Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 355 August 20, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 42. Clouds and rain again restrict the morning to reconnaissance flights, although the English Channel is clear and convoys are attacked. At 2.45 PM, 190 German aircraft fly up the Thames Estuary and circle back without dropping any bombs. They are intercepted and 5 shot down. In the afternoon, Marston airfield is again bombed & strafed and 1 Spitfire is shot down. The still-burning oil tanks at Llanreath near Pembroke Dock, South Wales, are bombed again. In total, 7 German aircraft and 3 RAF fighters are lost. Churchill makes a speech in the House of Commons in praise of the RAF fighter pilots. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." He also announces leasing of bases in Newfoundland and the West Indies to USA. He does not mention that this is in exchange for old US Navy destroyers to be loaned to Britain to defend against the anticipated German invasion.

At 00.27, 400 miles West of Ireland, UA sinks Panamanian collier Tuira (2 killed).At 9.50 PM, U-46 torpedoes Greek steamer Leonidas M. Valmas 50 miles Northwest of Ireland. The ship does not sink due to its cargo of wood but 16 crew die in the fire. 2 survivors are rescued by British destroyer HMS Arrow and landed in the Clyde, Scotland on August 27.

British submarine HMS Cachalot torpedoes U-51 in the Bay of Biscay 100 miles West of St. Nazaire, France. U-51 sinks with all 43 hands lost.

350 miles East of New Plymouth, New Zealand, German armed merchant cruiser Orion chases British steamer Turakina (carrying 4000 tons of lead, 1500 tons of grain, 7000 tons of wool) and sinks her with prolonged shellfire. 38 crew are killed. Risking attack from the New Zealand Navy (which has been alerted by radio signals from Turakina), Orion spends 5 hours rescuing 21 survivors from the sea. They will be released 2000 miles North on Emirau Island, near Papua New Guinea, on 21 December.

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