1940

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 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

HMS Berwick, the first of the County Class Heavy Cruisers, built in 1924, seen here in a particularly striking camouflage paint.

H.M.S. Berwick reported that she had sighted an enemy 8-inch cruiser, which she engaged and drove off. Owing to low visibility the enemy was lost sight of, steering to the westward and Berwick rejoined the convoy. Berwick scored one certain hit on the raider and possibly more and received several herself, having four marines killed.

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?

Dec

22

1940

Manchester Blitzed

A building crashes to the ground at Deansgate in the centre of Manchesteron the 22nd december 1940. Firefighters can just be discerned at the bottom right.


The following morning I cycled to work, arriving on time at 8 o’Clock and went straight to the roof to join most of the staff who had managed to get to work, enjoying the best view of the biggest fire ever seen in Manchester. Climbing on to the letter H, you could see the whole of the centre of Piccadilly ablaze from Mosely street to Portland street.