Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 308 July 4, 1940

Operation Catapult. At 3.30 PM, British submarine HMS Pandora sinks French mine-laying gunboat Rigault de Genouilly, sailing from Oran, Algeria. French bombers attack the British fleet at Gibraltar, without damage, in retaliation for the sinking of French warships. Likewise, French submarines, armed merchant cruisers and destroyers at Dakar are ordered to attack British shipping.

Churchill speaks in the House of Commons justifying the capture or sinking of French warships on July 3, to prevent them falling into German or Italian hands. He does not apologise but leaves judgment “to the world and to history”. He also dispels the notion “that we have the slightest intention of entering into negotiations in any form and through any channel with the German and Italian Governments. We shall, on the contrary, prosecute the war with the utmost vigour by all the means that are open to us.” Churchill receives his first standing ovation from the House as Prime Minister.

Italians advance from Ethiopia just over the border into Sudan and attack 2 British forts at Kassala and Gallabat, forcing British garrisons to withdraw. The Italians stop here and fortify the towns with anti-tank defenses.

Germans arrive on the last of the Channel Islands, Sark. They receive the island’s surrender from the Dame of Sark (hereditary ruler of this island). When asked if she is afraid, the Dame replies “is there any need to be afraid of German officers?” Apart from a curfew and other restrictions, the Islanders have little cause for fear. The Channel Islands have fallen without a shot fired. Germany invests heavily in fortifying the islands, which will be completely bypassed come D-day.

In a prelude to the first phase of the Battle of Britain, German bombers and motor torpedo boats attack Convoy OA178 in the English Channel between Cherbourg, France, and Bournemouth, England, sinking 5 merchant ships (British SS Elmcrest & SS Dallas City, Dutch SS Britsum & SS Deucalion, Estonian SS Kolga) and damaging many more. In addition, German bombing of Royal Navy base in Portland harbour sinks British auxiliary anti-aircraft ship Foyle Bank (176 lives lost, 157 men rescued) and tug Silverdial.

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