Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 427 October 31, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 114 – Last Day. Despite cloud, haze and drizzle, Luftwaffe mounts numerous reconnaissance flights and ineffective single aircraft bombing raids on RAF airfields in South England. The weather and lack of real threat prevent RAF from responding so there are no losses on either side. Bad weather also hampers overnight bombing. London is bombed from 6.30 – 9 PM while London and the Midlands are bombed from 2.45 – 6 AM. Although night bombing continues for many months and there are sporadic German daytime raids, Luftwaffe has been contained by RAF and the threat of a German invasion of Britain is over. RAF has lost 915 fighters while 1733 German planes have been shot down. RAF recognizes 2936 Fighter Command aircrew (mostly pilots) from14 countries who were awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp to the 1939–45 Star by flying at least one authorised operational sortie from July 10 to October 31 1940. 544 were killed in Battle of Britain and another 795 died later in the war, leaving 1597 who survived WWII. About 100 of those are still alive today.

At 9.58 PM, 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-124 sinks British SS Rutland which is carrying bananas from Jamaica (all 24 hands lost).

German armed merchant cruiser Widder arrives at Brest after 179 days at sea in the mid-Atlantic, sinking 10 ships for 58,645 tons. Captain Helmuth von Ruckteschell will be convicted after the war as a war criminal for his conduct on this short voyage and die in prison.

Italy’s invasion of Greece begins to stall. Their troops lose momentum in the face of resistance from Greek screening forces in the rugged terrain of the Epirus Mountains along the Albanian border. Many Italians die in frontal assaults on well dug-in Greek positions. With the agreement of the Greek government, British forces land on the islands of Lemnos and Crete in the Aegean Sea, as a defensive move to prevent their occupation by an Italian amphibious landing. Greek destroyers Spetsai and Psara depart the Gulf of Patras and use their 120mm guns to bombard Italian troops on the Ionian coast of Albania and Northern Greece. Greek naval activity and the presence of the British Royal Navy persuade the Italian Navy to abandon plans for landing on Corfu.

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