August 1940

Aug

4

1940

The Royal Navy remains on full alert

Two destroyers silhouetted against the skyline.

Although darkness was falling, the Captain decided to carry out a sweep to the northward in the hope of finding the second lifeboat; ships were spread five miles apart and speed increased to twenty-seven knots. A man was placed in the crow’s-nest, and the look-outs were instructed to sweep the horizon with their glasses.

Aug

3

1940

Watching and listening to the battle overhead

Locals watch as troops and police inspect Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 (W.Nr. 3367) "Red 14" of 2./JG52, which crash-landed in a wheatfield at Mays Farm, Selmeston, near Lewes in Sussex, 12 August 1940. Its pilot, Unteroffizier Leo Zaunbrecher, was captured.

The scene of the crash was on a golf-course, and a good-sized crowd had arrived there before us… The German fighter-bomber had hit the tree-tops in its descent, and there it lay, sprawling broken-backed on the greensward… It was consuming rapidly in its own flames, and the empty cartridges-cases leaped out of the pyre in all directions. The police had formed a cordon. Sternly they ordered the mob to keep its distance, but the small boys were too much for them. They dived and ducked through the cordon singly and in dozens, cheerfully contemptuous of the awful penalties attached to interfering with captured enemy property…

Aug

1

1940

Hitler orders final Luftwaffe push against England

German 'Stuka' dive bomber pilots in France in 1940. They were suffering terrible losses when the RAF managed to break through their fighter cover and would soon be withdrawn from battle.

1. The German Air Force is to overpower the English Air Force with all the forces at its command, in the shortest time possible. The attacks are to be directed primarily against flying units, their ground installations, and their supply organizations, but also against the aircraft industry, including that manufacturing anti-aircraft equipment.
2. After achieving temporary or local air superiority the air war is to be continued against ports, in particular against stores of food, and also against stores of provisions in the interior of the country.
Attacks on the south coast ports will be made on the smallest possible scale, in view of our own forthcoming operations.

Sep

5

1940

Daylight bombing raids into Britain increase

One of the first United States destroyers to arrive in Britain, built in 1919-20 they were described as 'luxurious' because they had bunk beds for the crew and the equipment included coffee machines.

The scale of enemy attack on this country by day during the week under review was considerably greater than it was in the previous week, but by night it was slightly smaller. Attacks were chiefly against aerodromes by day and industry by night, though some damage was inflicted on aircraft and other factories in daylight and aircraft production will be affected, though not seriously. Attacks on aerodromes have achieved no important results.

Aug

31

1940

303 Squadron's first combat patrol

An Me 109 that just made the coast of France. 303 Squadron shot down six in under an hour on their first combat patrol.

‘A’ Flight, at 16,000 ft east of Biggin Hill, saw about 60 Dorniers going east, protected by fighters. The bombers were in tight vics with sections of Me109s circling around them. Some fighters were covering them above. ‘A’ Flight attacked out of the sun and took enemy escorts by surprise. Each of our pilots selected one Me109 and six dogfights took place.

Aug

30

1940

British fleet sails into the Mediterranean

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal with Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes from No. 820 Squadron Fleet Air Arm.

‘Operation Hats’ consisted of the aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious with the battle cruiser HMS Renown and the battleship HMS Valiant supported by three cruisers and seventeen destroyers. For the first time the fleet was defended by all round radar, based on four ships covering different sectors. Although the fleet was spotted by Italian aircraft, the Italian Navy did not attempt an engagement.

Aug

29

1940

The Luftwaffe start to change tactics

The Hampden carried up to 4000 lbs  (1814 kg) of bombs

No short-range dive-bombers were seen, while last week 83 were destroyed; even the Ju. 88 has not been used for dive-bombing. The long-range bomber force is being increasingly employed and night attacks have been intensified. The raids were mainly directed against aerodromes and ports, while industrial plants and the aircraft industry also received considerable attention. Other raids were carried out against aerodromes and oil storage, and a considerable amount of indiscriminate bombing was included in the operations.

Aug

28

1940

Churchill visits 'Hell-Fire Corner'

On 28th August 1940 Churchill visited Dover to see for himself the town that was under repeated air attack as well as shelling from the French coast.

It was while we were at Dover, that we saw the approaching German bombers and just a short distance away they were met by British fighters. Mr Churchill seemed mesmerized as the air battle took place almost overhead. We saw maybe two German bombers crash into the sea and some fighters with smoke trailing from […]

Aug

26

1940

Hurricanes attack bombers head on

Hurricanes from No.85 Squadron in flight earlier in 1940

Ease the throttle to reduce the closing speed – which anyway allowed only a few seconds’ fire. Get a bead on them right away, hold it, and never mind the streams of tracer darting overhead. Just keep on pressing on the button until you think you’re going to collide – then stick hard forward. Under the shock of ‘negative G’ your stomach jumps into your mouth, dust and muck fly up from the cockpit floor into your eyes and your head cracks on the roof as you break away below.

Aug

18

1940

Soviet Agents investigate bombing of Britain

The U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service decrypt of a Soviet Diplomatic message sent in 1940.

On 18th August I was in MORDEN in south east LONDON. The SAUSAGE-DEALERS bombed during daylight [16th] August the factories located there. The police do not permit entry into this area. Some houses near the factories have been badly smashed. From outside I could not see any particularly bad damage when I went round the other side of the factories.