February 1941

Feb

3

1941

‘Q-ship’ torpedoed in the Atlantic

HMS Crispin, seen before she was converted into a British Ocean Boarding vessel and later equipped with Anti-Aircraft guns to protect convoys.

It was 2200 hours. We had been hit by a torpedo which had struck the bulkhead separating the engine room and the for’ard hold beneath the bridge. One “greaser” (stoker) was killed by the explosion and the NAAFI canteen manager had a lucky escape. He was blown out of his bunk and his cabin was wrecked. His young assistant was not so lucky and died as a result of his wounds.

Feb

2

1941

Swordfish from Ark Royal attack Sardinia

HMS Ark Royal and one of her Swordfish aircraft, operating in the Mediterranean during 1941.

H.M. Ships Renown, Malaya, Ark Royal and light forces operated off Sardinia on the 2nd February. Owing to unfavourable weather the original plans had to be modified, but at dawn 8 Swordfish made an attack on the Tirso Dam which holds the water for the hydro-electric station. Observation of results was impossible; but it is thought that 3 torpedoes hit the dam.

Feb

1

1941

Harassing the Italians with gunfire

A 40mm Bofors Gun being used against the defences of Derna, 1 February 1941.

The squadron leader took off his headphones and crawled out on to the back of his turret. Bright blue eyes and white teeth showed through the mask of dust and dusty stubble, topped by a very aged beret, sometime black; equally aged corduroys and jersey; pair of binoculars and a sweat rag round his neck; hands covered in dusty bandages concealing the inevitable desert sores; the complete Seventh Armoured commander.

Feb

17

1941

Moving west to defend Benghazi

An official portrait of the triumphant British soldier: few kept anywhere near this degree of smartness whilst in the desert.

The war on land in Libya must be over for we met convoy after convoy of guns going back – sixty pounders, twenty-five pounders, 4.5 inch howitzers – nearly fifty guns in all and there could not be many more than 150 in the whole campaign on our side – an incredible thought in view of the hundreds of captured guns which we had seen ourselves alone!

Feb

16

1941

Oppression in Zichenau, Poland

Jews in Zichenau, Poland are informed by Public Notice that their homes are to be demolished.

At that time the Jews were ordered to restrict their area of residence. With us it was a ghetto, but it was the only ghetto that was not closed although it was a defined area which Jews were forbidden to leave. Anyone found outside this restricted area was shot. At that time they destroyed many of the old houses in the centre of the town; they were mainly Jewish houses and the people whose good homes were taken away had to enter the restricted area.

Feb

15

1941

British housing destroyed or damaged

The original caption for this official image was entitled 'The Sun Still Shines' - images of wartime damage were carefully controlled and every effort was made to present a story of cheerful defiance.

People were out and so did not stand a chance. It destroyed five streets of houses and spread damage for three miles – so the lady said. Many killed and injured and made homeless. It was a working class district of Hendon. The three young people on the roof found themselves tied in knots, and did not know if they were dead or alive.

Feb

11

1941

Bombers lost in fog over Britain

The first British four engined bomber, the Stirling, made its first operational flight on 10th/11th February 1941.

As we had be airborne for over 10 hours and it would seem had only a few minutes petrol left I gave instructions to abandon aircraft when flying at about 10,000ft. After the crew had all baled out I trimmed the aircraft and as we were over hilly open landscape I left by the forward escape floor hatch.
According to the previous ground instructions we had received, one waited 10 seconds before pulling the rip cord of the parachute. Whether I did or not I don’t know but I was wearing a breast type chute and expected to feel a rush of silk pass my face and when this did not happen my immediate thought was ‘it’s not opening’ only to be pulled up with a sudden jerk as the chute opened and left me swinging without any sense of falling.

Feb

5

1941

Intelligence on German troop concentrations

The invasion threat never went away completely despite the winter months - Polish troops guarding the coast in Scotland. There were so many Poles in Scotland it was known as the Polish invasion.

Reports of invasion in the Spring—according to some sources in February—are being received in increasing numbers from various quarters. Many of them mention details of preparations, such as training of parachutists, manufacture of parachutes and of water and fire proof suits, the issue of British uniforms to German troops, and intensive manufacture of gas.