Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 292 June 18, 1940

Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division races 200 miles and reaches Cherbourg. However, they arrive too late to prevent the Allied evacuation and rest overnight before attacking the fortifications. Operation Ariel finishes at St. Nazaire (leaving behind all their equipment on rumours the Germans are poised to take the town) and at La Pallice where 2,303 British are evacuated.

With 5th Panzer Division only a few hours away, French cruisers El Djezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, Ville d'Oran and Ville d'Alger transport 1,200 tons of French gold from Brest. The convoy will arrive in Casablanca on June 21. In addition, the French move 198 tonnes of Belgian gold on the cruiser Victor-Schoelcher from Lorient to the port of Dakar in French West Africa. The gold should have been sent to USA and will ultimately fall into German hands (much to the chagrin of the Belgians who sue the Banque de France in 1941, demanding in return French gold being held in the USA).

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives another charismatic speech in the House of Commons, commenting on the likely fall of France “the Battle of France is over” and prospects for a cross-Channel invasion by Germany “I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.” He concludes “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’." (text and MP3 at, stream all Churchill speeches

Southwest of Ireland, U-28 sinks Finnish steamer Sarmatia and U-32 sinks 2 Spanish trawlers Sálvora & Nuevo Ons as well as Norwegian steamer Altair. In total, 6 crew are killed and 60 survivors are rescued by other Spanish trawlers.

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