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June - August 1944

HMS Black Prince, light cruiser (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge)

on to September-December 1944


Normandy Invasion, Operation 'Overlord' (see June 1944, Europe)



JUNE 1944


4th - Off West Africa, "U-505" was captured by the USS Guadalcanal and her task group. Later in the month, tanker "U-490" was sunk in mid-Atlantic by the ships and aircraft of the "Croatan" group and "U-360" in the South Atlantic by aircraft from "Solomons". 15th - Submarine "Satyr" on Arctic patrol torpedoed and sank "U-987" to the west of Narvik. 26th - Destroyer "Bulldog" on patrol off the northwest coast of Ireland sank "U-719".

Battle of the Atlantic - U-boats passing through the Bay of Biscay were the target for aircraft covering the Normandy invasion, and also continued to suffer badly at the hands of the aircraft of the Northern Transit Area patrol. Throughout the month, seven were sunk and one severely damaged by RAF, RCAF and Norwegian aircraft. In the case of "U-1225" to the northwest of Bergen on the 24th, the attacking Canadian Canso (or Catalina) was badly hit and crashed but not before sinking her. + Flt Lt David Hornell RCAF, pilot of the Canso of No 162 Squadron, Coastal Command, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Monthly Loss Summary: 3 British, Allied and neutral ships of 7,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes; 13 U-boats excluding those sunk in Bay of Biscay


6th - Normandy Invasion: Operation 'Overlord' 
(see map above)

Following approval of the outline plans for the Allied landings in France at the August 1943 Quebec Conference, detailed preparation was put in hand for putting ashore three divisions on the Normandy coast between the Rivers Vire and Orne. Supplies were to be carried in initially through two 'Mulberry' artificial harbours. When Eisenhower and Montgomery arrived on the scene they insisted on a five-division assault, including one on the Cotentin Peninsula to speed up the capture of Cherbourg. The extra shipping and landing craft needed meant pushing the date from May to 5th June. Unseasonably bad weather postponed the actual landings to the 6th. After gaining bridgeheads in Normandy, Eisenhower's aims were to build up enough strength for a decisive battle in the area, before breaking out to take the Channel ports and reach the German border on a broad front. Meanwhile, the right flank would link up with Allied forces coming from southern France. A further increase in strength would be used to destroy the German forces west of the Rhine before crossing this major barrier and encircling the important Ruhr industrial centre. The final advance through Germany could then follow. Vital to all these steps were the opening of enough ports to bring in the reinforcements and vast amount of supplies needed.  

Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force - US Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower

Deputy Commander - Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur Tedder

Allied Naval Expeditionary Force
Adm Sir B Ramsey

21st Army Group
Gen Sir B Montgomery

Allied Expeditionary Air Force
Air Chief Marshall Sir T Leigh-Mallory

Gen Montgomery remained in command of ground forces until September 1944 when Gen Eisenhower assumed direct control. For the purposes of 'Overlord', RAF Bomber Command and the Eighth US Air Force were placed under the operational direction of the Supreme Commander to add to the aircraft of the Allied Tactical Air Forces. From his headquarters outside Portsmouth on 1st June, Adm Ramsey took command of the immense armada of ships collected together for Operation 'Neptune', the naval part of 'Overlord'.
Landing Areas: Normandy coast on the SE edge of the Cotentin Peninsular ("Utah"),
and between Rivers Vire and Orne ("Omaha", "Gold", "Juno", "Sword")

21st Army Group - Gen Montgomery
Five US, British, Canadian infantry divisions, followed by one US infantry and one British armoured division, total of 130,000 Allied troops

Forces landing and areas of departure: US Beaches
US First Army - US Gen Bradley
"Utah" Beach - US 7th Corps from Dartmouth area
"Omaha" Beach - US 5th Corps from Portland area

"Omaha" Beach follow-up: one US infantry division from Plymouth area
British & Canadian Beaches
British Second Army - Gen Dempsey
"Gold" Beach - British 30th Corps from Southampton area
"Juno" Beach - Canadian forces of British 1st Corps from Portsmouth area
"Sword" Beach - British 1st Corps from Newhaven area
follow-up: British armoured division from Thames area
Naval Task Forces and Commanders (RN refers to both Royal and Dominion Navy vessels) Western
Rear-Adm A G Kirk USN
Rear-Adm Sir P Vian
Assault Phase Warships Warships
Battleships 3 US 3 RN
Cruisers 10 (5 RN, 3 US, 2 French) 13 (12 RN, 1 Allied)
Destroyers & escorts 51 (11 RN, 36 US, 4 French) 84 (74 RN, 3 French, 7 Allied)
Other warships, incl. minesweepers & coastal forces 260 (135 RN, 124 US, 1 Allied) 248 (217 RN, 30 US, 1 Allied)
Total Warships 324 (151 RN, 166 US, 6 French,
1 Allied)
348 (306 RN, 30 US, 3 French,
9 Allied)
Major Amphibious Forces Landing & Ferry Vessels Landing & Ferry Vessels
LSIs, landing ships & craft 644 (147 RN, 497 US) 955 (893 RN, 62 US)
Ferry service vessels & landing craft 220 (RN & US) 316 (RN & US)
Totals incl. Warships 1,188 1,619
Grand Total 2,807
Plus minor landing craft 836 1,155

Naval & Maritime Forces

The two Naval Task Forces totalled 672 warships for assault convoy escort, minesweeping (Letter from Normandy), shore bombardment, local defence, etc, and 4,126 major and minor landing ships and craft for initial assault and ferry purposes: a grand total of 4,798. To this can be added the following:

(1) Home Command for follow-up escort and Channel patrols, plus reserves: 1 battleship (RN); 118 destroyers and escorts (108 RN, 4 US, 1 French, 5 Allied); 364 other warships including coastal forces (340 RN, 8 French, 16 Allied).

(2) Western Channel Approaches A/S Escort Groups and reserves: 3 escort carriers (RN), 55 destroyers and escort vessels (RN).

(3) Merchant ships in their hundreds - mainly British liners, tankers, tugs, etc to supply and support the invasion and naval forces.

(4) British 'Mulberry' harbour project of two artificial harbours and five 'Gooseberry' breakwaters including: 400 'Mulberry' units totalling 1.5 million tons and including up to 6,000-ton 'Phoenix' concrete breakwaters; 160 tugs for towing; 59 old merchantmen and warships to be sunk as blockships for the 'Gooseberries'. All were in place by the 10th June.

(5) Specially equipped British vessels for laying PLUTO - Pipeline Under The Ocean - across the Channel from the Isle of Wight to carry petroleum fuel.

Included in the table totals above were hundreds of Thames 'dumb' barges converted to Landing Barges, which carried out a variety of duties off the British and American beaches. (Thames Barges at War)

The assault forces sailed from their ports of departure on the 5th to a position off the Isle of Wight, and headed south through swept channels down 'The Spout' towards Normandy. Two midget submarines were already on station off the British sector, ready to guide in the landing craft. Partly because of elaborate deception plans, partly because of poor weather, both strategic and tactical surprise was achieved. The invasion was not expected in such weather conditions and certainly not in Normandy. The Germans expected the Pas-de-Calais with its much shorter sea-crossing to be the target although realised that diversionary landings might be made in Normandy.

Soon after midnight on the morning of the 6th, the invasion got underway with the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions dropping behind 'Utah' beach and the British 6th Airborne between 'Sword' beach and Caen. At dawn, after heavy preliminary air and sea bombardments, and with complete Allied air supremacy, the landings went ahead. Royal Marine Commandos Nos 47, 48 and 41 took part in the assaults on the British and Canadian beaches. Against varying degrees of resistance, the toughest on 'Omaha', all five beachheads were established by the end of the day and 150,000 Allied troops were on French soil. 'Omaha' linked up with the British and Canadian beaches by the 8th, and two days later - the 10th - 'Utah' made contact with 'Omaha'. On the 12th, 330,000 men and 50,000 vehicles were ashore. As US Seventh Corps fought its way across the Cotentin, the rest of US First Army thrust forward around St Lo. Further east the British and Canadian Corps of British Second Army battled their way around Caen against fierce German counter-attacks. By the 18th the Americans had reached the western side of Cotentin and Seventh Corps headed north for the port of Cherbourg.

Between the 19th and 22nd, violent Channel gales wrecked the US 'Mulberry' harbour off 'Omaha' and seriously damaged the British one off 'Gold' beach. Many landing craft and DUKWS were lost and a total of 800 driven ashore. Only the British harbour was repaired and the need for Cherbourg became that much more important. By the 27th, with strong gunfire support from Allied warships, the port was in US hands. Although the installations were wrecked and the waters heavily mined, the first supply ships were discharging their cargoes by mid-July. As Cherbourg fell, British troops of Second Army started a major attack to the west of Caen (Operation 'Epsom') but were soon held by the Germans.

By the end of June nearly 660,000 men had landed in France. Although the Allies were well established on the coast and possessed all the Cotentin Peninsular, the Americans had still not taken St Lo, nor the British and Canadians the town of Caen, originally a target for D-day. German resistance, particularly around Caen was ferocious, but the end result was similar to the Tunisian campaign. More and more well-trained German troops were thrown into the battle, so that when the Allies did break out of Normandy the defenders had lost heavily and lacked the men to stop the Allied forces from almost reaching the borders of Germany.

Normandy Beaches - In spite of the vast number of warships lying off the Normandy beaches and escorting the follow-up convoys, losses were comparatively few, although mines, especially of the pressure-operated variety were troublesome: 6th - Destroyer "WRESTLER" escorting a Canadian assault group to 'Juno', was badly damaged by a mine and not repaired. 8th - Frigate "LAWFORD" on patrol in Seine Bay, also after escorting an assault group to 'Juno', was bombed and sunk. 9th - Old light cruiser DURBAN was expended off Ouistreham as one of the 'Gooseberry' breakwaters. Sister ship, the Polish-manned DRAGON was damaged in early July and joined her in this final but important role. 12th - By now the battleship Warspite, the ship that ended the war with the greatest number of Royal Navy battle honours, had left her gunfire support duties off the Normandy beaches to be fitted with replacement gun barrels. On passage to Rosyth, Scotland she was damaged by a mine of Harwich and out of action until August. Then she was back in the support role bombarding Brest. 13th - Escorting a follow-up convoy to the beaches, destroyer "BOADICEA" was sunk in the English Channel off Portland Bill by torpedo bombers. 18th - Battleship Nelson was slightly damaged by a mine as she fired her guns off the beaches. 21st - Destroyer "FURY" was mined and driven ashore in the gales that played havoc with the Mulberry harbours. She was refloated but not repaired. 23rd - Adm Vian's flagship, the AA cruiser Scylla, was also mined in Seine Bay. Seriously damaged, she was out of action until after the war and then never fully re-commissioned. 24th - Mines claimed another victim. Destroyer "SWIFT's" back was broken and she went down five miles off the British beaches. 25th - As cruiser Glasgow in company with US warships bombarded Cherbourg, she received several hits from shore batteries and was out of action for the rest of the war. Nine days after carrying King George VI on a visit to Normandy, cruiser Arethusa was slightly damaged by a mine or bomb while anchored off the beaches. Three US destroyers and a destroyer escort were also lost off Normandy in June.

Channel Patrols - Attempts by German light forces to interfere with invasion shipping had little effect and they suffered heavy losses. However, on D-day, torpedo boats sank the Norwegian destroyer "SVENNER". Then on the night of the 8th/9th another force of destroyers and torpedo boats tried to break through from Brest but was intercepted by the 10th Destroyer Flotilla of 'Tribals' off Ushant. Destroyer "ZH-1" (ex-Dutch) was damaged by "Tartar" and torpedoed and sunk by "Ashanti", and "Z-32" driven ashore by the Canadian "Haida" and "Huron" and later blown up.

Western Channel Approaches - Aircraft of Coastal Command and Escort Groups of the RN and RCN on patrol at the west end of the English Channel and its approaches were ready for any attempt by U-boats to reach the 'Neptune' ships. Only schnorkel-equipped boats dared try, and the few that did had little success. In June they lost 12 of their number: off the Channel, aircraft sank five including "U-629" and "U-373" in one day - the 8th - to one RAF Liberator of No 224 Squadron (Flg Off K. Moore). Two more went down in the Bay of Biscay as they returned from Atlantic patrol. Warships accounted for the remaining five, but two frigates were sunk and other escorts severely damaged: 15th - Frigate "BLACKWOOD" was torpedoed off Brittany by "U-764" and sank in tow off Portland Bill. 15th - Frigate "MOURNE" was sunk by "U-767" off Land's End. 18th - Three days after sinking "Mourne", "U-767" was caught off the Channel Islands by destroyers "Fame", "Havelock" and "Inconstant" of 14th EG and sent to the bottom. 24th - Destroyers "Eskimo" and Canadian "Haida" of 10th Flotilla, together with a Czech Wellington of No 311 Squadron, sank "U-971" off Ushant. 25th - Two U-boats were lost off Start Point in the English Channel - "U-1191" to frigates "Affleck" and "Balfour" of the 1st EG, and "U-269" to "Bickerton" (Capt Macintyre) of the 5th EG. 27th/29th - Two days after badly damaging corvette "PINK" (constructive total loss) on the 27th and sinking two merchantmen, "U-988" was caught and sank off the Channel Islands by frigates "Cooke", "Domett", "Duckworth" and "Essington" of 3rd EG and a RAF Liberator of No 224 Squadron.

Royal Navy - Adm Sir Henry Moore was appointed C-in-C, Home Fleet in succession to Adm Fraser who was to command the British Pacific Fleet.

Air War - On the 13th the first V-1 flying bomb landed on London at the start of a three-month campaign against southeast England. Amongst the weapons shortly used against them was Britain's first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. By then Germany's Me262 jet had been in action against Allied bombers.

Eastern Front - In the far North Russia attacked into southern Finland on the 10th in order to force the government to the negotiation table. Fighting carried on into July, but by early September a cease-fire was in effect. In the Centre of the main front, the Russians started the first of their major summer offensives on the 23rd from around Smolensk. The aim was to clear the Germans out of Byelorussia and head on for Warsaw, East Prussia and the Baltic through Lithuania.

Merchant Shipping War - Until the closing days of the war, the schnorkel U-boats operating in UK waters were especially worrying. When submerged as invariably they were, detection from the air was difficult even with 10cm wavelength radar, and location usually had to wait until after they had attacked. Then they suffered badly, usually to surface warship escorts.

Monthly Loss Summary: 19 British, Allied and neutral ships of 75,000 tons in UK waters.


Italy - On the 4th, units of Gen Mark Clark's US Fifth Army entered Rome. The Germans now withdrew, fighting as they went, to the Gothic Line running north of Florence and across the Apennine mountains to the Adriatic, and with its forward defences along the River Arno in the west. They reached there by mid-July as the Allies came up and prepared for their main attack at the end of August. On 17 June, Royal Navy and US warships landed French troops on the island of Elba.

Early/Mid June - Submarine "SICKLE" on patrol in the Aegean failed to return to Malta when recalled on the 14th, and was presumed lost on mines.

18th - Destroyer "QUAIL", damaged by a mine in the southern Adriatic seven months earlier in November 1943, foundered off south-eastern Italy on tow from Bari around to Taranto.

Monthly Loss Summary: 1 British or Allied merchant ship of 2,000 tons


Burma - By early June, units of 14th Army were advancing from Kohima to Imphal, which was completely relieved on the 22nd after some of the bitterest fighting of the campaign. By July the Japanese were retreating back across the Burmese border. British Fourteenth Army now prepared for a main offensive into Burma later in the year.

Saipan, Japanese Mariana Islands - With the Solomons campaign virtually over, Adm Halsey transferred from the South to the Central Pacific theatre to share in the command of the vast and ever-growing Pacific Fleet. He and Adm Spruance took turns planning and executing the assaults to come, and the Fleet was renumbered accordingly: Third Fleet for Adm Halsey; Fifth Fleet for Adm Spruance. Gen MacArthur's much smaller fleet in the South West Pacific remained the Seventh under Adm Kinkaid. Fifth Fleet carried out the Marianas landings. From here US airpower could strike at the Philippines and Formosa, but most importantly initiate the strategic bombing campaign of Japan using the new B-29 Superfortresses. Over the next year they devastated Japanese cities and in conjunction with the highly successful submarine offensive against Japan's merchant marine, nearly crippled the country's war production. The island of Saipan was the first target, and after heavy air and sea bombardments, US Marines landed on the 15th. Effective resistance was over by early July, by which time one of the most crucial naval battles of the Pacific war had been fought. At the finish, Japanese naval airpower had received such a beating that it never recovered. Battle of the Philippine Sea - The Japanese had prepared for the Marianas landings and from the direction of the Philippines despatched a strong naval force that included nine carriers and five battleships, two of them the 18.1in-gunned "Musashi" and "Yamato". The carrier aircraft were knocked out of the sky by their better-equipped and trained US counterparts in the 'Great Marianas Turkey Shoot'. On the 19th, US submarines sank carriers "SHOKAKU" and "TAIHO", and next day carrier aircraft destroyed the "HIYO". The loss in pilots was a major defeat for the Japanese, and the Americans were left free to complete the capture of the Marianas. The Philippine's inner shield would then be broken.

Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only - 3 merchant ships of 19,000 tons


JULY 1944


United States - Two major international conferences were held in the United States, starting in July with monetary and financial affairs at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, leading to the setting up of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development. In August, talks started at Dumbarton Oaks just outside Washington DC, on the establishment of the United Nations Organisation (UNO).

17th, FAA Attack on "Tirpitz" - Barracuda torpedo bombers from Home Fleet carriers Formidable, Indefatigable and Furious (right - Navy Photos) attempted to hit "Tirpitz" in Altenfiord on the 17th, but failed, partly because of defensive smokescreens. U-boats were sent to attack the carrier force, but over a period of four days, RAF Coastal Command sank three in the Northern Transit Area and won another Victoria Cross. On the 17th, west of Narvik, "U-347" was lost to a RAF Catalina of No 210 Squadron. + Flg Off John Cruickshank RAFVR, pilot of the Catalina, continued to attack in spite of his wounds from the return fire and was awarded the Victoria Cross. The RAF also sank a fourth U-boat off southwest Norway.

Monthly Loss Summary: 4 British, Allied and neutral ships of 29,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes; 7 U-boats including one each by task groups of US escort carriers "Wake Island", "Croatan" and "Card" off the Canaries, Madeira and Nova Scotia respectively


Western Front - At the beginning of the month, the Americans were still struggling to take St Lo and the British and Canadians to capture Caen. As they did so, other units of US First Army started to push slowly south out of the Cotentin Peninsula. Much of Caen was eventually taken on the 9th and St Lo on the 18th. Also on the 18th in Operation 'Goodwood', the British and Canadians mounted a major offensive to the east and south of Caen. The attack made slow progress against fierce German resistance, as Caen became the pivot for the American drive to the west. Now the Canadian First Army under Gen Crerar became operational. On the 25th, in Operation 'Cobra', the US First Army attacked from west of St Lo towards Avranches. As in all the battles great use was made of Allied air power, and on the 30th, Avranches was in American hands. The Allies now prepared to close in on the Germans in the Falaise area and break out across France. The heavy ships of the Royal Navy were still providing gunfire support off both the British and American sectors, and supplies and reinforcements continued to pour in through the British 'Mulberry' harbour as Cherbourg started to become operational.

Attacks on the beachhead shipping by E-boats and small battle units such as the newly introduced "Neger" and "Marder" human torpedoes had limited successes, but mines still caused the most damage: 20th - Destroyer "ISIS" was sunk by a mine or possibly a Neger off the beaches. 24th - Escort destroyer "GOATHLAND" was badly damaged by a mine and although saved, was not repaired.

U-boat Operations against the Normandy Beachhead - Those U-boats that did get through the Channel defences sank and damaged a number of ships, but six were lost to warship patrols: 5th - After attacking a convoy off Normandy, "U-390" was sunk by destroyer "Wanderer" and frigate "Tavy". 6th - In a convoy attack off Beachy Head, "U-678" was lost to Canadian destroyers "Ottawa" and "Kootenay" and British corvette "Statice". 18th - Frigate "Balfour" on patrol southeast of Start Point sank "U-672". 21st - Escorting frigates "Curzon" and Ekins" sank "U-212" off Beachy Head. 26th - As "U-214" tried to lay mines off Start Point, she was sunk by frigate "Cooke" of the 3rd EG. 31st - "U-333" was destroyed to the west of the Scilly Islands by sloop "Starling" and frigate "Loch Killin" of the 2nd EG using the new Squid. This marked the first success with this ahead-throwing A/S weapon that fired three large mortar bombs. Three more U-boats were sunk in the Bay of Biscay; one each to RAF and RAAF aircraft and the third mined off Brest. Allied air raids on Germany were also becoming more effective and four more were destroyed at Kiel and Bremen.

Germany - In the 20th July Bomb Plot, a device left by Col von Stauffenberg in Hitler’s East Prussia headquarters only injured him slightly. In revenge many died and Field Marshal Rommel, implicated in the attempt on Hitler's life was forced to commit suicide in October 1944.

Eastern Front - The attacks in the Centre pushed on. Minsk, capital of Byelorussia was taken by the 4th and by mid-month all of the Russian republic had been liberated. Vilna, disputed capital of Lithuania, was captured on the 13th. By the end of July the Russians were approaching the outskirts of Warsaw. In the North, the second main phase of the summer offensive got underway with the aim of ejecting the Germans from the Baltic states. The third phase started in the middle of the month in the Centre/South from the Ukraine into southern Poland. Lvov was taken on the 27th.

Monthly Loss Summary: 8 British, Allied and neutral ships of 19,000 tons in UK waters.


Monthly Loss Summary: No Allied merchant ships were lost.


25th, FAA Attack on Sabang, Sumatra - Aircraft from Illustrious and Victorious attacked Sabang, after which three battleships, cruisers and destroyers bombarded the area. This was the last Eastern Fleet operation under the command of Adm Somerville. He moved on to Washington DC as Adm Fraser took over as C-in-C in August. More carrier raids were carried out on Sumatra in August and September.

17th - As the Ceylon-based submarines continued to cut Japanese supply lines to their armies in Burma, "Telemachus" on patrol in the Malacca Strait sank Japanese submarine "I-166" outward bound for Indian Ocean operations.

Guam (U.S.) and Tinian, Japanese Mariana Islands - With Saipan secured and the Japanese fleet in disarray, the Americans went ahead with landings on the US colony of Guam on the 21st and Japanese island of Tinian three days later. Against the usual suicidal resistance, both islands were won by early August, although the last Japanese soldier hid out on Guam until 1972. The Marianas were now in US hands, and their fall had a political consequence. Gen Tojo's government resigned, but a cabinet apparently just as committed to continuing the war came to power.

Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only - 5 merchant ships of 30,000 tons




15th-29th, Attacks on Tirpitz and Russian Convoy JW59 - Russian convoy JW59 (33 ships) left Loch Ewe on the 15th with a heavy escort including escort carriers Striker and Vindex and the 20th and 22nd Escort Groups. Home Fleet, under the command of Adm Moore, sailed in two groups, partly to cover the convoy but mainly to launch further FAA attacks on "Tirpitz" in Altenfiord. One group included Formidable, Indefatigable and Furious and battleship Duke of York; the second one escort carriers Trumpeter and the Canadian-manned Nabob together with the 5th EG (Cdr Macintyre). Between the 22nd and 29th, three strikes were made, but in two of them the German ship was obscured by smoke; and although a hit was obtained on the 24th, the bomb failed to explode. In the course of these manoeuvres the escort carrier group suffered two casualties: 22nd - "U-354" encountered them to the northwest of North Cape and attacked. Frigate BICKERTON of the 5th EG was torpedoed, badly damaged, and finished off by destroyer "Vigilant" (not an old "V" and "W", but a war programme ship). Escort carrier NABOB was too badly damaged by her torpedo hit to be repaired. The U-boat was shortly sunk.

The convoy, JW59 was also subjected to U-boat attack and losses were sustained by both sides: 21st - Sloop "KITE" of the 22nd EG was torpedoed by "U-344" to the northwest of Norway in the Greenland Sea and went down. There were few survivors, but the attacker, like "U-354" was also sunk shortly. 24th - As "U-344" tried to approach the convoy to the north of North Cape, she was sunk by destroyer "Keppel", frigate "Loch Dunvegan" and sloops "Mermaid" and "Peacock" of the 20th EG (both sister-ships of "Kite" so recently lost to "U-344's" attack). 25th - "U-354" now prepared for the arrival of return convoy RA59A in the Bear Island area and was destroyed by a rocket-firing Swordfish of 825 Squadron from Vindex. (Note: Some sources reverse the cause of loss of "U-344" and "U-354", but with "U-344" sunk on the 22nd and "U-354" on the 24th.) JW59 arrived at Kola Inlet on the 25th with all 33 merchant ships.

Monthly Loss Summary: 1 ship of 6,000 tons, 1 escort carrier, 2 escorts and 1 US destroyer escort off Azores; 3 U-boats including 1 by aircraft of escort carrier "Bogue" off Newfoundland  


Western Front - Breakout from Normandy: On the 1st, US General Patton's Third Army became operational. Still under Gen Montgomery, the Allied land forces were organised from west to east as follows:

US 12th Army Group
(Gen Bradley)

British 21st Army Group
(Gen Montgomery)

US Third Army

US First Army

British Second Army

Canadian First Army

As part of the plan to trap the Germans at Falaise and liberate the rest of France, US Third Army's role was to overrun Brittany, wheel east from Avranches towards Le Mans and 0rleans and head towards the south of Paris. In doing so they would help close the Falaise net from the south. US First Army was to attack east from Avranches through Mortain towards Falaise. Meanwhile the British 21st Army Group was to move south from Caen on Falaise, the British Second Army on the right and Canadian First Army on the left. US Third Army had taken most of Brittany by early month and sealed off Brest, Lorient and St Nazaire. Brest fell in mid-September, but the other two naval bases held out for the rest of the war, together with the Channel Islands garrisons. US First Army's push east was stopped on the 7th when the Germans strongly counter-attacked through Mortain towards the American bottleneck at Avranches. The assault was held, assisted by the aircraft of the Tactical Air Forces, especially the tank-busting Typhoons. By the 11th the danger was over. In the struggle south by British 21st Group, the Canadians took Falaise on the 17th, and three days later the pocket was completely sealed and the remaining Germans trapped. By then the Allied spearheads were rushing eastward. The Americans crossed the Seine on the 20th and shortly after a French armoured division was brought forward to complete the liberation of Paris on the 25th.

Now: Canadian First Army headed along the coast to capture the Channel ports and nearby V-1 "Buzz-bomb" launch sites, British Second Army moved up on its right towards Brussels, The Americans raced across France for the Belgian border, Luxembourg and eastern France. Lack of supplies, particularly fuel, started to become a major problem, and capturing Antwerp, Belgium was a matter of the highest priority. The assault on Brest, which began later in the month, was assisted by naval gunfire including "Warspite's" 15in guns.

British Convoy Routes - As the German Biscay bases became untenable, the South Western Approaches to the British Isles were opened to Allied convoys for the first time in four years. West and North Africa/UK convoys SL167 and MKS58 were the first to benefit from the shortened journey.

German Coastal Forces Attacks - Coastal forces and small battle units continued to attack shipping off the invasion beaches, sinking and damaging a number of vessels in return for heavy casualties. 3rd - 'Hunt' class escort destroyer "QUORN" on patrol off the British sector was sunk, probably by a Linsen explosive motor boat. 9th - Old cruiser Frobisher, acting as a depot ship for the British 'Mulberry', was badly damaged by a Dackel long range torpedo fired by E-boats.

U-boat Operations - U-boats passing through the Bay of Biscay and operating in the Channel and its approaches suffered badly at the hands of the air and sea patrols and escorts. However, the Royal Canadian Navy lost two corvettes: 4th - Escort destroyer "Wensleydale" and frigate "Stayner" on patrol off Beachy Head, sank "U-671" shortly after she sailed from Boulogne. 6th - The 2nd Escort Group had a hand in three sinkings (1-3) in the Bay of Biscay. On the 6th, to the west of St Nazaire, frigate "Loch Killin" and sloop "Starling" used the new Squid A/S mortar again to account for "U-736" (1). The other two attacks were carried out off La Rochelle. 8th - Canadian corvette "REGINA" was sunk off Trevose Head, north Cornwall by "U-667" as she escorted Bristol Channel convoy EBC66. The U-boat was lost on mines off La Pallice later in the month. 10th - In the second sinking by 2nd EG, "U-608" (2) was lost to sloop "Wren" and aircraft of No 53 Squadron. 11th - 2nd EG's "Starling" working with RAAF aircraft of No 461 Squadron accounted for "U-385" (3). 14th - West of St Nazaire, "U-618" was sunk by RAF aircraft of No 53 Squadron, this time with 3rd EG frigates "Duckworth" and "Essington". 15th - Attacking a convoy to the south of the Isle of Wight, "U-741" was sunk by corvette "Orchis". 18th/20th - Canadian destroyers "Chaudiere", "Kootenay" and "Ottawa" of the 11th EG sank "U-621" on the 18th off La Rochelle and "U-984" two days later to the west of Brest. 20th - After sinking one merchantman from a convoy off Beachy Head, "U-413" was counter-attacked and lost to destroyers "Forester", "Vidette" and escort destroyer "Wensleydale". 21st/22nd - Off the Isle of Wight, "U-480" sank Canadian corvette "ALBERNI" on the 21st and British fleet minesweeper LOYALTY next day. 24th - As most of the U-boats evacuated the Biscay bases and headed for Norway, frigate "Louis" on patrol off St Nazaire sank "U-445". Throughout the month a total of 21 U-boats were lost in and around French waters. Apart from "U-667" which sank "Regina" on the 8th, one more was mined in the Bay of Biscay, three were lost to RAF and RAAF Bay patrols, and six more were scuttled or paid off in their Biscay bases.

27th - In a tragic mistake off Le Havre, RAF Typhoons attacked and sank fleet minesweepers BRITOMART and HUSSAR and severely damaged SALAMANDER (constructive total loss).

Eastern Front - Nearly all pre-war Russia had now been liberated. On the 1st, the Polish Home Army launched the Warsaw Rising against the German oppressors. With little help from outside, least of all the Russians, the fight went on through August and September 1944 until the Poles were finally crushed with great brutality. Around 200,000 died by the time the survivors surrendered on 2nd October 1944. Further south the Russians gained a bridgehead over the River Vistula and their forward lines ran along much of the length of the Carpathian Mountains by month's end. By now running short of supplies and facing increasing German resistance, this sector was stabilised until January 1945.  However the fourth phase of the summer offensive started in the far south, aimed at clearing the Balkans. The Russian armies attacked on the 20th from the Ukraine south and west into Rumania. Events moved rapidly. Three days later Rumania accepted the Russian armistice terms, on the 25th declared war on Germany, and by the 31st the Russians were entering Bucharest. Now Bulgaria tried to declare its neutrality and withdraw from the war, just as the Russian forces swung west and north towards Hungary and on to Yugoslavia threatening to cut off the Germans in Greece.

Monthly Loss Summary: 12 British, Allied and neutral ships of 55,000 tons in UK waters.


15th - South of France Landings: Operation 'Dragoon'

Originally code-named 'Anvil', the South of France invasion was planned to coincide with the Normandy landings. Since that decision had been made, Britain pushed for the Allies to concentrate on the Italian campaign, but under US pressure agreed to go ahead with the now re-named Operation 'Dragoon' using forces withdrawn from US Fifth Army in Italy. No major British units were involved and for the first time in the Mediterranean the Royal Navy was in the minority in both ships and commanders. However, Adm Sir John Cunningham remained Naval C-in-C.

Landing Areas:

Three Attack Forces landing on the southern French mainland between Toulon and Cannes. A fourth Force on the offshore islands

Forces landing:

US Seventh Army - Gen Patch
US Sixth Corps followed-up by French Second Corps

Departure from:

Italy, Algeria

Naval Attack Force Commanders:

Naval Control force Commander - Vice-Adm H K Hewitt USN
US Rear-Adms Davidson, Lewis, Lowry, Rodgers

Naval Control, Attack & Convoy Escort Forces

British & Allied











Destroyers & escorts




Other warships




Attack transports & LSIs




Landing craft & ships (major only)








Grand Total


The warships were allocated across the four attack forces and, in addition, over 1,300 mainly assault landing craft take part in the landings. Air cover and support was provided by Rear-Adm Troubridge with seven British and two US escort carriers. After intensive air and sea bombardments, the landings took place against light resistance accompanied by US airborne drops inland. Both the US and French Corps soon spread out and headed north after the retreating Germans. Before the month was out, Cannes, Toulon and Marseilles had fallen into Allied hands.

Italy - On the eastern, Adriatic side of Italy, the Allies launched the first part of an offensive against the Gothic Line on the 25th, with Eighth Army attacking towards Rimini. By the end of the month they were breaking through the Line, while to the west, US Fifth Army was crossing the Arno.

Monthly Loss Summary: 1 small merchant ship was lost


8th - Battleship Valiant was seriously damaged at Trincomalee, Ceylon when the floating dock she was in collapsed.

12th - An escort carrier task group was formed to hunt for German and Japanese submarines operating in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. "U-198" was located on the 10th and two days later, sunk off the Seychelles by frigate "Findhorn" and Indian sloop "Godavari".

New Guinea, Conclusion - On 30th July, US troops were landed near Cape Sansapor at the extreme west end of New Guinea, and the Allies were now firmly established along the whole length of this huge island. Gen MacArthur was ready to return to the Philippines. However only now in August, did the fighting die down around Aitape and on Biak Island, still leaving the Australians to finish off the remnants of by-passed Japanese divisions, in some areas until August 1945. But strategically the New Guinea campaign was over.

Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only - 9 merchant ships of 58,000 tons


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revised 24/12/10