Brest bombed again

The immensely strong U Boat bunkers at Brest, under construction in the autumn of 1941, provided secure protection for a long period. It would take some time for the RAF to develop 'bunker busting' bombs needed to deal with them.

The French port of Brest was the most frequently bombed city in Europe at this time, receiving regular attention from the RAF throughout 1941. The battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were prime targets as well as the U boat base. As a consequence it was also one of the most heavily defended towns in Europe, with a huge concentration of anti aircraft batteries.

The German battle cruisers at Brest were attacked on three nights by a total of 13 Stirlings and 16 Wellingtons, which released 78 tons of H.E. bombs, including thirty-five 2,000-lb. bombs. On the first two nights visibility was poor because of cloud and an effective smoke screen, but some aircraft were able to identify certain ground features and bomb the estimated positions of the ships. On the third night visibility was good and bursts were seen across the docks where the battle cruisers are berthed.

From the Air Situation Report for the week as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/19/25





A narrow escape over Hamburg

The Whitley bomber was the main aircraft of Bomber Command during the first years of the war but was now being gradually replaced by the Halifax and later the Lancaster.

Then found out that Frank was wounded in thigh, a flesh wound. The piece of flak that hit him from below stayed in plane and started a few fires but he put them out with his feet and gloved hands – damn good show put up by him. Plane a mass of holes all over and under! – and believe both engines hit to account for loss of power.




Moonlight run to Tobruk ends in disaster

HMS Latona, sunk off Tobruk on the 25th October was the same class of minelayer as HMS Welshman, pictured.

This was fine as long as it was dark, but then some crass idiot decided we should make the trip by moonlight. Crazy, we were spitting distance away from the German North African airbases. We were lucky they had not spotted us in the dark – it is never completely dark – but to try in moonlight… one wonders at the idiocy of man.




Kharkov falls

Street fighting in Kharkov , the city fell on the 24th Ocober.

The important industrial center of Kharkov was captured by the Germans on the 24th October. The Soviets were now dismantling whole factories and shipping them east to resume production far away from the front line. It was a close run thing in Kharkov …




HMS Cossack torpedoed

The Tribal class destroyer HMS Cossack pictured before the war.

It wasn’t terribly late, shortly before midnight in fact, and I walked over to the guard rail and stood looking out over the port side. Another moonless night, but there was a phosphorescence in our wake and I watched the wave that we sent out from the break in the fo’c’sle; and then from out in the darkness the wave broke and started to run in towards the ship, except this wash was wiggling and wash didn’t wiggle!




Coastal Command continue offensive

Sunderland flying boat in flight

Two Spitfires attacked a ship off Havre, leaving her listing. Eight Blenheims, escorted by fighters, sighted a convoy of seven vessels and four Flakships off Ijmuiden. Four of the merchant ships were attacked but with unobserved results, and two others of 3,000 and 1,000 tons respectively had smoke, issuing from them when last seen.




French Hostages shot in German reprisals

France was one of the best postings for any German unit, where these German officers were training in 1941.

As expiation for this crime I have ordered that 50 hostages be shot, to begin with. Because of the gravity of the crime, 50 more hostages will be shot in the case of the guilty not being arrested between now and midnight of 23 October 1941.




Wehrmacht massacre civilians in Serbia

German troops escort citizens of Kragujevac out of the town to their execution.

The cowardly and treacherous surprise attacks on German soldiers during the previous week, on which occasion 10 German soldiers were killed and 26 wounded, had to be punished. For that reason 100 people were shot for each killed German soldier, and for each wounded 50, mainly communists, bandits and their siders, 2300 altogether.




The first German Jews arrive in the Ghetto

Jews deported from Prague, Czechoslovakia, move their belongings through the streets. Lodz ghetto, Poland, November 20, 1941.

Today 1,000 deportees from Vienna arrived in the ghetto. Among the new arrivals are physicians, engineers, professors, famous chemists, dental technicians, once prominent merchants, several priests from converted families, and twenty Christian women, who have come along with their husbands and children.




‘Target for Tonight’ released in USA

The poster depicts the rather unsuccessful Boulton Paul Defiants although the film portrays a raid by the famously robust Wellington bombers.

The true, thrilling quality of it lies in the remarkable human detail which Mr Watt has worked into it — the quiet, efficient way in which each man goes about his job; the interjection of humor which even the grimmest task and danger cannot suppress, and finally the tremendous suspense of the routine bombing attack …