November 1940

Nov

30

1940

British Empire troops ready in the Desert

Infantry from the 4th Indian Division training in the desert in late 1940, apparently with Molotov cocktails.

The British had reinforced their army in the desert. Churchill had made the decision to send a number of the of new Matilda tanks, taking a risk that they would not be needed for the threatened invasion at home. In late November most of the troops in the desert had participated in No.1 Training Exercise with the focus on overcoming Italian defensive minefields. All units were warned to be ready for No.2 Training Exercise in the second week of December.

Nov

29

1940

Incendiary bombs over Surrey

Incendiary-Bombs-exploding in street in World War II

One fell in a garden four houses away. They are small magnesium and carbide bombs about 2 feet long and 2 or 3 inches wide. A small fin of alloy one end enables them to fall straight down when the basket containing them explodes in the air. There must be hundreds or even thousands of these small bombs alight around us tonight. The place was like fairyland. Luckily no material damage was done.

Nov

28

1940

Nazi film ‘The Eternal Jew’ is released

Nazi propaganda Poster for Eternal Jew

Although the violent, murderous anti-semitic attitude of the regime towards was readily evident in its actions in Poland, the process was less blatant in Germany and occupied western Europe. Here the Jews found their lives increasingly restricted by discriminatory measures but the full extent of the intended persecution was always kept obscure. The film marked yet another step along the way to the Holocaust.

Nov

27

1940

Battle of Cape Spartivento

The Italian Battleship Vittorio Veneto firing a broadside at the Battle Of Cape Spartivento.

Our forces engaged the enemy at extreme range, but were unable to overtake them. Fleet Air Arm aircraft from H.M.S. Ark Royal, however, succeeded in attacking with the following results : one torpedo hit on a battleship of the Littorio class; and one almost certain torpedo hit on an 8-inch cruiser. Another 8-inch cruiser was observed to be in difficulties, and a dive-bombing attack was made on three 6-inch cruisers, probably causing some damage by near misses.

Nov

26

1940

German raiders off New Zealand

Rangitane sunk on 27th November 1940

The armed merchantman Rangitane had delivered evacuee children to New Zealand and was returning with a valuable cargo to Britain when she was trapped between the Orion and the Komet. Refusing orders not to use her radio she was shelled and of her passengers and crew killed. The remainder were then taken on board the German ships and later most were deposited on the remote island of Narou.

Nov

25

1940

SS Patria sunk in Haifa Harbour

The SS Patria sinking in sight of land - 267 people died when the ship went down rapidly following the explosion.

Jewish refugees were held in the port of Haifa on the SS Patria with the intention of making them proceed on to Mauritius. On the 25th November 1940 the SS Patria was bombed in attempt to prevent it leaving. Unfortunately the bomb was a great deal more powerful than needed to disable the old ship and she sank within 15 minutes. It was estimated that 267 people lost their lives, including 50 of the mainly British crew.

Nov

24

1940

Hugh Dowding is retired from the RAF

Hugh Dowding, official portrait

Yet the reserved uncharismatic, Dowding, nicknamed “Stuffy”, was not popular amongst the higher echelons of the RAF. Some argued that he was not a sufficiently personable leader and should be spending more time visiting the front line Squadrons. There was no evidence that any fighter Squadron needed any form of inspiration – but this was just an alternative view of military leadership.

Nov

23

1940

First night of Southampton Blitz

Ruined Southampton street after the blitz

You could see the whole of the city of Southampton from the hill and if there was a raid it looked like dozens of vast red fans over Southampton. I found that very frightening and I was glad to be in the shelter. If in the day time there was raid and we hadn’t time to get to the shelter, my mother used to push us under the stairs.

Nov

22

1940

Condor Base at Bordeaux bombed

Wellington night bomber, moonlit flight 1940

On the night of the 22nd/23rd twenty-four heavy bombers attacked the aerodrome at Bordeaux; twenty-nine tons of high explosive and two thousand eight hundred incendiaries were dropped. The attack appears to have been most successful. Direct hits were obtained on hangars and barrack blocks, and many aircraft on the aerodrome were seen to be on fire. The hangars on the south-west side of the aerodrome were completely burnt out.

Nov

21

1940

Night Bombing of Britain intensifies

A Heinkel He III Bomber undergoing maintenance using a captured RAF airfield crane, November 1940.

During the week the enemy made a greater number of long-range nightbomber sorties than during any other week of the war. On the 19th/20th. approximately 500 aircraft were employed; this is the highest number recorded in operations on any night against this country. Attacks also showed greater concentration, and on the nights of the 14th/15th, 15th/16th and 19/20th heavy attacks were made on Coventry, London and Birmingham respectively; 350 aircraft attacked Coventry, under ideal weather conditions, and 340 were used against Birmingham.