July 1940

Aug

2

1940

RAF Fighter Squadrons prepare for battle

Spitfire Mark IA, X4474 ‘QV-I’, of No. 19 Squadron RAF, taking off from Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, with Sergeant B J Jennings at the controls.

Dispersal pen and my Spitfire. I pause and look at her. A long shapely nose, not exactly arrogant but, nevertheless, daring anyone to take a swing at it. Lines beautifully proportioned, the aircraft sitting there, engine turning easily and smoothly with subdued power. The slipstream blows the moisture over the top of the wings in thin streamlets. Flashes of blue flame from the exhausts are easily seen in the half light, an occasional backfire and the whole aeroplane trembling like a thoroughbred at the start of the Derby.

Jul

31

1940

Bloody Wednesday in Olkusz, Poland

Jewish men from the Polish city of Olkusz are forced to lie face down in the City Square.

On the 31st July 1940 a German Army police unit arrived in the Polish town of Olkusz and gathered all the Jewish men over 14 in the town centre for “registration”. They were then subjected to hours of bullying sadism, forced to lie face down in the city square and beaten if they moved. Three men died from the beatings.

Jul

30

1940

Bomber Command attacks German airfields

Amiens Airport being bombed by 82 Squadron on 30 July 1940 - with bombs in mid air. the Germans were rapidly lengthening the concrete runway. The interpretation report estimated that 650 metres was serviceable and this was being extended to 1000 metres. The large number of bomb craters illustrate how difficult it was to put airfields out of operations

Amiens Airport being bombed by 82 Squadron on 30 July 1940 – with bombs in mid air. The Germans were rapidly lengthening the concrete runway: the interpretation report estimated that 650 metres was serviceable and this was being extended to 1000 metres. The large number of bomb craters illustrate how difficult it was to put airfields out of operations

Jul

29

1940

Hitler plans the invasion of Russia

Colonel Warliment, pictured in 1939, was one of a very small group of officers who learnt that Hitler wanted to attack Russia in 1940

He repeated Hitler’s view and probably his own also that the collision with Bolshevism was bound to come and that it was better therefore to have this campaign now, when we were at the height of our military power, than to have to call the German people to arms once more in the years to come.

Jul

28

1940

American support promised – but Britain fights alone

Spitfire pilots pose beside the wreckage of a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, which they shot down as it was attacking a Channel convoy, 1940.

What was later to be designated the Battle of Britain was now firmly underway, with more and more of RAF Fighters Command’s squadrons being drawn into action. Nevertheless much of the fighting was still taking place offshore, as the Luftwaffe continued its attacks on convoys. As a consequence the battle was not yet taking place […]

Jul

26

1940

Air power changes everything

Sir Alan Brooke, Chief in Command, Home Forces centre, studies  a map with Montgomery, left.

The attitude of representatives of the Naval Command brought [out] very clearly the fact that the navy now realizes fully that its position has been seriously undermined by the advent of aircraft. Sea supremacy is no longer what it was, and in the face of strong bomber forces can no longer ensure the safety of this island against invasion

Jul

25

1940

Air attacks still aimed at convoys off Britain

The destroyer HMS Beagle escaped serious damage when she was bombed off Dover on the 19th July

The scale of air attack on this country has again tended to decrease during the week and has almost exclusively consisted of attacks on convoys by large mixed formations of bombers and fighters. These attacks were not always developed or pressed home. Enemy reconnaissance and mine-laying operations have been at a high level and his transport aircraft have again been busy throughout the week.

Jul

24

1940

French liner Meknes torpedoed

The 6000 ton French liner 'Meknes', sunk while repatriating French troops.

According to reports so far received, she was stopped by an enemy motor torpedo boat, which fired on her without warning, at about 10.30 p.m. last night. Apparently the passengers and crew were then given five minutes to take to the boats, but during this interval the motor torpedo boat fired a fresh burst every time the “Meknes” tried to signal her name. She was then torpedoed, and sank in four or five minutes.

Jul

23

1940

Morale steady, criticism of the Government

Lord Halifax, British Foreign Minister, pictured with Hermann Goring

Reactions to the Foreign Secretary’s broadcast are best seen in verbatims: ‘Too much like a bishop’, ‘Depressing’, ‘Disappointing’, ‘Unsatisfactory’, ‘What about the Burma Road?’, ‘A statesman has to be a fighter these days’, ‘He didn’t explain anything’, ‘Very nice and gentlemanly’, ‘Old-fashioned diplomacy’, ‘Too much like the Chamberlain days’, ‘It was a dull speech: I switched off’ ‘I liked the high moral tone’, ‘It’s no use treating a mad dog like that’.

Jul

22

1940

Hideki Tojo appointed Army Minister in Japan

General Tojo was appointed Army Minister in the Japanese Cabinet on 22nd July 1940

His political appointment effectively marked the end of the argument from those within the Japanese establishment who wanted a withdrawal from China. General Tojo was a strong supporter of the Tripartite Alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan and his militaristic and aggressive outlook hardened the Japanese position towards a wider war.