June 4 – On this day

Churchill’s speech on Dunkirk 1940, Midway air battle 1942, fall of Rome and D-Day postponment 1944

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1805
The first Trooping the Colour took place on Horse Guards Parade.

1940

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“We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations. But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted” – Winston Churchill

Churchill tells Commons ‘We shall fight on the beaches, in the fields, in the streets and in the hills. We shall never surrender.’

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338,236 soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force were rescued from France by 861 ships and boats of the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, private and Allied ships, 243 of which are lost. OperationDynamo was planned and executed by Admiral Bertram Ramsay (above)a remarkable achievement

Holiday camps are banned within 10 miles of east and south-east coasts of England and Isle of Wight.
German troops enter Dunkirk, taking 40,000 French prisoners and huge quantities of abandoned equipment, including 84,000 vehicles, 2,500 guns and 650,000 tons of supplies and ammunition.
French planes attack Munich and Frankfurt as reprisals for Paris bombing.

1941
Luftwaffe bombers carry out a night raid on the port of Alexandria in Egypt, killing 100 people. The Egyptian Cabinet resigns.

1942
Reinhard Heydrich dies of his wounds.
Hitler flies to Finland to meet with the Finnish head of state, Marshal Mannerheim.
At 4.30am aircraft of Admiral Nagumo’s 1st Carrier Striking Force makes strikes against Midway.
The American garrison received prior warning of this from a spotter aircraft. This raid fails to sufficiently neutralise US airpower on Midway and so Nagumo orders a second attack against Midway.
His aircraft are in the middle of being rearmed with torpedoes for a strike against the US carriers, should they be spotted. The Admirals orders mean that the Japanese aircraft must first replace their torpedoes with bombs, before another strike against Midway can take place.
At 8.20am Japanese reconnaissance aircraft reported sighting the American carriers and at 8.55am warned that US torpedo aircraft had been launched and were on their way towards the Japanese fleet. While this is going on, the Japanese aircraft which had been sent out on the second strike against Midway, begin to return and by 9am had all been landed.
Crews were now swarming round the aircraft with fuel hoses and bomb racks in a desperate attempt to get them ready for a strike against the American Carriers.
At 9.30am the torpedo bombers from the Hornet and Enterprise found the the Japanese carriers, but by 9.36am they had all been shot down. The Hornet’s and Enterprise’s dive-bombers failed to find the Japanese carriers and so turned for home, although many ran out of fuel on the way.
A similar fate was suffered by all the fighters on this mission. The torpedo bombers of the Yorktown now found and attacked the Japanese carriers, but with the same result as the previous attacks and by 10am it all seemed to be over and Admiral Nagumo could prepare for his counter strike in what seemed total safety.
However, because his fighters had been drawn down to sea level to deal with the Yorktown’s torpedo-bombers, the sky above the Japanese carriers was left temporarily exposed to attack. At 10.25am a lost dive-bomber group from the Enterprise stumbled upon the undefended Japanese carriers. The 37 Dauntless dive-bombers plunged down in to the attack. With their decks cluttered with aircraft in the throws of being re-armed and refuelled, the Japanese carriers were in serious danger.
Admiral Nagumo’s flagship, the Akagi was the first to be hit and a bomb started a fire in the torpedo store. This fire was so fierce that the Admiral had to abandon the Akagi and shift his flag to a destroyer. The carrier Kaga was hit next by four bombs, which set ablaze the ships aviation fuel and forced her also to be abandoned. The Soryu was hit as well, this time by 3 bombs. These started a fire on deck amongst the parked aircraft and also caused her engines to stop. In just five 5 minutes 3 Japanese carriers had been put out of action, but the agony was not yet over. At noon an American submarine found the stricken Soryu and sank her by torpedo. The Hiryu, which so far was undamaged, was ordered to withdraw at speed from the area in order to save herself. During her withdrawal the Hiryu managed to launch two strikes against the Yorktown at noon and 2.40pm, which caused severe damage to the Yorktown.
At 3.30pm Admiral Yamamoto gave the order for the Akagi to be scuttled by torpedo as it had not been possible to save her.
By 5pm the Kaga had also succumbed to her wounds and sank. At the same time the Hiryu’s luck ran out when she was spotted and attacked by dive-bombers from the Enterprise. Hit by four bombs, the Hiryu was set on fire from stem to stern and had to be scuttled by her crew. Farther north, aircraft from the Japanese 2nd Carrier Strike Force bomb Dutch harbor in the Aleutians as planned, damaging the islands fuel tanks and a US ship. US efforts to locate this force are unsuccessful.

1943
The House of Commons rejects any lifting of the economic blockade against occupied Europe.
A Military coup takes place in Argentina, with the army occupying Buenos Aires.
Luftwaffe bombers attack the massive Russian tank factory’s at Gorki.

1944

Irish Division – Brigadier Pat Scott:
“We lay in uninterrupted peace until the evening of the 4th when we were warned to send the Faughs towards Tivoli, a town some twelve months east of Rome..but this party died a natural death. Rome fell. The Germans were going north at full speed.”

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40 Commando RM lost 21 men in action at Brac Miljet. The unit was operating off the island of Vis, carrying out raids against German positions on the Dalmatian coastline.

Fall of Rome American General Mark Clark had been ordered to break out of Anzio and take the opportunity to cut off and destroy a large part of the German 10th Army retreating from the Gustav Line between them and the Canadians. But this opportunity was lost on the brink of success, when Clark disobeyed his orders and sent his forces to enter the vacant Rome instead. Rome had been declared an open city by the German Army so no resistance was encountered.

Allied forces took possession of Rome on 4 June 1944. The German 10th Army were allowed to get away and were responsible for doubling the Allied casualties in the next few months. Clark was hailed as a hero in the United States. The Canadians were sent through the city without stopping at 3:00am the next morning.

Eisenhower postpones ‘Operation Overlord’, the allied invasion of France, for 24 hours because of rough seas in the English Channel.
The RAF carries out heavy night raids against German coastal batteries and fortifications in Normandy.
U-505, patrolling off Cape Blanco on the West African coast is forced to the surface by depth-charges from the U.S. destroyer escort Chatelain and is captured intact and towed to Bermuda by the escort carrier Guadalcanal. (More Info)
The U.S. Fifth Army enters Rome.
The first B29 (Superfortress) combat mission is made against the Bangkok railway.

1945
U.S. troops land on the Oriko peninsula of Okinawa.
US, Soviet Union, Britain and France agree to divide up occupied Germany

1989

Eastern Europe’s 1st partial free elections in 40 years held in Poland, Solidarity Party comes to power

Tiananmen Square Massacre: Chinese troops clear the square of student protesters, unofficial figures place death toll near 1,000

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