Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 351 August 16, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 38. Despite fine clear weather, it is a quiet day. Smallish raids attack Thames estuary and Kent in Southwest England at noon and again at 4.30 PM. Many airfields are bombed, yielding many dogfights. Stukas divebomb Tangmere Aerodrome, destroying Hurricanes and Blenheims in the hangars. In one, Pilot Officer W. M. "Billy" Fiske is badly burned. (Billy will die the next day of his wounds; the only American killed during the Battle of Britain. American Ambassador John Winnat will unveil a memorial plaque to Fiske in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral London on July 4, 1941). Stukas also bomb Ventnor radar station, again putting it out of action. Despite being badly wounded and with his Hurricane on fire, Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson shoots down a Bf109 before bailing out. (Nicolson will win the only VC awarded to a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain). RAF losses are 22 fighters while Luftwaffe loses 72 aircraft.

East Africa. Italian troops move cautiously from Tug Argan and do not attack the British rearguard at Barkasan. British troops, arriving back at Berbera, start embarking onto Royal Navy ships, using an all-tide jetty constructed the Navy.

British submarine Osiris sinks Italian steamer Morea 50 miles West of Durrës, Albania.

U-boats start operating in wolfpacks against convoys. 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, convoy OB-197 is attacked by U-30, U-46 and U-48. Swedish steamer Hedrun (3000 tons of coal, 8 killed, 20 rescued) & British steamer Clan Macphee (6700 tons of general cargo, 67 killed, 41 survivors rescued by Hungarian steamer Kelet) are sunk and Dutch MV Alcinous is hit but does not sink (towed to Gourock, Scotland). Additionally, U-100 sinks British MV Empire Merchant (heading to Jamaica with cargo and mail) 150 miles Northwest of Ireland (7 killed, 48 picked up by rescue tug HMS Salvonia and landed at Greenock).

Sunderlands of 210 Squadron attack U-51 with depth charges, 170 miles northwest of Ireland. Despite being blown out of the water by one explosion, producing oil and air bubbles, U-51 survived the attack. This was the first successful depth charge attack by a Coastal Command aircraft.

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