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This Day in WWII 26 May 1940 - 1944


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EthylCorp-May1942.jpg Ethyl Corporation Ad - May 1942

1940: General Sir John Dill is appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Edmund Ironside becomes C-in-C, Home defense. Empire Day in Britain is declared as a national day of prayer. Coastal towns from Great Yarmouth to Folkestone are declared evacuation areas.

1940: Operation 'Dynamo' the evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk begins. Under the command of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, hundreds of naval, commercial and private vessels participate in this most desperate rescue attempt. Calais falls to the Germans as they advance towards Dunkirk after Hitler's stop order is rescinded.

1940: Following the fall of Calais and Boulogne, Dunkirk remains the only port available for the evacuation of Allied troops from the Continent. No. 11 Group, under the command of Vice-Marshal Keith Park, assigns 16 squadrons to the protection of the port. During the evacuation, a total of 32 participate, although they are rotated to provide rest periods and preserve aircraft for the inevitable defense of Britain.

JuneTravis1.jpg *June Travis

1941: British flying boat spots the Bismarck at 10:36am. Swordfish Torpedo-bombers from the Ark Royal score hits on the Bismarck, disabling her steering gear and rendering her maneuverable. This enables British destroyers to attack after dark.

1941: The Aircraft carrier Formidable is severely damaged in the Mediterranean by Stukas.

JuneTravis2.jpg June Travis

1942: Britain and Russia sign a treaty in London. Each county pledges itself to fight Germany until final victory and not make a separate peace. The also agreed a 20-year alliance, not to join any coalition or treaty directed against one of them, and not to interfere with the other states internal affairs.

1942: In the Barents Sea, Convoy QP-12 is on its way home to Britain with 15 ships, while Convoy PQ-16 is en-route to Murmansk with 35. Some 260 Luftwaffe aircraft, including He 111 torpedo bombers, swing in to attack, joined by U-boats, amid appalling weather. QP-12 emerges unscathed, but PQ-16 feels the teeth of a running five-day battle, losing an acceptable six ships.

1942: The battle for the Gazala line begins (Operation Theseus), as the Afrika Korps thrusts towards Tobruk with 560 tanks sweeping round the southern end of the Eighth Army's defensive positions, although the Free French forces at Bir Hacheim manage hold up this advance.

ShellResearchAd-May1942.jpg Shell Research Ad - May 1942

1943: The British Government informs churches throughout England that they may ring their bells freely. The ringing of church bells has been banned, except to warn of an invasion, since the start of the war.

1943: The Red Army begins an offensive against the German forces isolated in the Kuban bridgehead between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

JuneTravis3.jpg June Travis

1944: Charles De Gaulle proclaims his Free French movement to be the "Provisional Government of the French Republic." Though the new government wins recognition from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia and Norway, Roosevelt and Churchill are furious and refuse recognition. They retaliate by excluding De Gaulle from the final planning for Operation Overlord.

1944: U.S. troops from Anzio take Cori, 22 miles inland. Mark Clark makes a decision to direct four divisions on Rome, but only one to Valmontone on Highway 6 to cut German retreat.

1944: The Japanese launch a two-pronged attack from Canton and Hankow.

JuneTravis4.jpg June Travis

*Fetching secondary actress June Travis was signed by Warner Bros. in 1934 and made her film debut the following year, but would last only three years before leaving Hollywood forever and focusing on marriage. Born June Dorothea Grabiner on August 7, 1914, she was the daughter of Harry Grabiner who was team secretary and/or vice-president of both the Cleveland Indians and (later) Chicago White Sox. Harry would go on to be remembered for his famous diaries of his experiences.

The Chicago-born, green-eyed brunette beauty attended Parkside Grammar School and the Starrett School for Girls while growing up. Spotted by a talent agent while watching a White Sox spring training session, she moved to Los Angeles upon graduation where she studied drama at the University of California. It was not long before her sunny looks and eye-catching figure were noticed by talent scouts.

JuneTravis5.jpg June Travis

At age 20 she signed a Warner Bros. contract and paid her dues throughout 1935 apprenticing in decorative extra parts (hat check girl, cigarette girl, party guest, gun moll). She earned her first co-starring role the following year opposite Barton MacLane in the crime programmer "Jailbreak" (1936). Other actresses of her ilk would appear from time to time in smaller roles in "A" pictures for added exposure, but such would not be the case for June. Such Hollywood escorts around town included Howard Hughes and Ronald Reagan.

Gridlocked in the "B" category for the duration of her career, some of her modest highlights would include the Perry Mason whodunnit "The Case of the Black Cat" (1936) in which she essayed the role of secretary Della Street alongside Ricardo Cortez's noted crimesolver; "Ceiling Zero" (1936), a lesser Howard Hawks film about war pilots starring Pat O'Brien and James Cagney; two slapstick movies as the love interest to comedian Joe E. Brown -- "Earthworm Tractors" (1936) and "The Gladiator" (1938); the mystery "Love Is on the Air" (1937) opposite Ronald Reagan, who was making his feature film bow here; two comic features capitalizing on radio personality Joe Penner -- "Go Chase Yourself" (1938) and "Mr. Doodle Kicks Off" (1938); and a comic strip film version of "Little Orphan Annie" (1938). Although June was top-billed in "Circus Girl" (1937) and "Over the Goal" (1937), the films came and went with little impression made. All in all, she was usually called upon to divert the proceedings and blandly back up the rugged "B" tough guys at Warners -- a roster which then included Paul Kelly, Dick Purcell, Dick Foran and Wayne Morris. After co-starring in "Federal Man-Hunt" (1938), she handed Hollywood her walking papers at age 24.

JuneTravis6.jpg June Travis

By 1939 she had returned to Chicago and never looked back. In January of 1940 June married Chicago businessman Fred Friedlob and the couple eventually had two daughters, Cathy and June Jr., and settled in the Lincoln Park area. June Sr. filmed only twice more, playing a featured role in the Bette Davis vehicle "The Star" (1952), and, for reasons completely unknown, agreed to play a role in the bogus horror opus "Monster a-Go Go" (1965). The middle-aged June became a vibrant member of the social and theater community there. In 1968, she helped inaugurate the Joseph Jefferson Awards to honor Chicago's best in theater. She also appeared in summer stock on the East Coast, and played everything from Goneril opposite Morris Carnovsky in "King Lear" at Chicago's Goodman Theatre to an expectant middle-aged mother alongside Forrest Tucker in "Never Too Late." Other plays included "A View from the Bridge", "Life With Father" (also with Tucker); "The Pleasure of His Company" with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; "The Philadelphia Story" with Jackie O's sister Lee Radziwill and "I Found April" starring Jeanne Crain.

Long retired, June's husband died in May 1979 after nearly 40 years of marriage. She, who has two children, Kathy and June (Jr.), never remarried but was the companion of Erwin Gruen, a master metalworker in later years. He died in 2006. June herself passed away on April 14, 2008, in a Chicago hospital of complications from a stroke she suffered weeks earlier. She was 93.

ShellResearchAd-May1945.jpg Shell Research Ad - May 1945

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