From 24 April till 1 May 1941, over 50,000 troops of the British Expeditionary Forces were evacuated from Greece. Next to a large number of warships, nine troop-ships were involved in this exercise, including three of them of Dutch origin. All three Dutch vessels were sunk whilst the destruction of ss Slamat became the largest disaster at sea in Dutch history.
Hr. Ms. K XVII was a Dutch submarine of the K XIV class. The K-boats were especially designed and built for service in the Dutch East Indies. (K stands for Koloniaal = Colonial). The series started in 1913 with the K I which was constructed at the shipyard The Royal Scheldt in Flushing (De Koninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde). The development of the K-ships was running parallel to the one of the O-ships (submarines = Onderzeeboten). Those vessels however were developed for services in European waters. The K I was tugged to the Far East in 1916 by sea going tugboat ’Witte Zee’ but in 1920 Hr. Ms. K III made this trip for the first time all on its own.
Sunday, December 7, 1941, will be remembered by most people as the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. In two waves, 354 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers, Aichi D3A dive bombers and Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, launched from six aircraft carriers, attacked the American Naval base on Ohau, Hawaii. Because at that time Japan had not yet declared war on the United States, the air raid came as a complete surprise. The declaration of war arrived a few hours after the attack. On the same day, the USA declared war on the land of the Rising Sun and the Americans became directly involved in the Second World War.
Operation Barbarossa may well be one of the most intriguing events in military history. In any case, the German invasion of the Soviet Union was the largest military operation until then. On June 22, 1941, over 3 million German soldiers in three army groups advanced eastwards in order to eradicate the Red Army once and for all.
Up until 1938, Germany had never reckoned with the possibility of entering into a conflict with Great Britain in which the Kriegsmarine would play a major part. In the fall of 1938, Plan Z was launched, entailing the construction of 10 battleships, 12 large armored vessels, 4 aircraft carriers, 5 heavy cruisers, 16 light cruisers and numerous other smaller vessels.
HMAS Sydney was a Leander class light cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Her keel was laid on the Swan & Wigham Richardson Ltd. shipyard in Wallsend-on Tyne on July 8, 1933. Construction was ordered by the Royal Navy and she was to be baptized HMS Phaeton. The Australian government bought the vessel - still under construction - in 1934. On September 22, 1934, the cruiser was launched and a year later, on September 24, 1935, she was commissioned by the RAN as HMAS Sydney, in memory of the former cruiser with the same name.