Siege of Leningrad Day 84. A sudden warm up decreases the flow of trucks on the Road of Life. Only 61 tons of food arrives in Leningrad compared to the daily consumption of 600 tons. Soviet troopship Maya, 3 minesweepers, 2 submarine hunters and a gunboat leave Kronstadt to assist the evacuation of troops from Hango Peninsula, Finland. They are attacked by Finnish gunboats and patrol boats but reach Hango safely next day.
Operation Typhoon. 19 miles North of Moscow, patrols from 2nd Panzer Division (4th Panzer Army) capture the railway station at Lobnya. However, the German attack is petering out in the face of exhaustion, cold, lack of supplies and stiff Soviet resistance. To the South, Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Army is stationary around Tula while the infantry of von Kluge’s 4th Army has not moved out of trenches in the center. In Moscow, General Zhukov gets permission from Stalin to counterattack to relieve pressure on Moscow.
In the Caucasus, Field Marshal von Rundstedt is replaced by Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau as commander of Army Group South, for ordering a retreat in the Rostov sector.
Operation Crusader. While Italian Ariete Division holds off British tanks to the South, 15th Panzer Division forces the New Zealanders off Sidi Rezegh ridge, severing the brief link to Tobruk. British aircraft from Malta sink Italian steamer Capo Faro and damage Italian steamer Iseo carrying supplies to Benghazi, Libya, from Brindisi, Italy. Rommel is now desperately short of fuel.
At 7.26 PM 170 miles South of the Azores, U-43 sinks British SS Ashby (12 crew and 5 gunners killed, survivors rescued by Portuguese destroyer Lima). U-43 is depth charged for several hours but escapes undamaged.
At 10.35 PM, U-96 is attacked on the surface by a British Swordfish aircraft while trying to enter the Mediterranean via the Straits of Gibraltar. U-96 dives to avoid further attack, then surfaces next morning at 4.45 AM and returns to base in France. War correspondent Lothar-Günther Buchheim, on board U-96 to photograph and describe U-boat life, fictionalized this attack as the climax of his 1973 novel and subsequent film “Das Boot”.
U-206 goes missing in the Bay of Biscay (all 46 hands lost), 2 days out from St. Nazaire, France, possibly lost in minefield "Beech" laid by RAF aircraft. RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers (502 Squadron from Northern Ireland) attack U-71 and U-563 with depth charges in the Bay of Biscay. U-71 is undamaged but U-563 is unable to dive and returns to Germany for repairs, the first successful use of Air to Surface Vessel radar.
German armed merchant cruiser Komet arrives back in Hamburg after sailing 87,000 miles and circumnavigating the globe in a voyage lasting 516 days, capturing 1 ship and sinking 5 (plus 2 others shared with AMC Orion).