Battle of Britain Day 33. Although the weather is fine, Luftwaffe does not start its offensive against RAF airfields, instead mounting a carefully prepared feint. Starting at 7.30 AM, Messerschmitt Bf110’s and Bf109’s bomb and strafe Dover Harbour, as a prelude to a larger attack on Portland Naval base and Weymouth, aiming to draw up RAF fighters. Spitfires of 64 and 74 squadrons respond but most RAF units are rested and ready when a large formation of 56 Ju88 heavy bombers, 20 Heinkel He111s & 97 Bf110s is detected from Cherbourg at 9.45 AM. RAF loses 20 Hurricanes and 5 Spitfires. Luftwaffe loses 27 bombers and 10 Messerschmitt fighters.
German bombing damages 4 British destroyers (HMS Windsor in the Thames Estuary, under repairs until the end of October; HMS Esk at Harwich, repaired in 1 week; HMS Scimitar in Portland Harbour, repaired in 4 days; HMS Skate in Portland Harbour, bridge destroyed but no immediate repairs necessary).
Major-General Reade Godwin-Austen arrives in the capital city of Berbera, to command the defense of British Somaliland. British have maintained prepared defenses at Tug Argan on 6 hills overlooking the Hargeisa-Berbera road, knowing that this is the most likely route of attack. Italians attack 3 hills and capture one, defended by 3rd Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment.
General Wavell (Commander-in-Chief Middle East) is in London to discuss the defense of British colonies in Africa and the Middle East. Seeing events in Somaliland and expecting an Italian attack on Egypt, Churchill’s War Cabinet makes a far-reaching decision to send tanks to defend the vital Suez Canal. Despite the ongoing threat of invasion, 150 tanks (about half the total in Britain) plus 48 anti-tank guns, 48 field guns and 20 Bofors anti-aircraft guns are ordered to Egypt.
At 3.19 PM, U-38 sinks British steamer Llanfair (7800 tons of sugar) 125 miles West of Ireland. 3 crew are killed and 30 survivors are picked up by the American merchant vessel California.