Pétain’s request to open peace negotiations reached Hitler’s headquarters near Sedan. Hitler’s aides were unsure whether to wake Hitler up, but his valet eventually did so and gave him the cable. Hitler was not surprised and had been expecting such a message for several days. Later Pétain took to the radio to deliver his first message to the nation: “It is with a heavy heart that I say to you that fighting must cease.
However, fighting went on in some sectors, but rumours of a possible surrender demoralised French troops and emboldened the Germans.
Rommel headed for Cherbourg to prevent the Allied evacuation. His tanks and trucks laden with infantry travelled 125 miles during the day. In Eastern France, Guderian’s Panzers reached the Swiss border at Pontalier, encircling seventeen French divisions manning the Maginot Line.
The Germans bombed a railway complex at Rennes that was crowded with both military personnel and refugees trying to escape the fighting. A munitions train exploded during the attack and a total of 800 people were killed.
Determined to continue fighting, General Charles de Gaulle and other senior French officers refused to serve the new French government and left for London with 100,000 francs in gold provided by the ex-Prime Minister Paul Reynaud.
Operation Ariel continued, evacuating allied troops from Cherbourg, St Malo, Brest and St. Nazaire. The British Cunard liner RMS Lancastria embarked several thousand British civilians, troops and RAF personnel in the Loire estuary. Then she was hit by 3 bombs from Junkers Ju88s, including one bomb that went down the funnel and exploded in the engine room. With over 4,000 fatalities, it was the greatest loss of life in the sinking of any British ship in history. Churchill ordered that news of the sinking be kept secret from the British public.
The French navy sank an Italian submarine off Oran.
The Soviet Union occupied Latvia and Lithuania, meeting little resistance. In Estonia, the government surrendered and agreed to Soviet occupation. Most of the Estonian army and the volunteer militia Estonian Defence League laid down their arms.
U-46 sank the Greek steamer Elpis carrying wheat west of Cape Finisterre.
Benito Mussolini, Count Ciano and other functionaries boarded a train to go to Munich at Hitler’s invitation.
Winston Churchill made his “Finest Hour” speech to the House of Commons and later in a radio broadcast to the nation.
Game day 291. China
The Chinese manoeuvred their infantry forces towards the areas of conflict with the Japanese. Forces in contact did not attack, as it was considered that their strength was not sufficient.
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.