RAF Fighter Squadrons prepare for battle

A Supermarine Spitfire Mark 1A of No 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force being re-armed between sorties at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire.
A Supermarine Spitfire Mark 1A of No 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force being re-armed between sorties at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire.
Spitfire Mark IA, X4474 ‘QV-I’, of No. 19 Squadron RAF, taking off from Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, with Sergeant B J Jennings at the controls.
Spitfire Mark IA, X4474 ‘QV-I’, of No. 19 Squadron RAF, taking off from Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, with Sergeant B J Jennings at the controls.

RAF Fighter Command knew that the Luftwaffe’s efforts were bound to intensify. Across the country aircraft production was being stepped up and every effort was made to keep as many fighter aircraft as possible fully operational. The RAF engineer ground crews worked around the clock to service aircraft engines and maintain them at peak performance.

On the airfields across southern England the day began at dawn. In a memorable passage from his best selling memoir ‘First Light’ Geoffrey Wellum describes the very first actions of the day of a RAF fighter pilot:

Dispersal pen and my Spitfire. I pause and look at her. A long shapely nose, not exactly arrogant but, nevertheless, daring anyone to take a swing at it. Lines beautifully proportioned, the aircraft sitting there, engine turning easily and smoothly with subdued power. The slipstream blows the moisture over the top of the wings in thin streamlets. Flashes of blue flame from the exhausts are easily seen in the half light, an occasional backfire and the whole aeroplane trembling like a thoroughbred at the start of the Derby.

The engine note increases as my fitter opens up the Merlin to zero boost whilst the rigger stands with his hand on the wingtip, watching expectantly. I think to myself, ‘Don’t open her up any more, you twit, or the tail will lift and the whole shooting match will end up on its nose.’

The engine note changes fractionally as the magnetos are tested. The fitter, intent on his instruments, red cockpit lights reflecting on his face. Sounds OK, no problem there at all. Throttle back, mag check again at 1,500 revs by the sound of it and then throttle right closed, engine idling, smoke from the exhausts, cutout pulled and the engine splutters to a stop. Peace again.

Bevington, the fitter, looks from the cockpit and gives me the thumbs up. He levers himself out on to the wing and jumps to the ground. I walk forward and hang my parachute on the port wing for a quick getaway; you can easily put it on whilst the engine is being started, saves a lot of time.

Now to the cockpit. Up on to the wing and step in. I hang my helmet on the stick and plug in the R/T lead and oxygen tube. At the same time, I check the bottle contents: full. Fuel? Press the fuel gauge button, reads full also.

Now brake pressure. OK, that’s fine. Trim? Let’s adjust it now and then it’s done With. Full rudder bias to help with the swing on take-off, elevators one degree nose heavy, that’s good. Airscrew, full fine pitch. That’s about it, then, ready to scramble when the time comes. Bound to come sometime. It’ll be a miracle if we get through to midday without one.

I climb out of the cockpit and my fitter and rigger are waiting, as always. What stalwarts they are, both utterly loyal to ‘their’ pilot, dedicated and uncomplaining. They are both smiling and friendly. ‘Twenty-five drop on both mags, sir. We found that oil leak last night. Nothing to worry about and in any case we reckon we’ve cured it.’

‘Splendid; so we’re at readiness, are we?’

‘On the top line, sir.’

‘Good men, see you both later, no doubt.’ .

‘We’ll be here.’

No need to tell them what is expected when the balloon goes up. It occurs to me and not for the first time, as I walk back to the dispersal hut, that the respect and feeling that these ground crews have for their pilots borders on affection.

No standing to attention and shouted orders, we all get on together keeping Spitfires flying. To my mind, the atmosphere in a front-line fighter squadron is something approaching unique and certainly gives an inner feeling that will remain with me as long as I survive. I will never forget.

I pause at the hut door and look at the ever-brightening sky. Clear as a bell and I go inside. As I put on my Mae West [Inflatable life jacket, so called in reference to the then-popular busty American actress of that name] the telephone orderly at his blanket-covered table lifts the receiver.

‘Hello, Operations? 92 Squadron now at readiness, sir. Twelve aircraft. That’s right, sir. Goodbye.’

Hitler orders final Luftwaffe push against England

German 'Stuka' dive bomber pilots in France in 1940. They were suffering terrible losses when the RAF managed to break through their fighter cover and would soon be withdrawn from battle.
German ‘Stuka’ dive bomber pilots in France in 1940. They were suffering terrible losses whenever the RAF managed to break through their fighter cover and would soon be withdrawn from battle.

On the 1st August the Luftwaffe senior command met for a conference to discuss the destruction of the RAF. Not for the last time Hermann Goring had made extravagant promises to Hitler that he could single handedly achieve the Fuhrer’s objectives with his airforce.

The RAF had been carefully keeping its reserves out of the air battle around the coast of Britain. Luftwaffe intelligence had interpreted this as a lack of strength. The more insightful of the German fighter pilots recognised that this was not the case at all – they were being held back to counter the more intensive attacks that the Luftwaffe were now planning to launch.

Oberst Theo Osterkamp the commander of Jagdgeschwader 51, attended the conference as a representative of the fighter pilots that were currently doing battle. He quickly learnt that his observations on the state of the RAF were not welcome:

A big conference of the Luftwaffe command with its Supreme Commander Hermann Goring. Place of action – The Hague, at the headquarters of General Christiansen, the commander in Holland. I have the honour to join this illustrious company as the representative of the fighter forces.

Everybody of rank and name is present. Because of the good weather the festival takes place in the garden. The ‘Iron One’ [Goring] appears in a new white gala uniform.

At first he praised extravagantly the lion’s share of the Luftwaffe in the defeat of France. ‘And now, gentlemen, the Fuhrer has ordered me to crush Britain with my Luftwaffe. By means of hard blows I plan to have this enemy, who has already suffered a decisive moral defeat, down on his knees in the nearest future, so that an occupation of the island by our troops can proceed without any risk!’

Then the matter of orders and directives for the execution of the plan was taken up. According to the information of the intelligence service. Britain disposed in its southern sector – the only one which came into question for us – of, at the most, 400-500 fighters.

Their destruction in the air and on land was to be carried out in three phases: during the first five days in a semicircle starting in the west and proceeding south and then east, within a radius of 150 to 100 kilometres south of London; in the next three days within 50 to 100 kilometres; and during the last five days within the 50-kilometre circle around London. That would irrevocably gain an absolute air superiority over England and fulfil the Fuhrer’s mission!

I think that I must have made a terribly stupid face, but in my case that should scarcely attract any attention. Udet told me later that I shook my head in shock, but I do not remember.

At any rate I saw Udet leaning down to Goring and whispering something to him. Goring looked up, saw me and said, ‘Well, Osterkamp, have you got a question?’

I explained to him that during the time when I alone was in combat over England with my Geschwader I counted, on the basis of continuous monitoring of the British radio and of air battles during which the distinctive marks of the units [to which the British fighters belonged] were ascertained, that at that time about 500 to 700 British fighters were concentrated in the area around London. Their numbers had increased considerably if compared with the number of planes available at the beginning of the battle. All new units were equipped with Spitfires, which I considered of a quality equal to our fighters.

I wanted to say more, but Goring cut me off angrily: ‘This is nonsense, our information is excellent, and I am perfectly aware of the situation. Besides, the Messerschmitt is much better than the Spitfire, because, as you yourself reported, the British are too cowardly to engage your fighters!’

‘I shall permit myself to remark that I reported only that the British fighters were ordered to avoid battles with our fighters — ’ ‘That is the same thing,’ Hermann shouted: ‘if they were as strong and good as you maintain, I would have to send my Luftzeugmeister [Udet] before the firing squad.’

Udet smiled and touched his neck with his hand. I still could not hold back and said, ‘May I ask how many fighters will be used in the combat against Britain?’ Hermann answered, ‘Naturally, all our fighter squadrons will be used in the struggle.’ I now knew as much as I had known before and thought, after a careful appraisal, to be able to count on some 1,200 to 1,500 fighters. In this too I was to be bitterly disappointed.

As quoted by Telford Taylor in The breaking wave: The German defeat in the summer of 1940

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring
Hitler believed that Herman Goring\’s assurances that the Luftwaffe could neutralise the RAF.

On the same day, 1st August 1940, Hitler issued Directive 17, believing that a knock-out blow against the RAF was within the grasp of the Luftwaffe:

In order to establish the necessary conditions for the final conquest of England I intend to intensify air and sea warfare against the English homeland. I therefore order as follows:

1. The German Air Force is to overpower the English Air Force with all the forces at its command, in the shortest time possible. The attacks are to be directed primarily against flying units, their ground installations, and their supply organizations, but also against the aircraft industry, including that manufacturing anti-aircraft equipment.

2. After achieving temporary or local air superiority the air war is to be continued against ports, in particular against stores of food, and also against stores of provisions in the interior of the country.
Attacks on the south coast ports will be made on the smallest possible scale, in view of our own forthcoming operations.

3. On the other hand, air attacks on enemy warships and merchant ships may be reduced except where some particularly favourable target happens to present itself, where such attacks would lend
additional effectiveness to those mentioned in Paragraph 2, or where such attacks are necessary for the training of air crews for further operations.

4. The intensified air warfare will be carried out in such a way that the Air Force can at any time be called upon to give adequate support to naval operations against suitable targets. It must also be ready to take part in full force in Operation Seelowe.

5. I reserve to myself the right to decide on terror attacks as measures of reprisal.

6. The intensification of the air war may begin on or after 5 August. The exact time is to be decided by the Air Force after completion of preparations and in the light of the weather.

The Navy is authorized to begin the proposed intensified naval war at the same time.

Generaloberst Ernst Udet
Generaloberst Ernst Udet

Bloody Wednesday in Olkusz, Poland

German policemen humiliating Rabbi Moshe Yitzhak Hagermann, on "Bloody Wednesday" in Olkusz, Poland, 31/07/1940 Yad Vashem Photo Archives 4613/903
German policemen humiliating Rabbi Moshe Yitzhak Hagermann, on “Bloody Wednesday” in Olkusz, Poland, 31/07/1940
Yad Vashem Photo Archives 4613/903
Jewish men were gathered in Olkusz town centre for ‘registration’.

On the 31st July 1940 a German Army police unit arrived in the Polish town of Olkusz and gathered all the Jewish men over 14 in the town centre for “registration”. They were then subjected to hours of bullying sadism, forced to lie face down in the city square and beaten if they moved. Three men died from the beatings. The event was absolutely unexceptional as regards the treatment of Jews in Poland, these atrocities were all too common. On this occasion however photographs, taken by at least one German present, survive.

It was common practice for German troops to take photographs of all manner of German occupation activities, including the persecution of Jews, and even blatant murderous atrocities. It is known that there was even swapping of ‘atrocity photographs’ between German troops. Obviously not many of these photographs survive. But some do.

These men and their families were doomed, along with nearly three million other Jews in Poland. For the first few years of the war they would suffer arbitrary persecution – punishments, beatings and murders. Then, after having been gathered into ghettoes and starved, the Nazis would organise their mass murder in extermination ‘camps’. Rabbi Moshe Yitzhak Hagermann died in 1942 in Majdanek.

For the full story see Yad Vashem

Jewish men from the Polish city of Olkusz are forced to lie face down in the City Square.

Bomber Command attacks German airfields

Amiens Airport being bombed by Bristol Blenheims of 82 Squadron, based at Watton, Norfolk, on 30 July 1940 – with bombs in mid air. The Germans were rapidly lengthening the concrete runway: the interpretation report estimated that 650 metres was serviceable and this was being extended to 1000 metres. The large number of bomb craters illustrate how difficult it was to put airfields out of operations – the RAF had previously attacked this airfield on 10th July. The interpretation report concluded that none of the hangars had been hit and the airfield was ‘fully serviceable’.
Click image to enlarge.

While much attention naturally focuses on RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, the work of Bomber Command should not be neglected. With the Germans now in possession of numerous airfields in northern France within easy range of Britain, they were kept busy trying to disrupt the Luftwaffe as far as practicable.

Hitler plans the invasion of Russia

Colonel Warlimont, pictured in 1939, was one of a very small group of officers who learnt that Hitler began planning to attack Russia in 1940.

Following a Military Planning Conference with Hitler at the Berghof, 29 July 1940 General Alfred Jodl, the Chief of the Armed Forces Command Staff discloses to his small group of support officers that Hitler is already pressing for an attack on Russia.

Colonel Walter Warlimont was one of the officers in the Special Command Train Atlas at the Bad Reichenall Station following the conference at the Berghof:

[Including myself] Four of us (Lt. Col. von Lossberg, Capt. Junge, Major Freiherr von Falkenstein) were present, sitting at individual tables in the restaurant car. … Jodl went round ensuring that all doors and windows were closed and then, without any preamble, [he] disclosed to us that Hitler had decided to rid the world ‘once and for all’ of the danger of Bolshevism by a surprise attack on Soviet Russia to be carried out at the earliest possible moment, i.e. in May 1941.

… Jodl countered every question [we had] … although he convinced none of us. … He repeated Hitler’s view and probably his own also that the collision with Bolshevism was bound to come and that it was better therefore to have this campaign now, when we were at the height of our military power, than to have to call the German people to arms once more in the years to come.

… Shortly after Jodl’s disclosure, we happened to discover that Hitler had originally been determined to launch the attack in the late summer of 1940. The most urgent representations from Keitel and Jodl … had been necessary to convince the Supreme Commander that the time and space factors alone, together with the weather conditions, rendered this plan totally impracticable.

See Walter Warlimont: Inside Hitler’s Headquarters, 1939-45

American support promised – but Britain fights alone

Spitfire pilots pose beside the wreckage of a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, which they shot down as it was attacking a Channel convoy, 1940.
Spitfire pilots pose beside the wreckage of a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, which they shot down as it was attacking a Channel convoy, 1940.
Hurricanes of No. 56 Squadron in flight, April 1940.
Hurricanes of No. 56 Squadron in flight, April 1940.

What was later to be designated the ‘Battle of Britain’ was now firmly underway, with more and more of RAF Fighters Command’s squadrons being drawn into action. Nevertheless much of the fighting was still taking place offshore, as the Luftwaffe continued its attacks on convoys. As a consequence the battle was not yet taking place regularly over the heads of civilians in the south east of England.

Reporting on the atmosphere in London was Mollie Panter-Downes, correspondent for New Yorker magazine:

28 July 1940

Except for isolated air raids and attacks on convoys round the coast, this has been a quiet week. The results of the air battles have confirmed the general impression that the British pilots are outflying the Germans, man for man and plane for plane.

On Friday afternoon, newspaper-sellers were chalking up on their boards “Twenty-three Planes Down Yesterday” — a new record which was later corrected to twenty-eight and which greatly encouraged people who had already been heartened a night or two earlier by Lord Beaverbrook’s broadcast announcement that arrangements had just been made for the production in the United States of three thousand planes a month for this country.

Skeptical listeners were even more impressed by Mr. Morgenthau’s [the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury] subsequent statement that the United States Government had agreed to give the British “every possible facility to place their orders and secure delivery.” That, the doubters agreed, means something, though the date of the first of these precious deliveries must necessarily be far distant and time is a factor which may be heartbreakingly decisive.

The President’s statement on the possibility of sending American vessels to fetch children to the States brought hope to many anxious parents, but his insistence that there should be “reasonable assurances” of immunity from submarine and air attack didn’t sound very good, for the recent example of the Meknés is in everybody’s mind.

Although most Britons believe that the sinking of one child-refugee ship would have the same galvanizing effect on American public opinion that the Lusitania outrage had, there are plenty of people who think that the Germans might be clumsy or callous enough to risk it.

Although London may not be precisely comfortable, it is at the moment one of the most exhilarating cities in the world in which to find oneself. It can’t be comfortable to anyone who hasn’t a morbid affection for danger, since, as people say simply, however good the defences are, some of those waves of dive bombers which may momentarily be sent against them will certainly get through.

Horror may glide down suddenly and noiselessly out of the summer sky as it did on Barcelona, but all the same it’s stimulating to be here, as one of the remaining Americans remarked, because of a new vitality which seems to have been injected into the staid British atmosphere.

Possibly the feeling of increased confidence and purpose one gets from everybody is due to the fact that the British people are now not trusting in anybody or anything—not in the French Army or even in the American promise of planes – except the British people. After the bitterness and bewilderment of the last few tragic weeks, there’s relief in finding that faith can be so simplified.

See Mollie Panter-Downes: London War Notes, 1939-1945

A working class family in wartime: every day life with the Suter family in London, 1940. Doris and Alan Suter examine something of interest in a bush in the front garden of their Eltham home, in the summer of 1940. Note that both carry gas masks.
A working class family in wartime: every day life with the Suter family in London, 1940. Doris and Alan Suter examine something of interest in a bush in the front garden of their Eltham home, in the summer of 1940. Note that both carry gas masks.
Two members of the Home Guard with a Vickers machine gun on a village green in Surrey. Originally known as the Local Defence Volunteers, the force was set up in 1940 as a precaution against enemy parachute landings behind the lines in the event of an invasion. By July the Home Guard numbered 500,000.
Two members of the Home Guard with a Vickers machine gun on a village green in Surrey. Originally known as the Local Defence Volunteers, the force was set up in 1940 as a precaution against enemy parachute landings behind the lines in the event of an invasion. By July the Home Guard numbered 500,000.

Air power changes everything

Sir Alan Brooke, Chief in Command, Home Forces centre, studies a map with Montgomery, left.

General Alan Brooke had been appointed Chief-in-Command, Home Forces on the 21st July and was now responsible for bringing the Army to the fullest state of readiness for the anticipated invasion. His diary for 26th July records:

In afternoon went to see Dill [Chief of the Imperial General Staff] at the War Office and from there on to the Chiefs of Staff meeting. Main subject of discussion was the priority of use of fighters in the event of invasion. I came away feeling less confident as to our powers of meeting an invasion. The attitude of representatives of the Naval Command brought [out] very clearly the fact that the navy now realizes fully that its position has been seriously undermined by the advent of aircraft. Sea supremacy is no longer what it was, and in the face of strong bomber forces can no longer ensure the safety of this island against invasion. This throws a much heavier task on the army.

Air attacks still aimed at convoys off Britain

HMS Boreas, bombed and seriously damaged on the 25th July 1940.
Image by former crew member Edward Wallace

At noon on the 25th July enemy bombers protected by fighters launched a large-scale operation against Dover. Waves of as many as fifty aircraft continued to attack for seven and a half hours. Severe damage was prevented by our fighters who successfully intercepted and inflicted casualties of twenty-one aircraft confirmed, with a further twelve probable. Seven of our fighters were lost. Three additional enemy casualties are claimed from anti-aircraft fire.

About 1630 on the 25th July, British aircraft on patrol sighted nine or ten enemy E-boats near Cape Gris Nez which were proceeding to attack the westbound Coastal Convoy, then approaching Dungeness and already being repeatedly attacked by enemy aircraft.

H.M. Destroyers Brilliant and Boreas and two British M.T.Bs. were sent to intercept and engage the enemy. On sighting our destroyers the enemy retired under cover of a smoke screen. They were engaged for 15 minutes, but with unknown results. The destroyers came under the fire of enemy shore batteries, and were also twice heavily attacked by dive-bombers while withdrawing.

The Boreas was damaged in both bombing attacks, and had 15 killed and 29 wounded, 16 seriously. The Brilliant received a direct hit on the quarter deck in the second attack, but had no casualties. Both ships were towed by tugs back to Dover.

See TNA CAB/66/10/29

Extracts from the Weekly Resume of the NAVAL, MILITARY AND AIR SITUATION up to 12 noon July 25th, 1940, as reported to the War Cabinet:


General Review.

35. Weather has again interfered with operations throughout the week. The activity of our day-bombers has been severely restricted, though extensive operations have been possible at night and have been governed by the same policy as those of last week, apparently with considerable success. Fighter operations have increased in intensity and have produced satisfactory results.

36. The scale of air attack on this country has again tended to decrease during the week and has almost exclusively consisted of attacks on convoys by large mixed formations of bombers and fighters. These attacks were not always developed or pressed home. Enemy reconnaissance and mine-laying operations have been at a high level and his transport aircraft have again been busy throughout the week.

French liner Meknes torpedoed

The 6000 ton French liner ‘Meknes’, sunk while repatriating French sailors.

The new ‘Vichy’ French Government insisted that French naval personnel in Britain be repatriated, their position being that the war was over for France. Only men who volunteered to serve with the Free French under De Gaulle were permitted to stay.

Apparently it was not possible to communicate the matter of repatriation to the Germans, leading to a tragic incident. The full circumstances were set out by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr A.V. Alexander, in the House of commons the next day:

This vessel was one of a number being used for the repatriation of French naval officers and men who wished to return to unoccupied France in accordance with the terms of the Armistice. The French Government’s representative had been informed in advance of our intention to repatriate these men in French ships.

The “Meknes” left Southampton yesterday for Marseilles with nearly 1,300 officers and men on board. Special care had been taken to make her neutral character apparent. She was flying the French flag, and had French colours painted on deck and sides. At night she was fully illuminated and had her navigation lights burning.

According to reports so far received, she was stopped by an enemy motor torpedo boat, which fired on her without warning, at about 10.30 p.m. last night. Apparently the passengers and crew were then given five minutes to take to the boats, but during this interval the motor torpedo boat fired a fresh burst every time the “Meknes” tried to signal her name. She was then torpedoed, and sank in four or five minutes.

I have just heard that the German High Command admit responsibility for this sinking in a communiqué which states[…]

In an attack off the South Coast of England one of our speed boats off Portland sank a large enemy merchant ship of 18,000 tons by a torpedo.

Immediately upon the receipt of her distress signals British naval units and aircraft were ordered to proceed at once to the scene, and I am happy to say that so far about 1,000 survivors are reported to have been saved. It is too early as yet to tell for certain how many Frenchmen have lost their lives in this deliberate and callous attack on a ship whose non-belligerent character was so obvious.

I fear, however, that the number of deaths may be as many as 300. I am sure that the House will wish me to express our deep sympathy with the dependants of any who may have fallen victims to this latest example of German methods of conducting war at sea.

Hansard 25th July 1940

Later that day the Admiralty issued further details:

It is now possible to give in greater detail an account of the sinking of the French ship Meknes, which was repatriating Frenchmen to France, by a German motor torpedo-boat. The Meknes had the French colours painted on both sides, and was fully illuminated with a searchlight trained on the French ensign.

At 10.30pm the officer of the watch on the bridge of the Meknes heard motor-engines, and saw the wake of a vessel. The Meknes came under machine gun fire almost immediately. She stopped at once, blew her whistle to indicate that she had stopped, and made the signal “Who are you ?” No reply was received to this signal, and thereupon flashed her name and nationality several times.

The machine-gunning continued, and was followed by heavier fire from a small-calibre gun. The port lifeboats were holed and rendered unseaworthy by this time. At 10.55 the Meknes was hit by a torpedo, and she sank some minutes later.


Morale steady, criticism of the Government

Lord Halifax, British Foreign Minister, pictured with Hermann Goring
Lord Halifax, British Foreign Minister, pictured with Hermann Goring in October 1937 during negotiations in Germany.

The Ministry of Information compiled daily reports on the state of morale in the country, paying particular attention the reaction of the man in the street to events in the war.

On the 22nd the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, had broadcast a high profile address in which he had dismissed HItler’s “peace offer” of 19th July. At one stage Lord Halifax had been considered the front runner to succeed Chamberlain as Prime Minister. It is evident that he could not possibly have had raised morale in the way that Winston Churchill so notably achieved during this period:

Morale is high. People are fully behind the war effort although small pockets of defeatism confined to certain localities, age groups or social groups are still present.

The last week has been one of public criticism however and the stock of the Government has fallen. The various causes of this criticism have already been noted:

Prosecutions and heavy sentences for defeatist talk
Capitulation over the Burma Road
Confusion over certain Government instructions, e.g. Stay Put, Siren policy.
The press campaign against the internment of aliens.
Tea rationing (among the working classes)
Silent Column campaign
The ‘postponement’ of seavacuation

There is confidence in the armed forces (particularly in the Navy and RAF) but less confidence in the Administration.

Reactions to the Foreign Secretary’s broadcast are best seen in verbatims: ‘Too much like a bishop’, ‘Depressing’, ‘Disappointing’, ‘Unsatisfactory’, ‘What about the Burma Road?’, ‘A statesman has to be a fighter these days’, ‘He didn’t explain anything’, ‘Very nice and gentlemanly’, ‘Old-fashioned diplomacy’, ‘Too much like the Chamberlain days’, ‘It was a dull speech: I switched off’ ‘I liked the high moral tone’, ‘It’s no use treating a mad dog like that’.

Many people failed to react to the broadcast at all and there was little attempt to relate the reply to Hitler’s speech.

From various areas come reports that there is a drift in opinion towards disbelief in invasion.

TNA INF 1 /274