World War II Today: May 27

British position in Flander’s worsens as King Leopold of Belgium surrenders the remnants of his Army.

British sugar ration reduced from 12oz to 8oz.

Japanese Premier Admiral Yonai forms ‘Inner Cabinet’ with ministers for Foreign Affairs, War and the Navy.

President Roosevelt declares unlimited national emergency; calls upon all Americans to resist Hitlerism.

Proposal to introduce conscription in Northern Ireland finally scrapped.

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. (Watch Music Video of Johnny Horton’s 1960 Song

The convoy HX129, becomes the first to have continuous escort protection across the Atlantic.

Germans paratroopers take Canea and with it the main British supply point of Suda Bay. This convinces Major General Freyberg VC, that the situation has gone against the British and that he must withdraw from Crete to save what he can.

Having been reinforced by the 15th Panzer Division, Rommel retakes the Halfaya Pass on Egyptian border. The 10th Indian Division begins to advance north from Basra towards Baghdad.

Luftwaffe bombers sink 5 ships of Convoy PQ-16 off the northern coast of Norway.

The siege of Sevastopol rages on, becoming the only incident of a formal siege of a modern fortress being pushed through to final reduction. Sevastopol is the premier port on the Black Sea, and its defenses include three zones of trenches, pillboxes, and batteries. The strongest defenses lie in the middle zone, which includes the heights and the south bank of the Belbek River. Among these hills are “Fort Stalin” on the East and the massive western anchor of “Fort Maxim Gorki I,” with its turret of twin 305 mm (12-inch) guns sweeping the length of the Belbek valley. 105,000 men defend this port. Against this the Germans and Romanians range 203,000 men and some of the most powerful siege artillery ever disposed by any army in World War II. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein aims 305 mm, 350 mm, and 420 mm howitzers at the Russians, along with two of the new, stubby “Karl” and “Thor” 600 mm mortars. Also on hand is the 800 mm (31.5-inch) “Big Dora” from Krupp, which has to be transported to position by 60 railway wagons. “Big Dora” is commanded by a major general and a colonel, protected by two flak regiments and periodically fed with a 10,500 lb. shell.

Czech patriots shoot Reinhard Heydrich in the suburbs of Prague. His condition is described as critical.

The Afrika Korps, having pushed around the British defenses, move northeast. They are engaged by elements of the British 1st and 7th Armored Divisions. Many tank losses were taken by both sides, although as the battle went on the British armor became increasingly scattered. The Italian Ariete Armored Division continued to meet stiff resistance from the Free French at Bir Hacheim, while the Italian Trieste Motorized Division further north, found itself grinding through minefields under heavy fire as a result of a navigation error.

Japanese Combined Fleet lifts anchor and sets sail for Midway. On the same day, Admiral Nimitz, having been for warned of the impending Japanese attack against Midway by US intelligence who were intercepting Japanese naval signals, issues orders for Task Force 16 (Admiral Spruance) with the carriers Enterprise and Hornet, plus 6 cruisers, 11 destroyers, 2 tankers and 19 submarines, to sail for Midway the next day.

Jean Moulin presides over the first-ever unified meeting of the French Resistance at 48 Rue de Four in Paris, where Charles de Gaulle is unanimously recognized as the movement’s leader. A month later, Moulin is betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo, dying on his way to a concentration camp in Germany.

The first British ‘liaison’ team is dropped into Yugoslavia to join up with Tito’s partisans.

Start of the monsoon season bogs down operations in Burma.

12,000 U.S. troops land on Biak in the Schouten Island Group, 350 miles West of Hollandia. MacArthur says, ‘this marks the strategic end of the New Guinea campaign’.

Chinese troops are now 25 miles North of Foochow and take Loyaun.

The U.S. Sixth Army takes Santa Fe on Luzon.

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