Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 397 October 1, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 84. As a result of the mauling handed out by RAF over the last 4 days, Göring changes tactics again and large-scale daylight raids are abandoned. Despite good weather, Luftwaffe mounts only reconnaissance flights and numerous small raids of 20-70 aircraft, which target RAF airfields and do not approach London. 4 Messerschmitts are shot down and RAF loses 5 fighters (4 pilots killed). There is widespread bombing overnight, although on a reduced scale compared to recent nights, and London is again targeted. With the air battle apparently won by RAF and the relatively settled weather of Summer giving way to Autumn gales in the English Channel, the threat of German invasion of Britain recedes. London and other large cities will continue to be the target of night bombing.

Italian submarine Maggiore Baracca sinks Greek steamer Aghios Nicolaos 400 miles West of Porto, Portugal. U-32 sinks Dutch steamer Haulerwijk 400 miles West of Ireland (4 killed, 27 survivors). At 6.47 AM, 300 miles West of Ireland, U-38 sinks Highland Patriot (3 crew lost, 136 crew and 33 passengers picked up by sloop HMS Wellington and landed at Greenock).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 396 September 30, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 83. With fair weather, Luftwaffe again mounts bombing daylight raids supported by large numbers of fighters. 4 raids consisting of 60-200 aircraft come in over Kent at 9AM, 10AM, 1 PM & 4 PM. They are intercepted and broken up but some get through to bomb London and RAF airfields. 2 raids of 100 aircraft fly across the Channel from the Cherbourg area to attack the South coast. Luftwaffe loses 14 bombers and 32 Messerschmitt fighters, while RAF loses 20 fighters (8 pilots killed). Since September 7, Luftwaffe has lost 433 aircraft compared to 242 RAF fighters lost. During the night, London, Liverpool and a number of other cities are bombed. RAF bombers conduct night raids on Berlin, invasion ports, airfields (5 British bombers lost). Since the beginning of September, British civilian casualties are 6,954 killed and 10,615 injured.

The minefield laid off Falmouth by German destroyers Eckholdt, Riedel, Lody, Galster, Ihn and Steinbrinck on September 28 claims 2 victims. British armed yacht HMY Sappho (29 killed) and minesweeping trawler HMT Comet (15 lost, 2 survivors) hit mines and sink.

British monitor HMS Erebus (a slow, lightly armored WWI-era ship, carrying 2 15-inch guns) fires 17 rounds at German gun emplacements near Calais from the middle of the Straits of Dover, escorted by destroyers HMS Vesper and Garth.

300 miles West of Ireland, U-37 sinks 2 British steamers; SS Samala carrying 1500 tons of bananas from Jamaica at 10.13 AM (all 65 crew members, 1 gunner and 2 passengers lost) and SS Heminge carrying 3300 tons of coal at 9.56 PM (1 killed, 24 crew members and 1 gunner 1 picked up by British merchant Clan Cumming and landed at Liverpool).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 395 September 29, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 82. Mostly sunny with some clouds. After the large raids of the last 2 days, Luftwaffe activity is restricted to reconnaissance flights and attacks on shipping. However, at 4 PM, a large flight of German fighters sweeps across Kent to London and back but they are not engaged by RAF fighters. 2 German bombers and 1 fighter are shot down but RAF reports losing 5 fighters and 3 pilots killed. Overnight, London is heavily bombed again and Liverpool and towns in the Midlands are also attacked.

U-32’s spree with the ships dispersed from convoy OB-218 continues at 00.53 AM, when British steamer Bassa is sunk 350 miles West of Ireland. 49 crew and 1 gunner abandon ship but are never found.

Egypt, North Africa. The British wait for the expected Italian onslaught in their prepared defenses at the railhead in Mersa Matruh. The Italians, however, are content to fortify their gains with a line of 7 forts stretching 30 miles inland from Sidi Barrani, 70 miles from the British lines. Demonstrating the vulnerability of the Italian supply lines, Royal Navy ships from Alexandria shell the coast road from Libya and harass shipping at the Italian-held ports.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 394 September 28, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 81. With fair weather and clouds over the Channel, Luftwaffe sends daylight raids with particularly large numbers of fighters. At 10 AM, 120+ aircraft cross the Kent Coast in 2 waves but they are intercepted and only 6 reach bombers London. At 1.30 PM, 35 bombers and 125 fighters attack targets in Kent. All squadrons of AVM Park’s No. 11 Group and 5 Squadrons of AVM Leigh-Mallory’s No. 12 Group converge on the German planes who, by 2.10, head back to France. At 2.15 PM, 60 aircraft fly towards Portsmouth from Cherbourg. They are engaged by 9 RAF squadrons and the bombers drop their bombs into the Channel and head for home. The large proportion of fighters in the Luftwaffe raids allows them to down 16 RAF fighters (9 pilots killed) while losing only 6 Messerschmitts. London is pounded continuously again overnight with raids from Holland, Northern France and Cherbourg. Liverpool is also bombed and mines are laid in the Thames Estuary.

At 4.09 PM, U-32 sinks British steamer Empire Ocelot 350 miles West of Ireland (2 killed, 32 crew picked up by British destroyer HMS Havelock and landed at Liverpool). At 8 PM, U-37 finishes off British steamer Corrientes which was abandoned after being damaged by U-32 on September 26.

German destroyers Eckholdt, Riedel, Lody, Galster, Ihn and Steinbrinck depart Brest and lay mines at the end of the English Channel in Falmouth Bay, Cornwall (right under the nose of Royal Navy squadron based at Plymouth).

British anti-submarine trawler Recoil (previously German trawler Blankenburg, captured in April off Norway) hits a mine off Portland Bill in the English Channel and sinks (25 crew killed). German tanker Shell II is sunk by British bombers in the River Scheldt, Holland.

A busy day off the coast of North Africa. 12 miles off Egypt, in the busy sea lane between the British bases at Mersa Matruh and Alexandria, Italian submarine Gondar is sunk by Australian destroyer HMAS Stuart and British aircraft called from Alexandria. Gondar is carrying 3 human torpedoes intended for use against the Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria. All 43 crew from Gondar and the 4 frogmen to drive the human torpedoes are all picked up by HMAS Stuart and taken prisoner. 10 miles off Libya, in the busy sea lane between the Italian bases at Benghazi and Tobruk, British submarine HMS Pandora sinks Italian steamer Famiglia. HMS Pandora is then counterattacked by Italian torpedo boat Enrico Cosenz but not damaged.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 393 September 27, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 80. Despite rain and clouds over Southern England, Luftwaffe launches a series of daylight bombing raids. At 9 AM, 80 bombers &100 fighters cross Kent towards London. Most of the bombers are turned back near Maidstone & Tonbridge, but some get through to bomb London. At 11.20 AM, 25 bombers & 45 Me110s fly towards Bristol. They are intercepted, sparing the Bristol Aeroplane Company, but RAF Filton is bombed. At midday, 300 German aircraft (mostly fighters) again cross Kent towards London but they are engaged at 12.30 & turned back. At 3 PM, 80 bombers & 80 fighters again fly towards London. They are intercepted & dispersed but 20 aircraft bomb Central London. In another big victory for RAF, Luftwaffe loses 21 bombers and 34 fighters while RAF loses 27 fighters (13 pilots killed). Overnight, there is heavy bombing of London (from Dieppe and Le Havre), as well as attacks on Liverpool (from Cherbourg), Edinburgh (from Denmark), Birmingham & Nottingham.

Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact, designed to keep USA out of the war. Each agrees to declare war on any country that joins the war against one of the others. As Japan is not currently at war with the Allies, this is a clear sign of their intent to become involved.

At 11.13 AM, U-31 sinks Norwegian MV Vestvard 300 miles West of Ireland (1 killed, 30 survivors escape in 1 lifeboats and make land October 1 near Galway, Ireland). In the same area at midnight, U-37 sinks Egyptian steamer Georges Mabro (all hands lost). After sailing 500 miles West from base at St-Nazaire, France, in 4 days, U-46 malfunctions and dives accidentally, killing Oberbootsmaat Heinrich Schenk and Matrosenobergefreiter Wilhelm Reh. The patrol is aborted and they return to St-Nazaire.

Minesweeper HMS Halcyon is badly damaged on a mine laid by German aircraft in the mouth of the River Tees, North England (several crew wounded). Halcyon will be out of service until July 1941.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 392 September 26, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 79. Mixed clouds and sunshine. Reconnaissance flights in the English Channel all day. At 4.30 PM, 100 German planes attack Southampton, doing much damage to the Spitfire factory at Woolston using both dive bombers and high level bombing. RAF claims 16 German bombers and 16 Messerschmitts shot down (although this seems high). RAF losses are 10 fighters and 3 pilots. London is bombed continuously overnight and Liverpool and towns in the Midlands are also attacked.

350 miles southwest of Ireland, U-46 sinks British SS Coast Wings at 1.53 AM (all 16 hands lost) and Swedish SS Siljan at 9.20 PM (9 killed, 18 survivors). U-46 is damaged in a near collision with Siljan and is forced to return to base.

10 miles off the Mullet Peninsula, Ireland, between 00.50 and 00.52 AM, U-137 fires 3 torpedoes at convoy OB-218 sinking British SS Manchester Brigade (44 crew and 8 Navy personnel killed, 4 crew picked up by French hospital ship Canada and landed at Gibraltar) and damaging Ashantian (4 lives lost). At 1.35 AM, U-137 sinks British SS Stratford also in convoy OB-218 (2 crew killed, 32 rescued).

400 miles West of Ireland, U-32 torpedoes British SS Corrientes at 2.34 AM (Corrientes does not sink but all 50 hands abandon ship and are picked up by Swedish MV Kolsnaren and landed at Philadelphia), sinks Norwegian MV Tancred at 8.11 AM (all 36 crew abandon ship in 3 lifeboats and are picked up next morning by Norwegian MV Tricolor and landed in New York) and sinks British SS Darcoila at 1.37 PM (all 31 crew lost).

Just off the German U-boat base at Lorient, France, British submarine HMS Tribune fired 4 torpedoes at U-138. U-138 is not hit and returns to base unscathed.

In the South Atlantic, 400 miles Northwest of Natal, Brazil, German armed merchant cruiser Thor uses the deck gun to sink Norwegian whaling factory ship Kosmos loaded with whale oil. Kosmos’ 89 crew are added to the 195 prisoners already aboard Thor. Thor’s captain Kahler will later be criticised for not sending this valuable cargo back to German-occupied France.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 391 September 25, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 78. Again, the weather is fine but only 2 major raids materialize. At 11.45 AM, 27 German bombers and 30+ fighters attack the Bristol Aeroplane Company factory at Filton, near Bristol, which manufactures Blenheims. In 45 seconds, construction sheds are damaged, 8 newly built are aircraft destroyed, including 2 Beaufighter prototypes, and 132 people are killed (315 wounded). 6 German aircraft are shot down (8 airmen killed, 10 taken prisoner) and 2 more crash land returning to France. 4 RAF fighters are shot down (1 pilot killed). At 4.47 PM, 24 bombers and 12 Me110s attack Plymouth (1 bomber shot down, no RAF fighters lost). London and other cities are bombed overnight and mines laid in the Thames Estuary.

Operation Menace. British warships return and shell Dakar harbour and coastal batteries. At 9 AM, French submarine Beveziers torpedoes British battleship HMS Resolution (which has to be towed back to Freetown, Sierra Leone, by HMS Barham), forcing the British warships to retire. In consultation with the British war cabinet, the operation is abandoned. Vichy French bombers return to bomb Gibraltar from bases in Algeria and Morocco. While most bombs drop in the sea, the harbour receives some damage and British anti-submarine trawler Stella Sirius is sunk.

At 3.25 AM, 500 miles West of Ireland, U-32 sinks British SS Mabriton (12 dead, 25 survivors rescued by British survey ship HMS Jason and sloop HMS Rochester). 400 miles West of Ireland, U-43 sinks British SS Sulairia at 1.30 PM (1 killed, 56 survivors picked up by Canadian destroyer HMCS Ottawa) and U-29 hits British MV Eurymedon at 2 PM, which sinks 2 days later (20 crew & 9 passengers lost, 42 crew & 22 passengers picked up by HMCS Ottawa).

Operation Lucid. Old Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers War Nizam & War Nawab are to be set on fire and sent into the French Channel ports as fire ships to ignite German invasion barges. Filled with 2-3000 tons of a cocktail of 50% heavy fuel oil, 25% diesel oil and 25% petrol, they depart Sheerness and Portsmouth escorted by 6 destroyers, 5 minesweepers and torpedo boats. The operation is cancelled in the evening when War Nizam breaks down. Reminiscent of Sir Francis Drake’s attack on the Spanish Armada in 1588 which "singed the King of Spain's beard", the plan is supported by Churchill to "singe Hitler's moustache".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 390 September 24, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 77. The ability of German fighter-only raids to down substantial number of RAF fighters prompts Luftwaffe to try another new tactic, sending raids with 2 fighter escorts for each bomber. Towns and airfields in Kent are attacked twice y raids of about 200 aircraft at 8.30 and 11.15 AM. At 1.20 and 4.10 PM, raids of about 50 aircraft bomb naval facilities at Portsmouth & Southampton and the nearby Spitfire factory at Woolston. Dusk is at 7.30 and the bombers start rolling in from France (to bomb London) and from Holland (targeting towns in East Anglia). London is bombed intermittently until 5.30 the next morning. Liverpool, towns in the Midlands and Dundee, Scotland, are also bombed.

British submarines are busy in the Bay of Biscay. HMS Cachalot attacks a German submarine without success. HMS Tuna sinks German catapult ship Ostmark, 35 miles West of St. Nazaire, France.

German motor torpedo boat S-30 sinks British steamer Continental Coaster in the North Sea, 10 miles off Great Yarmouth (4 crew lost).

Operation Menace. Overnight, Governor of French West Africa, Pierre Boisson, rejects demands for the surrender of Dakar. At 7 AM, British destroyer HMS Fortune detects Vichy French submarine Ajax. Ajax is brought to the surface with depth charges and then sunk with gunfire, after all 61 hands are taken off. British battleships HMS Barham and Resolution engage the partly finished French battleship Richelieu in Dakar harbour, as Richelieu’s 8 380-mm guns present a considerable danger to the Allied ships. Richelieu is damaged by 2 15-inch shells from HMS Barham and by a misfire of one of her own shells (which explodes disabling 2 of her 380-mm guns). French shore batteries return fire and the British flotilla retires at 10 AM. They try again in the afternoon, but Barham is hit by 4 shells from the coastal batteries and they withdraw again. In retaliation, 64 Vichy French bombers from bases in Algeria and Morocco attack Gibraltar. Most bombs are dropped at sea but the South Mole is hit damaging a large ship in the harbour.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 389 September 23, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 76. Fine weather brings 2 raids of 200 Luftwaffe fighters at 9.30 AM and 100 at 5.30 PM. These are both repulsed by RAF and do not reach London. Luftwaffe loses 10 Messerschmitt Bf109s and 1 Bf100, while RAF loses 11 fighters (2 pilots killed, 6 wounded, 1 crashes in the Channel near France and taken prisoner). Overnight, London is bombed by German bombers flying from France, Belgium and Holland. Liverpool is also bombed.

Operation Menace. General Charles de Gaulle attempts a peaceful landing of 3600 Free French troops at Dakar, French West Africa (now Senegal), to persuade Vichy French forces to join the Allied cause. They are supported by 4300 British troops (held in reserve in case of resistance) and a flotilla including British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and battleships HMS Barham and Resolution. However, Vichy spirit has been strengthened by the recent visit of French warships (indicating that Vichy had learned of de Gaulle’s plans). 2 Free French aircraft from HMS Ark Royal land at Dakar airport, where the crews are taken prisoner. de Gaulle sends emissaries into the port under a white flag and French tricolour but they are fired on (2 wounded). At 10 AM, British warships close in to prevent Vichy ships leaving harbour and are shelled by shore batteries (damaging cruisers HMS Cumberland [1 killed] & Dragon and destroyers HMS Foresight [3 killed] & Inglefeld). The British ships withdraw out of range at 11.30 AM, unable to hit the French guns due to fog. Vichy submarine Persee is sunk attempting to torpedo cruiser Dragon. In the afternoon, cruiser HMAS Australia shells Vichy destroyer L'Audacieux, which catches fire and is beached (81 crew killed). de Gaulle then attempts to land his troops at Rufisque Bay, 10 miles East of Dakar, but the attack becomes confused in the fog and the beach is well defended. de Gaulle withdraws, not wanting to "shed the blood of Frenchmen for Frenchmen". When Churchill learns of the failure, he urges “having begun we must go on to the end. Stop at nothing”.

7 old US Navy destroyers are handed over to the British Royal Navy at Halifax, Nova Scotia, as part of the “destroyers for bases” deal. British submarine H-49 sinks German steamer Heimdal 7 miles Northwest of Terschelling Island, Holland.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 388 September 22, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 75. Another quiet day, with fog, rain and some sunshine. There are photographic or weather reconnaissance flights all day. 1 Ju88 on reconnaissance is shot down in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight by 234 Squadron. The Ju88 crew escapes from the sinking aircraft and are taken prisoner. RAF loses 3 Hurricanes which get lost in bad weather on a routine patrol and crash land (no pilots killed). London receives exceptionally heavy bombing overnight, with fires lighting up the night sky for several miles.

The attack on convoy HX-72 continues overnight. From 00.22 to 2.14 AM, Joachim Schepke in U-100 continues his spree, torpedoing 4 ships which all eventually sink; British steamer Empire Airman (33 crew killed, 4 rescued), British tanker Frederick S. Fales (10 crew and 1 gunner killed, 32 crew rescued), British steamer Scholar (all 45 hand survived) and Norwegian steamer Simla (the crew jumps overboard, 5 drown, 31 survivors picked up after 45 minutes by corvette HMS Heartsease). In 3 hours, U-100 has sunk a remarkable 7 ships (over 50,000 tons). At 7.40 AM, U-32 shells British steamer Collegian (a straggler from HX-72) with the deck gun from 7km but Collegian returns accurate fire and chases off the U-boat.

At 5.55 PM, 100 miles South of Faroe Islands, U-31 sinks the tiny Faroese sailing trawler Union Jack with the deck gun. The crew of 7 abandons ship in a small rowboat and reach the tiny Flannan Isles in the Outer Hebrides 36 hours later.

British submarine HMS Tuna sinks Norwegian liner Tirranna 1 mile from shore near Bordeaux, France. Sadly, Tirranna had been taken as a prize ship by German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis on June 10 and dispatched to occupied France on August 5 with 274 prisoners. 87 prisoners, including women and children, and 1 of the prize crew from Atlantis are killed.

At 3 AM, 11 Swordfish and 6 Skuas fly 50 miles from British aircraft carrier HMS Furious to bomb Trondheim. However, bad weather frustrates the operation, forcing HMS Furious to return to Scotland early and abandon some of the aircraft. 1 Swordfish crashes into the sea looking for the carrier (3 aircrew killed). 3 Swordfish crash land in Norway (9 aircrew captured). 1 Swordfish & 1 Skua crash land in Sweden (5 aircrew interned).

British destroyers HMS Jervis, Janus, Juno and Mohawk bombard the Italian-held airfield at Sidi Barrani, Egypt, and then return to British-held Alexandria. British submarines attack Italian ships off Italy. HMS Truant sinks steamer Provvidenza 10 miles West of Naples. HMS Osiris sinks Regia Marina destroyer Palestro in the Adriatic Sea 75 miles east of Bari.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 387 September 21, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 74. A very quiet day, despite fine weather. There are reconnaissance flights all day (2 German bombers shot down) and a 200+ aircraft raid towards London which is turned back at 6 PM. No RAF fighters are lost. London and Liverpool are bombed again overnight. British government sanctions the use of London Underground ‘Tube’ stations as air-raid shelters, which until now have been used unofficially by a growing number of Londoners. Tube stations are kitted out with food canteens, first aid facilities and chemical toilets. Some stations are equipped with bunks. One section of track is closed to trains and concreted over (the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly Line), to allow storage of antiques and artifacts from the British Museum including the Elgin Marbles.

U-138 continues the attack on convoy OB-216, 10 miles off Malin Head, Ireland. At 2.27 AM, U-138 torpedoes British SS Empire Adventure (21 crew lost, 18 rescued) which is taken in tow but sinks on September 23.

Convoy HX-72 (41 merchant ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Britain, protected by 4 Royal Navy destroyers, 1 sloop and 2 corvettes) is mauled by a wolf pack of 9 U-boats, 400 miles West of Ireland. Günther Prien in U-47 spots the convoy, but he has only 1 torpedo and calls for help. From 3.12 to 4.47 AM, U-99 torpedoes 3 ships which all eventually sink; British tanker Invershannon (16 dead and 32 survivors), British SS Baron Blythswood (all 34 hands lost) and British MV Elmbank (2 dead and 54 survivors). At 6.14 AM, U-48 sinks British SS Blairangus (6 dead and 28 survivors). At 11.10 PM, U-100 torpedoes and sinks British steamers Canonesa (1 dead and 62 survivors), Dalcairn (all 48 hands rescued) and British tanker Torinia (all 55 hands rescued). At 11.38 PM, U-48 gets back in the action, damaging British SS Broompark (1 crew killed).

The flotilla of ships to support the Free French landings at Dakar (Operation Menace) leaves Freetown, Sierra Leone. This includes aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, battleships HMS Barham and Resolution, cruiser HMS Devonshire, numerous destroyers and troop transports as well as French sloops Commandant Domine, Commandant Duboc and Savorgnan De Brazza. They will be joined at sea by cruisers HMS Cumberland and Dragon and HMAS Australia.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 386 September 20, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 73. Despite fine weather, there are only reconnaissance flights until 11 AM when 100+ Messerschmitt Bf109 fighters cross the Channel, in 3 waves, and converge on London. 15 squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes engage the Bf109s. The German fighters do not have to protect any bombers. They fare much better in these dogfights than usual and only 2 are shot down while RAF loses 7 fighters (4 pilots killed). In addition, Sgt. C.V. Meeson is killed when his Hurricane crashes during formation flying practice. London is bombed again overnight.

Between 9.20 and 9.26 PM, U-138 fires 3 torpedoes at convoy OB-216 and hits 3 ships 10 miles North of Malin Head, Ireland. Yugoslavian collier Boka, carrying coal from Wales to Sierra Leone, sinks (8 killed 26 survivors). British passenger liner SS City of Simla also sinks (1 crew and 2 passengers lost, 182 crew and 165 passengers rescued). British whale factory ship New Sevilla is hit (2 crew lost, 282 rescued) and taken in tow, but sinks the next day.

In the Red Sea, Italian aircraft attack Convoy BN-5 which is also being hunted by Italian Navy destroyers and submarines. British SS Bhima is damaged by near misses and will be towed to Aden and beached. Escort cruiser HMS Leander (New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy) is unsuccessfully attacked. 1 Italian bomber is shot down.

In the Indian Ocean halfway between Madagascar and Australia, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis reluctantly sinks empty French passenger liner Commissaire Ramel carrying a cargo of steel, wheat, soap, leather and fruit (3 crew killed). 63 crew, mostly Australians, are added to the prisoners on board Atlantis. Fregattenkapitän Rogge would prefer to transfer his 230 prisoners to the liner and send her home as a prize ship. Royal Navy forms hunter group to locate Atlantis, composed of Royal Australian Navy cruiser HMAS Canberra and armed merchant cruiser Westralia as well as British cruisers HMS Capetown and Durban.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 385 September 19, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 72. In the early hours, RAF Wellington, Hampden and Whitley bombers batter German invasion barges assembled in the Channel ports (1 Hampden lost). The German invasion fleet starts dispersing on Hitler's orders, ‘so that the loss of shipping space caused by enemy air attacks may be reduced to a minimum’ (of 1918 invasion barges assembled, 214 have been sunk or damaged by British bombing). Clouds and showers restrict Luftwaffe to reconnaissance fights and single aircraft bombing raids. At 3 PM, engine trouble forces a Ju88 to land undamaged at Bomber Command base at RAF Oakington, near Cambridge, complete with bombs and crew who are taken prisoner. 4 other Ju88s are shot down. No RAF fighters are lost. Overnight, London is bombed again with waves of bombers flying up the Thames estuary from 8PM until midnight.

British bombers sink German torpedo boat T-3 at Le Havre, France (9 crew killed, 12 wounded. T-3 will be raised and returned to service on December 12, 1943.

Italian submarines have a busy day. Submarines Archimede and Guglielmotti plus Italian destroyers Leone, Pantera, Battisti, and Manin search without success in the Red Sea for convoy BN-5. In the Bay of Biscay, submarine Guglielmo Marconi sinks Spanish trawler Almirante Jose De Carranza (only 1 survivor). 700 miles West of Gibraltar, submarine Comandante Faa Di Bruno unsuccessfully attacks a steamer. In the Mediterranean 59 miles South of the heel of Italy, submarine Serpente mistakenly fires a torpedo at another Italian submarine Marcantonio Colonna. The torpedo misses.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 384 September 18, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 71. Luftwaffe sends 2 more big raids during the day. 70 Ju88 bombers escorted by 100 Bf109 fighters fly over English Channel at noon and are intercepted by AVM Park’s No. 11 group, with about 60 bombers reaching London. At 4 PM, 200 bombers in several waves (with fighter escorts) attack targets in Kent. In addition to squadrons from No.11 group, a Big Wing from No. 12 group joins in (repeating its success of September 7). 23 German bombers and 10 Messerschmitt fighters are shot down, while RAF loses 12 fighters (3 pilots killed). Overnight, London is bombed repeatedly and Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and the North East Coast between Humber and Newcastle are also attacked.

At 1 minute past midnight, U-48 fires another torpedo at British liner SS City of Benares. The torpedo hits City of Benares in the stern and she lists heavily (preventing many of the lifeboats from being launched) and sinks within 30 minutes (121 crew and 134 passengers are lost, including 77 of the 90 children being evacuated from Britain to Canada). Destroyer HMS Hurricane arrives 24 hours later and rescues 105 survivors. 1 lifeboat with 42 survivors including 6 British children is missed. They will be spotted 8 days later by an Australian Sunderland flying boat and rescued by destroyer HMS Anthony. At 00.07, U-48 sinks British steamer Marina carrying 5700 tons of general cargo (2 killed, 17 crew and 3 gunners picked up by HMS Hurricane next day, another 17 crew members picked up after 8 days by 8 British merchant vessel Carlingford). At 6.49 PM, U-48 sinks British SS Magdalena carrying 4600 tons of iron ore (all 31 hands lost).

Near Porto, Portugal, Italian submarine Bagnolini sinks Spanish steamer Cabo Tortosa (Spanish steamer Monte Ayala rescues the entire crew).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 383 September 17, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 70. At 2 PM, Ju88s attempt to bomb factories in Bristol but are turned back by Spitfires of 152 Squadron from Warmwell. Luftwaffe tries a new tactic arming Messerschmitt Bf109s, their best fighter, with 250kg bombs which slow them down and reduce their range. At 3.30 a large formation flies over Kent but they are intercepted by several squadrons of Hurricanes. 4 Bf109s are shot down and the rest drop their bombs indiscriminately in the Kentish countryside and head for home. Hitler postpones Operation Sealion (the invasion of Britain) indefinitely. With Summer ending and Winter gales coming, it is now clear that there will be no invasion this year, but the bombing of British cities will continue. Overnight, London, South Wales and Liverpool are attacked again.

200 miles West of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, U-65 and U-99 each sink a British steamer in convoy HX-71 from Halifax, Nova Scotia. At 8.32 AM, U-99 sinks SS Crown Arun (all 25 crew are picked up by destroyer HMS Winchelsea and landed at Liverpool). At 4.26 PM, U-65 sinks Tregenna carrying 8000 tons of steel from USA (33 crew killed, 4 rescued by British steamer Filleigh and landed at Avonmouth).

At 11.45 PM, in the Atlantic Ocean 400 miles west of Scotland, U-48 misses British liner SS City of Benares with two torpedoes. Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Bleichrodt does not know that on board are British 90 children being evacuated to Canada, in order to escape the Blitz.

British warships attack Italian forces in North Africa. Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious attack the important Italian-held port of Benghazi, 200 miles inside Libya. 9 aircraft from 815 Squadron bomb shipping while 6 aircraft from 819 Squadron lay mines in the harbour. Italian destroyer Aquilone hits a mine and sinks and destroyer Borea is sunk by torpedoes in the harbour, along with Italian merchant steamers Gloria Stella and Maria Eugenia. An Italian plane torpedoes British cruiser HMS Kent at 11.55 PM (31 killed), preventing further bombardment of Bardia the next day. British destroyers HMS Janus and Juno sail from Alexandria, Egypt, and bombarded Italian positions at Sidi Barrani at 11 PM. At 11.30, British gunboat HMS Ladybird shells the coastal highway at the point where it is closest to the sea, at Sollum. The coastal road is critical to the Italian supply lines.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 382 September 16, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 69. Rain and clouds hinder flying. Luftwaffe pilots are demoralized after yesterday’s mauling at the hands of RAF fighter pilots. They had been attacked by over 300 fighters, despite having been told RAF had only 50 remaining. Daytime bombing of London is abandoned, although Luftwaffe will resume attacking RAF facilities during the day and continue bombing London at night. At 7.30 AM, 100+ German fighters make a half-hearted raid on Kent to draw up British fighters, but RAF does not respond and the Bf109s turn back. 1 Ju88 is shot down by a Spitfire which then runs out of fuel and crashes in the North Sea (pilot Sgt T.C. Iveson bales out and is brought ashore by a Royal Navy motor torpedo boat). Overnight, RAF bombers hit invasion barges in Channel ports along the French, Belgian and Dutch coasts. Luftwaffe mounts intensive night bombing of London’s East End, Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham and Bristol.

North Africa. In Egypt, Italian troops of the 1st Blackshirt Division (23 Marzo) reach the village of Sidi Barrani about 60 miles from the Libyan border. Here they halt and dig in, 70 miles short of the main British defenses at Mersa Matruh. Marshal Graziani is unsure of the size of the British forces facing him, unconvinced about the quality of his own troops and worried about 150 mile supply line across the desert from Tobruk, Libya. Despite being urged onwards by Mussolini, Graziani feels he has met the strategic goal of the invasion (from Mussolini’s own orders “Once again I repeat that there are no territorial objectives. It is not a question of aiming for Alexandria nor even Sallum. I am only asking that you attack the British forces facing you.”)

At 2.41 AM, U-99 sinks Norwegian steamer Lotos (1500 tons of timber) off the North coast of Ireland. All 17 crew escape in 2 lifeboats, reaching Ireland or the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in 3 to 5 days. In the Irish Sea between Ireland and Scotland, German bombers badly damage British troopship SS Aska, carrying 186 crew and 358 French troops from Bathurst, West Africa, to Liverpool (either to return to France or join the Free French forces in Britain). 11 crew and 19 troops are lost but the survivors are taken off by minesweeper HMS Jason.

Vichy French steamer Poitiers is en route to Dakar from Libreville, French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon), when she is intercepted by British cruiser HMS Cumberland which has been searching for the French cruisers now at Dakar. After scuttling SS Poitiers, the crew are rescued by HMS Cumberland which then sinks Poitiers by gunfire.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 381 September 15, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 68. With fine weather, Luftwaffe makes one last effort to cripple RAF in time for invasion to take place. Coincidentally, Winston Churchill and his wife visit AVM Park’s No. 11 Group Headquarters at Uxbridge. At 11.30 AM, 250 German bombers with fighter escorts cross the coast in 2 waves and are intercepted, about 100 bombers arriving to bomb London. At 2.30 PM, another 250 bombers attack in 2 waves and about 70 reach London. On both occasions, Douglas Bader’s Big Wing of 4 squadron rips into the bombers over London (mostly without escort fighters). At 4 Pm and 6 PM, Spitfire factory at Woolston, Southampton, is bombed with little damage. Every squadron and every airfield of No. 11 Group participate during the day. RAF loses 25 fighters (13 pilots killed) but RAF is clearly capable of mounting a vigorous defense. Germans lose 56 aircraft. Overnight, London is bombed as well as South Wales, Bristol Channel, the Midlands and Liverpool.

Just after midnight 200 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-99 shells Canadian SS Kenordoc with the deck gun. 7 crew are killed and 13 more rescued by destroyers HMCS St. Laurent and HMS Amazon, which also scuttles Kenordoc. At 00.25 in the same area, U-48 sinks British sloop HMS Dundee, the only escort vessel of convoy SC-3 (12 lives lost, 83 crew rescued). U-48 continues attacking the convoy; at 1.23 AM, torpedoing Greek SS Alexandros which stay afloat on its cargo of timber (5 killed, 23 survivors are picked up by destroyer HMS Wanderer), and at 3 AM, sinking British SS Empire Volunteer carrying 7700 tons of iron ore (6 killed, 33 survivors). At 6.05 AM 180 miles West of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, U-65 sinks Norwegian MV Hird (which had evacuated 3500 Allied soldiers from Dunkirk). All 30 crew abandon ship and are rescued by Icelandic trawler Þórólfur and landed at Fleetwood, England on September 17.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 380 September 14, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 67. Again, the weather is cloudy and rainy. Hitler postpones any German invasion of Britain until September 17 to give Luftwaffe more time to tame RAF. However, the lull in fighting since September 9 allows RAF to return to operational strength with newly-manufactured and repaired fighters. They also repair airfields & radar stations and integrate newly trained pilots with rested veterans. AVM Park has reshuffled squadrons so that Hurricanes (to attack bombers) and Spitfires (to attack the fighter escorts) work in pairs. 150 German aircraft cross the coast to bomb London at 3.30 PM and another 100 attack London and some airfields at 6 PM. Most bombers do not get through to their targets. RAF shoots down 4 German bombers and 11 Messerschmitt fighters but RAF loses 12 fighters also (4 pilots killed). Despite good weather overnight, there is little bombing of London. Leicester is also bombed.

Operation Menace. Prior to landing Free French troops at Dakar, French sloops Commandant Domine and Commandant Duboc, British battleships HMS Barham and HMS Resolution and several British destroyers arrive at Freetown, Sierra Leone, to refuel. Aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and cruisers HMS Devonshire and HMAS Australia are 300 miles North, patrolling off Dakar to prevent the arrival of 3 Vichy French cruisers which are suspected of reinforcing Vichy troops holding Dakar. However, the French cruisers are already there, dealing a critical blow to the operation.

Egypt, North Africa. Italian troops make slow inroads into Egyptian territory. As the main British force prepares defenses at the railhead at Mersa Matruh (which is the expected target of the Italian advance), covering forces harass the Italians without becoming seriously engaged as they fall back. Italian intelligence becomes conviced they are facing many more British troops than in reality.

German antisubmarine trawler Hinrich Wesselhoft is a total loss after running aground in the Hardangerfjord near Bergen, Norway. 500 miles West of Porto, Portugal, Italian submarine Emo torpedoes and shells British steam tanker Saint Agnes en route from Vizagapatam, India to Hull.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 379 September 13, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 66. Bad weather again restricts German attacks during the day, with single bombers coming across at a rate of about 7 per hour to drop bombs on London and RAF airfields. Bombs land in front of Buckingham Palace, slightly damaging the Victoria Memorial, and in the Palace courtyard where much damage is done. The Royal Family is at the Palace at the time but they are not injured. Luftwaffe has 3 aircraft shot down. RAF loses 2 Blenheims (1 does not return from a reconnaissance flight over Norway; the crew bales out of another near Calais and are taken prisoner). Bombing of London overnight is more widespread than previously (Westminster, Battersea, Mitcham, Clapham Junction, Wembley and Hammersmith). Cardiff is also bombed. With tides the next few nights favouring invasion by Germany, Royal Navy moves battleships HMS Nelson & Rodney to Rosyth and HMS Revenge to Plymouth, to support cruisers and destroyers defending the English Channel.

North Africa. Italian 1st Blackshirt Division (23 Marzo, in honour of the founding of the Italian Fascist Party on 23 March 1919) recapture Fort Capuzzo, taken by the British in June, just inside Libya on the border with Egypt. Soon after, Italian troops cut the barbed wire on the Libyan/Egyptian border and begin the invasion of Egypt.

Vichy French steamers carrying demilitarized troops home from North Africa to France hit mines west of Sardinia (SS Ginette Le Borgne and SS Cassidaigne are sunk and SS Cap Tourane is damaged). German minesweeping trawler Hermann Krone hits a mine and sinks off Hanstholm, Denmark.

British steam passenger ship SS City of Benares departs Liverpool bound for Quebec and Montreal, carrying 90 British children being evacuated to Canada. She is the flagship of the convoy commodore Rear Admiral Mackinnon and the first ship in the center column of convoy OB-213.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 378 September 12, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 65. Cloudy weather restricts flying to a minimum. Only German reconnaissance flights take place during the day and 50 bombers attack London overnight (compared to about 300 on previous nights). 2 German bombers are shot down and Wing Commander J.S. Dewar (airfield commander at Exeter) is lost on a pleasure flight to Tangmere in his Hurricane. A delayed action high-explosive bomb hits St. Paul’s Cathedral but does not explode and is buried 30 feet into the ground. Royal Engineers Lieutenant R. Davies and Sapper J. Wylie defuse the bomb and are awarded the George Cross, becoming the first military personnel to receive this medal for “bravery not in the face of the enemy”. St. Paul’s Cathedral will become a symbol of London’s resilience during the Blitz.

Vichy French cruisers depart Casablanca at 4 AM, leaving behind their destroyer escorts. 3 British destroyers join HMS Renown and 3 other destroyers off Casablanca, searching for the French cruisers which are now well on their way South, steaming for Dakar at full speed.

North Africa. Italian 10th Army continues to make slow progress towards the Libyan border with Egypt to begin their invasion. British light covering forces fall back slowly fighting delaying actions.

In the Indian Ocean 330 miles East of Madagascar, German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin stops British steamer Benavon with a shot across the bows. Benavon tries to escape and returns fire with her 4 inch gun but the inexperienced crew does not fit the shells with fuse caps (1 shell hits Pinguin, lodging next to the magazine containing 300 high-explosive mines; a lethal hit if it had exploded). Pinguin shells Benavon into submission (24 killed, 25 crew taken prisoner).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 377 September 11, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 64. Despite fine weather, there are no Luftwaffe attacks in the morning. At 3 PM, 300 German bombers fly across Kent and up the Thames Estuary in 2 waves, escorted by Messerschmitt Bf109s and Bf110s. While Bf109s (which are at the limit of their fuel supplies) are engaged by fighters of AVM Park’s No. 11 Group at high altitude, AVM Leigh-Mallory’s “Big Wing” of 3 squadrons from No. 12 Group attacks the bombers. Losses are equally high on both sides but many bombers get through and again drop their loads on London’s East End. At the same time, Portsmouth and Southampton are also bombed. Destroyers HMS Atherstone and Fernie are attacked by German bombers off Ramsgate, Kent, escorting convoy CW-11 in the Straits of Dover. HMS Atherstone is badly damaged (6 killed), towed to Chatham by tug Turquoise and will be under repair until January 1941. Overnight, London and Liverpool are bombed.

3 Vichy French cruisers and 3 destroyers pass through the Straits of Gibraltar at 25 knots at 8.35 AM, heading for Dakar. They have been spotted at 5.15 AM by destroyer HMS Hotspur 50 miles inside the Mediterranean, but it is too late for the British fleet at Gibraltar to respond. Battleship HMS Renown departs at 4 PM with 3 destroyers to pursue the French warships, with instructions to make sure they go no further South than Casablanca. The French warships stop at Casablanca overnight but only to refuel.

Between 3.26 and 3.28 AM, 200 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-28 torpedoes 2 unladen steamers in convoy OA-210 outbound from Britain. Dutch SS Maas sinks (20 killed) and British SS Harpenden (1 dead) is badly damaged, towed back to the Clyde and beached. At 7.16 AM, U-99 sinks British SS Albionic, carrying 3500 tons of iron ore from Canada to Britain (all 25 hands lost).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 376 September 10, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 63. Cloudy, rainy weather returns after days of good flying weather and restricts Luftwaffe to mainly reconnaissance raids in the afternoon. 6 small raids approach London at 5.15 PM, presumably to drop incendiaries as markers, but these are turned back by RAF fighters (2 Dornier bombers shot down). 1 Spitfire is lost in combat (2 more fighters destroyed and 3 damaged in training operations). Overnight, East End of London is again bombed, as well as South Wales, West Midlands and Liverpool.

Royal Navy controls the Straits of Gibraltar; Vichy government has agreed to notify them to ensure safe passage of French ships. At 6 PM, French admiralty informs British Naval Attaché in Madrid that 3 cruisers intend to sail through the Straits next day. Despite this and other warnings, Royal Navy fails to appreciate the significance to the impending Free French landings at Dakar.

Libya, North Africa. Italian 10th Army advances slowly towards the Egyptian border. Troop formations, including the main armored force Maletti Group, get lost or are late leaving their starting points and many of the vehicles required for a rapid advance break down. British light covering forces delay the advance as they fall back, by sowing mines and harassing the Italians.

German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis sinks British steamer Benarty (carrying lead, zinc and tungsten from Rangoon, India, to Liverpool) in the Indian Ocean 1250 miles East of Madagascar. All 49 crew are taken prisoner.

British submarine HMS Sturgeon attacks U-43 (no damage) 50 miles Southwest of Southern Norway.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 375 September 9, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 62. Göring believes the RAF is beaten due to their lack of resistance to the first daylight bombing of London on September 7 (in reality, RAF was confused by the new Luftwaffe tactic). Today, RAF is ready when a large raid crosses the Channel at 5 PM towards London. In addition to Keith Park’s No. 11 Group patrolling the approaches to London, Douglas Bader’s “big wing” (a formations of 3 squadrons from No. 12 Group) swoops in from the West with the sun behind them and mauls the German bombers (29 shot down plus 21 Bf109 fighters). Very few of the German aircraft get through to bomb London but RAF loses 20 fighters and 6 pilots killed. London is, however, heavily bombed again during the night, as RAF has no effective deterrent for this.

After weeks of preparation and prevarication, Marshal Rudolfo Graziani (who is under threat of replacement by Mussolini) orders Italian forces to advance on Egypt. Italian 10th Army moves towards British positions just inside Libya, as Italian Royal Air Force bombers soften up British defenses. RAF bombs Tobruk, troop concentrations and supply depots. Italian Royal Air Force Fiat fighters engage in dogfights with RAF Gladiators.

Vichy France has caught wind of De Gaulle’s plot to land Free French forces at Dakar. French cruisers Georges Leygues, Montcalm and Gloire, escorted by 3 destroyers, depart Toulon for Dakar.

Battle of the Atlantic. Convoy SC-2 is attacked again, 70 miles North of Ireland. At 00.24, Günther Prien in U-47 sinks Greek SS Possidon carrying 5410 tons of sulphur phosphate from USA (17 dead). At 4.47 AM, U-28 sinks British SS Mardinian carrying 3500 tons of pitch from Trinidad (6 crew lost, 22 survivors picked up by anti-submarine trawler HMS St. Apollo and armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania or make land in a lifeboat). Italian submarine Comandante Faà di Bruno damages but does not sink British tanker MV Auris in the Atlantic, 750 miles West of Gibraltar. The first 8 US Navy destroyers are transferred to the Royal Navy at Halifax, in the deal giving US access to bases in British territories. Blackburn Skuas of 801 Squadron fly from Royal Naval Air Station Hatston, Orkney, Scotland, to attack German shipping off Bergen, Norway. 1 Skua does not return (2 airmen killed).

German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis sinks British tanker MV Athelking (in ballast) in the Indian Ocean, 1200 miles East of Madagascar (6 killed, 40 crew taken prisoner).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 374 September 8, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 61. No. 11 Group commander AVM Keith Park flies his Hurricane over bomb-damaged parts of London, stating “It was burning all down the river. It was a horrid sight. But I looked down and said ‘Thank God for that’, because I knew that the Nazis had switched their attack from the fighter stations thinking that they were knocked out. They weren't, but they were pretty groggy”. At noon, 20 Dornier bombers escorted by 30 Bf109s head for London but they are intercepted and turned back by RAF fighters (3 Dorniers and 1 Bf109 shot down). RAF loses 4 fighters shot down (2 pilots killed). At 7.30 PM, 30 aircraft drop incendiary bombs on London to provide markers for the night raids. Overnight, Thames Estuary and London’s East End are bombed again (3 more Dorniers shot down by antiaircraft guns).

British War Cabinet is convinced, by the heavy bombing of London the previous day and the accumulation of invasion barges on the Dutch and French coasts with favourable tides the next few nights, that invasion is imminent. Codeword “Cromwell” is passed to the Army and Home Forces, leading some to believe the invasion has started and causing great confusion. Church bells are rung, roadblocks set up, some bridges blown and landmines sown on some roads (killing 3 Guards officers). Home Guard units search beaches for invasion barges and scan the skies for approaching German paratroopers, but none come.

British cruiser HMS Aurora, escorted by 3 destroyers, shells German shipping and invasion barges in the harbour at Boulogne, France. British torpedo boats MTB-14, MTB-15 and MTB-17 sink a German ammunition ship off Ostend, Belgium.

Overnight in the Central Atlantic, 500 miles from the nearest land, German armed merchant cruiser Widder stops Greek collier Antonios Chandris (carrying 6,616 tons of coal from Cardiff to Buenos Aires). Widder’s Captain Ruckteschell orders the 29 crew to abandon ship in the lifeboats before Antonios Chandris is sunk by demolition charges at dawn. 22 crew will be rescued 31 days later on October 8, over 1400 miles away, by Portuguese freighter Serpa Pinto and landed at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 373 September 7, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 60. On the brink of victory, Göring changes tactics. With RAF on its knees, Luftwaffe ceases bombing airfields, radar and aircraft works. Hitler, furious at the bombing of Berlin, believes Britain brought to the negotiating table by breaking the will of British civilians by terror bombing London. At 4 PM, a huge armada heads up the Thames Estuary (300 Heinkel and Dornier bombers & 200 Bf110s carrying bombs, escorted by 600 Bf109s). Soon, RAF has 23 squadron airborne waiting for them to split up. Instead they fly straight ahead to bomb London’s East End, including docks, shipyards & Woolwich Arsenal (igniting gunpowder stores for artillery shells). RAF tears into the retreating bombers, now unescorted by Bf109s which have returned home low on fuel. Luftwaffe loses 53 bombers and 21 Bf109s in all. RAF loses 27 fighters (15 pilots killed). Still burning, London’s East End is bombed continuously overnight (490 civilians killed, 1200 injured).

Between 4 and 5.33 AM, 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, Günther Prien in U-47 sinks 3 steamers in convoy SC-2 en route to Britain from Sydney, Australia; British SS Neptunian carrying 8500 tons of sugar from Chile (all 36 hands lost), British SS José de Larrinaga carrying 5303 tons of steel and linseed oil from USA (all 40 hands lost) and Norwegian SS Gro carrying 6321 tons of wheat from Canada (11 killed, 21 survivors escape in 1 lifeboat and are picked up by British steamer Burdwan on September10, then transferred to corvette HMS Arabis and landed at Liverpool on 13 September).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day 372 September 6, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 59. At 3 AM, an armed German parachutist dressed in civilian clothes with a Swedish passport and British identity card lands in Northamptonshire to report on damage to airfields. He is injured by landing on his wireless set and is discovered in a ditch in Denton by a farmer at 5.20 PM. With continued good flying weather, Luftwaffe stays with the successful tactics of recent days. They send 3 raids up the Thames Estuary and across Kent at 9 AM, 1 PM and 6 PM, again splitting up to attack RAF airfields at Heston, Kenley and Biggin Hill. Hawker aircraft factory at Brooklands and oil storage tanks at Thameshaven are bombed for the second day. Luftwaffe loses 37 fighters and 7 bombers. RAF loses 22 fighters (7 pilots killed, 1 taken prisoner when his Spitfire is shot down in France). The situation is becoming critical for RAF with 295 fighters lost (171 badly damaged) and 103 pilots killed (128 wounded) since August 24.

British submarine HMS Tribune attacks U-56 40 miles West of Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland (all torpedoes miss U-56). Luftwaffe bombs merchant ships around Ireland, damaging British MV Melbourne Star (180 miles West of Ireland, under repair for 1 month) and Greek SS Aegeon (in the Irish Sea, 30 miles Southeast of Dublin).

British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, battleships HMS Barham and HMS Resolution and 10 escort destroyers depart Gibraltar bound for Freetown, Sierra Leone, for refueling. They will join cruisers HMS Devonshire and HMAS Australia to cover landings at Dakar by Free French troops under General De Gaulle (supported by 8,000 British troops).

Despite RAF’s needs for the Battle of Britain, 30 more Hurricanes are flown off aircraft carrier HMS Argus to Takoradi in the British colony of Gold Coast, West Africa, to be flown 3600 miles overland to RAF Abu Sueir in Egypt.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day 371 September 5, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 58. Another good day for flying. Luftwaffe sends 2 large raids across Kent. In the morning, they attack RAF airfields at Eastchurch, Lympne, North Weald and Biggin Hill. In the afternoon, targets are RAF airfields at Detling and Biggin Hill (again), Hawker aircraft works at Brooklands (slight damage and few casualties) and oil storage tanks at Thameshaven which are set ablaze. 23 German aircraft are shot down and RAF loses 20 fighters (7 pilots killed). RAF is close to breaking point due to loss of pilots and with airfields at Biggin Hill and Eastchurch out of action indefinitely and other airfields badly damaged. Furthermore, attacks on aircraft works force RAF to cover these vital factories. Overnight London, Manchester and Liverpool are bombed. RAF attacks Berlin with 85 bombers to goad Hitler into bombing of British cities instead of RAF airfields and aircraft factories.

Despite the imminent threat of invasion by Germany, Britain sends considerable materiel to defend her interests in the Middle East (Egypt, Sudan and Kenya) from Italian invasion. 6 Blenheim IV's and 6 Hurricanes arrive in crates at the port of Takoradi in the British colony of Gold Coast, West Africa. They will be assembled and flown 3600 miles across Africa to RAF Abu Sueir, an airbase in Eastern Egypt near the Suez Canal.

German armed merchant cruiser Komet enters the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Straits, completing one of the most remarkable voyages of WWII by going through the Artic Ocean, North of USSR.

300 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-47 loses Matrosenobergefreiter (Able Seaman) Heinrich Mantyk who falls overboard and drowns while using the deck gun.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 370 September 4, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 57. More good weather for flying and Luftwaffe sends 2 raids up the Thames Estuary and across Kent to attack RAF airfields at Brooklands, Eastchurch, Lympne & Rochford as well as the aircraft works at Rochester (Short Brothers) and Brooklands (Vickers Armstrong, where 55 workers are killed and 250 injured). 20 German aircraft are shot down (6 Bf109s, 1 He111 and 13 Bf110s). RAF loses 9 Spitfires, 6 Hurricanes and 1 Defiant which crashes during night landing practice (11 pilots and 1 gunner killed). Overnight, there is bombing of South Wales and the Midlands. Hitler makes a speech condemning RAF bombing of Germany and threatens the destruction of British cities in retaliation. This is exactly the reaction Churchill is hoping for, to draw the Luftwaffe’s fire away from the RAF airfields.

Following the humiliating acquisition of Romanian territory by USSR and Germany Romanian King Carol II hands over power to pro-German General Ion Antonescu. Antonescu will become Prime Minister and form the National Legionary State, an uneasy partnership with the was ultra-nationalist fascist Iron Guard.

German motor torpedo S-boats attack convoy FS.271 off Great Yarmouth. S-21 sinks steamers Corbrook & New Lambton and S-22 sinks Fulham IV (all crews are rescued). S-18 sinks British SS Joseph Swan (only 1 survivor) and the Dutch SS Nieuwland (8 crew killed). S-54 damages steamer Ewell.

At 8 PM, U-46 sinks neutral Irish SS Luimneach (carrying 1250 tons of pyrites from Huelva Spain, to Ireland) 200 miles West of Brest, France. 3 crew are taken prisoner and landed at Lorient on 6 September. The other 15 crew are picked up by a French fishing boat. At 1.28 AM, U-47 sinks British SS Titan (in ballast en route to Australia) in convoy OA-207 250 miles Northwest of Ireland (6 killed). 89 crew are picked up by escort destroyer HMCS St. Laurent (H 83) (Lt H.S. Rayner, RCN).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 369 September 3, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 56. The weather is again good for flying. Luftwaffe sends 1 main raid of 50 Dornier Do17 bombers, 80 Messerschmitt Bf110 fighter bombers and 40 Bf109 fighters up the Thames Estuary which splits up and bombs RAF airfields at North Weald, Hornchurch and Debden. All are badly damaged but still operational. Luftwaffe loses 17 fighters and 8 bombers. RAF loses 20 fighters, including 2 Blenheims returning to North Weald accidentally shot down by Hurricanes mistaking them for Bf110s (6 pilots killed). There is relatively little bombing overnight, as on recent nights, with attacks in Kent, Liverpool, and South Wales.

At 3.26 AM, U-60 sinks British collier Ulva about 150 miles Southwest of Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland (3 crew lost). 17 survivors make land at Castlebay, Isle of Barra. U-57 collides with Norwegian steamer Rona and sinks just after midnight at Brunsbüttel, at the Western end of the Kiel Canal (6 dead, 19 survivors). U-57 will be raised in September and returned to service as a training ship in January 1941. 200 miles West of Ireland, U-101 is attacked with depth charges by a British convoy escort. U-101 is damaged and partially flooded but is able to reach base at Lorient, France, on September 16.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 368 September 2, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 55. Between 8 AM and 5.30 PM, 4 Luftwaffe raids fly up the Thames Estuary to bomb airfields in the Southeast of England. RAF is better able to cope using Air Vice Marshall Keith Park’s strategy to attack the massed bombers before they split up. Damage to airfields is consequently reduced; however, Detling & Hornchurch are still bombed and Eastchurch is put out of action indefinitely. Aircraft factories at Rochester and Weybridge are also bombed. RAF shoots down 27 German fighters and 10 bombers (antiaircraft guns account for 1 Bf109 and 3 more bombers). 20 RAF lose fighters with 10 pilots killed. Overnight, there is widespread bombing of towns in the Midlands, including Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, which promptly stops at 1.30 AM.

At 7 PM, U-47 sinks Belgian passenger and freight ship Ville de Mons (carrying 4378 tons of general cargo, 1280 boxes of pears, 648 tons of corn and 536 tons of wheat from new York) with 4 torpedoes 200 miles West of Isle of Lewis, Scotland. All 54 on board survive. At 10 PM, U-46 sinks British SS Thornlea 200 miles Northwest of Ireland (3 crew lost). 19 crew are picked up by Canadian destroyer HMCS Skeena. Another 14 survivors will be rescued next day by the Norwegian steamer Hild and landed at Sydney, Australia, on 15 September.

U-58 departs base in the French port of Lorient, in the Bay of Biscay, and is attacked 30 miles out by British submarine HMS Tigris (all torpedoes miss U-58). At 8 PM, British submarine HMS Sturgeon sinks German SS Pionier off Skagen, Denmark. Pionier is carrying 750-1000 German troops, supplies and equipment from Frederikshavn, Denmark, to Frederiksstad, Norway (almost all are killed).

German armed merchant cruiser Widder sinks British tanker Cymbeline with the deck gun and a torpedo (7 crew killed) in the Central Atlantic 800 miles West of the Canary Islands. Wider spends 4 hours picking up 26 survivors. Cymbeline’s Captain, First Officer and Third Engineer escape in a lifeboat and will be rescued on September 16 by tanker Yolonda and taken to Venezuela.