October 1940

Oct

21

1940

Unexploded Bombs cause widespread disruption

Examining the Fuze of a Bomb, Edward Ardizzone, 1940. Ardizzone described his experiences with the Bomb Disposal Squad: 'Ah, that was an unexploded bomb and I went to have a look at them, I must say I thought I was rather brave and I looked over the edge whilst they were doing it. That was in England.'


On arrival at the Church Hall, we had to sign in, giving name, address and number in family. We each got 2 blankets and a palliasse, found a space in the hall and made up our beds. We were all there for 4 days. The WVS were wonderful and provided us with breakfast of porridge, toast and marmalade at another church for anyone who wanted to go. We couldn’t cook anything as the gas ring only had 2 burners, but we made endless tea and lived off fish and chips. We didn’t get much sleep as people were coming and going day and night, working different shifts. We were also very conscious that we were in a wooden building with a tin roof-not much protection.

Oct

20

1940

Bomber Command attacks Germany and Italy

Bomb damage in Berlin October 1940

138 medium and heavy bombers were despatched. A considerable weight of bombs were released within the various target areas, but results were difficult to assess except at Berlin, where a military objective and important marshalling yards were hit and at Grevenbroich and Cologne, where aluminium works were set on fire and several large fires were started in the vicinity of the Hohenzollern Bridge. At Bonn and Munster many explosions were caused when goods yards were bombed.

Oct

19

1940

The Wolfpack moves on to Convoy HX79

Kapitänleutnant  Otto Kretschmer, also known as Otto der Schweigsame (Silent Otto), November 1940.

0015. Three destroyers, line abreast, approach the ship, searching the vicinity. I went off at full speed on a south-westerly course and very soon regained contact with the convoy. Torpedoes from other boats exploding all the time. The destroyers are at their wits’ end, shooting off star shells the whole time to comfort themselves and each other. Not that that makes much odds in the bright moonlight. I am now beginning to pick them off from astern of the convoy.

Oct

18

1940

U-Boat Wolfpack savages Convoy SC7

October 1940, On board the escorting destroyer HMS Vanity on an east coast convoy. Views of the Convoy going north up the East coast.

22:40 – Sighted a “U” boat on surface straight ahead steaming fast on the same course. Distance 3000-4000 yards. Opened fire with star shell. The “U” boat and her wake were clearly visible but not sufficiently for the Gunlayer of “A” gun to get his sights on before she submerged a few minutes later. Contact by echo was obtained at about 3000 yards range and was held on the run in up to 800 yards.

Oct

17

1940

London landmarks and railways hit

railways-bombed-during-london-blitz

Damage to civilian property and public buildings has been widespread in London and in other areas. A feature of the damage has been the number of huildings of national importance which have been affected. St. Pauls and the cathedrals of Canterbury and Coventry must take first place. In London the Royal Courts of Justice, the National Gallery, Kensington Palace, St. James’ Church, Piccadilly, the Natural History Museum, the Treasury, the War Office, No. 10 Downing Street, have all suffered damage.

Oct

16

1940

104 Killed in Kennington Park

Trench-shelter for London Park

01.25 Estimated at least another 100 under wreckage. 2 dead so far recovered. Estimated it will take a considerable time to clear debris and secure those trapped. Public in remaining portion of trenches fairly calm. 2 further 50lb bombs fallen in park. No casualties.

Oct

15

1940

Churchill sets out his priorities

Sound locator crew working with search lights during the Blitz

THE very highest priority in personnel and material should be assigned to what may be called the Radio sphere. This demands Scientists, Wireless Experts, and many classes of highly-skilled labour and high-grade material.

On the progress made, much of the winning of the war and our future strategy, especially Naval, depends. We must impart a far greater accuracy to the A.A. guns, and a far better protection to our warships and harbours. Not only research and experiments, but production must be pushed hopefully forward from many directions, and after repeated disappointments we shall achieve success.

Oct

14

1940

Disaster at Balham Tube station

Sleeping on Elephant and Castle tube station during the Blitz

They had gone to the Tubes for safety, instead they found worse than bombs, they found the unknown, terror. Women and children, small babes in arms, locked beneath the ground. I can only visualize their feelings, I can only write how it has been told to me, but it must have been Hell. On top of this there came a cloud of gas. People not killed outright were suffocated, the rest drowned, drowned like rats in a cage.

Oct

13

1940

Training for the Grenadier Guards

Churchill inspects parade of Grenadier Guards

From the moment a recruit arrived at the Caterham barrack gate and was marched off by a picquet sentry to join his squad, feet moving so fast that he seemed to be flying, there was not a moment to relax: through the first haircut (a shaven head)to the first and subsequent drill parades; through the sound of reveille blown by bugle at six o’clock, with all recruits tumbled out and standing at attention by beds one minute later; through the occasions when it was decided (on principle) that we had been ‘idle’ and needed sharpening up – HALT! Stand at ease! ‘GAS’! (old-style respirators on – most uncomfortable from a respiratory point of view) – Squad shun! Squad will fix bayonets – FIX! (this was the old, long sword- bayonet, with a tricky fitment to the rifle for the inexperienced or maladroit) – BAYONETS! Slope Arms! Quick March! Left – right – (what seemed thirty miles an hour) – Break into double time, Double MARCH! Mark TIME! Lift Knees, Up, Up, Up!

Oct

12

1940

HMS Ajax strikes again – first use of Naval radar

HMS Ajax seen before the Second World War

These were some of the best Italian ships and there was much speculation within the Italian Navy as to how HMS Ajax had overcome the larger force which had attacked her first. She had sunk the Italian destroyer support ships ARIEL and ARIONE and seriously damaged the destroyers AVIERE and ARTIGLIERE. At first this was attributed to excellent Royal Naval gunnery and astute use of Starshell during the night time action. In fact HMS Ajax was making history, using Radar for the first time in a naval combat engagement, and using it to good effect.