1940

Dec

2

1940

HMS Forfar sunk by Kretschmer’s U-99

HMS Forfar the armed merchant ship sunk by five torpedoes in the early hours of 2nd December 1940.

Two minutes later the 5th and last torpedo struck, again on the Port side. This was the final blow as the ship broke in two owing to the after magazine blowing sky-high. She was well down by the stern now and I remember the ghastly cracklings as the after end bent inwards crushing the decks like matchwood. She heeled quickly over on her Sta’b’d side, the after end disappeared, and as she settled, she turned right over and sank slowly and steadily by the stern.

Dec

31

1940

Celebrations on “The Mighty Hood”

HMS Hood at anchor in Scapa Flow, seen from another British battleship of the Home Fleet.

We all drank a toast to 1941 – Peace and Victory. One of the midshipmen from the gunroom came in with a bagpipe and played Scotch tunes. Everyone started to dance the various Scotch dances from the Admiral down to the lowest midshipman. The Wardroom tables were cleared away and a regular party was in full swing. It was a very unusual sight to see the Admiral, Captain, staff, Wardroom, gunroom, and Warrant officers dancing.

Dec

30

1940

Back to work in the bombed out City

Londoner walk through smoking rubble after the bombing

In a night the branch had moved back to working conditions worse than those of a century earlier. All entries were made by hand in candlelight, the branch counter with flickering wicks reflected in the pools of water scattered over the banking hall presenting a sorry spectacle.

Dec

29

1940

St Paul’s survives London firestorm

The iconic picture of St Pauls taken by Daily Mail photographer Paul Mason from Fleet Street on the night of 29th December 1940.

On the night 29th/30th December when a very large number of incendiary bombs were dropped, and serious and extensive fires—numbering in all nearly 1,500—were started in the City and the Docks area. In the City the fire at one period extended over half a square mile and in the Minories area over quarter of a square mile.

Dec

28

1940

RAF and RAAF control the skies over Libya

RAAF Gladiators return to their base in the Desert.

Our fighters have continued to maintain their ascendancy over the Italian Air Force. On the 26th Gladiators of the Royal Australian Air Force shot down without loss two, and probably six, of a number of C.R. 42 fighters “which were escorting a bomber formation, and on the 28th Hurricanes shot down three bombers and a fighter, again without loss.

Dec

27

1940

Coastal Command in action against German shipping

A heavily armed German escort vessel photographed off the Dutch coast 27th December 1940 during a torpedo attack by No. 22 Squadron. This attack was unsuccessful but a later attack by Squadron Leader Francis seriously damaged the ship but his Beaufort was shot down and all crew lost.

No fewer than six attacks were made on enemy merchant vessels on the 27th December; a Hudson bombed a ship of about 4,000 tons at anchor in Egersund Harbour and secured at least three direct hits; another ship in convoy North of Ameland was possibly hit, and near misses were reported on two merchant vessels off Dieppe and another off Fecamp.

Dec

26

1940

Hanukkah in the Warsaw ghetto

The Jewish population had been crammed into a closed ghetto since November 1940.

Hanukkah in the ghetto. Never before in Jewish Warsaw were there as many Hanukkah celebrations as in this year of the wall. But because of the sword that hovers over our heads, they are not conducted among festive crowds, publicly displaying their joy.

Dec

25

1940

A second Christmas at war

Free French soldiers attend a mass at sunrise during siege of Bardia Libya 1940

Christmas Day 1940, was the same as any other day, except that each man received a tin of bully-beef to himself, and there was a double rum ration that night. Wavell sent us his greetings, but there was insufficient transport to send us turkeys and Christmas puddings. It would be wrong to say that we did not miss the usual luxuries and celebrations, yet nobody complained or grumbled. It would have taken much more than a few trifles like these to shake the high morale of this small desert force.

Dec

24

1940

The convoys get through

the Royal Navy was at full stretch escorting convoys

During the week ending noon Wednesday, the 25th December, 785 ships, including 145 allied and 16 neutral, were convoyed, but no ships were reported lost. Two battleships, two aircraft carriers, three cruisers, ten armed merchant cruisers, 55 destroyers, 13 sloops and 29 corvettes were employed in escort duties.

Dec

23

1940

Churchill broadcasts to the Italian people

The Italian Offensive 1940 - 1941: British troops, sitting on captured Italian motorcycles, read copies of the congratulatory telegram sent to all units after their victory by the Secretary of State for War, Mr Anthony Eden.

Your aviators have tried to cast their bombs upon London. Our armies are tearing – and will tear – your African empire to shreds and tatters. We are now only at the beginning of this sombre tale. Who can say where it will end? Presently, we shall be forced to come to much closer grips. How has all this come about, and what is it all for?