1940

Jul

22

1940

Hideki Tojo appointed Army Minister in Japan

General Tojo was appointed Army Minister in the Japanese Cabinet on 22nd July 1940

His political appointment effectively marked the end of the argument from those within the Japanese establishment who wanted a withdrawal from China. General Tojo was a strong supporter of the Tripartite Alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan and his militaristic and aggressive outlook hardened the Japanese position towards a wider war.

Jul

20

1940

Australian pilot downs Me 109 over English Channel

Troops and police inspect Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 (W.Nr. 3367) "Red 14" of 2./JG52, which crash-landed in a wheatfield at Mays Farm, Selmeston, near Lewes in Sussex, 12 August 1940. Its pilot, Unteroffizier Leo Zaunbrecher, was captured.

Stuart tried to contact control to see if the relief section was on its way but could not raise them. He then ‘turned and headed for convoy climbing to get into sun’. When he was 5 miles from the vessels, he saw bombs exploding around the escorting destroyer. Despite being alone, he ‘pulled the plug and went after the enemy aircraft which had turned southwards’.

When he was southeast of the convoy, at 10000 feet, he saw ‘three Me 109s flying in wide vic at about 9000 feet’. He dived and attacked the machine on the left, opening fire at 200 yards and firing two rapid 2—second bursts as he closed to astern at approximately 50 yards.

Jul

19

1940

Hitler makes a Peace offer to Britain

Adolf Hitler in the Reichstag

His oratorical form was at its best. . . I’ve often admired the way he uses his hands, which are somewhat feminine and quite artistic. Tonight he used those hands beautifully, seemed to express himself almost as much with his hands – and the sway of his body — as he did with his words and the use of his voice.

Jul

19

1940

HMS Sydney’s surprise attack on Italian cruisers

The famous Australian cruiser HMS Sydney

As soon as Sydney opened fire on the leading enemy cruiser, the Colleoni, our destroyers closed in support, and the Italian cruisers endeavoured to escape back through the Antikithera Channel. Early in the action a hit by Sydney in Colleoni’s engine room brought her to a standstill, and Sydney, leaving our destroyers to complete her destruction with torpedoes, continued the engagement with the other cruiser.

Jul

18

1940

Rising casualties at home, Mediterranean fleet bombed

HMS Eagle

During the operations in the Eastern Mediterranean last week the Fleet and the slower of the two convoys from Malta to Alexandria which the Fleet was covering were continually bombed without success. Eight heavy air attacks were made on H.M. Ships Royal Sovereign, Malaya and Eagle between 1100 and 2100 on the 11th July, and on the 12th July H.M.S. Warspite was attacked 22 times, a total of 260 to 300 bombs being dropped. Fighters from H.M.S. Eagle shot down 4 or 5 bombers with the loss of one machine rendered unserviceable.

Jul

17

1940

The glorious ‘Few’ who are defending Britain

Spitfire pilots of No. 610 Squadron relaxing between sorties at 'A' Flight dispersal at Hawkinge, 29 July 1940.

It was impossible to look at those young men, who might within a matter of minutes be fighting and dying to save us, without mingled emotions of wonder, gratitude, and humility. The physical and mental strain of the long hours at dispersal, the constant flying at high altitudes (two or three sorties a day were normal, six or seven not uncommon), must have been prodigious.

And yet they were so cheerful, so confident, and so obviously dedicated. They were always thrilled to see Churchill, and they gave me a kindly welcome.

Jul

16

1940

Hitler orders ‘Operation Sealion’ – invade Britain

Watching out for raiders over london.

They are certainly formidable obstructions to most of us especially in the hours of darkness when one is confronted by barriers in the most unexpected places. I am told that Winston is mainly responsible for them and takes the deepest interest in them. He appears to spend a lot of time inspecting our defences all over the country.

Jul

14

1940

Air combat over the Channel at Dover

The Junkers 87 'Stuka' dive bomber was vulnerable to attack and invariably had fighter protection, in this case the Me 109.

“Now then, oh, there’s a terrific mix-up over the Channel! It’s impossible to tell which are our machines and which are the Germans. There was one definitely down in this battle and there’s a fight going on. There’s a fight going on and you can hear the little rattles of machine-gun bullets. Crump! That was a bomb, as you may imagine.”

Jul

13

1940

German bombing of Britain intensifies

A Dornier 17 begins its bombing run, summer 1940.

The R.A.F. say that that is what happened before the German attack in France. Desultory bombing and then one morning a very heavy attack on everything. It may be coming again. The seemingly desultory bombing may be a method of testing our defences. Certainly the Germans have never been up against such a good fighter defence, such A.A. fire, and such a warning system.

Jul

12

1940

Britain: everyone prepares for War

Your-Britain-fight-for it-now

Mr Duff Cooper broadcasted an appeal last night for recruits for ‘an imaginary regiment, the Silent Column’ composed of men and women resolved to say nothing that can help the enemy. He emphasised the danger of dropping scraps of information, sometimes vital parts of a vast jigsaw puzzle being pieced together by the enemy.

As part of an ‘anti—rumour’ campaign a new poster is published….