December 1940

Dec

12

December 1940

Italian Air Force bombed in the Desert

Still heavier attacks by combined forces of Blenheims and Wellingtons from Egypt were made on Benina and El Adem aerodromes, where concentrations of enemy aircraft were known to exist. Considerable damage was caused to hangars, administrative buildings, bomb and petrol dumps and aircraft on the ground. It is believed that at Castel Beninto alone thirty-five aircraft were destroyed or damaged. Repeated daylight attacks have also been made on other enemy aerodromes and landing grounds.

Dec

11

December 1940

British capture Sidi Barrani from Italians

Sidi Barrani

08.30 direct shell burst on gun-fell flat on my side & passed out for half a minute – came to and saw my left arm jerking up and down – thought at first it had been blown off – heard someone say ‘Gawd-the Captain’s been killed’ – so managed to sit up and say ‘no, you bugger, fire the gun’

Dec

10

December 1940

German Spies executed at Pentonville Prison

The first executions under the Treason Act took place on 10th December 1940. Jose Waldberg, 25, a German national, and Karl Heinrich Meier, 24, a Dutchman of German origin, were hung at Pentonville Prison following their conviction at the Old Bailey in November.

Dec

9

December 1940

British attack Italians in the Desert

Bren-gun-carriers advancing across Desert

We have attacked in the Western Desert. This is not an offensive and I do not think you ought to describe it as an offensive as yet. You might call it an important raid. The attack was made early this morning and I had word an hour ago that the first of the Italian camps has fallen. I cannot tell you at this moment how far we are going to go— it depends on what supplies and provisions we capture and what petrol we are able to find.

Dec

8

December 1940

Churchill seeks support from Roosevelt

We can endure the shattering of our dwellings, and the slaughter of our civil population by indiscriminate air attacks, and we hope to parry these increasingly as our science develops, and to repay them upon military objectives in Germany as our Air Force more nearly approaches the strength of the enemy.
The decision for 1941 lies upon the seas.

Dec

7

December 1940

Repression in Lublin, Poland

A formal ghetto was not established in Lublin until March 1941 but long before then the life of the Jewish population was very difficult. Many people were rounded up on the streets and sent to the labour camp at Belzec where poor living conditions, little food and harsh work killed many. There was every incentive to hide from the regime.

Dec

6

December 1940

Air Raid Warden tours bombed out Moorgate

At night it was a dead city. The few small shops were barred and shuttered, and the blocks of flats were deserted. If there was no gunfire or drone of planes, it was quieter than the countryside. Even in an open field, the soughing of a tree in the breeze, the rustle of a rat in a hedge, or the wheeze of a cow, can still be heard. But here the silence was almost tangible — a literally dead silence, in which there was no life. It was difficult to believe that this was London, whose daily uproar never sank below a steady rumble, even in the small hours. After 10.3o p.m., when the public-houses turned out the few hardy regulars, the silence was complete, only broken occasionally by the echoing footsteps of a warden, or policeman, on patrol.

Dec

5

December 1940

Bombing attacks across Britain

A view of bomb damage and a crater on the railway line at Victoria Station

From the weekly Situation report: 28th/29th November. A short but heavy raid took place on Liverpool and neighbouring districts. A direct hit on a shelter at Durning Street killed 164 people. Forty other places in Lancashire and Cheshire were attacked, among them Chester and Manchester. Seventeen parachute mines were dropped in other parts of the country, mostly in the South and South-West.

Dec

4

December 1940

Trekking out of town to avoid Air Raids

The buses were full, men and women were walking with their baggage. Some were going to relations in outlying parts, some to shelters, preceded by their wives who had reserved them places, and some to sleep in the open. ‘Anything so as not to spend another night in there.’ Many were trying to hitch hike, calling out to every car that passed; very few stopped. This caused considerable annoyance, especially as many coaches completely empty went by.

Dec

3

December 1940

Fighter Command still active by day

Aerial view of german bomber attacked by Spitfire

The increased enemy activity by day has not resulted in any serious attacks, most of the aircraft employed having been fighters, or fighter-bombers, which confined their operations to sweeps at high altitudes over the south-eastern and southern counties; on three days a few isolated aircraft penetrated the London area. Towards the end of the week the weather became unsuitable for day operations and there was no activity except from reconnaissance aircraft.