October 1941

Oct

31

1941

USS Reuben James torpedoed in Atlantic

The United States destroyer was the first Naval ship lost to a U-Boat, even though America was not at war with Germany.

I was on watch in the engine room at 5:30 a.m. when we felt the impact. There were two explosions — one sounded like the magazine. Altogether there were eight men in both sections of the engine room. The lights went out and the steam flow was interrupted. There was a sinking motion of the ship as if she were going down by the bow.

Oct

30

1941

The U boat threat mounts

A patrolling aircraft keeps watch over a convoy,as seen from a corvette packed with depth charges. In practice such all round protection was far from being achieved at this stage of the war.

During the week ending the 29th October 886 ships, including 175 Allied and 24 neutral, were convoyed. Nine anti-aircraft ships, 113 destroyers (including 24 United States destroyers), and 117 sloops, corvettes and minesweepers were employed on escort duties.

Oct

29

1941

Churchill – ‘Never give in’

Winston Churchill made a speech to his old school Harrow, on 29th October 1941.

Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.

Oct

28

1941

Germans learn of the atrocities in the East

There was no escaping the Nazi state. A parade to celebrate the anniversary of the Wartheland becoming part of 'Greater Germany', October 1941.

He watched as naked Jewish men and women were placed in front of a long deep ditch and upon the order of the SS were shot by Ukrainians in the back of their heads and they fell into the ditch. Then the ditch was filled with dirt even as he could still hear screams coming from people still alive in the ditch.

Oct

27

1941

Brest bombed again

The immensely strong U Boat bunkers, under construction in the autumn of 1941, at Brest provided secure protection for a long period. It would take time for the RAF to develop 'bunker busting' bombs.

On the first two nights visibility was poor because of cloud and an effective smoke screen, but some aircraft were able to identify certain ground features and bomb the estimated positions of the ships. On the third night visibility was good and bursts were seen across the docks where the battle cruisers are berthed.

Oct

26

1941

A narrow escape over Hamburg

The Whitley bomber was the main aircraft of Bomber Command during the first years of the war but was now being gradually replaced by the Halifax and later the Lancaster.

Then found out that Frank was wounded in thigh, a flesh wound. The piece of flak that hit him from below stayed in plane and started a few fires but he put them out with his feet and gloved hands – damn good show put up by him. Plane a mass of holes all over and under! – and believe both engines hit to account for loss of power.

Oct

25

1941

Moonlight run to Tobruk ends in disaster

HMS Latona, sunk off Tobruk on the 25th October was the same class of minelayer as HMS Welshman, pictured.

This was fine as long as it was dark, but then some crass idiot decided we should make the trip by moonlight. Crazy, we were spitting distance away from the German North African airbases. We were lucky they had not spotted us in the dark – it is never completely dark – but to try in moonlight… one wonders at the idiocy of man.

Oct

24

1941

Kharkov falls

Street fighting in Kharkov , the city fell on the 24th Ocober.

The important industrial center of Kharkov was captured by the Germans on the 24th October. The Soviets were now dismantling whole factories and shipping them east to resume production far away from the front line. It was a close run thing in Kharkov …

Oct

23

1941

HMS Cossack torpedoed

The Tribal class destroyer HMS Cossack pictured before the war.

It wasn’t terribly late, shortly before midnight in fact, and I walked over to the guard rail and stood looking out over the port side. Another moonless night, but there was a phosphorescence in our wake and I watched the wave that we sent out from the break in the fo’c’sle; and then from out in the darkness the wave broke and started to run in towards the ship, except this wash was wiggling and wash didn’t wiggle!

Oct

22

1941

Coastal Command continue offensive

Sunderland flying boat in flight

Two Spitfires attacked a ship off Havre, leaving her listing. Eight Blenheims, escorted by fighters, sighted a convoy of seven vessels and four Flakships off Ijmuiden. Four of the merchant ships were attacked but with unobserved results, and two others of 3,000 and 1,000 tons respectively had smoke, issuing from them when last seen.