Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 312 July 8, 1940

Final act of Operation Catapult. For a second day, British Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from HMS Hermes hit French battleship Richelieu at Dakar, Senegal. British motor torpedo boats attack French battleship Jean Bart at Casablanca, Morocco. Jean Bart will be out of commission for several months. General de Gaulle, leader of the Free French in London, denounces the attacks on Vichy French warships, saying that “all Frenchmen are dismayed”.

At 7.53 AM, U-99 sinks British steamer Humber Arm in convoy HX-53 (carrying 6200 tons of newsprint, pulp and lumber & 1000 tons of steel) 60 miles south of Ireland. 42 crew members and 1 passenger are picked up by destroyer HMS Scimitar and landed at Milford Haven, Wales. U-99 is attacked with 107 depth charges by escorts over 14 hours but escapes undamaged. U-99, captained by Otto Kretschmer, will go on to sink 40 more ships in the next 8 months including 3 British armed merchant cruisers (273,470 total tonnage).

Italians damage 2 British ships in the Mediterranean. Submarine Marconi torpedoes destroyer HMS Escort southwest of Minorca (2 lives lost, 13 wounded). Escort sinks under tow by destroyer HMS Forester. Cruiser HMS Gloucester is bombed by Italian aircraft. A bomb hits the compass platform of the bridge, killing 12 (including the captain) and wounding 9.

British bombers attack German heavy cruiser Lützow in dock at Kiel. Lützow, under repair for extensive torpedo damage to her stern caused by HMS Spearfish on April 11, is hit by a bomb which fails to explode.

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