Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 314 July 10, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 1. British air cover over the English Channel and Royal Navy ships are the biggest threats to German plans for a cross-Channel invasion of Britain. Luftwaffe must first defeat RAF and dominate the skies over the Channel. Göring plans to draw RAF into the air, by attacking Channel shipping and British coastal facilities, and then destroy British fighters in a series of dogfights ("the Channel battles"). 24 German bombers and 50 or more fighters attack a large convoy (codenamed "Bread") in the Straits of Dover, escorted by 6 RAF Hurricanes. 4 RAF squadrons in Southeast England are scrambled and a 30 minute dogfight ensues (RAF loses 3 fighters and Flying Officer Tom Higgs of 111 Squadron is killed; Germans lose 4 planes including 2 Dornier bombers). 1 ship in the convoy is sunk. 70 German bombers attack docks at Swansea, South Wales and Falmouth, Cornwall, where British tanker Tascalusa is sunk.

Liverpool, England. 2,542 “enemy aliens” (200 Italian POWs, 251 German POWs, 55 known Nazi sympathizers and 2,036 anti-Nazis, mostly Jewish refugees) embark onto British transport ship Dunera, a converted liner expected to carry 1600 troops. Over the next 57 days, they will be robbed, beaten and in 1 case bayoneted by the British guards. Overcrowding, lack of toilets and unsanitary conditions lead to widespread dysentery. Several British soldiers will be court-martialed including the senior officer Lieutenant-Colonel William Scott. When they arrive in Australia on September 6, they will be shipped by train to the rural town of Hay in the centre of New South Wales.

After the Battle of Calabria, 9 Fairey Swordfish from aircraft carrier HMS Eagle attack Augusta, Sicily, at 9.40 AM, sinking Italian destroyer Leone Pancaldo. Leone Pancaldo will be raised on 26 July 1941 and sunk again by Allied bombers on 30 April 1943 1 mile off Cape Bon, Tunisia.

In preparation for a British commando raid on Guernsey (Operation Ambassador), Lieutenant Nicolle returns from a reconnaissance mission. German garrison consists of 469 soldiers, mainly in St. Peter Port, and machine gun posts 2-5 miles away along the coast. Nicolle estimates commandos will have 20 minutes after attacking the machine guns before reinforcements arrive.

Italian submarine Scirè sinks French steamer Cheik, 54 miles Northwest of Sicily. Scirè rescues Cheik’s crew.

German armed merchant cruiser Widder sinks British steamer Davisan, 500 miles of the coast of Florida (taking the entire crew prisoner).

U-34 sinks Finnish steamer Petsamo carrying 6000 tons of cereals, within sight of the South Irish coast (4 dead, 33 crew make it to shore).

U-61 sinks Dutch steamer Alwaki in ballast 10 miles off Cape Wrath, Scotland, with a torpedo that penetrated the hull but did not explode. The Alwaki was shaken and immediately started to list to port, because a bulkhead could not be closed and was slowly flooded. All 41 crew and 10 passengers are rescued by a British steamer Harmonic and landed at Cardiff on 15 July. The absence of explosion leads the Admiralty to suspect sabotage.

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