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).

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