September 1940

Sep

30

1940

First George Cross awarded – to ARP rescuer

ARP-poster

Some days later, two five-storey buildings were totally demolished and debris penetrated into a cellar in which eleven persons were trapped. Six persons in one cellar, which had completely given way, were buried under debris. Alderson partly effected entrance to this cellar by tunnelling 13 to 14 feet under the main heap of wreckage and for three and a half hours he worked unceasingly in an exceedingly cramped condition. Although considerably bruised he succeeded in releasing all the trapped persons without further injury to themselves.

Sep

29

1940

George Beardmore finds a land-mine

A photograph of an unexploded German Parachute Mine.

On leaving, Jean asked the gatekeeper: ‘Is that tub-shaped thing with the parachute attached part of the show?’ To which he replied: ‘What tub-shaped thing? I don’t know anything about a tub-shaped thing. I’ve been on fire-watch all night.’ Ten minutes later the fun began. The police arrived at the double and turned the whole street out of doors, advising them to leave doors and windows wide open and then to make themselves scarce while the bomb was de-fused.

Sep

28

1940

Germany, Italy and Japan sign a pact

Signing of tripartite pact 28 september 1940

A winter of war is hard to take. More so since food is scarce in Berlin, and it is easy to see that the window displays of the stores promise much more than what is actually inside. Another thing contributing to the depressed spirit of Berlin life is die constant recurrence of air raids. Every night citizens spend from four to five hours in the cellar. They lack sleep, there is promiscuity between men and women, cold, and these things do not create a good mood. The number of people with colds is incredible.

Sep

27

1940

Joseph Kennedy: The British are a lost cause

Joseph Kennedy

I cannot impress upon you strongly enough my complete lack of confidence in the entire [British] conduct of this war. I was delighted to see that the president said he was not going to enter the war because to enter this war, imagining for a minute that the English have anything to offer in the line of leadership or productive capacity in industry that could be of the slightest value to us, would be a complete misapprehension.

Sep

26

1940

1,300 killed in London alone this week

A wide view of the bomb-damaged shell of the John Lewis department store on London's Oxford Street, following an air raid in September 1940.

There is little appearance of nervous or physical overstrain. Fear and shock, attendant on actual explosion, passes quickly in most cases. Without over-emphasis people take the obvious precaution to ensure such safety as they can and particularly to ensure sufficient sleep. By day they continue their ordinary business. Having adjusted their lives to such reasonable extent they regard the event philosophically, the Cockney adopting an appropriate bent to his humour, though there are signs of increased hatred of Germany, and demands for reprisals are numerous.

Sep

25

1940

Raid on Gloucestershire kills 92

One of a series of detailed maps that the Luftwaffe used for their raid on the Bristol Aircraft Company, based on Ordnance Survey maps of Britain they had acquired before the war.

The sky became black with low flying planes and the noise was deafening. The two men working on the hole in the lawn which was to be our shelter, shouted to my mother and to me to come out of the house, in case it was bombed. The men almost threw us into the hole, which was concreted, and to their credit, spread their arms over the top of us. We all crouched together with our heads down, as bombs rained around us

Sep

24

1940

George Cross created, Londoners remain ‘determined’

It was now recognised that many walks of civilian life were at least as hazardous as those in the military.

In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution.

Sep

23

1940

The French fire on the British at Dakar

General Spears accompanies General De Gaulle en route to Dakar to attempt to persuade French forces in Africa to join the Free French.

At 1000, ships were reported to be moving out of the harbor – we were ordered to turn back these French destroyers and sloops – we fired a warning shot, they turned about and returned to harbor. The forts now engaged us at close range, and we rejoined the battleships. Our force closed the forts and the battleships engaged them – in turn, the forts responded with 9.4 inch and 5.4 inch gunfire. Submarines were reported underway, and a British Destroyer HMS Foresight was hit, the shell passing right through her hull, making a neat hole on entry, but a huge ragged hole on exiting.

Sep

22

1940

Top fighter pilot reflects on ‘Big Wing’ tactic

Journalists from Dominions newspapers watch a flight of Hawker Hurricane Mark Is of No. 56 Squadron RAF taking off for a sortie over France from North Weald, Essex. In the foreground another Hurricane Mark I of the Squadron, P2764 'US-P', stands at its dispersal point near the perimeter track on the south-western edge of the airfield.

All too frequently, when returning to North Weald in a semi-exhausted condition, all we saw of 12 Group’s contribution to the engagement, was a vast formation of Hurricanes in neat vics of three, steaming comfortably over our heads in pursuit of an enemy who had long since disappeared in the direction of France. Our reactions on such occasions, though mostly of resigned amusement at first, grew to be more harshly critical later on.

Sep

21

1940

The menace of the parachute mine

The blast from parachute mines exploding above ground caused extensive damage, demolishing houses in the vicinity and breaking windows as far as a mile away.

The silence which had followed the “All Clear” five or ten minutes earlier turned into a horrifying medley of terror and confusion. My mother managed to claw her way through the earth and debris which effectively blocked our only exit to the shelter, and called out that next-door’s house was down – OUR house was down – they’re ALL down !