The Admiral Hipper slips out of Brest
for another sortie into the Atlantic.
The Battleships Scharnhorst
and Gneisenau sail from the Baltic to the Atlantic, causing
absolute havoc to shipping routes and timetables.
U-47, commanded by top
ace Günther Prien, hero of Scapa Flow, is sunk by the
British Destroyer HMS Wolverine.
The Kriegsmarine loses two of its
most successful U-boat commanders, Kretschmer (U-99) and Schepke
(U-100) to British escorts from convoy HX112.
Churchill forms the 'Battle of the
Atlantic' committee in order to afford the highest level of
co-ordination against the U-boat menace.
During an attack against
convoy OB318, U-110 commanded by Julius Lemp suffers serious
damage and is forced to surface and scuttle. Unfortunately
for the Germans, the scuttling charges failed to detonate,
allowing the British destroyer HMS Bulldog to put across a
boarding party and seize an enigma machine and other vital
secret material. The British put U-110 under tow, but the damaged
U-boat later sinks. The German raider Penguin is sunk by HMS
Cornwall off the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.
The German battleship Bismarck and
the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen leave Gotenhafen in the Baltic
to begin operations against British convoys in the Atlantic
Egyptian liner Zamzam reported sunk
by Germans in the South Atlantic, passenger list included over
Against strict orders not to attack
American vessels, the US merchant ship Robin Moor is sunk by
U-69 (Kptlt. Metzler). This sinking of a neutral American vessel
is publicly denounced by President Roosevelt and becomes yet
another argument for him in his secret desire for bringing
the United States into war against Germany. An RAF reconnaissance
plane sight the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the port of Bergen,
allowing the British Home Fleet time to ready plans to intercept
them in the earlier hours of the 22nd May.
British blockade of Vichy France
During the evening, the cruiser HMS
Suffolk sights the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the Denmark
Straight. The Home Fleet makes ready to intercept at dawn on
the 24th May.
The German battleship Bismarck, supported
by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, sinks the British battle
cruiser Hood after firing only three salvoes. There are only
3 survivors out of a crew of 1,421. The Prince of Wales is
also damaged and forced to break off the action.
Bismarck escapes the Royal Navy’s
pursuit and separates from the Prinz Eugen and makes her way
British flying boat spots the Bismarck
at 10:36am. Swordfish Torpedo-bombers from the Ark Royal score
hits on the Bismarck, disabling her steering gear and rendering
her un-maneuverable. This enables British destroyers to attack
400 miles west of Brest, the crippled
Bismarck is relentlessly bombarded by dozens of British warships,
including the battleships Rodney and King George V. After all
her guns are silenced, she is sunk by torpedo's from the cruiser
Dorsetshire. There are only 110 survivors out of a crew of
2,300. The convoy HX129, becomes the first to have continuous
escort protection across the Atlantic.
The heavy cruiser Prinz
Eugen arrives in Brest.
The first of five heavy night raids
by the RAF begins on Brest as Prinz Eugen shelters there.
The German pocket battleship Lützow
(formerly Deutschland) is attacked and damaged by RAF aircraft
off the southern coast of Norway.
29 People Killed, when
German dive-bombers sink the Great Western Railway steamer
US Navy takes over patrolling
convoy routes in the North Atlantic and tracking German submarines
for the Royal Navy in violation of Neutrality Act.
German submarines sink a Norwegian
and 3 British ships from the Convoy OG-71 of 22 ships and 9
escorts in the Atlantic Ocean.
First Arctic convoy leaves Iceland
U-652 attacks the US
destroyer Greer off Iceland after being tracked and harassed
British convoy SC-42 (64 ships), sailing
from Sydney to the Britain is attacked by a wolf pack of 19
U-boats just south of Greenland between the 10th and 14th September.
SC-42 loses 17 merchant ships for 69,813-tons. 2 U-boats, U-207
and U-510 are sunk in return.
The US Navy begins to
take over the convoying of British ships as far as Iceland,
which is seen as an un-neutral act by the German government.
The first Arctic bound for Russia
leaves Britain. It consists of ten merchantmen with escorts
and was designated as PQ1.
Churchill gives a personal
undertaking to Stalin to send a convoy every ten days to Russia's
Destroyer USS Kearny damaged by German
torpedo off Iceland.
The US destroyer Reuben James escorting
Convoy HX-156 is sunk by U-552 (Kapitänleutnant Erich
Topp) with the loss of 100 of her crew. The destroyer is the
first US naval casualty in the hitherto undeclared war between
Germany and the United States that has existed after President
Roosevelt authorised the use of American naval vessels to escort
Lend-Lease convoys bound for Britain.
The German government
issues a statement denying the charges made by President Roosevelt
that the US destroyers Greer and Kearney were attacked by German
submarines without any provocation; that the exact opposite
was true in that the U-boats fired torpedoes only after they
were tracked and depth-charged for hours by these US vessels.
The German blockade runner 'Odenwald'
which is disguised as a US merchant, is captured by the US
cruiser Omaha and the destroyer Somers.
All operational U-boats ordered to
proceed to the Mediterranean or its approach.
Hitler lifts the ban on
U-boats operating in US territorial waters, two days before
he declares war on the USA. This was to allow Dönitz to
deploy 5 U-boats along the USA's eastern seaboard in order
to be available for immediate action when the declaration of
war was made.
Convoy HG76 (32 ships), sets sails
from Gibraltar with heavy escort.
Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll
takes over command of the Atlantic Fleet, from Admiral Ernest
J. King who is appointed as Commander, US Navy.
Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats,
world-wide from January to year's end 1941 is 503 ships, equalling
2,530,011 gross tons. 35 U-boats were lost worldwide in the