Fantasque Time Line (France Fights On) - English Translation

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June 5th, 1943

Camp Evington Lane (England)
- If there is a common (and somewhat unexpected) thread between General Giraud and Lieutenant-General Patton, it is the love of France. While they are having lunch together, General Giraud thinks that he would be even happier if his host - although a renowned and certainly very competent officer - did not also cultivate, beyond the military arts, a most surprising eccentricity for a Saint-Cyrian. This Patton is certainly not a settler of the plains: coming from a European family, he takes great pleasure in talking at length about his ancestors. To hear him tell it, he would be related to George Washington* and to King Edward I, not to mention several Welsh nobles and even a certain Louis Dubois, a Huguenot, it seems. All of this would be fascinating but of little consequence if Patton did not claim to believe in reincarnation, and thus benefit from his family's multiple experiences! To hear him talk about the Civil War, one could even believe that he had participated in it.
The assumed extravagance of this American makes Giraud uncomfortable... But in front of the susceptibility and the solid constitution of the fellow, he will not take the risk to say that it seems to him close to this madness so proper to the British.
- Are you sure you don't want to have a little saber fight, my dear Giraud? I learned this art from you, in Saumur! From my master of arms, Adjutant Charles Cléry! Thanks to him, I have totally transformed the teaching of saber at Fort Myers! Push! Not slice! That is the secret!
All this while putting his money where his mouth is, his table knife brandished, which worries the Frenchman... And moreover, his accent as well as his syntax are appalling - even though Giraud readily acknowledges to Patton that he is making a noble effort to speak French, a language in which he has an extensive vocabulary... for a cowboy. He nevertheless prefers to pass.
- Thank you, my dear Patton, but I'm afraid I'm not a match for you. My only real experience with knives dates from my bayonet charge with my zouaves at Saint-Quentin, in 14. It was another time...
He had been left for dead on the battlefield, before being taken prisoner and - already - escaped to Holland.
- Oh, I understand. Too bad, I miss that period a bit. By the way, do you know what we would call the Model 1913 Saber in the Army? The Patton Saber!
And the young man laughs out loud, which completely disconcerts Giraud, before adding: "Finally, today, tanks, tanks! That's the only thing that's real**."
- All this is very interesting, my dear friend. But to return to our current case, what can you tell me about your 3rd Army? How do you see the campaign to come?
We have come to the crux of the matter. For George Patton is not Giraud - firstly because he is less closely watched than the Frenchman, but also because he did not make as many enemies as he did by dint of his arrogance and bad temper. In spite of the slap affair and a few other antics, Ol' Blood and Guts remains highly respected by his peers. He is therefore perfectly aware of the illusory nature (for the moment at least) of his 3rd Army and the 3rd GAA. For a moment, he remains silent, considering his interlocutor with that half-surprised, half-furious look he has when something upset. Then he chooses not to say anything irreversible.
- Well, the troops are still a bit green... sorry, blue, as you say. But the first results are encouraging: I have two infantry corps, that's five total*** divisions, as well as the 9th and 21st Airborne. Obviously, these two divisions will constitute the first wave...
- Absolutely not! If, by force of circumstance, your paratroopers will indeed land first, our forces must lead the assault. The honor of France demands it!

Giraud stands up - they were at the coffee shop anyway. He stands up tall and adds, benevolently but authoritatively: "I suggest we get started right away, if you don't mind.
Obviously, nobody will contradict him. And the Frenchman leaves the room with his head held high, under the gaze of a very disillusioned Henri Navarre - even if he hardly shows it. Passing in front of the Lt-Colonel, Patton says to him: "You know, what you're doing is... nasty. You have good reasons for it, but bad methods. I will not participate in this... masquerade much longer. Consider this."
Navarre doesn't answer. He understands. This afternoon, he will do whatever it takes to make sure Giraud won't want to come back here!

* Specifically to the great-grandfather of the first president of the United States. The first American, Robert Patton, had emigrated to Virginia in 1769 - his descendants would soon join the army of the young American republic, thus beginning a long family tradition.
During the American Civil War, the general's grandfather commanded the 22nd Infantry Regiment before falling at the 3rd Battle of Winchester, while his great-uncle had already died at Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.
** As early as 1917, while bored in his position as personal assistant to General Pershing, Patton was the first American official to take a close interest in armoured vehicles, particularly the FT-17. He naturally became the first director of the expeditionary force's light tank school and, being the only official who knew how to fly these machines, personally drove the first ones delivered to get them off the train! He was later to command the 1st Tank Brigade of the American army at Saint-Mihiel, already marching ahead of his men...
*** The 11th US-ID, 48th US-ID and 25th US-AD (for the XXIII Corps) and the 17th US-ID and 59th US-ID (for the XXXVIIth Corps). All of them are fictitious, at least at this time...
June 5th, 1943

- On the dusty runway that serves as an airport in the capital of Xinjiang, a C-47 with Chinese colors lands, but among the passengers who get off are several Westerners. One of them is watching the unloading of crates on which are written the words "Well drilling equipment". The crates and passengers are loaded into two trucks that were waiting for the plane and are transported to a large, plain-looking house on the edge of town. It takes a trained eyes to notice that, a few hours later, the house has changed somewhat - the windows to the outside have been boarded up, except for the loopholes from which protrude the ungainly cannons.
At the end of the day, a cryptic radio message reaches Unit 9, headquarters of the SACO (Sino-American Special Technical Cooperative Organization), in Chongqing: "The flying carpet has dropped off Aladdin. He is going to get oil for the lamp."
The author of the message calls himself Alvin McBride. On his perfectly good papers is his official profession: oil prospector. He is in fact the head of the Sino-American Oil Prospecting Mission in Xinjiang. Indeed, the underground of the province is full of oil. A first well on the site of Dushanzi was put in service a few years earlier with the technical assistance of the Soviets; no wonder that the KMT government is seeking to develop the extraction of this strategic resource. However, the so-called Alvin McBride is in reality Frank Gleason, of the OSS, sent by Milton Miles, co-director of CESO, in order to set up a counter-intelligence network in this remote part of China, bordering the Soviet Union. The Chinese contingent of his team is made up of agents of Dai Li, head of Chiang Kai-shek's secret police. And the oil they are going to look for is not one that can be found underground.
The next day, the construction of a headquarters worthy of the Mission begins.
Huang Rujin, the zealous secretary general of Governor Sheng Shicai, has arranged for the work to be carried out as quickly as possible - Huang, who was to carry on Chiang's wishes, received precise instructions. As the days go by, other flights would bring in material and personnel at a steady pace. At the end of the month, the mission will be able to inaugurate its new premises; it will then have about sixty members, nearly half of whom are Americans.
The mission alone will have more cars and trucks than the rest of the city, except for Governor Sheng's forces.
June 5th, 1943

Norfolk Harbor, 10:00
- Taking arms on the Jean-Bart. On the flight deck, in front of an audience, guests in uniform or not, pennants at the head, parade dress, the crew lined up by service, the flotillas and detachments of the other ships of the TF-100 led by their commanders, all are officially informed that "Vice-Admiral Bourragué, Célestin, Jules, Léon, takes command of the Squadron". According to the official inter-allied designation he is now CTF-100 (Commander Task-Force 100).
This is a brief ceremony, as the Admiral wanted it to be, since his schedule is sufficiently full. At its end, in the avia hangar, quite empty this day, a wine of honor is offered by the board. Champagne and petits fours, French style! Then relaxation and rest for all the personnel for the rest of the weekend (except for the watchmen, of course).
June 5th, 1943

One hundred kilometers south of Nha Trang (Annam)
- Having spent the night in Nha Trang, the armored train of Annam set out again in the opposite direction. Arriving at the place sabotaged the day before, the crew discovers that the Vietnamese had removed every other section of track. The damage extends over nearly a kilometer. The missing rails are found at the bottom of the railroad embankment.
Patrols sent to reconnoiter the track discover that other sections had been sabotaged - this process is nothing other than the adaptation to the railroad of the sabotage of the roads "in piano keys". It takes several days to find all the rails and put them back in place.
June 5th, 1943

Baltic Sea
- "The naval battle that took place during the night of June 6-7th, 1943, between Courland and the extension of the island of Saaremaa called the Sörve Peninsula is probably best known by its nickname of "Savo of the Baltic". It is true that the confrontation has many points in common with the first battle of Savo (in the night of 8 to 9 August 1942), and first of all that of taking place mainly in a strait, at night, between two forces of cruisers and destroyers, one of which was trying to protect a landing force. Of course, historians have also been struck by the unbalanced nature of the results." (V.I. Achkasov and N.B. Pavlovich, Sovetskoe Voienno-Morskoe Iskusstvode [The Art of Soviet Naval Warfare] - t.1, The Great Patriotic War in the Baltic, Ministry of Defense Press, Moscow, 1973)
06:00 - Rear Admiral Yuri F. Rall sets sail from Leningrad at the head of a powerful force of three heavy cruisers, the Maksim Gorky (flagship), Kirov and Petropavlovsk, and ten modern destroyers, six of type 7 or 7-U, the Silnyi, Skoryi, Slavnyi, Storojevoy, Smertlivyi and Spokoinyi, and four of type 30, the Odaryonnyi, Otverjdyonnyj, Surovoj and Svirepoj.
Admiral Tributs assigned Y.F. Rall and his squadron to provide cover for a "landing and support force" commanded by Captain First Class Feldman.
13:00 - Feldman's squadron sails from Tallinn, where it had been progressively concentrated the previous weeks. These ships are led by the old battleship Oktjabrskaja Revolucija, escorted by five old destroyers, the Engel's, Kalinin, Karl Marx, Lenin and Volodarskij (Novik class), six escort or coast guard destroyers, the Yastreb, Oriol, Korchun, Zorkij, Bditel'nyj (Yastreb class) and Tsyklon (Uragan class), five large ASM escort ships, the BO-101, 103, 105, 106 and 107, and six ASM patrol ships, the MO-200, 202, 204, 207, 501 and 502, plus a dozen formerly civilian coasters. This force embarks in Leningrad the 6th BMS (Marine Rifle Brigade), of the 4th Marine Rifle Division. The 6th BMS is mainly composed of members of the Communist Youth (Komsomol) and its morale is very high. The Novik class destroyers embark 450 men each, the coast guards 250 men each, the ASM escort ships of type BO 120 men each, making a total of more than four thousand men - without any weapons heavier than mortars, however. Each of the ten coasters carries a T-40 amphibious tank of 6 tons and a few dozen men.
The fifteen small G-5s of the 4th and 5th Torpedo Boat Divisions are given the mission respectively to reconnoiter the western approaches to the Irbe Strait and the eastern coast of Courland. Ten small minesweepers, the T-212, T-213, T-214, T-216, T-217, T-219, T-220, T-221, T-223 and T-226 (Tral class), are in charge of avoiding any bad surprise to the two squadrons in these often mined areas and in particular to clear the approaches to the beaches chosen for the landing.
"June 1943 was to be marked by a great victory of the Red Army over the occupying forces in Latvia - at least that was the intention of the Stavka. The offensive was to cross the Daugava River, capture Riga at the mouth of the river, and penetrate Lithuania to the southwest, while seizing the entire Courland peninsula to the northwest.
This movement was to be facilitated by a bold operation: the landing of the 4th Marine Division on the east coast of the Curonian Spit, at equal distance between Mérsrag, in the south, and Kolka, at the northern tip of the peninsula. It was hoped that this would destabilize the German front. The plan was to throw a reinforced brigade - the 6th BMS - on the beaches from the first day of the offensive, thanks to a squadron coming from Leningrad, with a stopover in Tallinn. The following two or three days, the 3rd and 4th WSB (excellent units trained at the military academy of Leningrad), reinforced by three companies of T-34, would be transferred from Saaremaa, where they had been pre-positioned, by light ships making the shuttle. Lacking heavy armament, these troops would be supported by the guns of the old Oktjabrskaja Revolucija and five destroyers, while a squadron constituted around the cruisers Kirov, Maksim Gorky and Petropavlovsk would patrol between Saaremaa and the tip of Courland. The Irbe Strait is only 27 km wide.
The air force of the Baltic Fleet (the Baltic VVS-VMF) had deployed on Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, as well as in Tallinn, most of its forces. An MTAD division was to provide air support for the troops, with a dive-bombing regiment (30 Pe-2) and two assault regiments (60 Il-2). A torpedo regiment (30 DB-3F/Il-4) was planned to face a possible German naval reaction. The air cover was to be ensured by a fighter division with two regiments of Yak-9 (60 aircraft) and two regiments of La-5 (60 aircraft), based on Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. A regiment of MiG-5 (30 long-range fighters) was to be added to each of these divisions, but only a dozen were available at the beginning of June. Finally, a coastal reconnaissance regiment (30 MBR-2bis seaplanes) and a mixed reconnaissance regiment (10 Pe-2R and 10 MiG-3UD-R) were to provide information on the fleet's movements.
In addition, several submarine divisions were assigned to monitor enemy ports. Thus the S-16, S-20 and S-21, of the 3rd Division (Liepaja, withdrawn on Tallinn), and the Schch-407, Schch-408 and Schch-410, of the 7th Division (Tallinn) had been sent in front of Memel. The M-90, M-968 and M-102, of the 8th Division (Hanko) and the M-201, M-202 and M-203, of the 9th Division (Kronstadt), were standing guard in front of Gotenhafen." (V.I. Achkasov and N.B. Pavlovich, op. cit.)
As is too often the case, this plan pays little attention to the enemy's possibilities of action.
The Kriegsmarine received from the Führer the order to "clean the Baltic" of large Soviet units, to allow the large German units to join the Tirpitz in Norway. Of course, the thing is not easy as long as the Reds remain huddled in Leningrad... But they will eventually get out, we say in Berlin. It will then be necessary to take advantage of it to strike! That is why Vice Admiral Oskar Kummetz moved to Gotenhafen with the two Panzerschiffe, Admiral Scheer and Lützow, the heavy cruiser Seydlitz (Hipper class) and two flotillas of destroyers: the 4th (Z-23, Z-26, Z-29, Z-30) and the 7th (Z-31, Z-32, Z-33, Z-37). The light cruiser Nürnberg was even brought closer to the enemy, since it is based in Memel with the 1st and 7th Torpedo Boat Flotillas (T-7, T-8, T-10 and T-20, T-21). Two U-Boats, the U-34 (a type VIIA) and the U-259 (a type VIIC), are assigned to monitor the possible exit of the Red Fleet based in Leningrad from the Gulf of Finland.
To comply with the wishes of the Chief, Reichsmarschall Göring himself deigns to make a gesture! The 1st Group of the 2nd Sturzkampfgeschwader Immelmann (1. StG II), received 500 and 1,000 kg armor-piercing bombs intended to pierce the armor of large Soviet ships, in case the sailors were unable to eliminate them. This group, strong of twenty Ju 87D Stuka commanded by Hauptmann Steentz, is based west of Riga.
June 5th, 1943

Operation Dvina-Niemen
Against the 18. Armee
- General Lasch is not narcissistic enough to believe that he is capable of annihilating an entire enemy army (even a small one, like the Soviet armies) with his one infantry division. He sets himself only one objective: to hinder the 1st Army enough to give time to the 61. ID to fortify itself on the estuary of the Salacea estuary, while not taking too many losses to be able to re-establish itself a little further south. In fact, most of his 217. ID has already abandoned Staicele and is heading towards Vidsmeži and Pāle.
Kurkin has two irons in the fire and the means to deal with them. He pushes towards Salacgrīva while attacking Lasch's division. Quickly, the riflemen bring up conflicting information. The enemy's resistance is erratic: a few mortar salvos, brief firefights and intensive use of mines. The leader of the 1st Army understands that Lasch is trying to gain time... and to make him lose time. Leaving a light cover on his left flank, he decides to postpone the bulk of his effort to the south to the next day and to advance the means of crossing as well as the 12th Armored Corps: General Butkov is ordered to prepare to exploit the breach that should appear on June 6th.
Having obtained the agreement of Stalin, Popov orders Gusev to concentrate on the capture of Wolmar [Valmiera]. The first step is to neutralize the 1. and 291. ID who try to regroup between Mazsalaca and Sēļi. While Rybalchenko's 13th Air Army is engaged in an incessant noria over the battlefield, three divisions supported by the equivalent of an armored brigade throw themselves against the two German divisions. Already in bad shape, the 1. ID is quickly overwhelmed, the survivors seeking refuge in the swampy forests northeast of Lake Burtnieku. But the 291. ID proves to be much tougher and manages to hang on around Mazsalaca. Calling directly on von Küchler, General Göritz is asked to form his troop into a hedgehog, until the 11. ID comes to his rescue...even though the latter has already left for Valga. On the other side, Gusev releases one of the three divisions assaulting the German defenses and sends it towards Vecate on the road to Wolmar [Valmiera], while on the other side of the lake, the fourth division of his army advances without resistance towards Oleri and Baloži.
In Valga, Krutikov records his first failure. Taken to task from the start, the troops going up to the assault are decimated. The 96. ID clears Raavitsa and regain several kilometers of ground with the support of the 184. StuG Abt. The 7th Army cannot restart its effort and spent the rest of the day repelling the counter-attacks led by the various divisions or divisional elements present in the vicinity. Very involved in support of Gusev, the Soviet air force can only conduct support missions that did not allow to turn the situation around. But Tymoshenko and Voronov encourage Krutikov to hold out for a few days: the fate of the campaign is surely at stake in his sector!
Against the 16. Armee - The attack east of the salient of Rositten [Rezekne] continues according to the same modus operandi as the day before, but the Soviet troops advance less and less quickly. Harassed by Stalin, Meretskov explains that he has almost finished destroying the German defensive lines and that once he has secured his right flank, things will go much faster.
On the other side, after a few hours of regrouping, Busch launches the 253. ID and the Latvian SS of the 13. SS-Grenadier-Division in counter-attack. Contact is made at the entrance to the village of Skuškava [Skūškova], at the edge of a forest. But contrary to what Busch imagined, the attackers do not come across moving Soviet columns, but rather elements of the 13th Armored Corps, strongly supported by artillery. Surprised, the SS are slaughtered by precise salvos of 76 and 122 mm shells. Seeking to bypass the village, they come across tanks covered by detachments of mounted infantry.
Among them, former common law convicts (and some politicians) sent to penal battalions (Shtrafbats) to whom it was promised that they could redeem themselves by shedding blood and who do everything to achieve this. Without real anti-tank means and facing a highly motivated infantry, the Latvians suffer very severe losses, while the 253. ID escapes as best it can. In the evening, the commander of the 16. Armee has to announce to von Küchler that the right flank of the 39th Army is heavily guarded and that he would not be able to attack it.
Riga - The commander of HeeresGruppe Nord is not happy. If the 18. Armee holds Valga, it has already lost about fifteen kilometers along the coast of the Gulf of Riga. And the Soviet threat near Wolmar [Valmiera] needs to be addressed. What is the point of keeping a strong hold on Valga if it was only to be turned around further south? As for Rositten [Rezekne], the failure of the Latvians to break the Soviet stranglehold (they are undoubtedly SS, but what was to be expected with half-Baltic Slavs?) poses a serious problem. In addition, Busch reported the inactivity of the 27th and 42nd Armies. The area they could target is in any case well defended and the local terrain is not favorable for a breakthrough. No, there are really two critical points: Rositten [Rezekne] and Valga.
Since the army reserves are almost all committed, von Küchler has to draw on those of his army group. After a few hours of reflection, a plan of action is sent to the OKH. The armored threat being the strongest at Rositten [Rezekne] (the FHO having confirmed the presence of two armored corps), it is decided to deploy the SS Wiking division, the 13. Panzer and the 655. Btn of heavy tank hunters. The whole represents sixty Panzer IVs, thirty Panzer IIIs, thirty Leopards and thirty Hornisses, in addition to the twenty-five Panzer III already on site with the 3. Panzergrenadier. The 22. Panzer would be employed at Wolmar [Valmiera] to hold the sector and maintain the link with Valga. This would leave the 505. Btn of heavy tanks, in Riga, in case the situation should really go wrong somewhere.
But this might not be enough. To counter the Soviet rush along the Baltic, self-propelled guns would not be superfluous. However, von Küchler no longer has any available. Perhaps the OKH could take some from elsewhere... at random, from HeeresGruppe Mitte?
8213 - Start of the Battle of the Irbe Strait
June 5th, 1943

Battle of the Irbe Strait

The first hitch in the Soviet plan occurs a few hours after the departure of the ships commanded by Y.F. Rall, without him being aware of it. The landing and support force is spotted by the U-259, which recognizes without too much difficulty the Oktjabrskaja Revolucija, but, hampered by the seaplanes on patrol, does not manage to get in a good position to attack, nor to identify the other ships of the squadron. The commander, Kapitänleutnant Klaus Köpke, finally stepped aside to send a brief message: a battleship and its escort - at least fifteen light ships - have left Tallinn and are engaged between Hiiumaa and the Estonian coast, towards the Gulf of Riga.
In Gotenhafen as well as in Berlin - where the message was hastily retransmitted - the Germans immediately decide to react. But what to do? If the "Gangut-class" reported by the U-259 is on its way to Riga to shell the city, transformed into a fortress by the Wehrmacht, it will be difficult to go and look for it at the bottom of this gulf which the Soviets control the whole eastern shore and all the islands bordering it to the north. Nevertheless, we cannot remain idle. The Nürnberg and its escort are given the task of testing the waters on the Irbe Strait during the night of the 5th to the 6th; if it does not find anything in particular, it can still lay a hundred mines between Saaremaa and Courland. At the same time, the squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Kummetz sets sail from Gotenhafen, in order to be ready for any eventuality (and to be able to answer the Führer that the Kriegsmarine inactive).
The two forces sail respectively at 5 pm and 6 pm. They do not escape the vigilance of the Soviet submarines on guard in front of the two ports, even if a strong activity (seaplanes and light patrol boats) as well as the speed of the two squadrons prevent them from attempting an interception. The S-21 signals the exit of the Nürnberg, heading north, and the M-202 that of a "large force, with two heavy and one light cruisers and at least three destroyers". It also indicates, correctly, that this force is heading east-northeast (i.e. towards Memel)...
But another officer, Oberleutnant zur See Karl-Heinz Hagenau, also decided to react to the message of the U-259. Hagenau commands the U-34, which patrols further north, between Hiiumaa and the Finnish coast. This "old" submarine has been operational since 1936 - it participated in the Spanish War, during which it sank the Spanish submarine C-3! From September 1939 to October 1940, it has built up an impressive record: 19 cargo ships and 2 escort vessels sunk, two freighters captured. But since the end of 1940, it has been relegated to training (in the 24th Flotilla, after all, the one that trained the future commanders!). Lately, to relieve the submarines of the 23rd Flotilla, it was given the mission of monitoring the entrance to the Gulf of Finland, as a training exercise for the students on board. Hagenau, an Iron Cross, already had some experience as a submariner, but whose first command, he was convinced that if one of the two U-Boots has a chance to put a battleship on his roster, it is his U-34. Whatever the battleship is going to do in the Gulf of Riga, it will not stay there long - it will return to its base, probably by the same route, along the Estonian coast, and there, Hagenau is determined to sink it! Provided, of course, that he does not remain on patrol off the coast of Finland. After all, his orders did not specify that he should remain anchored there... Anyway, it is not far from the end of its patrol: its fuel reserves are running out: it should be replaced in a few days by U-407 (a VIIC type of the 23rd Flotilla, like U-259).
And this is how U-34 loses any chance to see the Soviet cruiser squadron, which will emerge from the Gulf of Finland a few hours later and go around the north and west of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa.
22:50 - The Nürnberg, preceded by the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla and followed by the 7th Flotilla, is approaching the Irbe Strait, sailing at 25 knots on course 45. Launched as scouts to secure the advance of the Nürnberg group, the S-Boats of the 2nd Flotilla set sail from Ventspils. They see some G-5 launches (those of the 4th Division), but after a few exchanges of fire, the small Soviet patrol boats (wisely) withdraw.
At the same time, Rall's squadron, which has bypassed Saaremaa from the north, heads at 160, at 22 knots.
What follows is a typical encounter battle - a skirmish, rather - which could be explained by the fact that Kapitän zur See Ernst von Studnuitz, who commands the Nürnberg and his group, had planned, as had Rear Admiral Y.F. Rall, to arrive at night in the narrow waters of the strait.
The torpedo boats of the 1st Flotilla see the destroyers Skoryi, Smertlivyi and Spokoinyi, sailing ahead and to starboard of the Soviet cruisers, but the Russian watchers spot the German ships almost at the same time - perhaps thanks to the training of Royal Navy advisors, perhaps also because the message from S-21 suggested that an enemy force could be heading towards the Strait. The destroyers open fire, but without running into their opponents, on the contrary. Indeed, Rall hopes that the "small enemy ships" which had just been spotted would approach his cruisers... This is what happens!
A few minutes later, the FuMO 25 radar of the Nürnberg (which was only switched at the moment the torpedo boats reported a contact) spot the bulk of the Soviet squadron. At the same time, the Skoryi sees the superstructures of the German cruiser (however, the radars of the cruisers, already outdated models supplied by the British to the Red Flag Fleet at the end of 1942, did not spot anything). Very quickly, the battle turns into a chase. Under fire from three Soviet cruisers, the Nürnberg turns its back, opening fire from its two rear 150 mm turrets (a provision that was made in case of a bad encounter!). The T-7, T-8 and T-10 launch a half salvo of intimidation torpedoes and followed their leader by deploying a thick curtain of smoke.
23:30 - The skirmish is over. After having moved to avoid the German torpedoes, whose launch had been observed, the Soviet squadron does not pursue the enemy cruiser. It is satisfied with an expiatory victim: the unfortunate T-10, stopped by two 180 mm shells (probably fired by the Kirov) while it was stretching a curtain of smoke. It was shot down by Soviet destroyers.
While feverishly broadcasting the great news - the entire Soviet Baltic fleet is out! - the Nürnberg withdraws towards Memel. After about an hour, as it becomes obvious that it is not being pursued for the moment, KzS von Studnuitz orders to lay the 120 mines he was carrying to cover the approaches to Ventspils, in case the Reds would have for mission to shell this city, conquered - not without difficulty - by the Wehrmacht the previous year... But the whole affair is only a curtain raiser.
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June 5th, 1943

Italian Front
- While the Texans of the 36th US-ID spend most of the day in cleaning operations around Roccastrada and Puntone di Scarlino, their advanced elements reach Follonica at the end of the day. The 1st US-AD arrives in sight of Civitella Maritima, north of Paganico, on the road to Siena. For its part, TF Tardy attacks in the direction of Montenero d'Orcia and Arcidosso and overtake Route 64, despite the opposition of a Kampfgruppe of the 29. PG, which came to cover the withdrawal of the 252. ID.
Meanwhile, while the infantrymen of the 133rd Rgt of the 34th ID-US attack in the direction of Paganico, the 135th Rgt, released from reserve, spend the day controlling the rugged terrain in the center of the Paganico-Campagnatico-Cinigiano triangle.
In the hills south of Mount Amiata, the infantrymen of the 47th Bari Division continue their advance and take the villages of Santa Fiora, Bagnolo and Saragolo. This sector, difficult to access, is poorly defended by the Germans, who had only planned a shallow line of defense around the mountain. The men of the 20th Friuli Division had taken San Casciano dei Bagni the day before, and today take Abbadia San Salvatore, opening the road to Radicofani.
Finally, the 44th ID Cremona continues its ascent northwards and into the hills. It takes possession of Palazzone, on the road to San Casciano dei Bagni, while taking over part of the sector of the 86th DIA. The latter joins the Belgians of the 2nd Brigade at Monteleone d'Orvieto, further north, despite numerous clashes.
The Algerians of the 83rd DIA having reached Ponte Felcino, faced with the threat of envelopment, the Germans decide to evacuate Perugia as long as Route 170 could be used. Therefore, the men of the 356. ID, deployed a short time before, do everything they can to preserve this escape route. They resisted fiercely in the hills northwest of the city and on Mont Malbe despite the efforts of the 4th ID and the 6th BMLE.
On the British front, the German counter-attack starts around Force. But Alexander's staff had expected it and Allfrey's V Corps launch a general attack. To the east of the Force sector, the 1st South African Division, accompanied by the 3rd Armoured Brigade (coming from Auchinleck's general reserve, this armored brigade had been removed from Montgomery's appetites!), attack towards Offida, north-east of Ascoli Piceno. Finally, along the coast, the British 6th Infantry Division, accompany by the 4th Armoured Brigade (from the reserve), attacks with the help of specialized naval support (the heavy monitor Erebus and several light ones), in addition to an overwhelming artillery superiority on land.
On a fighter cover mission, Captain "Rosie" McKenzie scores his 14th and 15th victories against two Fw 190s from JG 2. In one of the aircraft, we will find the body of Wilhem Hachfeld, commander of this group, with 13 victories.
June 6th, 1943

Elista, Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Kalmykia
- In the early morning, a balloon with an incendiary bomb crashes on a Buddhist temple, which is totally destroyed. However, there are no victims (the building was disused and looted years earlier). The information will take several days to go up to Moscow, where one will open wide eyes by learning that the examination of the debris shows without any doubt that the device is of French origin! Suddenly very concerned by the preservation of the Buddhist heritage of the Soviet Union, the Molotov ministry makes strong remonstrances to Algiers - which have in fact for goal only to know more about this kind of secret weapon.
To the surprise of the Soviets, the French explain themselves without difficulty. It is the "father" of the device, the famous Albert Caquot, well known for the observation balloons developed during the Other War, who will receive himself the Soviet Air Attaché in Algiers. Technical advisor to the former Minister of Air, Laurent Eynac, Caquot did not lose his position when the latter was replaced by Charles Tillon. He studied the first reports of Operation Outward, conceived in 1941 by the British.
Taking advantage of the prevailing winds, the British launched gas balloons towards Germany with steel wires to destroy power lines or carrying incendiary bombs. On the whole, the results were difficult to assess, but in July 1942, one of these devices destroyed the power plant in Böhlen, near Leipzig.
Working with meteorologists who explained to him how wind direction changed with altitude, Caquot made several improvements to the English balloons, such as a timer that allowed the altitude of the balloon by dropping ballast or deflating the envelope. Charles Tillon has approved his proposals when he learned that the affair could be carried out with the only French resources. The Picardie operation (named after the French balloon winner of the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1912) was launched from Monopoli (near Bari, in Apulia), starting in February 1943, with the first targets being the factories in northern Italy controlled by the Germans.
It is thus one of the balloons of Picardy that the whims of the wind carried to Kalmykia. As it had done during the Other War (by helping the British and Americans to build Caquot balloons), Albert Caquot will propose to the Soviet ally to deliver him all the little secrets of his machines. In exchange, the French will receive a reasonable quantity of wheat cultivated by the Soviet farmers.
The affair of the temple of Elista will not be the only one of the incidents of the operation Picardy, if it will be the most distant. Of the 2,738 Picardy balloons launched from February to November 1943, four of them crashed in Turkey, cutting a power line and set fire to a field. Eight others crashed in Allied territory, either in the Dodecanese, Palestine, the French Levant and even Iraq.
Nevertheless, for a very low cost, the Picardie balloons did some damage in Northern Italy, destroying a number of power lines. They also ignited forest fires in Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria, causing some destruction and harassing the passive defense and sometimes air defense services of Germany and its allies.
Nevertheless, these results will not seem sufficient to continue the operation and the production of the balloons will stop in October 1943, the last ones being launched on November 11th.
June 6th, 1943

Mull of Galloway (Scotland)
- After several hours of searching, a British coast guard fishes out the body of General Stanisław Burhardt-Bukacki, former head of the Polish military mission in Paris, then chief of staff of the I Polish Corps, was participating in a landing exercise on the coast of Scotland. His drowning seems to have been the result of an accidental collision between his launch and one of the trawlers used as transports. However, rumors circulate in the Polish exile community in exile, attributing his death to a German or...Soviet spy who had infiltrated the Polish army and whom he was about to unmask.
In a more certain way, this death, which it is not possible to conceal entirely, will be used by the British services to support the idea of a forthcoming Anglo-Polish landing on the coasts of Norway: the cliffs of this country resemble very much those of Galloway. General Burhardt-Bukacki is buried in the Polish plot of the Dumfries cemetery*.

* The general's death, along with the hypothesis of murder committed by a spy, is the central argument of the Polish film Morderca zostawia ślad (The Killer Leaves a Trail) directed in 1967 by Alexander Ścibor-Rilski. By a strange coincidence, the Polish actor Zbigniew Cybulski, who played the role of the general, died in a train accident before the film was released.
June 6th, 1943

Somewhere in the area of Huyên Murong Ang, east of Dien-Bien-Phu
- The chemical thunder of artillery in the distance blended with the storm that rages on the mountainside. The thick, dark jungle oozes with a thousand odors of decomposition which take to the throat.
The small troop that struggles along a narrow path is composed of Vietnamese and Laotian fighters. Their equipment - peasant outfit or black canvas pyjamas, large conical straw hat, bag and rattan hood - resembles that of the Vietminh, but they are not part of it.
Their weaponry is an incredible arsenal: a mixture of everything that was produced in France from 1880 to 1940 in terms of military rifles and carbines, plus some Mannlicher-Carcano from the former Duce's army and their Japanese copy. Several men carry FMs, dismantled machine guns, light Canadian mortars and their ammunition.
In the lead, a young lieutenant wearing a tented jacket strides forward, with a US-M1 rifle on his shoulder strap. From his cloth belt hangs the custom holster of a Colt 45. The face, cut with a serrated knife, thinned out and overgrown with beard, can be seen in the shadow of an Australian bush hat.
The lieutenant raises his hand to order a halt. It's time to get some food.
Until recently, the meal almost always consisted of paddy rice, cooked Asian-style to become very sticky. For the past month, supplies sent by the Americans have made it possible to put US military rations on the menu from time to time. They are presented in the form of greenish cardboard boxes covered with wax to protect them from humidity.
The standard contents consists of cookies, cereals, vitamin candy, canned monkey, condensed milk and peanut butter. There are also small bags of permanganate to purify water and Lucky Strike, Camel or Kensitas cigarettes, very appreciated when you can light them without fear. Finally, condoms intrigued the Indochinese until they understood their usefulness: to cover the barrel of the weapons to prevent water from entering (old rifles do not resist to bad weather) without preventing to shoot if need be; great is the ingenuity of Uncle Sam!
During the break, an animated discussion breaks out between the "rebels", as the Japanese radio says. Having trouble following the debate, the lieutenant signals to one of the Vietnamese: "Roger!"
Warrant Officer Bui Pho Chi, whom everyone calls Roger*, gets up to join the young leader whom he idolizes: "Lieutenant?
- What was the reason for the argument?
Jean-Louis Delayen does not add "this time", but his multi-ethnic group is not immune to tensions. It is often necessary for the young officer to give voice to the commando "Pirate" is willing to move in one direction and at the same pace.
- This is not an argument, Lieutenant.
- All right, what is this big talk that is breaking my ears?

Most of the men understand French well enough to have understood the question. They start talking all at once, using the "Epervier" sabir, a mixture of French and Vietnamese, with a bit of Arabic and a few touches of English, which is spoken in the garrison of Dien-Bien-Phu garrison. Delayen ostensibly plugs his ears while Roger brings back a little calm.
- In summary, Roger, in summary!
- Yes my lieutenant... That's it... The men wonder why the Japanese have invaded us.
- Oh... Well, because France was sending weapons to the Chinese, who were fighting against the Japanese.

After a brief resumption of discussion, Roger interpreted, "Okay, Lieutenant. But why did the Japs invade China?"
- Ah... For the same reason that Adolf and his Chleus invaded France: because it was there and their country was too small for their ego - I mean, for their idea of themselves. Because that's the problem. There are some assholes who look in the mirror and tell themselves that they are beautiful and intelligent. There are some who, in addition, inflate their biceps and tell themselves that they are strong, very strong! And sometimes, they start thinking that nobody is more perfect than them and that the neighboring countries should be theirs because they are so beautiful, so strong and so... STUPID that everything - necessarily - is theirs. Well, to say that in front of the mirror, you must not be well finished. But when a jerk like that says it in front of a crowd and that the crowd starts to applaud him, then it becomes serious. And the Adolf and the Japs are so stupid to the point where they've really come to take what's ours. And that's for sure, they did the real big mistake that one can't recover from. Because, when some assholes come to get us we know how to welcome them, don't we?
As he says this, Delayen holds up his Colt 45. The weapon has a mother-of-pearl stock on which is engraved a skull and crossbones, the emblem of the "Pirate" commando. It also has its motto (not very appreciated by most senior officers): "Mort aux cons".
The men respond with an enthusiastic shout and start chanting their motto in chorus.
- That's what I like to hear! That's what I call real political purpose!" Delayen exclaims.
Legend has it that the anecdote was passed on to General de Gaulle. Raising an eyebrow, he would have gravely commented, with his so particular intonation: "Vast program!"

* He will become the boss of the future Vietnamese airborne weapon.
June 6th, 1943

Gulf of Riga
- At daybreak, as planned, the Soviet landing fleet arrives at the eastern coast of Courland. The Novik class destroyers are the first to land the men of the 6th Brigade, in order to support these troops with their fire. Then, the escort destroyers and BO-class escort ships, while the T-40 amphibious tanks are launched.
On the coast, the resistance is weak: most of the German troops occupying the area are directed to the east of Latvia to stop the Soviet advance. Thanks to the air cover provided by Yak-9s and La-5s, the Luftwaffe is kept in check while the Il-2s harass the few defenders spotted.
At mid-day, the escort destroyers, the BO class ASM escorts and the coasters regroup to head for Saaremaa, where they are to start embarking the troops of the 3rd Marine Infantry Brigade.
In the evening, the Soviet command, delighted, notes that everything is going as planned: a marine infantry brigade is landed without suffering any notable losses.
The next day, it will be reinforced by half of another brigade and a company of T-34s... if everything goes according to plan, of course. Night falls, but the fleet is watching in the Irbe Strait to oppose any German naval reaction.
The reconnaissance seaplanes did not spot anything, and for good reason: the squadron, as soon as it received the first message from the Nürnberg announcing the presence of several large Soviet ships, headed north-northwest. Sailing at 25 knots, it slipped along the western shore of the Swedish island of Gotland, violating Swedish territorial waters, before turning back east at 20 knots. During this time, Soviet seaplanes concentrated their search further south. The Swedes, however, spot the German cruisers - they will protest the next day in Berlin. The passage of the cruisers is even reported to Moscow, by roundabout means, but too late...
June 6th, 1943

Operation Dvina-Niemen
Against the 18. Armee
- The Salacgrīva-Vidsmeži-Pāle line is attacked by the 1st Soviet Army. The western part of this line is based on an estuary that gradually widens until it reaches 180 meters near the sea, while further upstream the Salacea is often thirty to forty meters wide. Naturally, the retreating Germans set about blowing up all the bridges and undermining the fords. The eastern part presents the usual triptych of the beginning of the operation: forests, marshes, forest relays. The only passable road worthy of the name is the coastal road that passes through Salacgrīva. This is where the 12th Armored Corps has to cross the river. This is also where the 61. ID intends to put up the strongest resistance.
Kurkin used his numerical superiority to press the enemy's position along its entire length and to locate the weak points. He thinks to find one at the level of the old bridge of Vecsalaca, four kilometers east of Salacgrīva, but the area is too well defended and the engineers cannot work in sufficiently safe conditions. It is necessary to call in the air force, mobilize elements of the 4th Artillery Division to loosen the stranglehold. The bridge builders are helped by nature: a small island isolated in the course of the river saves them time and length of the bridge. A first bridge of twenty meters is built, followed by a part of a second bridge, this time of sixty meters.
Gunther Krappe senses the danger and orders all remaining artillery at Salacgrīva to target the bridge while the Soviet tubes tries to silence it. Further east, the 217. ID holds out well, but Lasch does not have enough resources to hold back the much more numerous attackers for more than a few hours.
For its part, the 12th Armored Corps launched platoons in search of improvised crossings (like the one undertaken by Kravchenko during the battle of Gomel), but in vain. The T-34s are content to fire on the positions on the opposite bank.
Abandoning Mazsalaca and the 291. ID to one of its divisions, supported by a regiment of 122 mm howitzers and a battalion of BM-13/16, Gusev pushes his three other units on both sides of Lake Burtnieku in the direction of Wolmar [Valmiera]. The city itself is defended only by elements of the 96. ID and by the 1. Luftwaffen Feld Division, which has just arrived in trucks from Riga. This new arrival may explain why the rare planes of the LuftFlotte I appear so often against Gusev's troops, preventing them from advancing as quickly as expected. Vecate and Oleri fall to the Soviet columns, whose men are mounted on all available vehicles, from T-50 tanks to the German pickup truck, including bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.
The Soviet planes that have been protecting the 4th Army the day before were sent elsewhere. Northeast of Valga, Krutikov calls for help. Heavily stretched and facing new attacks, his 7th Army is taking more and more casualties, and the former instructor of the Military Academy of the General Staff does not want to relive what the Soviet troops in Finland had experienced, where Soviet troops were ambushed in devastating ways along the communication routes. The much hoped-for air support allows the pressure on the flanks to be reduced. The divisions that are too far forward are recalled to the rear, where entrenchments are dug. Krutikov also obtains the help of his superiors. Activated by Popov, Tymoshenko contacts the Stavka: the 7th Army cannot go further without external assistance, it must stop in order not to suffer a rout - it has reached its objectives anyway. Stalin grumbles when he hears about it, but accepts after having consulted the maps and obtains confirmation of the launch of the second phase of Dvina-Niemen.
Against the 16. Armee - The liquidation of the Rositten [Rezekne] salient continues. North, the 122. ID and elements of the 3. Panzergrenadier hold from Welonen [Viļāni] to Bērzgale. In the south, the 123. ID manage in extremis to evacuate its last positions near Lake Raznas and redeployed in part on the northern shore of the lake around the hamlets that now form the village of Čornajas, with the rest rushing to secure the large village of Malta (on the road to Dünaburg). On the Soviet side, in the north, the 13th Armored Corps (minus the elements committed the day before) charge toward Stirniene while the 34th Army increases its pressure against the German divisions. In the south, the 14th Armored Corps is late (it had lost time supporting the progression of the 39th Army) and regroups south of Lake Raznas around Dorotpole, ten kilometers southeast of Malta, while Zygin's army is preparing to finish with the 123. ID.
Riga - The staff of HeeresGruppe Nord is not idle. First of all, there is the response to von Küchler's appeal the day before. Halder criticizes the dispersion of resources, arguing that if you want to put out too many fires, you end up not having enough lances but he accepts the plan. He takes the opportunity to confirm the transfer from Belarus two additional battalions of Sturmgeschutzen (185. and 226. StuG Abt).
The staff officers also have to respond to a furious Hans Krebs, who demands the units being transferred back to him intact. But the worst is not long in coming when the news of a landing of "unidentified troops" in Courland comes to light.
After the unfortunate messenger had been insulted by von Küchler (and a new message from the Kriegsmarine replaces the term "unidentified" with "Soviet"), one must face the facts. The Soviets have regained a foothold in Courland, a little more than a hundred kilometers from Riga... and much less from Ventspils. There is not much left to counter them, except for the 505. Btn of heavy tanks and the 18. Luftwaffen Feld Division... whose formation is not even completed yet. The whole will be reinforced by picking up volunteers, Latvian policemen and reserve battalions, plus all the unfortunate soldiers passing through the Latvian capital and who have the misfortune to run into Feldgendarmes, in an even worse mood than usual.
The end of the day is already announced painful that a last bell is heard. A last bad news? Alas yes. Angrily hanging up the phone, von Küchler turns to his cards. The 27th and 42nd Soviet Armies, which no one anything out of anymore, have awakened, breaking the line of the Latvian SS and the 121. ID.
8221 - Battle of the Irbe Strait (2/4)
June 6th, 1943

Gulf of Riga, 22:15
- The Soviet squadron "combs" the waters of the Irbe Strait at 18 knots. The destroyers Storojevoy, Slavnyi and Spokoinyi are a few nautical miles ahead of the main group. The three cruisers in line - Gorky, Kirov, Petropavlovsk - are preceded by the other destroyers type 7/7U, Skoryi, Smertlivyi and Silnyi, and followed by the type-30, Surovoj, Otverjdyonnyj, Odaryonnyi and Svirepoj.
The German squadron, also arranged in line, is led by the destroyers of the 7th Flotilla - Z-31, Z-32, Z-33, Z-37 - followed by the Seydlitz (which bears the admiral's flag), the Lützow and the Admiral Scheer, with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla - Z-23 - closing the march - Z-23, Z-26, Z-29, Z-30.
Later, historians will discuss the responsibilities: the radars of British origin installed on Soviet cruisers were so outdated or the operators so inexperienced? In any case, at 22:18, they do not detect anything when Kummetz is warned that his radar detectors have spotted several emissions. Suspecting, thanks to the report of the Nürnberg, that it is the enemy which it seeks, it starts its radars for a few moments, just enough time to spot the Soviet fleet - ten ships sailing at 18-20 knots on course 195, on the port bow. The first three destroyers go unnoticed, probably because the German radars were quickly cut off.
The German admiral makes them climb to 25 knots and take the course 185, to get closer to the enemy gradually approaching the enemy while moving up his formation. The night is beautiful, the weather but the moon was barely visible (it was new on the 2nd).
22:34 - The Soviets are ready for a confrontation - that is why Rall has the bulk of his force preceded by three destroyers. But the Germans arrive from the west-northwest, while they are waiting for them from the south. A watchman of the Kirov finally reports bow waves on starboard... Unfortunately, it is much too late.
22:36 - As soon as the watchmen of his ships spot their adversaries, Kummetz gives the order to open fire. At five thousand meters, despite the darkness, the German gunners
demonstrate the quality of their training... and the optics of their rangefinders. All three Soviet cruisers are hit before they can adjust their fire.
The most unfortunate is surely the Petropavlovsk. First, after its second salvo, it receives a shell from the Scheer, which ignites a violent fire near its chimney. Then, at its third salvo, the left gun of the A turret cracks! The fault lies in a weakness of the steel that the German builders had detected, but carefully camouflaged.
At the sixth salvo, the same accident hits the left gun of the C turret. At this moment, the cruiser receives two other 280 shells and its speed falls to 15 knots.
With only two 203 turrets intact (the other two are still firing, but from a single gun, and their aiming is uncertain), the ship is soon only a practice target for the Panzerschiff.
In front of the ex-Lützow, the Kirov does its best against the current Lützow (and ex-Deutschland). It manages to hit its opponent with several 180 mm shells, but these only do superficial damage - at least we assume so at this moment: they do not pierce the armor of the "battleship", but they destroy several anti-aircraft guns and the command post of the flak. If the 280 mm shells that hit the Soviet cruiser are not more numerous, they do much more damage.
The Soviet that fares best is the Maksim Gorky, leading the way. The exchange with the Seydlitz even seems to turn to its advantage when a 180 mm shell hits the German close to the bridge. Kummetz is hit, the commander of the cruiser is killed and in the ensuing chaos, the Seydlitz leaves the battle line - she looks in bad shape, although it is only slightly hit.
Meanwhile, the destroyers do not remain idle. The four ships at the rear of the Soviet formation take the offensive to cover the Petropavlovsk, but the Admiral Scheer shifts its fire to them and, supported by the guns of the destroyers of the 3rd Flotilla, strafes the attackers. The Odaryonnyi is seriously hit; it sinks at the end of the night. The Otverjdyonnyj is more lightly damaged, but it will escape. But the Surovoj and Svirepoj are stubborn and launch their torpedoes from quite close - alas, it is not the Scheer that is hit, but the Z-26! The latter is struck by lightning and sinks in a few moments.
In the front, the Skoryi, Smertlivyi and Silnyi also attack, but they are countered by the destroyers of the 7th Flotilla. Hit by a rain of 15 cm shells, the Silnyi burst into flames and the two others withdraw.
At this moment, a violent explosion briefly illuminates the battlefield - it is the Kirov. It is assumed that a 280 mm shell has pierced its armor and hit an ammunition bunker (that of the B turret, according to observations of the wreckage made almost half a century later). The cruiser sank in less than five minutes. This spectacular event seems to add to the ferocity of the battle.
In the southwest of the battle, the Slavnyi, Storojevoy and Spokoinyi turn around and speed up, after a few minutes of hesitation spent wondering where the enemy was, and what kind of ship it was. The first ship they see looks very much like the Petropavlovsk - and for good reason, it is its twin, the Seydlitz.
Uncertain, the Soviets hold back their torpedoes. So much the better: here is the Lützow, unmistakably Germanic.
The Panzerschiff changes target: the Kirov is eliminated, and it transfers its fire to the Maksim Gorky and obtains several shots on goal. It is then that the Spokoinyi appears, who has taken the lead of his teammates. The secondary artillery of Lützow is unleashed and punishes the destroyer, reduced to a burning wreck in a few moments - but the Slavnyi and Storojevoy take advantage of this to adjust their launch. A few minutes later when, as an officer of the Suvoroj, Lieutenant Fedor Isakievitch Halkin, will tell us, "the battle no longer resembled anything other than a bayonet massacre at the bottom of a trench," two torpedoes hit the Lützow in the rear and a third one explodes in its wake.
Strangely, the battle suddenly calms down. "It was like a curtain call," describes Lieutenant Halkin. "Suddenly, all the actors went backstage." All those who are still standing, anyway!
The Maksim Gorky moves away towards the north-north-west, joined little by little by the seven surviving Soviet destroyers. Yuri F. Rall, who is wounded, tries to draw the enemy away from the transports which are to carry the infantry reinforcements from Saaremaa in Courland.
It is useless: on the Seydlitz, Kummetz, who is also wounded, does his accounting. He has only lost a destroyer, but if his heavy cruiser is only slightly hit, the Lützow is in danger. Her survival is not immediately threatened, but her propellers and rudder are very badly damaged. It is highly unlikely that she will be able to return to port by its own means. Fortunately, the Russian cruiser fleet was wiped out (the Petropavlovsk was torpedoed by the Z-23 and Kummetz seems to have considered, in view of the flames that ravaged it, that the Gorky was lost). In addition, he sank three destroyers in exchange for one of his own. It is not an old dreadnought that will allow the Reds to control the Baltic. In short, the orders of the Führer were obeyed. The Seydlitz and the Admiral Scheer can leave for Norway. Why put this great success in danger by going to chase a few troop transports in the mined waters of the Gulf of Riga? Leaving the Z-23 and Z-30 to try to help the Panzerschiff, with the Z-29 as escort, until the arrival of professional tugs, Kummetz heads west with the Seydlitz, the Admiral Scheer and the four other destroyers.
June 6th, 1943

Italian front
- On the Tyrrhenian coast, the 36th US-ID captures Massa Maritima by an overrun maneuver, with the help of the tanks and artillery of the 1st Armored. The CCB of the latter pushes eastward to Civitella Maritima. Meanwhile, the 34th US-ID Red Bull captures Paganico, on the flank of the armored elements, while the rest of the division joins the Italians of the Bari near the hamlet of Aiole. At the point, TF Tardy succeeds in seizing the bridge over the Ente River at Monte Amiata (the village, not the mountain),
and cut Route 323 from the north. Elements of the 2nd Rangers and the 752nd Tank Battalion take Seggiano, a little south of the road, capturing dozens of men of the 252. ID, caught in the rear, and cutting off the last withdrawal route of the Arcidoso defenders.
Although the men of the 47th ID Bari join the Americans, they progress in the hills, reaching the junction of the Quaranta road and Route 135, at the foot of Mount Amiata. On the plain, the 20th Friuli Division launches a concentric attack towards Radicofani, but the infantrymen of the 252. ID and the grenadiers of the 29. PG hold out : the Italians are sent back to their starting positions. Further east, the 44th ID Cremona continues its progression and seizes Piazze and Ponticelli, with the help of the artillery of the 86th DIA. Noting that with this capture, there is only one road left free, the Germans decide to evacuate Citta della Pieve, which is now surrounded on three sides by the Italians, the French and the Belgians.
Further north, while the Belgian infantrymen continue to fight on Mont Malbe, the legionnaires of the 6th BMLE are unable to break the German lock between Le Cupe and Capocavallo. The Germans of the 356th ID hold on to it with determination, as they have a vital need to keep Route 170 open to evacuate Perugia, even though at Canneto it is within range of the Belgian artillery. The control of Route 170 is all the more important because to the northeast of Perugia, the 83rd DIA advances step by step, fighting in the fields around Villa Pitinano and advances westward toward Montelaguardia, north of the city.
While the battle continues around Force between Canadians, Indians and Germans, the latter launch another counter-attack near the Adriatic coast. The 292. ID holds out well at San Benedetto del Tronto, allowing the 10. Panzer to launch a Kampfgruppe against the British armor. But the fate of the battle is to be decided between these two hot spots: part of the 1st South African Division overtakes Tesino and takes Cossignano, while the 1st Capetown Highlander push towards Ripatransone, threatening the enemy's rear at the mouth of the Tronto.
The highlight of the day is in the hills near Force, where Subedar* Abdul Hafiz, of the 9th Jat, single-handedly repels two machine-gun assaults by Panzergrenadiers of the Grossdeutschland. The Panzergrenadiers had already tried three times to seize the position and the subedar is the only survivor of his section! Rescued, he is nominated for the Victoria Cross.
In the air, it is a very bad day for the 33rd FG, which is badly beaten by the JG 77.
Escorting A-20s of the 47th BG, the men of the 60th FS engage in combat against the Bf 109s. Five American planes are shot down, including one by Oberleutnant Reinert.

* Indian or Pakistani officer of the Indian Army (equivalent to captain)
What the fuck? Seriously, is this some French idiom that didn't translate properly?

"Ration Militaire​

A French soldiers rations. Again canned beef. The name Madegascar lead the French soldiers to call this "Monkey meat". This term was adopted by their US counterparts and was used well into the Vietnam War to describe canned meat. The brown paper packages contained Hardtack, which were rock hard 1/2 inch thick crackers almost identical to ones eaten by US soldiers in the civil war. They were so hard and dry in fact that soldiers had to soak them in their coffee (cafe pictured here) to…
" From a Pinterest article.

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