23 Jun 1941
  • Slovakia declared war on the Soviet Union. ww2dbase [TH]
  • US Navy Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark ordered the 1st Defense Battalion of the Fleet Marine Force of the US Marine Corps to be established at Wake Island as soon as possible. ww2dbase [Harold Stark | CPC]
  • The German 6th Panzer Division encountered Soviet KV tanks for the first time at the Dubysa River in Lithuania. German General Reinhard was surprised to learn that the Soviet military possessed such a heavy tank, especially after learning that some German 105-millimeter shells were bouncing off the thick armor, and that some KV tanks had reportedly crushed German vehicles and guns by driving over them. ww2dbase [Kliment Voroshilov | CPC]
  • The 5,000 man 1st Greek Brigade was established by the British in Palestine under the command of Colonel Ev. Antoniou. The Brigade (under Colonel Pafsanias Katsotas) would later see action in 1942 at El Alamein in Egypt as a part of the British 50th Division. ww2dbase [AC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • The 5,265-ton merchant steamer Trelissick was bombed and sunk by German aircraft 3.5 miles off the Sheringham Buoy in the North Sea off the Norfolk coast, England, United Kingdom. She was making her way in ballast from London to the River Tyne, Northumberland. ww2dbase [North Sea | HM]
  • The 3,039-ton German motor vessel Alstertor was on voyage for France with about 200 British, Chinese, Indian and Malayan prisoners off two British ships which were sunk by the German merchant cruiser Atlantis. She was spotted by British aircraft west of Portugal; the aircraft were searching for the battleship Bismarck and cruiser Prinz Eugen. The destroyers HMS Faulknor, Fearless, Forester, Foresight, Foxhound and Marsdale all converged on the German vessel. The German crew then became the prisoners of the British as they surrendered after setting scuttling charges. She sank south of Cape Finnisterre. ww2dbase [HM]
  • Converted trawler-minesweeper HMT Nogi was attacked and sunk by German aircraft north of Cromer, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [North Sea | HM]
Baltic Sea
  • Soviet destroyer Gnevniy hit a mine and sank off the island of Hiiumaa, Estonia. ww2dbase [CPC]
Black Sea
  • Soviet destroyer Bystryb hit a mine and sank in the Black Sea off Sevastopol, Russia. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • The Soviet Army armored counter attack near Tilsit, Ostpreußen, Germany (now Sovetsk, Russia) was beaten back. Meanwhile, German forces crossed the Bug River, penetrating 50 miles beyond the Soviet lines. From the air, German Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed another 1,200 Soviet aircraft on this day. ww2dbase [Operation Barbarossa | Ostpreußen | TH]
  • German Gestapo leader Mueller issued directives to the Gestapo office in the city of Tilsit, Germany (now Sovetsk, Russia) to set up Einsatkommando Tilsit which would be responsible for killing Jews in Lithuania. ww2dbase [Tilsit, Ostpreußen | CPC]
  • Adolf Hitler arrived for the first time at his new secret Wolfsschanze (English: The Wolf's Lair) headquarters, which had been constructed in the Masurian woods near Rastenburg, Germany (now Ketrzyn, Poland). ww2dbase [Adolf Hitler | Rastenburg, Ostpreußen | AC]
  • Soviet submarine M-78 (Senior Lieutenant Dimitriy L. Shevchenko) was attacked off Uzava, Latvia by German aircraft at 0336 hours. At 0654 hours, 9 miles west of Vindava, Latvia, German submarine U-144 intercepted M-78 and sank her with two torpedo hits, killing all 15 aboard, including the commander of the 4th Submarine Division S. I. Matveev. The M-78 had left Liepaja, Latvia the day before together with M-77. This was the first sinking scored by a German submarine in the Baltic Sea in the war. ww2dbase [U-144 | Vindava | CPC, HM]
  • Soviet submarines Ronis, Spidola, and S-1 were scuttled by their own crews at Libau, Latvia to prevent German capture. ww2dbase [Libau | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • At 1730 hours, the 3,805-ton Turkish steam merchant Refah departed Mersin, Turkey, carrying a Turkish military mission bound for Britain, with the first stop at Port Said, Egypt. The mission consisted of 171 Turks (19 navy officers, 72 navy petty officers, 58 navy seamen, 20 air force cadets, and 2 civilians) accompanied by 1 British liaiason officer. The ship's captain was Izzet Dalgak?ran, who had 27 men in his crew. The ship was painted with Turkish colors and was not escorted by warships. At 2230 hours, when she was about 19 kilometers east of Cyprus, she was hit by a torpedo from an unidentified source. The electrical system was immediately disabled, preventing the ship from sending distress signals. Only one of the two lifeboats aboard the ship operated properly. ww2dbase [HM]
  • Light cruiser Voroshilov bombarded Constanza, Romania. ww2dbase [Voroshilov | Constanza | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • The Southern Railway Central Station in London, England, United Kingdom, damaged by German bombing over the night of 21 to 22 Jun 1941, was cleared of debris and returned to full operational status. ww2dbase [Battle of Britain | London, England | CPC]
  • The 717-ton coastal freighter Hull Trader was on passage from London to Hull when she struck a German laid mine and sank one mile from 57 C Buoy, at Cromer on the east coast of England, United Kingdom; eleven of the fourteen crew were killed. ww2dbase [Cromer, England | HM]
Photo(s) dated 23 Jun 1941
Women fleeing from German bombing in Grushki district, Kiev, Ukraine, 23 Jun 1941Russian conscripts entering the Voroshilov Barracks in Moscow, Russia, 23 Jun 1941Soviet troops marching near Moscow, Russia, 23 Jun 1941; text of poster at left:

23 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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