April 28th, 1939 (FRIDAY)
Light cruiser HMS Jamaica laid down.
GERMANY: Berlin: Hitler revokes Germany's 1934 non-aggression pact with Poland and naval accord with Britain and demands Danzig.
U.S.S.R.: Soviet submarine K-23 launched.
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April 28th, 1940 (SUNDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM:London: The government has to face the fact that the Trondheim campaign is a failure. Neither Sickleforce nor Mauriceforce had made a single gain. Between them they had suffered 1,559 casualties and they were in danger of losing the remaining men. High Command concludes that they must be brought home.
Off Greenock, Scotland: The 2,400 ton French destroyer Maillé Brézé, is a victim of its own weaponry when one of its own torpedoes accidentally fired and slithered along the main deck exploding under the bridge structure and completely wrecking the forepart of the ship. The British destroyer HMS Firedrake, rushed to the scene and rescued fifteen men who had slid down the hawse pipe. Other mangled bodies were recovered but those on the mess deck were doomed as the ship slowly sank taking with her 38 of her crew still trapped below. (Denis Peck)
The government decide to occupy Iceland. (Dave Hornford)
NORWAY: Major-General Bernard Paget, the commander of British land forces at
Åndalsnes , stages an unsuccessful attempt to break out of Trondheim.
A detachment of French mountain troops arrives at Harstad, Norway.
Mark Horan adds:
HMS Furious, in company with HMS Isis, HMS Ilex, and HMS Imogen continues towards the Clyde. HMS Glorious, immersed in a weather front with zero visibility and 10/10ths cloud cover down to 200 feet was unable to operate aircraft as she proceeded towards Scapa Flow in company with the destroyers HMS Fury, HMS Fortune, HMS Escort, HMS Grenade, HMS Hasty, and HMS Encounter, arrive at Scapa at 1800 and commence refuelling.
Meanwhile, HMS Ark Royal, in position 64.58 N, 08.07 E, was preparing to again strike at the centre of German air power in Northern Norway, Vaernes aerodrome as well as any shipping in the fjords around Trondheim harbour. For a change, the weather was ideal, with mild swells, a light South-westerly breeze, and blue skies. The first range, consists of 12 Swordfish armed with 4 x 250 lb. GP, 6 x 20 lb. Cooper, and 2 x 25 lb. incendiary bombs each. The "Stringbags", evenly split between 820 Squadron, led by Lieutenant R. N. Everett, RN, and 810 Squadron, led by Captain N. R. M. Skene, RM, began taking off at 0305 and took their departure at 0317, intent on hitting the airfield. Meanwhile, a second range of six Skuas, each armed with one 250 lb. SAP and 8 x 20 lb. Cooper bombs, was brought up. At 0400, Lieutenant. K. V. V. Spurway, RN led off his section of 800 Squadron, followed by Lieutenant R. L. Strange, RN leading his section from 801 Squadron. The faster Skuas were to attack any shipping targets in Trondheim harbour, then head for the airfield and act as shepherds for the vulnerable TSRs as they made their withdrawal.
Approaching Trondheim from 13,000' the Skuas found three merchants ships and 18 large floatplanes in the harbour. After making a high-speed approach glide, the crews pushed over from 8,000', each releasing the 250s and two Cooper bombs on the ships, one hit being claimed. Extending their dives, they then released the remaining six Cooper bombs on the float planes, scoring one direct hit and spraying several others with fragments. Only five of the Skuas made the rendezvous and then headed over to Vaernes to ensure the TSRs were not meeting any aerial opposition, after which they returned to the ship, landing at 0630.
The missing 800 Squadron Skua, flown by Midshipman(A) L. H. Gallagher, RN and Naval Airman G. W. Halifax, RN, after missing the rendezvous and failing in an attempt to find the ship alone, returned to the Åndalsnes area and landed safely at the soon the be evacuated Setnesmoen landing ground. As Gallagher did not know were Ark was, he refuelled from the soon to destroyed RAF petrol dump, intending to fly direct to RNAS Hatston. The crew was stymied in their attempt when the only available Coffmann starter cartridge failed to catch the engine. Determined to save his aircraft, we will hear more about Gallagher's efforts later.
Meanwhile, at 0432, in the face of heavy Flak, Lieutenant Everett led the six Swordfish of 810 Squadron into their attack dives from 6,000', targeting the barracks complex. Eight minutes later, Captain Skene led the six "Stringbags" of 810 Squadron down on the hanger area. Results were considered excellent, with several buildings receiving direct hits. All 12 aircraft returned to home safely around 0610.
Following on the heels of the big air strike, the ship dispatched a single Swordfish on an armed reconnaissance mission to photograph the forts at the head of the Trondheim Leeds. After doing so, the plane spotted a German submarine on the surface and attacked it with four 100 lb. A/S bombs, but no damage was done. While maintaining a single Swordfish on A/S patrol over the fleet, Ark dispatched 803's Blue section trio led by Lieutenant W. P. Lucy, RN to Molde to cover the evacuation. The patrol would prove most eventful. Between 1218 and 1320 the section had four separate combats with Ju-88s and He-111">He-111s, managing to down three of the later and damage another, all from KG 26.
Meanwhile, at 1140, Lieutenant G. E. D. Finch-Noyes, RN temporary OC of 800 Squadron, departed with three Skuas of Red section to cover evacuation Convoy TM 1. They tangled with several German bombers, mostly Ju-88s of KG-30, and though they none were brought down, they successfully broke up their attacks. Both sections returned safely to Ark Royal by 1540.
While all this was going on, things appeared to be getting a bit dicey around the carriers when a snooper was picked up at 1215. In response, Lieutenant R. C. Hay, RM led off 803's ready Roc section to run the enemy down. However, before the Rocs got to altitude, the enemy was seen to be damaged by AA fire and retired. After returning aboard, the same trio was again sent aloft at 1430 in response to another snooper, but again the foe had departed before they got up high enough to intercept. While uneventful, these patrols are historical as they are the only Rocs to actually operate from a Royal Navy carrier during the war.
Although Ark Royal was now withdrawing deeper into the Norwegian Sea to rest and reorganize her air group before the expected bombardment of the Trondheim Leeds by the Home Fleet, the escape of the two German reconnaissance aircraft led to high expectations of an aerial assault on the task force. Although several sections of fighters were placed in readiness, no German attack materialized and the days activity ended, at which point Vice-Admiral Wells hauls off to rendezvous with HMS Valiant and additional destroyers in preparation for covering the intended bombardment of the approaches to Trondheim, scheduled for 1 May.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0129, the Scottish American
was hit by one torpedo from U-13
and caught fire. The U-boat had fired the last torpedo and left the tanker down
by the bows, but the ship was salvaged and returned to service after being
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April 28th, 1941 (MONDAY)UNITED KINGDOM: Churchill orders an end to the reinforcement of Malaya and Singapore.
Destroyer HMS Calpe launched.
Mooring vessel HMS Moorfire launched.
Submarine HMS P-36 launched.
ENGLISH CHANNEL: The Channel Stop campaign starts with the Royal Navy and RAF working to deny use of the Channel to enemy shipping. On the first day a Blenheim of 101 Sqn. is shot down by flak ships trying to attack trawlers off Calais.
GERMANY: The OKH orders army collaboration with the SS in the campaign in Russia. Special SS units had sole responsibility for carrying out their missions, but were under the authority of the army with respect to marching orders, food and shelter.
GREECE: The Germans now hold all of Greece except for Crete.
EGYPT: Cairo: Reuters News Agency reports:
The British Expeditionary Force and powerful contingents of the Greek army are continuing their retreat manoeuvres, which are being conducted under the protection of naval forces and air squadrons, and which are now fully under way. Direct reporting from Greece must be interrupted for the duration of these strategic operations because even radio messages might provide valuable clues to the enemy. Australian and New Zealand troops have obeyed orders to defend their positions on the Greek mainland to the very last minute, and then assembled in good order at their evacuation points.
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: Hart establishes TF 5, to consist of all ships to be sent south to Singapore when war broke out.
CANADA: Corvette HMCS Port Arthur laid down Port Arthur, Ontario.
U.S.A.: Washington: Colonel Charles Lindbergh, the air hero and leader of the isolationist "America First" group, has resigned from the US Army Air Corps reserve after President Roosevelt questioned his loyalty. Lindbergh recently said that the US was being "led to war by a minority", after which Roosevelt compared him to Northerners in the civil war who favoured peace with the South. Roosevelt's press secretary wondered if Lindbergh, who received a Nazi order in 1938, would be "returning his decoration to Hitler." The "Verdienstorden vom Deutschen Adler" was a diplomatic decoration awarded only to foreigners.
Aircraft carrier USS Essex laid down.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-65 is sunk by southeast of Iceland in position 59.51N, 15.30W, by depth charges from the destroyer HMS DOUGLAS. 50 dead (all crew lost).
At 1615, the Capulet in Convoy HX-121 was torpedoed by U-552 south of Iceland in 60°16N/16°10W. She broke her back, caught fire and was abandoned. Eight crewmembers and one of three passengers were lost. After HMS Douglas tried to sink the tanker with gunfire, the destroyer picked up the master and 17 survivors and landed them at Londonderry. 17 survivors were rescued by the British rescue ship Zaafaran and landed at Greenock on 1 May. At 2114 on 2 May, U-201 found the drifting wreck of the Capulet and sank her by a coup de grâce.
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April 28th, 1942 (TUESDAY)
GERMANY: U-664 launched.
FINLAND: Major-General Aarne Snellman dies of his wounds suffered on the 13th.
MALTA: No ships of the Royal Navy ride proudly at anchor in Valetta's Grand Harbour today. The cruiser HMS PENELOPE has been hit so often by German bombs that she was nicknamed "HMS Pepperpot" before she slipped away last night. Two damaged destroyers remain - the last vestige of Britain's shattered naval power in the Mediterranean. The submarines that have been supplying Malta with fuel have been forced to leave by the huge number of Axis mines laid outside the harbour. On short rations, Malta is praying for a miracle.BURMA: The Chinese 28th Division moving from Mandalay, is ordered to defend Lashio.
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: The full horror of a forced march by American and Filipino prisoners - in which as many as 20,000 men are believed to have perished from disease, hunger and the savagery of their Japanese captors - is beginning to emerge. The prisoners, taken after the surrender of the Bataan peninsula earlier this month, died as they were marched 65 miles to a captured US barracks near Clark Field airbase.
Even before the march began, many of the prisoners were racked by malaria, dysentery, beriberi and other diseases. The Japanese forced the pace with clubs, bayonets and unspeakable cruelty. Dozens of men were bayoneted to death; more were beheaded, shot and beaten at the whim of their captors. Those who could not keep up were clubbed to death or buried alive.
Filipinos bore the brunt of the brutality and, it is believed, the casualties. On 11 April, as the march began, Japanese soldiers massacred some 400 Filipino officers and NCOs - hacking them to pieces with their swords. All the PoWs were looted of personal possessions. One officer who refused to hand over his wedding ring had his finger cut off. The precise number of prisoners who started - and finished - this "death march" is not known, but it is believed that one in three may have died.
CANADA: Ottawa: Canada has voted on conscription in a record turn-out and the country is divided on linguistic grounds. English speakers, the majority, are in favour of a draft for service overseas. The French-speaking minority, is against.
In both 1939 and 1940, the Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, made a solemn pledge to French-Canadians that there would be no such conscription. His fear was that Canada would be split and that a pro-Vichy city council might emerge in Quebec.
Events in the Pacific, including the Hong Kong debacle which netted 1,689 Canadian prisoners have forced the prime minister's hand.
Corvette HMCS La Malbaie commissioned.
U.S.A.: Washington: Following a statement by President Roosevelt that the American "standard of living will have to come down", the prices of all essential items have been frozen and a host of commodities is now rationed. In a message to Congress, the president set a limit on wages of $25,000 after taxes, called for stabilizing all incomes, fixed ceilings for prices on almost all goods and announced that such items as gasoline and sugar will be rationed.
The president will address the nation tonight. His message is the culmination of a series of actions which put America on a war footing. The US Navy has taken over four plants of Brewster Aeronautical Corporation because the management could not assure delivery of aircraft. The government told civilians that little space will be available for them after "air mail, passengers and express goods essential to the war effort" get priority.
The war production board is seeking laws giving it the power to draft executives from private industry to military posts, and it has been announced that 5.5 million new workers are needed to produce war materials. One sign of tougher - or leaner? - times is this advice to women: use less elastic in your girdles.
Destroyer USS Bradford laid down.
Destroyer USS Laub launched.
CUBA: Cuba granted de facto recognition to Free French control over French territories in the Pacific, Equatorial Africa, and the Cameroons.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: The US Navy's Task Force 99, consisting of the battleship USS Washington (BB-56), heavy cruisers USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and USS Wichita (CA-45) and four destroyers, sails from the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. This is Force "Distaff," a joint RN-USN task force that will be positioned northeast of Iceland to protect convoy PQ-15 sailing for Murmansk in the Soviet Union. The RN force consists of the battleship HMS King George V, the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, the light cruiser HMS Kenya and five destroyers.
Tug HMS West Dean lost due to unknown reasons.
SS Arundo sunk by U-136 at 40.10N, 73.44W.
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April 28th, 1943 (WEDNESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: HMC ML 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120 and 121 ordered.
Frigate HMS Tweed commissioned.
FINLAND: Finnish Parliament passes a law decreeing that all recipients of the Mannerheim Cross (the Finnish equivalent of the VC or MOH) would additionally receive the sum of 50 000 Finnish marks. It is a considerable sum, equivalent to a lieutenant's yearly pay.
Stockholm: SWEDEN protests against the mining of its territorial water by Germany.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The British submarine HMS UNSHAKEN sinks an Italian torpedo boat, Climene.
TUNISIA: L/Cpl John Patrick Kenneally (b.1921), Irish Guards, stormed a body of enemy troops preparing to attack, who broke up in surprise. He repeated the exploit two days later. (Victoria Cross)BOUGAINVILLE: A US submarine lands two coastwatchers and 14 commandos on this Japanese-occupied island. It evacuates Lt. Mackie and the 12 commandos who have been on the island for the last two years. It also evacuates Bishop Wade and Father Lebel. (Michael Alexander)
U.S.A.: Destroyer escorts USS Borum, Snyder and Witter laid down.
Destroyer USS Stephen Potter launched.
Destroyer escort USS Griswold commissioned.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: A series of running battles, between German U-Boats and Convoy
ONS-5, begin. These battles will last until May 6th. The convoy will
lose 13 transports. 7 U-Boats are sunk with damage to others. The ratio
of 2 transports to 1 U-boat is unacceptable.
This convoy is being protected by British escorts and Consolidated PBY-5A Catalinas of the US Navy's Patrol Squadron Eighty Four (VP-84) based at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Reykjavik, Iceland.
The effective air escort during the main battle was RCAF No. 5 Squadron from Newfoundland which sank U-630 on 4th May. Earlier in the voyage, on 24th April, U-710 was sunk by RAF 206 Squadron. The surface escort accounted for the remainder of the U-boat losses. The weather from 28th May onwards was atrocious. (Peter Beeston)
US Navy hunter-killer group comprised of the auxiliary aircraft carrier USS Bogue (ACV-9) and four destroyers drives off five German U-boats deploying against convoy HX 235.
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April 28th, 1944 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Shortly after midnight nine German motor torpedo boats attack a convoy of eight U.S. tank landing ships (LSTs) entering Lyme Bay, Dorset during manoeuvres for the Normandy invasion, near Slapton Sands.
Drawn in by heavier than normal radio traffic, they suddenly found themselves caught up in the midst of Operation TIGER -- one of several amphibious exercises secretly being conducted by the Allies in preparation for the Normandy Landing.
In minutes the German torpedoes hit their mark. One LST (landing ship, tank) was seriously crippled. Another burst into flames trapping many of the victims below deck. And a third sank immediately, sending hundreds of U.S. soldiers and sailors to a watery grave.
At 2145 on 27 Apr, convoy T-45 left Plymouth for Lyme Bay. The close escort was limited to one Flower-class corvette, HMS Azalea, which was stationed one mile ahead of a column of five LSTs (Landing Ships, Tank). Three more LSTs from Brixham joined the convoy. A fourth LST failed to make the rendezvous and returned to base. Once west of Tor Bay, the convoy manoeuvred in the Channel before making its final approach to Slapton Sands. One destroyer, the old Admiralty S-class HMS Saladin, was stationed to the south of the convoy as a screening force. In addition, three RN MTBs patrolled off Cherbourg as a blocking force to intercept a potential patrol by German E-boats. Alerted by increased Allied radio traffic, the German 5th and 9th Schnellboote Flotillas, comprising six and three boats, respectively, sortied from Cherbourg at 22:00 on 27 Apr. The German force managed to evade the British MTBs. Once clear of the British patrol, they travelled at 36 knots under strict radio silence. Shortly after midnight, nine German torpedo boats moved into Lyme Bay. Attacking in pairs, the E-boats burst past the escorts and attacked the landing ships. LSTs 507 and 531 were sunk with the loss of 202 and 424 men, respectively. LST 289 was damaged, resulting in the loss of 13 men. LST 511 was hit by fire from LST 496, resulting in 18 wounded. The German force did not suffer any losses.
It was the costliest training exercise in all of World War II.
As the bodies washed ashore in days ahead, the official count rose to 749.
Lieutenant-General Bradley, unaware of the huge loss of American lives, summarily relieved the brigade commander when the exercise fell behind schedule. A number of ‘lessons’ were learned and post-event recommendations included: using more capable and numerous escort forces; having rescue craft for any landing operation; disseminating quickly enemy contacts reports; introducing standard radio procedures, special circuits, and radio frequencies; reinforcing instructions to avoid looking directly at flares or fires to preserve night vision; limiting the amount of fuel carried in landing ships to that needed for the operation itself to reduce risk of fire; making small arms available to fire on E-boats when main guns cannot depress sufficiently; making life boats and life rafts as ready for lowering as possible; issuing illumination rockets to all large ships; improving fire fighting equipment, including manually operated pumps; providing training in the use of the 'kapok' life jacket and making them the preferred life preserver over the CO2 type; ordering boot laces be loosened when preparing to abandon ship to make it easier to remove them in the water. (Dave Shirlaw, Jack McKillop and Sivliu G)
Submarine HMS Aenas laid down.
Submarine HMS Spark commissioned.
GERMANY: U-883 launched.
ARCTIC OCEAN: Frigates HMCS Cape Breton, Outremont, Grou and Waskesiu departed Kola Inlet with Convoy RA-59 for Loch Ewe; arriving safely at Loch Ewe on 09 May 44.
U.S.S.R.: Stavka, the highest Soviet military command, decides that the fourth strategic strike of the year shall be directed against Finns to eliminate the threat to the security of Leningrad. For that purpose the Leningrad Front is reinforced by the 21st Army from the high command reserve.
CHINA: US aircraft bomb bridges on the Yellow River to hamper Japan's advance.
BURMA: Allied and Chinese soldiers push through the Mogaung valley towards Myitkyina.
PACIFIC OCEAN: Japanese submarine I-183 is sunk by USS Pogy (SS-266) off Japan. (Mike Yared)(144 and 145)
CANADA: HM LST 3518, 3519, 3520, 3521, 3522, 3523, 3524, 3525, 3526, 3527, 3528, 3529, 3530, 3531, 3532, 3533, 3534, 3535 ordered.
Frigate HMCS Charlottetown commissioned.
U.S.A.: US Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox dies of a heart attack. He is the top civilian in the naval chain of command.
Escort carrier USS Hollandia launched.
Destroyer escorts USS Samuel B Roberts and Daniel A Joy commissioned.
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April 28th, 1945 (SATURDAY)
GERMANY: The siege of Berlin by the Russians continues. They are within a mile of Hitler's Bunker in the east and south.
Berlin: Hitler receives word via Göbbels' Propaganda Ministry that the BBC was reporting SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler's attempted peace negotiations, Hitler orders his immediate arrest and execution and has his liaison officer, Hermann Fegelein, shot dead.
The German garrison is running out of ammunition and food. General Weidling, the capital's commandant, estimates that the bullets will run out in another two days. The defence may not last that long as the Russians drive ever closer to the Reichstag. They are infiltrating through the subways and sewers, often storming the defences from below. Now not much more than the area round the Tiergarten remains in German hands.
Berlin: General Weidling's diary (90)
courtesy of Russ Folsom:
At the end of my situation report I indicated that the troops could not hold out for more than another two days, because by then they would have no ammunition left. Therefore, as a soldier, I suggested risking the breakout from the Berlin pocket. I emphasised particularly that if the troops broke out of Berlin the incredible sufferings of the people of Berlin would come to an end. Then I laid our breakout plan before the Fuhrer and explained it on the map I had prepared.
The Fuhrer remained sunk in thought for some time. He judged the overall situation as hopeless, as showed clearly from his detailed considerations which may be briefly summarised as follows. Even if the breakout succeeded, we would be simply landing from one pocket into another. He, the Fuhrer, would then have to subsist either in the open, or in some farmhouse, or somewhere similar, and wait for the end. It would be best if he stayed in the Chancellery. That is how the Fuhrer turned down the idea for a breakout. Once again, Dr. Goebbels obsequiously flattered the Fuhrer. Once again, I felt it was a waste of time to talk to this bunch...
The US 7th Army takes Augsburg.
After a misfiring of the 20-mm AA gun, the IWO of U-3012, Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang Schlett, was killed instantly. The commander of the boat, Kapitänleutnant Hans Bungards, was badly wounded and died next night in the Navy Hospital at Travemünde.
U-56 sunk at Kiel, in position 54.19N, 10.10E, by bombs from British aircraft. 6 dead and 19 survivors.
FINLAND: The Commander of the Finnish III Corps, General Siilasvuo reports that the mission of Puolustusvoimat is complete. The Second World War is over for Finland. (Gene Hanson)ITALY: Milan: The body of Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, dictator of Italy until his downfall in 1943, hangs upside-down over an ESSO garage forecourt in Milan. The body of his mistress, Clara Petacci, hangs next to it. Both bodies have been mutilated. Earlier today, a woman fired five revolver shots - "for my five dead sons" into the Duce's body. Others spat at their former leader.
With his SS escort, Mussolini was heading towards the Alps where he believed that he could continue the war in the mountains with 3,000 fanatical Fascist followers. In fact, only 12 turned up at a rendezvous. They then drove through dangerous, partisan-held territory.
The partisans caught up with Petacci and Mussolini, dressed in a German
uniform, at Dongo, on Lake Como. After interrogation, a communist partisan,
Walter Audisio, lined them up at the gate of the Villa Belmonte
in Mezzegra. First, he shot Petacci, who clung to her lover. Then Mussolini
opened his coat wide and asked to be shot in the chest. The machine-gun rang out
and the Duce slumped against the wall, breathing heavily. Audisio moved closer,
and fired the final shot into his heart.
JAPAN: Japanese defensive positions, in the Shuri Line on southern Okinawa, hold out against US forces employing tanks, flame throwers and artillery of all sizes.
The fourth phase of Kamikaze attacks has been underway since yesterday on Okinawa. 125 Japanese aircraft are involved. 9 destroyers and other smaller ships are hit.
The kamikazes damage four destroyers, USS Wadsworth (DD-516), USS Daly (DD-519), USS Twiggs (DD-591) and USS Bennion (DD-662); the high-speed minesweeper USS Butler (DMS-29); the hospital ship USS Comfort (AH-6); and the transport fitted for the evacuation of wounded USS Pinkney (APH-2). The destroyer USS Brown (DD-546) is damaged by aerial attack while a Japanese assault demolition boat causes extensive damage to the U.S. freighter SS Bozeman Victory.
CANADA: Tug HMCS Glendyne commissioned.
U.S.A.: The USS Franklin, heavily damaged by Kamikaze attack on March 19 arrives in Brooklyn, New York.
Submarines USS Chivo and Requin commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Ruddy commissioned.
Destroyer USS Vogelsgang commissioned.
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