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17 Jun 1941
  • Finland began to secretly mobilize its military for Operation Silver Fox, the Finnish invasion of the Soviet Union in concert with the German Operation Barbarossa. ww2dbase [Operation Silver Fox | TH]
  • A German counterattack launched at 0430 hours broke through the Allied lines in Libya, threatening to cut off the Allied forces attacking Halfaya Pass. In the afternoon, the Allied leadership decided to call off the Operation Battleaxe offensive. The British 7th Armoured Division tanks formed a rearguard against pursuing German tanks until 1600 hours to allow Allied troops to fall back. The failure of the operation, especially in regards to the heavy losses in tank strength, would soon cost Wavell his position as the British commander-in-chief in the region. ww2dbase [Operation Battleaxe | CPC]
  • The Guards Armoured Division was established by the British Army with Major General Sir Oliver Leese in command. ww2dbase [Oliver Leese | AC]
  • German submarine U-43 sank British ship Cathrine 250 miles southwest of Ireland at 0315 hours; 24 were killed, 3 survived. ww2dbase [CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • The 2,727-ton British motor merchant Cathrine carrying 3,920 tons of iron ore had become a straggler from Convoy SL-76 on her way from Freetown, Sierra Leone to Barrow, England, United Kingdom. When approximately 600 miles west of Cape Clear, Ireland she was seen and attacked by German submarine U-43, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang LĂĽth. Two torpedoes were launched and both hit the Cathrine, breaking her in half immediately. Her crew had no time to launch lifeboats and had to cling to wreckage and an overturned lifeboat. The submarine passed the men in the water and were asked if they were all right, none answered as they felt that the question was ridiculous. Four of the fourteen men clinging to the lifeboat died during the day before the boat was righted and baled out. Ultimately, only three of the remaining ten would survive until they were finally spotted and rescued a month later. ww2dbase [U-43 | HM]
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille shot down two Hurricane fighters over Halfaya Pass in Egypt while escorting Stuka dive bombers; they were his 12th and 13th kills. ww2dbase [Hans-Joachim Marseille | CPC]
French Syria and Lebanon Photo(s) dated 17 Jun 1941
Remains of a Matilda tank of C Squadron, UK 4th Royal Tank Regiment, Libya or Egypt, 17 Jun 1941

17 Jun 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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