1940

Jul

28

1940

American support promised – but Britain fights alone

Spitfire pilots pose beside the wreckage of a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, which they shot down as it was attacking a Channel convoy, 1940.

What was later to be designated the Battle of Britain was now firmly underway, with more and more of RAF Fighters Command’s squadrons being drawn into action. Nevertheless much of the fighting was still taking place offshore, as the Luftwaffe continued its attacks on convoys. As a consequence the battle was not yet taking place […]

Jul

26

1940

Air power changes everything

Sir Alan Brooke, Chief in Command, Home Forces centre, studies  a map with Montgomery, left.

The attitude of representatives of the Naval Command brought [out] very clearly the fact that the navy now realizes fully that its position has been seriously undermined by the advent of aircraft. Sea supremacy is no longer what it was, and in the face of strong bomber forces can no longer ensure the safety of this island against invasion

Jul

25

1940

Air attacks still aimed at convoys off Britain

The destroyer HMS Beagle escaped serious damage when she was bombed off Dover on the 19th July

The scale of air attack on this country has again tended to decrease during the week and has almost exclusively consisted of attacks on convoys by large mixed formations of bombers and fighters. These attacks were not always developed or pressed home. Enemy reconnaissance and mine-laying operations have been at a high level and his transport aircraft have again been busy throughout the week.

Jul

24

1940

French liner Meknes torpedoed

The 6000 ton French liner 'Meknes', sunk while repatriating French troops.

According to reports so far received, she was stopped by an enemy motor torpedo boat, which fired on her without warning, at about 10.30 p.m. last night. Apparently the passengers and crew were then given five minutes to take to the boats, but during this interval the motor torpedo boat fired a fresh burst every time the “Meknes” tried to signal her name. She was then torpedoed, and sank in four or five minutes.

Jul

23

1940

Morale steady, criticism of the Government

Lord Halifax, British Foreign Minister, pictured with Hermann Goring

Reactions to the Foreign Secretary’s broadcast are best seen in verbatims: ‘Too much like a bishop’, ‘Depressing’, ‘Disappointing’, ‘Unsatisfactory’, ‘What about the Burma Road?’, ‘A statesman has to be a fighter these days’, ‘He didn’t explain anything’, ‘Very nice and gentlemanly’, ‘Old-fashioned diplomacy’, ‘Too much like the Chamberlain days’, ‘It was a dull speech: I switched off’ ‘I liked the high moral tone’, ‘It’s no use treating a mad dog like that’.

Jul

22

1940

Hideki Tojo appointed Army Minister in Japan

General Tojo was appointed Army Minister in the Japanese Cabinet on 22nd July 1940

His political appointment effectively marked the end of the argument from those within the Japanese establishment who wanted a withdrawal from China. General Tojo was a strong supporter of the Tripartite Alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan and his militaristic and aggressive outlook hardened the Japanese position towards a wider war.

Jul

20

1940

Australian pilot downs Me 109 over English Channel

Troops and police inspect Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 (W.Nr. 3367) "Red 14" of 2./JG52, which crash-landed in a wheatfield at Mays Farm, Selmeston, near Lewes in Sussex, 12 August 1940. Its pilot, Unteroffizier Leo Zaunbrecher, was captured.

Stuart tried to contact control to see if the relief section was on its way but could not raise them. He then ‘turned and headed for convoy climbing to get into sun’. When he was 5 miles from the vessels, he saw bombs exploding around the escorting destroyer. Despite being alone, he ‘pulled the plug and went after the enemy aircraft which had turned southwards’.

When he was southeast of the convoy, at 10000 feet, he saw ‘three Me 109s flying in wide vic at about 9000 feet’. He dived and attacked the machine on the left, opening fire at 200 yards and firing two rapid 2—second bursts as he closed to astern at approximately 50 yards.

Jul

19

1940

Hitler makes a Peace offer to Britain

Adolf Hitler in the Reichstag

His oratorical form was at its best. . . I’ve often admired the way he uses his hands, which are somewhat feminine and quite artistic. Tonight he used those hands beautifully, seemed to express himself almost as much with his hands – and the sway of his body — as he did with his words and the use of his voice.

Jul

19

1940

HMS Sydney’s surprise attack on Italian cruisers

The famous Australian cruiser HMS Sydney

As soon as Sydney opened fire on the leading enemy cruiser, the Colleoni, our destroyers closed in support, and the Italian cruisers endeavoured to escape back through the Antikithera Channel. Early in the action a hit by Sydney in Colleoni’s engine room brought her to a standstill, and Sydney, leaving our destroyers to complete her destruction with torpedoes, continued the engagement with the other cruiser.

Jul

18

1940

Rising casualties at home, Mediterranean fleet bombed

HMS Eagle

During the operations in the Eastern Mediterranean last week the Fleet and the slower of the two convoys from Malta to Alexandria which the Fleet was covering were continually bombed without success. Eight heavy air attacks were made on H.M. Ships Royal Sovereign, Malaya and Eagle between 1100 and 2100 on the 11th July, and on the 12th July H.M.S. Warspite was attacked 22 times, a total of 260 to 300 bombs being dropped. Fighters from H.M.S. Eagle shot down 4 or 5 bombers with the loss of one machine rendered unserviceable.