Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 426 October 30, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 113. Despite low cloud and continuous drizzle, there are a few German reconnaissance flights over South England and patrols in the English Channel. Luftwaffe sends 2 sweeps of 130-150 fighters over Kent and London at 11.30 AM and 3.40 PM. Some RAF squadrons cannot take off due to the weather and consequently bombs are dropped in Kent and Southeast London. 8 Messerschmitt Bf109 fighters and 1 Heinkel He111 bomber are shot down. RAF loses 5 fighters (4 pilots killed). Overnight, London and towns in Southeast England are heavily bombed from 6.30 – 9 PM and then sporadically until 1 AM. Towns in the Midlands are also attacked but all German planes have returned to base by 3.30 AM.

2 days after sinking liner Empress of Britain, U-32’s captain Hans Jenisch attacks British SS Balzac in a rainstorm 100 miles Northwest of Ireland. At 12.40 PM, U-32 fires a torpedo which explodes prematurely. Balzac’s radio alert is picked up 45 miles away by destroyers HMS Harvester and Highlander, escorting convoy SC-8. Highlander arrives as U-32 is preparing to fire another torpedo. U-32 dives and tries to torpedo Highlander but is damaged by depth charges. At 7.08 PM, U-32 surfaces hoping to escape in the rain and darkness but is shelled by the destroyer (killing 9 crew). Unable to dive again, the crew abandons ship and scuttles U-32 (29 crew rescued by HMS Harvester and 4 by HMS Highlander). To hide the capture of Hans Jenisch (U-boat ace, Knights Cross recipient and celebrated sinker of Empress of Britain), German propaganda broadcasts a fake account of his triumphant return home.

2 British destroyers come to grief in stormy weather off Scotland. At 00.41, HMS Fearless collides with steamer SS Lanark off Gourock, causing heavy damage to her bow which will take until the end of the year to repair. HMS Sturdy runs aground and is wrecked on Tiree, an island in the Inner Hebrides (5 sailors drown swimming ashore and are buried on the island in the Soroby burial ground).

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