October 1940

Oct

31

1940

Morale steady as London Blitz continues

Wellington bomber, october 1940

Morale remains consistently high both in London and the Provinces. The incidence of raiding is taken calmly and with reasoned consideration. Shelter, sleeping arrangements, evacuation, the approach and effects of winter, working hours, transport, and emergency heating and feeding arrangements are subjects uppermost in the public mind. In general, they are now being more thoroughly considered by the public than previously and, although calculations are often not without a personal or opportunist bias, patriotism and duty play a larger part than earlier in the year.

Oct

30

1940

Spitfire versus Messerschmitt 109s

RAF Spitfire in flight

One Messerschmitt did a barrel roll to the left. I fired at him as he did so, and he dropped back. I was then engaged from astern, and lost a bit of ground. By the time we got to Hastings I had caught up the rest of them again, and knocked bits off one. Another was half a mile or more below and behind the others as they crossed the coast. He was dropping back rapidly, and I was hoping to finish him off when six more Messerschmitt 109’s came down at me from over the Channel in line abreast.

Oct

29

1940

Goebbel’s propaganda controls the news

German children receive Nazi propaganda lessons, October 1940

Twenty-four hours after Italy’s wanton aggression against Greece, the German people are still deprived of news by their rulers.  Not a line in the morning papers or the noon papers.  But Goebbels is carefully preparing his public for the news.  This morning he had the press publish the text of the outrageous Italian ultimatum to the Greek government.  It was almost an exact copy of the ultimatum which the Germans sent to Denmark and Norway, and later to Holland and Belgium.  But the German public may have wondered what happened after the ultimatum, since it expired yesterday morning.  


Oct

28

1940

Italy invades Greece

Italian troops crossed the border from Albania into Greece at 6am after the ultimatum was served at 3am.

An ultimatum was delivered by Italy to Greece at 0300 on the 28th October and expired at 0600. The Greeks refused the terms and invoked Great Britain’s assistance. Artillery duels lasted till 1800, and the Greeks, retired from several advanced posts to previously prepared positions. The Italian forces on the Greco-Albanian frontier comprise seven divisions, with a considerable amount of artillery and A.F.Vs.

Oct

27

1940

Desert war – a different type of war

British troops marching in the desert

One did not occupy the desert any more than one occupied the sea. One simply took up position for a day or a week, and patrolled about it with Bren-gun carriers and light armoured vehicles. When you made contact with the enemy you manoeuvred about him for a place to strike, much as two fleets will steam into position for action. There were no trenches. There was no front line.

Oct

26

1940

Empress of Britain bombed at sea

The liner Empress of Britain

At 9.20am on the 26th October a German FW 200 Condor emerged from the clouds and dropped two bombs on the liner Empress of Britain. She was north west of ireland, en route to Liverpool. The liner was now a troop transport and had been requisitioned in 1939. She was then subjected to a series of machine gun attacks from the aircraft. Her crew fought back with machine guns mounted on deck and there were relatively few casualties at this stage. However the bombs started large fires which soon crippled the ship. Many crew were trapped below deck by the fires, some forced to escape through portholes into the sea.

Oct

25

1940

U-Boats now operate from France

U Boat U-37

It is thought that, in view of the better repair facilities available in French than in Norwegian ports, this policy will be increasingly pursued in the future, and that Norwegian ports will largely be used as stopping places for submarines homeward bound for Germany after 2 or 3 cruises, to give leave. There is no reason to believe that any. of the submarines in Lorient came there by way of the English Channel, and it is possible that fear of air attack, has made them take the long sea route from Germany.

Oct

24

1940

French leader Petain meets Hitler

Petain meets Hitler

The First World War French hero Petain had taken over the French Presidency at the age of 84 and it was his administration that signed an Armistice with Germany. Petain believed that he had to come to some accommodation with Germany, in order to preserve some independence of action for what remained of the French state. In his negotiations with Hitler at the Montoire meeting Petain sought to obstruct German access to French North Africa. Unfortunately the image of him shaking hands with Hitler came to represent a view that he was engaged in collaboration with the Nazi’s, rather than a more pragmatic co-operation. It became evidence to portray him as a traitor to France.

Oct

23

1940

Hitler meets Franco at Hendaye

Hitler meets Franco

Francisco Franco owed much to Adolf Hitler, German forces had been of particular value to him during the Spanish civil war. Yet he was in no rush to automatically line up with another Fascist dictator. Whether he demanded too much from Hitler, wanted to play a waiting game to see which way the war turned, or really wished to avoid involvement in the war, given the shattered state of Spain following the civil war is subject to much debate. He was a difficult man to pin down. Famously Hitler is alleged to have said that he would “rather have three or four teeth pulled” than go through another meeting with him.

Oct

22

1940

The Jewish ghetto is established in Warsaw

Transport only for Jews

When it came time to carry out the ghetto order, everything became chaotic. The Polish side began to haggle—in this suburb they have a church; another is mainly inhabited by Aryans; here is a beautiful school building; there is a factory employing thousands of Aryan workers. How can the rightful owners be driven from all these places? Thus they excised piece after piece, street after street, of the Jewish area, and the boundaries of the ghetto grew more and more constricted.