Highlights from the
‘Naval Military and Air Situation’ Resume for the week up 20th June 1940
as presented to the War Cabinet:
THE outstanding event of the week has been the collapse of French resistance and the extension of the German occupation to the entire northern coast of France, necessitating the withdrawal of the remainder of the B.E.F. U-boat activity in the Western Approaches has been intensified, and there has been some activity by German M.T.Bs. in the English Channel.
Our merchant shipping losses in convoy have been exceptionally heavy.
An important convoy of Australian and New Zealand troops has arrived in the United Kingdom.
We have achieved some successes against Italian U-boats in the Mediterranean and Red Sea areas.
Western Front. The evacuation of the B.E.F. from the ports of Brest, Cherbourg, St Malo, St. Nazaire and La Pallice has been completed. The total numbers evacuated to the United Kingdom up to midnight on the 19th /20th June are as follows :—
Personnel Fit 109,596 Casualties 1,909 Guns 310 Vehicles 2,278
Mediterranean and Middle East.
25. There has been practically no information from Italy concerning operations, military activity or internal affairs. No confirmation has been received of the presence of Italian troops in Germany or on the Western Front. One source has, however, suggested the possibility of German formations being moved through Italy to Africa. When the situation in France has been settled German domination is likely to come piore and more into the open and Italy, inspired and aided by Germany, may undertake more active offensive operations.
26. The situation in Egypt may be regarded as satisfactory. Over 85 per cent. Italian suspects have been secured. In the Western Desert our forces captured the forts of Capuzzo and Madalena and took as prisoners eight officers and two hundred other ranks. In the same area 12 tanks, 6 guns and 7 lorries were captured from the Italians, who are reported as demoralised by our attack. There were no British casualties, but about 50 Italians were killed and wounded, and over 200 taken prisoner.
30. During the early part of the week both air forces were concentrating on operations on the Western Front, but with the collapse of French resistance strategical attacks were resumed. Bomber Command carried out extensive attacks on communications and industrial targets in Germany, and the German air force made two raids in considerable force, which marked the beginning of attacks on industry in this country. Attacks on Italy were continued, but our aircraft and servicing units have now been withdrawn from Southern France. Coastal Command flew a large number of armed reconnaissances off the Norwegian and Dutch coasts, and a number of attacks were made an enemy shipping. Five promising attacks were made on submarines. Our air operations in the Middle East continue to be considerably more successful than those of the enemy.
Air Defence of Great Britain.
31. This week has been marked by the initiation of German air attacks against industry in this country, though so far damage and casualties have not been heavy considering the number of aircraft employed. During the week 380 fighter sorties were flown over England : 4 fighters were lost and 15 enemy bombers probably destroyed.
Attacks on Italy.
42. On the 15th/16th June eight Wellingtons were despatched from aerodromes in Southern France to bomb Genoa. Heavy local thunderstorms were encountered and only one aircraft bombed the target; several hits were registered. On the following night six aircraft operated with greater success; fires were started at a factory near Milan, and the Ansaldo and Caproni works at Genoa were also hit. The aircraft and servicing units in Southern France have now returned to this country. Reports indicate that our attacks on Italy have been very successful and have created a deep impression.