Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 323 July 19, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 10. 6 British Boulton Paul Defiants ("turret” fighters with no forward-firing guns) of 141 Squadron, covering a convoy off Folkestone, are shot down by 12 Bf109s (10 pilots and gunners dead, 2 survivors). 3 other Defiants are saved by Hurricanes of 111 Squadron. Defiants will soon be withdrawn as frontline fighters. 3 Hurricanes are lost in various engagements. There are numerous German bombing raids along the South and East coast of England and Scotland (42 civilians killed in Glasgow). 2 British destroyers HMS Griffin & Beagle are slightly damaging and tanker War Sepoy is sunk when Stukas bomb Dover. Overall, Germans lose 3 bombers and 3 Bf109s.

Hitler makes his “Last Appeal To Reason” speech at the Reichstag, suggesting directly that Britain come to a negotiated peace (translated leaflets are dropped over Britain). “I consider myself in a position to make this appeal, since I am not the vanquished, begging favors, but the victor speaking in the name of reason. I can see no reason why this war must go on.” He is disappointed that backdoor diplomacy has made no progress to avoid an invasion for which Germany is not prepared. He has not reckoned with Churchill’s determination to fight on, in order to secure the Empire and British influence in continental Europe. Hitler also promotes 12 Generals to Field Marshal. Maintaining the ascendancy of the Luftwaffe, Generalfeldmarschall Göring is promoted to Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich.

Mediterranean. Battle of Cape Spada. 4 British destroyers HMS Hyperion, Hasty, Ilex & Hero encounter 2 Italian high-speed cruisers Giovanni dalle Bande Nere and Bartolomeo Colleoni. As the destroyers flee from the faster Italian ships, they call in Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and British destroyer HMS Havock patrolling 40 miles North. Sydney hits Bartolomeo Colleoni which is disabled and then sunk by torpedoes from HMS Ilex & Hyperion (121 killed, 555 rescued by Ilex & Hyperion). The other Italian cruiser Giovanni dalle Bande Nere flees and is believed to have gone to Tobruk, Libya.

30 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-62 sinks British steamer carrying 7860 tons of iron ore (13 crew killed). 26 survivors make land at Gola Island, Co. Donegal.

Off the coast of Brazil, German armed merchant cruiser Thor sinks Dutch steamer Tela (33 crew taken prisoner).

General Alan Brooke is appointed Commander in Chief, Home Forces, replacing General Edmund Ironside. Ironside has already been replaced as Chief of the Imperial General Staff by General Jon Dill. Ironside retires and will be promoted to Field Marshal.

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