Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 336 August 1, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 23. In the morning, a photo reconnaissance Spitfire notices a build-up of German aircraft at an airfield on the Cotentin Peninsula, Northern France. At 3.40 PM, 13 Blenheim bombers of 59 Squadron bomb the airfield causing some damage, escorted by 10 Blenheim fighters of 236 Squadron. 1 bomber and 2 fighters do not return from the mission, possibly shot down by anti-aircraft fire or German fighters. At the same time, 30 He111s reach Norwich unopposed, as no RAF fighters are scrambled to intercept, and bomb Boulton-Paul Aircraft Works and Norwich railway station (6 civilians killed, 54 injured).

Hitler issues Directive 17 ordering intensified air attacks to begin on August 5 “to establish the necessary conditions for the final conquest of England”. Notably, “attacks on the South coast ports will be made on the smallest possible scale, in view of our own forthcoming operations”.

2 British submarines are sunk. HMS Spearfish is spotted on the surface by U-34 halfway between Aberdeen and Stavanger. U-34 is returning from patrol and sinks Spearfish at 7.04 PM with her last torpedo (41 killed). 1 survivor Able Seaman William Pester is picked up by U-34 and taken prisoner. Overnight, HMS Oswald, a leaky WWI-era submarine, is charging batteries and carrying out routine maintenance on the surface 15 miles South of Sardinia. Italian destroyer Ugolino Vivaldi spots Oswald at 2.5 km ramming her and sinking her with depth charges. After 2 hours, 52 survivors are pulled from the water by Vivaldi and taken prisoner but 3 men die.

Italian submarine Goffredo Mameli sinks Greek steamer Roula 40 miles South of Crete (all crew rescued). U-59 hunts Swedish steamer Sigyn (carrying 765 fathoms of pit props to Sunderland, England) from 2.15 to 3.45 AM, finally sinking her with the third torpedo 60 miles Northwest of Ireland (all crew rescued).

U-60 has a lucky escape off Norway. Dutch submarine O-21 misses U-60 with 2 torpedoes from 2 km. O-22, O-21’s sister ship, also spots U-60 but is too far away to attack.

Royal Navy begins Operation Hurry transporting 12 Hurricanes on aircraft carrier HMS Argus to reinforce the garrison on Malta. HMS Argus is part of Admiral Somerville’s Force H from Gibraltar with battlecruiser HMS Hood, battleship HMS Valiant, aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, cruisers HMS Arethusa & Enterprise and 10 destroyers. Admiral Cunningham’s Mediterranean fleet leaves Alexandria, Egypt, to conduct diversionary maneuvers around the Greek island of Crete.

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