The USAAF's Eighth Air Force in England flies two missions to France.

Mission 435: At midday 110 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 102 B-24 Liberators attack 12 CROSSBOW (V-weapon) installations, damaging at least six of them. Fighter support is furnished by 141 P-51 Mustangs all of which afterward strafe transportation targets in the Paris area, destroying three locomotives, 100 pieces of rolling stock, and 14 motor vehicles; An exploding ammunition train causes a low-flying P-51 to crash, the only aircraft lost on the mission.

Mission 436: During the late afternoon, 109 B-17s are dispatched to Nanteuil; 13 hit the primary and two hit targets of opportunity; the rest abort due to heavy cloud cover; one B-17 is lost. Of 219 B-24s dispatched to airfields in France, 113 hit Juvincourt, 46 hit Laon/Athies, 23 hit Coulommiers and one hits Soissons; six B-24s are lost. Escort is provided by 155 P-47 Thunderbolts and 83 P-51s; afterwards part of a P-47 group bombs and strafes a marshalling yard while the remainder of the group bombs and strafes a train carrying trucks and armored cars, destroying the locomotive, three trucks, and an armored car, and damaging 20 freight cars. 

169 P-38 Lightnings fly fighter-bomber missions in the Paris area; two P-38s are lost.

21 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER mission during the night.

Bad weather prevents A-20 Havoc and B-26 Marauder missions by the USAAF's Ninth Air Force during the morning; in the afternoon 175+ B-26s and A-20s bomb seven V-weapon sites in France; around 630 fighters provide escort and also bomb and strafe rail and road traffic and communications centres; 200 C-47 Skytrains and C-53 Skytroopers fly supplies to the Continent.

Destroyer HMS Myngs commissioned.

FRANCE: US VII Corps makes some progress against Cherbourg in Normandy.

The British 5th Division takes St. Honorina, north-west of Caen.

Cruiser HMS Scylla runs over a German acoustic mine and sustains massive shock damage to her midships section and total loss of power. She is towed to Portsmouth but never repaired, and her shattered hull remained in the dockyard until 1950 when she was finally sold for breaking up. Location: English Channel off Normandy Beach Sword at 49 25N 00 24W. (Alex Gordon)(108)

Frigate HMS Nith hit by a Mistel, a German composite aircraft. Suffered 10 dead and 26 wounded.

ITALY: The USAAF's Fifteenth Air Force dispatches 400+ B-17s and B-24s to attack oil targets in Romania; the B-17s hit oil refineries at Ploesti; the B-24s also hit oil refineries at Ploesti and oil storage at Guirgiu. 100+ US aircraft are shot down; the bombers and escorting fighters claim 30+ aircraft destroyed.

Award of MoH:

"Second Lieutenant David R. Kingsley, U.S. Army Air Corps, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force. Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 23 June 1944: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, 23 June 1944 near Ploesti, Rumania, while flying as bombardier of a B17 type aircraft. On the bomb run 2d Lt. Kingsley's aircraft was severely damaged by intense flak and forced to drop out of formation but the pilot proceeded over the target and 2d Lt. Kingsley successfully dropped his bombs, causing severe damage to vital installations. The damaged aircraft, forced to lose altitude and to lag behind the formation, was aggressively attacked by 3 ME-109 aircraft, causing more damage to the aircraft and severely wounding the tail gunner in the upper arm. The radio operator and engineer notified 2d Lt. Kingsley that the tail gunner had been wounded and that assistance was needed to check the bleeding. 2d Lt. Kingsley made his way back to the radio room, skilfully applied first aid to the wound, and succeeded in checking the bleeding. The tail gunner's parachute harness and heavy clothes were removed and he was covered with blankets, making him as comfortable as possible. Eight ME-109 aircraft again aggressively attacked 2d Lt. Kingsley's aircraft and the ball turret gunner was wounded by 20mm. shell fragments. He went forward to the radio room to have 2d Lt. Kingsley administer first aid. A few minutes later when the pilot gave the order to prepare to bail out, 2d Lt. Kingsley immediately began to assist the wounded gunners in putting on their parachute harness. In the confusion the tail gunner's harness, believed to have been damaged, could not be located in the bundle of blankets and flying clothes which had been removed from the wounded men. With utter disregard for his own means of escape, 2d Lt. Kingsley unhesitatingly removed his parachute harness and adjusted it to the wounded tail gunner. Due to the extensive damage caused by the accurate and concentrated 20mm. fire by the enemy aircraft the pilot gave the order to bail out, as it appeared that the aircraft would disintegrate at any moment. 2d Lt. Kingsley aided the wounded men in bailing out and when last seen by the crewmembers he was standing on the bomb bay catwalk. The aircraft continued to fly on automatic pilot for a short distance, then crashed and burned. His body was later found in the wreckage. 2d Lt. Kingsley by his gallant heroic action was directly responsible for saving the life of the wounded gunner." (Patrick Holscher)

FINLAND: In Viipuri, the Red Army again tries to continue its offensive. After an artillery preparation starting last evening and lasting through the night, the Soviet troops cross the straits in assault boats and through the ruins of a railway bridge. Eleven Finnish artillery battalions and German Stukas bombard the Soviet troop-concentrations, and those Red Army soldiers able to reach the western bank are soon eliminated by the defenders.

In today's battles west of Viipuri, Lt. Col. Alpo Marttinen's Infantry Regiment 61 (17th Division) especially distinguishes itself repelling the Soviet attempts to advance west from the city. Lt. Col. Marttinen's prowess is recognized by his immediate promotion to full colonel (thus becoming at the age of 35 the youngest full colonel in the Finnish Defence Forces at this time). Later Col. Marttinen is awarded the Mannerheim Cross, 2nd Class.

On the Maaselkä Isthmus, the Soviet troops of Gen. Gorolenko's 32nd Army break through the Finnish II Corps's defences at Karhumäki (Medvezhjegorsk).

Last night a Soviet marine brigade invaded Tuulos at the northern shore of Lake Ladoga, behind the Finnish PSS-line. Forces of the Olonets Group are defending the PSS-line against Soviet attacks, and the troops available are not strong enough to eliminate the Soviet bridgehead.

German Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 303 (Ritterkreutzträger Hauptmann Friedrich Scherer) arrives Helsinki from Estonia. The Brigade has 31 StuG IIIg's, StuG IV's and StuH 42's. It's transferred to the region of Tali-Ihantala in Karelian Isthmus.

Generaloberst Eduard Dietl, commander of German forces in Norway and Finland, is killed when his Ju 52 transport crashes at Semmering, Germany. Dietl had been visiting Hitler to report on the situation in his front. It has been suspected that Dietl was in fact assassinated on orders from either Hitler or Himmler">Himmler, but exactly why, has not been satisfactorily explained.

U.S.S.R.: Overnight the bombardment announcing the summer offensive of the Red Army begins. Marshal Zhukov will attack on 4 fronts against the Germans from Busch's Army Group Center. The front begins just north of Vitebsk  and runs past Mogilev to the Pripet River.

In the Finnish sector Russian troops cross the Svir.

BURMA: Capt. Michael Allmand (b.1923), Indian Armoured Corps, was mortally wounded charging a machine-gun nest alone; he had displayed similar valour on 11 and 13 June. (Victoria Cross)

Rfn. Tulbahadur Pun (b.1923), 6th Gurkha Rifles, charged a machine-gun post and took two guns single-handed. (Victoria Cross)

PACIFIC OCEAN: An off course USN PBM Mariner of Rescue Squadron One (VH-1), rescues the two man crew of a Bombing Squadron Fourteen (VB-14) SB2C Helldiver. The SB2C had taken off from USS Wasp (CV-18) on 20 June and had run out of fuel after attacking the Japanese fleet. This is the last crew of the 80 aircraft that were lost that night to be found.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Cpl Sefanaia Sukanaivalu (b.?), Fijian Infantry Regiment, was crippled trying to save comrade; seeing that his men would not go without him, he lifted himself up in view of the enemy and was killed at once. (Victoria Cross)

MARIANAS ISLANDS, SAIPAN: USS Manila comes under Japanese air attack during refuelling operations. Two Japanese fighter bombers attacked from dead ahead, dropping four bombs that exploded wide to port. Intense AA fire suppressed any other attacks but as a precaution, four P-47s were launched as a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) until radar showed no "bogeys." The P-47s then flew to Saipan. USS NATOMA BAY also launches her remaining 12 P-47s.

The IJN begins high-level bombing attacks against USN vessels off Saipan. Between 0000 and 0100 hours, seven "Betty" bombers ( Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers) from Iwo Jima attack; one drops bombs on the wake of a cruiser while the other six damage several vessels.

The USN's Task Groups 58.1, 58.2 and 58.3 is retiring towards Eniwetok Atoll leaving TG 58.4 to support the landings on Saipan. Radio intercepts indicate that the Japanese are concentrating about 100 aircraft on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, and TG 58.1 is ordered to change course and attack the island.

US and Japanese forces clash violently at "Death Valley", near Mount Tapotchau.

NEWFOUNDLAND: Frigate HMCS Chebogue departed St John's for UK escort for Convoy HXF 296.

CANADA: Tug HMCS Glendon launched Vancouver, British Columbia.
Frigate HMCS Victoriaville launched Lauzon, Province of Quebec.

U.S.A.: N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 527, Pacific and Far East. 1. U. S. submarines have reported the sinking of 16 vessels, including one Naval auxiliary, as a result A operations in these waters, as follows 11 medium cargo vessels 4 small cargo vessels 1 medium Naval auxiliary 2. These actions have not been announced in any previous Navy Department communiqué.

CINCPAC COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 61, A Pacific Fleet submarine torpedoed a Shokaku Class carrier on June 18 (West Longitude Date). Three torpedo hits were obtained and the Japanese carrier is regarded as probably sunk.

Supplementing Pacific Ocean Areas communiqué No. 59, the following more detailed information is now available concerning the strike by carriers of the Fifth. Fleet against units of the Japanese fleet on June 19:

One small carrier of unidentified class previously reported damaged received two aerial torpedo hits.

One destroyer previously reported damaged sank.

Two additional Japanese navy twin-engined bombers were shot down by carrier aircraft returning to our carriers after attacking the Japanese force.

Ponape Island was bombed on June 20 by Seventh Army Air Force Mitchell bombers, and on June 21 by Seventh Army Air Force Liberators. Gun positions were principal targets.

Seventy tons of bombs were dropped on Truk Atoll by Liberators of the Seventh Army Air Force on June 20 and 21. On June 20 five enemy aircraft attempted to intercept our force. Two enemy fighters were damaged, and one Liberator was damaged. On June 21 nine enemy aircraft attempted to Intercept our force. One Liberator was damaged and one enemy fighter. All of our planes returned.

Corsair fighters and Dauntless dive bombers of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, Catalina search planes of Fleet Air Wing Two, and Navy Hellcat fighters carried out attacks in the Marshalls on June 20 and 21, bombing and strafing gun positions. (Denis Peck)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: An Avenger torpedo bomber from the aircraft carrier USS Bogue spot the Japanese submarine I-52 (3,000 tonnes and 108 metres long, the world's largest submarine) in its approach to the French port of Lorient. Lt Cmdr Jesse Taylor drops depth charges and an acoustic torpedo. Monitored aboard the aircraft, Taylor hears the torpedo detonate and metal grinding on metal as the I-52 falls 17,000 feet to the seabed.

Commanded by Kameo Uno, I-52 was carrying 146 bars of gold bullion worth $30 million, along with 94 crew and 14 passengers. Other cargo included three tonnes of opium for medical use, as well as rubber, tin and tungsten.

RAF 248 Sqn Mosquito attacked U-155. Two men were killed and 7 more wounded. The boat was almost in port when attacked and reached Lorient the same day. [Matrosenobergefreiter Karl Lohmeier, Mechanikerobergefreiter Friedrich Feller].


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23 June 1945

Yesterday                              Tomorrow

June 23rd, 1945 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: U-1003 scuttled in the North Channel some 8 - 10 miles north of Inistrahull beacon (Malin Head), in position 55.25N, 06.53W, after ramming with Canadian frigate HMCS New Glasgow on 20 March 1945.

U.S.S.R.: Moscow: Poland's immediate future has been settled after the two rival groups claiming the right to rule Poland came to an agreement today. American and British objections to the Soviet-sponsored regime of the Lublin Committee have been partly met by including three exiles from London. One of them is Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, the former premier, who is to be deputy premier.

Two  non-Communists from within Poland are also included. Power will thus be shared between the Communists and their opponents more equitably than the western governments had thought possible. The deal, suggested to Stalin by President Truman's emissary, Harry Hopkins, should ease the tension between the Big Three.

JAPAN: US General Stillwell is appointed to command the US 10th Army on Okinawa. He replaces US General Simon Buckner who was KIA by an artillery round on the 20th. (Marc Small)

The USAAF's XXI Bomber Command in the Marianas flies Mission 221: During the night of 23/24 June, 26 B-29s mine the harbors of Fukuoka, Karatsu, Sakai, and Niigata, Japan; one B-29 is lost.

USN PB4Y-2 Privateers again mine the waters off Korea.

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: There is a paratroop landing by the US 511th PIR near Aparri on the north coast of Luzon, in the Philippine Islands. It is near the mouth of the Cagayan River. The paratroops link up with the Filipino guerrilla forces to cut off the Japanese.

CANADA: HM S/M Seawolf paid off.
HMC ML 051 paid off and assigned to National Research Council as Radal II.
Minesweeper HMCS Milltown departed Halifax for Devonport via Azores.

U.S.A.: San Francisco: The Big Four powers agree to admit Poland to the United Nations.

The 1935 motion picture "The Call of the Wild" is re-released in the U.S. This romantic adventure film, based on a Jack London novel, is directed by William Wellman and stars Clark Gable, Loretta Young and Jack Oakie. Gable plays a prospector heading for the Yukon gold fields who meets and romances a woman (Young) en-route.

Destroyer USS Harold J Ellison commissioned.


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