Jul

31

1940

Bloody Wednesday in Olkusz, Poland

Jewish men from the Polish city of Olkusz are forced to lie face down in the City Square.

On the 31st July 1940 a German Army police unit arrived in the Polish town of Olkusz and gathered all the Jewish men over 14 in the town centre for “registration”. They were then subjected to hours of bullying sadism, forced to lie face down in the city square and beaten if they moved. Three men died from the beatings.

Jul

30

1945

USS Indianapolis torpedoed – 900 men in the water

The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) underway in 1939. An Omaha-class light cruiser and several Clemson/Wickes-class "flushdeck" destroyers are visible in the background.

By then we were in very bad shape. The kapok life jacket becomes waterlogged. It’s good for about 48 hours. We sunk lower down in the water and you had to think about keeping your face out of water. I knew we didn’t have very long to go. The men were semicomatose. We were all on the verge of dying when suddenly this plane flew over. I’m here today because someone on that plane had a sore neck. He went to fix the aerial and got a stiff neck and lay down in the blister underneath. While he was rubbing his neck he saw us.

Jul

30

1940

Bomber Command attacks German airfields

Amiens Airport being bombed by 82 Squadron on 30 July 1940 - with bombs in mid air. the Germans were rapidly lengthening the concrete runway. The interpretation report estimated that 650 metres was serviceable and this was being extended to 1000 metres. The large number of bomb craters illustrate how difficult it was to put airfields out of operations

Amiens Airport being bombed by 82 Squadron on 30 July 1940 – with bombs in mid air. The Germans were rapidly lengthening the concrete runway: the interpretation report estimated that 650 metres was serviceable and this was being extended to 1000 metres. The large number of bomb craters illustrate how difficult it was to put airfields out of operations

Jul

29

1940

Hitler plans the invasion of Russia

Colonel Warliment, pictured in 1939, was one of a very small group of officers who learnt that Hitler wanted to attack Russia in 1940

He repeated Hitler’s view and probably his own also that the collision with Bolshevism was bound to come and that it was better therefore to have this campaign now, when we were at the height of our military power, than to have to call the German people to arms once more in the years to come.

Jul

28

1940

American support promised – but Britain fights alone

Spitfire pilots pose beside the wreckage of a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, which they shot down as it was attacking a Channel convoy, 1940.

What was later to be designated the Battle of Britain was now firmly underway, with more and more of RAF Fighters Command’s squadrons being drawn into action. Nevertheless much of the fighting was still taking place offshore, as the Luftwaffe continued its attacks on convoys. As a consequence the battle was not yet taking place […]

Jul

26

1945

Winston Churchill falls from power

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, accompanied by Air Marshal the Hon. Sir Ralph Cochrane, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Transport Command, walks from his Douglas Skymaster Mark I, EW999, at Northolt, Middlesex, on his return from the Three Power Conference at Potsdam.

All the pressure of great events, on and against which I had mentally so long maintained my “flying speed”, would cease and I should fall. The power to shape the future would be denied me. The knowledge and experience I had gathered, the authority and goodwill I had gained in so many countries, would vanish. I was discontented at the prospect, and turned over at once to sleep again.

Jul

26

1940

Air power changes everything

Sir Alan Brooke, Chief in Command, Home Forces centre, studies  a map with Montgomery, left.

The attitude of representatives of the Naval Command brought [out] very clearly the fact that the navy now realizes fully that its position has been seriously undermined by the advent of aircraft. Sea supremacy is no longer what it was, and in the face of strong bomber forces can no longer ensure the safety of this island against invasion

Jul

25

1940

Air attacks still aimed at convoys off Britain

The destroyer HMS Beagle escaped serious damage when she was bombed off Dover on the 19th July

The scale of air attack on this country has again tended to decrease during the week and has almost exclusively consisted of attacks on convoys by large mixed formations of bombers and fighters. These attacks were not always developed or pressed home. Enemy reconnaissance and mine-laying operations have been at a high level and his transport aircraft have again been busy throughout the week.

Jul

25

1945

Truman and Allies approve use of atomic bomb

Rare color photograph of the first nuclear test at Trinity site, July 16, 1945. Blurriness is in the original photograph (done when color photography was still fairly new).

Anyway we “think” we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexican desert was startling — to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.

Jul

24

1945

Mountbatten meets the US Chiefs and Churchill

Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia: Mountbatten conferrring with Lieutenant General J W Stilwell Commander-in-Chief US Forces in China, Burma and India.

The Prime Minister has never been so friendly to me in his life. He kept on telling me what a good job I had done, and how I had vindicated his judgement when he selected me for the job. He said: ‘When the war is over I am going to arrange a great ovation for you and for your battle-green jungle warriors. When we get back to London come and see me and we will talk about your future, as I have great plans in store.’ It was a mournful and eerie feeling to sit there talking plans with a man who seemed so confident that they would come off, and I felt equally confident that he would be out of office within 24 hours.