With 1st Panzer Division only ten miles from Dunkirk, and 2nd and 6th Panzer Divisions ready to race up the coast, Hitler maintained his orders to hold them in their current positions. British, French and Belgian forces continue to fall back towards the Channel coast in an orderly retreat, covering each other’s flanks, under pressure by Bock’s Army Group B from the North and West. The British Expeditionary Force used the respite to reinforce defences around Dunkirk, including the many canal crossings.
Despite Guderian’s orders to leave Calais to the Luftwaffe, 10th Panzer Division continued to attack. British and French defenders fell back but still held the city and harbour, where small fishing and pleasure boats began evacuating the wounded.
In the evening, General Lord Gort decided to withdraw the BEF to Dunkirk, following assurances from War Minister Anthony Eden on 23rd May that naval and air forces would be available for an evacuation by sea. The first British Member of Parliament to be killed in World War II, Richard Porritt, aged 29, was killed in action in Seclin, near Liile.
Sir John Dill replaced Edmund Ironside as Chief of the General Staff.
The British cruiser HMS Curlew was sunk in Ofotfjord by a German air attack.
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, 33 year-old son of German Crown Prince Wilhelm, died in a field hospital from wounds sustained in action in France.
Benito Mussolini met with Army Chief of Staff Pietro Badoglio and Air Marshal Italo Balbo in Rome. He told them that Italy would have to enter the war soon if it wanted a place at the peace conference table when the spoils were divided up. When Badoglio tactfully tried to explain that Italy was still unprepared for war, pointing out that there were not even enough shirts for all the soldiers, Mussolini snapped back, “History cannot be reckoned by the number of shirts.” He set 5th June as the date for the Italian invasion of France.
U.S. President Roosevelt gave a fireside chat titled “On National Defense”. The president reviewed the grave international situation and then recited many facts and figures to show that America was much better prepared for war than it was at the time he took office in 1933, while assuring the American people that “There is nothing in our present emergency to justify a retreat from any of our social objectives.”
Heinrich Himmler told Adolf Hitler that, thanks to large scale emigration, “the concept of the Jew will disappear from Europe”
Game day 268. France
The six infantry battalions landed at Brest reached Paris (map square AU30). Six more were landed at St Nazaire from the aborted Narvik expedition.
Six armoured battalions were rushed from Paris to the front to encounter the weakened German armour at AW29. The Algerian infantry moved north to AW32 to block the way of the enemy infantry, but did not attack without superior numbers. At AV31 six infantry battalions with the support of four fighter squadrons attacked three armoured battalions.
In the two battles the Germans lost four armoured battalions to the French one. It appeared that the French would hold the Germans back from Paris.
Credits: Historical information: http://www.worldwar2daybyday.blogspot.com, Wikipedia, Chronicle of the Second World War (JL International Publications, 1994). Background image to game maps: Hasbro Ltd.