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August 19th, 1944 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Submarine FS Morse (ex-HMS Vortex) launched.

Corvette HMCS Tillsonburg arrived Londonderry from workups at Stornoway.

SHAEF orders the removal of invasion stripes from Allied aircraft. (Ron Babuka)

FRANCE: Paris: At 7am today 2,000 striking policemen take over the Préfecture de Police. They hold off a counter-attack and capture 700 Germans. The police took the initiative from the communists whose leader, Colonel Rol, was taken by surprise, turning up at the prefecture on a bicycle and giving the orders for a general rising. Today the Germans also cut the cities gas supply.

The US XV Corps reaches the Seine at Mates Grasicourt. 

The Polish 1st Armored Division links up with the U.S. 90th Infantry Division at Chambois, a village 15 miles  (24 kilometres) southeast of Falaise thereby closing the Falaise Pocket. German loses in the ensuing four day battle are 10,000 dead and 40,000 captured. 

In southern France, US Twelfth Air Force A-20 Havocs hit marshalling yards while B-25s and B-26s bomb road and rail bridges throughout southeastern France; fighter-bombers and fighters continue to pound enemy communications north and west, of the beachhead and guns in the immediate battle area as the US Seventh Army's Task Force Butler crosses the Durance River and moves north to Sisteron and Digne.

The  USN battleship USS Nevada (BB-36), French battleship Lorraine, and heavy cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31) conduct reconnaissance in force off Toulon to support the U.S. Army's Third Division and French troops making a drive on that port. Escorted by four destroyers, Nevada, Lorraine, and Augusta shell the harbour and batteries at St. Mandrier; heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA-71) provides counter-battery fire on Giens, from position south of Isle Port Cros. 

VOF-1 from TULAGI shot down three He 111s. VF-74 from KASAAN BAY shot down one Do 217. Both of these carriers were of the CASABLANCA class. (Keith Allen)

Falaise, Normandy: A fleet of RAF Dakotas today landed 60 SAS soldiers led by Captain Roy Farran on an airstrip behind enemy lines at Rennes. The force disappeared into a forest near Orleans to ambush German columns. This is the 32nd operation of its kind since D-Day.

From Brittany to Dijon, SAS soldiers are creating havoc by direct attacks on railways and telephone lines, by targetting RAF strikes on military headquarters and by stiffening the Maquis with weapons, supplies and fighting leadership. It might have been otherwise. The Army top brass wanted to insert the SAS, now a brigade of 2,500 immediately behind the coastal area between the German infantry and their supporting tanks: a recipe for disaster which led the SAS commander, Bill Stirling (brother of the founder, the captured David), to resign.

Hitler has developed a special distaste for these special forces, "Such men are dangerous" he affirms in an order for their execution as terrorists of captured. At Chambon 11 days ago Major Ian Fenwick deliberately drove into a German ambush with all guns firing from his Jeep and was killed. Near Auxerre, with two jeeps and a few men, Captain Derrick Harrison stormed into a village square crowded with SS men, interrupting the execution of 20 hostages. His Vickers machine gun jammed; his driver dead, he escaped leaving 60 enemy bodies in the smouldering wreckage of their vehicles.

Mantes-Gassicourt: During a night of pouring rain, units of Patton's Third Army crossed the Seine, 40 miles from Paris. Some men walked across a dam, others went in assault craft at Mantes-Gassicourt, near La Roche Guyon, the German headquarters. While the heaviest fighting continues in the "Falaise Pocket", near Argentan, where large Panzer forces are being concentrated, Patton has sent three of his corps south and east to capture Orleans and Chartres, with advance units poised to take Fontainebleau.

The Germans retreating from the Falaise/Argentan pocket are being attacked from the air with devastating effect; but the confusion on the ground has on several occasions led to Allied troops being bombed by their own air forces. The British 51st Highland Division has reported 40 accidental air attacks in one day, causing 51 casualties.

Field Marshal von Kluge, sacked by Hitler as C-in-C Army Group B, committed suicide today by swallowing poison. Four days ago his car was shot up by Allied planes, his radio was wrecked and he was cut off from contact with Army HQ in Berlin. Hitler was convinced, mistakenly, that he was trying to make peace with the Allies. When communications were restored von Kluge refused to obey an order from Berlin to mount a counter-attack. His suicide note protested his devotion to the Fuhrer, but urged him to end the war: "The German people have borne such untold suffering that it is time to put an end to this frightfulness." Field Marshal Walter Model takes over.

U-466 (Type VIIC) which had been damaged on 5 July, 1944 by bombs from US B-24 aircraft at Toulon, France, is scuttled 19 Aug, during the Allied invasion of southern France. (Alex Gordon)

German submarines U-123 and U-129 are scuttled to avoid capture at Lorient. 

U-123 taken out of service at Lorient, France 17 Jun 1944. Scuttled there 19 Aug 1944. Surrendered to France in 1945 and became the French submarine Blaison. Stricken 18 Aug 1959 as Q165. (DS)

VICHY FRANCE: German SS men today arrested Marshal Petain and ordered him to move to Belfort, where his prime minister, Pierre Laval, was sent two days ago. It is thought that both will be taken to Germany.

The troops broke down the door of the Hotel de Parc, where the head of the Vichy state has lived since 1940, and burst into the Marshal's bedroom.

At first he refused German protection, but the Germans threatened to bomb the town of Vichy unless he agreed, and he was then arrested by the SS.

GERMANY: U-2330, U-2508 and U-3005U-3005 launched.
U-2327 and U-3502 commissioned.

U.S.S.R.: Riga: In an attempt to save its Army Group North, cut off in Estonia by the advancing Red Army which had reached the Baltic at the Bay of Riga, the German high command has unleashed three Panzer divisions in the Autse area,

Striking at the over-extended left wing of General Bagramyan's First Baltic Front, the German tanks have crashed through the flank of the armoured column which had dashed to the coast. Despite desperate efforts by the Russians to seal the gap, the Germans have opened up a narrow corridor along the coast to restore land contact with General Schorner's divisions. The corridor is narrow, but it is being held with great determination and Schorner can now withdraw his men and equipment from what threatened to become a "cauldron" in which they would have been cut up and destroyed.

This sudden blow by the Germans demonstrates, that despite their terrible defeats this summer, they can still muster strong reinforcements and defeat the Russians when not faced with overwhelming numbers of men and tanks. It also demonstrated the extent to which the Russians have stretched themselves since Operation Bagration. Their victories have been stupendous, but they have suffered great losses in men and material.

ROMANIA: Using H2X radar, 65 B-17 Flying Fortresses, supported by 125 P-51 Mustangs, of the USAAF's Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy bomb two oil refineries at Ploesti for the third consecutive day. 

YUGOSLAVIA: Two B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF's Fifteenth Air Force in Italy, visually bomb the railroad at Cuprija. 

ITALY, Pisa: Nakae, Masato, Pvt., US 100th/442nd Infantry, awarded the MOH for actions today. (Posthumous). (William L. Howard)

KURILE ISLANDS: The US Eleventh Air Force dispatches a weather sortie and a shipping sweep by 4 B-25s with negative results.

PALAU ISLANDS: Radar-equipped B-24s of the US Thirteenth Air Force attack Japanese airfields and defenses during the night of 19/20 August.

PACIFIC OCEAN: USN submarine attacks on Japanese convoy HI 71, begun the previous day, continue off the west coast of Luzon, Philippine Islands, as USS Bluefish (SS-222) sinks fast fleet tanker/seaplane carrier HIJMS Hayasui, 80 nautical miles (92 miles or 148 kilometres) northwest of Cape Bolinao in position 17.34N, 119.23E, and damages hospital ship Awa Maru, 17.36N, 119.38E. 
    USN submarine USS Spadefish (SS-411) sinks a Japanese landing craft depot repair ship Tamatsu Maru west of Luzon, 18.48N, 119.47E. 
    USN submarine USS Redfin (SS-272) lays mines off Sarawak, Borneo. 

CANADA: Corvette HMCS Smiths Falls launched Kingston, Ontario.

U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Massey launched.
Light cruiser USS Topeka launched.
Destroyer escort USS Presley launched.
Destroyer USS Little commissioned.
Destroyer escort USS Finnegan commissioned. Aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea laid down.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-413 sank SS Saint Enogat in Convoy ETC-72.
U-862 sank SS Wayfarer.

HMCS Arnprior (ex-HMS Rising Castle), a Castle-class corvette built in the UK and transferred to the RCN, departed Londonderry with the 153-ship convoy ON-249, bound for New York City. The convoy arrived safely with all of its ship intact on 02 Sep 44. ON-249 was the largest of that series of convoys run during the war. 'ON' stood for 'Outward North' from Liverpool to North America. This series was started in July 1941 and terminated in June 1945 with the arrival of ON 305. The average convoy size was approximately 50 merchant ships and eight escorts. In all, 14,864 ships sailed in the ON series and 162 (1.1%) were lost, most of them in 1942. Of the total lost, only 81 (.55%) were in the convoy at the time of their sinking. The remainder were either stragglers or were 'out of convoy' due to detachment, weather, engineering defect, or some other tactical situation that made independent movement necessary. The overall loss rate in 1942 was 2.95%, which was considered unsustainable. This loss rate did not include damaged ships that were effectively lost for the period that they were under repair. Nearly as many ships were damaged as were lost due to enemy action. The effects of weather, collision, grounding and other accidents added substantially to the efforts of the enemy.

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