November 1940

Nov

10

1940

Fierce fighting on the Abyssinian border

Indian troops in the Sudan

This was the first British offensive in the area since the Italian occupation of Somalia. Brigadier William Slim’s attack initially made good progress but his small force of tanks were damaged by the rocky ground and by mines, and the spares were destroyed in the constant air attacks that followed.

Nov

9

1940

Neville Chamberlain dies

Neville Chamberlain at Munich in 1938

Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.

Nov

8

1940

Hitler declares he will beat ‘the English’

von Kluge and Hitler

Mr. Churchill has produced the greatest military nonsense in this fight for which a statesman or warlord ever was responsible! He fought with the weapon which is his weakest. He fought from a position which has been geographically disadvantageous to England ever since we have held Trondheim and Brest. It was the weakest position which England could possibly maintain. We will persevere in this fight. I regret that it will demand sacrifices on our part as well. But I do know National Socialist Germany. Only Mr. Churchill does not know it. There is a big difference. He believed he could weary the German Volk. He completely forgot that now a different Germany has come into being. This Germany becomes all the more zealous with every bomb that is dropped. Its resolve is merely strengthened. Above all, it knows: this nonsense must be done away with once and for all. And in this, we are determined.

Nov

7

1940

Bombing – and machine gunning of civilians – continues

WW2 Bomb crater during London Blitz

The approximate figures for the week ending 0600 the 6th November were 399 killed and 1,102 in total of which London suffered 253 killed and 497 injured. This represents about half the total number of casualties for the previous week in London; in the provinces, however, while the number of deaths is about half that of last week, the total of wounded has increased from about 400 to 600. In no town outside London did casualties exceed 100, the highest provincial death roll being at Fraserburgh where over 28 were killed.

Nov

6

1940

The crew of the San Demetrio re-board their ship

Oil tanker San Demetrio

A shell had entered the port bow just above the waterline, exploded, and splinters had holed our collision bulkhead, resulting in our fore-hold making water, which was settling the vessel by the head. The bridge and all midships accommodation was a mass of twisted steel, the main deck under the structure was buckled with heat from the fire, which had been so intense that the brass and glass of the portholes had melted and fused, resembling icicles. Part of this mess was still burning. The main deck abaft the bridge had a number of splinter holes, and the petrol cargo was flooding from this as the ship rolled. All the after accommodation on the port side had been destroyed, also the decks. This area was still on fire. These fires were attacked with fire extinguishers and buckets to begin with, and with fire hoses when the Chief Engineer raised sufficient steam to operate the pumps. The fires were extinguished in about five hours.

Nov

5

1940

Captain Fegen wins the V.C. on the Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay merchant ship

Captain Fegen, in His Majesty’s Armed Merchant Cruise Jervis Bay, was escorting thirty-eight Merchantmen. Sighting a powerful German man-of-war he at once drew clear of the convoy, made straight for the Enemy, and brought his ship between the Raider and her prey, so that they might scatter and escape. Crippled, in flames, unable to reply, for nearly an hour Jervis Bay held the Germans fire. So she went down: but of the Merchantmen all but four or five were saved.

Nov

4

1940

A break in the Blitz on Epsom Downs

Heinkel bomber crashed on English town

Last night was the first time for 57 nights when no air raid warning sounded. It seemed unreal. Bad weather seems to have caused this happy happening. Going to Epsom Downs station everything seemed peaceful and beautiful except for the bomb craters and heaps of chalk. I still arrive in London about 11.00 a.m. and leave about 3.30 p.m. The service is much better now and I arrive home about 5.30 p.m. in time to put up the black out and have tea before the air raid warning sounded. The weather was still bad but plenty of planes seemed to go towards London. One dropped 6 bombs nearby. We heard them whistle down.

Nov

3

1940

Australian Air Force joins Desert war

RAF Westland Lysanders

During the next four and a half years, 3 Squadron became one of the most active squadrons in the RAAF, quickly becoming a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to the conventional reconnaissance and ground attack roles of an army co-operation squadron, it defended ground forces and bombers from enemy aircraft, and conducted strikes against enemy shipping.

Nov

2

1940

The second sinking of U-31

U-31 sinking

At 1350 U31 surfaced right astern of Antelope. The Destroyer’s after group opened fire, until the crew were seen to be abandoning ship. The U-Boat’s motors were left running ahead with port wheel on, speed about 4 knots. Antelope’s whaler tried to board, but the U-Boat’s speed was too great, and as it was not quite certain whether all the crew had left U 31, fire was opened again at 1405. Twenty-three rounds were fired but owing to the large swell no hits were obtained.