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This Day in WWII 19 June 1940 - 1945

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UnitedStatesRubberCompanyAd2-June1944.jpUnited States Rubber Company Ad - June 1944

 

1940: 'If invaders come' leaflet is issued by Ministry of Information to all households. The British Jockey Club announces no more racing until further notice.

 

1940: The Germans invite the French to send a representative to discuss armistice terms as their troops reach River Loire, advance on Lyons, capture Strasbourg, Brest and Tours. Rommel takes Cherbourg.

 

JeffDonnell1.jpg *Jeff Donnell

 

1940: More than 100 German bombers make raids over Britain.

 

1940: French ships seek refuge in British ports.

 

JeffDonnell2.jpg Jeff Donnell

 

1941: Germany and Italy expel US consular officials in retaliation for American moves.

 

1941: The Russians order a black-out of all major cities and towns near the border. However, they still do not allow their troops to take up battle positions, in spite of information given by two German deserters of an imminent attack.

 

JeffDonnell3.jpg Jeff Donnell

 

1942: Churchill and Roosevelt meet to discuss the number of conflicting offensive plans which might be launched against Germany in 1942. The main ones were 'Rutter', a 24-hour cross Channel raid on Dieppe. 'Sledgehammer' using six division to establish a lodgement on the French coast at Cherbourg and 'Jupiter' which called for a lodgement in northern Norway. Discussion were also had on the up and coming operation 'Gymnast', which was the proposed Anglo-American landing in French North Africa later in the year.

 

1942: Plans for the offensive in to the Caucasus are captured by the Russians when a staff officer from the 23rd Panzer Division is shot down. Against all order, he was carrying the plans on his person. 40th Panzer Corps commander, General Stumme and his chief of staff are immediately sacked and imprisoned on Hitlers express orders. No changes were made to the plan as although the Russians considered them authentic, they believed that it was only a subsidiary thrust and that the main objective was still Moscow, which suited the Germans.

 

JeffDonnell4.jpg Jeff Donnell

 

1942: Rommel launches a surprise attack from the southeast against Tobruk. This throws the garrison into confusion which allows German troops to breach the outer defenses.

 

1943: RAF carries out a raid on the Schneider armaments works at Le Creusot.

 

UnitedStatesRubberCompanyAd3-June1945.jp United States Rubber Company Ad - June 1945

 

1943: Goebbels declares Berlin to be Judenfrei (cleansed of Jews).

 

1944: A violent storm in the English Channel wrecks the U.S. Mulberry Harbor at St. Laurent (Omaha Beach). 20 allied divisions now oppose 16 German in Normandy.

 

JeffDonnell5.jpg Jeff Donnell

 

1944: The Air Ministry release the first official details of the V1s (range 150 miles, speed 300-350 mph, 2,000lb bomb) as AA gunners start calling them 'Doodlebugs'.

 

Vraciu-June19-1944d-DownedSix.jpg

Lt. (jg) Alexander Vraciu signals six "Judy" kills, which he accomplished in less than eight minutes, despite a malfunctioning supercharger, during the now famed "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". Note how the horizontal stabilizer of the Hellcat is being used as an impromptu table for his flight gear. When he landed, the Lexington's ordnancemen discovered that he had used a total of only 360 rounds of ammunition, which works out to less than a five-second burst per "kill."

 

1944: U.S. Navy carrier-based planes shatter the remaining Japanese carrier forces in the "Battle of the Marianas". Also known as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," Americans shoot down 402 Japanese planes while only losing 20.

Lt-jg-AlexanderVraciu-GrummanF6F.jpg

Lt. (jg) Alexander Vraciu in his Grumman F6F after the "Mission Beyond Darkness" during the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 20, 1944), in which he was escorting bombers in an attack on the Japanese Mobile Fleet, he downed his 19th victim, making him the #1 Navy Ace by a considerable margin (a position he would hold for four months).

 

1945: The Australians are now in control of both sides of the Brunei Bay entrance.

 

JeffDonnell6.jpg Jeff Donnell

 

*A reliable featured player and occasional co-star, actress Jeff Donnell was born Jean Marie Donnell in a boy's reformatory in South Windham, Maine on July 10, 1921. The youngest of two daughters, her father (Howard) was a penologist and mother (Mildred) a schoolteacher. Raised in Maryland, she took piano and dance lessons while growing up. It was during her upbringing that she fixated on the popular "Mutt and Jeff" cartoon strip and gave herself the nickname "Jeff".

 

Studying at one time at the Yale School of Drama and performing briefly in summer stock, Jeff met her first husband, Bill Anderson, a drama teacher from her old Boston alma mater Leland Powers Drama School, and quickly married him at the young age of 19. Together they started the Farragut Playhouse in Rye, New Hampshire. Almost immediately she was noticed in a play there by a Columbia Studios talent scout and was signed.

Whisked to Los Angeles, Jeff made her first appearance in the war-era movie "My Sister Eileen" (1942) while husband Bill was hired on as a dialogue director. Hardly the chic, glamour girl type, Jeff possessed a perky, unpretentious, tomboyish quality that worked comfortably in unchallenging "B" escapism -- usually the breezy girlfriend or spirited bobbysoxer. Typical of her movie load at the time were the fun but innocuous "Doughboys in Ireland" (1943), "What's Buzzin', Cousin?" (1943), "Nine Girls" (1944), "A Thousand and One Nights" (1945), "Carolina Blues" (1944) and "Eadie Was a Lady" (1945). She also enlivened a number of musical westerns that prominently featured Ken Curtis (Festus of "Gunsmoke").

 

JeffDonnell7.jpg Jeff Donnell

 

On a rare occasion, Jeff found herself in "A" pictures, most notably the Bogart film noir classic "In a Lonely Place" (1950), but more often than not she played the obliging or supportive friend of the leading lady. Unable to break away from her established "B" ranking, she later tried a move to RKO Studios (1949) but fared no better or worse. She did make a successful move to TV in the early 50s and was seen in a number of comedy and dramatic parts.

Long separated from and finally divorcing her first husband in 1953 (they had one son, Michael, and an adopted daughter, Sarah Jane), she married actor Aldo Ray, who was an up-and-rising film star at the time, in 1954 but the marriage crumbled within two years, beset by drinking problems. She also suffered a miscarriage during that marriage. Jeff went on to marry and divorce two more times. As the 1950s rolled on she earned steady work on TV bringing to life comedian George Gobel's often-mentioned wife Alice on the sitcom "The George Gobel Show" (1954) for four seasons. She also had the opportunity to play Gidget's mom in a couple of the popular lightweight movies of the early 1960s -- "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" (1961) and "Gidget Goes to Rome" (1963). She also appeared as "Cornelia," (Cornelia Fort), a flying instructor in "Tora, Tora, Tora" (1970).

 

Most daytime fans will remember Jeff's long-running stint on the soap drama "General Hospital" (1963) as Stella Fields, the Quartermain housekeeper, which started in 1979 and lasted until her death in 1988. Dogged by ill health in later years (including a serious bout with Addison's disease), Jeff died peacefully of a heart attack in her sleep on April 11, 1988 at age 66. Her sudden absence from "General Hospital", on which she had a recurring role as the Quartermaines' housekeeper at the time of her death, was explained away by the writers as her character having won the lottery and quit her job.

 

MobilgasAd2-June1945.jpgMobilgas Ad - June 1945

 

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