1940

Dec

11

1940

British capture Sidi Barrani from Italians

HMS Terror, Gun boat

08.30 direct shell burst on gun-fell flat on my side & passed out for half a minute-came to and saw my left arm jerking up and down- thought at first it had been blown off-heard someone say ‘Gawd-the Captain’s been killed’so managed to sit up and say ‘no, you bugger, fire the gun’

Dec

10

1940

German Spies executed at Pentonville Prison

The authorities display the radios carried by Waldberg and Meier. The German Abwehr had supplied them with radios that could transmit but not receive.

The first executions under the Treason Act took place on 10th December 1940. Jose Waldberg, 25, a German national, and Karl Heinrich Meier, 24, a Dutchman of German origin, were hung at Pentonville Prison following their conviction at the Old Bailey in November.

Dec

9

1940

British attack Italians in the Desert

Bren-gun-carriers advancing across Desert

We have attacked in the Western Desert. This is not an offensive and I do not think you ought to describe it as an offensive as yet. You might call it an important raid. The attack was made early this morning and I had word an hour ago that the first of the Italian camps has fallen. I cannot tell you at this moment how far we are going to go— it depends on what supplies and provisions we capture and what petrol we are able to find.

Dec

8

1940

Churchill seeks support from Roosevelt

The lookout maintains a constant from a destroyer escorting a convoy.

We can endure the shattering of our dwellings, and the slaughter of our civil population by indiscriminate air attacks, and we hope to parry these increasingly as our science develops, and to repay them upon military objectives in Germany as our Air Force more nearly approaches the strength of the enemy.
The decision for 1941 lies upon the seas.

Dec

7

1940

Repression in Lublin, Poland

A group of Jewish men hiding in a cellar are dsicovered.

A formal ghetto was not established in Lublin until March 1941 but long before then the life of the Jewish population was very difficult. Many people were rounded up on the streets and sent to the labour camp at Belzec where poor living conditions, little food and harsh work killed many. There was every incentive to hide from the regime.

Dec

6

1940

RAF assault Italian Forces in Libya

RAF reconnaissance photo interpretation showing ships on fire and sinking in Bengazi Harbour in Italian occupied Libya.

As British and Empire troops in Egypt were told to prepare for the ’2nd Training Exercise’, the RAF mounted sustained attacks on the Italian forces in Libya and Egypt. They achieved the main objective of preventing the Italian Air Force from mounting reconnaissance flights over Egypt that would discover the build up of troops.

Dec

5

1940

Bombing attacks across Britain

A view of bomb damage and a crater on the railway line at Victoria Station

From the weekly Situation report: 28th/29th November. A short but heavy raid took place on Liverpool and neighbouring districts. A direct hit on a shelter at Durning Street killed 164 people. Forty other places in Lancashire and Cheshire were attacked, among them Chester and Manchester. Seventeen parachute mines were dropped in other parts of the country, mostly in the South and South-West.

Dec

4

1940

Trekking out of town to avoid Air Raids

The Women's Voluntary Service was entirely voluntarily but featured heavily in the official response to the bombing. They distributed clothing and bedding to the homeless amongst many other functions including feeding centres and co-ordinating information about missing people.

The buses were full, men and women were walking with their baggage. Some were going to relations in outlying parts, some to shelters, preceded by their wives who had reserved them places, and some to sleep in the open. ‘Anything so as not to spend another night in there.’ Many were trying to hitch hike, calling out to every car that passed; very few stopped. This caused considerable annoyance, especially as many coaches completely empty went by.

Dec

3

1940

Fighter Command still active by day

Aerial view of german bomber attacked by Spitfire

The increased enemy activity by day has not resulted in any serious attacks, most of the aircraft employed having been fighters, or fighter-bombers, which confined their operations to sweeps at high altitudes over the south-eastern and southern counties; on three days a few isolated aircraft penetrated the London area. Towards the end of the week the weather became unsuitable for day operations and there was no activity except from reconnaissance aircraft.

Dec

2

1940

HMS Forfar sunk by Kretschmer’s U-99

HMS Forfar the armed merchant ship sunk by five torpedoes in the early hours of 2nd December 1940.

Two minutes later the 5th and last torpedo struck, again on the Port side. This was the final blow as the ship broke in two owing to the after magazine blowing sky-high. She was well down by the stern now and I remember the ghastly cracklings as the after end bent inwards crushing the decks like matchwood. She heeled quickly over on her Sta’b’d side, the after end disappeared, and as she settled, she turned right over and sank slowly and steadily by the stern.