Yesterday Tomorrow

November 1st, 1941 (SATURDAY)


Destroyer HMS Grenville laid down.

Submarine USS Hake laid down.

Corvettes HMS Fritillary and Coltsfoot commissioned.


U-166 launched.

U-214 commissioned.

The German government issues a statement denying the charges made by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the USN destroyers USS Greer (DD 145) and Kearny (DD-432) were attacked by German submarines without any provocation; that the exact opposite is true in that the U-boats fired torpedoes only after they were tracked and depth-charged for hours by these US vessels.

FINLAND: The last Finnish offensive commences in the Kestenga sector. The Finns encircle two Soviet regiments and destroy them.

The interesting thing about this offensive is that it resulted from the local Finnish and German commanders' own initiative, quite against the orders of their superiors.

Finnish forces had taken Kiestinki (Kestenga) in August 1941, but late in the month the Finnish Infantry Regiment 53 had been encircled by the Soviet forces. The regiment finally managed to break out in early September, taking heavy losses (among them regiment commander Lt. Col.

Jussi Turtola, posthumously promoted to full colonel). Finns fought together with the Germans of SS Division 'Nord', which performance had been less than stellar. The division was subordinated to Maj. Gen.

Hjalmar Siilasvuo's Finnish III Army Corps (which in turn was subordinated to Gen. Falkenhorst's German Gebirgsarmee Norwegen) -- apparently the only time during the whole war when an SS division fought under non-German command. In September Hitler ordered Falkenhorst to stop attempts to advance and assume defensive stance all along his army's front.

However, Falkenhorst and Siilasvuo both wanted to have another go. They believed that chances of cutting the Murmansk Railway at Louhi (Loukhi) were reasonably good. While Falkenhorst was held back by Führer's orders, Siilasvuo was reined in by Finnish leadership. USA was making threatening noises about the consequences if Finland cut the Murmansk railway, and neither President Risto Ryti nor Marshal Mannerheim wanted to aggravate relations with the Western Allies. While Siilasvuo was subordinated to Germans, in practice he validated all his operational orders with Mannerheim before executing them. But now both Falkenhorst and Siilasvuo decided to attack despite their respective superiors.

Finnish Division J (Col. Väinö Palojärvi) and German SS Division 'Nord'

(SS-Brigf. Karl-Maria Demelhuber) were to attack towards Louhi under Siilasvuo's command. Officially the attack was disguised as a tactical operation to shorten Finnish III Army Corps's front line. But Siilasvuo informed the Finnish GHQ about the offensive.

The operation commenced on 1 November 1941. Finnish-German forces broke into the Soviet defenses, but 88th Rifle Division (Maj. Gen. Vladimir

Solovev) fought back with skill, and Soviets sent reinforcements. After initial difficulties the attack began to make good progress and the defending Red Army forces were encircled. On 11 November Red Army launched an unsuccessful counterattack to reach their encircled comrades, but without result. However, by 15 November majority of the encircled troops managed to infiltrate to safety in small groups -- claim that Finns destroyed two Soviet regiments appear to be over-optimistic.

But on 11 November Siilasvuo ordered his forces to start preparing defensive positions. Soviet resistance was stiffening, and the Finnish GHQ was worried about the heavy losses Finnish troops were taking.

President Ryti was also concerned about the political implications, and on 5 November wrote to Mannerheim, asking what was the purpose of the operation was. On the next day Mannerheim gave an order to stop Finnish offensive operations, stating that they interfered with the ongoing reorganization of the Finnish Army. Also on 11 November OKH sent a message to Falkenhorst reminding him of the orders to stay in defense and of Mannerheim's order to stop Finnish attacks. There also were tensions between Siilasvuo and Germans. SS Division 'Nord' wanted to act independently of the Finns and have a larger share of the operation.

Siilasvuo wouldn't allow that, because he had a low opinion of the SS soldiers and particularly of the quality of their officers. Siilasvuo accused the Germans of failing to reach their objectives and Germans in turn accused Siilasvuo of passivity when he stopped the offensive.

Around 18 November the Finnish-German offensive was brought to halt, and by the end of the month Soviet counterattacks had brought the front line back where it was at the beginning of November.

U.S.S.R.: The German 11th Army captures Simferopol in the Crimea.

     Elements of the German 39th Panzer Division cut the rail connection between Vologda and Tikhvin. This would close the airhead to Leningrad and extend the cordon 100 miles (161 kilometers).

Marshal Shaposhnikov becomes Chief of Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces. 

German forces launch a major offensive aimed at Rostov-on-Don and the Caucasus, and clear up the last remnants of resistance at Simferopol, a vital communications centre in the Crimea.

YUGOSLAVIA: Outside Uzice, elements of Marshal Josept Broz Tito's partisan force and Chetnik forces, both anti-Nazi forces, attack one another.

ALGERIA: Vichy France opens a punishment and isolation camp at Hadjerat-M'Guil. It contains 170 prisoners, nine of whom are tortured and murdered in conditions of the worst brutality. Two of the murdered are Jews, one of whom had earlier been released from a concentration camp in Germany in 1939 and fled to France. (Atlas)

JAPAN: Japanese Combined Fleet Operational Order Number 1 - the plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor, Malaya and the Dutch East Indies is issued.

Tokyo: Joseph C Grew, the US ambassador, sends a second telegram to President Roosevelt warning that the Japanese may be planning an attack on an American target. Japan might "resort with dangerous and dramatic suddenness to measures which might make inevitable war with the United States." He also states that ". . . underestimating Japan's obvious preparations to implement a program in the event the alternative peace program fails, would be short-sighted. Similarly it would be short-sighted for American policy to be based upon the belief that Japanese preparations are no more than saber rattling, merely intended to give moral support to the high pressure diplomacy of Japan."

AUSTRALIA: Minesweeper HMAS Bunbury laid down.


Corvettes HMCS Kitchener renamed Vancouver and Fort William renamed Fredericton

Schooner HMCS Venture commissioned as guard ship Tuft's Cove, Bedford Basin (Halifax), Nova Scotia.

U.S.A.: War Department reluctantly opens a secret language school at Crissey Field under the 4th Army at the Presidio of San Francisco, with four Nisei instructors and 60 students, 58 of which are Nisei. This was the first class of the Military Intelligence Language School. Military Intelligence Service (MIS) (Gene Hanson)

Army Intelligence prepares Intelligence Bulletin 148 for General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff U.S. Army, stating that "recent developments in the international situation, and particularly in the Pacific, indicate the possibility of a Japanese invasion of Yunnan Province in an attempt to cut China's life-line, the Burma Road."

The Second Joint Training Force of the US Navy is formed. (Gordon Rottman)

President Roosevelt"> Franklin D. Roosevelt places Coast Guard under jurisdiction of Department of the Navy for duration of national emergency.

Submarine USS Drum commissioned.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-68 sank SS Bradford City.

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