1940

Aug

12

1940

Bomber Command’s first Victoria Cross

An earlier RAF photo reconnaissance photograph of the Dortmund Ems canal with the aqueduct that passes over a river. Barges can clearly be seen passing along the canal.

The low level, staggered approach of aircraft along a predicted route made for a hazardous operation. This was especially the case on a target that had previously been attacked, where the Germans were known to adding to their Anti-Aircraft defences.

Aug

11

1940

Captain Wilson defends Observation Hill

The British Somaliland camel Corps was led by only 14 British officers. Although only lightly armed they inflicted significant casualties on the invading Italians.

He inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy, determined to put his guns out of action, brought up a pack battery to within seven hundred yards, and scored two direct hits through the loopholes of his defences, which, bursting within the post, wounded Captain Wilson severely in the right shoulder and in the left eye, several of his team also being wounded. His guns were blown off their stands but he repaired and replaced them and, regardless of his wounds, carried on, whilst his Somali sergeant was killed beside him.

Aug

10

1940

British fighter production re-assures Churchill

Winston Churchill inspecting 9.2-inch guns of 57th Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, during a tour of East Coast defences, 7 August 1940.

He sent Prof. and me for some of his cherished graphs and diagrams and began to expound the supply position. Beaverbrook, he said, had genius and, what was more, brutal ruthlessness. He had never in his life, at the Ministry of Munitions or anywhere else, seen such startling results as Beaverbrook had produced; and Pownall, looking at the Aircraft Production charts, agreed that there had never been such an achievement.

Aug

8

1940

Air attacks ‘comparatively few and mostly unsuccessful’

Downed aircraft became a familiar site, especially in south east England. Photographs of downed enemy aircraft were given wide publicity.

On numerous other occasions formations of aircraft approached our coast but turned back on sighting British fighters. On the 5th August a threatened attack in the Dover area was driven off before it could develop, and three of the escorting fighters were shot down by Spitfires, a further four probably being destroyed. Except on two occasions land objectives were attacked at night, but these raids were sporadic and caused little damage.

Aug

7

1940

Troopship SS Mohamed Ali el-Kebir torpedoed

The SS Mohamed Ali el-Kebir had previously operated out of Alexandria before being requisitioned as a troopship in 1940.

Open fractures were reduced under local anaesthesia (2% novatex) roughly splinted and debridement followed by instillation of powdered sulphonamide. Debridement was assisted by staining the wound with an alcoholic solution of 1/1000 Gentian Violet – all stained and dead tissue being removed. Only one death occurred – a naval rating, name unknown (body transferred to Naval Authorities, Greenock) from multiple fractures of tibia, femur, pelvis and humerus.

Aug

5

1940

England: Coastal areas prepares for invasion

Bren gun carriers of 53rd Striking Force, Royal Armoured Corps, passing through a town in southern England, 9 August 1940.

Before going to see Jock in the Eye Hospital this afternoon I went down to Brighton sea front to see if the rumour current here that the piers or one of them had been blown up for our own defence was true or not. Both the piers are standing but in the middle of each a space has been made by blowing up. Palace Pier was blown last night, West Pier early this morning. It is a clever piece of work, for any one going on to the pier, or landing at the sea end, could not possibly see the vacant place.

Aug

5

1940

Condor aircraft join the Battle of the Atlantic

Focke-Wulf Fw 200 C Condor

The FW 200 Condor began patrols from Bordeaux-Merignac airfield in western France in August 1940. Flying in wide sweeps out over the Bay of Biscay and into the Atlantic west of Ireland it would continue round the north of Britain and land in Norway, a route that encompassed most of the possible convoy routes. It proved highly effective not only because of its bomb load, but also in its capacity as a reconnaissance aircraft capable of calling in U-Boat attacks.

Aug

4

1940

The Royal Navy remains on full alert

Two destroyers silhouetted against the skyline.

Although darkness was falling, the Captain decided to carry out a sweep to the northward in the hope of finding the second lifeboat; ships were spread five miles apart and speed increased to twenty-seven knots. A man was placed in the crow’s-nest, and the look-outs were instructed to sweep the horizon with their glasses.

Aug

3

1940

Watching and listening to the battle overhead

Locals watch as 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.

The scene of the crash was on a golf-course, and a good-sized crowd had arrived there before us… The German fighter-bomber had hit the tree-tops in its descent, and there it lay, sprawling broken-backed on the greensward… It was consuming rapidly in its own flames, and the empty cartridges-cases leaped out of the pyre in all directions. The police had formed a cordon. Sternly they ordered the mob to keep its distance, but the small boys were too much for them. They dived and ducked through the cordon singly and in dozens, cheerfully contemptuous of the awful penalties attached to interfering with captured enemy property…

Aug

3

1940

Italy invades British Somaliland

Italian forces move into British Somaliland

The Somaliland Camel Corps had only 14 British officers commanding just over 1400 native troops. In total a British Force of around 4,000 faced 24,000 Italians. The invaders had light tanks and armoured cars, the British forces had none, and no anti-tank weapons or artillery.