1940

Aug

27

1940

RAF Ace ‘Sailor’ Malan’s Ten Rules for Air Combat

TEN OF MY RULES FOR AIR FIGHTING

Wait until you see the whites of his eyes. Fire short bursts of one to two seconds only when your sights are definitely “ON”.

Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body: have both hands on the stick: concentrate on your ring sight.

Always keep a sharp lookout. “Keep your finger out”.

Aug

26

1940

Hurricanes attack bombers head on

Hawker Hurricanes of No. 85 Squadron RAF, October 1940.

Ease the throttle to reduce the closing speed – which anyway allowed only a few seconds’ fire. Get a bead on them right away, hold it, and never mind the streams of tracer darting overhead. Just keep on pressing on the button until you think you’re going to collide – then stick hard forward. Under the shock of ‘negative G’ your stomach jumps into your mouth, dust and muck fly up from the cockpit floor into your eyes and your head cracks on the roof as you break away below.

Aug

25

1940

Berlin bombed for the first time

Bomb damage in Berlin following first British raid.

Oddly enough, a few minutes before, I had had an argument with the censor from the Propaganda Ministry as to whether it was possible to bomb Berlin. London had just been bombed. It was natural, I said, that the British should try to retaliate. He laughed. It was impossible, he said. There were too many anti-aircraft guns around Berlin.

Aug

24

1940

Portsmouth bombed, battleship Bismarck commissioned

The Bismarck starts sea trails following commissioning

In the words of the ancient poets during the wars of liberation: “Only iron can save us. Only blood can set us free.” Today, we are being endowed and entrusted with a new and awe-inspiring weapon made from steel and iron, our new ship. Today, it will be brought to life by our young crew which is empowered to blend iron and blood into a powerful symphony of iron-willed devotion to duty and conviction, and with red-blooded vigor and fighting spirit the highest military goals shall be achieved.

Aug

23

1940

Four ships for three torpedoes in Bomba

Fairey Swordfish with Torpedo - three planes with one torpedo each sank four ships on 23rd August 1940.

Approaching the harbour Patch saw an Italian submarine on the surface. This was an unexpected bonus. It was later learnt that this was the submarine Iride, exercising with frogmen who were planning to make a covert attack on the British base at Alexandria. Patch released his torpedo from 30 feet at a distance of 300 yards and scored a direct hit below the conning tower.

Aug

22

1940

German guns shell Dover

One of the German cross channel guns, pictured in 1942 after a concrete fortifications had been built round it

On the 22nd August when the East-bound Channel convoy was approaching the Dover Strait it came under long-range fire from heavy guns situated near Gris Nez. The bombardment continued for nearly 3 hours without success, 108 rounds being fired apparently in four gun salvoes. An enemy battery of four guns and another of three guns were located. Two shells landed in Dover harbour, one narrowly missing a minesweeping trawler. Soon after midday the same convoy was unsuccessfully attacked by 30 aircraft.

Aug

21

1940

British morale reported to be ‘excellent’

Mrs Cross, a sailor's wife, waves goodbye to her neighbours as she drives away from her bombed-out home in the back of a removal truck. Her friend, also sitting in the truck, holds aloft a Union flag.

Reports from all areas show morale to be excellent. Recent air-raid alarms proved that confidence has greatly increased since the beginning of the war and people showing more neighbourliness towards each other. Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and similar offices which were besieged by anxious people after first alarms in September were practically empty after last week’s raids. Many people did not take shelter when the siren went; even men in uniform in Kensington Gardens took no notice and civilians are inclined to follow their example. Confusion still exists as to what people should do when siren goes; some employers grudge wasting time and don’t encourage their staff to take shelter.

Aug

20

1940

"Never in the field of human conflict …"

Battle of Britain poster with Churchill's 'the few'

“we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power.”

Aug

19

1940

Royal Navy evacuates British Somaliland

The italian Flag flies over the former British Governor's bomb damaged residence.

The British completed their evacuation of British Somaliland on 19th August 1940, following the invasion on 3rd August and the Battle of the Tug Argan Gap. There were some 250 British forces casualties and over 2,000 on the Italian side. It was the only campaign during the Second World war that the Italian fascist regime successfully concluded without the assistance of German armed forces.

Aug

18

1940

Battle of Britain – ‘the hardest day’

A downed He 111 during the Battle of Britain

We were enjoying a chat and a smoke outside the shelter as we had done in the past weeks for, although there was plenty of air activity, nothing much up to now had happened. However, on this day, not many minutes had elapsed before we realised we were being attacked by machine gun and cannon shell fire as three Dornier aircraft, at low level, flew over the rooftops of our billets. There was a mad scramble to get underground and, from then on, all hell let loose.