Germany Invaded Norway
Norwegian Landings - The first Allied landings took place
between the 14th and 16th. In the north, British troops
occupied Harstad in preparation for an attack on Narvik.
They were reinforced by French and Polish units through
into May. Royal Marines led British and French troops
into Namsos ready for an attack south towards Trondheim.
The British went ashore in the Andalsnes area to try to
hold central Norway with the Norwegian Army. By the 27th,
Allied plans to attack towards Trondheim and hold central
Norway proved impossible. The decision was taken to pull
out of central Norway and the evacuation of Andalsnes and
Namsos got under way.
Norwegian Evacuations start -
In three days and nights ending on
the 2nd/3rd, the last 10,000 British and French troops
were evacuated from Namsos and around Andalsnes following
the failure to attack towards Trondheim and hold central
Norway. Other troops were later landed further north,
including at Bodo in an attempt to block the German
advance from Trondheim towards Narvik. The Allies
continued to build up forces for the attack on Narvik.
Germany Invaded Holland, Belgium and France
in Iceland & Dutch West Indies - On the 10th as
Germany attacked France and the Low Countries, British
Royal Marines landed from two cruisers at Reykjavik,
Iceland then part of the Danish Crown. More troops
followed to set up air and sea bases that became vital to
Britain's defence of the Atlantic supply routes. Soon
after Germany invaded Holland, Allied troops landed on
the Dutch West lndies islands of Aruba and Curacoa to
protect oil installations.
Holland and Belgium Evacuations -
British Admiralty plans had already
been made to withdraw shipping from the Low Countries,
block main ports, demolish installations and remove gold
and diamonds. Most of these duties were carried out with
the aid of Royal Navy destroyers which suffered heavy
losses over the next few weeks.
France Landings - Destroyers carried Allied
troops to Boulogne and Calais on the 20th and remained in
support. Over the next four days, five Allied destroyers
were lost and others damaged in the area.
Dunkirk, Northern France Evacuation
(Operation 'Dynamo') - Initial plans were to lift off
45,000 men of the British Expeditionary Force over a
two-day period under the direction of Vice-Adm B. H. Ramsey. In the next five
days, 8,000 men on the 27th May, 18,000 on the 28th,
47,000 on the 29th, 54,000 on the 30th and 68,000 on the
31st were carried to Britain - a total of 195,000, both
British and French. Every phase of the operation was
subject to heavy air, sea and land attack. Forty British,
six French and a Polish destroyer took part, together
with 800 other vessels, large and small. Losses were
considerable. The Dunkirk evacuation continued into June.
Norwegian Evacuation concluded -
Following the capture of Narvik,
Allied forces totalling 25,000 men were evacuated over
the period 4th-8th from northern Norway, by which time
King Haakon VII and his Government were on their way to
Britain aboard heavy cruiser Devonshire.
Dunkirk Evacuation concluded - As
the evacuation continued under
heavy ground and air attack, destroyers KEITH,
BASILISK, HAVANT and the French LE
by the Luftwaffe and lost off the beaches, all on the
1st. The evacuation of the BEF and some of the French
troops trapped within the Dunkirk perimeter came to an
end on the 4th. In the first four days and nights of
June, 64,000, 26,000, 27,000 and 26,000 men were saved to
bring the overall total to 340,000, including the bulk of
Britain's army in northern France. Naval and civilian
shipping losses were heavy. In destroyers alone the Royal
Navy lost six sunk and 19 badly damaged, the French Navy
Italy Declared War
Western France Evacuations - The
Battle for France began on the 5th
with a German advance south from the line River Somme to
Sedan. 10th - The evacuation of British and Allied
forces from the rest of France got underway. Starting
with Operation 'Cycle', 11,000 were lifted off from the
Channel port of Le Havre. 15th - Operation
'Aerial' began with the evacuation of Cherbourg and
continued for the next 10 days, moving south right down
to the Franco-Spanish border. 17th - The only
major loss during the evacuation from western France was
off St Nazaire. Liner Lancastria was
bombed and sunk with the death of
nearly 3,000 men. 25th - The Allied evacuation of
France ended with a further 215,000 servicemen and
civilians saved, but Operations 'Aerial' and 'Cycle'
never captured the public's imagination like the
'miracle' of Dunkirk. On the final day of the evacuation,
Canadian destroyer FRASER
was rammed and sunk by AA cruiser
Calcutta off the Gironde Estuary leading into
French Navy in the Atlantic and Britain -
Carrier Hermes and cruisers
Dorsetshire and Australian sister-ship
Australia lay off Dakar, French West
Africa on the 8th
after negotiations were refused on the future of French
battleship Richelieu. Attacks made included
one with depth-charges from a fast motorboat. This failed
and a torpedo strike by Swordfish inflicted only minor
damage. In Britain, two World War 1
French battleships "Courbet" and
"Paris" and several destroyers and submarines,
including the giant "Surcouf" were in British
ports. On the 3rd they were boarded and seized, but not
before there were casualties on both sides including
three British and one French dead.
Somaliland, East Africa Evacuation - Italian forces
from Ethiopia invaded British Somaliland. The capital of
Berbera was evacuated on the 14th and the garrison
carried across to Aden. Italians entered the town five
days later, just as a British mission went into Ethiopia
to help organise uprisings against the Italians there.
Dakar, West Africa Expedition (Operation
'Menace') - Because
of Dakar's strategic importance to the North and South
Atlantic shipping routes, an expedition was mounted to
acquire the port for Allied use. Free French troops led
by Gen de Gaulle were carried in ships escorted and
supported by units of the Home Fleet and Force H under
the command of Vice-Adm John Cunningham. They included
battleships "Barham" and
"Resolution", carrier "Ark Royal",
three heavy cruisers and other smaller ships including
Free French. Naval forces at Dakar included the
unfinished battleship "Richelieu" and two
cruisers recently arrived from Toulon (see below).
Attempts to negotiate on the 23rd soon failed and
as Vichy French ships tried to leave harbour, shore
batteries opened fire, damaging heavy cruiser
and two destroyers. Shortly afterwards, the Vichy
submarine "PERSEE" was sunk by gunfire and
large destroyer "L'AUDACIEUX" disabled by
cruiser "Australia" and beached. A Free French
landing was beaten off. Next day, on the 24th,
Dakar was bombarded by the warships and
"Richelieu" attacked by "Ark Royal's"
aircraft. Vichy submarine "AJAX" was sunk by
destroyer "Fortune". The bombardment continued
on the 25th, but battleship
torpedoed and badly damaged by submarine
"Beveziers" and "Barham" hit by
"Richelieu's" 15in gunfire. At this point the
operation was abandoned and the Anglo-Free French forces
& Crete, Landings in - As the Greek Army pushed
back the Italians into Albania, RAF squadrons were sent
from Egypt to Greece and the Royal Navy carried over the
first Australian, British and New Zealand troops by
cruiser. Mediterranean Fleet established an advance base
at Suda Bay on the north coast of Crete.
African Naval Operations - As the British advance
continued into Libya, Bardia was taken on the 5th.
Australian troops captured Tobruk on the 22nd and Derna,
further west by the end of the month. The Royal Navy's
Inshore Squadron played an important part in the
campaign - bombarding shore targets, carrying fuel, water
and supplies, and evacuating wounded and prisoners of
Combined Operations Raid - A successful commando raid
was carried out on the Lofoten Islands, off northwest
Norway with installations destroyed and shipping sunk.
Escort was provided by destroyers and cover by units of
the Home Fleet.
Somaliland Landings - British forces were transported
from Aden to Berbera in British Somaliland on the 16th.
From there, they advanced southwest into southern
Ethiopia. To the north, Keren fell to the attacking
Indian troops and the road was opened to the Eritrean
capital of Asmara and Red Sea port of Massawa.
Greece, Evacuation of - Germany invaded both countries on the
6th. By the 12th they had entered Belgrade and within
another five days the Yugoslav Army surrendered. Greek
forces in Albania and Greece suffered the same fate.
Starting on the 24th and over a period of five days,
50,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops were
evacuated to Crete and Egypt in Operation 'Demon'. The
Germans occupied Athens on the 27th. 27th - As
units of the Mediterranean Fleet carried out the Greek
evacuation, destroyers "DIAMOND" and "WRYNECK" rescued troops from the bombed
transport "Slamat", but were then sunk by more
German bombers off Cape Malea at the southeast tip of
Greece. There were few survivors from the three ships.
North Africa, Siege of Tobruk - Germans entered Benghazi on the 4th
and by mid-month had surrounded Tobruk and reached the
Egyptian border. Attacks on the British and Australian
troops defending Tobruk were unsuccessful, and an
eight-month siege began.
Iraq landings - A pro-German coup in Iraq on the 1st
threatened Allied oil supplies. British and Indian units
were entering the country through the Persian Gulf by the
middle of the month. The campaign continued through May.
Crete, Evacuation of - Most of the Mediterranean Fleet with
four battleships, one carrier, 10 cruisers and 30
destroyers fought the Battle for Crete. For the
Navy there were two phases, both of
which took place under intense air attack, mainly German,
from which all losses resulted. Phase One was from
the German airborne invasion on the 20th until the
decision was taken on the 27th to evacuate the island.
During this time the Mediterranean Fleet managed to
prevent the sea-borne reinforcement of the German
paratroops fighting on Crete, but at heavy cost. Most of
these losses happened as the ships tried to withdraw from
night-time patrols north of the island out of range of
enemy aircraft. During this phase, two cruisers and four
destroyers were sunk, and one carrier, two battleships
and three cruisers badly damaged.
Phase Two was from
27th May to 1st June when over 15,000 British and
Commonwealth troops were evacuated. Ten thousand had to
be left behind - and again the naval losses were heavy. 28th
- The decision to evacuate was made, and cruisers and
destroyers prepared to lift off the troops. As they
approached Crete, cruiser "Ajax" and destroyer "Imperial"
damaged to the southeast. 29th
- Early in the morning, 4,000 men were lifted off from
Heraklion on the north coast. As they did the damaged "IMPERIAL" had to be scuttled, and "HEREWARD"
was hit and left behind to go down off
the eastern tip of Crete. Shortly after, cruisers "Dido" and "Orion"
were badly damaged to the southeast. 30th
- Early in the day, more troops were lifted from the
southern port of Sphakia by another cruiser force. Well
to the south the Australian cruiser "Perth"
bombed and damaged. 1st June
- As the last men were carried from Crete, cruisers
"Calcutta" and "Coventry" sailed from
Alexandria to provide AA cover. "CALCUTTA"
was sunk north of the Egyptian coast.
Some 15,000 troops were saved but at a cost to the Royal
Navy of 2,000 men killed.
North Africa, Supply of
Besieged Tobruk - A British offensive started from
the Sollum area on the 15th in an attempt to relieve
Tobruk. Two weeks later both sides were back to their
original positions. The first of many supply trips to
besieged Tobruk were made by Australian destroyers
"Voyager" and "Waterhen" and other
ships of the Inshore Squadron.
Germany Invades Russia
North Africa, Tobruk -
Another unsuccessful British offensive to relieve Tobruk
started from Sollum on the 15th (Operation 'Battleaxe').
Within two days the operation was called off. A heavy
price was paid for the supply of besieged Tobruk by the
Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy ships involved. All
trips took place under continual threat of German and
Italian aircraft attack: 24th - Sloop "AUCKLAND"
was lost off Tobruk. 30th -
Australian destroyer "WATERHEN"
was bombed and sunk off Bardia.
Africa, Tobruk - On the Tobruk Run, destroyer "DEFENDER"
bombed by German or
Italian aircraft and went down off Sidi Barrani on the
Africa, Tobruk - Covering the transport of troops
into and out of besieged Tobruk, cruiser Phoebe
was hit by an aircraft torpedo on the
(Iran) Landings - The possibility of a pro-Axis coup
d'etat led to Anglo-Soviet forces going into Persia on
the 25th from points in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and
Russia. A cease-fire was announced within four days, but
later violations led to Teheran being occupied in the
middle of September. The landings in Persia from the Gulf
were made from a small force of British, Australian and
Indian warships of the East ladies Command.
Africa, Tobruk - Over a period of 10 days,
cruiser-minelayers "Abdiel" and
"Latona" transported troops and supplies to
besieged Tobruk and carried out Australian units. On the
last mission on the 25th, "LATONA"
was bombed and sunk north of Bardia by
Ju87s Stuka divebombers
North Africa, Tobruk
- A major British offensive (Operation 'Crusader)
started on the 18th, again from the Sollum area and by
January had reached El Agheila. Axis forces around Sollum
and Bardia were by-passed in the drive on Tobruk. The
first link-up with the besieged garrison was made by New
Zealand troops on the 27th. On the 27th, Australian sloop "PARRAMATTA" escorting an ammunition ship on
the Tobruk Run was sunk by "U-559" off the
port. Since the siege started destroyers and other
warships had been carrying in men and supplies almost
nightly. As it came to an end the cost could be counted -
25 warships of all sizes and five merchantmen lost.
Japan Declares War
Combined Operations Raid - Separate commando raids
took place in northern Norway on the Lofoten
Islands and further south on Vaagso
Island. The aim was to destroy installations and
sink and capture shipping. The first force was led by
cruiser Arethusa with limited results. The
second with cruiser Kenya was more
successful. On the 27th, cruiser Arethusa
damaged in German bombing attacks.
Cloak and Dagger Operations - Submarine "TRIUMPH" sailed from Alexandria on 26th
December for a clandestine landing near Athens before
patrolling in the Aegean. She reported the landing on the
30th, but failed to rendezvous back there on the 9th and
was presumed mined off the island of Milo, southeast of
the Greek mainland. This was one of many such landings
and pick-ups by submarines, coastal forces and other
ships and craft that took place in all theatres
throughout the war
France, Combined Operations Raid - Commandos carried
out a raid on Bruneval in northern
France to capture radar equipment in which they were
successful. They were lifted off by Royal Navy coastal
Evacuation - On the 8th, Japanese forces started
crossing over to Singapore Island. Heavy fighting took
place, but by the 15th Singapore surrendered and over
80,000 mainly Australian, British and Indian troops were
doomed to captivity. Others attempted to escape in a
variety of small ships and craft. 14th - Sailing
for Batavia, auxiliary patrol ship "LI WO" with a single 4in gun attacked a
troop convoy south of Singapore and was soon sunk by a
Japanese cruiser. Commanding officer Lt Thomas Wilkinson
RNR was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Operations Command - Lord Louis
Mountbatten was promoted Vice-Adm and appointed Chief of
Combined Operations as planning continued for the raids
on St Nazaire and later Dieppe.
Western France, Raid on St Nazaire -
Concerned about the
possibility of battleship "Tirpitz" breaking
out into the Atlantic, the decision was made to put out
of action the only dry-dock in France capable of taking
her - the 'Normandie' at St Nazaire. Ex-US destroyer
"Campbeltown" would be loaded with high
explosives and rammed into the lock gates while British
commandos, carried over in Royal Navy ML's or motor
launches were to land and destroy the dry-docks
installations. The force sailed from southwest England on
the 26th, and by a number of ruses penetrated the
heavily defended port early on the 28th. In the
face of intense fire, "Campbeltown" was placed
exactly in position and many of the commandos got ashore
to carry out their mission. Losses in men and coastal
forces' craft were heavy, but when "CAMPBELTOWN"
did blow up, the lock
gates were put out of commission for the rest of the war.
awarded to three
members of the Royal Navy taking part - Cdr Robert Ryder
RN, Commanding Officer, Naval Forces sailing with his
staff on board "MGB-314", Lt-Cdr Stephen
Beattie RN, Commanding Officer, HMS Campbeltown, and
posthumously to Able Seaman William Savage, gunner on
"MGB-314" for gallantry under heavy fire.
Dutch East lndies Evacuation -
Strong Japanese naval forces patrolled the Indian Ocean
south of Java to stop the escape of Allied forces and
shipping. Old destroyer "STRONGHOLD"
was sunk in action with the 8in cruiser
"Maya" and two destroyers on the 2nd. Two days
later Australian sloop "YARRA" and the ships she was escorting
were also destroyed.
Madagascar, Indian Ocean Landings
(Operation 'Ironclad') - Concerned about the Japanese carrier sorties into
the Indian Ocean and the vulnerability of the Cape of
Good Hope/Middle East convoy routes, Britain decided to
take Diego Saurez at the north end of Vichy French
Madagascar. Under the command of Rear-Adm E. N. Syfret
(recently appointed to Force H), a large force of ships
including battleship "Ramillies" and carriers
"Indomitable" and "Illustrious"
assembled at Durban, South Africa towards the end of
April. The assault took place on 5th May in Courrier Bay
to the west of Diego Saurez. As usual the Vichy French
forces resisted strongly. Submarine "BEVEZIERS"
was sunk, but the only Royal Navy casualty was corvette "AURICULA" mined on the 5th. The
advance on Diego Saurez was held up and next day a Royal
Marine unit stormed the town from the sea. By the 7th the
fighting was over and the important anchorage was in
British hands. On the 7th and 8th, French submarines
"LE HEROS" and "MONGE" were sunk by
joint air and sea attacks. On the night of the 30th,
Japanese submarines "I-16" and "I-20"
launched midget submarines for attacks on Diego Saurez.
was torpedoed and badly damaged and a tanker sunk.
By September the complete occupation of Madagascar became
French North African Invasion Plans - Winston
Churchill flew to Washington DC for another series of
meetings with President Roosevelt. Agreement did not come
easily on the question of where to open a Second Front in
1942. The Americans wanted to land in France to take
pressure off the Russians, but the British considered
this impossible at present and proposed the invasion of
French North Africa. The President did not come to accept
this until July. Planning then started on what became
Northern France, Raid on Dieppe
(Operation 'Jubilee') - Unable to open a Second Front in Europe, the
Western Allies decided to mount a large-scale raid on the
French coast to take some of the pressure off the
Russians. The plan was for a largely Canadian force
supported by British commandos to assault the defended
port of Dieppe in northern France. Over 200 ships and
landing craft, including escort destroyers and coastal
forces under the command of Capt J. Hughes-Hallett,
sailed with 6,000 troops from south coast of England
ports on the 18th. The attempted landings took
place early on the 19th against heavy defensive
gunfire. One flanking attack by commandos achieved some
success, but the other and the frontal assault with tanks
were total failures. By noon the decision was taken to
withdraw. As this went ahead under constant air attack,
escort destroyer "BERKELEY"
was bombed and sunk. Others were
damaged. Canadian casualties in dead, wounded and
prisoners were high, and Dieppe proved an expensive but
important lesson on the problems of landing in occupied
Europe at a defended port.
Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands
Landings - The Japanese
were now extending their hold in the southern Solomons
and building an airfield on the island of Guadalcanal.
From there they could move against the New Hebrides, New
Caledonia and other islands along the supply routes to
Australia and New Zealand. After the Japanese presence
was discovered, the US 1st Marine Division was landed on
the 7th, soon capturing the airstrip which was renamed
Henderson Field. Close cover was provided by a force of
American and Australian cruisers.
9th - Battle of
Savo Island - In
the early hours of the 9th a Japanese force of seven
cruisers and a destroyer headed for Savo Island to the
north of Guadalcanal to get at the US transports. Instead
they stumbled on five patrolling cruisers. Taken
completely by surprise, heavy cruisers "CANBERRA" and the American "ASTORIA",
were hit by a torrent of gunfire and
torpedoes and sank in an area soon known as lronbottom
Sound. The fifth cruiser "Chicago" escaped and
Australian cruisers "Australia" and
"Hobart" were close by but took no part in the
action. The transports were untouched.
Papua, New Guinea Operations
- In their move on Port Moresby, Japanese troops
landed at Milne Bay at the extreme southeast tip of Papua
on the 25th. The mainly Australian resistance was strong
and by the 30th, the invaders were starting to evacuate.
By early September they had gone - the first major
setback Japanese forces had experienced on land. Before
then on 29th August, Japanese submarine "R0-33" attacked Australian troop
reinforcements bound for Port Moresby and was sunk off
the harbour by Australian destroyer "Arunta".
North Africa, Raid on Tobruk (Operation
'Agreement') - To help
relieve the pressure on Eighth Army in the Alamein area,
a combined operations raid was planned on Tobruk to
destroy installations and shipping. An attack was to be
launched from the landward side by the Long Range Desert
Group (LRDG) while simultaneously destroyers
"Sikh" and "Zulu" together with
coastal forces craft would land Royal Marine and army
units from the sea. AA cruiser "Coventry" and
'Hunts' provided cover. In the night of the 13th/14th,
a few troops got ashore but "SIKH"
soon disabled by shore batteries.
She went down off Tobruk early in the morning of the 14th.
As the other ships withdrew, heavy attacks by German and
Italian aircraft sank cruiser "COVENTRY" and destroyer "ZULU" to the northwest of Alexandria.
The land attack also failed.
Indian Ocean Landings - Britain decided to occupy the
rest of the Vichy French island in the Indian Ocean.
Starting on the 10th, British, East African and South
African troops were landed through the month at points in
the northwest, east and southwest. By the 23rd the
capital, Tananarive, was captured but fighting continued
into October. The Vichy French did not surrender until
early November, by which time they had been driven into
the extreme southeast corner of the large island.
Asia Operation - Australian troops were carried to
the occupied island of Timor by Australian destroyer "VOYAGER" to strengthen the Sparrow Force
guerrilla unit. She ran aground on the south coast on the
23rd, was bombed by the Japanese and had to be destroyed.
Cloak and Dagger Operation, French North Africa - In
preparation for Operation 'Torch', US Gen Mark Clark
landed in Algeria from submarine "Seraph" to
help persuade the Vichy French authorities to support the
coming Allied landings. Gen Giraud was to be smuggled
from unoccupied France, again in "Seraph", to
head pro-Allied Frenchmen.
8th - French North
African Landings: Operation 'Torch'
By July 1942 the
Allies had accepted that a cross-Channel assault
on German-occupied Europe was not yet possible,
and instead opted to land an expeditionary force
in French North Africa. For political reasons the
main landing forces would be American. Their
arrival was timed to coincide with Eighth Army's
offensive. Plans were formally approved in
October, by which time the large amounts of
shipping needed had been organised and assembled.
To provide them, Russian convoys and those to and
from Britain and Gibraltar/West Africa had been
suspended and the Home Fleet stripped bare. The
Allies' greatest concern was the hundred or more
U-boats at sea. Outline order of battle was:
Commander-in-Chief - US Gen
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Naval Commander Expeditionary Force - Adm Sir
33,000 US & British
Naval Task Forces:
Rear-Adm H K Hewitt USN
Cdre T H Troubridge
Vice-Adm Sir H Burrough
Troopships, supply ships, tankers etc
|Most of the task
force carriers were escort carriers, and the US
totals included a heavy cover force. In the
Mediterranean, British Force H reinforced by Home
Fleet and under the command of Vice-Adm Sir
Neville Syfret, covered the Algerian landings.
Their main task was to hold off any attack by the
Italian fleet. Strength included three capital
ships, three fleet carriers, three cruisers and
17 destroyers. Various other forces added to the
number of Allied ships in the area. Over 300
ships were therefore directly involved in what at
the time was the greatest amphibious operation in
history, and the forerunner of even greater ones
to come before the war was over. Throughout
October and early November convoys sailed for the
landings on Vichy French soil in the early hours
of the 8th. Negotiations with the French
were not completed in time to avoid resistance.
There was bloodshed on both sides.
Casablanca, Morocco - US troops landed at three
points along a 200-mile stretch of Atlantic
coastline. By the 10th they prepared to
attack Casablanca itself, but this became
unnecessary when the French forces stopped
fighting. Before this happened the Western Task
Force had fought a series of fierce actions with
Vichy French warships. Battleship "Jean
Bart" was seriously damaged and a cruiser
and several destroyers and submarines sunk or
HMS Fishguard, sister ship to
"Walney" and "Hartland"
Oran, Algeria -
Within the Mediterranean,
the landings to the west and east of Oran were
followed by an attempt to smash through the
harbour boom and land troops directly from ex-US
Coast Guard cutters "WALNEY" (Capt Peters) and "HARTLAND". Both were disabled by
ship and shore gunfire and soon sank. (+ Capt
Frederick Peters RN of the "Walney" was
awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry. Five
days later he was kiIled in an aircraft
"Aurora" (Capt Agnew) and destroyers
fought off an attack by French destroyers outside
the port. The large destroyer
"EPERVIER" was driven ashore and
"Tornade" and "Tramontane"
disabled. In addition, destroyers
"Achates" and "Westcott"
accounted for submarines "ACTEON" and
"ARGONAUTE". US troops fought their way
into Oran, which fell on the 10th.
Algiers, Algeria - A similar opening attack
was mounted by old destroyers "Broke"
and "Malcolm". The latter was badly
damaged but "BROKE" eventually broke through
the boom to land her troops. Hard hit by shore
batteries, she got away but foundered next day on
the 9th. Algiers was soon in Allied hands
and Adm Darlan, C-in-C Vichy French forces was
captured. It was not Gen Giraud as originally
intended, but Adm Darlan who broadcast the
ceasefire on the 10th.
Landings continued - Further Allied landings
were made to the east of Algiers where there was little
air cover. Attacks by German aircraft on these and other
targets sank or damaged a number of ships. On the 10th,
was hit by an aircraft torpedo and went
down off Algiers. The first of the further Allied troop
landings were made at Bougie and Bone on the 11th and
12th, well on the way to the Tunisian border.
Heroes', Western France - Maj H. G. Hasler led Royal
Marine Commandos in canoes up the Gironde Estuary in
southwest France and damaged several blockade runners
with limpet mines on the 7th.
- Col Orde Wingate mounted the first Chindit
Operation behind Japanese lines, northwest
of Lashio. Success was limited, losses heavy and the
survivors started to withdraw in late March 1943. In the
south-west, the Arakan Offensive
failed to make any progress.
Who Never Was', Spanish Mediterranean Coast -
Submarine "Seraph" released the body of a
supposed Royal Marine officer into the sea off Spain. His
false papers helped to persuade the Germans that the next
Allied blows would fall on Sardinia and Greece as well as
10th - Invasion of
Sicily: Operation 'Husky'
Americans still wanted to concentrate on the
cross-Channel invasion of France, but at the
Casablanca Conference somewhat reluctantly agreed
to go ahead with the Sicily landings. Amongst the
benefits would be the opening of the
Mediterranean to Allied shipping. The final plan
was approved in mid-May and not much more than a
month later the first US troop convoys were
heading across the Atlantic for an operation even
greater than the French North African landings
the previous November.
Naval Commander Expeditionary Force - Adm Sir
The grand total of 2,590 US and British warships
- major and minor (summarised below) - were mostly allocated to
their own landing sectors, but the Royal Navy
total included the covering force against any
interference by the Italian fleet. The main group
under Vice-Adm Sir A. U. Willis of Force H
included battleships "Nelson",
"Rodney", "Warspite" and
"Valiant" and fleet carriers
"Formidable" and Indomitable".
Seven Royal Navy submarines acted as navigation
markers off the invasion beaches. Many of the
troops coming from North Africa and Malta made
the voyage in landing ships and craft. As they
approached Sicily with the other transports late
on the 9th in stormy weather, Allied airborne
landings took place. Sadly, many of the British
gliders crashed into the sea, partly because of
the weather. However, early next day, on the 10th,
the troops went ashore under an umbrella of
aircraft. The new amphibious DUKWS (or
"Ducks") developed by the Americans
played an important part in getting the men and
supplies across the beaches.
Gela, S coast
Syracuse, SE coast
Army - Gen Patton
Army - Gen Montgomery
115,000 British & Canadian troops
States, Algeria, Tunisia
Libya, Tunisia, Malta; Canadian division from
Naval Task Forces:
Rear-Adm H K Hewitt USN
Adm Sir B Ramsey
Troopships, supply ships, LSIs etc
Landing Ships and Craft (major)
Plus Landing Craft (minor)
New Guinea, SW Pacific Landings - On
30th June, Allied forces landed south of Salamaua. By
mid-July they linked up with the Australians fighting
through from Wau, and prepared to advance on Salamaua
itself. The struggle against the usual fierce resistance
continued right through July and August.
Landings concluded - As the Germans and Italians
prepared to evacuate Sicily across the Strait of Messina,
the Allies started the final push - US Seventh Army along
the north coast aided by three small amphibious hops and
Eighth Army up the east side from Catania with one small
landing. Gen Patton's men entered Messina just before Gen
Montgomery's on the 17th. Sicily was now in Allied hands
but 100,000 Axis troops managed to escape without any
Islands, North Pacific Landings - In mid-month US and
Canadian troops landed on Kiska after heavy preliminary
bombardments to find the Japanese had quietly left. The
Aleutian Island chain was completely back in US hands.
Italy - Surrender and
surrender was signed in Sicily on the 3rd,
but not announced until the 8th to coincide with
the main Allied landing at Salerno, and in the
forlorn hope of preventing the Germans from
taking over the country. Meanwhile the invasion
and occupation of southern Italy got underway. A
start was made on the 3rd when British and
Canadian troops of Gen Montgomery's Eighth Army
crossed over the Strait of Messina from Sicily in
300 ships and landing craft (Operation
pushed north through Calabria, eventually joining
up with forces landed at Salerno. Early on the
9th, in conjunction with these landings, the
Eighth Army's 1st Airborne Division was carried
into Taranto by mainly British warships (Operation
Shortly afterwards the Adriatic ports of Brindisi
and Bari were in Allied hands. 9th -
Around midnight in Taranto harbour,
cruiser-minelayer "ABDIEL" (abelow - Navy Photos/Bob Hanley), loaded with 1st Airborne
troops, detonated one of the magnetic mines
dropped by E-boats "S-54" and
"S-61" as they escaped, and sank with
heavy loss of life.
September - Salerno Landings, Operation
Gulf of Salerno, S of Naples
US 5th Army - Gen Mark Clark
55,000 British & US troops
with 115,000 follow-up
Naval Attack Forces
Vice-Adm H K Hewitt USN
Cdre G N Oliver
Rear-Adm J L Hall USN
Naval Assault &
Troopships, supply ships, LSIs etc
Landing Ships and Craft (major only)
|In addition to
the grand total of 586 Allied naval units
directly engaged in the landings, most of which
were in their respective British or American
sectors, Adm Cunningham as C-in-C provided a
strong Royal Navy cover force and carrier support
group. The cover force was again Force H under
Adm Willis with battleships "Nelson",
"Valiant" and carriers
"Illustrious". Rear-Adm Vian commanded
the support carriers with light carrier
"Unicorn", escort carriers
"Hunter" and "Stalker", three
cruisers and destroyers. Most of the troops were
carried to Salerno via Sicily in the landing
ships and craft, and, early on the 9th, without
any preliminary air or naval bombardment, landed
in the face of strong German resistance. By the
end of the day, with the support of the covering
warships and carrier aircraft, both the British
and Americans had established bridgeheads but
with a gap in between. Over the next few days the
Germans counter-attack and on the 13th and 14th
came dangerously close to breaking through the
Allied lines and reaching the beaches. They were
held, and much of the credit went to the
supporting warships, especially
"Warspite" and "Valiant"
which arrived on the 15th. On the 16th, the
threat of dislodgement was over. 13th -
All this time German Do127 aircraft using both
types of guided bombs were attacking Allied
shipping laying off the beaches. On the 13th,
was damaged providing
supporting gunfire. 16th - On the 16th,
after "Warspite" had done her most valuable
work, she was hit and near-missed by three or
four guided bombs. Damaged, she had to be towed
British Aegean Campaign Landings -
With the surrender of Italy, Winston Churchill wanted to
seize the Italian Dodecanese islands in the southern
Aegean before the Germans could establish themselves
there. From here the Allies could threaten Greece and
support Turkey, but the Americans and some British
commanders were lukewarm to what they saw as a sideshow
compared with the battle for Italy. Insufficient forces
and especially aircraft were made available, and the
Germans soon took Rhodes from where, together with other
bases, they maintained air superiority throughout the
coming campaign. On the 15th and 16th, British troops
occupied Kos, Leros, Samos and other smaller islands. The
Royal Navy had the task of supplying and reinforcing
them, as well as attacking German supply routes. The
potential parallels with Norway, Greece and Crete all
those many months back were obvious, if only in
hindsight. 26th - After carrying troops to Leros,
destroyers "Intrepid" and Greek "Queen
Olga" were attacked by Ju88s while at anchor in the
harbour. "QUEEN OLGA" soon went down and "INTREPID"
capsized next day.
Malaya Canoe Raid - Working for Special Operations
Executive (SOE), a small group of Australian and British
servicemen were carried from Australia in an old fishing
vessel, and on the night of the 24th/25th penetrated
Singapore harbour in canoes. Several ships were sunk. In
a similar raid in September 1944 the attackers were
captured and executed.
SW Pacific Landings - As the Allies fought
towards Salamaua, further north a three-pronged attack
was launched on Lae by mainly Australian troops - from
landings to the east, by men airlifted inland to the
northwest, and from the direction of Wau. As the Japanese
withdrew from both areas towards the north coast of the
Huon Peninsular, Australians entered Salamaua on the 11th
and Lae five days later. To prevent the Japanese holding
on to the Peninsular, Australian forces landed north of
Finschhafen on the 22nd as others moved overland from Lae
in the direction of Madang.
Islands, SW Pacific Landings - In preparation for the
invasion of the northern Solomons island of Bougainville,
New Zealand troops were landed on the Treasury Islands on
Aegean Campaign Evacuations - German forces landed on
Leros on the 12th and captured the Island after four
day's heavy fighting against the British and Italian
defenders. The campaign came to an end when Samos was
evacuated on the 20th, but not before two more 'Hunts'
fell victim, this time to Hs293 glider bombs: 11th -
severely damaged off
Kos following an attack with other destroyers on Kalymnos
(Calino). She was not repaired and went into reserve. 13th
was sunk off Kos as she withdrew from searching
for German shipping making for Leros.
Northern France Invasion Plans - In late December the
commanders for the invasion of Europe were announced. US
General Eisenhower would be Supreme Allied Commander with
Air Marshal Tedder as deputy. In charge of all naval
operations under the code name 'Neptune' was Adm Sir
Bertram Ramsey. From Italy, Gen Montgomery, Eighth Army
commander returned to England to prepare for his part in
the Normandy invasion. Gen Eisenhower also headed for
Command - Under Adm Mountbatten, Supreme Allied
Commander South East Asia, Gen Slim's 14th Army prepared
for a major offensive into northern Burma from the area
of Kohima and lmphal in India. Throughout the rest of the
war, Adm Mountbatten's plans to prosecute the campaign
even more vigorously in South East Asia were continually
frustrated by his lack of amphibious capability.
Archipelago, SW Pacific Landings - Gen MacArthur was
ready to complete his part in the isolation of Rabaul by
preliminary landings on the southwest coast of
New Britain, followed by a major assault at the
western tip of Cape Gloucester on the 26th. Cover was
partly provided by Rear-Adm Crutchley with cruisers
"Australia" and "Shropshire".
Fighting continued until March 1944 when, assisted by
further landings, the western third of the island was
secured. By November 1944, when Australian troops
relieved the US forces, considerable numbers of Japanese
were still penned in around Rabaul where they stayed
until war's end
January - Anzio Landings, Operation 'Shingle'
N and S of Anzio town
US 6th Corps - Gen Lucas
50,000 British & US troops
with 115,000 follow-up
Naval Assault Forces
Rear-Adm F J Lowry USN
Rear-Adm T Troubridge
Rear-Adm F J Lowry USN
Naval Assault & Follow-up
landing craft & ships (major only)
|The British and
US warships were not strictly allocated to their
own sectors and two Royal Navy submarines
provided the usual navigational markers. Landings
took place early on the 22nd and were
virtually unopposed. By next day the beachheads
were secured, but by the time Sixth Corps was
ready to move out on the 30th, powerful
German reinforcements were ready to stop it in
its tracks. For over a month until early March
the Allies were hard pushed to hold on to their
gains. Supporting warships were heavily attacked
from the air: 23rd - On patrol off the
beaches, destroyer "JANUS"
was torpedoed and sunk by a He111
bomber. 29th - Six days later, cruiser "SPARTAN"
was hit by a Hs293 glider bomb and
capsized with many casualties.
Guinea, SW Pacific Landings - US Army troops land at Saidor
on the 2nd covered by Rear-Adm
Crutchley's mixed force of Australian and American
warships. Saidor was soon taken as the Australian forces
continue to push along the north coast and overland from
Lae. They link up with the Americans near Saidor on the
10th February, and the Huon Peninsula was now almost
entirely in Allied hands.
- Norwegian resistance fighters sank a cargo of heavy
water bound for Germany for nuclear research.
Archipelago, SW Pacific Landings - To complete Allied
strategic control of the Bismarcks, Gen MacArthur's US
forces landed on the Admiralty Islands on the last day of February. Further
landings were made during March, but by the end of the
month, in spite of fierce resistance, they were secured.
Some fighting continued through until May 1944. The main
island of Manus became one of the major Allied bases for
the rest of the war.
Guinea, SW Pacific Landings - As Australian forces
approached Madang, entering there on the 24th, the
Japanese concentrated their weakened divisions around
Wewak. Now Gen MacArthur was ready to occupy most of the
north coast with a series of leapfrog landings with US
troops beyond the Japanese fallback positions. He started
on the 22nd with Aitape and across the
border in the Dutch half of the Island around
Hollandia, which was
soon secured. Aitape took longer.
Guinea, SW Pacific - US forces made their next
landings on Wadke Island
on the 16th, and
further west still on Biak Island on
the 27th. The Japanese were not yet finished and fought hard against US attempts to
break out from their positions around Aitape, on the
mainland near Wadke Island, and on Biak, in some cases
right through until August 1944. All this time the
Australians were pushing west along the north coast from
Madang. Rear-Adm Crutchley's TF74 and other units of
Seventh Fleet landed Gen MacArthur's troops and supported
and supplied them. In June 1944 they drove off a
determined Japanese operation to reinforce Biak Island by