July 1940

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.

Jul

17

1940

The glorious ‘Few’ who are defending Britain

Spitfire pilots of No. 610 Squadron relaxing between sorties at 'A' Flight dispersal at Hawkinge, 29 July 1940.

It was impossible to look at those young men, who might within a matter of minutes be fighting and dying to save us, without mingled emotions of wonder, gratitude, and humility. The physical and mental strain of the long hours at dispersal, the constant flying at high altitudes (two or three sorties a day were normal, six or seven not uncommon), must have been prodigious.

And yet they were so cheerful, so confident, and so obviously dedicated. They were always thrilled to see Churchill, and they gave me a kindly welcome.

Jul

16

1940

Hitler orders ‘Operation Sealion’ – invade Britain

Watching out for raiders over london.

They are certainly formidable obstructions to most of us especially in the hours of darkness when one is confronted by barriers in the most unexpected places. I am told that Winston is mainly responsible for them and takes the deepest interest in them. He appears to spend a lot of time inspecting our defences all over the country.

Jul

14

1940

Air combat over the Channel at Dover

The Junkers 87 'Stuka' dive bomber was vulnerable to attack and invariably had fighter protection, in this case the Me 109.

“Now then, oh, there’s a terrific mix-up over the Channel! It’s impossible to tell which are our machines and which are the Germans. There was one definitely down in this battle and there’s a fight going on. There’s a fight going on and you can hear the little rattles of machine-gun bullets. Crump! That was a bomb, as you may imagine.”

Jul

13

1940

German bombing of Britain intensifies

A Dornier 17 begins its bombing run, summer 1940.

The R.A.F. say that that is what happened before the German attack in France. Desultory bombing and then one morning a very heavy attack on everything. It may be coming again. The seemingly desultory bombing may be a method of testing our defences. Certainly the Germans have never been up against such a good fighter defence, such A.A. fire, and such a warning system.

Jul

12

1940

Britain: everyone prepares for War

Your-Britain-fight-for it-now

Mr Duff Cooper broadcasted an appeal last night for recruits for ‘an imaginary regiment, the Silent Column’ composed of men and women resolved to say nothing that can help the enemy. He emphasised the danger of dropping scraps of information, sometimes vital parts of a vast jigsaw puzzle being pieced together by the enemy.

As part of an ‘anti—rumour’ campaign a new poster is published….

Jul

11

1940

Luftwaffe probe British air defences

The Italian cruiser Zara.

Suddenly came the phenomenon that I saw again and again throughout the war. You’re in a dogfight with so many aeroplanes about and then suddenly it’s as if the hand of God has wiped the slate clean and there’s nothing else in the sky. I found myself alone except for one speck of an aeroplane in the distance.

Jul

10

1940

Secret Churchill Memo – German invasion unlikely

Local Defence Volunteers soon to be renamed Home Guard

40 destroyers are now disposed between the Humber and Portsmouth, the bulk being in the narrowest waters. The greater part of these are at sea every night, and rest in the clay. They would therefore probably encounter the enemy vessels in transit during the night, but also could reach any landing point or points on the front mentioned in two or three hours. They could immediately break up the landing craft, interrupt the landing, and fire upon the landed troops

Jul

7

1940

The Death of a Soldier

The French soldier Jean Pilloud died on the 7th July 1940. We know little of the circumstances.

The French soldier Jean Pilloud died on the 7th July 1940. We know little of the circumstances.

Jul

6

1940

HM Submarine Shark surrendered and sunk

HMS-Safari

One of the seaplanes now signalled us by light to “stop or steer to.. Stavanger”. No notice was taken of this signal but about a quarter of an hour later, after continuous attacks from the 109’s, our ammunition being expended and having many wounded or dead (l could not tell which), I reluctantly decided to capitulate.