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17 May 1941
  • Pilot Officer Mike Kolendorski, an American serving in the British RAF, became the first No. 121 Squadron RAF member to be killed. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-107 attacked Dutch tanker Marisa with a torpedo at midnight, killing 2; U-107 allowed the 47 survivors to abandon ship before sinking her with guns. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Operation Brevity: German Colonel Maximilian von Herff launched a counterattack in the area near Bir Wair and Musaid after 1600 hours. British Brigadier General William Gott withdrew his troops into the Halfaya Pass, Egypt, ending his offensive operation. ww2dbase [Operation Brevity | CPC]
  • Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire delivered fresh Australian troops to Tobruk, Libya at 0100 hours; the artillery pieces that arrived with the destroyer were deployed on the front lines as early as 0530 hours. ww2dbase [Siege of Tobruk | CPC]
  • British bombers attacked Bramsfeld, 12 kilometers northwest of Köln, Germany; the Atlantik rubber plant was hit with 2 high explosive and 44 incendiary bombs. ww2dbase [Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities | CPC]
  • Arthur Compton and the United States National Academy of Sciences published a report noting the success rate of developing an atomic weapon was favorable. On the same day, Vannevar Bush created the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). ww2dbase [Operation Trinity and Manhattan Project | Vannevar Bush | CPC]
Abyssinia Atlantic Ocean
  • Alessandro Malaspina was ordered to return to Bordeaux, France. At 0905 hours, the Italian submarine sighted an aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean at the range of 4,000 meters and submerged. ww2dbase [Alessandro Malaspina | CPC]
  • Sonderkommando Junck, a special formation of German Luftwaffe fighters, bombers and transports which had been hastily painted with Iraqi markings, commenced (with a dozen Bf 110 aircraft of 4./ZG 76) air attacks on British positions, especially those at Habbaniya, Iraq; or the next ten days the Bf 110 aircraft attacked, losing several aircraft in the process. Late in the evening, the British force from Palestine arrived at Habbaniya. After sundown, British and colonial troops crossed the Euphrates River toward Fallujah. ww2dbase [Campaigns in the Middle East | CPC, AC]

17 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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"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945

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