Jun

10

1940

Italy declares war on Britain and France

Hitler and Mussolini at an earlier joint parade

I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought.

Jun

9

1940

Churchill prophetic as Germans reach the Seine

Erwin Rommel commanded 7th Panzer Division during the invasion of France. They were frequently far in advance of the rest of the German Army and earnt the nickname the "Ghost Division" because their exact location was often unknown.

The French Army put up a fierce resistance along the Seine and had some notable successes against the invading forces. Ultimately they had no answer to the German Blitzkrieg tactics which saw deep penetrating manoeuvres by the Panzers, which outflanked their defensive positions. Rommel was to lead his Division in a hundred kilometre drive forward in just two days.

Jun

8

1940

HM Ships Glorious, Acasta and Ardent sunk

world war 2 aircraft carrier at sea - hms glorious

The escorting destroyer [HMS Ardent] on the port side of the battleships continued her torpedo attacks and tried, extremely skilfully, to avoid the effective defensive fire of the battleships’ medium armament by means of constant alterations of course. Finally this destroyer also opened fire on the battleships. She fought with outstanding resolution in a situation that was hopeless for her. The destroyer received numerous hits and finally went down, her bow armament firing to the last and her engines apparently in order and driving her at high speed. The final range was about 5 miles.

Jun

7

1940

46 Squadron successful in skies over Narvik

RAF Hawker Hurricane aircraft from 1940, as flown by No. 46 Squadron in Norway

‘I fired a 4 second burst and there was a burst of black smoke and the undercarriage dropped. Heavy return fire was coming from all four rear upper gun positions and it appeared that the top gunners had twin guns. I had now closed to about 80 yards and broke away downwards to port. As I did so I noticed that my oil pressure had dropped tp zero. I turned towards the aerodrome, gradually losing height and landed.’

Jun

7

1940

The British count the cost of Dunkirk

Aerial view of beach at Dunkirk

Ships engaged in the operation were heavily attacked by German bombers during daylight hours, – and at night M.T.Bs. (apparently based on Ymuiden and Helder) were used to harass them. In addition, the work was increasingly hampered by shell fire from batteries erected to the westward of Dunkirk. Patrols by corvettes, trawlers and Fleet Air Arm aircraft were carried out throughout the period of the evacuation to protect the ships engaged in the operation.

Jun

5

1940

Refugees flee as German advance resumes

Across France refugees started to clog the roads in fear of the German advance.

Many did not have a clear idea where they were going. Many people left in a panic, throwing a few possessions on a cart. Along the route food became scarce as the mass exodus gathered pace. Towns in the path of the refugees became overwhelmed, accommodation ran out and people were forced to sleep rough.

Jun

4

1940

Churchill: ‘We shall never surrender’

German troops look out over the English channel with the wreckage of British equipment behind them

We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

Jun

3

1940

The grim state of a ship returned from Dunkirk

Nearly 300,000 troops had been returned from Dunkirk by the 2nd May. This is one of the officially released photographs and as such does not reflect the state in which many of the men returned.

The soldiers and ship’s crew who had survived were disembarked and the wounded were removed and taken to hospital. Such were the conditions when our little party arrived at dockside. It was a beautiful summer morning, but there was an unnatural quietness hanging all around. Even the view from dockside brought a hushed feeling to all who looked.

Jun

2

1940

Majority of troops returned from Dunkirk

On the 2nd June 1940 there remained over 30,000 troops from the rear guard to get away from Dunkirk

The British Expeditionary Force still exists, not as a handful of fugitives, but as a body of seasoned veterans. The vital weapon of any army is its spirit. Ours has been tried and tempered in the furnace. It has not been found wanting. It is this refusal to accept defeat that is the guarantee of final victory.

Jun

1

1940

Blenheim bomber shot down off Dunkirk

Blenheim bomber over the sea with burning oil tanker below, photographed May 1940

As soon as I had seen the enemy, I had yelled to Baird “fighters” and in the meantime he turned to port and headed for North Foreland giving the engines full power. We were slowly picking up speed in a shallow dive but a cold feeling in the small of my back, made me realise we were “sitting ducks” for fighters.