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October 20th, 1941 (MONDAY)


"Regarding the Japanese Air Force, which many people, he said, were inclined to discount as a second-rate body equipped with obsolete aircraft and lacking skilful and daring pilots, Air Vice-Marshal Pulford said that he certainly does not underrate its capacity. When it was suggested to him that it might be compared with the Italian Air Force, he pointed out how completely the R.A.F. gained the mastery of the skies of the Middle East even when the Italians possessed great numerical superiority. He thinks that what the R.A.F. has done in the Middle East it could certainly do in the Far East against the Japanese. One of the best Japanese fighters is the 'O' naval fighter, but the Brewster Buffaloes at present with the R.A.F. in Malaya and Burma would have no difficulty in dealing with them.

The Japanese, he said, have two bombers of the Mitsubishi type, one of which is used by the Navy and one by the Army -they are about equal in performance to the Whitley bomber in the R.A.F. He believes that Messerschmitt 109s are being produced in limited numbers in Japanese factories."

-- "The Times", Oct 20, 1941, p. 4, col. 7. (William D. O'Neil)

Destroyer HMS Teazer laid down.

BELGIUM: During the night of 20/21 October, RAF Bomber Command sends 35 aircraft to bomb Antwerp but none attacked because of complete cloud cover.

FRANCE: The German commandant Lt-Col Karl Holz in Nantes is assassinated by the resistance. As a reprisal 50 hostages are shot. A similar incident in Bordeaux occurs, including reprisal shootings, on the 22nd.

GERMANY: During the night of 20/21 October, RAF Bomber Command sends 153 aircraft to Bremen, 47 to Wilhelmshaven and 36 to Emden but none of them attack because of complete cloud cover.  

U-734 laid down.

U-508 commissioned.

U.S.S.R.: There is heavy fighting near Mozhaysk and Malayaroslavets in the Moscow sector. German attacks continue to advance in Stalino (Donetsk).

Stalin declares a state of siege in Moscow. He appeals to all workers "to keep calm and orderly and to render the Red Army defending Moscow all possible help." It also says that all enemies of public order are to be handed over at once to court martials and that all provocateurs, spies and other enemies inciting riot are to be shot on the spot.

Stalin has called on other Russians to support his call to arms. The author Alexei Tolstoy, a kinsman of the great novelist, issued a stirring message to the Red Army today: "Grit your teeth! Squeeze the enemy's throat! Not a step backwards! Smash the German hoards with a storm of bombs and the fiery storm of artillery with the steel of your bayonets and the fury of your anger!"

The huge military machine of Germany has access to only 3% of the world's crude oil assets - a little more than it had before the outbreak of war, but less than it needs. Germany's problems would be solved if it captured the Soviet oilfields centred on Baku, in the Caucasus, which would quadruple its supplies. Meanwhile, the coming winter means that operations in Russia must slow. This will cut oil demand, but also means that the conquest of the Caucasus cannot take place before next spring.

Soviet ASW trawler SKR-11/No 70, ex RT-66 sunk by unknown cause.

Soviet destroyer Razumny commissioned.

YUGOSLAVIA: As a result of the guerilla war between the partisans and the Germans, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had issued a directive stating that for every German soldier killed by partisans 100 civilians are to be executed. For every soldier wounded, 50 residents are to be executed. On 18 October, ten German soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in an ambush by communist partisans. The city of Kragujevac in Serbia, with a population or 42,000, is chosen as the site where Hitler’s directive can be carried out because more hostages could be found here than elsewhere. In the villages of Meckovac, Grosnica, Milatovac and Marsic a total of 427 civilians are executed. In the two villages of Draginac and Loznica, 2,950 hostages are massacred in retaliation for German losses in the fighting against partisans around Kraljevo. In the town of Kraljevo itself, 1,736 hostages, including 19 women, are shot. In the roundup of hostages in Kragujevac the 53 inmates of the town's jail are murdered. Communists and their sympathizers are specifically targeted as are Jews. Within a week, over 4,000 innocent civilians are slaughtered in two of the largest massacres committed on Yugoslavian soil for what the German commander, General Franz Boehme, commander of the XVIII Mountain Corps, believes will give such a lasting impression on the partisans that they would willingly give up their struggle.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: In the Aegean Sea, mines previously laid by British submarine HMS/M Rorqual (N 74) in the Gulf of Athens sink Italian torpedo boats R.N. Aldebaran and Altair.

CANADA: Minesweeper HMCS Bellechasse launched North Vancouver, British Columbia.

HMC ML 058 and ML 061 commissioned.

U.S.A.: The aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) is commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia. The USN now has seven aircraft carriers in commission. Submarine USS Shad laid down.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: SS British Marine torpedoed by U-126. Constructive total loss.

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