Invasion, 1940: The Truth About the Battle of Britain and What Stopped Hitler
[–] hide related dates
MTO - Greece: British troops occupy Canea, Crete. Italian troops advance toward Salonika. The RAF bombs Naples, Italy, for the first time.
East Africa: Day 144 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
CBI - China: Day 1,213 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 352 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.
CBI - Thailand: Day 31 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).
1941 — , October 31
Atlantic: The destroyer USS REUBEN JAMES is sunk by German U-boat U-552, killing 100 of her crew. This is the first US naval casualty between Germany and the United States. Although this tragedy does not push either to declare war, it effectively scraps the US Neutrality Acts.
American destroyer USS REUBEN JAMES sinks south of Iceland, killing 100
Upon the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, the USS REUBEN JAMES joined the Neutrality Patrol, guarding the Atlantic and Caribbean approaches to the American coast. In March 1941, she joined the convoy escort force established to promote the safe arrival of materiel to the United Kingdom. This escort force guarded convoys as far as Iceland, after which they became the responsibility of British escorts.
On 31 Oct 41, while escorting a convoy, the REUBEN JAMES was torpedoed by U-552 and her entire bow was blown off when a magazine exploded. The bow sank immediately. The aft section floated for five minutes before going down.
Following this tragedy, Congress approved FDR's request to arm merchant ships and to allow them to sail through combat zones to the ports of belligerents. The sinking of the REUBEN JAMES effectively scrapped the Neutrality Acts, and any further incident could have led to a formal declaration of war against Germany.
Dates of American pre-war incidents...
12 Dec 37: USS PANAY is sunk on the Yangtze River by Japanese planes
21 Apr 40: US Army Captain is killed during the bombing of Norway
10 Apr 41: US destroyer attacks a U-boat that had just sunk a Dutch freighter
14 Sep 41: US Coast Guard captures German-Norwegian ship in Greenland
17 Oct 41: USS KEARNY is damaged by a German torpedo off Iceland
31 Oct 41: USS REUBEN JAMES is sunk by a U-boat, killing 100