Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 367 September 1, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 54. Luftwaffe again targets RAF airfields, using the same tactics but on a reduced scale compared to the last 2 days. RAF ignores probing flights of Messerschmitts only in the morning. 3 large raids come across the Channel at 11 AM, 1.30 PM and 5.30. As usual they split up. Airfields at Hawkinge, Lympne, Kenley, Detling & Sherburn and docks in the East End of London are attacked. Biggin Hill is bombed again, in the middle of funerals for those killed in the last 2 days. Luftwaffe loses 17 fighters but the fighter screen is so dense that only 8 bombers are shot down. RAF loses 15 fighters (6 pilots killed). There is less bombing than previous nights, with attacks in Kent, Bristol Channel and South Wales plus Tyne and Tees in the Northeast of England. Oil tanks at Llandarcy, South Wales are bombed and set afire. http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0032.html

Just after midnight, U-101 sinks Greek SS Efploia, 100 miles Northwest of Ireland. The entire crew abandons ship in two lifeboats and are picked up by destroyer HMS Anthony. At 5.25 PM, U-32 hits British cruiser HMS Fiji with the last torpedo (5 killed) 200 miles West of Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Fiji is badly damaged but returns to the Clyde under her own power escorted by 4 destroyers (out of service until February 1941). Fiji's place in the expedition to Dakar (Operation Menace) will be taken by Australian cruiser HMAS Australia. http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/507.html

Cruisers HMS Orion & HMAS Sydney and destroyers HMS Decoy & Ilex shell the Italian Dodecanese islands of Scarpanto (now Karpathos) and Stampalia (now Astypalea) in the Southern Aegean Sea. HMS Ilex rams and sinks Italian motor torpedo boat MAS537.

British submarine HMS Tigris sinks the small French fishing vessel Sancte Michael with the deck gun near Brest, France. Submarine HMS Sunfish, leaving Grangemouth at 11.30 PM, collides with patrol launch Mesme which sinks (all 3 crew lost).

British minesweeping trawler HMT Royalo sinks on a mine off Penzance, Cornwall, England (7 killed).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 366 August 31, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 53. By heroic effort overnight, Biggin Hill is made operational. From 11 AM to 7 PM, Luftwaffe makes concentrated attacks on RAF airfields, repeating yesterday’s exercise of flying large formations up the Thames Estuary which then split up to target multiple airfields. Radar stations on the South coast are also hit. Yesterday’s hero Tom Gleave of 253 Squadron is shot down but survives with terrible burns. RAF loses 41 fighters & 9 pilots. RAF still has 613 Spitfires and Hurricanes but pilots are exhausted and many airfields are out of action or badly damaged, combining to limit severely operational effectiveness. Germans lose 56 fighters, 29 bombers. Their pilots too are disillusioned & exhausted. Overnight, Liverpool is heavily bombed for the fourth night and other cities in the Midlands are also targeted. http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/phase2ofthebattle.cfm

5 British destroyers leave England to lay mines off Texel Island on the Dutch coast. They are suddenly ordered to intercept German ships but blunder into a new German minefield. HMS Express hits a mine and is badly damaged (56 killed). HMS Esk goes to assist, hits a mine and sinks immediately (135 killed, 25 crew swim ashore and are taken prisoner). HMS Ivanhoe also goes to assist, hits a mine and is badly damaged (8 killed, 3 wounded, 23 taken prisoner). Ivanhoe will be scuttled the following day by HMS Kelvin. After this, most minelaying off the Dutch and German coast will be carried out by RAF aircraft.

Despite the threat of invasion by Germany, Free French troops under General De Gaulle and 8,000 British troops leave England escorted by British cruisers HMS Devonshire and Fiji plus 5 destroyers, for forward base in Freetown in Sierra Leone. They will be joined by more British warships including aircraft carriers from Gibraltar. Their final destination is the port of Dakar in French West Africa which is under Vichy French control. De Gaulle intends to land his Free French troops unopposed (but supported in force, if necessary, by British sea, air and land forces) to secure the colony for the Free French. Britain wants to prevent Germany basing U-boats there to threaten trade routes around the Cape of Good Hope. They also have an eye on ultramodern French battleship Richelieu which, although damaged by British attacks on July 7 and 8, could be repaired and brought into the Royal Navy.

100 miles North of Ireland, U-boats torpedo 3 ships from convoy OB-205. At midnight, Dutch passenger steamer Volendam (carrying 273 crew and 606 passengers, including many British children being evacuated to Canada) is hit by 2 torpedoes from U-60. She does not sink and everyone escapes to safety in the lifeboats, except 1 crewman who falls overboard. Volendam will be repaired, although an unexploded torpedo is found onboard, and returned to service as a troopship in July 1941. At 2.06 AM, U-59 sinks British SS Bibury (all 38 crew and 1 gunner killed). At 6.15 AM, U-38 sinks British SS Har Zion (33 lives lost). 1 survivor, Seaman Osman Adem, is picked up the next day by Polish destroyer ORP Blyskawica. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/505.html

At 4 PM, U-46 sinks Belgian passenger steamer Ville de Hasselt 100 miles Northwest of Ireland. All 53 crew abandon ship in 4 lifeboats and are picked up by trawlers on 2 September.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 365 August 30, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 52. Fine weather allows sustained and concerted attacks on RAF airfields (Luftwaffe flies 1,310 sorties). Between 10.30 AM and 6 PM, almost all airfields in Southeast England are bombed and there are continuous dogfights. 6 radar stations are down for 3 hours when a power line is hit. Biggin Hill is bombed twice and put out of action (39 killed, 35 wounded). Squadron Leader Tom Gleave of 253 Squadron downs 4 Bf109s in 1 dogfight. AVM Park’s Group 11 is badly let down when fighters from Group 12 (commanded by his rival AVM Leigh-Mallory) do not arrive to cover the airfields. RAF loses 39 fighters, 8 pilots. Germans lose 33 fighters, 30 bombers. Overnight, Liverpool is heavily bombed for the third night, as well as London, Portsmouth, Manchester, Worcester, Bristol and the Vauxhall Motor Works at Luton (where 50 are killed). RAF Bomber Command again bombs Berlin as well as oil refineries near Rotterdam (4 RAF bombers lost). http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0031.html

In 30 minutes from 2.20 to 2.48 AM, U-32 sinks 3 ships in convoy HX-66A 4 miles off Isle of Lewis, Scotland. British SS Mill Hill sinks with all 34 hands lost. British SS Chelsea sinks with 24 dead (11 crew taken off by armed trawler HMS Lord Cecil and landed in Scotland). Norwegian MV Norne sinks with 17 dead (11 survivors rescued from the water by corvette HMS Hibiscus and landed in Scotland next day). In 20 minutes from 9.34 to 9.53 AM, U-59 hits 2 ships in convoy OB-205 70 miles Northwest of Ireland. British tanker Anadara does not sink and is towed to the Clyde by tug HMS Schelde (no casualties). Anadara will be repaired and back in service in May 1941. Greek SS San Gabriel also does not sink (2 killed, 22 survivors abandon ship and are picked up by destroyer HMS Warwick) but is later declared a total loss and beached. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/1377.html

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 364 August 29, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 51. Low clouds and rain give way to sunny intervals in the afternoon. German reconnaissance flights are mostly left alone by RAF. However, Luftwaffe tries a new tactic at 3 PM and 7.15 PM, sending large groups of fighters across the English Channel with no bombers. RAF initially goes up to intercept but No. 11 Group commander Air Vice Marshal Keith Park sees the German ruse. He withdraws RAF planes to avoid being drawn into a battle of attrition between fighters. Both sides lose 9 fighters. Luftwaffe again bombs major industrial and shipping centers (Portsmouth, Tyneside, Hartlepool, Swansea, Manchester and Liverpool). Decoy fires are lit in the countryside ('Starfish' sites), fooling German bombers into dropping their bombs away from the cities (as shown by German air photos).

In 4 hours, U-100 hits 5 steamers in Convoy OA-204, 150 miles Northwest of Ireland. At 00.23, U-100 damages British SS Hartismere and sinks British SS Dalblair (4 killed, 19 crew and 1 gunner picked up by Swedish SS Alida Gorthon, 17 crew picked up by corvette HMS Clematis and landed at Londonderry, Ireland). At 1.40 AM, British SS Astra II is sunk (4 crew and 1 gunner lost, 20 crew picked up by the British minesweeper HMS Gleaner). At 3.36 AM, Swedish SS Alida Gorthon is sunk (11 crew and all 20 survivors from Dalblair killed, 13 survivors). At 4.27 AM, British SS Empire Moose is sunk (all 36 crew are rescued).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 363 August 28, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 50. With fine weather, Germans mount 4 raids of 60-100 aircraft bombing RAF airfields in Southern England, from 8.30 AM to 7 PM. Most are turned back by RAF fighters and little damage is done to airfields. Germans lose 19 Bf109 fighters, 8 bombers and a WWI-era Gotha biplane bomber which crash lands on Lewes racecourse. RAF loses 20 fighters, including 3 Defiants of 264 Squadron which are still easy prey for Bf109s. Overnight, there is the first concerted heavy bombing of industrial centers in the Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Sheffield, Manchester and South Yorkshire).

At 4.25 AM 200 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-101 hits Finnish steamer Elle with 1 torpedo (2 killed). 27 crew are picked up by sloop HMS Leith and landed at Greenock, Scotland, on August 30. HMS Leith scuttles Elle with 2 shells. At 9 PM, U-28 sinks British steamer Kyno in the same area (4 lives lost). 33 crew are picked up by British MV Queen Maud. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/491.html

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 362 August 27, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 49. Clouds and heavy rain restrict Luftwaffe to reconnaissance flights during the day. 4 German bombers on reconnaissance missions are shot down (1 by anti-aircraft guns). RAF loses 1 Blenheim which crashes into the sea off Norway and 1 Hurricane which crashes into the sea on patrol over the English Channel. Overnight, there is widespread bombing of industrial targets and RAF airfields.

At 4.03 PM, U-28 Norwegian steamer Eva 200 miles Northwest of Ireland (1 killed). The crew escapes in the lifeboats and make land in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, 3 days later. At 10 PM, U-46 hits British armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunvegan Castle with 3 torpedoes 75 miles Northwest of Ireland (27 killed). 250 crew are picked up by destroyer HMS Harvester & corvette HMS Primrose and landed in Scotland. Dunvegan Castle sinks the next day. At 10.31 PM 300 miles West of Ireland, U-37 sinks Greek steamer Theodoros T. (carrying maize from Argentina to Britain).

Off Madagascar, German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin stops British tanker British Commander at 4.18 AM and, shortly afterward, stops Norwegian steamer Morviken. Pinguin sinks both ships (both are in ballast with no cargo on board) and takes the crews prisoner.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 361 August 26, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 48. Another day of fine weather and Luftwaffe sends 3 major raids. At noon, 150 aircraft come across the Straits of Dover from Calais. Spitfires of 616 Squadron at Kenley are late getting aloft and are decimated by Bf109’s, as are Defiants of 264 Squadron. Coastal towns in Kent and airfields at Biggin Hill and Kenley are bombed. At 3 PM, another 170 aircraft fly up the Thames estuary. Most are turned back but 6 Do17s bomb RAF Debden, doing considerable damage. A raid 150 aircraft coming across the English Channel at 4 PM is turned back by RAF fighters and low cloud. It is a bad day for both sides. RAF loses 28 fighters. Germans lose 22 bombers and 24 fighters. In contrast, only 6 British airmen killed or missing while most German aircrews are killed or crash on British soil and are taken prisoner.

Italian submarine Dandolo sinks British steamer Ilvington Court (8 lives lost). 2 British steamers are attacked by German torpedo bombers (4 He-115s & 8 Ju-88’s), 10 miles East of Kinnaird Head, Scotland, having detached from convoy HX-65 and heading for London. Passenger and frozen food ship Remuera is hit by aerial torpedoes and sinks while Cape York is badly damaged and will sink the next day. Crews from both ships are safely rescued.

At 5.48 PM off Madagascar, the Arado seaplane from German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin fires on Norwegian tanker Filefjell (carrying 10,000 tons of petrol and 500 tons of oil from the Persian Gulf to Capetown). Pinguin pulls alongside and sends a prize crew aboard while Filejell’s crew is taken prisoner.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 360 August 25, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 47. Mist in the morning gives way to a clear, warm day but there is little German activity. At 5 PM, German raids approach the South coast. RAF airfield at Warmwell is damaged and Dover is also bombed. Czech pilot Count Manfred Czernin, flying for RAF in a Hurricane of 17 Squadron, shoots down 3 Bf110s in 1 minute. Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs South Wales, Bristol, Birmingham and other cities in the Midlands. German losses are 38 Messerschmitt fighters and 8 bombers shot down plus 6 aircraft downed by anti-aircraft fire. RAF loses 16 fighters and 2 Blenheim bombers (13 aircrew are killed and Sgt. P.T.Wareing is taken prisoner after crashing near Calais). Overnight, 81 Handley Page Hampden bombers of British Bomber Command attack Berlin in reprisal for yesterday’s bombing of London, shocking Göring who has claimed this is impossible. http://www.rafbombercommand.com/timeline/logbook2_v3.html

At 1.46 AM, U-37 sinks British steamer Blairmore in mid-Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland (5 crew killed). 29 crew and 7 survivors from British sloop HMS Penzance (sunk by U-37 the previous day) are picked up by Swedish MV Eknaren and landed at Baltimore, USA. U-37 also sinks British steamer Yewcrest just before midnight. At 8 PM, U-100 sinks British banana boat Jamaica Pioneer, West of Ireland (2 dead).

Convoy HX-65 from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool suffers continuous U-boat attacks. At 2.45 AM, U-48 sinks steamer Empire Merlin (6830 tons of sulphur, 35 killed, 1 survivor picked up by corvette HMS Godetia) and tanker Athelcrest (carrying oil from Aruba, 30 dead, 6 rescued by HMS Godetia) 90 miles North of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. At 7.48 PM, U-57 sinks tanker Pecten (9546 tons of Admiralty fuel oil, 49 crew killed, 8 survivors landed at Belfast) 75 miles North of Ireland. Between 11.50 and 11.56 PM, U-124 fires 4 torpedoes at the convoy 23 miles North of the Outer Hebrides, sinking British steamers Harpalyce (8000 tons of steel, 37 crew and 5 naval staff killed) and Fircrest (7900 tons of iron ore, all 39 crew lost) and damaging Stakesby which is towed on fire and beached at Stornaway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 359 August 24, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 46. Fine weather brings the return of sustained Luftwaffe activity. All day, raids cross the coast of Kent bombing RAF airfields at Hornchurch, North Weald and Manston (now so badly damaged it cannot be used). Luftwaffe loses 22 fighters and 18 bombers while RAF loses 20 fighters. At 4 PM, 50 German aircraft bomb Portsmouth (100 civilians killed, 300 wounded). British destroyers HMS Acheron (2 killed, 3 wounded) and HMS Bulldog (the captain Commander Wisden is hit by splinters, dying August 29) are damaged in Portsmouth Harbour. Bulldog will be repaired by September 2 but Acheron is out of commission until December 2. Overnight, there is widespread bombing of British cities. Notably, Germans bombers hit parts of North, East and West London, suggesting a deliberate attack rather than a couple of bombers straying off target. http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/document-37.html

Just after midnight 2 miles off the North coast of Ireland, U-57 attacks convoy OB-202, sinking British steamers Saint Dunstan (14 dead) and Cumberland (4 dead) and damaging Havildar. At 2.14 PM, U-48 sinks British tanker La Brea (9410 tons of fuel oil) 130 miles West of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland (2 killed). 31 crew escape in lifeboats to the Outer Hebrides.

At 3.14 AM, U-37 sinks British steamer Brookwood in mid-Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland. (1 killed, 35 crew and 1 gunner picked up after 5 days adrift by British merchant Clan Macbean and landed at Freetown, Sierra Leone). At 8.38 PM, U-37 sinks British sloop HMS Penzance escorting convoy SC-1 (90 lives lost, 7 survivors rescued by British steamer Blairmore).

In the Indian Ocean 900 miles East of Madagascar, German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis sinks British steamer King City carrying 7300 tons of coal and coke to Singapore from Cardiff (6 killed). Atlantis picks up the survivors out of the water in very rough seas.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 358 August 23, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 45. Another very quiet day. Following yesterday’s gale, cloudy weather and showers prevent large German raids. British aircrews rest and recuperate, while airfields are repaired. German reconnaissance missions are flown over the Channel and single aircraft attack South coast towns in Devon and Hampshire and towns in the Midlands. Off the East coast of Scotland, Heinkel He115 torpedo bombers sink 2 merchant ships and damage another. Again, there is widespread bombing of British towns overnight. 3 German bombers are shot down (1 by antiaircraft fire) but the RAF loses no fighters. Notably, since the big raid of 15 August, RAF has added 85 fighters (20 Spitfires and 65 Hurricanes).

At 3.17 AM, British destroyer HMS Hostile hits a mine which breaks her back 18 miles off Cape Bon, Tunisia (5 killed, 3 wounded). The survivors are taken off by destroyers HMS Hero & Mohawk and landed at Malta. Hostile is sunk by torpedoes from HMS Hero. http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-10DD-27H-Hostile.htm

Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney, Australian destroyer HMAS Stuart and British destroyers HMS Diamond, Ilex & Juno shell the Italian seaplane base at Bomba, Libya.

U-37 torpedoes 2 steamers in the Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland; at 2.22 AM, Norwegian SS Keret (13 killed, 7 survivors in a lifeboat and a raft are picked up next day by British steamer Trident and taken to Sydney, Nova Scotia) and at 12.50 PM, British SS Severn Leigh (crew abandons ship in 4 lifeboats. U-37 shells Severn Leigh to silence her radio sinking 2 lifeboats, killing 32 crew and 1 gunner. 10 survivors safely reach Outer Hebrides, Scotland, on 5 September). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/473.html

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 357 August 22, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 44. At 3.30 AM, first bombing of London (specifically Harrow, marginally within the London Civil Defence Area). Gale force winds and heavy rain again preclude large raids. At 9 AM, German artillery at Cape Gris Nez, France shells convoy "Totem" in the Straits of Dover for 80 minutes (no ships are hit). At 1 PM, Junkers Ju88s and Bf109s attack the convoy and are engaged by Spitfires of 54 Squadron and Hurricanes of 610 Squadron (shot down; 1 Ju88, 1 Spitfire, 1 Hurricane by friendly fire). At 6.30 PM, 30 German aircraft bomb coastal towns in Kent. In the evening, there is an artillery duel across the Straits of Dover between the German battery at Cape Gris Nez and a British 14-inch naval gun (named Winnie after Prime Minister Churchill, who has personally insisted that artillery be placed there to counter the German threat). Overnight, there is bombing of Aberdeen, Bristol, Pontefract, Bradford and Hull. In total, 6 German aircraft and 5 RAF fighters are lost. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-Channel_guns_in_the_Second_World_War

Fairey Swordfish of 812 Squadron from HMS Peregrine (Royal Navy air station at Ford, Sussex) bomb German invasion barges at Daedereide on the Dutch coast. 1 Swordfish is shot down and 2 aircrew are taken prisoner.

3 Swordfish of 824 Squadron from aircraft carrier HMS Eagle sink Italian submarine Iride (killing most of the 45 crew) and depot ship Monte Gargano in the Gulf of Bomba, Libya. Italian torpedo boat Calypso is also damaged. This prevents a planned attack on Alexandria by Iride using manned “human torpedoes”.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 356 August 21, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 43. Clouds, wind and rain prevent large raids but Luftwaffe continues the tactics of small raids (1-2 aircraft) flying at most 20 miles inland. RAF airfields on the South and Southeast of England are bombed with little damage (2 RAF personnel killed, 40 wounded). Some coastal towns are also bombed (4 civilians killed, 178 wounded) and many merchant ships are sunk or damaged. 13 German bombers are destroyed and 1 RAF Hurricane is shot down.

In the mid-Atlantic 1000 miles off the West coast of Africa, German armed merchant cruiser Widder sinks British collier Anglo Saxon and machineguns the lifeboats (34 crew killed, 7 men escape in one lifeboat). After drifting 2500 miles in 71 days, only 2 survivors make land at Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. Widder’s Captain Ruckteschell will be convicted as a War Criminal for this attack in May 1947 (dying in jail in 1948), following the testimony of survivor Able Seaman Robert Tapscott. http://www.amazon.com/All-Brave-Sailors-Sinking-Anglo-Saxon/dp/0743238370
The Anglo Saxon’s Jolly Boat which carried the survivors 2500 miles is preserved at the Mystic Seaport Museum http://www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/7/anglosaxon/attack.htm

Italian submarine Dandolo damages Dutch tanker Hermes, 200 miles West of Lisbon, Portugal.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 355 August 20, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 42. Clouds and rain again restrict the morning to reconnaissance flights, although the English Channel is clear and convoys are attacked. At 2.45 PM, 190 German aircraft fly up the Thames Estuary and circle back without dropping any bombs. They are intercepted and 5 shot down. In the afternoon, Marston airfield is again bombed & strafed and 1 Spitfire is shot down. The still-burning oil tanks at Llanreath near Pembroke Dock, South Wales, are bombed again. In total, 7 German aircraft and 3 RAF fighters are lost. Churchill makes a speech in the House of Commons in praise of the RAF fighter pilots. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." He also announces leasing of bases in Newfoundland and the West Indies to USA. He does not mention that this is in exchange for old US Navy destroyers to be loaned to Britain to defend against the anticipated German invasion. http://www.fiftiesweb.com/usa/winston-churchill-so-few.htm

At 00.27, 400 miles West of Ireland, UA sinks Panamanian collier Tuira (2 killed).At 9.50 PM, U-46 torpedoes Greek steamer Leonidas M. Valmas 50 miles Northwest of Ireland. The ship does not sink due to its cargo of wood but 16 crew die in the fire. 2 survivors are rescued by British destroyer HMS Arrow and landed in the Clyde, Scotland on August 27.

British submarine HMS Cachalot torpedoes U-51 in the Bay of Biscay 100 miles West of St. Nazaire, France. U-51 sinks with all 43 hands lost.

350 miles East of New Plymouth, New Zealand, German armed merchant cruiser Orion chases British steamer Turakina (carrying 4000 tons of lead, 1500 tons of grain, 7000 tons of wool) and sinks her with prolonged shellfire. 38 crew are killed. Risking attack from the New Zealand Navy (which has been alerted by radio signals from Turakina), Orion spends 5 hours rescuing 21 survivors from the sea. They will be released 2000 miles North on Emirau Island, near Papua New Guinea, on 21 December. http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/orion.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 354 August 19, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 41. As Ju87 Stuka divebombers are susceptible to fighter attack as they pull out of their dive, Göring withdraws the Stukas from bombing British airfields reserving them instead for attacks on shipping convoys in the English Channel. Clouds and rain restrict the morning to reconnaissance flights. As the weather clears in the afternoon, Luftwaffe tries radically different tactics. Single aircraft (mainly Junkers Ju88 twin engine bombers) attack targets along the South coast of England and Wales. Oil storage tanks at Llanreath near Pembroke Dock, South Wales, are bombed. These lone bomber attacks continue overnight, targeting the East coast and Midlands of England. 1 Messerschmitt Bf109 and 4 Ju88’s are shot down. 1 Spitfire is shot down and 1 Blenheim is does not return from reconnaissance over Southern Norway.

U-boats sink 3 steamers off Ireland. Just after midnight, U-48 sinks Belgian passenger ship Ville de Gand (15 killed, 38 survivors). At 1.54 AM, U-101 sinks British SS Ampleforth (9 killed, 29 crew picked up by British destroyer HMS Warwick and landed at Liverpool). At 10 AM, UA sinks SS Hungarian Kelet (6 killed, all of them survivors from Clan Macphee sunk by U-30 on 16 August). 33 crew and 35 other Clan Macphee survivors are picked up by Norwegian merchant Varegg and landed at Galway on 26 August. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/469.html

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 353 August 18, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 40. Haze in the morning gives way to good flying weather. At noon, Germans launch staged attacks against key RAF Fighter Command airfields at Kenley and Biggin Hill. However, the plan is too complicated and Luftwaffe formations do not arrive over the target on schedule. Kenley is subjected to devastating bombing, but Hurricanes of 111 Squadron wreak havoc on the bombers which have got ahead of their escorts. Hurricanes of 32 and Spitfires of 610 Squadron break up the attack on Biggin Hill and most bombs miss their target. RAF loses 22 fighters but claims 140 German planes shot down (although this seems unlikely). http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0028.html

British Somaliland, East Africa. Overnight, troopships Chakdina, Chantala, Laomedon & Akbar and hospital ship Vita leave Berbera carrying British troops across the Gulf of Aden to Aden. In total 7,000 people, including civilians are evacuated. Australian cruiser HMAS Hobart remains to collect stragglers and destroy vehicles, fuel and stores. Somalis of the Somaliland Camel Corps choose to remain instead of evacuating and are allowed to keep their weapons.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 352 August 17, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 39. Despite perfect flying weather with little wind and cloudless skies, there are only a few German reconnaissance flights. RAF takes the opportunity to rest pilots and make repairs to aircraft, airstrips and radar stations damaged in the recent bombing. 1 German aircraft is shot down by anti-aircraft fire at Southampton. Overnight, there is bombing of the East coast and cities in the Midlands (Coventry, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Chester) and one small bombing raid on London. Another German aircraft is shot down by a Blenheim. RAF bombs the armament works at Leuna, near Leipzig, Germany. No RAF aircraft are lost.

British Somaliland, East Africa. British troops are evacuated from Berbera. Italian forces are ordered not to attack during the withdrawal, hoping for a future peace settlement with Britain. British cruiser HMS Ceres, covering the evacuation, shells an Italian column advancing along the coast 40 miles West of Berbera at Bulhar. British casualties in the defense of Somaliland are 38 killed, 102 wounded and 120 captured (in contrast, Italians have 465 killed, 1530 wounded). Churchill believes Somaliland has been given up without a fight. Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Wavell, replies that "A bloody butcher’s bill is not the sign of a good tactician", driving Churchill into a rage. Amazingly, both Wavell and Major-General Godwin-Austen (responsible for defending British Somaliland) are not removed from command.

North Africa. Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet sails from Alexandria, Egypt, to bombard the Libyan port of Bardia. At 7 AM, battleships HMS Warspite, Malaya & Ramillies and cruiser HMS Kent, supported by 12 destroyers, shell Bardia and Italian troop concentrations 12 miles South at Fort Capuzzo. Light Italian coastal batteries do not have the range to reach the British warships.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 351 August 16, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 38. Despite fine clear weather, it is a quiet day. Smallish raids attack Thames estuary and Kent in Southwest England at noon and again at 4.30 PM. Many airfields are bombed, yielding many dogfights. Stukas divebomb Tangmere Aerodrome, destroying Hurricanes and Blenheims in the hangars. In one, Pilot Officer W. M. "Billy" Fiske is badly burned. (Billy will die the next day of his wounds; the only American killed during the Battle of Britain. American Ambassador John Winnat will unveil a memorial plaque to Fiske in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral London on July 4, 1941). Stukas also bomb Ventnor radar station, again putting it out of action. Despite being badly wounded and with his Hurricane on fire, Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson shoots down a Bf109 before bailing out. (Nicolson will win the only VC awarded to a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain). RAF losses are 22 fighters while Luftwaffe loses 72 aircraft. http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0027.html

East Africa. Italian troops move cautiously from Tug Argan and do not attack the British rearguard at Barkasan. British troops, arriving back at Berbera, start embarking onto Royal Navy ships, using an all-tide jetty constructed the Navy.

British submarine Osiris sinks Italian steamer Morea 50 miles West of Durrës, Albania.

U-boats start operating in wolfpacks against convoys. 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, convoy OB-197 is attacked by U-30, U-46 and U-48. Swedish steamer Hedrun (3000 tons of coal, 8 killed, 20 rescued) & British steamer Clan Macphee (6700 tons of general cargo, 67 killed, 41 survivors rescued by Hungarian steamer Kelet) are sunk and Dutch MV Alcinous is hit but does not sink (towed to Gourock, Scotland). Additionally, U-100 sinks British MV Empire Merchant (heading to Jamaica with cargo and mail) 150 miles Northwest of Ireland (7 killed, 48 picked up by rescue tug HMS Salvonia and landed at Greenock). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/466.html

Sunderlands of 210 Squadron attack U-51 with depth charges, 170 miles northwest of Ireland. Despite being blown out of the water by one explosion, producing oil and air bubbles, U-51 survived the attack. This was the first successful depth charge attack by a Coastal Command aircraft.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 350 August 15, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 37. Fine weather yields the first day of really big raids on British airfields. German bombers and fighters from Norway and Denmark cross the North Sea to bomb RAF airfields in the North of Britain. At noon, they are met by RAF fighters. Simultaneously, a huge formation of 1100 Luftwaffe aircraft cross the Dover Straits, then splits up heading for various airfields. RAF squadrons scramble, giving rise to dogfights over Kent and the English Channel. Numerous airfields have damage to planes, hangers and runways. Radar stations at Rye, Dover and at Foreness are also knocked out. At 6.50 PM, Messerschmitt Bf110s bomb South London airfield at Croydon by mistake. Many Bf110’s are shot down by RAF fighters, crashing in this suburb of London (60 civilians killed, 120 wounded). Despite taking a heavy toll on RAF installations, Luftwaffe loses 161 aircraft (mostly bombers) while RAF losses are 34 fighters and only 18 pilots killed. http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0026.html http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/august15.html

British Somaliland. Italians again attack British defenses at Tug Argan and take another hill. Overnight, British forces withdraw towards Berbera. The Black Watch Royal Highlanders along with African and Indian troops hold a rearguard position 10 miles back at Barkasan on the Berbera road.

Greece is neutral, although leaning towards supporting the British. In an act of intimidation on the feast day of Assumption of Mary, Italy attacks the Greek Navy near the tiny Aegean islands of Tinos and Syros. Italian airforce bombs Greek destroyers Vasilissa Olga and Vasilevs Georgios I escorting merchant ships. Italian submarine Delfino sinks WWI-era Greek cruiser Helle at anchor. http://www.sommergibili.com/delfinoe.htm

Kriegsmarine orders the construction of 86 new U-boats. At 8 PM, UA sinks Greek steamer Aspasia (carrying Manganese ore) with 2 torpedoes, 700 miles West of Gibraltar. All 19 crew are killed in the explosion and subsequent fire. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/461.html
U-51 sinks British tanker Sylvafield (7860 tons of fuel oil) 190 miles Northwest of Rockall, Ireland (3 crew killed). 20 survivors are picked up by Belgian trawler Rubens and 16 more by British minesweeping trawler HMS Newland.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 349 August 14, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 36. Cloudy weather again frustrates German attempts to send big raids against the British airfields. At noon, 300 aircraft fly over the Dover Straits and attack Dover & Folkestone in Kent. Simultaneously, Manston airfield in Kent is bombed for the second day running. 65 squadron is engaged over Dover, so Manston is undefended apart from 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns which shoot down 2 Messerschmitt Bf110’s. At 3.45 PM, RAF Middle Wallop in Hampshire is bombed by Stukas and Heinkels (3 airmen and 1 civilian killed). German bombing damages British sloop HMS Kingfisher and tug Carbon in Portland Harbour. Germans lose 30 aircraft while RAF loses 3 Spitfires and 5 Hurricanes.

British Somaliland. British hold off Italian attacks at Tug Argan but the defenses are crumbling. Major-General Godwin-Austen requests permission from General Wavell (Commander-in-Chief Middle East) to withdraw from British Somaliland.

3 British motor torpedo boats and destroyers HMS Malcolm and Verity engage 3 German motor torpedo boats (Schnellboot) escorting a convoy of 6 trawlers off Texel Island, Holland (1 Schnellboot and 1 trawler are sunk).

At 8.34 PM, 15 miles North of Ireland, U-59 sinks British steamer Betty carrying 2726 tons of rice from China to Liverpool (30 crew killed). 4 survivors are picked up by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Man o´ War and landed at Belfast.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 348 August 13, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 35. Believing they have crippled British radar warning systems, Luftwaffe launches Adlertag (Eagle Day) to mark the start of large bomber raids against RAF airfields. The objective is to clear the sky over Southern England within 4 days. Despite cloudy weather, there are heavy raids along the South coast of England. As the weather clears through the afternoon, Luftwaffe launches a massive attack of 300 aircraft at 3 PM to bomb RAF airfields, including Detling in Kent where 68 men are killed by a direct hit on the mess hall. However, Eagle Day goes badly for Germany as many bomber raids are beyond the range of their fighter support. Germans lose 40 bombers & 36 fighters, while RAF losses are 2 Spitfires & 11 Hurricanes (remarkably, only 3 pilots are killed). At 7.50 PM, a Spitfire crashes during night flying practice (pilot is killed baling out). Minesweeping trawler HMT Elizabeth Angela is sunk by German bombing off Dover (1 killed). http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0025.html http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/august13.html

Royal Navy contributes to the defense of British Somaliland. British cruiser HMS Carlisle shoots down an Italian aircraft attacking Berbera. 40 miles West of Berbera, destroyer HMS Kimberley and sloop HMS Auckland shell the port of El Sheikha, now in Italian hands. Italian troops again attack British defenses at Tug Argan but are held off.

At 9.47 PM, 10 miles North of Ireland, U-60 sinks Swedish steamer Nils Gorthon, carrying wood pulp (5 dead, 16 survivors). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/459.html

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 347 August 12, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 34. With fine weather, Germans try out their new tactics. Numerous coastal radar installations are bombed but most are repaired and operational by the end of the day, although Ventnor (Isle of Wight) is badly damaged and will be out of action for 2 weeks. Luftwaffe mounts heavy raids on British airfields in Kent (Manston, Lympne & Hawkinge). Portsmouth is also bombed, leaving 100 civilians dead. To test the effects of knocking out radar, Germans also attack convoys in the English Channel and Thames Estuary, sinking minesweeping trawlers HMT Pyrope (6 killed) and HMT Tamarisk (7 killed). Despite damage to radar and runways, RAF responds to most attacks and shoots down 55 German aircraft (for the loss of 6 Spitfires & 9 Hurricanes). Lutfwaffe loses 7 more bombers to anti-aircraft fire. http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0024.html http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/august12.html

British Somaliland. Italians again attack British defenses at Tug Argan. They take another hill, defended by Northern Rhodesian Regiment, and capture 2 British 3.7 inch howitzers (from a total of 4 available). Italians control the South side of the Hargeisa-Berbera road.

In the Atlantic, near the Azores, Italian submarine Malaspina sinks British tanker British Fame with 5 torpedoes. 3 crew are killed but Malaspina risks staying on the surface for a day to tow survivors in lifeboats to safety.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 346 August 11, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 33. Although the weather is fine, Luftwaffe does not start its offensive against RAF airfields, instead mounting a carefully prepared feint. Starting at 7.30 AM, Messerschmitt Bf110’s and Bf109’s bomb and strafe Dover Harbour, as a prelude to a larger attack on Portland Naval base and Weymouth, aiming to draw up RAF fighters. Spitfires of 64 and 74 squadrons respond but most RAF units are rested and ready when a large formation of 56 Ju88 heavy bombers, 20 Heinkel He111s & 97 Bf110s is detected from Cherbourg at 9.45 AM. RAF loses 20 Hurricanes and 5 Spitfires. Luftwaffe loses 27 bombers and 10 Messerschmitt fighters.

German bombing damages 4 British destroyers (HMS Windsor in the Thames Estuary, under repairs until the end of October; HMS Esk at Harwich, repaired in 1 week; HMS Scimitar in Portland Harbour, repaired in 4 days; HMS Skate in Portland Harbour, bridge destroyed but no immediate repairs necessary).

Major-General Reade Godwin-Austen arrives in the capital city of Berbera, to command the defense of British Somaliland. British have maintained prepared defenses at Tug Argan on 6 hills overlooking the Hargeisa-Berbera road, knowing that this is the most likely route of attack. Italians attack 3 hills and capture one, defended by 3rd Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment.

General Wavell (Commander-in-Chief Middle East) is in London to discuss the defense of British colonies in Africa and the Middle East. Seeing events in Somaliland and expecting an Italian attack on Egypt, Churchill’s War Cabinet makes a far-reaching decision to send tanks to defend the vital Suez Canal. Despite the ongoing threat of invasion, 150 tanks (about half the total in Britain) plus 48 anti-tank guns, 48 field guns and 20 Bofors anti-aircraft guns are ordered to Egypt.

At 3.19 PM, U-38 sinks British steamer Llanfair (7800 tons of sugar) 125 miles West of Ireland. 3 crew are killed and 30 survivors are picked up by the American merchant vessel California.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 345 August 10, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 32. Göring’s planned offensive against RAF airfields is cancelled due to the weather. Clouds, squalls and thunder storms again preclude much flying. Luftwaffe mounts reconnaissance patrols and sporadic attacks on isolated trawlers and merchant ships. Overnight, Germans drop mines at several points on the coast of Britain. No aircraft are lost by either side.

In mid-Atlantic, 300 miles Southwest of the Azores, German armed merchant cruiser Widder stops Finnish barque Killoran. The steel-hulled 3 mast sailing ship built in 1900 is carrying a British-owned cargo of 2500 tons of maize & 500 tons of sugar from Buenos Aires to Las Palmas. Although most of Widder’s crew is against sinking the old sailing ship, Widder’s surgeon wants a dramatic finale for the Nazi propaganda film of the voyage he is making. He persuades Captain Ruckteschell to blow up Killoran with all sails still set, after taking off Killoran’s 18 crew. http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConGalleryCollection.18/Gustaf-Erikson-and-his-ships.html

British troopship SS Neuralia leaves Gibraltar, escorted by destroyer HMS Gallant, with 2000 civilian evacuees bound for the Portuguese island of Madeira 600 miles West in the Atlantic. http://www.merchantnavyofficers.com/Troopships.html

Just off the North coast of Scotland, Dutch MV Albula and American steamer Crescent City collide in convoy OA-196. MV Albula sinks after the entire crew is taken off by British destroyer HMS Jaguar.

At 1.00 AM, 20 miles North of Ireland, British armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania is hit with U-56’s last torpedo but does not sink (36 lives lost). Destroyer HMS Ashanti and several trawlers rescue 300 survivors before Transylvania is taken in tow but later sinks. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/457.html

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 344 August 9, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 31. Göring believes Luftwaffe has control of the air having successfully attacked many convoys and excluded Royal Navy ships from the English Channel during daylight. Overestimates of downed RAF planes and underestimated Luftwaffe losses further convince him the RAF is almost beaten (in reality, RAF is stronger than a month ago, with losses [84 fighters] less that half the Luftwaffe’s [227 aircraft]). Göring orders new tactics to destroy RAF’s fighting capacity by attacking their airfields, control centers and radar. These tactics cannot be put into effect, however, as cloudy weather allows only reconnaissance patrols. 1 Heinkel He111 is shot down. At 4.45 PM, R.D. Ritchie of 605 Squadron crashes his Hurricane into the sea and dies off Dunbar, East coast of Scotland.

At 8.32 PM, 70 miles west of Ireland, U-30 sinks Swedish MV Canton carrying 7900 tons of iron, cloth and other cargo from India and South Africa to England (16 dead, 16 survivors). http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/456.html

Day 343 August 8, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 30. Germans launch continuous attacks on a large convoy (CW9 codenamed Peewit) of 25 merchant ships with Royal Navy escorts moving through the Straits of Dover and heading West to the Atlantic Ocean. Torpedo boats attack before dawn, sinking British steamers Ouse, Holme Force (6 dead) and Fife Coast (5 dead). 300 Stukas escorted by 150 Messerschmitts fight a running battle with RAF fighters as Peewit moves through the English Channel. Dutch steamer Ajax (4 dead) & British steamers Coquetdale and Empire Crusader (5 dead) are sunk. Luftwaffe loses 17 Stukas, 26 Bf109’s and 9 Bf110’s. RAF loses 13 Hurricanes, 4 Spitfires and a Blenheim. http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/august8.html

East Africa. General Archibald Wavell (British Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command), based in Cairo, finally sends regular British Army troops (2nd Battalion of the Black Watch, Royal Highlanders) to British Somaliland, realizing the desperate situation. It is too little, too late. Italians bomb Berbera.

At 1.14 AM, U-37 sinks British MV Upwey Grange (5380 tons of frozen beef from Argentina to Britain) 200 miles West of Ireland. The crew and passengers take to the lifeboats but 1 boats is never seen again (33 crew, 3 passengers lost). 42 crew and 8 passengers are picked up after three days by the British trawler Naniwa 50 miles from the coast, transferred to destroyer HMS Vanquisher and landed at Liverpool. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/455.html

Operation Tube. Another British submarine HMS Proteus reaches Malta from Gibraltar with spares for the newly-arrived Hurricanes.

German armed merchant cruiser Widder sinks Dutch collier Oostplein carrying 5,850 tons of coal from Britain to Buenos Aires (all 34 crew rescued by Widder).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 342 August 7, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 29. At 2.45 AM, D.S. Smith of 616 Squadron is killed when his Spitfire crashes during a night flying exercise. It is another fine day but very little Luftwaffe activity allows RAF to rest men and make repairs to aircraft & airstrips. 1 convoy is bombed. Overnight, there is bombing & minelaying all along the East coast of Britain & on the West from Land’s End to Liverpool.

East Africa. Indian troops from Aden (1st Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment) reinforce British forces in British Somaliland.

At 9.40 PM, 150 miles off Ireland, British troopship Mohamed Ali El Kebir, carrying 631 troops, 66 naval personnel & 165 crew from England to Gibraltar, is hit with 1 torpedo from U-38. Escort destroyer HMS Griffin depth charges U-38 for 2 hours while Mohamed Ali El Kebir sinks (10 crew members, 86 troops & naval personnel killed). HMS Griffin rescues 155 crew, 611 troops & naval personnel from various lifeboats, rafts and out of the water. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/454.html

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 341 August 6, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 28. Another quiet day, with wind and low clouds deterring much flying. At 6.30 AM, Hurricanes of 85 Squadron intercept and shoot down a Dornier Do17 bomber reconnoitering a shipping convoy East of Lowestoft, Suffolk. However, 1 British pilot, H.W.A Britton of 17 Squadron, is killed when his Hurricane crashes on takeoff and catches fire. In a prelude to the coming Phase 2 of the battle, a German aircraft bombs the RAF station at Llandow, South Wales.

British submarine HMS Sealion is rammed by German antisubmarine vessel UJ-123, running at periscope depth attacking a convoy 20 miles off the South coast of Norway. Sealion with return to the Tyne August 15, undergoing repairs until October 23.

Operation Tube. British submarine HMS Pandora reaches Malta from Gibraltar with ground equipment and spare parts for the Hurricanes delivered by aircraft carrier HMS Argus August 2 in Operation Hurry.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 340 August 5, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 27. Despite fine weather, it is another quiet day. Large Luftwaffe formations patrol the Dover Straits and attack convoys off the East and Southeast coast of England. RAF fighters go up to intercept (4 Messerschmitt Bf109s and 1 Spitfire are shot down). Several other raids approach the coast and convoys but turn back before engaging. There is little activity overnight, with some minelaying. The number of serviceable British fighters has increased by 55 in the last 2 days.

British Somaliland. Italians take the port of Zeila on the coast near the border with French Somaliland, effectively isolating the British colonial forces and advance on Berbera from the West. The main Italian force, going across the mountains towards Berbera, is held up at Hargeisa. Italian light tanks push back Somaliland Camel Corps and other unarmoured British units.

At 9.38 PM 20 miles North of Ireland, U-56 hits British steamer Boma carrying 10,000 tons of coal from Cardiff (3 crew lost). 48 crew and 2 gunners are picked up by Norwegian tanker Vilja, transferred to destroyer HMS and landed at Liverpool. Boma sinks next day. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/453.html

British steamer Cape St. George hits the wreck of steamer Rad (sunk by German submarine UA on August 3) and sinks. All 65 crew are rescued by British steamer Grodno (which already has the Rad’s crew on board) and landed at Freetown, Sierra Leone. British minesweeping trawler HMT River Clyde hits a mine and sinks off Aldeburgh, Suffolk, on the English East coast (12 crew killed, captain J. Grant wounded).

Securing Soviet grip on the Baltic States, Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic is incorporated into the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 339 August 4, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 26. Despite fine weather over England, there is almost no Luftwaffe activity with just a few reconnaissance missions and half-hearted raids on shipping. However, 1 British pilot, J.P.Walsh of 616 Squadron, is killed when his Spitfire spins out of control during combat practice. There is no bombing overnight due to widespread fog.

East Africa. To reach Berbera (the main port and capital of British Somaliland), 125 miles away from the Ethiopian border, Italians need to cross rugged mountains almost 1 mile high. The main thrust takes the most direct route on the main road via Hargeisa, through the Karrim Pass, its flank protected by a smaller column a few miles to the East. Further West, another column advances along the border with French Somaliland. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6c/Somaliland_Italian_invasion.png

At 9.20 PM, U-58 sinks Greek steamer Pindos (carrying 7590 tons of grain from Sierra Leone to Britain) 10 miles from the Irish coast, with 2 torpedoes (3 killed). 29 survivors reach County Donegal, Ireland, in the lifeboats. 300 miles Northwest of Ireland, U-52 sinks 3 British steamers in convoy HX-60 - SS Geraldine Mary (1 passenger and 2 crew killed, 4 passengers and 44 crew rescued and return to Britain), SS Gogovale (all 37 crew picked up by destroyer HMS Vanoc and landed at Liverpool), SS King Alfred (7 dead, 34 crew also picked up by HMS Vanoc). U-52 is then depth charged by Royal Navy escort vessels, causing significant damage. U-52 is able to sail to Kiel, Germany, for repairs and will be out of action until November 17. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/452.html

3 British minesweeping trawlers HMT Drummer (2 killed), Marsona (11 killed) and Oswaldian 12 lives lost, 7 survivors) are sunk on German mines laid at various points around the British coast. German antisubmarine trawler Perseus (UJ-175) hits a mine and sinks off Ameland Island on the Northwest coast of Holland.

A bad day for Norwegian merchant shipping. British submarine HMS Sealion sinks Norwegian steamer Torun 1 mile off the South coast of Norway. After dark, German armed merchant cruiser Widder stops empty Norwegian tanker Beaulieu with her guns (4 killed), in the middle of the North Atlantic 1700 miles East of Florida. 28 survivors take to the lifeboats and will be picked up by British tanker Cymbeline on August 13 and landed at Gibraltar. Widder is threatened by her own torpedo which becomes a circle runner and Beaulieu is finally sunk with scuttling charges. Widder’s Captain Helmuth Ruckteschell will be tried as a War Criminal in May 1947 and found guilty of other charges but acquitted of abandoning these survivors from Beaulieu.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 338 August 3, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 25. Typical British weather comes to the rescue. Widespread fog in the morning and heavy low cloud in the afternoon covers most of Southern England and the Midlands. There are a few German raids on shipping. Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Bradford, Liverpool, Crewe (Northern England) and the Firth of Forth Scotland.

At 8.10 AM North of Ireland, U-57 sinks Swedish steamer Atos (1 dead, 21 crew and 6 passengers picked up by Icelandic trawler Skutull). 1 passenger is a sailor from Swedish steamer Tilia Gorthon (sunk by U-38 on 20 June) being repatriated from Liverpool to Sweden.

At 7 PM 300 miles off the coast of Senegal, West Africa, UA stops Yugoslavian steamer Rad with gunfire and discovers she is carrying chemicals from USA to Durban, South Africa. The crew takes to the lifeboats and UA sinks Rad at 8.15 with a torpedo. All 29 crew are picked up by British steamer Grodno and landed at Freetown, Sierra Leone. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/448.html

British Somaliland on the East coast of Africa is surrounded by Italian colonies (Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia and Eritrea) and is a tempting target for Mussolini to win an early victory against the British. It is lightly held by about 4,000 colonial soldiers under Brigadier Arthur Reginald Chater, including the Somaliland Camel Corps, with little artillery and no tanks, armoured cars or anti-tank weapons. In the early hours, 25,000 Italian troops commanded by General Guglielmo Nasi (with armoured vehicles including some tanks, artillery and air support) attack British Somaliland from Ethiopia.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 337 August 2, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 24. Overnight, steamer Highlander in convoy FN.239 is attacked by 2 He115 torpedo bombers, 20 miles south of Aberdeen, Scotland. 1 He115 is shot down by escort sloop HMS Weston. The other clips Highlander’s mast while strafing her, crash landing onto Highlander’s poop deck. Clouds again restrict flying during the day. Germans bomb convoys in the English Channel and along the East coast, sinking anti-submarine trawler HMT Cape Finesterre off Harwich (1 sailor killed). 2 Spitfires crash on take off at Hornchurch and 1 Hurricane crashes on landing (1 pilot killed). http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0023.html

Overnight, British submarine HMS Thames hits a mine and sinks Southwest of Stavanger, Norway (all 62 crew lost). U-60 has another lucky escape, suffering no damage when bombed in error off Hagesund, Norway, by Stukas flying from Stavanger. U-99 torpedoes 3 empty tankers in convoy OB-191 (British MV Alexia and MV Lucerna, Norwegian MV Strinda). All 3 are damaged but none sink and no lives are lost. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/445.html

French military court sentences General Charles de Gaulle to death in absentia for leading the Free French movement in London.

Operation Hurry. At 4.45 AM, 12 Hurricanes launch from aircraft carrier HMS Argus Southwest of Sardinia and fly about 300 miles to Malta, forming new 261 Squadron. Admiral Somerville’s Force H returns safely to Gibraltar (arriving August 4) or to England (arriving August 10). Meanwhile, to prevent Italian air attacks on the carrier group, 8 Swordfish torpedo bombers from aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (escorted by battlecruiser HMS Hood, cruiser HMS Enterprise and 4 destroyers) attack an Italian airfield at Cagliari on the South coast of Sardinia, destroying several Italian aircraft and laying mines in the harbour.