June 1940

Jun

29

1940

Baptism of fire in the western desert

A 3-inch mortar crew of the 2nd Cameron Highlanders training at Mena Camp near Giza, Egypt, 4 June 1940.

We parked by the side of the road and the officer in charge of the party went off in search of orders. I decided to have a closer look at the damage and so I dismounted and wandered off a little way down the street. I heard the noise of aircraft very high in the sky and I saw people running for cover and then suddenly there was a succession of tremendous explosions and it seemed as if the whole world had gone mad all around me. The noise was ear-splitting, the ground shook and the air was filled with flame and smoke.

Jun

28

1940

Italo Balbo shot down over Tobruk

Italo Balbo, the Commander in Chief of Italian Forces was killed when his plane was shot down, while attempting to land at Tobruk.

Italo Balbo’s plane was shot down by Italian guns as he into land at Tobruk in North Africa just moments after a British air raid on the Italian base. Subsequent conspiracy theories have suggested that he had argued with Mussolini over the North African strategy and was assassinated as a consequence.

Jun

27

1940

Bombing of Britain intensifies

The Scharnhorst in a United States identification manual: On 21. June RAF Coastal Command planes spotted Scharnhorst group off the Isle of Utsire, and around 15:00 six Swordfish torpedo planes attacked, but were easily repulsed by anti-aircraft fire. At 16:30 nine Beauforts attacked with 227-kilogram armor-piercing bombs, but were also driven off by anti-aircraft fire and German fighters. In these attacks the ship expended 900 rounds of 105 mm, 1.200 rounds of 37 mm and 2.400 rounds of 20 mm ammunition. When German interception of British radio messages revealed that much of the British Home Fleet was at sea, the Scharnhorst was ordered into Stavanger

There were extensive enemy raids over Great Britain on the nights of the 21st/22nd, 24th/25th, 25th/26th and 26th/27th June. On the first of these nights about 40 aircraft were engaged, coming from bases in France, Belgium and Holland. Bombs were dropped at points on the East Coast from Tyneside to Clacton and, while the enemy’s objectives may have been aerodromes and R.D.F. stations, little damage was done except to small houses, to transport facilities at Grimsby and to electric pylons near Ravenscar.

Jun

26

1940

The British prepare for a Nazi invasion

The front page of a relatively simple leaflet issued to every household during June 1940.

The last remaining British troops in France had not yet been evacuated but attention rapidly switched to the threat to Britain herself. The threat of invasion appeared very real and was underlined by the issue of an official leaflet ‘If the Invader comes” to every household in the land during the course of this week.

Jun

25

1940

France – the Germans also have losses

German war dead 1940

Poor Vraz. Poor Vraz? No, brother. You are rich, immensely rich. You have given the best, the finest, the noblest for your fatherland. You have ‘Fallen for greater Germany

Jun

23

1940

Hitler’s early morning tour of Paris

Adolf_Hitler_in_Paris_1940

After a last look at Paris we drove swiftly back to the airport. By nine o’clock in the morning the sightseeing tour was over. ‘It was the dream of my life to be permitted to see Paris. I cannot say how happy I am to have that dream fulfilled today.’ For a moment I felt something like pity for him: three hours in Paris, the one and only time he was to see it, made him happy when he stood at the height of his triumphs.

Jun

22

1940

The French sign the Armistice

Keitel at armistice signing.

Hitler, we soon observe, has no intention of remaining very long, of listening to the reading of the armistice terms themselves. At three forty-two p.m., twelve minutes after the French arrive, we see Hitler stand up, salute stiffly, and then stride out of the drawing-room, followed by Goring, Brauchitsch, Raeder, Hess, and Ribbentrop. The French, like figures of stone, remain at the green-topped table. General Keitel remains with them. He starts to read them the detailed conditions of the armistice.

Jun

21

1940

The Germans prepare for the Armistice

On 21 June 1940, before the "wagon de l'Armistice" at Rethondes, in the "clairière de l'Armistice" of the Compiègne forest, Hitler speaks with German high-ranked Nazis and Generals, before launching the negotiations of the armistice to be signed the next day (on 22 June 1940) between defeated France and the victorious Third Reich.
The signing will take place at the very same place where the 1918 armistice was signed when Germany was instead defeated : in the rail car which hss been towed from its shelter for this special occasion.
Recognizable people are, from left to right :
Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Office minister of the Reich ;
Adolf Hitler, chancellor of the Reich ;
Hermann Göring viewed from behind, Generalfeldmarschall, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe ;
Erich Raeder partly hidden, Großadmiral, commander-in-chief of the Kriegsmarine ;
probably Walther von Brauchitsch partly hidden, Generaloberst, commander-in-chief of the Heer (the "field" Army) ;
probably Rudolf Hess viewed from behind, deputy to Hitler as leader of the Nazi party, chief of the Party Chancellery.

The humiliating peace terms of the First World War were one of the root causes of Nazism. Hitler was determined that the peace he imposed would extinguish that humiliation. He ordered that the railway carriage where the 1918 Armistice had been signed by the defeated German army should be brought to the exact same spot in the Forest of Compiegne for the ceremony to be held on the 22nd June.

Jun

20

1940

Bombing of Britain begins

Evacuation of British military supplies from Cherbourg

This week has been marked by the initiation of German air attacks against industry in this country, though so far damage and casualties have not been heavy considering the number of aircraft employed. During the week 380 fighter sorties were flown over England : 4 fighters were lost and 15 enemy bombers probably destroyed.

Jun

19

1940

Churchill’s speech is welcomed

The Ministry of information had the difficult task of keeping the public informed without causing unnecessary alarm.

On the other hand there was widespread comment on his delivery and his references to France have brought a recrudescence of anti-French feeling. The latency of anti-French feeling must never be forgotten. A few days ago sympathy swamped it but it found indirect expression in a common phrase ‘At last we have no Allies, now we fight alone’.

There has never been much sympathy with the French point of view but there are some indications that the present wave of anti-French feeling is bringing to the surface antagonism against ‘French politicians’.