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).

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