24 May 1940

Atlantic Ocean
  • German aircraft sank British destroyer Wessex off the coast of Calais, France. ww2dbase [TH]
  • At 0248 hours, the unescorted neutral 3,994-ton Greek cargo steamer Kyma was struck by a torpedo from German submarine U-37 when sailing about 175 miles south of Cape Clear Island, Ireland and about 200 miles west of Brest, France. The attack was made without warning and despite the neutrality markings. Victor Oehrn, the German commander, regarded he ship as heading for an enemy port within the blockade area. The ship was carrying 6,000 tons of maize and 90 tons of trucks to Avonmouth, Bristol, England, United Kingdom from Rosario, Argentina. The survivors abandoned the Kyma in a lifeboat which was spotted by an aircraft from St Eval, Cornwall, England and the sloop HMS Enchantress (L 56) broke away from the convoy to pick them up. Seven of the 30 crew were lost. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | CPC, HM]
  • French destroyer Chacal, under command of Commander J. E. N. Estieene, was sunk in the English Channel off Boulogne, France by German aircraft. ww2dbase [English Channel | HM]
Belgium Brazil
  • The President of Panama expressed support for the Dominican Republic in terms of the 8 Mar 1940 incident where a Canadian destroyer attacked German freighter Hannover in Dominic Republic's territorial waters. He called for the Chairman of the Inter-American Neutrality Committee in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to investigate this violation of the Pan-American Neutrality Zone. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | CPC]
  • In France, the German 10th Panzer Division began an attack on Calais and captured the town of Boulogne (capturing 5,000 Allied troops), Maubeuge, and Saint-Omer. To the north, the German 1st Panzer Division reached the Aa Canal 10 miles from Dunkerque in an attempt to cut off the Allied troops in Belgium. At this key moment, Adolf Hitler interfered and ordered the tanks to pull back; he was promised by Hermann Göring that the Luftwaffe would be able to prevent the Allied evacuation from taking place; German Army generals protested, but to no avail. ww2dbase [Invasion of France and the Low Countries | TH]
  • British Lieutenant Christopher Furness, the son of Viscount Furness, was killed in hand to hand fighting near Arras, France after his Bren gun carrier group engaged a vastly superior enemy force in order to allow a convoy to escape. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. ww2dbase [Arras, Nord-Pas-de-Calais | AC]
  • Walter Grabmann was liberated by German troops in France. ww2dbase [Walter Grabmann | CPC]
  • The Polish destroyer Burza was ordered to join the British destroyers HMS Vimiera (L 29) and HMS Wessex (D 43) and shell German positions in Calais area on the French coast. At 1620 hours the Allied vessels opened fire on a German armoured column at Sangatte Hill, west of Calais. Ten minutes later they were attacked by 27 German aircraft which hit and sank HMS Wessex about 5 miles off of the coast. HMS Vimiera managed to escape. Then the entire enemy air group concentrated on the Polish destroyer. The two 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns jammed due to shrapnel hits. Three bombs exploded in the water and they caused boiler damage and loss of speed. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Wojciech Francki, ordered to emergency launch the torpedoes and drop all depth charges, trying to avoid additional explosions. Shortly after this, two bombs hit the Burza and badly damaged her. However the airplanes had dropped all of their bombs and broke off the attack. The crew managed to stop the leakage and return to Dover, England, United Kingdom. One German airplane was shot down during the action. ww2dbase [Invasion of France and the Low Countries | Burza | Calais, Nord-Pas de Calais | HM]
  • The 2,939-ton passenger steamship Brighton, in service with the British Admiralty as a hospital ship, was bombed and sunk by German aircraft at Dieppe, France. ww2dbase [Invasion of France and the Low Countries | Dieppe, Haute-Normandie | HM]
United Kingdom
  • The British War Cabinet issued the order to withdraw the British troops in Norway in light of the situation in France. ww2dbase [Invasion of Denmark and Norway | CPC]

24 May 1940 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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