May 21, 1935
German military service requires Aryan descent.
May 21st, 1856
Sack of Lawrence by Pro-Slavery Forces
May 21st, 1864
13 day Battle of Spotsylvania Court House ends, part of Grants Wilderness campaign
Union -100,000 engaged 2,725 KIA, 13,416 WIA, 2,258 POW/MIA
Confederate - 52,000 engaged, 1,467 KIA, 6,235 WIA, 5,719 POW/MIA
May 21, 1935
German military service requires Aryan descent.
334 BC: Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the battle of Granicus river. Plutarch in his "Life of Alexander", writes that
the Persians lost in this battle 20,000 foot and 2,500 horse. Alexander sent a portion of the war spoils home and to the Athenians three hundred bucklers, and upon all the rest he ordered this inscription to be set:
"Alexander the son of Philip, and the Greeks,
except the Lacedaemonians,
won these from the barbarians who inhabit Asia.
All the plate and purple garments, and other things of the same kind that he took from the Persians, except a very small quantity which he reserved for himself, he sent as a present to his mother".
1941: Anglo-Iraqi War. The Iraqi 6th Infantry Brigade, of the Iraqi 3rd Infantry Division, conducted a fierce counterattack against the British forces within Fallujah. The Iraqi attack started at 02:30 hours supported by a number of Italian-built light tanks. By 03:00 the Iraqis reached the north-eastern outskirts of the town. Two light tanks, which had penetrated into the town, were quickly destroyed. By dawn British counterattacks had pushed the Iraqis out of north-eastern Fallujah. The Iraqis now switched their attack to the south-eastern edge of the town. But this attack met stiff resistance from the start and made no progress. By 10:00 Kingstone arrived with reinforcements, from Habbaniya, who were immediately thrown into battle. The newly arrived infantry companies, of the Essex Regiment, methodically cleared the Iraqi positions house-by-house. By 18:00 the remaining Iraqis had fled or were taken prisoner, sniper fire was silenced, six Iraqi light tanks were captured, and the town was secure.
1940: The XIX. Panzer Korps (Guderian) strikes from Abbeville toward Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk along the Channel coast.
1941: Fierce fighting continues as British troops begin to pull back from Maleme airfield towards Suda Bay in order to regroup and protect their main point of supply.
1941: Heavy German air attacks on Crete sink the cruisers HMS "Fiji" (58), "Gloucester" (62) and "York" (90) and the destroyer HMS "Greyhound" (H05). The Battleships HMS "Warspite" (03) and HMS "Valiant" (1914) are damaged.
HMS Warspite, a WWI veteran
1945: "Sugar Loaf Hill" on Okinawa is finally taken by U.S. troops after changing hands 11 times in the last few days.
1973: While participating in a NATO exercise and in order to protest against the junta, the Destroyer HNS "Velos" (D16), under Commander Nikolaos Pappas, anchored at Fiumicino in Italy, refused to return to Greece. Cdr Pappas signalled the commander of the squadron and NATO Headquarters of his intentions quoting the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty (founding treaty for NATO) which declares that "all governments are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law". This action caused international interest in the situation in Greece. The captain, six officers, and twenty five petty officers remained abroad as political refugees. The whole crew wished to follow their captain but was advised by the officers to remain onboard and return to Greece to inform families and friends about what happened.
The HNS Velos (D16) now is a naval museum in the Gulf of Phaleron in Athens anchored in the Park of Maritime Tradition.
HMS Velos (left) and her crest
The Velos CO, Cdr Nicholas Pappas
1568: The first battle of the Eighty Years' War occurs. At Heiligerlee, a village in the Dutch province of Groningen, Dutch rebels consisting of 3,900 infantry led by Louis of Nassau, and 200 cavalry led by Adolf of Nassau, both brothers of William I of Orange, defeat Jean de Ligne, Duke of Aremberg and his pro-Spain loyalist troops. Louis' infantry, making up the bulk of the army, defeated the Spanish force which lost 1,500–2,000 men, while the rebels lost 50, including Adolf.
Battle of Heiligerlee monument
1706: During the War of the Spanish Succession, the battle of Ramillies occurs. An army of 62,000 men from the Dutch Republic and England, under John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, defeat the Franco-Bavarian army (60,000 men) of François de Neufville, 2nd duke of Villeroy.
The 1st Duke of Marlborough
1915: Ignoring treaty agreements with the Central Powers, Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.
Italian Bersaglieri in WWI
1940: Heavy fighting around Boulogne. Units of the German 6. Armee cross the Scheldt river at Oudenaarde in Belgium.
The wounded commander of 2nd batallion/Infanterie-Regiment 46, Hauptmann Burseg reports to his divisional commander General Kurt von Briesen (to the left with map, KIA 1941 in USSR) before being taken to the rear. Battle of Oudenaarde, May, 1940
1941: Further German attempts to land troops by sea on Crete are repulsed as heavy fighting continues around Canea. At Castelli a German attack is repulsed by the 1st Greek Rgt. The Greek government and King George II leave Crete for Cairo, Egypt.
1941: Luftwaffe sinks two British destroyers off Crete, HMS "Kashmir" (F12) and HMS "Kelly" (F01). Kelly was bombed and sunk, with half her crew killed.
1943: The heaviest RAF raid of war to date is made against Dortmund, during which 2,000 tons of explosives are dropped.
1944: The U.S. Fifth Army begins an offensive from the Anzio bridgehead toward Rome. Canadian troops breach the Adolf Hitler Line to the South West of Monte Cassino.
The CO of the US 5th Army, Lt Gen Mark Wayne Clark
1945: British troops arrest the Donitz government and the remnants of the German High Command at Flensburg. Himmler commits suicide at the British Second Army HQ on Lüneburg Heath.
1945: The heaviest air raid so far on the Japanese homeland, see USAAF bombers drop 4,500 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo. 21% of the city is now burnt out, but the firebombing continues for next four days.
Firebombing of Tokyo
1940: Infantry units of XIX. Panzerkorps storm Boulogne. On the morning of 24 May the French garrison still held the old citadel, and was determined to fight on, protected by the 30 foot walls of the citadel. The Germans carry out a head-on attack. Using siege ladders, and supported by concentrated artillery fire, flame throwers and close range fire from anti-aircraft guns, by the end of the day the Germans had captured the citadel. They took 5,000 British and French prisoners. 5,000 British troops are rescued by the ships of the Royal navy. The French fortress of Maubeuge surrenders, while 6. Armee captures Ghent and Tournai in Belgium and St. Omer in North-eastern France.
1941: The German battleship Bismarck, the pride of Hitler's navy, sinks the British dreadnought HMS Hood (51), considered the pride of the Royal Navy in the interwar period, off Greenland, with the loss of more than 1,415 lives. Only three men (Ted Briggs, Bob Tilburn, and Bill Dundas) survived.
The death of HMS Hood; a smoke cloud fills the sky above Hood's position, just after she exploded
1942: Operation Hannover: For six days, 45,000 German troops, including panzer and SS-police units, search for an estimated 20,000 partisans, catching or killing many of them. In the Barvenkovo salient, General Ewald von Kleist's Panzers start to chop up the Russian 6th and 9th Armies. Moscow admits the loss of 5,000 dead, 70,000 missing, and 300 tanks destroyed. The Germans claim 10,500 KIA, 24,000 POW's and 1,200 tanks destroyed.
1983: During the Iran-Iraq War, the Iranians recapture the border city of Khorramshahr after two days of bitter fighting, capturing 19,000 soldiers from a demoralized Iraqi Army after the fighting was over. At 13:50 on Saturday, May 24, 1983, the Iranian combatants marched triumphantly through the city of Khorramshahr. The Iraqi army retreated from most parts of the southern territories, and the liberation of Khorramshahr became a reality and a living legend in the hearts and minds of all Iranians. The Iraqis commemorate May 24 as "Martyr’s Day" and the Iranians celebrate this day as the "Liberation of Khorramshahr".
An armed Iranian woman in Khorramshar, during the Iraqi invasion
1810: The last day of the week-long "May Revolution" occurs. These events are commemorated in Argentina as "May Week" (Spanish: Semana de Mayo). On Friday, 25 May, 1810, the First Assembly (Spanish: Primera Junta), the first independent government of Argentina is formed. The May Revolution is considered the starting point of the Argentine War of Independence.
Today, May 25, 2010, marks 200 years of the May Revolution, leading to the Bicentennial of Argentina.
The May Pyramid (Pirámide de Mayo) in Buenos Aires
1940: German armed forces pressed the Allied armies trapped in the north, from south and east, into the English Channel. The battle for Dunkirk begins.
1941: Bismarck escapes the Royal Navy’s pursuit, separates from the Prinz Eugen and makes her way to Brest. She is attacked by Swordfishes from the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious.
This photo of the Bismarck was taken by one of the Swordfishes during the attack
1941: During the Battle of Crete, the Germans decide to go on the offensive having now received substantial reinforcement through Maleme airfield. They capture the town of Galatas, near Canea. Greek troops attack and after fierce fighting recapture it in the evening.
1944: German airborne troops attack Tito's Partisan HQ at Drvar in Bosnia on Tito’s 52nd birthday. Tito and Churchill’s son Randolph, both manage to escape into the mountains.
A female partisan, is captured by the Germans in Drvar landings, May 1944
1982: During the Falklands War, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS "Coventry (D118)" was struck by two 1000lb bombs just above the water line on the port side and sunk. The bombs were delivered by two Argentine A-4 Skyhawks (Primer Teniente Mariano A. Velasco, Alférez Leonardo Barrionuevo). 19 of her crew were lost. 30 were injured.
451: The Battle of Avarair occurs between the 66,000-strong Armenian army under Vartan Mamikonian (Saint Vartan for the Armenians) and their Sassanid rulers.The Persian army numbered 250-300,000 men (40,000 of whom were Armenians). In addition to the Persian elements, the Sassanid force included contingents from various Caucasian, Caspian and central Asian territories. In the battle, Vartan won initial successes, but was eventually slain along with eight of his top officers and 1027 of his men. Persian casualties accounted for 3,000-4,000 men. May 26 is considered to be a holy day by Armenians, and is one of the most important national and religious days in Armenia.
Depiction of the battle by Grigor Khanjian
1770: The Orlov Revolt, an attempt to revolt against the Turks before the Greek War of Independence, ends in disaster for the Greeks. A Russian fleet of 14 warships commanded by Count Aleksey Grigoryevich Orlov reached Mani in February 1770, prompting the Maniots to revolt against the Ottomans. Almost immediately the Greeks of W. Greece under Alexes Karakitsos and of Aetolia under Stathas Gerodemos raised their war flags. After an initial success, the revolt was a failure which cost a huge number of Greek lives (both in battle, and in the Turkish reprisals that followed for 4 long years). The Greeks became increasingly distrustful of the Russians as a result.
The naval Battle of Chesme took place on 5-7 July 1770 near and in Çeşme (Chesme) Bay, between the Russian Orlov fleet and the Ottomans in the area between Asia Minor and the island of Chios. It was part of the Orlov Revolt of 1770
WWI-1918: During the Caucasus Campaign of WWI, the Battle of of Sardarapat occurs. 6,000 Armenians of the Armenian National Council (a provisional Armenian government based in Tbilisi, Georgia) defeated 10,000 Turks and Kurds of the 36th Ottoman Caucasus Division. Suffering heavy losses, the Ottoman army is routed. The Ottoman defeats in the battles of Sardarapat, Bash Abaran, and Kara Killisse were instrumental in allowing the Armenian National Council in Tbilisi to declare the independence of the Democratic Republic of Armenia (which lasted for 2 years).
1919, Independence day celebration in the Democratic Republic of Armenia
1940: Operation Dynamo: The evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk begins. Under the command of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, hundreds of naval, commercial and private vessels participate in this most desperate rescue attempt. Calais falls to the Germans as they advance towards Dunkirk.
1941: Swordfish Torpedo-bombers from the Ark Royal score hits on the Bismarck, disabling her steering gear and rendering her un-maneuverable. This enables British destroyers to attack after dark.
18 torpedoes were dropped against the Bismarck
1941: In the Battle of Crete, two companies from the Greek 5th Rgt attack and occupy the German held village of Estavromenos, Rethymnon. Dozens of Germans are captured prisoners.
1942: The battle for the Gazala line begins (Operation Venezia), as the Afrika Korps thrusts south with 560 tanks of the 15. and 21. Panzerdivision, elements of the 90th Motorized Infantry Division, and the Italian Divisions Trieste and Ariete and around the southern end of the British 8th Army's defensive positions towards Tobruk. The Free French forces (3,703 men of the 1st Free French Division under General Marie Pierre Kœnig) at Bir Hacheim manage to hold up this advance. This feat of arms was for many a significant proof of the valor and courage of the French soldiers. Axis losses were heavy: 3,300 men were KIA/WIA, 277 were captured. French losses accounted for 140 KIA, 229 WIA.
General Kœnig with his officers at Bir Hacheim
1943: The Soviet Army begins an offensive against the German forces isolated in the Kuban bridgehead between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
26 May 1954..Fire & Explosion on the USS Bennington CVA-20
(The short story) At 0811, 26 May 1954, while cruising off Narragansett Bay, the fluid in one of her catapults exploded, setting off a series of secondary explosions which killed 103 crewmen and injured 201 others. BENNINGTON proceeded under her own power to Quonset Point, R. I., to land her injured.
Moving to New York Naval Shipyard for repairs she was completely rebuilt during 12 June 1954 - 19 March 1955. On 22 April 1955 the Secretary of the Navy came aboard and presented medals and letters of commendation to 178 of her crew in recognition of their heroism on 26 May 1954. BENNINGTON served as a platform for innovations in Naval Aviation.The full details...
On the 26th of May 1954 the aircraft carrier, USS BENNINGTON CVA-20 was steaming off the Atlantic coast for carrier qualifications. This cruise was interrupted by a violent explosion or series of explosions, which claimed over 200 officers and men as casualties. The ship suffered massive damage in the forward third with sheets of flame and a series of explosions. Nearly one hundred men lost their lives within seconds of the explosion and over one hundred others were seriously injured. All survivors were left with a searing memory.
That Wednesday morning had started early. By 0600 hours, preparations to launch aircraft had been completed and aircraft had begun the procedure for launching. Most of the ships crew who were not directly involved in the launch activity were in the process of waking. At 0611 hours with the propulsion system in use on the flight deck there was a violent explosion which involved the forward third of the ship.
Those corpsmen who had the night duty were beginning to start their day by 0600.
The sick bay was located in the stern area below the hanger deck. We thus did not hear any of the explosions. We did hear an announcement for "General Quarters", and we thought that this announcement was stated to be a drill. Within seconds after the corpsmen had begun to dash to their general quarters stations we were aware that this was in fact not a drill.
NOT A DRILL
My first encounter with a hero occurred as the announcement over the speakers was advising that the "General Quarters was no drill". I had no reason to quarrel with that assessment.
A black shipmate started down the ladder to the sickbay. He had no clothes on. He pleaded for us to go and help his buddy. These were his last words. He died in my arms and I realized that his clothes had literally been burned off his body. In my mind he was a hero. Whether he ever received a medal I can't say, he was not easy to identify.
A bosonmate remembers that he was half-awake in his bunk below the hanger deck and "felt the ship shuttering and a dull explosion echoed through the passageways". In his shorts he made his way up a ladder to the second deck and by feeling his way in the dark went up another ladder where he found several shipmates. They helped each other up another ladder and to the fresh air when there was another explosion. A shipmate gave him a pair of dungarees. The second explosion twisted the ladder, which they had just used, "like a pretzel". A third explosion occurred while these men began their work in the aftermath, work that included finding injured, transporting them to the hanger deck where the corpsmen had set up the aid station and searching for bodies.
A fireman, also a hero, had just started out of his bunk when the first explosion occurred. The compartment quickly filled with smoke so the men here formed a chain and started for the hanger deck. The second explosion killed the two men just in front of him. The third explosion "brought him to his senses". He made it to his station for damage control, passing through compartments, which were on fire. "Rockets, bombs and bodies were in the passageways". They found the forward mess hall filled with two feet of water and two casualties, one man on a table and the other face down in the water. They carried the first man out and came back for the second. The second man walked on his own after being turned. "I was scared". All of the men in the catapult room had been killed. "Fires were all around".
The general quarters alarm found a cook preparing breakfast. He started for his general quarters station on the telephone for "Repair 5". Before plugging in his phones the first explosion hit. The second explosion caught him on the ladder and threw him to the upper deck. The third explosion found him looking down into the space below which he had just exited and which was now filled with smoke and dust. He got back to his station and plugged the phone in and found the repair parties aft of his station all checked in but only one station forward of his had checked in and this was manned by a single person. He learned that his Repair Party Officer was dead. On the phone he had made contact with a Damage Control Unit which was trapped. All members of this crew died before help could reach them. The cook's wife is, "still waiting for the telegram which was later sent to let her know he was ok".
At about 0530 hours a pantry man noted smoke coming from the galley. This was located on the third deck amidships. The cook's also noted smoke but no fire. The escape route for these men was through a hatch, which was blown, shut as they approached and became red-hot. One survivor recalls that an "extraordinarily brave man" who searched among all the dead to find him still alive helped him. He was evacuated by helicopter to Newport Rhode Island Naval Hospital and finally recovered and returned to active duty.
Not all efforts to rescue shipmates were successful. There was no doubt that in many cases friends were already beyond help. In some cases the efforts to help were not to succeed. One frantic effort to disengage a shipmate from entangled metal and machinery ended in watching the friend slowly drown as water filled the space where he was trapped. His knowing that he was nearing his final moments and his
Encouragement to those trying to help typified the spirit of the men of the BENNINGTON.
NUMBER OF EXPLOSIONS
The number of explosions heard by various persons varies. Officers on the bridge recalled hearing two explosions. Some individuals in the area of the worst damage recalled three explosions, while one heard no explosion but saw a wall of flame. Certainly some of the differences relate to location. Where one was at the time determined what was heard as well as the chances of injury or death. We heard no explosions in the sick bay, probably because of the location. It appears from the memories that there was a series of explosions, that these were of varying intensities, and that some at least were confined to small areas. With hatches closed there would be a dampening of sound transmission.
Casual inspection of the damage to the ship following our return to dry dock in New York gave startling evidence of the tremendous forces, which were unleashed by the explosions. There was no evidence of harm on the flight deck or on the hanger deck, but in the forward third of the ship one saw structural I-beams twisted. Ladders were torn and twisted. Paint was burned; bulkheads were pushed out in bubbles and all the spaces were covered with greasy soot. Burned rubble was strewn about.
An obvious question was what caused these explosions. As a corpsman I was not in a position to know exactly what happened to cause this accident. I have put my personal observations and other explanations together to try to make sense of the causation. It appeared that there had been a slow leak in one of the catapults. A hydraulic fluid operated the catapults, which was supposed to be safe from fire or explosion. However the timing of the first explosion makes it appear that at some level in the ship the hydraulic fumes were in a vaporized state and had reached a concentration which permitted it to explode and burst into flame when a seaman awoke and lit his first cigarette. The flames spread rapidly throughout the spaces, which had accumulated the leaking hydraulic vapors. These flames must have been extremely hot as suggested by the rapidity of doors reaching a "hot" temperature. The initial flames consisted of the burning of the vaporized hydraulic fluid and lasted only seconds. Other material then began to burn.
927: The Battle of Bosnian highlands between the Croatian army under King Tomislav and the Bulgarians of Tsar Symeon, takes place. King Tomislav was able to harvest an army of approximately 70-100,000 foot soldiers and 60,000 horse soldiers. The strength of Symeon's army is unknown but was probably 30,000-70,000. The commander of the Bulgarian forces in this battle was Duke Alogobotur. Both sides suffered heavy losses. According to the Byzantine historians Constantine Porphyrogenetus and Georgius Cedrenus, "in the month of May, during the fifteenth indiction, Symeon, ruler of the Bulgarians, attacked the Croats, and, having a fight with them, was defeated in impervious regions and lost all his army. Symeon died stricken by a heart attack in Bulgaria . Then, having heard of Symeon's death, neighboring peoples, the Magyars, Serbs, Croats and others decided, to attack the Bulgarians". After the defeat of the Bulgarians, Croatia reached the zenith of her power during the reign of her first King Tomislav. At that time she was a very powerful nation in Southeastern Europe.
King Tomislav Statue in Zagreb, Croatia
1821: During the Greek War for Independence, the 21-year old Psarian revolutionary Demetrios Papanikoles commanded and sailed his small fire ship alongside the Turkish flagship anchored in the Gulf of Eressos, at the Greek island of Lesbos and sunk her with all hands onboard.
The attack on the Turkish flagship in the Gulf of Eressos at the Greek island of Lesbos by a fire ship commanded by Papanikoles
1905: During the Russo-Japanese War, the Naval Battle of Tsushima occurs. It was naval history's only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets. In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Heihachiro Togo destroyed two-thirds of the Russian fleet, under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, which had conducted a voyage of over 18,000 nautical miles to reach the Far East from the Baltic Sea. Historian Edmund Morris calls it the greatest naval battle since Trafalgar. It was a devastating loss for Russia, which lost all of its battleships, most of its cruisers and destroyers, and effectively ended the Russo-Japanese war in Japan's favor. The Russians suffered 4,380 killed and 5,917 captured, including 2 admirals and 1,862 interned. Japanese losses accounted for 117 dead, 583 injured. 3 Japanese torpedo boats sunk.
WWI-1918: Third German Spring offensive: The 3rd Battle of the Aisne, begins in French sector along Chemin des Dames. German 1. and 7. Armee (over 20 divisions and 4000 artillery guns) launched a massive surprise attack (named Blücher-Yorck after two Prussian generals of the Napoleonic Wars) against the French VI Armée, British IX Corps and later 2 American Divisions which had just arrived and proved themselves in combat for the first time in the war. The French suffered over 98,000 casualties and the British around 29,000. German casualties accounted for 130,000.
German shock-troops take their machinegun up to the front after having conquered a British position
1940: The Le Paradis massacre takes place. It was a war crime committed by members of the 14th Company, SS Division Totenkopf, under the command of Hauptsturmführer Fritz Knöchlein. Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Norfolk Regiment, had become isolated from their regiment. They occupied and defended a farmhouse against an attack by Waffen-SS forces in the village of Le Paradis. After running out of ammunition, the defenders surrendered to the German troops. The Germans led them across the road to a wall, and machine-gunned them. 97 British troops died. Two survived, with injuries, and hid until they were captured by German forces several days later.
After the war, Fritz Knöchlein was located, tried and convicted by a war crimes court, with the two survivors acting as witnesses against him. For his part in the massacre, Knöchlein was executed in 1949.
Le Paradis Memorial and Cemetery
1941: Germans paratroopers take Canea, the second largest city of Crete and with it the main British supply point of Suda Bay. This convinces Major General Freyberg, that the situation has gone against the British and Commonwealth troops and that he must withdraw from Crete to save what he can.
1942: The siege of Sevastopol rages on, becoming the only incident of a formal siege of a modern fortress being pushed through to final reduction. Sevastopol is the premier port on the Black Sea, and its defenses include three zones of trenches, pillboxes, and batteries. The strongest defenses lie in the middle zone, which includes the heights and the south bank of the Belbek River. Among these hills are "Fort Stalin" on the East and the massive western anchor of "Fort Maxim Gorki I," with its turret of twin 305 mm (12-inch) guns sweeping the length of the Belbek valley. 105,000 men defend this port. Against this the Germans and Romanians range 203,000 men and some of the most powerful siege artillery ever disposed by any army in World War II. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein aims 305 mm, 350 mm, and 420 mm howitzers at the Soviets, along with two of the new, stubby "Karl" and "Thor" 600 mm mortars. Also on hand is the 800 mm (31.5-inch) Schwerer-Gustav aka "Big Dora" from Krupp, which has to be transported to position by 60 railway wagons. "Big Dora" is commanded by a major general and a colonel, protected by two flak regiments and periodically fed with a 4,700 kilograms (10,500 lbs) shell.
1942: 400 miles west of Brest, the crippled Bismarck is relentlessly bombarded by dozens of British warships, including the battleships HMS "Rodney" (29) and "King George V" (41). After all her guns are silenced, she is sunk by torpedoes from the cruiser HMS "Dorsetshire" (40). There are only 110 survivors out of a crew of 2,300.
One of the last photographs of the Bismarck, taken from the Dorsetshire
Survivors from the Bismarck floating in the oily water just after the Bismarck sank. They struggle to reach the safety of the Dorsetshire
1942: The Afrika Korps, having pushed round the British defenses, move northeast. They are engaged by elements of the British 1st and 7th Armoured Divisions. Many tank losses were taken by both sides, although as the battle went on the British armour became increasingly scattered. The Italian Ariete Armoured Division continued to meet stiff resistance from the Free French at Bir Hacheim.
Gen Kœnig and his officers at Bir Hacheim
1942: Operation Anthropoid: The assassination of the acting Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia and a chief planner of the final solution, Reinhard Heydrich takes place. Four members of the Czechoslovak resistance, Lt. Adolf Opálka, Sgt. Josef Valčik, Sgt. Jan Kubiš and Sgt. Jozef Gabčík, seriously wound Heydrich by throwing a modified anti-tank grenade near his approaching car. Although Heydrich's condition appeared to stabilise after a few days, he eventually died on June 4. The attackers initially hid with two Prague families and later took refuge in Karel Boromejsky Church, an Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague. The Gestapo could not find the assassins until Karel Čurda (of the group Out Distance, whose objective was sabotage), was arrested and told the Gestapo the names of the team’s local contact persons for the bounty of 1 million Reichsmarks. Germans stormed the Church, and the seven men (the four assasins, and Sgts. Bublik, Hruby and Svarc) holed up inside fought bravely with pistol, rifle, submachine gun and grenades. Opálka was killed in the firefight, and Kubiš and Svarc fatally wounded. The other four men were hiding in the crypt, afraid to tunnel away for fear of giving away their position, although it might have saved them at this point. The Germans discovered they were in the crypt and tried to storm it repeatedly, first through the entrance hatchway and then by blowing up the stone entrance. The defenders acquitted themselves bravely, killing fourteen Germans and fighting until they ran out of ammunition, and the Nazis began to flood the crypt through its sole ventilation hatch. At this point they committed suicide with their revolvers. Bishop Gorazd, in an attempt to minimize the reprisals among his flock, took the blame for the actions in the Church on himself, even writing letters to the Nazi authorities. On June 27, 1942, he was arrested and tortured. On September 4, 1942, he, the Church priests, and senior lay leaders were executed by firing squad (for his actions, Bishop Gorazd was later glorified as a martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church).
Bullet-scarred window of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague where the attackers were cornered
1944: 12,000 U.S. troops land on Biak in the Schouten Island Group, 350 miles West of Hollandia. The battle of Biak was fought from 27 May 1944 through 20 June 1944. The capture of Biak island cost the Americans 474 KIA, and 2,400 WIA; the Japanese lost 6,100 killed and 450 captured. MacArthur says, "this marks the strategic end of the New Guinea campaign".
WWI-1918: U.S. forces (28th Regiment of 1st Division) are victorious in their first action, Battle of Cantigny. Although a minor action in itself, the Battle of Cantigny was fought on the second day of the great Third German Spring Offensive comprising the Third Battle of the Aisne. A regiment of the American 1st Division (some 4,000 troops), under Maj Gen Robert Lee Bullard, captured the village of Cantigny, held by the German XVIII. Armee, commanded by General Oskar von Hutier and the site of a German advance observation point, strongly fortified. U.S. forces lost 1,067 casualties; they captured around 100 German prisoners. German losses are unknown.
French flamethrower teams supporting the AEF attack at Cantigny
1940: Belgium formally surrenders to the Germans. The British and French reject capitulation and continue the evacuation and rearguard actions at Dunkirk.
King Leopold of Belgium agrees to the surrender of the Belgian army
1940: Norwegian (6th Division), French Mountain and Foreign Legion troops (13th Demi-Brigade), Polish (Independent Highland Brigade) and British forces (4 British battalions) recapture the port of Narvik, forcing the German defenders (Gebirgsjäger units and crews of sunk destroyers) into the surrounding hills and towards the safety of the Swedish border and internment. This is the first allied infantry victory of WWII.
Polish Mountain troops with German POW at Narvik
1941: British and Commonwealth forces begin evacuating Crete through the port of Sphakia on the southern coast of Crete. The withdrawal is to be covered by two recently landed Commando Battalions. Suda is occupied by the Germans.
1982: During the Falklands War, the Battle of Goose Green occurs. It was the first major land conflict of the Falklands War. By the end of the battle, men from 2 Para, the Parachute Regiment, had captured Goose Green and the surrounding area but had lost their commander, Lt Col "H" Jones who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his leadership and bravery during the battle. 2 Para lost 17 KIA, 64 WIA. Argentine losses accounted for 47 men KIA, 145 WIA. About 100 Argentine troops had been taken prisoner during the battle.
363: Roman Emperor, Flavius Claudius Iulianus (aka Julian the Apostate), defeats the Persian Army of the Sassanid King, Shapur II the Great, in the Battle of Ctesiphon, the Imperial capital of the Persian Sassanids
Ctesiphon today is located in Iraq
1176: The Lombard League (an alliance which included most of the cities of northern Italy) defeats Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire, in the Battle of Legnano, ending Frederick's rule over Lombardy. In a proclamation issued in Bergamo on August 3, 1848, the revolutionary Garibaldi referred to the historic Battle of Legnano as a source of inspiration for his own struggle for the Unification of Italy: "Bergamo will be the Pontida [i.e the town where the Oath of Pontida was signed there in 1167, by which the Lombard League was founded] of the present generation, and God will bring us a Legnano!".
Giuseppe Verdi's Ouverture-The Battle of Legnano
1453: Ottoman Armies under Sultan Mehmet II Fatih (=Conqueror) sack and capture Constantinople after a siege, ending the Byzantine Empire.
1940: German troops capture Heraklion, the capital and largest city of Crete. Germans enter the town of Rethymnon. The British, Commonwealth and Greek troops that defend the area, cut off from the rest of the allied force, either surrender to the Germans or join armed Cretan bands formed in the mountains.
Father & Son; Cretan guerillas, "antartes", on the high Cretan mountains
1940: The British destroyer HMS "Wakeful" (H88) is torpedoed 13 miles north of Nieuport by the German Schnellboot "S30". The Wakeful (Cdr.R.L. Fisher) had taken on around 700 men from the beaches at Dunkirk, an operation that had taken eight hours. Heading north and for home she was hit by the S-30's torpedo. It was 12.40 pm when the torpedo struck amidships on the starboard beam. Another destroyer, HMS "Grafton" (H89), moves in to help but is hit and damaged by a torpedo from the same Schnellboot. HMS "Comfort now approaches but is fired upon by the Grafton who mistook her for a German ship. The Comfort finally sinks. After the torpedo struck the Wakeful she reared up from the water and broke in two. Other ships nearby picked up 25 survivors but for over 600 men below deck, the end came swiftly.
1940: German 6. Armee takes Ostend and Ypres in western Belgium. 47,300 British and French troops are evacuated from Dunkirk.
1941: During the evacuation of British troops from Crete, a Luftwaffe attack by Junkers Ju 87, sinks British destroyers HMS "Imperial" (D09) and "Hereward" (H93).
1942: The Soviet pocket to the Southeast of Kharkov, Ukraine is finally wiped out and 214,000 Soviets captured, along with 1,200 tanks and 2,000 guns destroyed. German casualties in the fighting around Kharkov amount to some 20,000.
1943: The RAF launches a major raid (719 bombers) against Wuppertal, dropping 1,900 tons of bombs and killing 2,450 civilians and claim that half of Wuppertal has been "wiped off the map".
1434: During the Hussite Wars (a religious struggle between the reformist Hussites and the Roman Catholic Church, a national struggle between Czechs and Germans, and a social struggle between the landed and peasant classes), the Battle of Lipany occurs. An army of Utraquists (a moderate faction of the Hussites) and Roman Catholics, called the "Bohemian League", defeated the Taborites and Orphans (radical factions of the Hussites) led by Prokop the Great. 13,000 of the 18,000-strong Hussite army were killed, thus ending the Hussite Wars.
1919: Greek Army (1/8 Battalion of the 8th Rgt & a Cavalry Coy of the 3rd Cavalry Rgt) occupies Pergamum, on the Aegean coast of Turkey.
1940: 53,823 British and French troops are evacuated from Dunkirk, bringing total landed in England since May 27th to 126,606.
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was the officer in charge of “Operation Dynamo”
1941: Two students, Emmanuel "Manoles" Glezos (19 y.o) and Apostolos "Lakes" Santas (19 y.o.) ascended the Acropolis, managed to elude the German soldier on flag guard duty and tore down the Swastika. That was the first resistance act that took place in Greece. The Nazi regime responded by sentencing Glezos and Santas to death in absentia.
The Greek newspaper "Eleutheron Vema" of June, 1, 1941. It reads:
"On the night of May, 30, the German flag on the Acropolis, was stolen by unknown culprits. An investigation is underway. The perpetrators and their accomplices will be punished by death."
After the incident, the number of German soldiers on flag guard duty, increased
1942: Admiral Nimitz orders for Task Force 17 (Admiral Fletcher) consisting of the carrier Yorktown, 2 cruisers and 6 destroyers, which had been refitting at Pearl Harbor after operations in the Coral Sea, to set sail for Midway and meet Admiral Spruance there.
USS "Yorktown" (CV-5)
1223: In the Battle of the Kalka River, a Mongolian army of 20,000-strong, defeated a combined army comprising Kievan Rus and Cumans of 25-30,000 men. The importance of the Mongolian expedition was immense. The expedition was history's longest cavalry raid, with the Mongols riding 5,500 miles (8,851 km) in three years in order to deal with the Rus. 14 years later, the Mongols attacked Rus, this time with 120,000 men and with this army, they conquered Kievan Rus.
1825: During the Greek War for Independence, the combined Greek Fleet comprising ships from the island of Hydra under Admiral Andreas Miaoules, ships from the island of Spetsae under Admiral Georgios Andrutsos, and ships from the island of Psara under Admiral Nikolaos Apostoles, defeated the Ottoman Fleet, in the Naval Battle of Suda, Crete.
The Spetsean Admiral, Georgios Andrutsos
WWI-1916: Naval Battle of Jutland: The British Grand Fleet under the command of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe & Admiral Sir David Beatty engage the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Admiral Reinhard Scheer & Admiral Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war. At Jutland (N. Sea near Denmark), the Germans, with a 99-strong fleet, sank 115,000 tons of British ships, while a 151-strong British fleet sank 62,000 tons of German ships. The British lost 6,784 seamen, the Germans 3,039. After the battle, Jellicoe was criticised for his caution and for allowing Scheer to escape. Beatty, in particular, was convinced that Jellicoe had missed a tremendous opportunity to annihilate the High Seas Fleet, and win what would amount to another Trafalgar.
Admiral Jellicoe (left), Admiral Beatty
Admiral Scheer (left), Admiral von Hipper
1940: Defence of Dunkirk continues as 68,000 allied troops are evacuated. The French defence of Lille collapses.
1942: During the Battle of Gazala, the Kesselschlacht or "Cauldron battle" occurs as Rommel attacks the fortified box in the Gazala line that is held by the 150th Brigade of the British 50th Division. The Italians attack from the west as elements of the Afrika Korps attack from the east. Meanwhile Rommel's anti-tank gunners, repulse a number of British armoured counter-attacks against his position in the Cauldron.
1943: Black May ends. In May 1943, in the Battle of the Atlantic campaign during World War II, the German U-boat arm (U-Bootwaffe) (UBW) suffered high casualties with fewer Allied ships sunk; it is considered a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic. Black May signalled a decline from which UBW never recovered.
1944: The Soviets repel a heavy German counter attack North of Jassy, Romania and in the southern Ukraine. Stalin gives the go-ahead to Operation Bagration (the Soviet summer offensive) which is to destroy Army Group Centre in Belarus.
1794: During the War of the First Coalition (a series of major conflicts, from 1792-1797 fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states trying to contain France), the Glorious First of June is fought. It was a Naval Battle fought between Great Britain and the 1st French Republic, in the Atlantic Ocean, some 400 n.m. West of France. Despite the fact that a 25-strong British Fleet under Admiral Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe, defeated a 26-strong French Fleet under Vice Admiral Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse, both parties claimed victory, because the British sunk 7 French ships, but a French vital cereal convoy from the United States got through the British blockade. British had 1,200 casualties, while French casualties accounted for 4,000.
WWI-1918: During the 3rd German Spring offensive, the Battle of Belleau Wood begins, fought predominantly by US Marines. On June 1, the US 2nd Division, including the 4th Marine Brigade (Brigadier General James Guthrie Harbord) took up positions south of Belleau Wood near Lucy-le-Bocage while elements of the German 347th Division from Army Group Crown Prince Wilhelm occupied the forest. The Germans launched a major assault on June 4. Supported by machine guns and artillery, the Marines were able to hold, effectively ending the German offensive in Aisne. The following day, the commander of the French XXI Corps ordered Brigadier General James Harbord's 4th Marine Brigade to retake Belleau Wood. On the morning of June 6, the Marines advanced, capturing Hill 142 to the west of the wood. Twelve hours later, they frontally assaulted the forest itself. To do so, the Marines had to cross a wheat field under heavy German machine gun fire. With his men pinned down, Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly called "Come on ya sons-of-bitches, ya want to live forever?" and got them on the move again. When night fell, only a small section of forest had been captured.In addition to Hill 142 and the assault on the woods, the Marines attacked into Bouresches to the east. After taking most of the village, the Marines were forced to dig in against German counterattacks. All reinforcements trying to reach Bouresches had to cross a large open area and were subjected to heavy German fire. When night fell, the Marines had suffered 1,087 casualties making it the bloodiest day in the Corps' history to date. On June 11, the Marines pressed hard into Belleau Wood. From June 11-26, US forces repelled consecutive attacks conducted by the Germans attempting to retake their positions in the forest. Following the Battle of Belleau Wood, Marines began being referred to as "Devil Dogs". According to tradition in the United States Marine Corps, the title was assigned by German soldiers to U.S. Marines who fought in the Belleau Wood (Teufel Hunden). US forces suffered 1,811 killed and 7,966 wounded and missing. The number of Germans dead or wounded is unknown. 1,600 Germans captured.
1940: German onslaught continues at Dunkirk as General John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, C-in-C BEF, returns from Flanders with another 64,400 troops who were evacuated off the beaches this day. However, in future, the evacuation will only continue during the hours of darkness due to the high losses of warships to daylight air attacks.
1940: The British destroyers HMS "Keith" (H06), "Basilisk" (H11) and "Havant" (H32) and the transport Scotia (300 of the French troops she was carrying lost their lives) are sunk by Luftwaffe dive bombers, near Dunkirk.
1940: British forces evacuate the Bodø area of Norway, 120 miles to the southwest of Narvik.
1941: Battle of Crete ends. The evacuation of the island is completed, with 17,000 British, Commonwealth and Greek troops being rescued, although the Australians lose more than half their contingent. The Allied force available to Freyberg for the defence of the island comprised the 1,512 officers, 29,900 other ranks of the British and Commonwealth expeditionary force, the 300 students of the Greek Army Academy, the 474 officers, 10,997 other ranks of the local Gendarmerie chapter and Greek Army. 3,000-4,000 civilians took arms and formed armed bands. Final figures for the British are 16,500 killed, wounded or captured, along with a large number of warships sunk or damaged, while the Germans lose about 6,200 men. Greeks casualties amount to some 4,300 killed, wounded or captured.
1941: Stukas sink the British cruiser HMS "Calcutta" off Alexandria. On passage from Alexandria to provide additional AA protection to ships returning with more troops from Sphakia, Crete, she was attacked by two Ju 88. She was hit by two bombs and sank in a few minutes.
1942: Rommel takes the fortified "box" that is held by the British 150th Brigade in the Gazala defensive line and secures the Cauldron. This enables him to get much needed supplies flowing. Rommel now turns the German 90th Light Division and the Italian Ariete Armoured Division against Bir Hacheim in an attempt to wipe out the Free French garrison which still holds out. He also distracts the British by sending the 21. Panzerdivision northeast to operate nearer to Tobruk.
Men of the Italian Ariete Division-N. Africa, 1942
1943: Greek guerillas blow up the railway tunnel located in Phthiotes, Central Greece, while a train full of Italian troops, ammunition and provisions was crossing it. Dozens of Italians were killed and wounded.
Greek ELAS guerillas
June 1, 1915
The first successful Zeppelin attack on London.