HMS Revenge bombards Cherbourg

One hundred and twenty rounds of 15-inch and 800 rounds of 4-7-inch shell were fired and very heavy fires were started. It would appear that the shore defences at first mistook the bombardment for part of the air attack as the only response to shells falling was a marked intensification of anti-aircraft fire, including flaming onions and multi-coloured tracers of all descriptions. After the bombardment had ceased a battery of heavy guns (estimated up to 13-15 inch) to the east of the town opened fire.

One of the 4.7 inch guns on board HMS JUPITER firing on the night of the 10 - 11 October 1940, when heavy and light forces of the Royal Navy carried out a bombardment of the enemy occupied port of Cherbourg, where a concentration of enemy shipping had been detected.
One of the 4.7 inch guns on board HMS JUPITER firing on the night of the 10 – 11 October 1940, when heavy and light forces of the Royal Navy carried out a bombardment of the enemy occupied port of Cherbourg, where a concentration of enemy shipping had been detected.
What the deck looks like from aloft. The view from the Range Finder Control platform perched high above decks.
What the deck looks like from aloft. The view from the Range Finder Control platform perched high above decks.
These sailors are on the coldest spot on a battleship; the range finder control tower high above the deck of HMS REVENGE. The men at this station are the guiding eyes of the guns.
These sailors are on the coldest spot on a battleship; the range finder control tower high above the deck of HMS REVENGE. The men at this station are the guiding eyes of the guns.

The threat of invasion was now rapidly diminishing but the program of bombing the channel ports from which an attack might be launched continued. The targets were the barges that the Germans had commandeered from around Europe to use as landing craft, and the naval ships that would support them. Unknown to the British Hitler had finally decided to “postpone’ the invasion of Britain.

A bombardment from 15 inch guns of the World War 1 Battleship HMS Revenge augmented a bombing raid by the RAF on the night of 10th-11th October.

A force consisting of H.M.S. Revenge, cruisers, destroyers and motor torpedo boats, working in conjunction with heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force, bombarded the port of Cherbourg on the night of the l0th-llth October.

The co-ordination of the attack was excellent, the lighting of fires in the target area and the illumination of Cape de la Hague by flares for fixing purposes occurring at exactly the right moment. One hundred and twenty rounds of 15 inch and 800 rounds of 4.7 inch shell were fired and very heavy fires were started. It would appear that the shore defences at first mistook the bombardment for part of the air attack as the only response to shells falling was a marked intensification of anti-aircraft fire, including flaming onions and multi-coloured tracers of all descriptions.

After the bombardment had ceased a battery of heavy guns (estimated up to 13-15inch) to the east of the town opened fire. Salvoes fell close to the ships for a period of 30 minutes and up to a range of about 36,000 yards. The fire was so accurate that it was thought that some form of R.D.F. was used for ranging. No casualties or damage were sustained by H.M. Ships.

The ship's Chaplain conducting the morning Service under the shadow of the 15 inch guns.
The ship’s Chaplain conducting the morning Service under the shadow of the 15 inch guns.
Physical Training on the quarterdeck being done to the music of the Royal Marine Band.
Physical Training on the quarterdeck being done to the music of the Royal Marine Band.
There is no lack of drill precision as the men fall in preparatory to landing for field exercises.
There is no lack of drill precision as the men fall in preparatory to landing for field exercises.
The 4" High Angle Anti-Aircraft Gun crew in action.
The 4″ High Angle Anti-Aircraft Gun crew in action.
A 6 inch Gun Crew under instruction on board a battleship.
A 6 inch Gun Crew under instruction on board a battleship.

The Italians consolidate in the Desert

There has been a considerable expansion in the number of bomb-disposal sections and a rise in the rate of disposal of unexploded bombs may be expected as soon as the training of new personnel is completed. The process of diagnosis of unexploded bombs has improved, as more of the officers of local authorities gain experience in recognising them, but the number of so-called unexploded bombs which the bomb-disposal parties find to have already exploded is still high. The number of unexploded bombs outstanding in the London Region, for instance, on the evening of the 7th October was 966, a reduction of 200 on the corresponding figure for the 1st October.

British troops arrive in Egypt
British troops arrive in Egypt during 1940. The Italian invasion of Egypt, which began in early September, had seen their forces move forward to establish themselves in Desert camps.
The British still had time to bring in re-inforcements, although at all times they remained outnumbered.

From the NAVAL, MILITARY AND AIR SITUATION for the week up to 12 noon October 10th, 1940

MILITARY SITUATION.

Italy and Italian Possessions.

26. It is now over three weeks since the Italian forces moved into Egyptian territory and advanced to Sidi Barrani. Since then there has been no further eastward movement except for the advance, and subsequent withdrawal, of a column of M.T. and tanks which was probably making a reconnaissance in force. Despite continued harassing by our aircraft, there has been considerable M.T. activity in the L. of C. area.

The slowness of the advance indicates that Marshal Graziani is taking every step to bring up supplies and improve his communications. Further advance by the Italians would involve greater difficulties of supply, particularly of water, and the lengthened lines of communication will become increasingly vulnerable to our air and naval bombardment.

Great Britain.

42. During this period there was a reduction in the scale of operations carried out by the German Air Force, probably because of adverse weather conditions. On three days of the week there were no attacks by enemy formations, but instead there was a fairly continuous succession of raids by single aircraft.

On the days which were fine operations were comparable with those of the preceding week, and on the 5th and 7th October over 500 aircraft operated over this country, fighters providing very large escorts for the long-range bombers. Fighter formations by themselves were also sent on patrols over South-East England, and often covered attacks by small formations and single aircraft. Fighters have also been used for bombing and their employment in this way may be extended.

Enemy formations are showing an increasing disinclination to press home attacks when intercepted, and the head-on attacks of our fighters are proving particularly effective. A heavy attack was made on the Westland aircraft works at Yeovil on the 7th October, but no damage was done.

Home Security Situation

General.

During the period under review there has been a decrease in the enemy’s use of parachute mines, and a considerable increase in the number of cases of machine-gunning of civilians in the street. The latter have not caused serious casualties. Damage and casualties have been less than in previous weeks.

Civilian Casualties.

96. The approximate figures for week ending 0600 the 9th October are 711 killed and 1,767 wounded. These figures include 549 killed and 1,081 wounded in London.

Warnings.

97. London has been under warning 26 times by day, for a total period of over 24 hours; and 10 times by night, for a total period of over 50 hours. Liverpool has had 11 day warnings, and 6 night (totals—approximately 6 and 10 hours respectively); Bristol has had 9 day warnings (approximately 3 hours) and 8 night (about 12 hours); and Middlesborough has had 7 night warnings (total about 4 hours).

Disposal of Unexploded Bombs.

98. There has been a considerable expansion in the number of bomb-disposal sections and a rise in the rate of disposal of unexploded bombs may be expected as soon as the training of new personnel is completed. The process of diagnosis of unexploded bombs has improved, as more of the officers of local authorities gain experience in recognising them, but the number of so-called unexploded bombs which the bomb-disposal parties find to have already exploded is still high. The number of unexploded bombs outstanding in the London Region, for instance, on the evening of the 7th October was 966, a reduction of 200 on the corresponding figure for the 1st October.

See TNA :cab/66/12/43

How to survive an Air Raid

The Ministry of Home Security was busily re-issueing it advice pamphlets on the necessity of taking proper cover in the event of an Air Raid. It was emphasising that its pre war advice had been largely proved correct in the light of experience. The Anderson Shelter, properly constructed, continued to be promoted as capable of protecting its occupants from almost anything except a direct hit.

Ministry of Home Security pamphlet diagram on risk in air raids
The Ministry of Home Security issued pamphlets showing its analysis of the relative risks in air raids.

The Ministry of Home Security was busily re-issueing their advice pamphlets on the necessity of taking proper cover in the event of an Air Raid. It was emphasising that its pre war advice had been largely proved correct in the light of experience. The Anderson Shelter, properly constructed, continued to be promoted as capable of protecting its occupants from almost anything except a direct hit. There were other important messages as well. In a survey of 650 urban casualty cases;

about a quarter of the casualties have beeen due to flying glass striking people in their own houses or in the streets

.

The necessity of protecting windows with netting or pasting paper over them was re-iterated, and if you were caught out it was necessary to get the best level of shelter possible, even lying down in the street as a last resort.

The Ministry of Home Security advised lying down if you were out in the open and heard anti-aircraft fire or bombs dropping nearby.

Furthermore it was important to put the dangers of incendiary bombs into context:

There is no great danger that incendiary bombs will produce devastating fire in residential areas if every citizen is prepared to deal promptly with them.

 

A multi-national Royal Air Force

During the German invasion of Poland he flew reconnaissance missions in an unarmed trainer aircraft but managed to take the fight to the enemy by throwing hand grenades out of his aircraft at columns of troops. He survived being shot down and was ordered to Rumania when Poland collapsed. Here he was interned but managed to escape and made his way, via North Africa, to France where he again served with a Polish unit. It is believed that he shot down as many as 11 aircraft during the German invasion of France.

Josef František was a gifted fighter pilot who achieved a remarkable record of thirty-one confirmed victories and one probable victory in aerial combat during the Second World War. This made him the top Allied fighter ace of the first year of the war. Three of these confirmed victories came over Poland, eleven over France and seventeen during a six week period of the Battle of Britain. Although an ethnic Czech, František served with the highly successful 303 'Kosciuszko' Polish Fighter Squadron of the RAF. He died in a flying accident on 8 October 1940, three weeks after the drawing was made. ORDE 19 Sept 1940
Josef František was a gifted fighter pilot who achieved a remarkable record of thirty-one confirmed victories and one probable victory in aerial combat during the Second World War. This made him the top Allied fighter ace of the first year of the war. Three of these confirmed victories came over Poland, eleven over France and seventeen during a six week period of the Battle of Britain. Although an ethnic Czech, František served with the highly successful 303 ‘Kosciuszko’ Polish Fighter Squadron of the RAF. He died in a flying accident on 8 October 1940, three weeks after the drawing was made.
ORDE 19 Sept 1940
Josef-Frantizek in RAF uniform
The Czech ace Josef Frantisek died in an air crash on 8th October 1940.

The 8th October 1940 saw the death of the top scoring Battle of Britain fighter pilot Jozef Frantizek. A Czechoslovakian Air Force pilot, he had moved to Poland after the Nazi takeover, where he served with a Czech unit within the Polish Air Force. During the German invasion of Poland he flew reconnaissance missions in an unarmed trainer aircraft but managed to take the fight to the enemy by throwing hand grenades out of his aircraft at columns of troops. He survived being shot down and was ordered to Rumania when Poland collapsed. Here he was interned but managed to escape and made his way, via North Africa, to France where he again served with a Polish unit. It is believed that he shot down as many as 11 aircraft during the German invasion of France.

Arriving in Britain in June 1940 he was posted to the Polish 303 Squadron. Here he survived another crash whilst converting to Hurricanes. 303 Squadron did not become operational until 31st August. Frantizek opened his scoring on 2nd September when he shot down an Me 109. By the 30th September he had 17 confirmed kills and one probable. He was the top scoring pilot of the Battle of Britain, despite only being operational for a fraction of the official period designated as the Battle.

His rate of kills was exceptional and seems to have been borne of a highly individualistic, even indisciplined, outlook but he was indulged with considerable freedom by Squadron Leader Kellet of 303 Squadron with remarkable results. A part of his method was to attack straggling aircraft making their way back home across Kent. Yet he must have been a exceptional airman to bring down a total of nine Me 109s whilst flying a Hurricane during this short period. His results are in marked contrast to the debates about the relative performance of the Spitfire and the Me 109, or the need for an organisational response, such as the Big Wing. A crucial factor in fighter combat was evidently the skills and length of experience of the individual pilots.

Frantisek was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal at the end of September. The reasons for his crash in Ewell, Surrey have never been clearly established but it seems very likely that battle fatigue and exhaustion played a significant part.

The 8th October 1940 also saw the arrival in Britain of the first contingent of the Indian Air Force, a significant proportion of whom would also make the ultimate sacrifice.

Indian air force pilots arrive in Britain 8th October 1940
An unofficial welcome for the 24 Indian Air Force pilots arriving in Britain on 8th October 1940. Eight of them would die during training or on operations.

For more on the Indian air Force see Bharat Rakshak.com.

Morale remains high under fire

The almost incredible bravery of the people, their fortitude and endurance, and in especial the stoic calm of those who have lost their homes and possessions, beggars description. London and the provinces share equal honours in this last respect, and all writers are touchingly grateful for the kindness shown to them.

“Now the windows are all boarded up and tarpaulin put on the roof it does not seem so bad ….. The people around here have all been so kind. So many offered us a home… We did not know we had such wonderful friends.”

Anti aircraft guns in London during the Blitz
‘Londoners agree universally that the noise of the big guns is music in their ears, and that they sleep better when the barrage is in progress’

The Government was secretly opening the mail going out of the country. It was partly a counter espionage measure but it also enabled them to monitor the state of morale in the country. On the 7th October the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, asked that the latest report ‘Home Opinion – As Shewn in the Mails to USA and Eire’ be circulated to the rest of the War Cabinet:

REACTION TO AIR-RAIDS …

Morale is highest in London, but the provinces run a good second, and only a few letters from Liverpool, mostly from Irish writers, show any sign of panic.

Courage.

The almost incredible bravery of the people, their fortitude and endurance, and in especial the stoic calm of those who have lost their homes and possessions, beggars description. London and the provinces share equal honours in this last respect, and all writers are touchingly grateful for the kindness shown to them.

“Now the windows are all boarded up and tarpaulin put on the roof it does not seem so bad ….. The people around here have all been so kind. So many offered us a home… We did not know we had such wonderful friends.” (Bedford Park, London.)

“I don’t know whether you heard of our bit of bad luck or rather good luck, last Tuesday. We were left without a home, but not a scratch to anyone.” (Liverpool.).

“It is no longer necessary to make window displays, the chief reason being that I have no windows. On the boards which have replaced the glass are two notices, which have, caused a deal of comment. – “Business as usual, everybody safe. Not an ache and only a few panes …… .” (Liverpool)

“These people who are left without a thing in the world, except the spirit of winning the war ……” (London, E.8,)

“In the East End they seem more annoyed at Buckingham Palace being hit than their own homes ….. in some cases had spread out the Union Jack on the houses that had been hit (Southampton)

The Barrage.

Londoners agree universally that the noise of the big guns is music in their ears, and that they sleep better when the barrage is in progress.

“The great and lovely guns that burst Hell’s fire into the . Heavens, What a sight” (London)

“The splendid noise of our guns ….. the best tonic Londoners have ever had.” (N.W.1.)

“It’s an awful noise, but it’s wonderful music all the same and we like it and are able to get some sleep while it’s on.” (N.15.)

Souvenirs.

Londoners have found a new pastime in the collecting of pieces of shrapnel and fragments of crashed planes. “One of my friends has a piece of wing of an aeroplane. We all treasure our shrapnel here, for they are good souvenirs.” (E.1.)

See TNA cab/66/12/37

Symbolic photograph of a sentry standing guard on a beach in southern England, 7 October 1940.
Symbolic photograph of a sentry standing guard on a beach in southern England, 7 October 1940.

War artists record the Blitz and its impact on people

Henry Moore, who had been gassed during the First World War, was initially reluctant to record the people of London enduring the Blitz.

There was tension in the air. [People] were a bit like the chorus in a Greek drama telling us about the violence we don’t actually witness.

Harry Bush 'A Corner of Merton, August 16th 1940'.
Harry Bush ‘A Corner of Merton, August 16th 1940’.
Anthony Gross, 'Fire in a Paper Warehouse', 1940. After returning to London from France in July 1940, Gross began recording the Blitz in London including air raid shelters in Chelsea, bombed buildings and wrecked water mains.
Anthony Gross, ‘Fire in a Paper Warehouse’, 1940.
After returning to London from France in July 1940, Gross began recording the Blitz in London including air raid shelters in Chelsea, bombed buildings and wrecked water mains.
E.Boye Uden 'A Large Fire near the Thames, October 1940'
E.Boye Uden ‘A Large Fire near the Thames, October 1940’

At the beginning of the war Kenneth Clarke, Director of the National Gallery, had persuaded the Ministry of Information to establish the War Artists Advisory Scheme. Following a similar scheme in the First World War selected artists were commissioned or simply encouraged to make a record of the war as they saw it, some being given official accreditation to accompany military units to different theatres of war.

Then in the summer of 1940 the war was suddenly all around them, first mainly the air battles overhead, then the bombs exploding all over London and then the whole country. The war became a compelling subject. This is just a selection of some of the diverse work completed during this period.

Joseph Gray, 'Battle of Britain: The First Blitz', 1940
Joseph Gray, ‘Battle of Britain: The First Blitz’, 1940

Amongst the artists was Henry Moore, who had been gassed during the First World War, was initially reluctant to record the people of London enduring the Blitz.

There was tension in the air. [People] were a bit like the chorus in a Greek drama telling us about the violence we don’t actually witness.

Moore always drew his sketches from memory, not wanting to intrude on those he observed.

Later Kenneth Clark declared that he was certain that Moore’s work will ‘always be considered the greatest works of art inspired by the war’.

\’Basement shelter\’ by Henry Moore from his Wartime Sketchbook.
'The Shelter Marshal Looks Over His Flock' One of the Shelter Marshals is seen having a look round. It is his job to see that all who use the shelter behave considerately.
‘The Shelter Marshal Looks Over His Flock’ One of the Shelter Marshals is seen having a look round. It is his job to see that all who use the shelter behave considerately.
Clifford Hall 'Homeless' 1940
Clifford Hall ‘Homeless’ 1940

HMS Rodney is ready, but more Merchant ship losses

During the period [the week up to 10th October], thirteen ships (32,369 tons) have been reported sunk. Of these, four British (18,141 tons), one Dutch (2,202 tons), and two neutral ships (7,465 tons), were sunk by submarine. Four small ships (1,710 tons) were mined, and two British ships (2,851 tons) were sunk by aircraft.

Sunset in the Firth of Forth, with one of the eight barrelled two pounder pom-pom guns of HMS RODNEY silhouetted against the Forth Bridge whilst two sailors stand to attention nearby.
Sunset in the Firth of Forth, with one of the eight barrelled two pounder pom-pom guns of HMS RODNEY silhouetted against the Forth Bridge whilst two sailors stand to attention nearby.

The Royal Navy remained a formidable force with a full complement of capital ships. Launched in 1925 HMS Rodney, with her 16 inch guns, was the product of the tactical thinking that continued to see a role for big ships with big guns. Only as the naval war unfolded during the next few years would it become apparent that, with the advent of air power, such ships were often a liability as a target rather than impressive, powerful, assets.

The official photographers documenting the war visited HMS Rodney in October 1940 and produced a wide range of images illustrating life aboard.

ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP HMS RODNEY. OCTOBER 1940, TRAINING ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP. Rifle drill. Sailors practice a bayonet charge on board RODNEY.
ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP HMS RODNEY. OCTOBER 1940, TRAINING ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP.
Rifle drill. Sailors practice a bayonet charge on board RODNEY.
The port eight barrelled Vickers two pounder Mark VIII 'pom-pom' gun in action during anti-aircraft practice on board HMS RODNEY whilst she is at sea.
The port eight barrelled Vickers two pounder Mark VIII ‘pom-pom’ gun in action during anti-aircraft practice on board HMS RODNEY whilst she is at sea.
A mock action with the use of a dummy ship. The spotting table in the foreground shows a tiny model of a warship. The Gunnery Officer in the Director seen in the background is training his gun on it and firing dummy rounds. The shell splashes are then registered in the positions where they would have fallen in relation to the model ship according to the officer's calculations.
A mock action with the use of a dummy ship. The spotting table in the foreground shows a tiny model of a warship. The Gunnery Officer in the Director seen in the background is training his gun on it and firing dummy rounds. The shell splashes are then registered in the positions where they would have fallen in relation to the model ship according to the officer’s calculations.
Gunnery scenes on board the battleship HMS Rodney. October 1940, at sea. Cleaning the big guns.
Gunnery scenes on board the battleship HMS Rodney. October 1940, at sea. Cleaning the big guns.
Weighing anchor. A hose is played on the cable and the cable is cleaned as the anchor comes up. The links of the cable are also tapped with a hammer to test for any weakness.
Weighing anchor. A hose is played on the cable and the cable is cleaned as the anchor comes up. The links of the cable are also tapped with a hammer to test for any weakness.
Minesweeping. October 1940, on board the battleship HMS Rodney. Whenever enemy planes had been in the vicinity of the fleet's anchorage overnight, it is fairly certain mines were laid and the minesweepers have plenty of work. The Minesweepers BRAMBLE and SPEEDY passing close to RODNEY on their way out of harbour. Their sweeps can be seen trailing.
Minesweeping. October 1940, on board the battleship HMS Rodney. Whenever enemy planes had been in the vicinity of the fleet’s anchorage overnight, it is fairly certain mines were laid and the minesweepers have plenty of work.
The Minesweepers BRAMBLE and SPEEDY passing close to RODNEY on their way out of harbour. Their sweeps can be seen trailing.

However the big battleships were not the class of ship to deal with the main threat at the time, the U-Boat menace.

The Dutch merchantman Ottoland had almost completed her journey from New Brunswick, Canada when she hit a mine in the North Sea on 5th October 1940. She was already sinking when Coastal Command aircraft arrived on the scene and her cargo of timber and pit props had floated off. Minesweepers were directed to rescue the crew, seen in a boat top right.

The Ottoland was just one of thirteen ships sunk in the week up to the 10th October, at the time it was believed she had been torpedoed. The statistics for ship losses were closely monitored and featured every week in a report to the War Cabinet:

Enemy Attack on Seaborne Trade.

During the period [the week up to 10th October], thirteen ships (32,369 tons) have been reported sunk. Of these, four British (18,141 tons), one Dutch (2,202 tons), and two neutral ships (7,465 tons), were sunk by submarine. Four small ships (1,710 tons) were mined, and two British ships (2,851 tons) were sunk by aircraft. In addition, three British ships (14,418 tons), previously reported as damaged, are now known to be sunk, and three ships (25,418 tons) were destroyed by enemy raiders in the Indian Ocean in September.

The reduction in tonnage lost during this week may be partly due to bad weather.

See TNA Cab 66/12/43

To seek shelter or not

4th October 1940: Whether to go to the Air raid shelter or not

Last night we had a peaceful night with no warnings, but the night before I got the scare of my life. I was in bed when the sirens went, and feeling tired, I decided to stay put. However, about five minutes later there was a terrific banging and crashing and whizzing, about 10 bombs dropping. Well, the bed shook and the ornaments jumped, but I, being unusually brave stayed put, thinking he had finished.

Anderson shelter after bomb explosion nearby
The authorities sought to publicise instances where people had survived in Anderson shelters even though close to bomb explosions. Anderson shelters consisted of thin skinned corrugated iron and were only effective if half buried in the ground and covered in a mound of earth, making them inherently cold and damp.

As the air raids continued around Britain more and more people were affected, with the greatest concentration being in the London area. Earlier in the summer, before the Luftwaffe had started to really target civilian areas, there had been the Siren controversy. There was much debate about whether it was necessary for the sirens to sound so frequently at the possible threat of aircraft, and whether people should automatically seek shelter when they did.

Now people faced the the much more dangerous dilemma of whether they should spend the night in shelters with the consequent discomforts and loss of sleep or seek to brave it out in the house. The Ministry of Information was pushing stories about how people who had stayed in their Anderson shelters had survived very close bomb explosions which had destroyed the houses around them. The Morrison shelters, designed to allow people to stay in their homes would not become available until 1941.

In a letter to her mother on 4th October 1940 Moira Ingram, who was just starting to experience the bombing in Manchester, describes the problem of being brave or being safe:

You have certainly been having it hot with Uncle Adolf. So have we!

Last night we had a peaceful night with no warnings, but the night before I got the scare of my life. I was in bed when the sirens went, and feeling tired, I decided to stay put. However, about five minutes later there was a terrific banging and crashing and whizzing, about 10 bombs dropping. Well, the bed shook and the ornaments jumped, but I, being unusually brave stayed put, thinking he had finished.

About three minutes afterwards, however, he sent another stick of bombs down, and one of them was a screaming bomb. These fell very close, in fact I closed my eyes and waited for the house to fall, but nothing happened. Mr Powell ran upstairs and shouted to me to get up and go downstairs.

There was no need for him to tell me, I was half dressed by that time, although my knees were knocking and my legs wouldn’t hold me up. When I arrived downstairs I found that beds had been made up down there and we retired in comparative safety, the Air Raid Shelter being three inches deep in water. (We could have gone in but it means that we have to carry crowds of cushions and things in to make it comfortable, and we can’t leave them in with it being so wet). Then, about ten minutes, after he dropped nine – one after the other, but this time further away, and later still, in fact most of the night he was dropping them, but not near enough for us to get windy.

Eventually we went to sleep and were awakened the following morning at 7.15 by the sirens again. Evidently he had come to view the damage.

The whole of Moira Ingram’s letter can be read at BBC People’s War.

Blitz leads to calls for ‘savage reprisals’

During this period the scale of operations of the German Air Force was very similar to the preceding two weeks. Widespread night bombing in the London area was continued, but on a somewhat reduced scale, and was concentrated more on the Western outskirts of the capital, the East End and the London Docks being almost neglected. Attacks have continued against the Mersey-side Docks and in the Liverpool area. There has been a marked decrease in operations against South Wales.
The approximate Casualty figures for week ending 0600 hours the 2nd October are :— Killed, 2,000; wounded, 2,800. These figures included 1,700 killed and 1,600 wounded in London.

The remains Dornier 17s and a Junkers Ju 87 in a scrapyard in Britain, 2nd October 1940.
The remains of a Dornier 17s and a Junkers Ju 87 in a scrapyard in Britain, 2nd October 1940.
The fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 bomber, being transported by road to a scrap yard, October 1940.
The fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 bomber, being transported by road to a scrap yard, October 1940.

From the Naval Military and Air Situation for the week up 3rd October 1940, as reported to the War Cabinet:

NAVAL SITUATION.

General Review. There has been some activity by enemy destroyers in the Channel. U-Boats have continued to cause many casualties to shipping in the North-Western Approaches. Attacks by enemy aircraft on shipping on the East Coast have increased.

British naval forces have been active in the Eastern Mediterranean. The naval force which was operating off Dakar has returned to Freetown.

AIR SITUATION Great Britain.

31. During this period the scale of operations of the German Air Force was very similar to the preceding two weeks. Widespread night bombing in the London area was continued, but on a somewhat reduced scale, and was concentrated more on the Western outskirts of the capital, the East End and the London Docks being almost neglected. Attacks have continued against the Mersey-side Docks and in the Liverpool area. There has been a marked decrease in operations against South Wales.

Civilian Casualties.
52. The approximate figures for week ending 0600 hours the 2nd October are :— Killed, 2,000; wounded, 2,800. These figures included 1,700 killed and 1,600 wounded in London.

Morale.

(a) The continuance of German attacks upon London, their appearance in daylight, and their resumption upon the provinces have had, in general, no fundamental ill-effect upon the heart of the nation. There is now a real and vindictive demand for reprisals, and the savage dislike of Germany is deepening.

(b) The most marked feature is the cool toleration of inconveniences, and even disasters, and the adjustment of ordinary life to the new conditions, but there is evidence of anxiety over the approach of winter. The recent appointments of Special Commissioners, and the announcements of the development of shelter policy and evacuation have had a reassuring effect.

(c) The dislocation of essential services by causing discomfort has affected people far more than the death and destruction resulting from the raids. Selfadjustment to loss of sleep is particularly noticeable. Many people get more than formerly, though it is less comfortable, for they go so early to their shelters.

(d) Surface shelters are not at the moment fashionable, because of the disasters which have befallen some of them. They are still, however, generally considered as much better than nothing. There is, nevertheless, evidence that larger numbers of people are remaining in their own homes for warmth and comfort, even when they do not possess cellars or ground-floor rooms.

(e) In general, there is no food complication, but there has been great difficulty over warmth and cooking in the most affected areas. The small cafes and eating houses, by ceasing to function, have much embarrassed local populations, but this situation is being rectified.

A Junkers 88 shot down near Hatfield on 3rd October 1940, see details below.
A Junkers 88 shot down near Hatfield on 3rd October 1940, see details below.

Although the massed daylight raids were drawn down, there continued to be sporadic activity during daylight hours by the Luftwaffe bomber force.This was generally un-escorted, mostly conducted by singleton aircraft or very small groups, and often of little value militarily. Although this aircraft, a Junkers 88 of Stab 1./KG 77, was a lone raider shot down on Thursday, 3 October I940 its attack had an unintended although successful outcome for the Luftwaffe.

Trying to find Reading, the crew became lost in poor visibility and accidentally stumbled upon the de Havilland aircraft factory at Hatfield. Here, the crew executed an accurate attack that killed twenty-one factory workers, injured another seventy, and destroyed eighty per cent of the materials and work in progress for the new Mosquito bomber.

It was a significant blow to an important military aircraft project.The airfield defences were alert, though, and put up a barrage of machine gun and 40mm Bofors gun fire which hit and crippled the junkers 88. The bomber crash-landed in flames at Eastend Green Farm, Hertingfordbury, where the crew scrambled clear and were captured unharmed before the fire took hold.

Picture and details from Luftwaffe Bombers in the Blitz.

Map of RAF raids on Germany 1940
RAF Bomber Command raids on Germany up to the end of September 1940.
With public demands for reprisals against Germany following the start of the Blitz, the Ministry of Information released publicity about the attacks that the RAF had made.

UK analysis of United States war position

The value of the United States to us at present is as a purveyor of munitions and moral support. The Germans realise that as they cannot now hope to deprive us of American moral support, their aim must be to deprive us of munitions. They might well think that the most complete way of doing this would be to involve the United States in war with Japan; the next best to distract American attention from Europe.

Lord Halifax, British Foreign Secretary in 1940

Fairly early in his Premiership Winston Churchill had concluded that, while Britain could fight on alone, there was little prospect of defeating Germany over the longer term without the United States joining the war. Although Britain was already enjoying much material support from America, the long term aim of the British government was to see the United States fully engaged in the war.

Therefore there was careful monitoring of the US position. It was by no means the case that they would inevitably join Britain in the fight against Germany. Some senior Americans already thought of Britain as a lost cause.

Lord Halifax, British Foreign Secretary considered the position of the United States following the signing of the the “Tripartite Pact” on September 28th, in a paper circulated to the War Cabinet on 2nd October:

The first reactions in the United States of America appear favourable from our point of view, but we must be prepared for the American people to realise now more clearly than hitherto that if they go to war with Germany in our defence they too will have to fight a war on two fronts. Up till now this danger has been slurred over.

Now that it has been forced on public attention by the new treaty many Americans may feel that, since they are in no position materially to assume such a double undertaking, it will be best for all concerned, including ourselves, that the United States should continue to play the part of a benevolent neutral instead of becoming a harassed belligerent. This development will have to be carefully watched and countered.

The value of the United States to us at present is as a purveyor of munitions and moral support. The Germans realise that as they cannot now hope to deprive us of American moral support, their aim must be to deprive us of munitions. They might well think that the most complete way of doing this would be to involve the United States in war with Japan; the next best to distract American attention from Europe.

The conclusion of the Three-Power Treaty may go some way to distract American attention from Europe and from British needs for arms, and will also offer a better chance than now exists for involving the United States in war with Japan by encouraging the Japanese hotheads.

See TNA CAB/66/12/28

A formation of Miles Master Mark Is of No. 5 Service Flying Training School, flown by volunteers for No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF, flys past a press audience at Sealand, Flintshire.
A formation of Miles Master Mark Is of No. 5 Service Flying Training School, flown by volunteers for No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF, flys past a press audience at Sealand, Flintshire.
Three American pilots of No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF, Pilot Officers A Mamedoff of Thompson, Connecticut, V C 'Shorty' Keough of Brooklyn, New York and G Tobin of Los Angeles, show how their new squadron badge will look on Keogh's uniform at Church Fenton, Yorkshire. Mamedoff was formerly a stunt pilot in an air circus. Keough was a professional parachutist with 480 drops at the time this photograph was taken. Tobin was a commercial pilot who also did film work in Los Angeles.
Three American pilots of No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF, Pilot Officers A Mamedoff of Thompson, Connecticut, V C ‘Shorty’ Keough of Brooklyn, New York and G Tobin of Los Angeles, show how their new squadron badge will look on Keogh’s uniform at Church Fenton, Yorkshire. Mamedoff was formerly a stunt pilot in an air circus. Keough was a professional parachutist with 480 drops at the time this photograph was taken. Tobin was a commercial pilot who also did film work in Los Angeles.

For the moment direct assistance from the United States came from individuals who volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. Prominent amongst these were the US pilots who had volunteered to served in the RAF. By September 1940 it was decided to form them into their own Squadron. No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF was formed on 19th September and spent the rest of the year training. It converted to Hurricanes at the end of the year and became operational in early 1941. Eventually, after the US joined the war, the three RAF Eagle Squadrons were absorbed into the USAAF in Britain.

Compilation of newsreel footage from 1940-1942: