Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 339 August 4, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 26. Despite fine weather over England, there is almost no Luftwaffe activity with just a few reconnaissance missions and half-hearted raids on shipping. However, 1 British pilot, J.P.Walsh of 616 Squadron, is killed when his Spitfire spins out of control during combat practice. There is no bombing overnight due to widespread fog.

East Africa. To reach Berbera (the main port and capital of British Somaliland), 125 miles away from the Ethiopian border, Italians need to cross rugged mountains almost 1 mile high. The main thrust takes the most direct route on the main road via Hargeisa, through the Karrim Pass, its flank protected by a smaller column a few miles to the East. Further West, another column advances along the border with French Somaliland. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6c/Somaliland_Italian_invasion.png

At 9.20 PM, U-58 sinks Greek steamer Pindos (carrying 7590 tons of grain from Sierra Leone to Britain) 10 miles from the Irish coast, with 2 torpedoes (3 killed). 29 survivors reach County Donegal, Ireland, in the lifeboats. 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-52 sinks 3 British steamers in convoy HX-60 - SS Geraldine Mary (1 passenger and 2 crew killed, 4 passengers and 44 crew rescued and return to Britain), SS Gogovale (all 37 crew picked up by destroyer HMS Vanoc and landed at Liverpool), SS King Alfred (7 dead, 34 crew also picked up by HMS Vanoc). U-52 is then depth charged by Royal Navy escort vessels, causing significant damage. U-52 is able to sail to Kiel, Germany, for repairs and will be out of action until November 17. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/452.html

3 British minesweeping trawlers HMT Drummer (2 killed), Marsona (11 killed) and Oswaldian 12 lives lost, 7 survivors) are sunk on German mines laid at various points around the British coast. German antisubmarine trawler Perseus (UJ-175) hits a mine and sinks off Ameland Island on the Northwest coast of Holland.

A bad day for Norwegian merchant shipping. British submarine HMS Sealion sinks Norwegian steamer Torun 1 mile off the South coast of Norway. After dark, German armed merchant cruiser Widder stops empty Norwegian tanker Beaulieu with her guns (4 killed), in the middle of the North Atlantic 1700 miles East of Florida. 28 survivors take to the lifeboats and will be picked up by British tanker Cymbeline on August 13 and landed at Gibraltar. Widder is threatened by her own torpedo which becomes a circle runner and Beaulieu is finally sunk with scuttling charges. Widder’s Captain Helmuth Ruckteschell will be tried as a War Criminal in May 1947 and found guilty of other charges but acquitted of abandoning these survivors from Beaulieu.

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