29 May 1940 Allies evacuated 33,558 men from the harbour at Dunkirk and 13,752 from nearby beaches. German aircraft attacked destroyers HMS Grenade (sunk), HMS Jaguar (badly damaged) and minesweeper HMS Waverley (sunk) with 382 lives lost.
29 May 1941 A British force of cruisers and destroyers embarked 3,486 men at Heraklion, Crete and departed for Egypt. Badly damaged, destroyer HMS Imperial transferred her crew and passengers, and then was scuttled. HMS Hereward was bombed and sunk, 76 were killed and 89 survivors were taken prisoner by Italian torpedo boats. Cruisers HMS Orion and HMS Dido were also attacked, a further 132 crew and 360 passengers died.
30 May 1940 Along with other vessels, 18 older destroyers continued with the Dunkirk evacuation. 24,311 were rescued from the harbour and 29,512 from the nearby beaches.
30 May 1941 Before dawn a force of British cruisers and destroyers embarked 6,029 troops and departed Sphakia, Crete for Egypt. RAF fighter escorts provided protective cover and casualties were far less than on the previous day.
30 May 1942 The RAF launched the first thousand bomber raid against Germany, Operation Millennium. Originally targeted for Hamburg, it was switched to Cologne due to weather. Over 1400 tons of explosives were dropped on that city during the night of 30-31 May 1942, killing 500, injuring 5000, and making nearly 60,000 homeless. 40 British bombers failed to return.
USS Yorktown having received rushed repairs, departed Pearl Harbour for Midway Atoll, with escorts destroyer USS Hammann and heavy cruiser USS Astoria. Only Astoria would return.
1 June 1940 Despite intense German bombing which caused much damage to ships, during the day 47,081 Allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk harbour and 17,348 from the beaches.
1 June 1941 Before dawn, British ships embarked a further 3,710 Allied troops at Sphakia, Crete bringing the total evacuated to 16,511. However 5,000 still remained and they surrendered by the end of the day, thus ending the German campaign on Crete.
1 June 1942 Two Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour in the final hours of the previous day. One of them, M-24 fired two torpedoes at cruiser USS Chicago. Both missed, but one hit the breakwater, sinking nearby barracks ship HMAS Kuttabul. M-24 was able to escape the harbour and her crew abandoned the submarine 13 miles north of Sydney, but they were never seen again. The other midget submarine was depth charged and destroyed by Australian auxiliary patrol boats and both men aboard were killed.
2 June 1942 USS Yorktown rendezvoused with USS Enterprise and USS Hornet 350 miles northeast of Midway Atoll. Rear Admiral Fletcher took overall command of this fleet.
2 June 1944 Typhoon fighter-bombers of 98 and 609 Squadrons attacked and destroyed the enemy radar station at Dieppe/Caude-Cote in France as a prelude to the Normandy landings. This installation would have given the Germans advance warning of the Allied invasion fleet.
4 June 1936 The British Air Ministry issued Contract No. 527112/36 to Hawker Aviation for 600 units of the soon-to-be-named Hurricane fighter.
4 June 1940 The evacuation of Allied forces in Norway began from Harstad. 24,500 men would be evacuated over 4 days. Overnight, 26,175 French troops were evacuated from Dunkirk. At 1020 hours, German troops occupied the city and captured the 30-40,000 French troops remaining. In total, 338,226 Allied personnel were evacuated during the previous days of Operation Dynamo. Churchill declared in Parliament “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
4 June 1941 Former German Emperor and King of Prussia Kaiser Wilhelm II died in Doorn, Netherlands.
4 June 1942 Starting at 0700 hours, US carriers launched torpedo bombers and dive bombers against the Japanese fleet in the Midway region. The first few waves of US air attacks were destroyed, but at about 1030 hours dive bombers were able to hit carriers Soryu, Kaga, and Akagi. USS Yorktown was hit by Japanese dive bombers at about 1200 hours and by torpedo bombers at 1440 hours, forcing Rear Admiral Fletcher to transfer his flag to cruiser Astoria. At 1703 hours, the last undamaged Japanese carrier Hiryu was hit by a dive bomber.
4 June 1944 Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, planned for the following day, was postponed due to bad weather. Meanwhile, RAF bombers struck German coastal fortifications along the French coast. The 88th Division led the US 5th Army into Rome. It had been declared an open city by the German Army so no resistance was encountered. Lieutenant General Mark Clark immediately held a press conference on the steps of the Town Hall on the Capitoline Hill. However the majority of the German Tenth Army was allowed to escape and only pursued by advance elements of the British Eighth Army. In the south Atlantic, Task Force 22.3 consisting of the escort aircraft carrier USS Guadalcanal and destroyers of the anti-submarine hunter-killer group with Captain Daniel V. Gallery in command, captured the German U-505 intact, including all code books, two Enigma machines and two Zaunkönig acoustically-guided torpedoes. The U-Boat was taken under tow bound for Bermuda. This was the US Navy's first capture of an enemy warship on the high seas since the War of 1812.
6 June 1915 The first airship to be destroyed in air combat was the Zeppelin LZ 37 which was attacked by British Flight Sub-Lieutenant R. A. J. Warneford (No. 1 Squadron RNAS) in a Morane-Saulnier monoplane. Warneford, flying above the airship, dropped six 20-lb Hales bombs, the last of which exploded on the Zeppelin, causing it to crash near Ghent, Belgium.
6 June 1940 Norwegian Campaign: Carriers HMS Ark Royal and Glorious continued to steam in company off Narvik. 5,100 Allied personnel embarked on troop transports hiding in fjords near Narvik over the previous night. The ships then departed the area with about 15,000 troops aboard, escorted by destroyer HMS Arrow and sloop HMS Stork for the first phase of their trip back to Britain. Meanwhile, word arrived at the task force that the Admiralty believed that a force of German warships, including the two battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had sortied from Germany and were heading for Northern waters, perhaps to breakout into the Atlantic, or to interfere with the evacuation.
6 June 1941 The Air Ministry issued a contract to Avro for the supply of 454 Lancaster Mk I heavy bombers.
6 June 1942 While assisting damage control efforts aboard USS Yorktown, destroyer USS Hammann was struck by a torpedo from Japanese submarine I-168, breaking her in half. She sank very quickly, then suffered a underwater explosion, most likely from her own depth charges. Yorktown was also hit but would remain afloat despite the additional damage. Aircraft from USS Enterprise and USS Hornet attacked, damaging destroyer Arashio, Asashio and cruiser Mogami as well as causing fatal damage to cruiser Mikuma, which would sink later in the day.
6 June 1944 D-Day. 130-150,000 Allied troops, roughly half American and half British and Commonwealth, invaded the beaches of Normandy, France and Operation Overlord had begun.
7 June1940 Troop transports of British Group II arrived at Narvik and embarked 5,200 men overnight. Meanwhile troop transports of Group I that had departed the previous day were heading back to Britain.
7 June 1942 USS Yorktown having already been abandoned for hours, slowly rolled over to her side and sank north of Midway Atoll at 0458 hours.
7 June 1945 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched raids on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands.
8 June 1940 During Operation Juno, 170 miles west of Narvik, German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau opened fire on British carrier HMS Glorious and her escorts, destroyers HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta. All three were sunk, but not before Acasta launched a torpedo that caused serious damage to Scharnhorst. The German ships withdrew to Trondheim and did not stop to pick up survivors. 1515 died, many in the freezing waters after the battle. Only 43 survived to be rescued two days later. The casualties included pilots, who without training, had safely landed 10 Gladiator and 8 Hurricane aircraft aboard HMS Glorious on the previous day, during the evacuation of 46 and 263 Squadrons from Norway. Meanwhile British Group II convoy took on the final 4,600 Allied troops and departed Narvik, The 7 troop ships were escorted by carrier HMS Ark Royal, cruisers HMS Southampton and HMS Coventry, and 11 destroyers. They narrowly avoided a similar fate.
9 June 1918 The Germans began a new drive that threatened Paris. The position was critical, with the enemy's advance units only thirty-seven miles from the French capital.
9 June 1940 General Heinz Guderian's tanks attacked toward Reims. French General Weygand announced that the battle was lost and France should attempt to negotiate an armistice. Meanwhile the French government evacuated Paris.
9 June 1941 As the British commando raid to secure crossings on the Litani River in French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon had been delayed by weather, Australian troops crossed the river in canvas boats. The commandos later arrived and joined the Australians in the assault. French destroyers Valmy and Guépard bombarded Allied troops in the Litani River area, but they were driven off by New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Leander and British destroyers HMS Janus, HMS Hotspur, HMS Isis, HMS Jackal. Further off the coast, French submarine Caiman attacked British cruiser HMS Phoebe, but without success.
9 June 1942 Soon after midnight, USAAF B-17E 41-2667 departed Whenuapai airfield on a flight to Laverton, Australia. However it crashed shortly after take off and was destroyed by subsequent fire and explosions. The 9 crew members and 2 passengers aboard were killed.
9 June 1944 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) dropped Barnes Wallis' new 12,000-lb "Tallboy" bomb for the first time on the Saumur railway tunnel in central France, which was being used by German reinforcements moving towards Normandy
11 June 1940 Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa declared war on Italy.
Norwegian trawler Borgund rescued 37 survivors of sunken HMS Glorious and 2 survivors of sunken HMS Acasta. The Admiralty only then learned details of the disaster, 3 days after the battle. Meanwhile, independently, the RAF had discovered the German battlecruisers sheltering at Trondheim and had mounted a bombing raid against them.
11 June 1942 French troops evacuated Bir Hakeim, Libya after 16 days of stubborn defence. They suffered 1,084 casualties while defending this fort. The Allies were forced to leave 500 seriously wounded troops behind there, when the Axis forces captured this last stronghold on the Gazala line and began advancing towards Tobruk
Two convoys trying to reach Malta were attacked by aircraft, warships and submarines. Twelve British warships and merchantmen were sunk and eleven were damaged. Only two of the six freighters that sailed in the convoy from Gibraltar, during “Operation Harpoon”, made it through. The second convoy which included 11 transports that sailed from Port Said, Egypt in “Operation Vigorous” was forced to turn back despite a large naval escort force.
12 June 1892 Keith Park was born at Thames, New Zealand.
12 June 1942 5 transport ships arrived at Auckland led by an escort cruiser and with a destroyer behind. 145th Regiment of 37th Infantry Division were the first of the US troops to arrive in NZ. This fulfilled the promise made by President Roosevelt in March to aid our nation's defence. However the remainder of the Division had already been diverted to Fiji where the threat of Japanese attack was by now considered greater. The recent battles of Coral Sea and Midway had repulsed Japanese advances and the Joint Chiefs' priorty was to reinforce the Pacific Island garrisons until a sufficient offensive force could be gathered.
13 June 1940 After sundown and through until the next morning, German raider Orion laid mines off Auckland.
At dawn 15 Fleet Air Arm Skua aircraft from HMS Ark Royal dive bombed German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at Trondheim, Norway. Scharnhorst was hit by a 500-pound bomb, but it failed to explode.
13 June 1942 On Saturday morning, welcomed by Mayor John Allum and many citizens, the first Yank down the plank, Sergeant Nathan E. Cook, led his comrades of the 37th Infantry Division ashore at Princes Wharf, Auckland. Once all were disembarked they marched off to the railway station and on to camp.
7 aircraft of Japanese 23rd Air Flotilla from Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies attacked Darwin.
German 21st Panzer Division, 15th Panzer Division, and 90th Light Division surrounded British troops in the Knightsbridge box near Tobruk, Libya, eventually forcing the British to fall back after sundown.
Troops of 16 Regiment of German 22 Luftlande Division attacked Fort Stalin at Sevastopol, Russia, capturing it by 0530 hours.
14 June 1940 At dawn, 4 (Free) French cruisers and 11 destroyers shelled oil storage tanks at the port of Genoa, Italy. French destroyer Albatros was hit by Italian coastal artillery, but she was able to return.
In France, German troops captured the open city of Paris without any opposition. To the north, the coastal city of Le Havre fell under German control.
14 June 1941 British destroyers HMS Jervis and HMS Griffin bombarded Sidon, French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon. Two (Vichy) French destroyers based in Beirut counterattacked at 1620 hours, but were chased off by New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Leander and British destroyers. 8 German Ju 88 aircraft also attempted to attack, but were driven off by P-40 Tomahawk fighters of No. 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force based in the British Mandate of Palestine.
14 June 1942 The first echelon of 5th Regiment of the US 1st Marine Division arrived at Wellington aboard troopship USS Wakefield. She had embarked 4,725 Marines and 309 Navy and Army passengers at Norfolk, Virginia on 19 May 1942. She sailed in convoy to Panama and then independently across the Pacific to NZ. Once ashore the Marines caught trains to their camp at Paekakariki.
15 June 1940 The Allies launched Operation Ariel to evacuate troops from Cherbourg and St Malo.
15 June 1941 The British launched their Operation Battleaxe offensive toward Halfaya Pass in Libya which began an unsuccessful three day attempt to relieve the siege of Tobruk.
15 June 1942 The British 8th Army withdrew from Libya and fell back to Egypt.
15 June 1944 US VIII Corps (Major General Troy Middleton) became operational with the 90th Infantry Division and both US Airborne Divisions under its command, and was tasked with supporting the imminent attack to capture Cherbourg.
17 June 1940 During Operation Ariel, the later Allied evacuation from France, HMT Lancastria had embarked RAF personnel, BEF soldiers and as many civilian refugees as the captain would allow under emergency conditions. An accurate count of those aboard has never been found but has been estimated at more than 6000. While preparing to depart from the Loire estuary off St-Nazaire she was attacked by Junkers Ju88 bombers. Three direct hits caused the ship to list first to starboard then to port. A fourth bomb fell down the ship's smokestack detonating inside the engine room. 15 minutes after being hit, the Lancastria capsized and then sank twenty minutes later. When German pilots began strafing at survivors in the water, they ignited fuel oil that had leaked into the sea. Many drowned, were choked by the oil, or were shot by strafing German aircraft before they could be rescued. The 2,477 survivors were taken aboard other evacuation vessels. As many as 4000 perished in the disaster which was the worst in British maritime history. All news of the tragedy was immediately suppressed by the British Government and only made public by the press five weeks later.