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This Day in WWII 31 May 1940 - 1945


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PhilcoAd-May1943.jpg Philco Ad - May 1943

1940: The Defense of Dunkirk continues as 68,000 allied troops are evacuated. The French defense of Lille collapses. Churchill flies to Paris for a meeting of the Supreme Allied War Council, the second time since the 10th May.

1940: Heavy Luftwaffe attacks sink two French destroyers off the beaches at Dunkirk.

BarbaraStanwyck1.jpg *Barbara Stanwyck

1941: German bombers attack Dublin by mistake: Eire government protests, Germans later offer compensation. British civilian casualties for May announced: 5,394 killed and 5,181 injured.

1941: British forces enter Baghdad and an armistice is signed. The terms of the armistice require that all axis personnel in Iraq are to be interned and that Iraq support the British cause against the axis.

BarbaraStanwyck2.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

1942: Bad weather over Hamburg, means the alternate target, Cologne is selected by Bomber Command for the first 1,000 night-bomber raid of the war. 1,046 heavy bombers take off with 850 claiming to have attacked the target with 1,455 tons of explosive. The raid lasted about 75 minutes, a new departure from the past when aircraft were given much more latitude as to when they attacked the target. The raid destroys 600 acres of built-up area, kills 486 civilians and makes 59,000 people homeless. Of the participating aircraft, 40 failed to return and a further 19 crashed for one reason or another.

1942: Since the start of Operation Paukenschlag (Drum Beat) in January, the U-boats operating along the US eastern seaboard have sunk 111 vessels.

BarbaraStanwyck3.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

1942: The battle of the 'Cauldron' begins as Rommel attacks the fortified box in the Gazala line that is held by the 150th Brigade of the British 50th Division. The Italians attack from the west as elements of the Afrika Korps attack from the east. Meanwhile Rommel's anti-tank gunners, repulse a number of British armored counter-attacks against his position in the 'Cauldron'. However, Lieutenant General Ritchie is hampered by his inability to concentrate his armor and so is unable to relieve the 150th Brigade.

1942: A Japanese midget submarine enters Sydney Harbor.

BarbaraStanwyck4.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

1943: By the end of May, 41 U-boats have been sunk in the Atlantic due to greatly improved allied anti-submarine techniques and tactics (Hedgehog, greater-range patrol aircraft, better radar, more escort vessels and carriers, plus the advantage of having broken the German Navy Enigma code). "Black May" effectively marks the end of a sustained German U-boat campaign in WW2 which did come very close to starving out Britain and forcing her to make terms with Germany.

1943: The Danish resistance blows up an engine shed at Toender as sabotage mounts, despite Danish King's appeal for a halt.

MaytagAd-May1944.jpg Maytag Ad - May 1944

1943: The U.S. 15th Air Force bombs German and Italian airfields at Foggia, destroying many aircraft on the ground.

1943: Chiang Kai-Shek claims three Japanese divisions have been surrounded on Yangtze River.

BarbaraStanwyck5.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

1943: Japanese end their occupation of the Aleutian Islands as the U.S. completes the capture of Attu.

1944: The Russians repel a heavy German counter attack North of Jassy, in the southern Ukraine. Stalin gives the go-ahead to Operation 'Bagration' (the Russian summer offensive) which is to destroy Army Group Centre in Byelorussia.

BarbaraStanwyck6.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

1945: Chiang Kai-Shek resigns the Chinese Premiership but remains as President and Generalissimo, with Dr. Soong succeeding him as premier.

1945: Osaka is totally burnt out by U.S. incendiaries.

BarbaraStanwyck7.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

*Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western "The Big Valley" (1965), wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama "The Colbys" (1985). But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the period from 1927 until 1964, after which she appeared on television until 1986. It was a career that lasted for 59 years. She was born Ruby Catherine Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She went to work at the local telephone company for $14 a week, but she had the urge (a dream--that was all it was) somehow to enter show business. When not working, she pounded the pavement in search of dancing jobs. The persistence paid off. Barbara was hired as a chorus girl for the princely sum of $40 a week, much better than the wages she was getting from the phone company. She was 17, and she was going to make the most of the opportunity that had been given her.

In 1928 Barbara moved to Hollywood, where she was to start one of the most lucrative careers filmdom had ever seen. She was an extremely versatile actress who could adapt to any role. Barbara was equally at home in all genres, from melodramas, such as "Forbidden" (1932) and "Stella Dallas" (1937), to thrillers, such as "Double Indemnity" (1944), one of her best films, also starring Fred MacMurray (as you have never seen him before). She also excelled in comedies such as "Remember the Night" (1940) and "The Lady Eve" (1941). Another genre she excelled in was westerns, "Union Pacific" (1939) being one of her first and TV's "The Big Valley" (1965) (her most memorable role) being her last. In 1983, she played in the ABC hit mini-series "The Thorn Birds" (1983), which did much to keep her in the eye of the public. She turned in an outstanding performance as Mary Carson.

BarbaraStanwyck8.jpg Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara was considered a gem to work with for her serious but easygoing attitude on the set. She worked hard at being an actress, and she never allowed her star quality to go to her head. She was nominated for four Academy Awards, though she never won. She turned in magnificent performances for all the roles she was nominated for, but the "powers that be" always awarded the Oscar to someone else. However, in 1982 she was awarded an honorary Academy Award for "superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting." Sadly, Barbara died of congestive heart failure, emphysema and chronic obstructive lung disease at St. John's Hospital, in Santa Monica, California, in 1990. She was 82, leaving 93 movies and a host of TV appearances as her legacy to us.

FramOilFilterAd-May1944.jpg Fram Oil Filter Ad - May 1944

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