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6 May 1940
Norwegian troops resist the German advance north of Roeros
Three Allied destroyers - HMS Afridi, the French Bison and the Polish Grom are lost off Norway
6 Decisive Battles of World War Two you may not have heard of!
During World War Two, there were so many battles and small confrontations that took place between the Allies and the Axis countries. Only those which were huge in scale or strategically significant have been remembered by the masses.
Here are 6 of the little known but often decisive battles that shaped the course of the Second World War.
Battle of The Hague (Netherlands) – 1940
Wrecked Junker JU52 airplanes [Via]
German paratroopers dropped in and around The Hague in order to capture Dutch airfields and the city. After taking the city, the plan was to force the Dutch queen Wilhelmina (who lived in The Hague) of the Netherlands to surrender and to thus defeat the Kingdom of the Netherlands within a single day. The operation failed to capture the Queen, and the German forces failed to hold on to the airfields after Dutch counterattacks. The main body of surviving troops retreated toward the nearby dunes where they were continually pursued and harassed by Dutch troops until the Dutch supreme command, due to major setbacks on other fronts, surrendered five days later.
The Nazis lost around 125 aircraft in the attempt as Dutch forces fought back and shot down their transport planes. This greatly affected the Nazis’ air power throughout the rest of the war. (Listverse)
Siege of Lille (France) – 1940
Wrecked vehicles near Lille in 1940 [Via]
Before the evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk, 40,000 French troops became stuck in Lille and were surrounded by the 7 German divisions, including 3 armored. They held off the Germans for five days, during which time more than quarter of a million troops were evacuated via Dunkirk.
Battle for Crete – 1941
German paratroops landing on Crete from Junkers 52 transports, 20 May 1941. [Via]
The Battle of Crete was fought on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete . Greek and Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island.
After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered very heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would prevail against the German invasion. The next day, through miscommunication and the failure of Allied commanders to grasp the situation, Maleme airfield in western Crete fell to the Germans, enabling them to fly in reinforcements and overwhelm the defenders. The battle lasted about 10 days.
Because of the heavy casualties suffered by the paratroopers, Adolf Hitler forbade further large-scale airborne operations. However, the Allies were impressed by the potential of paratroopers and started to build their own airborne formations.
Operation Iskra (Russia) – 1943
Defences along the Iskra peninsula [Via]
Operation Iskra was a Soviet military operation, designed to break the German Wehrmacht’s Siege of Leningrad.
The operation was conducted by the Red Army’s Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts, and the Baltic Fleet during January 12–30, 1943 with the aim of creating a land connection to Leningrad. The Soviet forces linked up on January 18, and by January 22, the front line was stabilised.
The operation successfully opened a land corridor 8–10 kilometres wide to the city. A rail road was swiftly built through the corridor which allowed more supplies to reach the city than the Road of Life across the frozen surface of Lake Ladoga, significantly reducing the possibility of the capture of the city and a German-Finnish linkup.
Operation Dragoon (France) – 1944
3rd Infantry Division disembarking from LCI (L) [Via]
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the United States Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up primarily of the French First Army.
The landing caused the German Army Group G to abandon southern France and to retreat under constant Allied attacks to the Vosges Mountains. Despite being a large and complex military operation with a well-executed amphibious and airborne component, Operation Dragoon is not well known as it was overshadowed by the earlier and larger Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy two months earlier
Battle of The Scheldt (Netherlands) – 1944
Column of Alligator amphibious vehicles passing Terrapin amphibious vehicles on the Scheldt river, October 1944. [Via]
This was part of the recapturing of the Antwerp port in Belgium. It was a highly strategic port that would enable Allied ships and supplies to access and deliver to the German border area. The port was captured intact in September 1944 but the Scheldt estuary, leading to the port, was still firmly in German hands. Without the Scheldt estuary, the port could not be used.
Complicated by the waterlogged terrain, the Battle of the Scheldt proved to be a challenging campaign. It took five weeks of difficult fighting when the Canadian First Army — bolstered by attached troops from several other countries — was successful in clearing the Scheldt after numerous amphibious assaults, obstacle crossings, and costly assaults over open ground.
6 May 1940 - History
On May 6, 1840, Britain issued the world's first adhesive postage stamp,the "Penny Black", featuring an engraving of a young Queen Victoria.
This post shows Canadian philatelic commemoration of this historical event.
To commemorate the Penny Black's centennial, a slogan cancellation was produced for use at the Hamilton, Ontario post office on May 6, 1940.
|MAY 6TH 1940 |
The Canadian Philatelic Society of Toronto used a meter commemorating the centenary of the first postage stamp
Invasion of France and the Low Countries - WW2 Timeline (May - June 1940)
The armistice between France and Germany was signed on June 22nd, 1940 officially signaling the surrender of France. The majority of the battles centered within Belgium up to the Channel coast and across northern France.
Prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler and his generals planned the conquest of France and the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg). The Germans laid down a careful plan in which diversionary forces would enter Belgium and draw up British and French units from their prepared positions. A second force would navigate the Ardennes Forest and bypass the Maginot Line, its drive intended to severe the northern Allied forces from the south. Beyond the concrete fortifications and heavy guns of the Maginot Line, the French were relying on the natural obstacle that was the Ardennes Forest, deemed impassable by French authorities. The German goal was simple - taking Holland and Luxembourg before conquering Belgium and France - making for the English Channel, crushing any Allied resistance along the way and capturing Paris. From this, a short crossing of the English Channel was all that was required of the German military to take Britain. German success with the "Blitzkrieg" (General Guderian being a key proponent of the doctrine) against Poland streamlined the invasion process and offered priceless experience to units.
The western European invasion began at 2:30am on May 10th, involving infantry crossing into Holland and Belgium and joined by German paratroopers taking the Belgian fort at Eben-Emael and its 2,000-strong garrison with the loss of just six German paratroopers. Other key paradrops netted strategic bridges and villages that would allow passage of German armor. Paratroopers also landed in Rotterdam and The Hague under complete surprise.
General von Bock's Army Group B moved into Holland and Belgium with 30 infantry divisions to set up the ruse. He was joined by the 44 divisions (including Panzer tank forces) of General von Rundstedt's Army Group A in the south. Army Group C fell to General Leeb and was positioned at the Maginot Line with 17 divisions intended to hold the French attention there.
Allied defenses were drawn up to expect the mass of the German forces coming through Belgium as they had done decades earlier in World War 1. By the numbers, the Allied forces were quite comparable to the invaders and, in some ways, stronger and more quantitative. The "Dyle Plan" was developed to create a defensive front created by the natural barrier that was the Dyle River, the front running north to Wavre and into Holland at the River Maas. Preparations were completed by May 14th.
Back on the afternoon of May 12th, German General Guderian's three divisions had successfully made a footprint at the Meuse River near Sedan and, by nightfall, enemy forces were in control of the right river bank as far north as Dinant in preparation for crossing. The French believed the crossings would require up to four days which would buy the Allies much needed time. However, German engineering prowess, even under fire, managed the crossing in just 24 hours. This allowed for complete German bridgeheads to be set up at Dinant, Montherme and Sedan by the end of May 14th to provide the springboard into France proper.
On May 15th, the Germans enacted their final push into France, moving all manner of man and machinery out from the bridgeheads and towards Paris and the Channel coast - the touted Maginot Line proved irrelevant to the French defense at this point and air superiority was in the hands of the Germans. Slow response and uncoordinated actions spelt doom for the defenders at every turn.
The Germans were able to commit 141 total divisions to the fighting, made up of 2,445 tanks, 7,378 artillery and 5,638 aircraft complementing its 3.35 million-strong infantry force. Comparatively, the Allies mustered 144 divisions with 14,000 artillery, 3,383 tanks and 3,000 aircraft to go along with their contingent of 3.3 million troops. The BEF was made up of 10 divisions under French command.
Despite valiant attempts by the Allies to hold positions, the Germans prevailed at the cost of 157,600 dead and as many as 1,345 aircraft and 800 tanks lost. The Allies fared much worse with 360,000 dead/wounded, 2,233 aircraft lost and some 1.9 million soldiers taken prisoner.
Much to Hitler's delight, his offensive to take Paris lasted all of 1 month and 12 days leading up to the French surrender.
By bypassing the Maginot Line, the Germans completed the unthinkable passing of the Ardennes Forest. Allied forces committed to the north and fell into the German trap which relied on excellent coordinated assaults from armor, artillery and dive bombers covered by fighter escorts, overwhelming the poorly-coordinated and arranged Allied forces. Despite a few successful counter attacks including the action by Colonel de Gaulle at Montcornet, the Allies could claim little and their situation worsened with streams of refugees beginning to choke key roads. Compared to the fluid German movements, the defending Allies found themselves in a poor position and not knowing the ultimate German goal - control of the Channel ports of the taking of Paris itself.
The German's lightning fast offensive through the Low Countries finally netted Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium as enemy forces reached the Channel on May 19th. The Dutch had already surrendered on May 15th, a day after Rotterdam was pounded by German bombers resulting in the deaths of 1,000 citizens and the destruction of some 78,000 homes. On May 17th and 18th, the capital city of Brussels was taken and followed by the key port city of Antwerp - prompting the Allies still trapped in the north to retreat to the coast for their lives. An Allied counterattack on May 24th found limited success but was beaten back in turn. With Brussels having fallen, King Leopold III relocated his government to Paris and surrendered his army to the Germans on May 28th.
Upon reaching the coast, German units in the north were halted to allow supplies to catch up and ready the army for the conquest of France. The remaining BEF and French forces holed up along an ever-shrinking defensive perimeter at Dunkirk, left to Hermann Goering's vaunted Luftwaffe to ultimately destroy.
With that, the German Army in the north turned its attention south and entered the French frontier. A defensive front was established at the Somme and Aisne rivers but their proved futile. Lest the historical structures of Paris be lost to German bombs and tanks, the capital city was handed over without a fight to the Germans who arrived on June 14th. The armistice was signed on June 22nd, 1940, officially ending the German campaign against the Low Countries and France. To add insult to France's injury, Adolf Hitler ordered the French surrender to be signed in the same railway car that the humiliating German surrender to France was signed at the end World War 1 decades earlier.
The conquest of western Europe was now complete. The entire German offensive netted four countries in just six weeks.
There are a total of (14) Invasion of France and the Low Countries - WW2 Timeline (May - June 1940) events in the Second World War timeline database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events may also be included for perspective.
German airborne elements land across Belgium and Holland in advance of ground forces, capturing key bridges and routes.
German paratroopers land in The Hague and Rotterdam.
89 German paratroopers land and take the Belgium fortress of Eben Emael with its garrison of 2,000 soldiers.
British and French army forces begin defensive preparations in Belgium in an effort to stave off the German advance. A long line of strategic defenses is contructed.
Facing light opposition, German Panzer Corps XV, XLI and XIX are free to set up three key bridge-heads covering Dinant, Montherme and Sedan.
Panzer Corps XV and XIX break through the Allied defenses at Sedan, allowing German forces to completely bypass the formidable defenses at the French Maginot Line.
German Panzer Corps cross into the north of France.
After periods of heavy bombing all across Rotterdam, the Dutch surrender to the Germans.
Friday, May 17th - May 18th, 1940
Antwerp falls to the German Army.
Friday, May 17th - May 18th, 1940
Brussels falls to the German Army.
Friday, May 17th - May 18th, 1940
Allied forces are in full retreat of the Germans, making their way towards the French coastline.
An Allied counterattack against the German Army near Arras ends in failure as the attack is itself countered by another advancing German land force.
King Leopold of Belgium orders his army to surrender to the Germans. By this time, his government has already relocated to Paris, France.
With Belgium out of the way, German Army elements begin making their way towards the French coastline in an attempt to completely eliminate Allied forces for good.
A History of the French Resistance
From de Gaulle’s call to arms against Vichy France to Liberation four years later.
At 6pm on 18 June 1940, a relatively unknown French two-star general, Charles de Gaulle, composed himself in front of a microphone at the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London and began a speech. Lasting less than six minutes, his words were an impassioned rejection of the armistice with Nazi Germany, which had been announced the day before by Marshal Pétain, prime minister and soon to be head of state of the collaborationist Vichy regime. Bristling with intent, de Gaulle was adamant that the Fall of France was just one battle and not the whole war, which he predicted would become a world war. Broadcast at 10pm, the speech was not obviously political. Rather it was a call to arms, aimed at the French military.
Few French people responded to de Gaulle’s plea, principally because it was difficult not to accept Pétain’s logic that Nazi Germany had won. Indeed, most saw de Gaulle as irrelevant, preferring to embrace Pétain as the saviour figure whose authoritarian antisemitic regime, based in the central spa town of Vichy, enjoyed mass support in autumn 1940.
However, after the Second World War, de Gaulle’s speech of 18 June 1940 became enshrined in French history as the starting point of the French Resistance, which led directly to the Liberation four years later. This founding narrative allowed French people to forget the humiliation of Nazi Occupation and rebuild national self-esteem.
In reality, as Olivier Wieviorka shows in his compelling study, the speech was only one starting point for the Resistance, namely de Gaulle’s Free French Movement in London.
Throughout France, grassroots groups sprung up in late 1940 and 1941, independently of de Gaulle and of one another. Admittedly these groups were tiny in number and not all of them were necessarily military in character. In fact, many focused on the production of a clandestine press that challenged the Vichy regime and Nazism in terms of ideas. Furthermore, there was the ambiguous stance of the Communist Party, which, given the August 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, did not enter into full-blown anti-Nazi resistance until Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.
Wieviorka charts the minutiae of these multiple beginnings with skill, outlining how this diversity explains the resentments, rivalries and political divisions between the different groups, not least the tension between de Gaulle in London and those fighting the Nazis at the sharp end in France. In particular, Wieviorka shows how, although the Resistance was united behind de Gaulle in May 1943, there was always suspicion on the part of the Gaullists towards the Communist Party. They feared that communist resisters had a secret plan to turn the defeat of Nazi Occupation into revolutionary insurrection and, for this reason, de Gaulle carefully controlled the choreography of the liberation of Paris at the end of August 1944, ensuring that he alone became the symbol of re-found national unity.
From the outset Wieviorka underlines his disciplinary credentials. As a historian his mission is to strip back the myths and legends to arrive at a balanced interpretation of what has always been a highly emotive subject. To this end the book is defined by rigour and his arguments are backed up by a wealth of facts and figures. Thus he shows how the greatest repression took place right at the end of the Occupation. With the war turning decisively against them, Nazi violence intensified, which meant that the 21,600 deported to concentration camps between D-Day on 6 June 1944 and the end of November 1944 represented almost a third of all deportees for the whole four-year period. Then, in the weeks before final defeat in May 1945, the Nazis rounded up Resistance leaders, such as Charles Delestraint, and shot them, usually in the back of the neck.
Wieviorka is especially good on how radio became a key battleground of ideas. In London, de Gaulle had to fight for access to the airwaves via the BBC’s noon news, eventually winning a daily five-minute slot from December 1940 onwards, which then became a crucial platform. During 1942, three million people tuned in to de Gaulle, which, Wieviorka says, explains why the Nazi and Vichy authorities did everything in their power to deter listening, ranging from jamming broadcasts through to the threat of imprisonment.
There is also a highly perceptive chapter on the sociology of resistance. After 1945, Gaullists and Communists fervently maintained that the majority of French people contributed to the Resistance. Such claims, Wieviorka emphasises, were a gross distortion of the truth, motivated by the desire to win political ascendency in the postwar period. The ‘army of the shadows’ was always a minority phenomenon, amounting to something between 300,000 and 500,000 women and men out of a population in 1945 of 39.6 million. Here, Wieviorka explores the logic of Resistance-engagement in terms of class, underlining how the numerical presence of the working class reflected the weight of the Communists. Moreover, the working class could draw upon a long-established culture of resistance, which included demonstrations, strikes and violent confrontation. Equally, though, there was a strong middle-class presence (teachers, doctors, academics) because, particularly at the beginning, proficiency in the written word was crucial in establishing the underground press, added to which was the massive role of foreigners. Thus of the 120,000 Spaniards who fled the Franco regime in 1939, many joined the Resistance on the grounds that this was a continuation of their anti-fascist struggle.
However, this study is very much a history of the Resistance in metropolitan France. There is no consideration of how the French Resistance played out in France’s empire. Similarly, some of the translation reads awkwardly, not least references to women as ‘the fairer sex’. That said, this is an impressive synthesis which, alongside the work of Roderick Kedward, Hannah Diamond and Robert Gildea, is now one of the starting points for understanding the French Resistance.
The French Resistance
Translated by Jane Marie Todd
Harvard University Press
Martin Evans is Professor of Modern European History at Sussex University. He is curating the exhibition Paris-London: Global Music Connections, which will open in March 2019 at the French National Museum of the History of Immigration, Paris.
The French Resistance
The French Resistance played a vital part in aiding the Allies to success in Western Europe – especially leading up to D-Day in June 1944. The French Resistance supplied the Allies with vital intelligence reports as well as doing a huge amount of work to disrupt the German supply and communication lines within France.
The surrender of France in June 1940, was a major blow to many French people in terms of their pride. Many believed that the government had let the people down. The creation of a Nazi-approved Vichy government, primarily in the centreand south of the country, was, in the minds of many, further proof that politicians had let down France. The resistance movement developed to provide the Allies with intelligence, attack the Germans when possible and to assist the escape of Allied airmen.
In the immediate aftermath of the June 1940 surrender, France went into a period of shock. The public had been assured that the French army, along with the Maginot Line, was more than strong enough to resist a German attack. The speed and severity of Blitzkrieg had shocked the French people. The non-occupied region of France, known as Vichy France, was set up by the Germans and governed by Marshall Pétain. His reputation was still high and in the early days of Vichy, his leadership gave it some stability and kudos. Also in the days after the British attack on Mers el Kébir, there was a degree of anti-British sentiment in France. Therefore, there was no immediate drive to create a resistance movement en masse in central and southern France.
On June 18th, 1940, Charles de Gaulle addressed the people of France from London. He called on the French people to continue the fight against the Germans. This message hit hard in occupied France but initially it was less well received in Vichy France. Regardless of what many thought of the Vichy government, the area they controlled was run by French people. However, when the Vichy government began to openly collaborate with the Germans, attitudes hardened.
The French Resistance movement is an umbrella term which covered numerous anti-German resistance movements that were based within France. There were resistance movements that took direct orders from the Special Operations Executive, there was the communist resistance, groups loyal to de Gaulle, regional resistance movements that wanted independence etc. In the north, the target was simply the Germans while in the south, the Vichy government was a target as well as the Germans. The first resistance movements were in the north, such as the OCM (Organisation Civile et Militaire) and by the end of 1940, six underground newspapers were being regularly printed in the north. In May 1941, the first SOE agent was dropped into northern France to assist the work of the resistance.
Because of the peculiar political complexities of France, the resistance movement got off to a difficult start. However, by June 1941, the resistance movement had become more organised and its work against the Germans increased accordingly. Two dates are important in explaining the work of the resistance movement in France.
On June 22nd 1941, all the communist groups within France joined forces to create one group. This simple act greatly increased its potency. On November 11th 1942, German forces occupied the whole of France. This meant that the whole country was occupied and the attitude of the north quickly transferred itself to the south.
The German attack on Russia – Operation Barbarossa – led to many French communists joining the resistance movement. Politics took a back step and the French communists gained a reputation for being aggressive and successful resistance fighters. Many French people joined as the support for Vichy quickly waned. Many in the south were angered by the compulsory labour service that had been brought in. But the treatment of the Jews was a major cause of resentment towards the Vichy government and many joined the resistance as a means of fighting against a policy that the vast majority found abhorrent.
The relationship between Britain and the French Resistance movement was vital. Britain, via the SOE, supplied the French with equipment and trained agents. The French Resistance, in turn, supplied vital intelligence reports. As an example, the British attack on the radio base at Bruneval in 1942 could have been a lot more costly in terms of lives lost, if the British had not received intelligence reports from the resistance with regards to the building of new blockhouses there. With such information, the British paratroopers could plan accordingly.
Though the British government and de Gaulle could have a difficult relationship at times, in October 1941, both reached a compromise with regards to resistance operations in France. de Gaulle set up a Central Intelligence and Operations Agency with the support of the British. This acted independently but planning was carried out in co-operation with the SOE which supplied equipment. Agents sent into France started a general re-grouping of all resistance movements and a Conseil National de la Résistance movement was established which was subordinated to de Gaulle. By the end of 1942, de Gaulle became head of the Comité Français de Libération Nationale which headed all resistance movements in France. As a result of this greater organisational security, the resistance became more effective in 1943. Attacks on the French rail system increased greatly. Between January and June 1943, there were 130 acts of sabotage against rail lines each month. By September 1943, this had increased to 530. The disruption to the Germans ability to move equipment was massive.
By 1944, it is estimated that there were 100,000 members of the various resistance movements that existed in France. Just one year earlier, there were just 40,000 members.. By the spring of 1944, there were 60 intelligence cells whose task was solely to collect intelligence as opposed to carrying out acts of sabotage. In the build up to D-Day, the intelligence they gathered was vital. In May 1944 alone, they sent 3,000 written reports to the Allies and 700 wireless reports. Between April and May, the resistance destroyed 1,800 railway engines. When this figure is added to the 2,400 destroyed by Allied bombers, it is easy to understand why the Germans had such difficulty transporting equipment across France.
Post-war analysis of the success of the resistance shows that the 150 most successful acts of sabotage against factories in France between 1943 and 1944, used just 3,000 lbs of explosives – the equivalent of the bomb load of one single Mosquito plane.
6 May 1940 - History
In the back of On the Treadmill to Pearl Harbor , the memoirs of Admiral James O. Richardson, (GPO: Washington, DC, 1973) is printed as an appendix an official USN letter setting
forth the Table of Organization of the US Fleet as of November 1, 1940, when Admiral Richardson served as CINCUS. Using that letter, and other sources for confirmation, I have
put up similar tables. This info only covers the Forces Afloat in the Atlantic and Pacific, and does not cover the Shore Establishment or the Asiatic Fleet, though mention is made of
vessels assigned to Naval Districts. I have information from other sources on the shore establishment and some info on the Asiatic Fleet as well.
At this point in time the war in Europe was entering its second full year. Britain stood alone against the Axis, though Hitler was already planning for the disastrous invasion of the
Soviet Union. The US Fleet, however, was concentrated in the Pacific to counter Japanese aggression, with a small but growing Patrol Force in the Atlantic. In fact, the Fleet's
concentration at Pearl Harbor became a matter of contention between Admiral Richardson and President Roosevelt and eventually led to Richardson's relief by Rear Admiral
Husband Kimmel, Commander, Cruisers, Battle Force.
Check the changes in the strength and organization of the fleet since October 1939 to see how the Navy was preparing for involvement in the world conflict. Further comparison to
the October 1941 Organization may also be useful.
The information presented on the following pages helps show how the Navy stood at this key moment and shows how some of the key players in World War II were being prepared
for their service.
The Night Of Tornadoes – May 6, 1965
Minnetonka Boat Works was the local Chris-Craft Dealer in Wayzata – on Lake Minnetonka. Their storage facility was in nearby Deephaven where the tornadoes passed through. The devastation from the tornado that hit Lake Minnetonka and Deephaven was substantial, flipping the boats like small toys into a pile of rubble.
FIFTY YEARS AGO THIS WEEK a series of six tornadoes swept through the Twin Cities area of Minnesota – the evening of May 6, 1965. We were reminded of this tragic event a few days ago when we received the above photo from Joseph Finley – which he posted on our Woody Boater Facebook page.
Minnesota correspondent and long-time resident Dane Anderson remembers that day in 1965 well – “I was a young boy at the time, but have vivid memories of that night. My Dad brought our brand new Glastron V-155 Fireflite home that day and tucked it away in the single car garage since it wasn’t insured yet. One of the tornadoes hit the house across the street and the house behind us, but hopped over our house.”
“That night was the first time that authorities used the Civil Defense Air-Raid Sirens to signal a tornado warning in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-Saint Paul). Even though there was significant loss of life and many more injuries, the air-raid siren warnings were credited for saving many lives.”
“Multiple f4 tornadoes mark this as the worst tornado outbreak in Minnesota history. Six or more tornadoes hit the metro area. Some areas were hit by two tornadoes the same night!”
“Tornado #6 (described below) was the one that hit our neighborhood in Golden Valley. Our yard was littered with debris from neighbor’s homes.” – Dane Anderson
The remains from the tornadoes that rolled through the Minnetonka Boat Works storage facility in Deephaven. – Photo from the book “Hidden Revealed” – A sequel account of the May 6, 1965 tornado outbreak, by Allen W. Taylor.
Much has been written about this tragic weather event over the years. Local meteorologist Paul Hutter wrote a great piece on his Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) blog in 2014 – describing in great detail what was going on that night, and how it changed his life. Here is an excerpt from that story in 2014. – Texx
Twin Cities ‘Tornado Swarm’ 49 Years Ago
Where were you 49 years ago this week?
If you were anywhere near the Twin Cities metro area, you remember that day vividly.
For me, May 6, 1965 is my first living memory. Our home was within a half mile of the path of the devastating Deephaven Tornado that day.
Fortunately, May 6 – 1965 still stands 49 years later as the biggest tornado outbreak in Twin Cities history. Here’s an excellent summary of events from the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service.
The May 6, 1965 Tornadoes
Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service
The worst tornadoes in Minnesota Twin Cities history occurred on May 6, 1965, with five tornadoes sweeping across the western and northern portions of the 7-county region, and a sixth tornado just outside the metropolitan area. Four tornadoes were rated F4, one was an F3, and the other produced F2 damage. Thirteen people were killed and 683 injured.
Many more would have been killed had it not been for the warnings of the U.S. Weather Bureau, local officials, and the outstanding communications by local radio and television stations. Many credit the announcers of WCCO-AM with saving countless lives. It was also the first time in Twin Cities history that civil defense sirens were used for severe weather.
There were two photographs of tornadoes – the Deephaven tornado and the second Fridley tornado were both published in the Minneapolis Tribune. It is unknown whether anybody else took pictures of any of the tornadoes that day.
May 6th, 1965 Tornado outbreak sequence from Lake Minnetonka to Fridley, MN. (Source – NOAA National Weather Service) There were two tornadoes on the ground at Lake Minnetonka at the same time (center of photo). On this chart the 6:08 tornado went up through Navarre (where the above photo was taken). The 6:27 Tornado went straight north through Deephaven. If you look at those time stamps you’ll see they were hitting the lake at the same time. You can imagine the radio coverage while those storms were hitting with multiple tornadoes to report simultaneously. – Dane
Tornado #1 – touched down at 6:08 p.m. CST just east of Cologne (Carver County), was on the ground for 13 miles, and dissipated in the northwestern portion of Minnetrista (Hennepin County). It was rated an F4, killed three people and injured 175.
Tornado #2 – touched down at 6:27 p.m. CST near Lake Susan in Chanhassen (Carver County) and traveled 7 miles straight north to Deephaven (Hennepin County). It was rated an F4, was on the ground for 7 miles, but resulted in no injuries or fatalities.
Tornado #3 – touched down at 6:34 p.m. CST about 3 miles east of New Auburn (Sibley County) and moved to just west of Lester Prairie (McLeod County). On the ground for 16 miles, it was rated an F3, but there were no injuries or fatalities.
Tornado #4 – touched down at 6:43 p.m. CST about two miles east of Green Isle (Sibley County), was on the ground 11 miles, and dissipated about two miles southwest of Waconia (Carver County). It was rated an F2, killed one person, and injured 175.
Tornado #5 – touched down at 7:06 p.m. CST in the southwesternmost corner of Fridley (Anoka County), moved across the Northern Ordnance plant, and dissipated just northeast of Laddie Lake in Blaine (Anoka County). It was on the ground for 7 miles, reached F4 intensity, killed three people and injured 175.
Tornado #6 – touched down at 8:14 p.m. CST in Golden Valley, moved across north Minneapolis (Hennepin County) and into Fridley (Anoka County), then Mounds View (Ramsey County), and finally dissipated just west of Centerville (Anoka County). This was rated an F4, killed six people and injured 158, and was on the ground for 18 miles.
An aerial photo of the Minnetonka Boat Works facility that was devastated by the tornadoes on May 6, 1965. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it)
Paul Huttner is Chief Meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio. You can see Paul’s full story on his MPR blog by Clicking Here.
Although Minnetonka Boat Works was an authorized Chris-Craft Dealer at the time, it appears from the photos that there were many different types of (now classic) boats effected by the tornadoes that day in 1965.
The German invasion of Holland
Germany invaded Holland on May 10th 1940. The invasion, based on blitzkrieg, was swift and devastating. Holland surrendered just six days later as her military had been unable to cope with the speed of blitzkrieg. Fear was also great – Rotterdam had been severely damaged by bombing. Could the same happen to Amsterdam? The Hague?
Rotterdam destroyed by German bombing
German bombers attack Holland at 03.55 on May 10th. The target was Waalhaven airfield to the south of Rotterdam. One hour later, a battalion of paratroopers was dropped onto the airfield. Dutch troops based in Waalhaven put up fierce resistance but it was in vain. As with all early blitzkrieg attacks, the Germans had the element of surprise. While Waalhaven was being taken – a perfect base for the Luftwaffe to use – more paratroopers landed at Dordrecht, ten miles to the south-east of Waalhaven. Their task was to capture a vital bridge in the town. Such a prize would greatly assist the Germans ability to move vehicles in their assault on Holland.
As a result of the waterways that dissect Holland, small naval craft played a part in the attempts to stop the invasion. They had been reasonably successful but only delayed the inevitable. However, their perceived success persuaded the Commander-in Chief of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Vice-Admiral Fürstner, that more ships should be sent to the inland waterways to attack the Germans. To this end the destroyer ‘Van Galen’ was sent up the Nieuwe Waterweg – and became an easy target for German bombers. The narrow waterways ended any chance the destroyer had of changing her course – she was essentially stuck in the Nieuwe Waterweg. Though the ‘Van Galen’ did not receive a direct hit, many near misses had done much damage to the ship and she limped into Merwedeharbour incapable of continuing the fight. Though the journey of the ‘Van Galen’ had been futile, it typified the attempts by the Dutch to fight off the enemy.
The Dutch Air Force did the same. The airfield at Waalhaven was attacked four times by the Dutch (after it had fallen to the Germans) and many German planes were lost. But, despite their bravery, it was only inevitable that the Germans would be victorious. By the end of May 10th, the Germans had captured Waalhaven airbase and the vital bridge at Dordrecht. The southern sector of Rotterdam had been occupied and the Germans were in the perfect position to attack the heart of Holland’s most important commercial centre. Waalhaven was used to bring in German troops – this was achieved by 250 Junkers 52 transport planes bringing in troops.
Holland was an irritation in the great scheme of the attack on France. The sooner the Germans could take out Holland, the sooner they could concentrate all their resources on France. For this reason, they wanted to shock the politicians of Holland into surrendering. Rotterdam was the pay the price for this. The Germans decided to launch a ferocious attack on Rotterdam that would have such an impact, that the government of Holland would initiate a surrender.
On May 14th, the attack on Rotterdam started. The Germans used the excuse for such an attack that British troops had landed by the Maas River, thus endangering German troops based in the area. No such landing had taken place by the British. The attack started at 13.30 and within five hours, the Germans entered the centre of Rotterdam. There were 30,000 civilian casualties.
Over the next two days, the Germans conquered the rest of Holland. However, they did meet with resistance especially at the Ypenburg and Ockenburg air bases. At Ypenburg, 11 German transport planes were shot down out of a total of 13. Such was the ferocity of the defenders at Ockenburg, that German transport planes landed on the soft sand dunes that were near to the air base.
Despite all their heroics, the Dutch Air Force lost 62 planes out of 125 on May 10th alone. Despite such losses, they continued attacking the Germans and inflicting damage up until Holland surrendered. For their valour, the Dutch Air Force was awarded the Militaire Willemforce – the Dutch equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
The threat to bomb Utrecht, persuaded the Dutch government to surrender. On May 14th, a message was sent out to all Dutch forces to lay down their arms. Commanders were ordered to stop fighting and to destroy all ammunition. Skirmishes continued until May 16th.
Discover Jersey’s Occupation Story
The Channel Islands were the only part of the Britain Isles to be occupied by German forces in WW2. The five-year occupation came to an end on 9 May 1945 - Liberation Day, an event still celebrated in Jersey with an annual Bank Holiday.
Life under occupation
The German Occupation of Jersey began one week after the British government had demilitarized the island fearing for the safety of civilians should there be any conflict. The codename for this was “Operation Green Arrow” (Grüne pfeil) and the initial German Air Force reconnaissance flights mistake civilian farming lorries for troop carriers. On the 28th of June , the German Air Force, not knowing of the demilitarization, bomb and machine gun multiple sites on the island. The attacks killed ten people and wound many more. A few days later on the 1 of July 1940 General Richthofen, The Commander of the German Air Forces in Normandy, dropped an ultimatum from the air demanding the immediate surrender of the island. White flags and crosses were placed in prominent positions, as stipulated by the Germans, and later that day Jersey was occupied by air-borne troops under the command of Hauptmann Gussek.
Under the occupying forces, one of the greatest hardships was the lack of news from the mainland after the Germans had outlawed the use of radio sets. A number of individuals risked imprisonment by making their own crystal radio sets and spreading frontline news. Horse drawn traffic became an increasingly regular sight as petrol shortages became severe, and many vehicles were converted to use gas. The price of bicycles rose, and their use was restricted to those connected to essential services. The German’s ordered all traffic to drive on the wrong side of the road. The island was also moved to Central European time. In the months following D-Day, as the Allies regained control of France, the source of supplies fueling the islands was now no longer available.
Shopping hours were reduced as goods became scarce. Food shortages on Jersey were finally relieved by the arrival of the Red Cross ship SS Vega, bringing food parcels to Jersey. Before then, substitutes had been used to replace everyday foods, with seawater replacing salt, for instance, and a mixture of parsnip and sugar beet replacing tea. During the autumn of 1944, fuel supplies were almost gone, leaving no gas, occasional electricity, and very little road fuel. Medical supplies were almost non-existent and most people were without fuel. A Red Cross relief ship, the S S Vega, arrived in Jersey on 30 December with food parcels, and cases of salt, soap and medical supplies. The visits of the Red Cross ship S S Vega proved a lifeline to the starving islanders.
Hitler ordered the conversion of Jersey into an impregnable fortress. Thousands of slave workers from countries like Russia, Spain, France, Poland, and Algeria built hundreds of bunkers, anti-tank walls, railway systems, as well as many tunnel complexes. In late 1943 the Tunnel Complex Ho8 (now known as the Jersey War Tunnels) in St. Lawrence was converted from an artillery workshop and barracks to an emergency casualty clearing station able to cope with up to 500 patients.. All of the fortifications built around the island were part of Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall”. Today, traces of Jersey’s defenses and wartime occupations can be discovered across the island, especially in St. Ouen’s Bay.
Behind the scenes
On 6 May 1945 a delegation of German officials met with Jersey’s Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, and the Attorney-General to discuss the developments in Europe and their impact on the islands. The German Command were defiant and no reference to surrender was entertained. Instead, the Germans portrayed their defeat as a shift in focus towards a union between the powers in a new fight against Russia. As if to illustrate this sentiment, the German Commander of the Channel Islands, Vice-Admiral Huffmeier, responded to the British Army’s request for capitulation by stating that he only received orders from his 'own Government'. Despite the nonchalance of the German occupying forces, which were still officially recognised, Jersey’s preparations for liberation began to take noticeable shape. In June 1944, the Normandy landings marked the initiation of ‘Operation Overlord’, the invasion of northwest Europe by the Allied forces.
Victory on the Horizon
By 7 May 1945, the German army had surrendered and the end of the war in Europe was announced. During the week leading up to 6 May islanders had been hearing reports of Hitler’s fall in Berlin by way of their hidden radios. In spite of the fact that the island was still officially under occupation, rumors began circulating of an imminent end to the war in Europe. In June 1944, the Normandy landings marked the initiation of ‘Operation Overlord’, the invasion of northwest Europe by the Allied forces. Culminating on the 8 May, the Allied military powers had been busy coordinating the necessary steps, behind the scenes, to recover the Channel Islands from their occupation. On 3 May a British Military operation 'Nestegg', with the objective of liberating the Channel Islands, was set in motion when a coordinated group of British Army units, collectively known as ‘Force 135’, were called to 'Stand To'.
On 8 May the units that made up Force 135 received their orders to move to their marshalling camps in Portsmouth. The main body of the Force was due to arrive in the islands on 12 May, however, a small contingent of Force 135, including their Commander, Brigadier AE Snow, left for the Channel Islands aboard HMS’ Bulldog and Beagle the morning of 8 May. Together with the units of Force 135, this first party consisted of a team of officials responsible for negotiating the terms of the Germans’ surrender. The front page of The Evening Post carried Jersey’s first confirmation of the Allies’ victory in Europe, and islanders were informed that Winston Churchill would broadcast the Nation’s first official announcement that afternoon at 3.00pm. Crowds began to gather at various locations to hear the announcement that would declare their liberation. Islanders waited patiently amidst the heavy air of expectation.
At 3.00pm Winston Churchill crackled onto the airwaves to give, perhaps, the most famous speech of his career. The Prime Minister’s words announced the end to the war in Europe and the “unconditional surrender of all German land, sea and air forces in Europe”. When, amidst great cheers across the island, he uttered the words, “our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today”. Island-wide flags and decorations sprang up. From a balcony overlooking the Royal Square, Bailiff Coutanche gave an impassioned address and proceed with an emotional rendition of the national anthem. Possessions, forbidden under the occupation, miraculously reappeared, adding to the celebrations. Parties continued throughout the rest of the day and long after the King’s speech at 9.00pm, with several bonfire and firework displays taking place.
At 7.15am on 9 May, on the quarter deck of HMS Bulldog, Second-in-Command for Guernsey General Siegfried Heine signed the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the German Command of the Channel Islands, effecting their capitulation. On completion of this, General Heine was then ordered to “immediately cause all German flags and ensigns now flying in the Channel Islands to be lowered”. At Midday an overjoyed Bailiff Coutanche accompanied a German delegation led by the island Commander, General Major Rudolf Wulf, aboard HMS Beagle anchored in St. Aubin’s bay, where the separate surrender of Jersey was to take place. Arriving at the same time in St. Helier’s harbour was a small naval inspection party sent to report on the health of the islanders, who were promptly overwhelmed by an enthusiastic crowd delighted at seeing their first liberators landing on Jersey soil.
The advanced landing party was dispatched to secure control of St. Helier and signal the liberation. Crowds greeted the liberating forces. Having wrestled their way through the hordes of celebrating locals, Lieutenant-Colonel WPA Robinson and his team eventually arrived at the Pomme d’Or the pre-selected liberation HQ. On their arrival the swastika flag was ordered down from the hotel balcony and, at 3.40pm the Union Jack was hoisted, officially signaling the end of the occupation. At this the crowd broke into a passionate performance of the national anthem before the streams of cheers erupted. This time, it was the Germans who were ordered to fly the white flag. The task force included many Channel Islanders who were forced to leave in 1940, and one of them, Captain Hugh le Brocq, was given the honour of raising the Union Jack over Fort Regent. As the day of liberation drew on, the celebrations continued and islanders celebrated their freedom to be together.
There are many ways for visitors experience Jersey’s occupation story. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the occupation at the popular Jersey War Tunnels – you can even arrive by vintage open top bus. For a more personal approach book a tour with History Alive here their knowledge is only surpassed by their passion. If you prefer to take things at your own pace then download the free Geotourist app and follow the Liberation Trail or the Occupation Trail.