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16 May 1941
  • RAF aircraft conducted raids on Köln (Cologne) and Bramsfield in Germany; at the latter target the Atlantik rubber works was damaged. ww2dbase [Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities | TH]
  • German bombers sank British troopship Archangel 10 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom; 52 were killed, 435 survived. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The damaged port side crane aboard Bismarck was repaired. ww2dbase [Bismarck | CPC]
  • Brigadier Gott withdrew British tanks and infantry from the desert around Sollum and Fort Capuzzo, Libya to consolidate a hold on Halfaya Pass on the Egyptian-Libyan border. ww2dbase [Operation Brevity | CPC]
  • The final British reinforcements arrived on Crete, Greece. On the same day, German aircraft bombed various British positions on Crete (including airfields) as well as the shipping in Suda Bay (sinking several freighters and damaging HMS York). ww2dbase [Balkans Campaign | York | CPC]
  • German Me 110 and He 111 bombers attacked RAF Habbaniyah in Iraq, surprising the British; the British and the Germans each lost one aircraft during the attack. Meanwhile, German aircraft strafed British reinforcements traveling eastward from Palestine. ww2dbase [Campaigns in the Middle East | CPC]
  • German submarine U-105 attacked British ship Rodney Star 400 miles west of Sierra Leone, British West Africa between 0548 and 0930 hours, hitting her with torpedoes and gunfire; Rodney Star sank; the entire crew of 83 survived. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-109 stumbled upon an American fleet containing a battleship and several destroyers. She dove and avoided attack. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Vsevolod Merkulov reported to Joseph Stalin regarding the final deportation plan for the Baltic States, which targeted political leaders, land owners, officers, and others, plus their families. He recommended 8-year imprisonment in labor camps for them, and the exile to faraway lands in the Soviet Union for their families. ww2dbase [Vsevolod Merkulov | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • Alessandro Malaspina sighted a destroyer in the Atlantic Ocean at 0425 hours; she dove and escaped being sighted in return. ww2dbase [Alessandro Malaspina | CPC]
  • Alessandro Malaspina remained under water in the Atlantic Ocean as she had been under attack by three Allied destroyers and a number of aircraft, which escorted a convoy upwards of 20 freighters. At 0114 and 0308 hours, Alessandro Malaspina detected depth charges being launched at her. At 0405 hours, the Italian submarine surfaced and found that the Allied convoy, along with its escorts, had already departed the area. ww2dbase [Alessandro Malaspina | CPC]
  • With drinking water fouled in the Italian stronghold of Amba Alagi, Ethiopia, the Italian Viceroy Duke of Aosta requested the British to send in fresh water. When the British refused, he called for a ceasefire in order to begin surrender negotiations. By this point, his forces had suffered incurring 289,000 casualties. ww2dbase [Invasion of Italian East Africa | Amba Alagi | CPC]
  • Italian sappers cleared barbed wires and mines near Tobruk, Libya. The subsequent attack on Tobruk, Libya by the Italian Ariete Armoured Division saw the Italians capturing several bunkers, but the assault was deemed unsuccessful. 90% of the division's tanks failed mechanically before the main action was engaged and the division was moved back to Gazala to refit and regroup. ww2dbase [Siege of Tobruk | Tobruk | CPC, AC]
  • German bombers damaged British destroyer HMS Encounter in drydock at Malta. ww2dbase [Malta Campaign | CPC]
  • Wing Commander J. Warfield was named the commanding officer of RAF Station Takali on Malta. ww2dbase [RAF Takali | Ta' Qali | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • German bombers conducted what would turn out to be the last major raid against London, England, United Kingdom, as most Luftwaffe units were being transferred to the Eastern Front. ww2dbase [Battle of Britain | London, England | TH]
United States
  • The first P-43 Lancer fighter delivery was made to the United States Army. ww2dbase [P-43 Lancer | CPC]
  • US President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the defence of China to be vital to the United States. ww2dbase [Franklin Roosevelt | AC]

16 May 1941 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time."

Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal

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