October 1940

Oct

11

1940

HMS Revenge bombards Cherbourg

HMS Revenge

One hundred and twenty rounds of 15-inch and 800 rounds of 4-7-inch shell were fired and very heavy fires were started. It would appear that the shore defences at first mistook the bombardment for part of the air attack as the only response to shells falling was a marked intensification of anti-aircraft fire, including flaming onions and multi-coloured tracers of all descriptions. After the bombardment had ceased a battery of heavy guns (estimated up to 13-15 inch) to the east of the town opened fire.

Oct

10

1940

The Italians consolidate in the Desert

British troops arrive in Egypt

There has been a considerable expansion in the number of bomb-disposal sections and a rise in the rate of disposal of unexploded bombs may be expected as soon as the training of new personnel is completed. The process of diagnosis of unexploded bombs has improved, as more of the officers of local authorities gain experience in recognising them, but the number of so-called unexploded bombs which the bomb-disposal parties find to have already exploded is still high. The number of unexploded bombs outstanding in the London Region, for instance, on the evening of the 7th October was 966, a reduction of 200 on the corresponding figure for the 1st October.

Oct

9

1940

How to survive an Air Raid

The Ministry of Home Security advised lying down as a last resort.

The Ministry of Home Security was busily re-issueing it advice pamphlets on the necessity of taking proper cover in the event of an Air Raid. It was emphasising that its pre war advice had been largely proved correct in the light of experience. The Anderson Shelter, properly constructed, continued to be promoted as capable of protecting its occupants from almost anything except a direct hit.

Oct

8

1940

A multi-national Royal Air Force

Indian air force pilots arrive in Britain 8th October 1940

During the German invasion of Poland he flew reconnaissance missions in an unarmed trainer aircraft but managed to take the fight to the enemy by throwing hand grenades out of his aircraft at columns of troops. He survived being shot down and was ordered to Rumania when Poland collapsed. Here he was interned but managed to escape and made his way, via North Africa, to France where he again served with a Polish unit. It is believed that he shot down as many as 11 aircraft during the German invasion of France.

Oct

7

1940

Morale remains high under fire

Anti aircraft guns in London during the Blitz

The almost incredible bravery of the people, their fortitude and endurance, and in especial the stoic calm of those who have lost their homes and possessions, beggars description. London and the provinces share equal honours in this last respect, and all writers are touchingly grateful for the kindness shown to them.

“Now the windows are all boarded up and tarpaulin put on the roof it does not seem so bad ….. The people around here have all been so kind. So many offered us a home… We did not know we had such wonderful friends.”

Oct

6

1940

Henry Moore’s Wartime Sketchbook

'Basement shelter' by Henry Moore from his Wartime Sketchbook.

Henry Moore, who had been gassed during the First World War, was initially reluctant to record the people of London enduring the Blitz.

There was tension in the air. [People] were a bit like the chorus in a Greek drama telling us about the violence we don’t actually witness.

Oct

5

1940

Yet another Merchant ship sunk

The Dutch merchantman Ottoland had almost completed her journey from New Brinswick, Canada when she hit a mine on 5th October 1940 in the North Sea. She was already sinking when Coastal Command aircraft arrived on the scene and her cargo of timber and pit props had floated off. Minesweepers were directed to rescue the crew, seen in a boat, top right.

During the period [the week up to 10th October], thirteen ships (32,369 tons) have been reported sunk. Of these, four British (18,141 tons), one Dutch (2,202 tons), and two neutral ships (7,465 tons), were sunk by submarine. Four small ships (1,710 tons) were mined, and two British ships (2,851 tons) were sunk by aircraft.

Oct

4

1940

To seek shelter or not

Anderson shelter after bomb explosion nearby

Last night we had a peaceful night with no warnings, but the night before I got the scare of my life. I was in bed when the sirens went, and feeling tired, I decided to stay put. However, about five minutes later there was a terrific banging and crashing and whizzing, about 10 bombs dropping. Well, the bed shook and the ornaments jumped, but I, being unusually brave stayed put, thinking he had finished.

Oct

3

1940

Blitz leads to calls for ‘savage reprisals’

Map of RAF raids on Germany 1940

During this period the scale of operations of the German Air Force was very similar to the preceding two weeks. Widespread night bombing in the London area was continued, but on a somewhat reduced scale, and was concentrated more on the Western outskirts of the capital, the East End and the London Docks being almost neglected. Attacks have continued against the Mersey-side Docks and in the Liverpool area. There has been a marked decrease in operations against South Wales.
The approximate Casualty figures for week ending 0600 hours the 2nd October are :— Killed, 2,000; wounded, 2,800. These figures included 1,700 killed and 1,600 wounded in London.

Oct

2

1940

The position of the United States considered

Lord Halifax, British Foreign Secretary in 1940

The value of the United States to us at present is as a purveyor of munitions and moral support. The Germans realise that as they cannot now hope to deprive us of American moral support, their aim must be to deprive us of munitions. They might well think that the most complete way of doing this would be to involve the United States in war with Japan; the next best to distract American attention from Europe.