Jan

13

1941

RAF maintain pressure in the desert

The RAF operated from bases in the desert that offered only the most basic facilities.

Hits were registered on five large ships in the harbour, on the mole and on Government buildings. The neighbouring aerodromes of Benina and Berka were also successfully attacked, and much damage was caused to aerodrome buildings, hangars and aircraft on the ground. At Benina, at least twelve enemy aircraft were set on fire.

Jan

12

1941

Bombing attacks on Italian targets

Wellington bombers

On the night of the 12th/13th, five Wellingtons, also operating from this country, attacked the oil refineries at Venice. One large building was seen to collapse and another was hit by a heavy bomb. The last aircraft reported the target area to be a mass of flames. During these operations a large liner in the vicinity of Venice and hangars and workshops at Padua were machine-gunned.

Jan

11

1941

51 killed in direct hit on Bank Station

Bomb crater in the middle of the City of London

It was initially thought that 35 people had died, mainly those in the booking hall immediately under the impact of the bomb. As the rescue and recovery work continued it became apparent that the blast had travelled down the escalators and stairs, killing people in its path as well as people on the platforms deep underground.

Jan

10

1941

Ferocious Luftwaffe attack on HMS Illustrious

HMS Illustrious under attack on the 10th January 1941. Courtesy MaritimeQuest.

The first attack was by torpedo bombers on the Battle Fleet, in which torpedoes missed after avoiding action had been taken. The second, which occurred at about 1235, was carried out by 25 or more Ju 87 and 88 dive-bombers which attacked with great determination and skill, thus confirming the arrival in the Mediterranean of units of the German Air Force.

Jan

9

1941

Maiden Flight of Lancaster Bomber

Brtish Avro Lancaster Bomber in flight

Roy Chadwick the chief designer at Avro had designed the two engined Manchester bomber to a Air Ministry specification. It was not a success and there were particular problems with the powerful Rolls Royce Vulture engines, which were unreliable. Chadwick independently started to develop the design of the airframe to accommodate four of the tried and tested Rolls Royce Merlin engines.

Jan

8

1941

Australians herd their Italian prisoners

A few guards escort the masses of Italian prisoners of war from Bardia into captivity.

These men from the dockside of Sydney and the sheep stations of the Riverina presented such a picture of downright toughness with their gaunt dirty faces, huge boots, revolvers stuffed in their pockets, gripping their rifles with huge shapeless hands, shouting and grinning — always grinning — that the mere sight of them must have disheartened the enemy troops.

Jan

7

1941

Daylight raids around Britain

A Heinkel He III navigator locates the target site during a daylight raid, early 1941.

On the 7th January, during the most extensive daylight raiding that we have known for some weeks, London was raided intermittently for three and a half hours, and bombs were dropped in fifteen districts. On the same day many incidents were reported from East Anglia and the Home Counties, and one from Coventry.

Jan

6

1941

Roosevelt declares the Four Freedoms

A pre war portrait of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

Jan

5

1941

Bardia Captured

The cold light of day - a few of the 40,000 Italians that surrendered to the 6th Australian Division at Bardia

The ‘suicidal’ major repeated his gesture of honour several times until an Australian sentry approached with a bayonet levelled at the seat of his pants and said: ‘Get back, you mug, before I shoot you’. The terrorized Fascist major skipped back into line at the double.

Jan

4

1941

Battle rages at Bardia

An official photograph taken 4 January 1941, demonstrating how cold it was in the desert. General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief, Middle East, with Lieutenant General Richard O'Connor, Commander Western Desert Forces, during the assault on Bardia.

The Battle for Bardia was was still being fought on the fourth of January. Although it was progressing well the 6th Australian Division still sustained over 500 casualties in the assault. While the Italians were poorly led and lacked a coherent strategy, the front line troops were still capable of putting up fierce resistance.