Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 350 August 15, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 37. Fine weather yields the first day of really big raids on British airfields. German bombers and fighters from Norway and Denmark cross the North Sea to bomb RAF airfields in the North of Britain. At noon, they are met by RAF fighters. Simultaneously, a huge formation of 1100 Luftwaffe aircraft cross the Dover Straits, then splits up heading for various airfields. RAF squadrons scramble, giving rise to dogfights over Kent and the English Channel. Numerous airfields have damage to planes, hangers and runways. Radar stations at Rye, Dover and at Foreness are also knocked out. At 6.50 PM, Messerschmitt Bf110s bomb South London airfield at Croydon by mistake. Many Bf110’s are shot down by RAF fighters, crashing in this suburb of London (60 civilians killed, 120 wounded). Despite taking a heavy toll on RAF installations, Luftwaffe loses 161 aircraft (mostly bombers) while RAF losses are 34 fighters and only 18 pilots killed.

British Somaliland. Italians again attack British defenses at Tug Argan and take another hill. Overnight, British forces withdraw towards Berbera. The Black Watch Royal Highlanders along with African and Indian troops hold a rearguard position 10 miles back at Barkasan on the Berbera road.

Greece is neutral, although leaning towards supporting the British. In an act of intimidation on the feast day of Assumption of Mary, Italy attacks the Greek Navy near the tiny Aegean islands of Tinos and Syros. Italian airforce bombs Greek destroyers Vasilissa Olga and Vasilevs Georgios I escorting merchant ships. Italian submarine Delfino sinks WWI-era Greek cruiser Helle at anchor.

Kriegsmarine orders the construction of 86 new U-boats. At 8 PM, UA sinks Greek steamer Aspasia (carrying Manganese ore) with 2 torpedoes, 700 miles West of Gibraltar. All 19 crew are killed in the explosion and subsequent fire.
U-51 sinks British tanker Sylvafield (7860 tons of fuel oil) 190 miles Northwest of Rockall, Ireland (3 crew killed). 20 survivors are picked up by Belgian trawler Rubens and 16 more by British minesweeping trawler HMS Newland.

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