4 May 1942 Bombers launched from USS Yorktown make two attacks during the day on Japanese vessels and occupied positions around Tulagi. Two minesweepers sunk and one minelayer, destroyer and minesweeper damaged.
5 May 1941 Major-General Bernard Freyberg was appointed the commander of British and Commonwealth forces at Crete, Greece. The following day he received intelligence that the Germans were likely to launch a large airborne assault on Crete by 17 May.
5 May 1942 Major-General Jonathan Wainwright ordered his troops to surrender at 1030 hours on Corregidor Island, Philippines.
7 May 1942 IJN light aircraft carrier Shoho sank in the Coral Sea at 1135 hours after a US carrier borne aircraft attack that saw 13 bomb and 5 torpedo hits, the first Japanese carrier to sink in World War II. Also in the region aircraft launched from carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku attacked and disabled oil tanker USS Neosho and sank escorting destroyer USS Sims.
8 May 1942 Coral Sea During the final day of the battle both carrier fleets came under prolonged attack by opposing aircraft. Japanese carrier Shokaku is badly damaged and exits for home. USS Lexington critically damaged and later scuttled following explosion and fire below decks. USS Yorktown damaged and ordered to return to Pearl Harbour.
16/17 May 1943 19 specially modified Lancaster bombers took part in Operation Chastise. In what was later known as the Dambuster Raid, the Mohne and Eder Dams were breached by a total of only 8 bombs. The released floodwater caused major destruction and disturbance downstream and on a scale unlikely to have been achieved by a single conventional bombing raid. But the cost in men and aircraft was terrible, eight Lancasters crashed during the mission and 53 crewmen were killed.
18 May 1945 Specially modified American B-29 bombers arrived at Tinian, Mariana Islands in preparation of future atomic bomb missions.
20 May 1941 German invasion of Crete began with an airborne assault, capturing Maleme airfield on the northern coast.
Based on information passed to the British naval attaché in Stockholm that German warships Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were presently sailing in the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden, the Admiralty dispatched available vessels to intercept them. This included battlecruiser HMS Hood and battleship HMS Prince of Wales with cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk.
20 May 1942 A message intercepted by the Navy radio intelligence team at Pearl Harbour, allowed the US to confirm that the target of the next Japanese offensive was Midway Atoll. In response US Navy and Marine Corps dispatched reinforcements to Midway and the Aleutian Islands. Chester Nimitz had already recalled his carrier group back to Hawaii as a precaution.
20 May 1944 General Eisenhower addressed French Resistance groups via a broadcast in preparation for the planned cross-Channel invasion. On the same day 5000 Allied bombers conducted strikes against rail targets and airfields across France and Belgium.
Tulagi, an interesting place. I operated Sunderland NZ4107 into Tulagi on 6 Nov 1965 having made an airdrop of newspapers and mail to the lifeless and stranded HMNZS Royalist on the way that had seawater contamination in its boilers. We overnighted in Tulagi and were shown a cave by the locals that retreating Japanese soldiers fled into and the allies had sealed the entrance with explosives. Beached on rocks were the remains of a Japanese seaplane the type of which I cannot recall. The next morning we returned to Laucala Bay via the stranded Royalist with the entire ships compliment waving on deck in the stifling heat, a ship with no power and no aircon.
Did the Sunderlands often visit Tulagi during those later years? I guess the facilities at Halavo Bay were long closed. Or would you still use the old seaplane alighting area and moorings there ? In early August 1942 Guadalcanal and Tulagi together with nearby Gavutu, and Tanamabogo were the target of Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. ground offensive of the war. The 1st Marine Division had assembled and trained in NZ before being rushed North. Although tiny in area, the three minor islands near Florida in the Solomons would remain of great strategic importance for the next 3 years.
From memory we used the seaplane alighting area and moorings. If a mooring was not available it would require anchoring and that would require an anchor watch with a basic crew remaining on board to monitor the aircraft's position for anchor drag. That didn't happen, we all went ashore for the night.
22 May 1941 In Crete, Australian and New Zealand troops counterattacked at Maleme but the Germans repulsed this Allied attack and they pulled back to Suda Bay. The following day, called in to provide covering fire, destroyers HMS Kashmir and HMS Kelly (commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten) were sunk by divebombers. Their survivors were rescued by HMS Kipling which escaped during continued air attack.
24 May 1941 German battleship Bismarck and accompanying heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen engaged Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Hood in the Battle of Denmark Strait. Hood was destroyed by explosion in a magazine and sank with the loss of nearly all aboard. Prince Of Wales retired with heavy damage. Bismarck also took shell strikes and headed for St Nazaire for repair and refuelling but sustained further damage by a torpedo launched from an attacking Swordfish.
26 May 1941 A searching Catalina from RAF 209 Sqdn located Bismarck in the Atlantic and Royal Navy Swordfish again attacked. One torpedo disabled the steering which left Bismarck unable to escape the gathering allied naval force.
26 May 1942 Vice Admiral Bill Halsey returned to Hawaii in poor health and was sent to a mainland hospital for treatment and recovery. He was replaced in command of USS Enterprise and Task Force 16 by Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance who was to take a leading role in the upcoming Battle of Midway. Meanwhile Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley had arrived in Auckland and was setting up his Headquarters.
27 May 1941 Allied forces advanced toward Baghdad, Iraq in two columns from the south, along and on the Euphrates River and on the Tigris River from Basra. From the west British forces departed Fallujah. Meanwhile 12 Italian biplane fighters arrived at Mosul to reinforce the German and Iraqi forces. (Fast forward to 2003, same place, different combatants)
Bismarck was sighted by battleships HMS King George V and HMS Rodney and they opened fire shortly after, hitting Bismarck and quickly disabling her guns. Heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk and HMS Dorsetshire joined in the attack. After receiving about 400 shell strikes and several torpedo hits, Bismarck's crew set off scuttling charges in the boiler room. She sank at 1039 hours; the majority of the crew, 2,091, perished.
27 May 1942 USS Yorktown arrived at Pearl Harbour. 1,400 dockyard workers were assigned to make hasty repairs to damage incurred during the Battle of the Coral Sea. All done under urgency so that Yorktown could be ready to counter the predicted invasion of Midway Atoll.
Dave, the Anglo-Iraqi war took place from May 2-31, 1941, following a coup d'etat on 1 April by senior army and air force officers. Rashid Ali took power and was proclaimed Prime Minister of Iraq, The allied presence in Iraq at that time was limited to RAF personnel at two bases, there to protect British oil interests in the region. When the regime began making threats, reinforcements were requested and the 10th Indian Infantry Division was quickly deployed from Karachi in two convoys that arrived 18 and 29 April. The only Kiwi connection I can find is that one of the convoys was escorted to Basra by HMNZS Leander and there may have been New Zealanders aboard another escort, carrier HMS Hermes.
It's quite likely that there were Kiwis amongst the crew of the Royal Navy ships that fought the Bismarck. Here's my family's RAF connection to the event: My dad was from one of earliest groups that were called up for Air Force training as Radar Mechanics. He enlisted at Ohakea in mid-December 1940 and within a week was aboard ship and in transit to UK, via Panama. The ship arrived at Liverpool 1-Feb 1941. He underwent basic training and then an advanced radar course before being attached to Coastal Command 209 Squadron as ground crew servicing their Catalina fleet at RAF Castle Archdale, Lough Erne, Northern Ireland. He arrived there on 20 May and a week later was to share in the Squadron's pride and glory that it was one of their own that found the Bismarck.