June 1940

Jun

11

June 1940

The Desert War begins with British raid

General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East Command, led 82,775 men from the United Kingdom, India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Britain’s African colonies. They faced 415,000 Italian troops stationed in Libya and East Africa. Nevertheless, it was British forces that took the initiative on the night of 11-12 June 1940, when units of the newly arrived 7th Armoured Division crossed the Libyan border and took the first Italian prisoners.

Jun

10

June 1940

Italy declares war on Britain and France

I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought.

Jun

9

June 1940

Churchill prophetic as Germans reach the Seine

The French Army put up a fierce resistance along the Seine and had some notable successes against the invading forces. Ultimately they had no answer to the German Blitzkrieg tactics which saw deep penetrating manoeuvres by the Panzers, which outflanked their defensive positions. Rommel was to lead his Division in a hundred kilometre drive forward in just two days.

Jun

8

June 1940

HM Ships Glorious, Acasta and Ardent sunk

world war 2 aircraft carrier at sea - hms glorious

The escorting destroyer [HMS Ardent] on the port side of the battleships continued her torpedo attacks and tried, extremely skilfully, to avoid the effective defensive fire of the battleships’ medium armament by means of constant alterations of course. Finally this destroyer also opened fire on the battleships. She fought with outstanding resolution in a situation that was hopeless for her. The destroyer received numerous hits and finally went down, her bow armament firing to the last and her engines apparently in order and driving her at high speed. The final range was about 5 miles.

Jun

7

June 1940

46 Squadron successful in skies over Narvik

‘I fired a 4 second burst and there was a burst of black smoke and the undercarriage dropped. Heavy return fire was coming from all four rear upper gun positions and it appeared that the top gunners had twin guns. I had now closed to about 80 yards and broke away downwards to port. As I did so I noticed that my oil pressure had dropped tp zero. I turned towards the aerodrome, gradually losing height and landed.’

Jun

7

June 1940

The British count the cost of Dunkirk

Aerial view of beach at Dunkirk

Ships engaged in the operation were heavily attacked by German bombers during daylight hours, – and at night M.T.Bs. (apparently based on Ymuiden and Helder) were used to harass them. In addition, the work was increasingly hampered by shell fire from batteries erected to the westward of Dunkirk. Patrols by corvettes, trawlers and Fleet Air Arm aircraft were carried out throughout the period of the evacuation to protect the ships engaged in the operation.

Jun

5

June 1940

Refugees flee as German advance resumes

Many did not have a clear idea where they were going. Many people left in a panic, throwing a few possessions on a cart. Along the route food became scarce as the mass exodus gathered pace. Towns in the path of the refugees became overwhelmed, accommodation ran out and people were forced to sleep rough.

Jun

4

June 1940

Churchill: ‘We shall never surrender’

We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

Jun

3

June 1940

The grim state of a ship returned from Dunkirk

The soldiers and ship’s crew who had survived were disembarked and the wounded were removed and taken to hospital. Such were the conditions when our little party arrived at dockside. It was a beautiful summer morning, but there was an unnatural quietness hanging all around. Even the view from dockside brought a hushed feeling to all who looked.

Jun

2

June 1940

Majority of troops returned from Dunkirk

The British Expeditionary Force still exists, not as a handful of fugitives, but as a body of seasoned veterans. The vital weapon of any army is its spirit. Ours has been tried and tempered in the furnace. It has not been found wanting. It is this refusal to accept defeat that is the guarantee of final victory.