Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 343 August 8, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 30. Germans launch continuous attacks on a large convoy (CW9 codenamed Peewit) of 25 merchant ships with Royal Navy escorts moving through the Straits of Dover and heading West to the Atlantic Ocean. Torpedo boats attack before dawn, sinking British steamers Ouse, Holme Force (6 dead) and Fife Coast (5 dead). 300 Stukas escorted by 150 Messerschmitts fight a running battle with RAF fighters as Peewit moves through the English Channel. Dutch steamer Ajax (4 dead) & British steamers Coquetdale and Empire Crusader (5 dead) are sunk. Luftwaffe loses 17 Stukas, 26 Bf109’s and 9 Bf110’s. RAF loses 13 Hurricanes, 4 Spitfires and a Blenheim.

East Africa. General Archibald Wavell (British Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command), based in Cairo, finally sends regular British Army troops (2nd Battalion of the Black Watch, Royal Highlanders) to British Somaliland, realizing the desperate situation. It is too little, too late. Italians bomb Berbera.

At 1.14 AM, U-37 sinks British MV Upwey Grange (5380 tons of frozen beef from Argentina to Britain) 200 miles West of Ireland. The crew and passengers take to the lifeboats but 1 boats is never seen again (33 crew, 3 passengers lost). 42 crew and 8 passengers are picked up after three days by the British trawler Naniwa 50 miles from the coast, transferred to destroyer HMS Vanquisher and landed at Liverpool.

Operation Tube. Another British submarine HMS Proteus reaches Malta from Gibraltar with spares for the newly-arrived Hurricanes.

German armed merchant cruiser Widder sinks Dutch collier Oostplein carrying 5,850 tons of coal from Britain to Buenos Aires (all 34 crew rescued by Widder).

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