Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 359 August 24, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 46. Fine weather brings the return of sustained Luftwaffe activity. All day, raids cross the coast of Kent bombing RAF airfields at Hornchurch, North Weald and Manston (now so badly damaged it cannot be used). Luftwaffe loses 22 fighters and 18 bombers while RAF loses 20 fighters. At 4 PM, 50 German aircraft bomb Portsmouth (100 civilians killed, 300 wounded). British destroyers HMS Acheron (2 killed, 3 wounded) and HMS Bulldog (the captain Commander Wisden is hit by splinters, dying August 29) are damaged in Portsmouth Harbour. Bulldog will be repaired by September 2 but Acheron is out of commission until December 2. Overnight, there is widespread bombing of British cities. Notably, Germans bombers hit parts of North, East and West London, suggesting a deliberate attack rather than a couple of bombers straying off target.

Just after midnight 2 miles off the North coast of Ireland, U-57 attacks convoy OB-202, sinking British steamers Saint Dunstan (14 dead) and Cumberland (4 dead) and damaging Havildar. At 2.14 PM, U-48 sinks British tanker La Brea (9410 tons of fuel oil) 130 miles West of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland (2 killed). 31 crew escape in lifeboats to the Outer Hebrides.

At 3.14 AM, U-37 sinks British steamer Brookwood in mid-Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland. (1 killed, 35 crew and 1 gunner picked up after 5 days adrift by British merchant Clan Macbean and landed at Freetown, Sierra Leone). At 8.38 PM, U-37 sinks British sloop HMS Penzance escorting convoy SC-1 (90 lives lost, 7 survivors rescued by British steamer Blairmore).

In the Indian Ocean 900 miles East of Madagascar, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis sinks British steamer King City carrying 7300 tons of coal and coke to Singapore from Cardiff (6 killed). Atlantis picks up the survivors out of the water in very rough seas.

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