Eighty years on. 19th June 1940


The race to the Channel continued as the Germans tried to take the ports before allied troops could escape.  Rommel shelled the forts defending the port of Cherbourg before attacking with infantry.  The allies had destroyed the dock facilities.  Local officials and police persuaded the French garrison defending the town to surrender.  This was 7th Panzer Division’s last major action in the Battle of France.  Since 10th May they had captured 100,000 allied soldiers, 450 tanks, 300 artillery or anti-tank guns and 4,000 trucks, and incurred losses of 700 killed, 1,650 wounded and 300 missing.  During this time, Rommel was awarded Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class (for the second time, having previously won these medals in WWI) and, on 27th May, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.

5th Panzer Division made even better progress and took the port of Brest another 150 miles to the west. However, the allies had evacuated their personnel and demolished the port facilities.

The Germans had not arrived at St. Nazaire as expected, so the British sent seven troop transports and six destroyers to evacuate 2,764 Polish troops in addition to the 54,411 British embarked over the last few days.  4,000 Poles were also rescued from La Pallice.  Evacuations began from the ports of the River Gironde and Bayonne and St Jean-de-Luz, close to the Spanish border.

U-boats sank or damaged eight allied and neutral merchant vessels between Ireland and the Bay of Biscay.  U-48 alone sank three ships.

The Italian submarine Galileo Galilei was depth charged by the British destroyer HMS Kandahar and the anti-submarine trawler HMS Moonstone in the Gulf of Aden.  Galileo Galilei surfaced and shells HMS Moonstone, which returned fire killing the captain and capturing the submarine.  Galileo Galilei was towed to Aden by HMS Kandahar for use by the Royal Navy as a training boat.

Charles de Gaulle broadcast again over the BBC. “Faced by the bewilderment of my countrymen, by the disintegration of a government in thrall to the enemy, by the fact that the institutions of my country are incapable, at the moment, of functioning, I, General de Gaulle, a French soldier and military leader, realise that I now speak for France,” he said. “In the name of France, I make the following solemn declaration: It is the bounden duty of all Frenchmen who still bear arms to continue the struggle. For them to lay down their arms, to evacuate any position of military importance, or agree to hand over any part of French territory, however small, to enemy control, would be a crime against our country. For the moment I refer particularly to French North Africa – to the integrity of French North Africa.”

The Belgian and Polish governments in exile were established in London.

President Roosevelt fired Harry Hines Woodring as Secretary of War for refusing a direct order to transfer a dozen B-17s to Britain. Woodring was offered the governorship of Puerto Rico as consolation, but he refused.

The British Jockey Club announced that there would be no more horse racing until further notice. (Author’s note: Those of us who are horse racing fans know in 2020 what a blow that can be to the racing industry)

Game day 293. USSR

The Russians Occupied Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  In game terms I withdrew the German infantry in that region to Danzig, moved six Soviet infantry units in and redrew the internal Polish border to reflect the new spheres of influence.

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. 

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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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