1941

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.

Jan

31

1941

Italian prisoners bombed by Germans

A Heinkel III bomber in flight, they began operating over North Afrika in early 1941.

Relays of men spent hours in the bitterly cold surf dragging the Italians to safety; others assisted them into slings and those on the escarpment hauled them to the crest. The wounded had to be brought ashore on Carley floats, so the last stages of their journey were extremely hazardous, but groups of volunteers brought them through the breakers and had everyone ashore by first light.

Jan

30

1941

Hitler’s ‘New World Order’

Adolf Hitler making a speech later in 1941

I do not want to miss pointing out what I pointed out on 3rd of September [1940] in the German Reichstag, that if Jewry were to plunge the world into war, the role of Jewry would be finished in Europe. They may laugh about it today, as they laughed before about my prophecies. The coming months and years will prove that I prophesied rightly in this case too.

Jan

29

1941

Churchill ‘We need to import more’

The cold bleak Battle of the Atlantic was also a battle of tonnages and other statistics, which were closely monitored by the Royal Navy and at the highest levels of Government. Britain's ability to keep fighting was at stake.

It is reckoned that the minimum food import required to maintain efficiency is about 16 million tons, 70 per cent, of the 23 million tons imported before the war. This involves cutting animal feeding-stuffs by about 4 million tons, which will reduce our stock of meat on the hoof, the safest kind of stock in case of air attacks. It will, of course, also reduce our supplies of bacon, eggs and dairy produce, already greatly depleted by the collapse of the Continent, but every effort is being made to maintain the children’s milk supply which depends upon imported oil cake.

Jan

28

1941

Heinrich Himmler visits Norway

Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, in Norway, January 1941.

He was fascinated by the ‘racial purity’ of the Nordic people. Norwegians were therefore prime candidates for the expansion of the Waffen SS, the fighting arm of the SS, at this stage very small in numbers proportionately to the German army. The first group of 200 Norwegian volunteers to be accepted into the SS were recruited during this visit.

Jan

26

1941

Many Americans ready for war

Harry Hopkins on his way to visit Britain, January 1941. He became even more sure of the need for support for Britain, he was highly influential in developing the Lend Lease policy which enable Britain to keep fighting.

The important element in the situation was the boldness of the President, who would lead opinion and not follow it, who was convinced that if England lost, America, too, would be encircled and beaten. He would use his powers if necessary; he would not scruple to interpret existing laws for the furtherance of his aim; he would make people gape with surprise, as the British Foreign Office must have gaped when it saw the terms of the Lease and Lend Bill.

Jan

25

1941

Weather restricts raids on Britain

A Hurricane from No. 257 Squadron receives maintenance, January 1941. The band painted around the rear fuselage was a new recognition marker for day fighters.

Fighter Command flew 155 patrols involving 351 sorties by day and one by night; hostile activity by day was reduced and consisted of a total of 155 aircraft, of which 95 were engaged on reconnaissances. Raids by single aircraft were plotted during daylight in a number of widely separated districts. No interception by our fighters was effected, but two enemy aircraft were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire.

Jan

24

1941

HMS Illustrious escapes Malta for Egypt

HMS Illustrious, beside the crane, under attack in Malta Harbour.

On the 24th the cruiser force was attacked when 130 miles north of Benghazi by about 30 enemy aircraft, the larger proportion being dive-bombers. Many near misses were obtained, but no damage was sustained by our ships. Four or five of the enemy aircraft were damaged. The enemy aircraft missed sighting the Illustrious.

Jan

23

1941

Even more prisoners at Tobruk

The oil installations in Tobruk harbour continue to burn following its capture on the 22nd. In the foreground are captured Italian tanks in use by the Australians and distinctively marked as such.

More than 20,000 of them were soon herded into a fenced enclosure measuring about 800 yards by 400 yards which the Italians had erected near the junction of the El Adem and Bardia roads to house their own prisoners. Here during more than six weeks never fewer than 7,000 and sometimes over 20,000 prisoners were crowded like sheep in a dusty pen. Many of the men lacked blankets, and the nights were bitterly cold. To give them adequate medical care was far beyond the resources of their captors.