Eighty years on. 31st May 1940


After two days of heavy German bombing at Dunkirk early morning mist and cloudy weather restricted Luftwaffe activity and the Admiralty returned the modern destroyers to the Dunkirk operation.  Despite the weather, the French destroyer Leopard and the British destroyers HMS Express, Icarus, Keith and Winchelsea were damaged by German bombing.  The evacuation continued at full pace, embarking over 68,000 allied troops including General Lord Gort, commander of the BEF, who only left after direct orders to do so.  Gort handed command to Major-General Harold Alexander with instructions to leave himself when the BEF was reduced to brigade strength.

In addition to the British small craft 39 Dutch coasters that had escaped the German occupation assisted the evacuation, saving a total of 22,698 men during the whole operation.

The French destroyers Sirocco and Cyclone were torpedoed by German Schnellboote.  Sirocco was then sunk by German bombing with 180 crew and 700 men of the 92nd French Infantry Regiment on board Sirocco went down flying the 92nd Regiment’s colours.

South-east of Lowestoft the Sloop HMS Weston sank U-13 with depth charges, capturing the 26 crew.

West of the Channel islands U-101 attacked convoy HG-31F and sank the British SS Orangemoor carrying iron ore.  U-101 was attacked for eight hours with depth charges by the convoy escorts, but escaped.

Winston Churchill flew to Paris for a meeting of the Anglo-French Supreme War Council.  Reynaud argued with Churchill over the disparity in numbers between the British and French troops being evacuated at Dunkirk.  Orders were issued for parity in numbers, but some French units were unable to disengage to achieve this aim.

The Germans finally captured Lille after a heroic defence by the French army.

President Roosevelt sent a written message to Congress asking for an additional $1.3 billion to accelerate military production and training.  He also requested that Congress pass a law before it adjourned granting the president authority to “call into active service such portion of the National Guard as may deemed necessary to maintain our position of neutrality and to safeguard the national defense, this to include authority to call into active service the necessary Reserve personnel.”

Japan launched a major bombing campaign over south-east China, particularly Chungking.

In Britain, road signs began to be removed to confuse potential invaders.  (Author’s note.  This apparently assumed that Germans could not read maps, and ultimately caused as many problems for British forces as it might have done for the Germans.)

Thus ended the ninth month of the war with the Germans in the ascendant, the French on their knees, the British with their backs to the wall, the Americans creeping out of isolation, the Italians preparing to get involved for easy pickings and the Japanese securing their hold on captured territory.

Game Day 274. Japan

Away from the conflict in Europe, Japan was still concentrating on beating the Chinese and maintaining its hold on its south-east Asian captured territory.

In the south the newly arrived six armoured battalions joined three infantry battalions in attacking the five Chinese armoured battalions at DI47.  Three Chinese battalions were destroyed, but the Japanese lost one infantry and two armoured battalions.  The Chinese held firm.

In the north ten Japanese infantry battalions attacked three Chinese infantry battalions at DK37.  The Chinese lost one battalion and withdrew to the south.  Their position was taken by the Japanese.

In accordance with the historical narrative, six bomber squadrons were deployed to Manchukuo (DR43) to attack Chinese forces.

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.  Additional “Dunkirk” information from BBC documentary broadcast.

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General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

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