World War Two Timeline of Events - 1940

Sourced from the Forces War Records Historic Document Archives, the 'Timeline of Events from 1939-45' provide a fascinating picture of the war as it was viewed at the time. Looking at this detailed timeline of WWII you can see wht it was called a World War, with so many countries involved across land, sea and air.

Within this timeline you will also discover Victoria Cross recipients with citations, Shipping losses, Battles, actions, RAF operations and so much more.

World War II Day by Day - 1940

World War Two Timeline of Events - 1940


January 1, 1940

  • The R.A.F. scores a swift and decisive victory in one of the first aerial combats of the New Year. R.A.F Coastal Command, 18 Group, at Sullom Voe, is attacked by German Dornier and Junkers bombers. Two Ju 88 dive-bombers are engaged by Gloster Gladiators of R.A.F Shetland Fighter Flight from R.A.F Sumburgh Aerodrome. Lockheed Hudson N7232 from 220 Squadron also engages a Ju 88 in combat and the aircraft shot down one another.
  • A Royal Proclamation is issued under which men up to the age of 28 become liable for military service, and must register when called upon. About two million men are affected, and it is thought that this number will meet the requirements of the Army during 1940, subject, naturally, to unforeseen developments in the military or political spheres.
  • The steamer S.S Box Hill is sunk as the result of an explosion in the North Sea, with heavy loss of life.
  • Further earthquake shocks and floods increase the terrible havoc already wrought in Turkey. It is believed that nearly 50,000 people have perished, and material damage alone constitutes a major national disaster.
  • The Hamburg-Amerika liner St. Louis arrives at Hamburg, having made her way from America through the allied blockade.
  • General Vuillemin, Commanding Officer of the French air arm, pays a glowing tribute to the R.A.F. in his New Year’s message to his men. “The audacity which it is displaying,” he says, “is in the tradition of the most noble British heroism.”
  • U-58 sinks the neutral Swedish steamer SS Lars Magnus Trozelli with seven casualties. The survivors are picked up by the Norwegian merchant Ask.

January 2, 1940

  • The German merchant ship Tacoma, the auxiliary to the Graf Spee, is interned by the Uruguayan Government.
  • There is extensive air activity over the North Sea. In the neighbourhood of the German coast a formation of three R.A.F. bombers encounter a squadron of twelve Messerschmitt long-range fighters well out at sea. In spite of the odds against them, the bombers accept the challenge. One Messerschmitt is shot down in flames, and two others are probably accounted for, and two bombers fail to return home.
  • The United States Government publishes a Note which it has sent to the British Government protesting against British examination of American mails in American or other neutral ships on the high seas, and challenging the right to censor m ail in ships which have involuntarily entered British ports.
  • H.M. the King pays a visit to a number of units in the Southern Command.
Men present arms as His Majesty spent a day with the Southern Command
While the men presented arms, the bugler sounded the Royal salute to his
Majesty when he spent a day with the Southern Command

January 3, 1940

  • An R.A.F. unit on reconnaissance over enemy territory is engaged by three enemy fighters in the neighbourhood of the frontier between Belgium and Germany. It is forced down in Belgian territory and one of the crew is killed.
  • H.M.S. Ajax and Achilles visit Montevideo and Buenos Aires respectively and are given a magnificent reception.
  • A Swedish merchant vessel is attacked and sunk by a submarine in the North Sea.
  • In a speech to Congress which is broadcast over the world President Roosevelt says: “It becomes clearer and clearer that the future world will be a shabby and dangerous place to live in - even for Americans to live in - if it is ruled by force in the hands of a few.”
HMS Ajax in Montevideo Harbour
HMS 'Ajax' cruiser in Montevideo Harbour in January 1940

January 4, 1940

  • Aircraft of the R.A.F. carry out successful reconnaissance flights over North-West Germany and patrols over German seaplane bases in the Heligoland Bight. All our aircraft return safely.
  • The British Ambassador to the U.S.A., speaking at Chicago, says that “if the German thrust for sea power fails, it is only a question of time before the relentless pressure of the blockade upon her capacity to carry on the war effectively will end in the defeat of her purpose, and the Democracies will then have the chance of determining the kind of world in which we are to live.”
  • The Ministry of Shipping announces that the policy of requisitioning shipping has been extended to include all ships on the United Kingdom and Colonial Registers engaged in the deep-sea liner trades.
  • General Goering is appointed economic dictator of Germany.

January 5, 1940

  • The resignations of the Secretary of State for War, Mr. Hore-Belisha, and of the Minister of Information, Lord Macmillan, are announced. The former is succeeded by the Rt. Hon. Oliver Stanley, M.P., and the latter by Sir John Reith. Sir Andrew Duncan becomes President of the Board of Trade.
  • The British naval patrol trawler H.M.T. Kingston Cornelian is sunk with the loss of all her crew, after a collision with a French liner.
  • The R.A.F. carries out another successful reconnaissance flight over North-West Germany.

January 6, 1940

  • Count Csaky, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, and Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, meet in Venice. It is believed that their main object is to discuss measures for frustrating any Russian intervention in the affairs of the Balkans.
  • The liner City of Marseilles strikes a mine off the east coast of Scotland. There are some casualties but she remains afloat and is brought into harbour.
  • The United States liner Manhattan is detained at Gibraltar by the British Contraband Control. A protest is made by the American Government.
  • The departure of Mr. Hore-Belisha from the War Office gives rise to a certain amount of unfavourable comment both at home and in the Dominions.
  • Lt Jorma Kalevi Sarvanto, Finnish Air Force, shot down six Soviet Ilyushin DB-3 bombers in the space of around twenty minutes. This remained a record for the number of kills in a single day throughout the war.

January 7, 1940

  • Count Csaky returns home unexpectedly and an official communique issued by the Italian Government states that the two Governments are at one in their views on the European situation and the problems to be faced. In plain language this means that they will co-operate to prevent Russian aggression in the Balkans.
  • The Canadian Minister of Transport outlines the immense economic and industrial programme on which Canada is engaged in collaboration with the British Government. He says that in connection with the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme Canada already has forty aerodromes and is planning forty more.
  • The British steamer S.S Cedrington Court is mined and sinks off the South-East Coast.
  • Two R.N. submarines H.M.S. Seahorse and H.M.S. Undine are sunk by German minesweepers and A/S trawlers in separate incidents near Heligoland. All of Seahorse’s crew are lost but Undine’s are rescued by their attackers.
  • The Battle of Raate Road ends with a complete rout of Soviet 44th Division by Finnish Forces.

January 8, 1940

  • There is a picturesque scene at British headquarters in France where General Gamelin, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies, decorates the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Edmund Ironside, and the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Gort, with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.
  • Admiral Usborne, the Director of Censorship, resigns in order to take charge of certain shipping construction work of vital importance.
  • Britain, France and Turkey enter into an important and comprehensive economic and financial agreement which foreshadows an enlargement of the trading relations between the three countries.
  • The Finns win a resounding victory over the Russians, annihilating a whole division which was trying to reach the Baltic and cut Finland in two.
  • First food rationing introduced in Great Britain. Each person is allowed four ounces (112 g) of bacon and 12 ounces (336 g) of sugar per week.

January 9, 1940

  • A Royal Air Force Command, to include all units of the Royal Air Force in France, is to be formed. The new Command will be designated “British Air Forces in France.” Air Marshal A. S. Barratt, C.B., C.M.G., M.C., is appointed its commander.
  • The Union-Castle liner M.V. Dunbar Castle sinks off the South-East Coast after striking a German mine.
  • Following an attack on a German minesweeper off Heligoland, the R.N. submarine H.M.S. Starfish is damaged by depth charges and forced to surrender. All the crew are rescued before the submarine sank. With the third loss in three days, Britain suspends operations in Heligoland Bight.
  • Enemy aircraft attack small unescorted merchant vessels in the North Sea. A Trinity House vessel, engaged in relieving lighthouse personnel, is attacked with machine-gun fire from an aeroplane; over three- quarters of the men aboard her are hit.
  • The First Lord of the Admiralty returns from his visit to France.
  • The Prime Minister, speaking at the Mansion House, reviews the War and makes an impressive reference to things to come. He says that our people are united in their determination to win this war but “what I am not quite so sure of is that they understand what they are up against or that we shall have to face a phase of this war much grimmer than anything we have seen yet.” Speaking of our relations with France, he says that our association with our ally “may even develop into something wider and deeper because there is nothing which would do more to facilitate the task of peaceful reconstruction. There is nothing which would contribute more towards the permanence of its results than the extension of Anglo-French collaboration in finance and economics to every nation in Europe, perhaps to the whole world.”

January 10, 1940

  • Two Luftwaffe Majors Reinberger and Hoenmanns are flying from Loddenheide to Cologne with a complete set of plans for Operation Yellow, the German invasion of France, Belgium and Holland when they get lost in fog and crash land near Mechelen-sur-Meuse, Belgium. Their attempt to burn the plans before they are captured fails and the Belgians pass the remaining papers to the Allies. The German military attaché to Holland soon learns of the breach and Operation Yellow is cancelled by a furious Hitler.
  • The Viceroy of India, restating the British Government’s attitude towards the Indian problem, says that it is only the internal divisions in the country which prevent the immediate grant of dominion status. Britain must make sure that justice shall be done to all minorities before abandoning her tutelary functions. He pays a high tribute to Indian loyalty and assistance to the Empire in prosecuting the war.
  • During the night of the 9th-10th British aircraft are again engaged on patrol over enemy seaplane bases and bombs are dropped near the island of Sylt. The Air Ministry announces that if, as has been rumoured, any damage is proved to have been done to Danish property, full compensation will be made.
  • There is a running fight over the North Sea between British aircraft and long-range enemy fighters. One British machine is lost, but a Messerschmitt is seen to crash into the sea and another is forced to land in Denmark.
  • The British Ambassador in Moscow arrives back in England for a period of leave.
  • An important announcement is made from Rome. Italy will give military support to Hungary if she is threatened with Russian aggression.
  • The Finns have further successes in Central Finland where the Russian forces in the Suomusalmi region are driven back over the frontier.
  • The Italian Government protests to the German Government against the holding-up by the latter of Italian consignments of war material for Finland.

January 11, 1940

  • Indiscriminate mine-laying by the Germans claims further victims in the shape of an Italian steamer and the British steamer S.S El Oso.
  • The King of Sweden, addressing the Swedish Parliament, speaks of the close connection and bonds of sympathy between Sweden and Finland and says that his country has translated and will continue to translate that sympathy into action by giving the maximum possible material help.
  • The German air forces indulge in large-scale air raids over many points of the cast coast of Scotland and England. The French bring down an enemy reconnaissance aircraft on the Western Front.
  • Many British aircraft visit Western Germany and in particular fly over Frankfort, Bremen and the Ruhr district.
  • M. Paderewski, the aged and famous pianist and former President of Poland, is elected as first member of the new Polish Council.

January 12, 1940

  • The Germans continue their attacks from the air on shipping. To counteract this new form of offensive aircraft of the R.A.F. successfully carry out reconnaissance flights over West and North-West Germany and patrols over German seaplane bases in the Heligoland Bight. A German aircraft is observed over the Thames estuary and driven off.
  • The Russians indulge in indiscriminate air raids on Finnish ports and towns; apparently, they are seeking revenge for recent disasters and another catastrophe threatening in the Salla sector.

January 13, 1940

  • The Russians continue their attempts to devastate Finland well outside the war zones. Towns, villages, hamlets and even individual farms are attacked with bombs and machine-guns.
  • There is another German invasion scare in Holland and Belgium. Their armies stand to, leave is stopped and an atmosphere of the greatest tension prevails.
  • The neutral Swedish merchant SS Sylvia is lost with all hands after being torpedoed by U-20 north-east of Aberdeen.

January 14, 1940

  • The Finns issue a statement on Russian air raids during the week. It shows that the Russians are aiming at nothing less than cowing the Finns into submission by continuous attacks on the civil population.
  • The Germans torpedo the Dutch ship Arendskerk. She is on her way to South Africa and there is great indignation in Holland at the outrage.

January 15, 1940

  • A British aircraft attacks a German submarine in the North Sea. It is highly probable, though not certain, that the enemy vessel has been destroyed.
  • Leave for the Air Force in France is temporarily cancelled. It is believed that this measure is connected with the exceptionally severe weather and the disorganisation of train service which it has caused.
  • It is confirmed in Belgium that when a German plane came down on Belgian soil its occupants were found to be in possession of plans of the Belgian fortifications.
  • In a communique issued after the conferences between the Bulgarian Prime Minister and a Turkish minister the Bulgarian Government announces its determination to maintain its neutrality.

January 16, 1940

  • The great debate on the disappearance of Mr. Leslie Hore-Belisha from the War Office takes place. It proves to be a somewhat damp squib. The late War Minister said that while it had never occurred to him that they were making the Army too democratic to fight for democracy it was untrue that lie had disagreements with colleagues or that he had been made the victim of an Army plot. Unity and cohesiveness was the only criterion to be regarded and “War compels and unifies the whole effort of a nation, and I trust that it is in that spirit that I have spoken.” The Prime Minister reiterates that there has been no disagreement on policy; Mr. Hore-Belisha’s professional colleagues had not intrigued against him or even voiced criticism of him. But changes were sometimes dictated in the natural course of things and in the particular case there had been certain difficulties - which must not be revealed - which indicated that a change was required. The Prime Minister went on to review the war; the main new feature was indiscriminate mine-laying, but successful efforts were being made to cope with the peril.
  • The French Minister of Armaments arrives for joint consultations with the British Minister of Supply.
  • The Admiralty announces that during the past week the British submarines H.M.S. Seahorse (N98), Undine (P-48) and Starfish (N19) have failed to return to their bases or to report. They have been engaged on particularly hazardous service, and it is feared that they must be regarded as lost. As the Germans announce the rescue of some members of the crews, the fear is unfortunately a certainty.
HMS Seahorse submarine presumed lost on 16th January 1940
HMS 'Seahorse' submarine presumed lost on 16th January 1940

January 17, 1940

  • The Minister of Economic Warfare, Mr. Ronald Cross, gives a new angle of the great national effort to bring about the overthrow of Germany. He says that economic warfare means attacking the industrial, financial and economic structure of the enemy and thus so to cripple and enfeeble his armed forces that he can no longer effectively carry on the war. Although there is a new human factor, for we are fighting a whole country which has been moulded and hammered into one vast military and economic machine, the various systems employed to strangle German trade have already begun to be effective. Reports have reached this country that important German steelworks have had to suspend operations largely through lack of raw materials. The textile situation in Germany is acute and rationing has had to be introduced for clothing of all kinds.
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer announces that the 4 and a half per cent Conversion Loan 1940-44 will be repaid on 1st July, and holders are to be offered as an alternative to repayment in cash the conversion of their holdings into a short-term loan at 2 per cent.
  • Leave for the B.E.F. in France is resumed.
  • The Russians continue their retreat in Central Fin­ land and express their disgust by wholesale bombing of non-military objectives.
  • The German Enigma code is first broken by a combination of teams from Poste de Commandemnt Bruno, Gretz-Armainvillers, France and the Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, when they decode a German transmission intercepted by Polish forces on 28th October 1939.

January 18, 1940

  • A serious explosion occurs at the Royal Gunpowder Factory, Waltham Abbey. Five deaths and a large number of cases of injury are the result. It is suspected that sabotage is responsible.
  • Aircraft of the R.A.F. carry out night reconnaissance flights over North-West Germany.
  • In a day of heavy losses for merchant ships; the Danish SS Canadian Reefer is sunk by U-44 in the Bay of Biscay, and the Swedish SS Pajala, SS Foxen and SS Flandria are all lost in the North Sea. SS Patria is lost early the following morning.

January 19, 1940

  • An enemy aircraft is attacked by R.A.F. fighters over the sea east of Aberdeen and driven off.
  • Senator Borah, leader of the isolationists in the United States, dies suddenly.

January 20, 1940

  • The First Lord of the Admiralty makes a speech which has considerable repercussions all over the world. He says that so far it is the small neutral states that are bearing the brunt of German malice and cruelty. The Dutch, the Belgians, the Danes, the Swedes, and the Norwegians have their ships destroyed whenever they can be caught upon the high seas. It is only in the British and French convoys that safety is to be found. Every one of the neutrals is wondering who will be the next victim on whom the criminal adventurers of Berlin will cast their rending stroke. But what would happen if all these neutrals were with one spontaneous impulse to do their duty in accordance with the Covenant of the League and stand together with the British and French Empires against aggression and wrong. There is no chance of a speedy end except through united action, and if Britain and France made a shameful peace nothing would remain for the smaller states of Europe but to be divided between the barbarisms of Nazidom and Bolshevism.
  • Lord Halifax, justifying British intervention in the affairs of Eastern Europe, says that “we should have been very blind not to recognise that all the signs pointed to Hitler’s purpose being something very much bigger than Poland, and when he had cleared up and strengthened his position in the East lie would have been in good shape to take on what were the main obstacles to world ambition, namely, the British Empire and France.”
  • While engaged in reconnaissance over the North Sea aircraft of the Coastal Command sight four enemy patrol vessels which open heavy fire. The aircraft retaliate by dropping bombs, some of which are seen to fall within a few yards of the enemy vessels.
  • Sir John Reith, the Minister of Information, is adopted as National candidate for one of the Southampton seats.
  • The Russians repeat their wholesale raids over southern Finland, while Finnish aeroplanes bomb Russian bases in Estonia. As regards the Russian effort, it is believed that over three thousand bombs have been dropped in a comparatively small area.

January 21, 1940

  • On the Front to the west of the Vosges the Germans attempt a raid which is a signal failure.
  • The British reply to the American complaint about the seizure and opening of mailbags is published. It refers in particular to the fact that in 1916 “the United States admitted in principle the right of the British authorities to examine mailbags with a view to ascertaining whether they contained contraband”. It also points out that letter mails may be used to convey securities, cheques or notes, or, again, they may be used to send industrial diamonds and other light contraband.
  • The Admiralty announces that the destroyer H.M.S Grenville has been sunk by mine or torpedo in the North Sea, with a loss of 81 men.

January 22, 1940

  • A German submarine sinks the neutral Greek steamer Ekatontarchos Dracoulis in the Atlantic; several Greek sailors are killed.
  • The Japanese Government makes a formal protest to the British Government against the action of a British warship in stopping the liner Asarna Maru and taking off 21 Germans. The incident provokes great public agitation in Japan which is stimulated by anti-British elements.
  • The news from Finland shows tor the first time that assistance in the field, and particularly in the air, is being given by neutral volunteers.

January 23, 1940

  • A British destroyer, H.M.S. Exmouth, is sunk by mine or torpedo. There are no survivors.
  • In the South African Parliament General Hertzog makes an extraordinary speech in favour of ending the war with Germany. “One might accuse Hitler of acting hastily, unwisely and dictatorially, but to accuse him of lust for world domination because of his action in the restoration of his deeply wronged country was an untruth in which nobody who wished to be true to the facts could render himself guilty.” General Smuts, replying, says that the Leader of the Opposition’s defence of the Nazis sounds like a chapter out of Mein Kampf. He doubts whether Goebbels could have done it better

January 24, 1940

  • The Canadian Government take steps to prevent the export of products to countries adjacent to Germany or areas controlled by Germany, thus putting itself in a position to stop the supply to Russia of a large quantity of wheat recently purchased.
  • The appointment of an oil control board by the Rumanian Government causes a certain amount of misgiving in this country, as indicating that it is yielding to the German demand for increased supplies. A statement is accordingly issued by the Rumanian Government that this step has been taken merely to conserve oil supplies and control distribution and is not intended to favour one belligerent as against others.
  • The Russians commence an onslaught of unprecedented intensity against the Mannerheim Line, particularly in the southern sector. Simultaneously severe attacks are launched north-east of Lake Ladoga.
The King inspects Canadian Active Force troops at Aldershot in January 1940
The King inspects Canadian Active Force troops at Aldershot 24th January 1940

January 25, 1940

  • It is announced in Canada that Parliament will be dissolved and the Government will appeal to the country immediately. The intimation causes considerable surprise and provokes a great deal of indignation, real or assumed, among the opposition parties.
  • The Government explains that in view of the magnitude of its task it is essential that it should be assured of the full confidence of the country.
  • A machine of the Royal Air Force which left its base in France to carry out a reconnaissance flight over north-west Germany fails to return. Later in the day it is announced in Germany that it was shot down over Duisburg.
  • The Germans announce that two neutral ships have been sunk without warning; the excuse made is that they were travelling in convoy. There is no truth in that statement, but its real significance is that Germany should openly proclaim her intention of treating neutral ships as belligerents merely because they may take advantage of any protection offered to them.

January 26, 1940

  • The German Press indulges in an orgy of prognostication of ruin to Britain. There is further talk of Hitler’s secret weapon which is said in some quarters to be a new kind of gas which will send England to sleep while the Germans carry out an invasion.
  • The Japanese agitation over the removal of Germans from the Asama Maru calms down after an unusual outburst.
  • The Germans announce still severer penalties against anyone who is caught reading or distributing any leaflets or literature dropped by hostile aircraft.
  • All the Russian attacks on the Mannerheim Line and elsewhere are beaten off with heavy loss.

January 27, 1940

  • A Russian submarine is caught and sunk in a Finnish mine-field. On land the Russian attacks are held up.
  • It is announced in Canada that the General Election will take place on 26th March and that arrangements are being made for Canadian soldiers abroad to vote wherever they happen to be. The Canadian Prime Minister again defends his decision to dissolve Parliament on the ground that the Government could not effectively carry out its great war programme unless it was assured that the D om inion stood solidly behind it. In some quarters his action is still denounced as an electoral manoeuvre which is quite unnecessary because Canada is united on the subject of the war.
  • It is announced in Germany that the usual celebrations to mark the anniversary of Hitler’s accession to power will not take place. It is assumed that the reason is the unprecedented and prolonged severity of the weather.

January 28, 1940

  • The British Note, in reply to the Japanese Note about the removal of Germans from the Asama Maru, is received in Tokyo. The Japanese profess to find it too technical and legal and continue to protest that Japan has been insulted because the steamer was stopped and searched so close to the shores of Japan.
  • The South African Parliament rejects General Hertzog’s motion for an immediate peace with Germany by a decisive majority. The Opposition parties there upon announce their intention of reuniting on the basis of a programme which will include the foundation of a republic and a resolve to renounce all ties which might have the effect of involving the South African state in Britain’s wars.
  • The weekend is marked by weather of unprecedented severity.
  • Two neutral Greek merchant ships are sunk by U-boats in the Atlantic. SS Eleni Stathatou with 12 crew lost and SS Flora with all hands lost.

January 29, 1940

  • In view of the weather conditions, leave for the British Army in France is again temporarily postponed.
  • The extremely severe weather causes great traffic dislocation and other in convenience everywhere. Even main lines are snowed up and many passengers are completely isolated for some time. The Government issue a plea for economy in fuel consumption owing to the difficulty of distributing coal. The railways have to ensure the continuance of vital supplies and in order to do so it may be necessary for them to suspend a number of passenger services.
  • Along the whole of the East Coast attacks by German aircraft on coastal shipping continue throughout the day. The new form of aerial terrorism is displayed in all its ruthlessness and with complete disregard of the functions or business of the vessels attacked. The German plan is for their machines to conceal themselves as far as possible in low -lying clouds from which they can dart quite unexpectedly and to which they can return if British aircraft appear. The unarmed lightship East Dudgeon is strafed and bombed. Seven of the crew are drowned when the lifeboat in which they evacuated capsizes near the shore.

January 30, 1940

  • An eloquent comment on the Munich bomb explosion is that the announcement of a speech by Hitler to commemorate the anniversary of the inauguration of his regime is delayed until the afternoon, all Germany having been led to believe that there would be no celebration of the event.
  • Hitler’s speech is of the usual pattern, but both less so and more so. Less so because his vehemence is petulant and childish, more so because his review of Britain’s imperial history is more lurid and fantastic than ever before. He will have none of the doctrine that Britain conquered half the world in a fit of absentmindedness; she gained her place by exploiting the talents of the robber-cum-tiger.
  • German aerial attacks on British shipping in the North Sea continue.
  • Following attacks on the tanker SS Vaclite and Greek merchant SS Keramiai, U-55 is chased and sunk by a combination of H.M.S. Whitshed, H.M.S. Fowey, two French destroyers and an R.A.F. Sunderland from 228 Squadron.


February 1, 1940

  • Reported that battle in Kuhmo sector of Central Finland, in which Finns were attempting to encircle a Russian division, was reaching critical stage.
  • Russian forces said to be entrenching themselves on front north of Lake Ladoga.
  • Soviet troops launched a violent attack at Summa, in centre of Mannerheim Line in Karelian Isthmus.
  • Russian planes bombed Rovaniemi and Kemi, on Lapland front.
  • Announced that both British and American aircraft had reached Finland and been in use for past fortnight.
  • Balkan Entente Conference opened in Belgrade, Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Rumania, Yugoslavia and Greece meeting to discuss questions of Balkan policy.
  • Reported that Greek cargo ship “Eleni Statathos” had been sunk by U -boat on Jan. 28, and British steamer S.S. Bancrest by enemy air attack on Jan. 29 or 30.
  • Lord Mayor’s Red Cross and St. John Fund reached over £1,000,000.

February 2, 1940

  • Russians continued violent attacks on Karelian Isthmus, using armoured sledges pushed forward by tanks. Their advance was repulsed after heavy fighting.
  • Helsinki announced that at least five enemy machines were shot down in the Isthmus.
  • Twenty places bombed in Southern Finland, including Helsinki and Sortavala.
  • British tanker S.S. British Councillor sunk by enemy action in North Sea.
  • Announced that the whole of the crews of submarines H.M.S Starfish and H.M.S. Undine, sunk in January in Heligoland Bight were Prisoners of War in Germany. No survivors of H.M.S. Seahorse so far reported.

February 3, 1940

  • German aircraft made further raids on unarmed vessels in North Sea. R.A.F. machines made contact on several occasions, shot down three raiders and disabled a fourth. One crashed in Yorkshire, another in sea off mouth of Tyne.
  • Fighting was intense a t Summa in Karelian Isthmus, this being third day of new Russian offensive. Four fierce attacks repulsed by Finnish forces.
  • Army communique stated that Finns had brought down at least 13 planes over Isthmus.
  • Mass Soviet raids in Finland, the worst being at Kuopio. Attack went as far west as Pori, on Bothnian coast.
  • Norwegian ship “Tempo” sunk by bombing off North-east Coast.
  • New Anglo-Turkish trade agreement signed in London.

February 4, 1940

  • Helsinki stated that Russians had attacked positions newly occupied by Finns in Kuhmo sector, but had been repulsed.
  • North of Lake Ladoga enemy forces were almost all entrenched.
  • Finnish communique claimed that 11 more enemy aeroplanes had been brought down.
  • Viipuri suffered severe bombing raids, with some loss of life and much material damage. Other attacks were made at Ekenaes, Aabo and Rovaniemi.
  • First British airman – Flight-Lt. Robert Voase Jeff - to be decorated by the French, awarded Croix de Guerre by Gen. Vuillemin.
  • Reported that British ship S.S. Polzella and Norwegian steamer S.S. Varild were both overdue and must be considered lost.
  • Meeting of Balkan Entente at Belgrade ended with declaration of the four States to maintain solidarity of south east Europe in spirit of “regional neutrality.”
  • Reported that German arms were being sent by sea to Russian forces at Petsamo and Murmansk.

February 5, 1940

  • Russians stated to have got nearer to Mannerheim defences and to be now 19 miles from Viipuri.
  • Finns reported to have gained another big victory in course of which Russian 18th Division, operating north-east of Lake Ladoga, was almost annihilated.
  • Russian air raids continued objectives included churches and ambulances. Island monastery of Valamo, on Lake Ladoga, bombed and set on fire.
  • Admiralty announced that mine-sweeper H.M.S Sphinx foundered after being damaged by enemy air attacks on Feb. 3.
  • Reported that Canadian-Pacific liner Beaverburn had been sunk by U -boat in Atlantic.
  • British steamer S.S. Portelet reported mined in North Sea.
  • Stockholm announced that Swedish steamer Andalusia was overdue and was feared lost.
  • Fifth and largest meeting of Supreme War Council took place in Paris.
  • M. Pampinchi, French Minister of Marine, stated that 40 of Germany’s 55 submarines at sea in September had been sunk.

February 6, 1940

  • Finnish Army Command stated that new attacks by large Russian forces and tanks in Summa sector of Mannerheim Line were repulsed after 16 hours of fighting.
  • Reported that Russian parachute troops had been dropped behind Finnish lines both on Isthmus and at Rovaniemi, in Lapland, but were either killed or taken prisoner.
  • Swedish steamer Wirgo sunk by Russian bombers.
  • Estonian cargo ship Anu mined in North Sea.
  • Norwegian motor-ship Segovia reported overdue and feared lost.
  • Notes exchanged between Britain and Japan, over removal on Jan. 21 of 21 Germans from the “Asama Maru,” were published as a White Paper.

February 7, 1940

  • The motor ship Munster, a cross-channel steamer between England and Ireland, sinks in the Irish Sea after an explosion caused by a mine.
  • General Smuts, defining the position and intentions of the South African Government, says that if the need arises South Africa will give assistance to the British territories right up to the Equator. The Government will not use any form of compulsion, but if any such territory is in danger of attack the defence of the Union dictates the necessity of going to its assistance.
  • The British Government announces that school attendance will be made compulsory in evacuation areas.
  • The Russians continue their violent attacks on the southern half of the Mannerheim Line in the KarelianIsthmus.
  • The King made a tour of military units in the West Country.

February 8, 1940

  • The third contingent of the Canadian Active Service Force arrives in this country.
  • General Waygand, commanding the French forces in the Near East, reviews British and Egyptian forces in Egypt.
  • In Finland the great battle for the Mannerheim Line continues at its maximum intensity.

February 9, 1940

  • The United States Government announces that Mr. Sumner Welles, the Under-Secretary of State, is going on a visit to Europe to obtain information at first hand from the three belligerent countries and Italy. In addition, diplomatic conversations of an informal character have been commenced with some neutral governments and will probably be continued with all neutral governments. These conversations involve no plan or plans, but are in the nature of preliminary enquiries relating to a sound international economic system, and at the same time to a world-wide reduction of armaments.
  • The Admiralty announces that two U-boats have been destroyed by a British destroyer when they were in the act of attacking a convoy.
  • An enemy aeroplane is attacked by R.A.F. Fighter Command patrols, and crashes near the Firth of Forth. The Germans admit the loss, but claim that six ships in British waters have been successfully attacked and accounted for from the air. The Admiralty admits that as a result of enemy aircraft attacks in the North Sea H.M. trawlers Robert Bowen and Fort Royal were sunk with the loss of four officers and eighteen ratings.

February 10, 1940

  • It is announced in Canada that British Government contracts for aircraft to the value of about twenty-seven million dollars have been placed with Canadian aircraft manufacturers.
  • The secret session in the French Chamber of Deputies ends with a unanimous vote of confidence in M. Daladier and his government. The Chamber records that it recognises the unceasing struggle of the government to make the material and moral effort of the country worthy of the heroism displayed by the army, and looks to the government and the country’s representatives to carry the war to a victorious conclusion.
  • President Roosevelt, referring to objections in some quarters in the United States to the granting of any loan to Finland on the ground that such action was an attempt to force America into an imperialistic war says that “that reason is sheer, unexaggerated twaddle, based perhaps on sincerity, but at the same time on go percent ignorance of what they are talking about…..That American sympathy is 98 per cent with the Finns in their efforts to stave off invasion of their own soil by now is axiomatic.”

February 11, 1940

  • Lord Tweedsmuir, the Governor-General of Canada, dies in Montreal. The Gallia, a Norwegian tanker, is mined off the South-East Coast.

February 12, 1940

  • The first contingents of the Second Australian Imperial Force and of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force arrive at Suez and proceed to their specified areas. The Second Australian Imperial Force is under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Blarney, and the commander of the New Zealand Force is Major-General B. C. Freyberg, V.C. The transports are met by a special message from His Majesty the King and by Mr. Anthony Eden, who gives the men a welcome from the Government and every section of the people of the British Isles. He says that “whichever ocean laps our shores the struggle is the same for each of us. By the persistent practice of broken faith on a scale unparalleled in history Germany first betrayed and enslaved one neighbour after another. The truth is that the Nazi system is based on brute force. There will be no free life for the peoples of the world until that system is destroyed.”
  • The Germans announced the conclusion of a new commercial agreement with Russia, contemplating the exchange of Russian raw materials for German machinery and manufactured goods.
  • The dangerous U-boat, U-33 (11 merchant ships) is finally cornered and sunk by depth charges by H.M.S Gleaner, whilst laying mines in the Forth of Clyde.

February 13, 1940

  • The German steamer Wakama is located by an aircraft from H.M.S. Dorsetshire off the coast of Brazil. On being ordered to stop by the aircraft the German crew sets fire to the ship and scuttles her. H.M.S. Hasty is more successful when she intercepts and captures the German merchant SS Morea, off Portugal.
  • The continuous Russian attacks on the Finnish lines in the Karelian Isthmus attain their maximum intensity and achieve some success. The Russians claim that they have captured thirty-two defensive fortifications, which include twelve reinforced concrete artillery forts. The Finns admit that some part of their advanced positions has been abandoned.
  • Three R.A.F. Fighter Command pilots dive 14,000 feet in pursuit of a German Heinkel III raider off the mouth of the Thames estuary as daylight is fading. Several bursts of fire take effect, and when last seen the raider is heading eastwards into clouds and darkness.
  • In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister refers to the visit to Europe of Mr. Sumner Welles. He says that it has been stated that the visit is solely for the purpose of advising the President and the Secretary of State as to present conditions in Europe, and that Mr. Welles would be authorised to make no proposals or commitments in the name of the Government of the United States.

February 14, 1940

  • The British merchants SS Sultan Star, SS Langleeford and SS Gretafield, along with the Danish SS Martin Goldschmidt are all sunk by German submarines.
  • Discussing enemy air attacks on British trawlers and fishing vessels Mr. Churchill states in the House of Commons that this country is ceaselessly engaged in planning and putting into execution defensive measures and counter-measures. He had every hope that a very great measure of protection would be afforded.
  • The Government announce that in their view it would be inconsistent with the spirit and the terms of the resolution of the League of Nations with regard to assistance to Finland that British subjects who wish to volunteer for service in Finland should be hindered; a general licence had accordingly been granted to British subjects to enlist in the Finnish forces.
  • The Russians make some progress against the southern end of the Mannerheim Line in the Karelian Isthmus.

February 15, 1940

  • Referring to air reprisals, the Prime Minister says that whatever maybe the lengths to which others may go, Britain will never resort to the deliberate attack on women, children and other civilians for purposes of mere terrorism.
  • The cruiser Exeter arrives at Plymouth during the night and receives a great welcome when her presence is known.
  • The Government announce a new evacuation scheme, to be put into effect if air raids develop on a scale involving serious and continuous bombing. Parents would be asked to sign an undertaking to send their children away when evacuation takes place and to leave them in the reception areas until school parties return.
  • Two Danish ships, the Rhone and the Sleipner, are torpedoed by German submarines in the North Sea.
HMS Exeter cheered into Portsmouth following River Plate Battle
HMS 'Exeter' cheered into Portsmouth following River Plate Battle - 15th Feburary 1940.

February 16, 1940

  • The Swedish Government states officially that the Finnish Government has approached it at various times for assistance, including military assistance, but while most of these requests have been acceded to, Sweden cannot depart from the policy of neutrality previously decided upon.
  • A German submarine is attacked, and almost certainly destroyed, by a British aircraft on reconnaissance in the North Sea.
  • The Russian infiltration into the Finnish Mannerheim Line makes further progress in the south.

February 17, 1940

  • This is a red-letter day in British naval annals. The story begins at the time of the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee when some 300 British sailors from captured ships were transferred to a German naval auxiliary, the Altmark. This vessel, having evaded the British control and reached Norwegian territorial waters, is this day chased into Joessing Fjord, south of Bergen. As the Norwegian Government has failed in its duty of either searching the vessel for captives of war or preventing a naval auxiliary from using Norwegian territorial waters as a naval highway, British naval units invite Norwegian guardships to search the Altmark then and there. Upon the Norwegian authorities declining the invitation, the destroyer Cossack enters Joessing Fjord. The Altmark makes an unsuccessful attempt to ram her. A party of volunteers from the Cossack then boards the German vessel and liberates the captives. Some of the German seamen fire at the boarding-party and the result is a scuffle in which some Germans are killed and a British sailor is very severely wounded.
  • The British Government address a protest to the Norwegian Government in which it is stated that the Norwegian search was perfunctory “as shown by the fact that no prisoners had been discovered” and the Norwegian Government had failed in their duty as neutrals.
  • The Norwegian Government, in turn, protest that British naval vessels have violated Norwegian territorial waters and ask for the return of the prisoners.
  • The German Press pretends that the Altmark was a peaceful, unarmed merchant-vessel, and says absolutely nothing about the facts that she had accompanied and assisted the Graf Spee in her operations and was engaged in bringing back British merchant seamen who had been captured.

February 18, 1940

  • With a view to making American dollar securities held by British subjects available to the Treasury, an order is made automatically transferring certain of such securities to the Government.

February 19, 1940

  • The destroyer H.M.S. Daring is torpedoed and sunk by U-23 whilst on convoy escort in the North Sea. There were only five survivors out of a complement of 162.
  • The Norwegian Government adhere to the view that the British release of the Altmark’s prisoners was a violation of Norwegian neutrality, on the ground that she was a vessel employed in war service and therefore a warship under international law and not subject to international law. The British Government, on the other hand, maintain that it is unlawful for a belligerent warship to carry on an operation of war, e.g., conveying prisoners, while using the territorial waters of a neutral for that purpose.
  • The Finns retreat on the southern half of the Mannerheim Line and the Russians advance towards Viipuri (Viborg). Further north, the Finns complete the destruction of the Russian 18th Division.

February 20, 1940

  • The Prime Minister defends the action of the Government and the Navy in a speech in the House of Commons. He says that the admirably conducted operation resulted in the rescue of 290 officers and men belonging to a number of British merchant vessels sunk by the German armoured ship Graf Spee. The full statement made by the Norwegian Foreign Minister in the Norwegian Parliament last night made the action, or rather inaction, of the Norwegian Government even more difficult to understand than he had previously supposed. The original British complaint had been that the Norwegian examination had been too perfunctory, whereas it now appeared that there was no examination at all. He found it difficult, in these circumstances, to resist the conclusion that the Norwegian authorities had displayed complete indifference as to the use which might be made of their territorial waters by the German fleet.

February 21, 1940

  • The Norwegian Government issues a statement as to its attitude over the Altmark incident, maintaining that Britain has been wrong in her interpretation of certain provisions of the Hague Convention.
  • In the early hours of this morning the R.A.F. is very busy. Warships observed near Heligoland are attacked with bombs. In spite of anti-aircraft fire and counter-attacks by enemy fighters, all our machines save one return safely. Other aerial operations include successful reconnaissance flights over Austria and Bohemia.

February 22, 1940

  • There is considerable activity in the air. H.M.T. trawler Fifeshire is sunk as the result of enemy aircraft attacks. The trawler Solon is also attacked by bombs and machine-guns, but the enemy aircraft are driven off and the vessel returns to port. An enemy aircraft is engaged and shot down by R.A.F. fighter aircraft off the North-East Coast. Shortly afterwards a second Heinkel is attacked by Spitfires and crashes near St. Abb’s Head.
  • The Russians press their attack in the Karelian Isthmus in the direction of Viipuri.

February 23, 1940

  • H.M.S. Achilles arrives home (New Zealand) and receives a wonderful welcome in recognition of her share in the River Plate victory.
  • German submarine U-23 is sunk west of the Shetland Island by depth charges from H.M.S. Gurkha, with no survivors.
  • In London a great public welcome is given to the other participants, the officers and ratings of the Exeter and Ajax. British history has known no such departure from tradition in war-time and Londoners make the most of it. The victors first march to the Horse Guards Parade where they are inspected by the King who awards decorations for gallantry. Then they are given a civic luncheon at the Guild Hall. Mr. Churchill makes a happy little speech in which he says that “the victory over the Graf Spee has in a dark, cold winter, warmed the cockles of the British heart”.
  • The Turkish Government announces that a state of emergency has been proclaimed.
  • Reconnaissance flights are carried out over North-West Germany and in the south over Prague.
Battle of the River Plate Victory March 23rd February 1940
HMS Ajax & HMS Exeter officers and men on the Battle of the River Plate Victory March 23rd February 1940

February 24, 1940

  • R.A.F. machines carry out reconnaissance (lights over the Heligoland Bight and North-West Germany. One of our aircraft is attacked by five Messerschmitt’s. Having repulsed six separate attacks the machine returns home safely after completing its task.
  • The leaders of the British and German nations each makes a speech, which is important if only by reason of its synchronising with the arrival of the American Government’s “observer”, Mr. Sumner Welles. The German leader, speaking to his old comrades of the Nazi movement, makes a cheap and bitter attack on England. He says that Germany’s fight is not merely against the terms of the Versailles Treaty, but against the spirit which produced it a spirit dictating that two races should govern all the rest. Heaven had not made the world for Britain alone. It was not a divine decree that three-quarters of the world should be controlled by one race. His modest claim was that Germany should have safe lebensraum, by which he meant the area economically developed by Germany and the areas which had been stolen from them.
  • The British Prime Minister at once places his finger on the true issues which are at stake in this war. “By that one act in March last year Herr Hitler shattered any faith that was left in his pledged word, and he disclosed his ambition to dominate the world…. Czechoslovakia was followed by Poland in spite of warnings up to the last, and with that wicked and cruel attack on Poland the die was cast, the challenge was accepted, and the acceptance of the challenge was approved by the whole British Empire.”

February 25, 1940

  • No.110 Army Co-Operation (Auxiliary) Squadron is the first Royal Canadian Air Force to arrive for service in the U.K.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles. President Roosevelt’s special observer, who is on a mission of enquiry to the governments of the belligerent countries and Italy, arrives in Rome.
  • The Norwegian Government issue a statement in which they maintain that international regulations do not provide any time limit covering a case such as that of the Altmark and offer to submit the whole dispute to arbitration.

February 26, 1940

  • German aeroplanes fly over the area of Paris after nightfall, but soon retire when anti-aircraft activity begins.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles has interviews both with Count Ciano and Signor Mussolini. The meeting is said to have been cordial, but, of course, no indication is given of what has been discussed. Meanwhile, there is a wide-spread rumour that Germany is putting forward a peace plan which adumbrates a small Polish state, a form of self-government - under German tutelage - for the Czechs, a measure of disarmament and the return of the German colonies.

February 27, 1940

  • Lord Halifax, speaking as Chancellor of Oxford University, says that European civilisation has not been brought to its present pass merely by the mistakes, pride and selfishness of an older generation. German youth had been the driving force behind the Nazi movement in Germany.
  • The German steamer Wahehe, of 4,709 tons, is captured south-east of Iceland by a flotilla including H.M.S. Manchester, H.M.S. Kimberley and H.M.S. Kandahar when trying to run the blockade from Vigo, Spain. Taken to Kirkwall as a war prize she is later renamed Empire Citizen and serves on several convoys throughout the war.
  • In presenting the naval estimates in the House of Commons Mr. Churchill makes some interesting revelations. He confirms that by the end of last year Germany had lost at least half her U-boat fleet with which she began the war. As regards the magnetic mine, the tale of the difficulties it presented and the way in which they had been overcome was “a detective story written in a language all its own”. H.M.S. Barham had been damaged by a torpedo and H.M.S. Nelson by a torpedo, but both had been able to return to port. Scapa Flow, our best base, had not been used since the sinking of the Royal Oak.
  • Two Heinkel bombers are shot down while attacking shipping in the North Sea. The R.A.F. undertake another successful flight over Germany, in which is included the capital Berlin.

February 28, 1940

  • Mr. Sumner Welles leaves Italy on route for Berlin.
  • R.A.F. units carry out extensive reconnaissance flights over northern Germany. Berlin, Hanover and the naval vases at Kiel and Cuxhaven are included in the itinerary.
  • Three rotors from the German encoding Enigma machine are recovered by divers from a scuttled U-boat off Scotland. The catch is a vital step forward in breaking the secret German Enigma code.

February 29, 1940

  • The British authorities’ hand over the nine Germans agreed to be released under the settlement reached in the Asama Maru case.
  • The French Finance Minister explains the new measures imposed by the exigencies of war. Germany’s main effort had been economic so far; it had not been altogether unsuccessful and France must above all cope with the great peril of inflation. Food rationing would be introduced. More women must be employed in industry and compulsion introduced if voluntary methods failed.
  • The Russian pressure in the direction of Viipuri is steadily maintained; they reach the outskirts of the city and begin attempts to outflank it from the south by crossing the bay on the ice.

MARCH 1940

March 1, 1940

  • Aircraft of the R.A.F. carry out a further series of patrols and reconnaissance flights over enemy territory. Kiel, Lubeck, Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover, Cuxhaven, Brunsbuttel and Berlin are visited.
  • German air activity in the North Sea continues. A British convoy is attacked, but without success, and various neutral merchant vessels are bombed and machine-gunned.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles reaches Berlin and has an interview with Ribbentrop. The German press takes very little notice of his visit, but endeavours to create the impression that in any event Germany is invincible and can be indifferent to a long war if one is forced upon her.
  • The day marks an important date in relations between Britain and Italy, for, in accordance with the decision to prevent German exports as a reprisal for indiscriminate mining, Italian ships carrying German coal from Rotterdam to Italy will henceforth be stopped and the cargo treated as contraband. It is a serious decision for Italy, which is dependent on foreign coal and has no prospect of importing German coal in sufficient quantity by overland routes. Britain has endeavoured to meet the Italian difficulties by offering to supply coal herself on barter terms, but hitherto agreement has not been reached. But the British Government is bound to adhere to its decision lest it should be said that there is one law for the small neutral and another for the big.

March 2, 1940

  • Between 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning a German Heinkel bomber overtakes the British India steamer Domala in the English Channel and casts four bombs, of which three strike her. The captain is killed and fire breaks out amidships. British ships and a Dutch vessel rescue the majority of the passengers and crew, but more than a hundred are reported missing. The attack is particularly dastardly because the passengers are mostly British Indian subjects from Germany who have been released by the German Government and are being repatriated.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles interviews the German Fuehrer. According to all reports it was the latter who did the talking. He is supposed to have harangued his visitor on Germany’s invincibility and to have stipulated that Germany will never make peace unless her conquests are recognised, her colonies returned and Britain is prepared to restore her “nests of piracy” in Gibraltar, Malta and Singapore.
  • The large German steamer Heidelberg, which had been attempting to return to Germany from the West Indies, is intercepted and captured by a British cruiser.
  • A German aeroplane on its way home from France crosses Belgian territory and when attacked by Belgian planes brings one down, the pilot being killed.
  • Sir John Simon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, gives an important broadcast talk to the nation. He says much that is comforting and encouraging. Though Germany boasts of her colossal efforts in the six months period of waiting since the war began, on balance it is the Allies who have gained. But a word of warning is urgently needed. He was convinced that the greatest danger which ordinary people here at home might be running was the danger of drawing the false conclusion that because up to the present we had been able to sleep quietly in our beds, and the full rigours and hardships of war had not touched our lives, therefore, victory might in the end be easily and cheaply secured.

March 3, 1940

  • The event of the day is the issue of the Italian protest against the British decision to allow further German coal to be shipped from Holland to Italy in German ships. A part from the objections to this particular measure, the note claims that the British economic warfare against Germany is in some respects contrary to international law, particularly with regard to the opening of neutral mails.

March 4, 1940

  • An enemy submarine is attacked in Schillig Roads by an aircraft of the R.A.F. and is believed to have been destroyed as one bomb registers a direct hit between the conning tower and the stern.
  • In the House of Commons, the Minister of Supply is questioned about the employment in his department of certain officials who have been given army rank for the purpose. He replies that he has come to the conclusion that they should not continue to serve in the Ministry.
  • The National Savings Committee announce that in the 100 days ending on the 1st March no less than £100,000,000 has been raised in savings certificates and Defence Bonds.

March 5, 1940

  • It is announced that the time has come for the Government to appeal for subscriptions to a large loan for war purposes; the amount required will be £380,000,000 and the rate of interest 3 per cent.
  • A German raid takes place against a post in the British front line and the enemy succeeded in capturing some prisoners. The post is recaptured.
  • The Russians continue violent attacks against Viipuri and also attempt to outflank it from the south and east

March 6, 1940

  • It is announced that the Queen Elizabeth, the latest addition to the Cunard fleet and the largest ship in the world, left the Clyde secretly on 26th February on her maiden voyage and has now almost reached New York.
  • A film crew filming the departure of submarines O9, O10 and O11 from the De Helder Naval Base have a narrow escape when the tug BV3 enters the harbour and collides with 011. There is film of the incident 'HERE'
  • The Australian Prime Minister announces that his Government has decided to raise, equip and despatch a second division for overseas service.
  • The Russians effect landings on the Finnish coast west of Viipuri, thus threatening the communications of the Finnish southern army with the capital, Helsinki.
Liner 'Queen Elizabeth' leaves Clyde shipyard for maiden voyage
Liner 'Queen Elizabeth' leaves Clyde shipyard for maiden voyage

March 7, 1940

  • Mr. Sumner Welles arrives in Paris and in the course of the day has interviews with M. Lebrun, the President of the French Republic, and M. Daladier, the Premier.
  • Sir Kingsley Wood, the Secretary of State for Air, makes the most important speech that has yet been delivered on the allied progress in aircraft construction since the outbreak of war. He says that since the Air Estimates were last presented production for the Royal Air Force has been greatly increased. The numerical output has been doubled but the effective increase in output has been even greater. To assess the true measure of advance account must be taken not only of numbers but of the quality and performance of the aircraft passing into service. He would sooner have 100 Wellingtons or 100 Spitfires or Hurricanes than much larger number of their German counterparts. He took the view with some confidence that even on a numerical basis the output of aircraft now accruing to Britain and to France is to-day in excess of that of Germany - and there are other factors besides numbers.
  • In the by-election at Kettering the Government candidate secures a majority of over 11,000 against the Anti-War candidate, even though the poll is barely half what it was at the last election.
  • More Italian ships carrying German coal from Holland are stopped and their cargoes held for submission to the Prize Court. The agitation in Italy continues, but the official reply to the Italian protest is still under consideration.
  • The Finnish Government announces that it believes the Soviet Government contemplates making demands going beyond those presented to Finland before the outbreak of war last year.
  • The Queen Elizabeth arrives in New York and is given a great reception.
  • A German Heinkel bomber caught raiding is attacked by Spitfires and shot down from a height of more than five miles above the sea east of Aberdeen.
  • The Italian ship Amelia Lauro is bombed and set on fire by a German aeroplane.

March 8, 1940

  • News continues to be received that Sweden is acting as intermediary in an attempt to bring Finland and Soviet Russia into negotiations with a view to ending the war. The French Government informs the nation that both France and Great Britain have given material aid to Finland in the shape of arms and war stores.
  • It is announced in Germany that Ribbentrop is leaving at once for a visit to Rome.
  • In the course of the night of 7th-8th March British aircraft make their longest flight over German territory; they reach Poland and spend a considerable time over the town of Posen, dropping leaflets.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles in Paris has interviews with the Socialist leader, M. Blum, and M. Georges Bonnet, the Minister for Justice who was Foreign Minister at the time of Munich.
  • The British Foreign Minister, Lord Halifax, and the Italian ambassador in London meet with a view to settling the difficulties that have arisen over the stopping of Italian ships with cargoes of German coal.
  • The German motor-ship Hannover is intercepted by a British cruiser in the West Indies; her crew set her on fire and abandoned her.

March 9, 1940

  • The dispute between Italy and Great Britain with regard to the detention of the Italian ships is settled amicably, Britain releasing the cargoes and Italy under-taking that no more Italian ships will be sent to Dutch ports to fetch German coal.
  • The British steamer S.S. Borthwick strikes a mine off the Dutch coast and is sunk.

March 10, 1940

  • The Finnish Government officially announces that it is negotiating with the Russian Government for a cessation of hostilities. It is aware of the terms the Russians are seeking to impose but no decision has yet been taken. Meanwhile war operations are continuing.
  • Ribbentrop arrives in Rome. He is met by Count Giano. Shortly afterwards he has a meeting with Signor Mussolini which is attended by Count Ciano and the German ambassador to Italy.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles arrives in England.
  • Hitler makes a colourless speech at the Berlin Zeughaus on the occasion of the annual commemoration of the fallen.

March 11, 1940

  • Ribbentrop continues his round of visits in Rome. He sees King Victor Emmanuel, the Pope and Signor Mussolini. The Vatican organ makes it quite clear that the visit to the Pope was not the result of any papal initiative but had been expressly requested by the Germans. The official account of Ribbentrop’s interview with Mussolini states that its object was to consider the international situation in the light of the alliance and agreements between Italy and Germany.
  • Whilst on patrol over the North Sea, Bristol Blenheim, P4852 of 82 Squadron R.A.F., spotted U-31 on sea trials. The aircraft dropped 4 anti-submarine bombs, scoring 2 hits and sinking the U-boat with all hands. Recovered and refloated later in the month U-31 became the only U-boat to be sunk twice during the War when it was hit by depth charges from H.M.S. Antelope on 2nd November 1940.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles is received in audience by H.M. the King, and has interviews with Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax.
  • The Prime Minister tells the House of Commons that France and Britain are prepared to proceed immediately and jointly to the help of Finland if that country calls for aid.

March 12, 1940

  • Terms of peace are signed between Finland and Soviet Russia. Finland loses Viipuri and the Karelian isthmus, the western shore of Lake Ladoga, a tract near Salla and the Ribachi Peninsula; the Hango peninsula is leased to Russia for 30 years.
  • A Coalition Government is formed in Australia.

March 13, 1940

  • Mr. Chamberlain, referring to the conclusion of peace between Finland and Soviet Russia, says that the British Government, in concert with the French Government, have furnished to the Finns large quantities of war material and supplies of all sorts. We had made preparations to throw the full weight of all our available resources into the scales on hearing that this would be in accordance with the desires of the Finnish Government.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles sees the Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Anthony Eden in the course of the day.

March 14, 1940

  • H.M. the King visits the Dover Patrol.
  • The outcome of the war between Finland and Russia gives rise to a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in France, where the Senate holds a secret session. It is generally thought that the allied conduct of the war is not sufficiently resolute and aggressive.
  • Rotterdam in bombed by the Luftwaffe which kills nearly 1,000 people and leaves 78,000 homeless.

March 15, 1940

  • Mr. Sumner Welles returns to Rome. It is announced that the butter ration is to be doubled.
  • Further classes of men, amounting in all to some 600,000, are required to register before the end of April.
  • The Finnish Diet ratifies the terms of peace with Soviet Russia. The Finnish Prime Minister, referring to the offer of assistance from the Allies, says that the arrival of help was uncertain in view of the refusal of Sweden and Norway to allow the passage of troops.
  • The House of Commons debates the question of commission to intermediaries in the securing of Government contracts. The Minister of Supply points out the distinction between the remuneration of agents by commission for legitimate business services and the crime of bribing servants of the Crown, and adds that special legislation is being drafted to deal with the situation.

March 16, 1940

  • In the midst of all the rumours of iniquitous peace terms which Germany is said to be postulating as her minimum demands, President Roosevelt makes a statement, the importance of which is appreciated everywhere. “It cannot,” he says, “be a lasting peace if the fruit of it is oppression, or starvation, or cruelty, or human life dominated by armed camps. It cannot be a moral peace if freedom from invasion is sold for tribute. It cannot be an intelligent peace if it denies free passage to the knowledge of those ideals which permit men to find common ground. It cannot be a righteous peace if the worship of God is denied. It cannot be a real peace if it fails to recognise brotherhood.”
  • German aircraft make a raid on the fleet anchorage at Scapa Flow. About 14 enemy aircraft reach the objective. Only one bomb hits a warship, which sustains minor damage. Bombs are also dropped on land; one civilian (James Isbister, aged 27) is killed and seven wounded.
The cottage in Bridge of Waithe village where the first British civilian lost his life in an air-raid 16th March 1940
The cottage in Bridge of Waithe village where the first British civilian lost his
life in an air-raid 16th March 1940

March 17, 1940

  • It is announced that Sign or Mussolini and Hitler have left for a meeting at the Brenner Pass.

March 18, 1940

  • Signor Mussolini and Hitler meet at the Brenner station, each having come specially by train to the rendezvous. The meeting lasts two and a half hours, most of which is spent tête-à-tête, though Count Ciano and Ribbentrop are present. No hint is given as to the cause of the meeting though public opinion throughout Europe is disinclined to divorce it from association with the visit of Mr. Sumner Welles. The prevailing theory is that Hitler wishes Sign or Mussolini to tone down the uncompromising impression he has made upon the American envoy.
  • The political ferment in France continues, though it has not yet reached the dimensions of a crisis. Dissatisfaction centres on the alleged in activity of the Allies which has made the Finnish tragedy inevitable and on the autocratic character of M. Daladier’s Government which precludes co-operation with all parties. He is being pressed to widen its basis and to take the nation more into his confidence.
  • The new Three Per Cent War Loan of £300,000,000 is over-subscribed.
  • An Italian ship, the Tina Primo, is mined in the North Sea with loss of life and injuries to members of the crew.

March 19, 1940

  • In a review of the circumstances leading to the peace between Finland and Soviet Russia, the Prime Minister shows that the Allies have furnished very considerable material help, and as regards men had an army of 100,000 ready and waiting to be transported when Norway and Sweden frustrated the intention by refusing to allow it to be sent across their territory, on the ground that it would enlarge the area of the war and would turn Sweden into a battlefield. Notwithstanding this rebuff the Allies were still prepared to despatch their army if Finland made a formal appeal that they should do so. In the end the date which the Finns themselves had fixed as the final one on which they could give their decision passed without any decision being given, and the next day the British Government heard that peace terms had been accepted.
  • As regards Mr. Sumner Welles’s visit, the Prime Minister says that the Government were happy to inform him fully and frankly of their views, and were confident that he was able to get an accurate view of the sentiments of all sections of the community and to see for himself the unity of purpose with which we are all inspired.
  • In a statement to the American Press, Mr. Sumner Welles says that in order to allay the flood of rumours about his mission, he wishes to state categorically that he has not received any peace plan or proposals from any belligerent or any other Government.
  • Eight Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys of 10 Squadron R.A.F. attack the seaplane base at Hornum on the island of Sylt, in retaliation for the attacks on Scapa Flow. The bombs dropped are the first Allied bombs to land in Germany.
  • The French Chamber holds a secret session. It is believed that pressure is still being brought on M. Daladier to broaden the basis of his Government or give place to someone who will.

March 20, 1940

  • Mr. Sumner Welles sails from Genoa on the conclusion of his European visit.
  • On a vote of confidence in the French Chamber. M. Daladier’s Government finds that abstentions greatly exceed the number of votes in its favour. M. Daladier accordingly resigns and M. Reynaud is invited to form a new cabinet. The reason for what is in effect an adverse vote is a general impression, whether justified or not that the war is not being conducted with sufficient energy and resource.
  • Giving further information about the Sylt raid, the Air Minister says that hangars and oil storage tanks were seen to be set on fire and m any hits were obtained on the jetty, light railway and other parts of the base.
  • Enemy aircraft attack a convoy off the Scottish coast. They are beaten off by escorting warships and no casualties are incurred or damage done except to two small neutral vessels.
  • The British Government reply to the Italian protest against economic and contraband measures.
  • The Mauretania leaves New York on a secret mission.

March 21, 1940

  • A British submarine intercepts the German ship Heddernheim, of 4,947 tons, eight miles from land off the coast of Denmark. The British commander reports that the crew are safe and that he has sunk the ship.
  • The Queen Mary sails from New York, also on a secret mission.
  • An official German High Command communique states that German raiding aircraft dispersed a British convoy and sank nine warships and merchant vessels of a total tonnage of about 42,000; that two further merchant ships of a total tonnage of 11,000 were severely hit and an armed merchant ship in the English Channel was successfully attacked. The British Admiralty announces that the facts are that the convoy, which consisted almost entirely of neutrals, was not dispersed and is proceeding safely upon its voyage. None of the escorting warships was hit or damaged and no ship was sunk.

March 22, 1940

  • M. Reynaud forms his cabinet, but on a vote of confidence in the French Chamber there are so many abstentions that it is only after the most prolonged consideration that he decides to take up the task of government.

March 23, 1940

  • During the night aircraft of the Royal Air Force carry out reconnaissance flights over extensive areas of north-west Germany. One of our aircraft fails to return. The official German news states that of the four members of the crew one has been killed and two others are in hospital.
  • The German cargo steamer Edmund Hugo Stinnes is stopped and sunk by a British submarine; the captain is made prisoner but the rest of the crew are given time to get away in their boats. The Germans circulate the untrue story that the crew were shelled as they were leaving the ship.

March 24, 1940

  • Lord Halifax sends a message to Finland, “which has fought so gallantly for the ideals and aims for which we too in the British Empire have taken up arms. If others had shared Finland’s determination to resist evil and barbarism in the only possible way now left to civilisation - by force of arms - the citizens of our two countries would now have been fighting side by side in a common cause”.

March 25, 1940

  • The Norwegian Government make a protest against what they allege to be infringements of their neutrality - of a wholly minor and technical character such as flying over their territory or entering territorial waters - by Britain.
  • The Swedish Prime Minister says that his government are investigating in a sympathetic spirit the Finnish idea of a plan of defensive co-operation between Sweden, Finland and Norway.
  • It is announced that the claims now made by the official German news agency to the effect that a considerable number of British aircraft was lost as a result of the attack on Sylt are false. As already announced, only one of the British aircraft engaged in the operation failed to return to its base.
  • The Danish steamer Britta is sunk by German action off the north coast of Scotland with a loss of thirteen lives.

March 26, 1940

  • M. Reynaud. the new French Premier, makes an important broadcast speech to the nation. He has to explain in the first place why he has decided to remain in office although his Government had not obtained a vote of confidence, allowing for the abstentions. He says that if M. Daladier’s retirement had been followed by his own at an extremely short interval the enemy would derive comfort and encouragement from France’s instability and be able to point to another proof of the besetting weakness of democracy. Germany was counting on internal discord in France to help her to win the war. Defending his new arrangement of a war cabinet of nine, he describes it as not too m any for action but sufficient for discussion. After going through the long catalogue of Germany’s acts of faithlessness and crimes of aggression, and pointing out that even now she was blackmailing the Balkans into disgorging their economic resources, he says that the only effective answer is relentless, ruthless war against her, a war which France is in a much better position to wage because she stands firm behind her Maginot Line instead of being invaded. The combined resources of the two greatest empires in the world are a guarantee of victory.
  • It is allowed to be known that the portion of the line held by British troops in France has been extended.
  • The Admiralty publishes part of a report relating to the scuttling of the Graf Spee, which shows that a large number of the men refused the captain’s order to put to sea with a view to a further battle with the British squadron.
  • The Hungarian Premier, Count Teleki, arrives in Rome for a meeting with Signor Mussolini; it is announced that the two Governments are resolved to act together to maintain peace in the Danube and Balkan regions.
  • It is announced that in the previous week no allied ships have been lost by enemy action.
  • The Mauretania passes through the Panama Canal.
British troops take over French sectors Western Front on 26th March 1940
British troops take over French sectors Western Front 26th March 1940

March 27, 1940

  • In the North Sea aircraft of the R.A.F. Coastal Command attack and sink an enemy patrol vessel.
  • There is considerable air activity on the Western Front in the course of which at least five Messerschmitt 109’s are brought down at a cost of one British machine.
  • The Canadian Government achieve a resounding success in the General Election.
  • Survivors of British steamer S.S. Daghestan sunk in the North Sea on March 24, reached land.
  • British Steamer S.S. Castlemoor reported overdue and presumed lost.
  • Stated that protest by Norway against British infringements of territorial waters has been received and being examined.

March 28, 1940

  • A Heinkel bomber He 115B-1 which approached the north-east coast of Scotland is shot down by R.A.F. fighters. One enemy aircraft attacks a British convoy in the North Sea and drops five bombs, doing no damage.
  • There are changes in the R.A.F. hierarchy as a result of which Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt becomes Inspector-General of the R.A.F. and Air Marshal C. F. A. Portal becomes Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Bomber Command.
  • The British Ambassador to Japan says that some thorny questions still remain between the two countries but some difficult corners have been turned and, bearing in mind the declared intentions of the Japanese Government and the measure of success already achieved, he has a definite feeling of confidence in the future of Anglo-Japanese relations.
  • It is made known that the British Ambassador to Turkey and the Ministers in Hungary and all the Balkan States have been summoned back to England for consultations with the Government.
  • The sixth meeting of the Supreme War Council is held in London. It passes in review the developments in the strategic situation since its last meeting and decides on the future line of action. Desiring to extend the scope of the December financial agreement to all spheres affecting the interests and security of the two nations, the French and British Governments agree to a solemn declaration that during the present war they will neither negotiate nor conclude an armistice or treaty of peace except by mutual agreement; they undertake not to discuss peace terms before reaching complete agreement on the conditions necessary to ensure each of them an effective and lasting guarantee of their security, and they also undertake to maintain after the conclusion of peace a community of action in all spheres for so long as maybe necessary to safeguard their security and to effect the reconstruction, with the assistance of other nations, of an international order which will ensure the liberty of peoples, respect for law and the maintenance of peace in Europe.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles arrives in Washington and reports to President Roosevelt.

March 29, 1940

  • M. Molotoff, after reviewing the Finnish War and stating that Russia was fighting not only Finland but the imperialists of a number of countries including England and France, says that Soviet Russia must adhere to her neutrality.
  • President Roosevelt, declaring that Mr. Sumner Welles’s mission has been of great value, says that though there maybe scant immediate prospect for the establishment of a just, stable and lasting peace in Europe, the information now available will be of the greatest advantage when the time comes for the establishment of such a peace.
  • The Franco-British declaration of yesterday is warmly welcomed in both countries as a sign that the war will be prosecuted with more vigour and resolution.
  • The King reviews troops of the Southern Command.
  • The famous Rugby international, Prince Alexander Obolensky, is killed in a flying accident.
  • On the Western Front a German twin-engined aircraft is brought down by anti-aircraft fire within the French lines.
  • The Germans publish a “White Book” of documents alleged to have been discovered in the Polish Foreign Office, the object of which is to prove that President Roosevelt’s Government and Ambassadors fomented feeling against Germany. It is realised that the purpose of this clumsy manoeuvre, based on forged documents, is to influence the presidential election.

March 30, 1940

  • Mr. Churchill broadcasts to the nation. He says that an intensification of the struggle is to be expected and we are not inclined to shrink from it. More than a million German soldiers are drawn up ready to strike at a few hours’ notice all along the frontiers of Luxemburg, Belgium and Holland. It is no part of our policy to seek a war with Russia. There is no need for Russia to be drawn into the struggle unless upon the promptings of obsolete imperialist ambitions she wishes to do so of her own volition, and of malice prepense, and throws her weight upon the side of the enemy.
  • The publication of the German “White Book” attempting to prove the complicity of American ministers in provoking hostility to Germany has an unfavourable reception in the United States where even the opponents of the administration realise that it is an unscrupulous propaganda effort to influence public opinion.
  • Sir John Gilmour, the Minister of Shipping, dies suddenly.

March 31, 1940

  • Spitfire fighter, on patrol east of Suffolk coast, had duel with a Dornier 17 and drove it out to sea in a damaged condition.
  • Enemy planes driven off from Shetlands and Orkneys. No bombs dropped.
  • The Germans issue an official statement referring to the “war-mongering Roosevelt and his war-mongering colleagues” who are said to be “making vain efforts to deny the uncomfortable truth of the German revelations about their machinations before the war”.

APRIL 1940

April 1, 1940

  • It is announced that regional advisory committees have been appointed to consider the cases of certain classes of aliens living in Britain, particularly those living in the protected areas.
  • In a debate in the Swedish Parliament on the handling of the position in Finland and the allied requests for facilities to go to the assistance of that country, it is made known that the King of Sweden informed the French Premier that he did not wish for any such action in view of its probable consequences.

April 2, 1940

  • German aircraft carry out an attack on Scapa Flow. They are driven off by the fire of the ships and batteries. One is believed to have been brought down by gunfire. One enemy bomb falls on the shore but no ship is hit or damaged.
  • The Prime Minister says that we have not yet reached the limit of our effective operations in the North Sea adjacent to the coast of Scandinavia

April 3, 1940

  • Ministerial changes, though the only “new blood” is Lord Woolton as Minister of Food. Sir Samuel Hoare returns to an old post as Air Minister, Sir Kingsley Wood becoming Lord Privy Seal. Mr. Robert Hudson is the new Minister of Shipping. Lord Chatfield, Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence., resigns and Mr. Winston Churchill becomes senior Service Minister by being appointed to preside over the committee of Service Ministers.
  • Enemy aircraft attack a convoy, dropping 15 bombs without hitting any ship or doing any damage. The aircraft are driven off by the escorting warships. A Heinkel attacks another convoy and is driven off by Fleet Air Arm aircraft.
  • The French Prime Minister broadcasts in English. He refers to the position of neutrals, saying that though their vital interests demand an allied victory, the terror inspired by German brutality makes them work against their own interests. The allied governments have not the right to ignore these facts. Another point he makes is that the future of Europe must be secured once for all.

April 4, 1940

  • Sir John Simon informs the House of Commons that as a contribution to meeting the difficulties attending the development of British trade with certain neutral countries (meaning the Balkans in particular) the Government have decided to set up a trading company called the English Commercial Corporation Limited, whose function it will be to conduct trade with the countries in question.
  • The Prime Minister, addressing the Central Council of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, has some heartening things to say. He feels that during the seven months since the outbreak of war our relative position towards the enemy has become a great deal stronger than it was. It is a very extraordinary thing that the enemy has not taken advantage of his initial superiority to make an endeavour to overwhelm us and France before we had time to make good our deficiencies. Hitler “missed the bus”. As regards the crucial question of the neutrals, Mr. Chamberlain says that it cannot be expected that we shall allow Germany indefinitely to profit by our scrupulousness and to draw aid and comfort from neutrals who are not free agents.
  • British bombers penetrate the enemy defences in the Jade estuary and successfully reconnoitre the naval base at Wilhelmshaven.
  • A warship and four destroyers are attacked and damage is believed to have been done. No damage or casualties are suffered by the British aircraft.

April 5, 1940

  • The scale of allowances for the children of soldiers and sailors is increased.
  • The British and French Governments make communications to Norway and Sweden on the subject of neutrality.
  • At 6.30pm the R.N. battlecruiser H.M.S. Renown, with destroyers H.M.S. Inglefield, H.M.S. Ilex, H.M.S. Imogen, H.M.S. Isis, H.M.S. Greyhound, H.M.S. Glowworm, H.M.S. Hyperion, H.M.S. Hero and minelayer H.M.S. Teviotbank depart Scapa Flow on Operation Wilfred, to mine the Norwegian coast.

April 6, 1940

  • The number of men who register under the National Service Act to-day is 314,430, of whom only 4,431 are conscientious objectors.
  • The Norwegian merchant SS Navarra is torpedoed and sunk by U-59 without any sort of warning.
  • Late in the evening Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Norway, begins. Marine Gruppe 1 departs Cuxhaven for Narvik. Whilst Marine Gruppe 2 departs Wesermünde for Trondheim.

April 7, 1940

  • There is considerable commotion in Germany over the British and French communications to Norway and Sweden. It is alleged that these communications are a prelude to military operations and evidence the determination of the Allies to make the Scandinavian Peninsula a new battleground.
  • A Hudson of 220 Squadron R.A.F. on a reconnaissance plane spots part of Marine Gruppe 1 heading to Norway. Believing them to be raiders headed to the Atlantic, the Admiralty orders the Home Fleet to engage them in the North Sea. Thus missing the opportunity to intercept the invasion force.
  • A fighter patrol of the Royal Air Force encounters a large formation of enemy fighters in the neighbourhood of Metz. The patrol is attacked and one Messerschmitt 109 is shot down. All the British aircraft return safely.
  • During a patrol over the North Sea enemy fighters are met; one is destroyed and at least one other is believed to have been damaged. Two British aircraft fail to return.

April 8, 1940

  • The Allies, having already announced that they can no longer allow a Scandinavian neutrality which cannot be protected against a bully to be abused to their disadvantage, lay three minefields in Norwegian territorial waters which will effectively block the “corridor” used by the German iron ore ships. The measure is practically contemporaneous with the first moves in a German invasion of Denmark and Norway which has been long planned. Denmark is at once overrun and the German navy comes out to escort a fleet of transports which are to land troops in the principal harbours of Norway. British naval units acquit themselves valiantly in the task of frustrating this movement; three enemy ships, including at least one large transport, are sunk by submarines.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lieutenant-Commander Gerard Broadmead ROOPE, Royal Navy awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Lieutenant-Commander Gerard Broadmead Roope, Royal Navy. On 8th April 1940 in the Norwegian Sea, Lieutenant-Commander Roope commanding HMS Glowworm (1,345 tons) fought an unequal duel with the German cruiser Admiral Hipper (10,000 tons). In the encounter Glowworm was soon battered and burning and eventually, as a last gesture of defiance, her commander decided to ram the cruiser, which resulted in a good deal of damage to the latter. Glowworm then fired one more salvo, scoring a hit, before she capsized and sank. One officer and 30men were picked up by Admiral Hipper's captain, but Lieutenant-Commander Roope was drowned.

April 9, 1940

  • The thief in the night succeeds only too well. Assisted by the base treachery of which few, a very few, of the Norwegians are found capable, one section of the German armada succeeds in forcing its way up Oslo Fjord in spite of brave resistance by the Norwegian coast batteries which sink the 10,000-ton armoured cruiser Bluecher. Troops are landed and Oslo is occupied. Elsewhere Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger are taken by surprise.
  • The British reaction is swift. By nightfall it is known that the British fleet is engaged with the enemy all along the Norwegian coast. Meanwhile the Allied Supreme War Council meets in London and it is announced that the representatives of France and Britain have passed the whole position in review and decided in full agreement upon the various measures, military and diplomatic, to be taken to meet this latest act of German aggression.
  • In a long statement in the House of Commons Mr. Chamberlain tears to shreds the impudent German excuse that the invasion of Norway is a reply to the mining by the Allies of Norwegian territorial waters; he shows that the campaign must inevitably have been long and carefully prepared. He adds: “His Majesty’s Government have at once assured the Norwegian Government that in view of the invasion of their country His Majesty’s Government have decided forthwith to extend their full aid to Norway and will fight the war in full association with them. I have no doubt that this further rash and cruel act of aggression will redound to Germany’s disadvantage and contribute to her ultimate defeat.”
  • H.M.S. Truant on patrol off Norway encounters and torpedoes cruiser Karlsruhe. The Karlsruhe does not sink immediately but is finished off by a German torpedo boat.

April 10, 1940

  • A fierce action is fought by British destroyers against the German forces in Narvik in the morning. Five British destroyers steam up the fjord and engage six German destroyers of the latest and largest type, which are also supported by the shore batteries and guns newly mounted ashore. H.M.S. Hunter is sunk and H.M.S. Hardy so severely damaged that she has to be run ashore and becomes a wreck. H.M.S. Hotspur also receives serious damage and H.M.S. Hostile slight damage. After a most determined action against a superior force with larger and more modern ships, and in the face of gunfire from the shore, the damaged Hotspur withdraws, covered by the other two destroyers. The enemy is in no condition to attempt pursuit. One 1,600-ton German destroyer is torpedoed and three are left heavily hit and burning. Six enemy merchant ships carrying stores of the German expedition are sunk and British destroyers on the way out meet and blow up the German ship Rauenfels which is carrying the reserve ammunition of the landed German force.
  • R.N. Fleet Air Arm Blackburn Skuas of 800 Squadron and 803 Squadron, from R.N.A.S. Hatson, dive bomb the cruiser Königsberg in Bergen harbour. Königsberg, already damaged by shells from shore batteries the previous day, is hit with three 500 pound bombs and sinks two hours later. One Skua L2948 malfunctions on the return journey and is lost at sea with both crew whilst attempting a landing on the carrier H.M.S. Glorious.
  • Hurricane fighters of the R.A.F. Fighter Command while on patrol shoot down two enemy bombers.
  • The German land forces advance to Hamar and Elverum from Oslo. The Germans admit the loss of the cruisers Rluecher and Karlsruhe.
  • The French Premier addresses the Senate on the events in progress in Norway and the Senate shows its faith in him by postponing the secret session which had been promised.
  • Lord Halifax, speaking on the new situation, says that it would be impossible for this country to condone the brutal exhibition of German violence and an extension of German strategic power in the North Sea and the Atlantic. The German invasion of Scandinavia might well be the result of some internal weakness in Germany of which we were not perhaps fully aware.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Captain Bernard Armitage Warburton WARBURTON-LEE, Royal Navy awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Captain Bernard Armitage Warburton Warburton-Lee, Royal Navy. On 10th April 1940 in Ofot Fjord, Narvik, Norway, Captain Warburton-Lee of HMS Hardy led a flotilla of five destroyers in a surprise attack on German destroyers and merchant ships in a blinding snowstorm. This was successful, and was almost immediately followed by an engagement with five more German destroyers, during which Captain Warburton-Lee was mortally wounded by a shell which hit Hardy's bridge.
RAF bomber crew returned from a raid on Bergen 10th April 1940
RAF bomber crew returned from a raid on Bergen 10th April 1940

April 11, 1940

  • The pocket battleship Admiral Scheer is successfully attacked by the British submarine Spearfish; it is probably hit by more than one torpedo.
  • Mr. Churchill, in a dramatic speech in the House of Commons, lifts the curtain on what the Navy has been doing since Germany commenced her audacious Norway adventure. While cruising off Bergen the Fleet had been attacked by German aircraft. Two cruisers suffered slight damage but were able to carry on with their operations. The flagship Rodney has been hit by a very heavy bomb but it had not penetrated her armour. The cruiser Aurora was treated in vain to five dive-bombing attacks but the destroyer Gurkha had been hit and sunk. Off Narvik the Renown had been in action with the battle-cruiser Scharnhorst and a 10,000-ton cruiser of the “Hipper” class. The former was seen to be severely hit and the pair made off at full speed before matters got worse for them. Little damage was done to the Renown and a shell had passed through her without bursting. The destroyer Zulu had sunk a German submarine in the vicinity of the Orkneys.
  • The R.A.F. carry out two attacks against the enemy occupying Stavanger aerodrome. In the first the aerodrome is subjected to a very heavy attack by bombers, but a petrol dump is fired in spite of strong anti-aircraft fire. The second is a low-flying attack in which a large number of enemy aircraft drawn up on the landing - ground are raked with machine-gun fire. Much damage is done.

April 12, 1940

  • R.A.F. bombers continue searching Norwegian and Danish waters for the purpose of locating and attacking units of the German fleet returning to their home bases. In a number of hard-fought actions, four Messerschmitt fighters are shot down, two more are believed to have been destroyed and others are damaged. Our losses are light.
  • Other bombers attack enemy transport and supply vessels in the Kattegat and the Great and Little Belts to the south. Among other successes, an enemy vessel of about 8,000 tons, which must have been carrying ammunition, is blown up.
  • The Admiralty announces that mines have been laid over a large area in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat as well as in the North Sea from a point near the Dutch coast to the Norwegian coast.

April 13, 1940

  • H.M.S. Warspite, accompanied by a strong force of destroyers, advances up Narvik Fjord to attack the German destroyers sheltering in the harbour. The attack is extremely successful. A field howitzer mounted ashore is put out of action by H.M.S. Cossack. Four German destroyers are shattered and sunk in Narvik Bay; three others, which take refuge up the Rombaks Fjord, are pursued, engaged and destroyed. Three British destroyers are damaged, but not seriously, and British losses are small.
  • President Roosevelt denounced the German invasion of Norway and Denmark.
HMS 'Punjabi' gun crew
HMS 'Punjabi' gun crew following second Battle of Narvik - 13th April 1940

April 14, 1940

  • Stavanger aerodrome is bombed again by low-flying aircraft. A hangar, a runway and a number of enemy aircraft drawn up on the aerodrome are damaged. A number of hostile seaplanes moored in Hafs Fjord are also machine-gunned. An attack on transports and aircraft at Bergen is carried out. One transport is set on fire, a small store-ship is sunk and one large flying-boat is machine-gunned and bursts into flames.
  • It is announced that in addition to other German losses already made known, the transport and supply ships Posidonia, August Leonhardt, Kreta, Rio de Janeiro, Ionia, Antares and various unknown ships have been sunk. Others have been captured or scuttled. It is also made known that a British minefield has been laid all along the German south coast of the Baltic.
  • The King sends a message of sympathy and the promise of help to King Haakon of Norway.

April 15, 1940

  • It is reported that British forces have been landed at several points in Norway. The landings were 24th Brigade who came onshore at Harstat, north of Narvik and 146th Brigade who had landed at Namsos the previous day.
  • Reconnaissance of the Norwegian coast continues and Stavanger aerodrome is bombed again.
  • Depth charges from the destroyers H.M.S. Fearless and H.M.S. Brazen sink German submarine U-49 near Narvik.

April 16, 1940

  • The French Premier in a speech in the House of Commons says that the allied forces which have reached Norway are already in touch with the Norwegian Army and that more are in course of arriving.

April 17, 1940

  • Stavanger aerodrome is subjected to heavy bombardment by our naval forces for one hour and twenty minutes. While these forces are returning from this operation one cruiser (H.M.S. Suffolk) is hit by a bomb and receives some damage, but returns to her base. Enemy aircraft are engaged by our aircraft, one Heinkel and one Dornier flying-boat being shot down, while two more Heinkels and another Dornier are damaged. All our aircraft return safely.
  • Trondheim aerodrome is bombed by heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force. A large fire is seen to break out.  Subsequently, a bombing attack is made on an enemy seaplane base in the vicinity.
  • Extensive bombing operations are again carried out by day and night against Stavanger, where a large number of enemy aircraft are seen to be dispersed round the edge of the aerodrome. High-and low-flying attacks are delivered by a strong force of bombers and direct hits are observed.
  • Aircraft engaged on reconnaissance patrol off the Norwegian coast attack a submarine and one hit is observed. Three of our aircraft engaged in these operations fail to return.
  • In the House of Commons Captain Wallace announces an increase of 10 per cent on all railway and London Passenger Transport Board fares from 1st May.

April 18, 1940

  • Landing of British troops in Norway continues, when 148th Brigade arrives at arrives in Andalsnes. Contact is made with Norwegian forces and operations are proceeding.
  • The British Ambassador at Ankara and the Ministers at Athens, Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, and Sofia leave the United Kingdom to return to their posts after their visit to this country for the purpose of consultation. They have examined under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the outstanding problems presented by the situation in South-Eastern Europe. The British Ambassadors in Rome and Moscow, who are also in this country, have assisted at these discussions.
  • The Anglo-Italian Parliamentary Committee entertain Signor Bastianini, the Italian Ambassador, to dinner at the House of Commons. This is considered significant, in view of the anti-allied tone noticeable in the Italian Press since the German invasion of Norway and Denmark.

April 19, 1940

  • The first clash between Anglo-Norwegian and German forces takes place north of Trondheim.
  • In the south the German forces, advancing towards Hamar, make contact with the Norwegian forces and threaten Elverum.
  • King Haakon, the Crown Prince Olav and members of the cabinet are moving from place to place and their whereabouts are still unknown.
  • The Dutch Prime Minister, Jonkheer de Geer, declaring a state of siege over the entire Netherlands, once more reaffirms the Government’s determination to adhere to a policy of strict neutrality, and emphasises that there can be no possibility of arrangements with belligerent powers. The Government must reject all promises of help or protection.
  • Mr. Winston Churchill welcomes the officers and men of the destroyer Hardy on Horse Guards Parade. Paying tribute to their gallant action at Narvik on 10th April, he refers to them as the “vanguard of the Army which we and our French allies will use this summer to purge and cleanse the soil of the Vikings from the filthy pollution of Nazi tyranny”.

April 20, 1940

  • There is considerable enemy air activity at Namsos and many bombs are dropped. Extensive damage is caused to the town but the only allied loss is one British trawler, H.M.T. Rutlandshire, which is sunk. The crew is saved. There are no casualties to allied troops.
  • Allied forces, operating with French troops, now in Norway, occupy certain strategic points.
  • In the Oslo sector, the Norwegian forces are joined by British troops and the fighting round Hamar continues.
  • Despite the recent outburst in the Italian Press, M. Reynaud affirms the willingness of the French Government to come to an understanding with Italy and Spain over the Mediterranean question, while from London comes the declaration that the British Government are prepared to accept the Soviet Union’s offer of trade talks on a basis that would not assist Germany.

April 21, 1940

  • Captain Robert Moffat Losey, Air Attaché to American embassies in the Nordic countries, is killed whilst observing a Luftwaffe bombing attack on Dombås railway junction. Struck in the heart by a bomb splinter he became the first U.S casualty of World War Two.
  • The offensive against enemy air forces and air transportation services operating against Norway are further developed both last night and this morning.
  • In addition to a successful attack on a German base at Aalborg, in Northern Denmark, aircraft of the R.A.F. bomb the aerodromes now occupied by the Germans at Kristiansand and Stavanger. In the attack on Aalborg, bombs are dropped from a low height and damage is caused to a hangar. At Kristiansand enemy aircraft seen dispersed on the aerodrome are attacked with bombs, while in the case of Stavanger a number of bombs are seen to hit the runways. A seaplane base nearby is also attacked.
  • During this week-end of intense aerial activity, the British Air Forces in France have destroyed five Messerschmitt 109’s, one twin-engined cannon-firing Messerschmitt 110, and two Heinkel III reconnaissance machines, while others have been damaged. In these encounters there have been no British losses.

April 22, 1940

  • It is announced that our troops, landing at many places, have achieved considerable success in the face of great difficulties. They have gained touch with Norwegian forces, to whom they are giving all support.
  • The enemy air base at Aalborg is again successfully attacked by R.A.F. bombers. Extensive damage is done by high explosive and incendiary bombs. One British aircraft is lost.
  • To relieve the strain of the Chiefs of Staff of the three fighting services, new posts of Vice-Chiefs are created. The Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff is Vice-Admiral Tom Phillips, the Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff is General Sir. John Dill, and the Vice-Chief of the Air Staff is Air-Marshal R. E. C. Peirse.
  • The Norwegian steamer Bravore is sunk after an explosion off the south-east coast of England.

April 23, 1940

  • Operations in Norway proceed in co-operation with the Norwegian forces. In the south enemy pressure is resisted, while north of Trondheim our troops are counter-attacked and a sharp engagement ensues.
  • In the House of Commons, the Budget is introduced. More than £1,200,000,000 would be found by taxation, including further levies on spirits, beer and tobacco, increased Post Office charges and a new Purchase Tax.

April 24, 1940

  • R.A.F. bombers are again busy against air bases available to the enemy for use in the invasion of Norway. Westerland aerodrome on the island of Sylt is heavily and successfully attacked and several fires are started. North of Sylt enemy patrol vessels are attacked and two are sunk. Air bases at Aalborg, Kristiansand, Oslo and Stavanger are heavily bombed.
  • On land the Germans claim that they have captured Steinkjer, thus preventing any allied advance on Trondheim from the north. But the fact is that their counterattack, which was delivered by a considerable number of German troops from ships within the Trondheim Fjord, has been held up.
  • During the night French aircraft make long-distance reconnaissance’s over German territory, including the region of Prague.

April 25, 1940

  • The R.A.F. is very active against enemy bases in Norway and Denmark. Oil tanks are set on fire at Valloand a number of fires caused on the seaplane base at Stavanger. Six enemy aircraft are shot down and eight others dam aged at a cost of five British aircraft missing.
  • A scare-mongering neutral account of the Steinkjer incident is corrected by a War Office report which shows that whereas the German counter-attack from Trondheim on the previous day had threatened to cut off an advanced detachment from the main body, the former had withdrawn but had not been followed up by the enemy.

April 26, 1940

  • The allied troops in Southern Norway are heavily engaged south of Dom baas by strong enemy forces, supported by medium artillery, armoured fighting vehicles and low-flying aircraft, and as a result limited withdrawals become necessary. In the area north of Steinker there is no engagement but patrols are active, while nothing noteworthy occurs in the Narvik area. The Norwegian Commander-in-Chief issues an Order of the Day in which he says that the period of retreating is over and that allied troops are already at their side and coming over in ever-increasing force.
  • H.R.H. the Duke of Kent relinquishes his appointment at the Admiralty in order to assume an appointment at the Headquarters of the Training Command of the R.A.F. charged with special duties connected with the welfare of personnel.
  • The German Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, says that he will make a very important statement tomorrow to foreign diplomats and Press representatives.

April 27, 1940

  • The ninth meeting of the Supreme War Council is held in London. In addition to the principal British Ministers, it is attended by the French Premier, M. Daladier, General Gamelin and other French leaders. The Council reaches unanimity on a number of questions arising out of the present phase of the war.
  • Sir Samuel Hoare, in a broadcast speech, says that as Germany had challenged us to fight this war on a new front and made Norway their battlefield, we take up the challenge and there we must meet them with all the resources we can develop. The Royal Navy had struck blows at the enemy which all his boasting could not conceal and from which all his building could hardly save him.
  • Ribbentrop’s “very important statement” turns out to be a fantastic story that the determination of France and Britain to violate the neutrality of Norway had been proved by a large number of documents which had been captured in Norway.
  • The Germans advancing up the Gudbrandsdal make a heavy attack on the Anglo-Norwegian force in the Kvam area but are driven off with heavy loss.

April 28, 1940

  • A further enemy attack upon our positions in the Gudbrandsdal is repulsed. Further disembarkation is successfully carried out in spite of enemy air action against Aandalsnes and our lines of communication.
  • The British Navy mines West Fjord, thus closing the route to Narvik Fjord.

April 29, 1940

  • Three more enemy supply ships are torpedoed and sunk and the Admiralty says that there is not the slightest truth in the claim of the German High Command to have sunk or severely damaged during the past 48 hours five cruisers and thirteen transports. One British trawler is damaged by a bomb and subsequently sinks and another is set on fire by an incendiary bomb.
  • In Norway the Germans make heavy air attacks on the towns of Molde and Aandalsnes. The position in the Gudbrandsdal remains unchanged.

April 30, 1940

  • Enemy aircraft approach the East Coast at several points. Anti-aircraft guns go into action and one enemy bomber crashes at Clacton-on-Sea and bursts into flames. A mine which it is conveying explodes. Some houses are destroyed and others damaged; there are seven deaths and more than one hundred and thirty persons receive injuries.
  • The R.A.F. attack Fornebu the enemy’s principal air base near Oslo. It is subjected to a series of night raids which are maintained for more than an hour. A large number of high explosive bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and bursts are seen spreading in a line across the landing ground. In spite of strong opposition from gun batteries and searchlights, progressively increasing in intensity, all attacks are pressed home and much damage is done to the air-port and the aircraft dispersed around it.
  • The Admiralty announces that H.M. Submarines Tarpon and Sterlet are considerably overdue and must be considered lost.
  • In the land operations in Norway the allied withdrawal up the Gudbrandsdal still continues, and the Germans make extensive claims. They say that their troops advancing up the Gudbrandsdal have established contact with units from their Trondheim garrison. Hitler issues an Order of the Day to the forces engaged in which he says that they have destroyed the ambition of the Western Powers to reduce Germany to submission by seizing Norway.
  • It is made known that statements by leading Italians and the recent tone of the Italian Press have made it necessary for the British Government to take certain precautions as regards British shipping which would normally pass through the Mediterranean.

MAY 1940

May 1, 1940

  • Evacuation of the British troops from Norway begins. H.M.S. Inglefield, H.M.S. Diana and H.M.S. Delight ferry troops of 148th Brigade and 15th Brigade from the dock at Åndalsnes to the cruisers H.M.S. Manchester and H.M.S. Birmingham laying offshore. Unnoticed by the Luftwaffe 5,084 men are safely evacuated overnight. Overnight fog encumbers the evacuation of 146th Brigade from Namsos and H.M.S. Maori is damaged by Luftwaffe raids the next day. The evacuation continues safely when the fog returns that night as 5350 men are rescued safely.
  • The R.A.F. maintains its pressure on the enemy air bases in Norway and Denmark. Stavanger is bombed twice during the day, and this aerodrome together with the aerodromes at Aalborg and Fornebu are heavily bombed during the night.

May 2, 1940

  • The allied retirement from Central Norway south of Trondheim becomes public knowledge. The forces which have been carrying out delaying operations in that region during the past few days have now, after repulsing many attacks, been withdrawn in the face of ever-increasing enemy strength. They are successfully embarked at Aandalsnes and other ports in the neighbourhood. This is done in spite of the enemy’s incessant efforts to destroy these ports and communications by air action. In the Narvik area operations continue.
  • Announcing the withdrawal, the Prime Minister says the Allies are not going to be trapped into such a dispersal of our forces as would leave us dangerously weak at the vital centre, for the Germans have immense forces always mounted ready for attack, and the attack can be launched with lightning rapidity in any one of many fields. It is agreed that the whole subject shall be debated the following week.
  • The Prime Minister also makes the vital statement that the injury to the German navy has been so substantial as to alter the entire balance of naval power and to permit an important redistribution of the main allied fleets. A British and French battle fleet is already in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean on its way to Alexandria.
  • It is announced that H.M.S. Bittern, a sloop, has been lost by enemy air attack.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lieutenant Richard Been STANNARD, Royal Naval Reserve awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Lieutenant Richard Been Stannard, Royal Naval Reserve. From 28th April to 2nd May 1940 at Namsos, Norway, HMS Arab survived 31 bombing attacks in five days. On one occasion during this period Lieutenant Stannard and two of his crew tackled for two hours a fire on the jetty caused by a bomb igniting ammunition. Part of the jetty was saved, which proved invaluable at the subsequent evacuation. Later feats included the destruction of a Nazi bomber whose pilot, thinking that he had HMS Arab at his mercy, ordered that she be steered into captivity.

May 3, 1940

  • Completing the evacuation of Namos safely, the departing convoy was attached by Luftwaffe bombers during the night and early morning of 2nd/3rd May. The French destroyer Bison was sunk with the loss of 103 lives. Survivors were picked up by the destroyers H.M.S. Afridi, H.M.S. Imperial and H.M.S. Grenade. H.M.S. Afridi was hit in turn later in the afternoon and sunk within 45 minutes with the loss of 92 casualties. 30 of which had just been rescued from the Bison. H.M.S. Griffin and H.M.S. Imperial rescued the survivors.
  • The Admiralty issues a comprehensive account of the work of the Fleet Air Arm in Norway. Severe losses have been inflicted on enemy aircraft attempting to bomb allied troops and ships in Norway while the most vigorous attacks have been pressed home against vital German bases, transports and supply ships. It is also stated that the Germans have had very little success in air bombing against ships of war. One destroyer, one sloop, and five trawlers have been lost, and five other warships have been damaged but have returned to harbour safely.
  • The large Danish airfield known as Ry is heavily and successfully bombed. A daylight attack is also made on Stavanger.

May 4, 1940

  • The Dutch Government takes active steps to prepare for any action which Germany may contemplate, and in particular to intern or render harmless persons of known or suspected Nazi sympathies.
  • An interesting ceremony takes place at Malta when a British destroyer is formally handed over to Polish officers and a Polish crew. The British Admiral says: “The British Navy hands you this ship so that the Polish Navy’s great desire to join in this struggle may be fulfilled.”

May 5, 1940

  • On the Western Front the Germans make an attack, with heavy artillery support, on three French outposts in the Saar area. The posts hold out and are eventually relieved by a French counter-attack in which light tanks figure conspicuously.
  • The little fortress of Hegra, near Trondheim, in which the Norwegians have been holding out since the commencement of the German invasion, is compelled to surrender.
  • The Italian press continues to attack the Allies, and in particular the strengthening and redisposition of their fleets in the Mediterranean.
  • It is made known that R.A.F. casualties include Acting Squadron-Leader Kenneth Christopher Doran, D.F.C., who is reported as missing. He led the famous raid on Kiel harbour at the beginning of the war.

May 6, 1940

  • The return home of the allied forces from Central Norway has not been entirely without cost to the Navy. It is stated that the destroyer H.M.S. Afridi, while engaged in convoying transports back from Namsos, has been attacked by repeated waves of enemy aircraft and sunk. Simultaneously, it is announced that a French destroyer Bison, had been sunk when employed on a similar task, while the Polish destroyer O.R.P. Grom suffered the same fate. The latter ship was one of the Polish naval units which escaped and joined the British Navy at the time of the German invasion of Poland in September 1939.
  • The Prince of Piedmont, heir to the Italian throne, and the Princess of Piedmont pay a State visit to His Holiness the Pope. The incident is regarded as important in view of the Pope’s condemnation of Germany and Italy’s apparent preparations to throw in her lot with her axis partner.
  • The Germans announce that there has been recent correspondence between Hitler and the King of Sweden which reaffirms that their governments adhere to the mutual attitude already adopted and well known.

May 7, 1940

  • Once again, the threat of a spreading of the war is brought home to Europe by the action of the Dutch in cancelling all military leave. Rum our is rife, though Holland wears an outward appearance of calm.
  • The great debate on the Norwegian affair begins. Mr. Chamberlain admits that the shock to the country of the evacuation of Central Norway has been profound. But there could be no comparison with the Gallipoli campaign, because no large force was involved and our losses were not great. The expedition had been sent in response to a pressing appeal by Norway which it was impossible to ignore. No time had been lost by the dispersal of the force originally concerned for use in Finland, because it could be brought as easily from France as from Britain. Mr. Chamberlain goes on to make a strong appeal for unity and a truce to carping criticism, but there is a good deal of hostility in the House. Sir Roger Keyes, for instance, says that the Navy was quite prepared and able to force Trondheim Fjord, but had been held up by the authorities at home.
  • Leo Amery (MP and retired Lt Colonel) gives a damning critique of Chamberlain and his actions by quoting the words of Cromwell to the Rump Parliament: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”.

May 8, 1940

  • To-day sees the culmination of the two days’ debate in the Commons on the conduct of the war.
  • Mr. Herbert Morrison opens a series of sharp criticisms of the Government by deploring the conduct of operations in Norway, and questions whether the force sent was either suitably equipped or properly trained. Owing to the extreme gravity of the situation the Opposition feels that they must divide the House at the end of the debate. Mr. Chamberlain accepts the challenge and calls for support.
  • In reply to criticism Sir Samuel Hoare speaks of the difficult conditions under which the R.A.F. were forced to operate in Norway.
  • Mr. Churchill defends the Government’s policy in Norway, and declares he was guided by expert naval opinion. It was untrue that the Navy had been overruled by the politicians.
  • In conclusion the House divides and a Government majority of 81 is secured.

May 9, 1940

  • The Prime Minister confers with Opposition leaders in the hope of obtaining their support in forming a new Ministry. A change of Government seems inevitable.
  • There is further activity round Narvik and fresh landings have taken place. Enemy forces push slowly northward from Namsos.
  • To combat the activities of the Fifth Column, Sir John Anderson introduces a Bill imposing the death penalty in grave rases of sabotage and espionage.

May 10, 1940

  • Der Tag arrives again. Before dawn a full-scale invasion of Holland and Belgium is in progress. But the two countries, fully aware for months of Germany’s evil intentions, are not unprepared. The Dutch show that their plan is to retire behind a flooded zone to the west and their frontier-guard systematically destroys bridges and roads and creates all manner of obstacles to any German advance. Rotterdam is “invaded” from the air by troops landed by parachutes and troop carriers or concealed in barges on the Rhine.
  • Many Dutch, Belgian and French towns are bombed, with resultant loss of life among civilians. French and British troops at once cross the Belgian frontier and advance to the aid of that country and Holland.
  • The German Air Force suffers very heavy losses. The French bring down 44 on their own territory and the Dutch account for nearly 100. The R.A.F. has a field day. It attacks and destroys troop-carrying aircraft on the aerodrome at Rotterdam, and the beach near the Hague. Its reconnaissance aircraft operate over a wide area, in spite of heavy attacks by enemy bombing squadrons. The Germans have little success when they repeal their Poland tactics and make a mass attack on several British aerodromes in France. Little material damage is done and no lives are lost. The Germans issue a mendacious report that the British have bombed the “open town” of Freiburg-im-Breisgau.
  • Mr. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister and immediately sets about forming his new administration.

May 11, 1940

  • R.A.F. aircraft carry out further bombing attacks against enemy troop concentrations and military traffic. German mechanised troops advancing from the Rhine towards the Meuse are harassed and roads leading out of Maastricht are bombed. In all, allied forces cooperating with the Belgian defences bring down 100 German aeroplanes.
  • Names of new ministers are given. Mr. Chamberlain is Lord President of the Council, Mr. Attlee is Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Arthur Greenwood, Minister without Portfolio, Mr. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Eden, War Minister, and Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air.
  • The German invasion makes some progress in eastern Holland and Belgium.

May 12, 1940

  • In Belgium the Germans force a crossing of the Albert Canal at one point but otherwise make little progress. In Holland the Dutch retirement to the flooded zone continues.
  • Internment of all German or Austrian males aged between 16 and 60 begins.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Flying Officer 40105 Donald Edward GARLAND, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Flying Officer Donald Edward Garland, 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 12th May 1940, over the Albert Canal, Belgium, one bridge in particular was being used by the invading army, with protection from fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft and machine-guns. The RAF was ordered to demolish this vital bridge, and five Fairey Battle bombers were despatched with Flying Officer Garland leading the attack. They met an inferno of anti-aircraft fire, but the mission was accomplished, due to the expert leadership of Flying Officer Garland and the coolness and resource of his navigator. Only one bomber managed to get back to base, the leading aircraft and three others did not return.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Sergeant 563627 Thomas GRAY, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Sergeant Thomas Gray, 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 12th May 1940, over the Albert Canal, Belgium, one bridge in particular was being used by the invading army, with protection from fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft and machine-guns. The RAF was ordered to demolish this vital bridge, and five Fairey Battle bombers were despatched with Sergeant Gray as the navigator in the plane leading the bomb attack. They met an inferno of anti-aircraft fire, but the mission was accomplished, much of the success being due to the coolness and resource of the pilot of the leading aircraft and the navigation of Sergeant Gray. Unfortunately, the leading aircraft and three others did not return.

May 13, 1940

  • A remarkable scene occurs in the House of Commons where the new Government is welcomed by a vote of 381 to none. Lieut.-Col. Amery becomes Secretary of State for India and Mr. Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and National Service. Lord Woolton retains his post as Minister of Food.
  • The Dutch maintain a grand resistance. Their frontier-guards complete their task and gain a respite of twenty-four hours, during which the main army takes up its position behind the flooded zone. In the rear the position is much less satisfactory. German troops arriving by air secure the approaches to the Moerdyk Bridge, the great link connecting north with south Holland and Belgium. The arrival of Franco British reinforcements in that sector is thus frustrated.
  • In Belgium the German masses force the Belgian army back from the eastern frontier, but a second fortified line covering Brussels is ready. The British army has arrived and is practically at its allotted post.
  • In France the Germans make great but unavailing efforts to advance in the Sedan-Longwy area, but in the Belgian Ardennes they secure gains and the French, whose mission it has been to hold them up as long as possible, fall back on the River Meuse to which the Germans advance.

May 14, 1940

  • Anthony Eden made a broadcast calling for all men between the ages of 17 and 65 to enroll in the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) within 24 hours of the broadcast, 250,000 men had put down their names to join.
  • The Germans make a giant mechanised attack on the line of the Meuse from Namur down to the region of Sedan. The French admit a certain measure of success and it becomes clear that the main German effort is being made in this sector.
  • The Dutch Commander-in-Chief issues a proclamation to the troops concerned that fighting is to cease. Enemy troops in great numbers have succeeded in crossing the Moerdyk Bridge and in retaking Rotterdam. The main forces of the Dutch army behind the water-line are threatened with immediate attack in their rear. In these circumstances further resistance is useless and in conformity with the decision taken by the Netherlands Government the state of war between Holland and Germany ceases to exist.
  • In Norway, allied forces make a successful landing at Bjervik, seven miles south of Narvik. It is in rear of the German positions in the Gratangen area.
  • Although the surrender is agreed, Luftwaffe planes do not get the order to abort in time and drop 95 tons of bombs on Rotterdam, destroying most of the city. Approximately 1,000 civilians killed and 85,000 made homeless.

May 15, 1940

  • The German onslaught moves forward and the Meuse is crossed at several points. From Antwerp to Namur violent enemy tank attacks are repulsed, while in the Sedan area a force of over 150 allied aircraft halts the German advance by blowing up bridges, hampering communications and breaking up large tank and troop concentrations, thus enabling the French to launch a vigorous counter-attack.
  • As the German occupation of Holland proceeds, formal entries are made into the Hague and Amsterdam.
  • Throughout the day and during the night further bombing attacks on a gigantic scale are pressed home against the enemy lines of communication in Germany.
  • Thousands of men in all parts of the country have responded to Mr. Eden’s call for volunteers to combat invasion by parachute landings.
  • Following the bombing of Rotterdam R.A.F. Bomber Command withdraws its policy of banning deliberate bombing of civilian targets outside combat zones. A mass raid of ninety-nine bombers attack industrial targets in the Ruhr overnight.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Second Lieutenant Richard Wallace ANNAND, Durham Light Infantry awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Second Lieutenant Richard Wallace Annand, 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry. On 15th May 1940, near the River Dyle, Belgium, Second Lieutenant Annand inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy with hand grenades. He was wounded, but after having his wound dressed, he made another attack on the enemy the same evening. Later, when the position became hopeless and the platoon was ordered to withdraw, Lieutenant Annand discovered that his batman was wounded and missing. He returned at once to the former position and brought him back in a wheelbarrow before fainting from loss of blood.

May 16, 1940

  • The situation on the Meuse front is becoming increasingly serious. Enemy motorised columns, reinforced by three new mechanised divisions, are penetrating deep into France in the Sedan sector. In Belgium the B.E.F. with stand a vigorous German attack on Louvain.
  • President Roosevelt sounds a warning note to Congress as he asks for an output of 50,000 planes a year. America must realise that no attack is so unlikely or impossible that it may be ignored.
  • In the evening the French Premier receives assurances from General Giraud and General Huntziger, who believe that they are getting the situation in the Sedan sector under control.

May 17, 1940

  • To-day is the gravest so far in the history of the present war. A number of enemy mechanised troops break through the allied defences and the dent already made becomes a deep and serious bulge.
  • Though this onslaught of heavy motorised forces supported by aircraft has come as a surprise, it is asserted that the Maginot Line proper is not affected.
  • The situation in the Sedan sector necessitates the withdrawal of the B.E.F. in Belgium and new positions are taken up west of Brussels without interference.
  • In a dramatic order to his troops. General Gamelin urges them not to yield and to conquer or die. “We must, conquer.”

May 18, 1940

  • The enemy advance pushes relentlessly forward, veering towards the west. As allied reinforcements are rushed up and French “75” guns come into action, vast numbers of heavy tanks and accompanying aircraft pound the allied line between the River Sambre and Rethel.
  • Antwerp is abandoned by Belgian forces, but though completely isolated, Liege and Namur hold out.
  • Throughout the day allied aircraft bomb enemy communications and also carry out wide-scale and successful raids on fuel depots at Bremen and Hamburg.
  • Marshal Petain, the 84-year-old victor of Verdun, joins the French Government as Vice-Premier to M. Reynaud, while the latter appeals to the French Nation to join him in taking a solemn oath to win.

May 19, 1940

  • The direction of the German drive changes towards the Channel. Heavy fighting takes place in the region of St. Quentin as the enemy advance encounter’s stubborn resistance. Round Montmedy violent attacks are repulsed with heavy enemy losses. The British front stands firm in the face of heavy pressure. General Weygand, Commander of the French forces in the Near East, is appointed Commander-in-Chief in all theatres of operations.
  • Mr. Winston Churchill speaks of a tremendous battle now raging in France and Flanders. The Germans by a combination of air bombing and heavily armoured tanks have broken through the French defence north of the Maginot Line. Regroupment of the French armies, assisted by the magnificent efforts of the Royal Air Force, has been proceeding for several days. It would be foolish to disguise the gravity of the hour, but it would be even more foolish to lose heart and courage. There is an imperious need for more tanks, more aeroplanes, more shells and more guns. After this battle in France abates its force there will come a battle for our island, for all that Britain is and all that Britain means. The Prime Minister has received from the Chiefs of the French Republic the most sacred pledges that, whatever happens, they will fight to the end.

May 20, 1940

  • The German thrust westward is pursued with renewed vigour. A confused melee is taking place round Cambrai and Peronne, while enemy pressure near St. Quentin is maintained.
  • In the neighbourhood of Rethel enemy forces which had succeeded in crossing the Aisne are thrown back.
  • Bomber aircraft of the R.A.F. maintain their pressure on enemy communications, while oil refineries, railway stations and bridges are attacked. Troop and tank concentrations are bombed in the Aisne sector. Successful bombing attacks are also delivered against armoured vehicles in the Arras-Cambrai area and later in the Arras-Bapaume area. Despite being called upon to engage superior forces, our fighters drive off formations of bombers which harass the allied troops and inflict heavy losses on the enemy.
  • Mr. Herbert Morrison calls to all men and women who are engaged in the production of arms to give of their utmost.

May 21, 1940

  • This morning the Germans reach Amiens and Arras though these towns are occupied only with advance elements. They also advance on Abbeville. On the rest of the front the situation is unchanged despite local efforts by the enemy.
  • M. Reynaud tells of the grave danger in which France and her Allies find themselves. The Meuse had been wrongly considered as a sufficient barrier against the enemy. As the result of incredible mistakes, which will be punished, the bridges over the Meuse were not destroyed.
  • Bomber and fighter aircraft of the R.A.F. have to-day been engaged in operations over the confused fighting fronts in Belgium and Northern France. Roads and bridges in the path of the advancing enemy are destroyed and motorised units vigorously attacked.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Company Sergeant Major 391398 George GRISTOCK, Norfolk Regiment awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - On 21st May 1940 near the River Escaut, Belgium, Company Sergeant-Major Gristock organised a party of eight riflemen and went forward to cover the company's right flank, where the enemy had broken through. He then went on with one man under heavy fire and was severely wounded in both legs, but having gained his fire position undetected, he managed to put out of action a machine-gun which was inflicting heavy casualties and kill the crew of four. He then dragged himself back to the right flank position but refused to be evacuated until contact with the battalion had been established. He later died of wounds.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lance Corporal 2614910 Harry NICHOLLS, Grenadier Guards awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - No. 2614910 Lance-Corporal Harry Nicholls, Grenadier Guards. On 21st May 1940 near the River Escaut, Belgium, Lance-Corporal Nicholls, although suffering from shrapnel wounds in his arm, continued to lead his section in a counter-attack against overwhelming opposition. He advanced over a ridge and when the position became critical, he rushed forward, putting three enemy machine-guns out of action. He then attacked massed enemy infantry beyond a second ridge until his ammunition ran out and he was taken prisoner.

May 22, 1940

  • Mr. Churchill has a meeting with Monsieur Reynaud and General Weygand in France.
  • Code breakers working at Bletchley Park in England break the Luftwaffe’s ‘Red’ key cipher from the Enigma enciphering machine. This is accomplished by using a mechanical computing device known as a ‘Bombe’.
  • The B.E.F. strikes hard in a southerly direction to the north of the gap between Arras and the Somme through which the German armoured divisions and motorised troops advance in order to take the allied armies in Flanders in the rear.
  • Simultaneously it beats off violent German attacks on the line of the Scheldt. The Germans claim that the British attempt to close the gap and a similar attempt by the French in the region of Valenciennes have been frustrated. Their forces in the gap strike north from Abbeville up the coast and reach Montreuil.
  • Despite these discouraging features. General Weygand tells the world that his confidence is unshaken if everyone does his duty with ruthless energy.
  • The R.A.F. has a great day. During the night large-scale bombing attacks are made on the enemy’s main lines of communication through the Namur, Dinant and Aachen areas. Simultaneously large formations of bombers carry out operations on military objectives and key objectives in Rhenish Prussia. Throughout the day enemy tank columns and motorised units in North ­eastern France and Belgium are fiercely attacked.
  • The British Government ushers in a welcome revolution with the introduction and passing of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act. It gives the State control of the lives, property and capacities of every citizen. The “industrial conscription” so bitterly and successfully resisted in the War of 1914-18 is not merely accepted but welcomed by the Britain of 1940.

May 23, 1940

  • The German armoured and motorised units reach Boulogne in their sweep up the coast. The Prime Minister tells the House of Commons that these forces have penetrated into the rear of the Allied Armies in Belgium and are attempting to derange their communications. It is too early yet to say what the result of this coastal fighting maybe; but it evidently carries with it implications of a serious character.
  • In Britain the powers given to the Government yesterday are speedily put into operation. There is a round-up of Fascists and leading members of the British Union are arrested; they include Sir Oswald Mosley.

May 24, 1940

  • With the situation worsening for the B.E.F. in Belgium the War Cabinet decides to bring home the remaining troops in Norway. They inform French General Béthouart, commanding the attack on Narvik, who decides to continue with the capture of the town before evacuation.
  • The King broadcasts a message to the Empire in which he says: “In this our conscience is clear. For there is now revealed without possibility of mistake a long-planned scheme to subjugate by force the nations of the world. The decisive struggle is now upon us. Let us go forward to that task as one man, a smile on our lips, and our heads held high, and with God’s help we shall not fail.”
  • Fierce fighting continues all day in the region of Valenciennes, Cambrai and Arras. But the German progress towards the ports behind the Allied Armies in Flanders continues to impose the necessity for further withdrawal westwards. The Germans are already promising themselves another Cannae, with the entire Belgian Army, the B.E.F. and the whole or parts of three French armies as their prey. The R.A.F. continues ceaseless bombing attacks on German armoured units and troops in action and objectives behind the line of the German advance. Incidentally, 11 British fighters shoot down 11 Messerschmitt’s without any loss to themselves.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Lieutenant 53422 Christopher FURNESS, Welsh Guards awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Lieutenant Christopher Furness (53422), 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards. During the period 17th/24th May 1940 near Arras, France, Lieutenant Furness commanded the Carrier Platoon when his battalion formed part of the garrison of the town. On 23rd May the platoon was ordered to cover the withdrawal of the transport (over 40 vehicles) to Douai. Early on 24th May the enemy were advancing along the road where the transport columns were moving and Lieutenant Furness decided to attack. He reached the enemy position under heavy fire and when the light tanks and all the carriers and their crews had become casualties, he engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. His fight against hopeless odds made the enemy withdraw temporarily and enabled the vehicles to get clear.

May 25, 1940

  • Successful bombing attacks are carried out in Northern France, Belgium and Western Germany against the enemy forces, their communications and supply depots.
  • The Allied Armies continue their retreat in Flanders and the famous gap is not closed. The German communiques become exultant. They claim that the ring round these armies has been substantially reinforced and thereby finally closed.
  • The French wipe out the German bridgeheads established on the south bank of the Somme and reoccupy part of Amiens.

May 26, 1940

  • M. Reynaud, the French Prime Minister, has a meeting with Mr. Churchill in London. General Waygand makes drastic changes in the French High Command. Fifteen generals, including army and corps commanders, are relieved of their commands.
  • The British Government begins the requisitioning of scrap and surplus metal for use in war production industries.
  • The Germans continue to speak of the Allied Armies in Flanders as completely surrounded and inevitably doomed to utter destruction. They claim the capture of Calais though the truth is that its citadel is held against them for several days by an heroic force of 3,000 British and 1,000 French soldiers.
  • General Sir Edmund Ironside, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, is appointed Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces; General Sir John Dill succeeds him in the former post.
  • A fierce air battle is fought over the coast between Calais and Dunkirk from which the R.A.F. emerges triumphant. Great havoc is also wrought in the rear of the German armies. Aerodromes in the hands of the enemy, including those at Flushing. Brussels and Antwerp, are heavily attacked.
  • The War Cabinet telegram General Lord Gort authorising him to withdraw the B.E.F. to Dunkirk. Sixteen squadrons of No.11 Group are assigned to protect the port.

May 27, 1940

  • The Allied Armies in Flanders continue under heavy pressure and it is officially admitted that their situation is one of “increasing gravity”. On the left of the allied line the Germans make the fiercest onslaughts all day on the front held by the Belgian Army which announces that it is holding well in spite of desperate fighting and a difficult situation.
  • There are more successes in the air, and in particular the French announce that since the German invasion of the Low Countries they have shot down more than 600 German aeroplanes with comparatively small losses to themselves.

May 28, 1940

  • A great disaster overtakes the allied cause.
  • The B.E.F. withdrawal had exposed the right flank of the Belgian Army, allowing the German 6th Army to push through. On the orders of King Leopold, the Belgian Army surrenders, with practically no previous notice to its allies. The King’s action is repudiated by the Belgian Government which says that his act has no legal effect and does not bind the country. But the Belgian surrender places the British and French Armies in a desperate position.

May 29, 1940

  • Undismayed by the Belgian defection the French and British armies in Flanders continue their fighting retreat to the coast. The French fleet, under the command of Admiral Abrial, is busily engaged in organising the fortified camp of Dunkirk in order that it may supply a base for evacuation.
  • H.M. the King sends a stirring message to the British Expeditionary Force: “All your countrymen have been following with pride and admiration the courageous resistance of the British Expeditionary Force during the continuous fighting of the last fortnight…. The hearts of everyone of us at home are with you and your magnificent troops in this hour of peril.”
  • The R.A.F. have a great day. In addition to continuous attacks on railways, roads, bridges and enemy troops in North-Eastern France and Belgium, they achieve a striking victory near Dunkirk where a formation of Hurricanes and Defiants engage large forces of enemy bombers heavily escorted by fighters. At least 22 of the enemy aircraft are shot down while all the British machines return safely.
  • The Allies capture Narvik after several hours of hand-to-hand fighting.

May 30, 1940

  • The B.E.F. and the French forces in the north fall back towards the coast and a battle rages all day. Troops not engaged in this action are evacuated with the assistance of the Royal Navy. Warships give support and covering fire to the troops impeding the enemy’s movements. Considering the scale of the operation and the intensity of the enemy’s attack from land and more particularly the air, it is remarkable that the only losses suffered are the destroyers H.M.S. Grafton, H.M.S. Grenade and H.M.S. Wakeful transports, MS Trawler Polly Johnson and H.M.S. Calvi and certain small auxiliary craft.
  • Throughout the day the main effort of the R.A.F. is concentrated on relieving the pressure on the flanks of the allied armies in Flanders. At least 77 enemy aircraft are destroyed by our fighters during the day.

May 31, 1940

  • The negotiations in progress between the Italian and British Government with a view to the termination of the dispute over contraband are suddenly broken off by the Italians at the point where a provisional arrangement has been agreed. The Italian action is naturally interpreted as a sign that Italy has decided for war.
  • The retirement on Dunkirk and evacuation from that port continues successfully. The R.A.F. again plays a magnificent part. Relays of bombers maintain their pressure on the enemy’s lines of communication. Bridges, tanks, motorised columns and troops are subjected to intense bombing attacks which facilitate the withdrawal operations of the allied armies; 12 enemy aircraft are destroyed and three damaged.
  • It is announced that H.M.S. Curlew, an anti-aircraft cruiser, has been sunk as the result of a bombing attack off the north coast of Norway.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Captain Harold Marcus ERVINE-ANDREWS, East Lancashire Regiment awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Captain Harold Marcus Ervine-Andrews, The East Lancashire Regiment. During the night of 31st May/1st June 1940 near Dunkirk, France, the company commanded by Captain Ervine-Andrews was heavily outnumbered and under intense German fire. When the enemy attacked at dawn and crossed the Canalde Bergues, Captain Ervine-Andrews, with volunteers from his company, rushed to a barn and from the roof shot 17 of the enemy with a rifle and many more with a Bren gun. When the barn was shattered and alight, he sent the wounded to the rear and led the remaining eight men back, wading for over a mile in water up to their chins.

JUNE 1940

June 1, 1940

  • The evacuation of the B.E.F. is successfully continued from Dunkirk and in view of the consequent reduction in the size of the Force remaining in France General Lord Gort is ordered by the Government to hand over the command and return to England.
  • Fighter pilots set up a new daily record over the Dunkirk beaches where 78 German bombers and fighters are destroyed or severely damaged in the course of a little over twelve hours. The best bag goes to a Spitfire squadron which destroys 12 German bombers and fighters in one short action and then goes up again and shoots down another six.
  • It is revealed that a British force which has been holding the old Citadel of Calais for more than a week against tremendous odds and continuous attacks is still defying the enemy. It receives its supplies by parachute from aeroplanes.

June 2, 1940

  • Mr. Anthony Eden gives a vivid picture of the evacuation from Dunkirk in a broadcast talk. He reveals that the bulk of the British Expeditionary Force has been saved, and quite apart from what the French have done to their own forces, we have been able to bring tens of thousands of our French allies off from Dunkirk with our own men. The spirit of the B.E.F. has won through. They have marched hundreds of miles and fought countless actions with an enemy hemming them in and pressing upon them from three sides. The German High Command proudly announced that they were surrounded but they have fought their w ay out. Man for man, the British troops have proved themselves superior to the Germans wherever they have met them.
  • The R.A.F. again distinguishes itself in activities over Dunkirk. Aircraft of the Fighter Command continue their offensive patrols and 35 enemy aircraft are destroyed for certain, and probably another six. The cost to us is eight aircraft.

June 3, 1940

  • In a description of the evacuation from Dunkirk the Admiralty reveals that on the British side it was under-taken by a force which totalled 222 British naval vessels and 665 other British craft and boats. In a message to the Prime Minister the King says that “So difficult an operation was only made possible by brilliant leadership and an indomitable spirit among all ranks of the Force. The measure of its success was due to the unfailing support of the Royal Air Force and in the final stages the tireless efforts of naval units of every kind”.
  • The Germans make a great air raid on Paris in which they employ between 250 and 300 aircraft. Though they affect to be attacking only aerodromes and certain aircraft factories these fly at such a height that accurate bombing is impossible and much indiscriminate damage is caused. The roll of victims’ numbers over 250 killed and 600 injured.

June 4, 1940

  • Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, ends. In total 338,226 men were evacuated including 112,000 French troops.
  • In a remarkable review of the Flanders operations the Prime Minister says that though there has been a miracle of deliverance we must not be blind to the fact that there has been a colossal military disaster. Dealing with the possibilities of an invasion of Britain, he says that, if necessary, we shall fight on and fight alone. He ends with a passage likely to become historic: “And even if— which I do not for a moment believe— this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might steps forth to the rescue and liberation of the old.”
  • The evacuation of Narvik begins.

June 5, 1940

  • The Germans commence a great onslaught on the “Weygand Line”, the new French defensive positions along the Somme, the Aisne-Oise Canal and the Aisne. The character of the battle is described in the first German communique, which begins: “Our armies are now moving against the armies of France.” The region of fiercest fighting is round Amiens and Peronne and along the Ailette. The French claim to be holding their own but the Germans say that the Weygand Line has been broken in several places.
  • Air activity is intense. French bomber squadrons attack military objectives at Mannheim, Ulm, Ludwigshafen and Munich; the Baden Aniline Dye factory is set on fire. British bombers subject oil refineries and oil fuel depots in the Ruhr and elsewhere to intense attack. Throughout the day strong forces of heavy and medium bombers are continually engaged in harassing the second phase of the German offensive in France with a series of attacks on mechanised units, troop concentrations and lines of communication behind the battle front; great damage is inflicted and a military train is derailed.
  • Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister for Aircraft Production, makes a special appeal to all aircraft workers in which he says that “The young men of the Air Force, the pilots and gunners, are waiting to fly the machines. We must not fail them.”

June 6, 1940

  • The great battle continues. The Germans feed the battle-front continuously with masses of tanks in groups of 200 and 300 and the French estimate that more than 2,000 are being employed. They make progress at certain points. On the lower Somme they advance from Abbeville in the direction of the Bresle and in the Ailette sector they reach the heights north of the Aisne. Here the French launch a great counter-attack. That the French view is favourable on the whole is made clear by M. Revnaud’s broadcast to the nation in which he refers to the operations in progress as “The Battle for France”, and quotes General Weygand as saying that he is satisfied with the way in which the battle has begun and the manner in which his orders to stand firm at any price are being carried out.
  • Changes are made in the French Cabinet. The Premier becomes Foreign Minister also and M. Daladier is dropped.
  • Italy shows her hand more plainly by announcing a twelve-mile limit round the coast which is dangerous to shipping. This intimation that Italian waters have been mined tells its own story.

June 7, 1940

  • General Weygand’s Order of the Day is published. In a stirring appeal he says that the Battle for France has begun and that the fate of the country, the preservation of her liberties and the future of her sons depend on the tenacity of every man.
  • Throughout the day the battle rages with the same violence from the sea to the Chemin des Dames. It is admitted that the enemy has made progress in the region of the Upper Bresle and round Soissons.
  • Medium and heavy bombers of the R.A.F. make sustained attacks on the enemy’s lines of communication leading to the battlefield and on a wide variety of targets in the forward areas behind the fighting fronts.
  • The first Victoria Cross (V.C.) of the war is awarded to Captain Bernard Armitage Warburton-Lee, who commanded the attack on Narvik Fjord on 10th April and lost his life on the bridge of the destroyer Hardy. He was recommended for, and awarded the first posthumous Victoria Cross of the Second World War. (Gerard Roope’s posthumous V.C. action was prior to Warburton-Lee’s, but was not gazetted until 1945).
  • President Roosevelt announces that the sale of aeroplanes, guns and munitions will be speeded up.
  • From to-day no merchant vessel can approach within three miles of the coasts and ports of the United Kingdom between sunset and sunrise except in a British convoy.

June 8, 1940

  • The Battle for France continues and the French armies have to give ground, exacting enormous casualties from the enemy in the process. A German armoured column breaks through the Bresle position and makes for the Lower Seine.
  • Whilst supporting the Narvik evacuation, the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Glorious together with her escort destroyers H.M.S. Ardent and H.M.S. Acasta, runs into the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau patrolling off the Norwegian coast. H.M.S. Glorious is hit with several 11 inch shells when the enemy ships open fire, preventing its aircraft taking off. Both H.M.S Ardent and Acasta lay smoke and close on the German battleships but both are hit. All three R.N. ships are sunk, H.M.S. Ardent with the loss of 151 crew, 2 survivors, H.M.S. Glorious with 1,162 sailors and 59 R.A.F personnel lost, 42 survivors and H.M.S Acasta with 161 lost, 2 survivors.

June 9, 1940

  • The Germans extend the front of attack as far as the Argonne. Some reconnaissance detachments reach the outskirts of Rouen and Pont de Larche but fail to cross the Seine. In Champagne the French completely stem the attack launched at dawn on the whole front from Chateau Porcien to the Argonne. In a further Order of the Day General Weygand again exhorts his men to stand fast and says that “the last quarter of an hour” has been reached.
  • The Government decide that the evacuation of Greater London schoolchildren who are registered shall begin on 13th June.
  • The Admiralty announces that the armed merchant cruiser Carinthia has been torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.
  • With the evacuation of Allied troops from Narvik complete, Norway surrenders.

June 10, 1940

  • Italy enters the war on the side of Germany. Dealing with this event, President Roosevelt says that America will extend to the opponents of force the material resources of the nation, and harness and speed up the use of those resources in order that it may have the equipment and training equal to the task in any emergency.
  • The German onslaught reaches a very critical phase. The River Seine is crossed at several points and enemy columns progress southwards to the east of the Oise.
  • The Prime Minister sends a message to the French Premier in which he says that the maximum possible support is being given by British forces in the great battle which the French armies are now conducting with such undaunted courage.

June 11, 1940

  • The German advance on Paris continues and makes progress; it is becoming plain that the French are unable to hold it up and cannot hope to do more than keep their line intact.
  • Italian aircraft raid Malta without doing much damage, but the R.A.F. has striking success in bombing the aerodromes in East Libya, which are the principal air bases threatening Egypt and the western desert.
  • Aircraft of the Coastal Command successfully attack two enemy cruisers and a transport in Trondheim harbour.

June 12, 1940

  • The battle continues with unremitting intensity along the whole front. The Germans extend their bridgehead on the Seine between Rouen and Vernon and thrust southwards towards Evreux and Pacy-sur-Eure. They also succeed in crossing the Marne in the region of Chateau-Thierry and forcing the French back from Rheims to the hilly district south of that city. In this area they bring into action a new mechanised corps, comprising three or four armoured divisions and some fresh motorised divisions. In the region of St. Valery-en-Caux a force comprising British and French troops is compelled to surrender, the prisoners including a British divisional commander.
  • The British Prime Minister, after conferences with M. Reynaud, Marshal Petain and General Weygand, returns home. It is announced that complete agreement had been reached as to the measures to be taken to meet the developments in the war situation.
  • In the Mediterranean theatre, the Italians continue their air attacks on Malta and the R.A.F. bomb Tobruk harbour and Massawa. In the former raid great damage is done to Italian warships and other vessels.

June 13, 1940

  • The German plan to envelop Paris from the east and west progresses at a great pace. Motorised and armoured columns sweep across the Seine and thrust southwards. To the cast large German masses cross the Marne and the plain of Champagne is overrun. The French estimate that at least 100 enemy divisions have been thrown into the fray. The Germans claim the capture of more than 100,000 prisoners since the battle started on 5th June.
  • South of the Seine fresh British troops, recently arrived from the United Kingdom, are in place in the line with their French comrades.
  • The French Premier addresses what he calls “a new and last appeal” to the President of the United States. He says that the future of France, the very existence of France, is now at stake. Though the superiority of the British Air Force is asserting itself day by day, “clouds of aeroplanes must help us. Forces must come over the Atlantic and crush the evil powers which dominate Europe.” France has the right to hope that the day is at hand in which that help will come.
  • In the Mediterranean an old British cruiser is torpedoed by an Italian submarine. The Italian Air Force attacks Bizerta and Toulon and R.A.F. bombers attack military objectives in Eritrea and Italian East Africa.
  • In the final action of the Norway campaign, fifteen F.A.A. Skuas from H.M.S Ark Royal dive-bomb the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at anchor in Trondheim. A 500 lbs bomb hits the Scharnhost but does not explode. Eight Skuas are shot down by anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter action (6 crew lost, 10 POW’s) whilst seven returned safely to the Ark Royal.

June 14, 1940

  • The great battle continues, the French armies withdrawing everywhere save on the Maginot Line, where a direct German onslaught is repulsed with very severe loss. The French troops covering Paris retire southwards, leaving it an open town. The Germans enter Paris and Hitler orders the bells to be rung for a quarter of an hour throughout Germany.
  • The French Naval Air Force successfully bombs oil storage tanks in the vicinity of Venice and drops pamphlets on Rome. British bombers attack military objectives on the enemy lines of communication over an area extending from Rouen eastwards to the Maginot Line and bridges, railways, road junctions, goods yards, and oil stores are hit.
  • In Poland the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp receives its first inmates from prisoners from Tarnow.

June 15, 1940

  • Replying to the French Premier’s “last appeal”. President Roosevelt says that America will redouble her efforts provided the Allies resist the Dictators.
  • Soviet Russia presents an ultimatum to Lithuania and occupies the country.
  • The struggle in the west rages with unabated fury but the German advance continues relentlessly.
  • Operation Aerial begins evacuating Allied troops from the ports of Cherbourg. Over the next three days, 23 630 men, mostly British, are rescued.

June 16, 1940

  • France seems to have reached the end of her tether. The French Cabinet meets to consider whether President Roosevelt’s reply is sufficient to enable her to continue the struggle on her own territory. A little later the Reynaud Government resigns. Marshal Petain is the new Premier and he at once approaches Germany through General Franco to enquire upon what terms an armistice will be granted as a preliminary to “an honourable peace”.

June 17, 1940

  • The New French Foreign Minister broadcasts to the country, saying that France has been enquiring about peace terms; she has not abandoned the fight and will sacrifice herself altogether rather than suffer dishonour. He adds that France has been assisted by Britain, Poland, Holland and Belgium, but modern war cannot be improvised and her friends had not been able to bring her the support which as vanguard she needed.
  • The British Prime Minister also broadcasts a message to the nation in which he says that in spite of the bad news from France we shall not pause in our task. We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of that high honour. We shall defend our island, and, with the British Empire around us, we shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted from the brows of men. We are sure in the end all will be well.
  • In order to encourage French resistance, the British Government offers to conclude a solemn Act of Union between Britain and France.
  • Notwithstanding the approach for an armistice, the battle continues all day along the whole front. The Germans reach Dijon, the Doubs and the Jura.
  • The liner RMS Lancastria, crowded with somewhere between 6,000 and 9,000 evacuated troops and civilians from Cherbourg, was attacked by a Junker Ju-88 bomber. One of the bombs went straight down the funnel, exploding in the engine room. Fatally damaged the ship sank in around 20 minutes. There were 2,477 survivors but due to the speed of evacuation no full list of how many were lost. The sinking is the worst tragedy in British maritime history (more lives being lost than the Titanic and Lusitania combined) and the single greatest loss of life for UK forces in any single engagement in World War Two.
  • It is announced in Germany that Hitler and Mussolini are to meet to discuss armistice terms.

June 18, 1940

  • General de Gaulle, head of the Cabinet Militaire in the Reynaud Government and now in London, broadcasts a message to the French nation in which he summons her to continue resistance from the Empire in conjunction with the British and supported by the inexhaustible material resources of the United States.
  • Hitler and Mussolini meet at Munich and agree upon the course to be adopted towards the French request for an armistice.
  • During the night and early morning, the R.A.F. heavily bomb military objectives in the Rhineland, the Ruhr and North-Western Germany

June 19, 1940

  • The new French Government issues a statement that France is surrendering with honour and if an attempt is made to impose terms derogatory to her honour she will fight on. The French plenipotentiaries are appointed and proceed to occupied territory to learn the German terms.
  • Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister of Aircraft Production, says that aircraft production in this country, in every category, has since 10th May exceeded the total casualty list, including casualties sustained through accidents at home.
  • During the night and early morning large forces of R.A.F. bombers attack military objectives in North-West Germany at Hamburg, Bremen, Rheydt, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Hanover and Frankfort. German aircraft carry out bombing raids on districts in Eastern England. Eleven civilians are killed and 14 injured. No severe damage is done to any military objective and the Germans lose seven aircraft. In the Eastern Mediterranean the R.A.F. wins a great air battle with the Italians, bringing down eight of the enemy with a loss of two.
German Luftwaffe airmen captured during raids on Britain under armed guard
German Luftwaffe airmen shot down and captured during raids on Britain are
on their way to an internment camp under armed guard

June 20, 1940

  • Though the French Home Government is giving up the struggle, it is announced that France’s North African colonies will fight on.
  • A squadron of Hurricanes rakes with machine-gun fire 50 German troop-carriers and dive bombers lined up on Rouen aerodrome. The British pilots estimate that the damage is 20 of the enemy aircraft, four of which are set on fire. In the night targets spread over a large area in the Ruhr and North-West Germany are attacked; only one British machine fails to return.
  • The Germans raid the east coasts again, as well as the south coast, North-West England and South Wales.
  • The House of Commons holds a secret sitting.
  • President Roosevelt nominates two well-known Republicans with pronounced pro-Ally sympathies, Mr. Stimson and Colonel Knox, to be Secretaries for War and the Navy respectively.

June 21, 1940

  • The French plenipotentiaries learn the German armistice terms. They receive them in the Forest of Compiegne, in the same railway-carriage on the same spot in which the Allies gave the defeated Germans the armistice terms in November 1918. Hitler, Goering, Raeder, von Brauchitsch, Keitel, Ribbentrop and Hess are present.
  • Successful attacks are made by the Fleet Air Arm on an enemy gun position near Calais. Military objectives in North-West Germany are again attacked.
  • The Government announce further steps for financing the war by an issue of 2 ½ per cent National War Bonds to an unlimited amount.

June 22, 1940

  • Petain’s Government in France capitulate to the German terms and at 6.30pm General Huntzinger signs the Armistice in the railway carriage at Compiègne, where the 1918 Armistice had been signed. The salient points are that the French armies are to lay down arms; Northern and Western France are to be occupied by the German armies and France is to pay for the occupation; the French fleet, except that part left free for the safeguard of French interests in the Colonial Empire, is to be collected in ports to be specified, demobilised and disarmed under German or Italian control. The German Government solemnly declare that they have no intention of using for their own purposes during the war the French fleet stationed in ports under German control except those units necessary for coast surveillance and mine-sweeping.
  • The French colonies do not follow the example of France. General Mittelhauser, the French Commander in Syria, and the political and military chiefs in North Africa and Indo-China proclaim that the war will continue in their areas.
  • At sea, it is announced that another Italian submarine has been sunk and a large Italian submarine has surrendered to a British trawler.

June 23, 1940

  • The Italian armistice terms are handed to the French plenipotentiaries at a meeting near Rome.
  • Monsieur Pierre Laval is appointed Minister of State and Vice-President of the Council. There is thus no doubt about the new Government’s leanings to the Right.
  • The Prime Minister issues a statement in which he says that His Majesty’s Government cannot feel that such, or similar, terms could have been submitted to by any French Government which possessed freedom, independence and constitutional authority. The British Government firmly believe that whatever happens they will be able to carry the war wherever it may lead, on the seas, in the air, and upon land, to a successful conclusion.
  • General de Gaulle, broadcasting to the French nation from London, says that France surrendered before all means of resistance were exhausted. A French National Committee will be organised to represent the French nation and will hold itself responsible to its lawful representatives as soon as they are in a position to speak for the nation.

June 24, 1940

  • France signs the Italian armistice terms and hostilities cease a few hours later. The Italians had been attacking on the Savoy front all day but made little progress except in the coastal sector to the south where they reach and occupy Mentone.
  • In the Vosges sector a French force of twenty-two thousand men surrenders to the Germans.
  • General de Gaulle states in London that he has grounds for saying that the French fleet will not surrender and that his appeal for the organisation of Frenchmen to carry on the struggle has met with a magnificent reply.

June 25, 1940

  • The Prime Minister, in a review of the fateful events in France, says that there is no use or advantage in wasting strength and time upon hard words and reproaches. We find it difficult to believe that the interests of France and the spirit of France will find no other expression than in the melancholy decisions which have been taken by the Government of Bordeaux. We shall certainly aid, to the best of our ability and resources, any movement of Frenchmen outside the power of the enemy to work for the defeat of Nazi-German barbarism.
  • The Air Force continues widespread attacks on the Continent and the Germans again raid parts of Britain.

June 26, 1940

  • In co-operation with the R.A.F. successful reconnaissances of the enemy coastline are carried out. Landings are effected at various points, and German troops encountered suffer casualties without loss to the British units concerned. Much useful information is obtained.
  • The Foreign Minister of the Bordeaux Government announces that M. Corbin, the French Ambassador in London, has resigned.
  • Russia delivers an ultimatum to Rumania demanding the return of Bessarabia (incorporated in Rumania after the last war) and also the cession of Northern Bukovina. The Rumanian Government asks for time but the Soviet Government demands immediate compliance.

June 27, 1940

  • Escort aircraft of the Coastal Command carry out extensive reconnaissance over the North Sea, the English Channel and the coasts of Scandinavia and Holland. Damage is done to enemy shipping. The sea-plane bases at Helder and Texel are bombed and a Heinkel bomber is destroyed. R.A.F. bombers set two oil tanks on fire at Hanover. During the night oil tanks at Nyborg. the aircraft factory at Wismar, an aircraft factory at Deichshausen, lock gates on the Dortmund-Ems canal, barges north of Reisenbeck, inland docks near Duisberg and marshalling yards at Schwerte and Osnabrueck are successfully attacked.

June 28, 1940

  • The British Government recognises General de Gaulle as ‘Leader of All Free Frenchmen.’
  • The Admiralty reports that a submarine, H.M.S. Tetrarch, has sunk a deeply-laden enemy transport of about 8,000 tons. This transport was accompanied by four motor torpedo-boats, but these and an enemy aircraft were successfully eluded.
  • The Rumanian Government yields to the Soviet demand to evacuate Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina and Russian troops at once move in.
  • The British Government recognises General de Gaulle.
  • It is announced that in view of the German occupation of the parts of France adjacent to the Channel Islands, it has been decided to demilitarise the islands. All armed forces and equipment have been withdrawn.
  • Mr. Wendell Wilkie is nominated as Republican candidate for the United States Presidential Election.
  • Marshal Balbo, the Italian Governor of Libya, meets with his death when piloting an aircraft over Tobruk. The Italian version is that his plane was shot down by British units, but the British Foreign Office subsequently announces that no British aircraft were concerned and there is no truth in the statement that he fell in battle.
  • In the Mediterranean three Italian destroyers are chased by British light forces. One enemy destroyer sunk.

June 29, 1940

  • During the night the Channel Islands, though officially demilitarised, are repeatedly attacked by German aircraft and many casualties are caused among the civilian population.
  • In the Kassala area, on the borders of the Sudan and Italian Eritrea, two armoured British patrols encounter and rout Italian cavalry, causing heavy losses and making prisoners.
  • The R.A.F. continues to have successful encounters with the Italian air arm. Extensive damage is done to the Italian bases at Macaaca and El Gubbi. Four Italian planes are destroyed and others seriously damaged. Our losses are two.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out a surprise attack on Abbeville aerodrome, hitting a hangar and setting four enemy aircraft on fire. Others attack a chemical factory at Hoechst, the Dortmund-Ems Canal, marshalling yards at Soest, Schwerte, Hamm and Gremburg; military objectives in the region of Baden and others near Cologne; the aerodromes of Nordeney, Borkum and Schipol, Barge, Munster and Merville.

June 30, 1940

  • The first German plane lands on Guernsey to begin the occupation of the Channel Islands.
  • A formation of R.A.F. bombers again attacks Merville aerodrome and bombs enemy aircraft on the ground. Railway sidings and goods yard at Vignacourt are bombed and fires started among the railway stock. On the way home our aircraft are attacked by a formation of Messerschmitt 109s. Four of these are shot down without any loss on our side.
  • Enemy aircraft appear over Wales, North-East England and North-East Scotland and cause some damage and casualties, but without effect on any military objectives.
  • The Admiralty announce that H.M. submarine Grampus is now considerably overdue and must be considered to have been lost.
  • Mr. Chamberlain, broadcasting to the nation, says that anyone who lends himself to German propaganda by listening to idle tales about disunion in the War Cabinet, or who imagines that any minister would consent to enter upon peace negotiations with the enemy, is just playing the Nazi game.

JULY 1940

July 1, 1940

  • Enemy bombers cross the British coast at several points. Anti-aircraft defences and fighters are in action. A number of incendiary bombs are dropped on the North-East Coast and eleven people are killed and over twenty injured in a Scottish town. Two enemy aircraft are shot down by our fighters.
  • In Africa successful British bombing raids are made on troop concentrations near Sabderat and on two Italian naval vessels in the harbour of Accico. The bomb dump at Macaaca is also successfully bombed for the second time.
  • German landings are made in Jersey and Guernsey.
  • The Rumanian Government renounces the Anglo- French guarantee and says that the country will hence-forth reorientate its foreign policy to conform to that of the Axis powers.
  • The liner S.S Arandora Star, conveying about 1,500 Germans and Italians who were being taken to internment in Canada, is torpedoed by a German submarine.

July 2, 1940

  • Enemy aircraft carry out raids on the north-east coast of England and drop bombs in the south-west. Some damage is caused in two towns and on the outskirts of a third and there are some casualties.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack the German naval base at Kiel, heavily damaging the battle-cruiser Scharnhorst. Other aircraft bomb the Hamburg oil refinery, a viaduct at Hamm, a blast furnace at Meiderich, an aeroplane factory at Diechshausen, the aerodromes of Wesel, Cologne and Venlo and the base at Texel.

July 3, 1940

  • All other methods having failed, Britain takes decisive steps to prevent the French fleet from falling into Axis hands intact. Two battleships, two light cruisers, some submarines, including a very large one, the Surcouf, eight destroyers and about 200 smaller craft are boarded and secured by superior forces at Portsmouth and Plymouth. There are four British and two French casualties. At Alexandria a French battleship, four cruisers and a number of smaller ships are not allowed to leave harbour.
  • At Oran there is a different story. Two of the finest vessels of the French fleet, the battle-cruisers Dunkerque and Strasbourg, with two battleships, several light cruisers and a number of destroyers, submarines and other vessels are lying in the harbour. A British naval officer asks for an interview and when it is refused offers the French Admiral four alternatives to the employment of whatever force may be necessary to prevent his ships from falling into German or Italian hands. After hours of parley the French Admiral announces his intention to fight. A strong British battle squadron, suitably supported by complementary vessels, attacks the French ships and the task is completed by aircraft. The Strasbourg escapes to Toulon though on the way she is pursued by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and hit by at least one torpedo. The Dunkerque is badly damaged and driven ashore. A battleship of the “Bretagne” class is sunk and another heavily damaged. Two French destroyers and a seaplane carrier are sunk or burned.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out daylight attacks on enemy oil plant, lines of communication, concentrations of barges and aerodromes in Germany, Belgium and Holland.
  • Cardiff is bombed by the Luftwaffe for the first time.

July 4, 1940

  • The R.A.F. has a field day in Egypt when nine enemy fighters are shot down during aerial engagements, near Sidi Barrani.
  • The Prime Minister, after reporting the tragic events of 3rd July in the House of Commons, says that the British action should be in itself sufficient to dispose once and for all of the lies and rumours industriously spread by German propaganda and the Fifth Column that we have some intention of entering into negotiations with the German and Italian Governments.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Acting Leading Seaman P/JX139070 Jack Foreman MANTLE, HMS Foylebank awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Acting Leading Seaman Jack Foreman Mantle, Royal Navy. On 4th July 1940 during an air raid on Portland, England, Leading Seaman Mantle of HMS Foylebank, who was manning the starboard 20mm pom-pom gun, had his left leg shattered by the blast from a bomb early in the action. Although wounded again many times, he remained at his gun, training and firing by hand when Foylebank's electric power failed, until he collapsed and died.

July 5, 1940

  • The French Council of Ministers decides to break off diplomatic relations with Great Britain as the result of the naval action at Oran.
  • The coastline and twenty miles inland from Bexhill to Portland is declared a Defence Area.
  • In the early hours of the morning docks at Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg, aircraft factories at Bremen and Wenzendorf and aerodromes in Germany, Holland and Belgium are attacked by aircraft of the bomber command.

July 6, 1940

  • The battered French battle-cruiser Dunkerque is attacked by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. Six hits are obtained. The French Admiralty announces that three of the French ships which were most heavily damaged on 3rd July have capsized. It is also stated that two French naval squadrons attacked at Gibraltar British vessels which took part in the operation at Oran.
  • British bombing attacks are made on the landing ground at Knocke, the aerodromes of Evreux and Ypenburg and barges at Zwolle and Katwijk.
  • A most successful operation is carried out by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and R.A.F. against Italian warships sheltering in the harbour of Tobruk, Libya. Other units of the Fleet Air Arm attack the aerodrome at Catania in Sicily; hangars and workshops are destroyed and left in flames.

July 7, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that the submarine Snapper has scattered German convoys to Norway and torpedoed five ships.
  • There are various raids by German aircraft over parts of the British Isles but little damage is done. Three enemy fighters are shot down over the south-east coast and the Germans lose eight aircraft in all.

July 8, 1940

  • A British naval force appears at Dakar where the new 35,000-ton French battleship Richelieu is lying. As all alternatives are rejected, a ship’s boat makes its way into the harbour and disables the stern of the warship with depth charges. The job is completed by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm.
  • The Admiralty announces that the destroyer H.M.S. Whirlwind had been hit by a torpedo and subsequently sank. Survivors were rescued by another naval vessel.
  • It is officially announced in Dublin that Mr. deValera has said that come what might Eire was determined to preserve her neutrality. If she were invaded, she would resist no matter what nation invaded her.
  • Tea is to be rationed as from to-day. The allowance is 2 ounces per head per week.
  • German aircraft are active over England. Many of them concentrate on a convoy over the south-east coast and a regular aerial battle ensues. Altogether at least six enemy aircraft are known to have been destroyed.
  • During the night and early hours targets of military importance at Ludwigshaven and Frankfurt are attacked; sidings and goods yards at Osnabrueck, Soest, Hamm, Ruhrort-Hafen and Gremberg are bombed and hits are registered on the naval barracks at Wilhelmshaven and on the canal basin at Duisburg-Ruhrort. Various German aerodromes are also visited and damaged. The Leopold Basin at Ostend, now used as a base for enemy supply ships, receives a surprise attack from Blenheims. Though only lasting four minutes great damage is done to the dock gates and a hit is secured on a large German supply ship.

July 9, 1940

  • Official start date of the Battle of Britain.
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the present rate of war expenditure is rather more than £50,000,000 per week.
  • British aircraft carry out many further raids on enemy and enemy-occupied territory and in the course of enemy raids on this country another eight aircraft are shot down.
  • The Battle of Calabria, first major sea battle in the Mediterranean. At 3.15pm a convoy from Alexandria heading to Egypt, led by H.M.S. Warspite H.M.S Royal Sovereign, H.M.S. Malaya and the carrier H.M.S. Eagle, ran into an Italian convoy led by the battleships Giulio Cesare and Conte di Cavour heading for Benghazi, Libya, 50 miles south of the heel of Italy. A long range sea battle ensued with one shell from H.M.S. Warspite hitting Giulio Cesare at a range of 24 km, one of the longest ever naval artillery shots. Giulio Cesare does not sink but the Italian battleships withdraw; an indecisive cruiser battle ensues. 76 Italian high-altitude bombers attack the British fleet, causing no damage but forcing a withdrawal, but 50 Italian aircraft bomb their own ships (also without damage). The battle ends at 5.00pm as both convoys move on.

July 10, 1940

  • The Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, describes yesterday’s naval engagement as “disappointing” because no opportunity of close-range action was afforded. The Italian Fleet was pursued but unfortunately could not be overtaken before it was able to reach the shelter of its shore defences.
  • It is announced that in spite of a crop of rumours to the contrary no enemy parachutists have landed in this country.
  • Introduction of Defence Regulation (58AA) allowing the Minister of Labour to ban strike action and force compulsory arbitration.
  • The Luftwaffe begins attacking British shipping in the English Channel, and soon moves onto attacking R.A.F airbases around the UK. The Battle of Britain begins.
  • The Germans carry out a number of scattered bombing raids over South Wales and South and South-West England. During these raids and in an attack on a convoy fourteen enemy aircraft are shot down while many others are severely damaged.
  • Aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm visit an Italian harbour north of Augusta, Sicily. One Italian destroyer and a hulk are sunk.
The King inspects men of the Royal Scots Regiment on the 10th July 1940
The King inspects men of the Royal Scots Regiment on the 10th July 1940

July 11, 1940

  • Marshal Petain assumes supreme power in France with the title of Chief of the French State.
  • In enemy air operations round the coasts thirteen bombers, eight fighters, and one float aeroplane are destroyed, three by anti-aircraft guns, eighteen by fighters, and one by a reconnaissance aircraft of the Coastal Command. The total British loss is four fighters.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack aerodromes, concentrations of barges and other military targets in France and the Low Countries.
  • Lord Halifax, in a statement in the House of Lords on the Near East, says that we have never pressed Egypt to declare war on Italy and that we remain bound to Turkey by the closest ties. In the House of Commons, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs says that the policy of the Government has been and remains to improve and strengthen the relations between this country and Russia.
RAF Officers inspect Heinkell He111 wreckage on the South Coast
RAF Officers inspect Heinkell He111 wreckage on the South Coast 11th July 1940

July 12, 1940

  • Eleven German aircraft engaged in raids over Britain are destroyed. These include six aircraft attacking a convoy off the South-East coast.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack enemy aerodromes in Holland and munition works, blast furnaces and other objectives in Germany. Aircraft of the Coastal Command bomb a concentration of barges and machine-gun enemy flying-boats at Boulogne.
  • The Turkish Prime Minister says that Turkey remains faithful to her friendships and Turkey’s reply to threats to her independence and integrity will be a resort to arms.

July 13, 1940

  • British bombers continue their attacks on military objectives in Germany, including docks at Hamburg, Bremen. Wilhelmshaven and Emden, aircraft factories at Bremen and Deichshausen oil refineries at Monheimand Hamburg, supply factories at Grevenbroich, Gelsenkirchen and Hamburg, and goods yards at Hamm, Osnabrucck and Soest. Fourteen enemy aerodromes in Holland and Germany are also attacked. All our aircraft return safely.
  • Twelve German aircraft are shot down during attacks on shipping.

July 14, 1940

  • The Germans make another attack on shipping and one of the most spectacular air battles of the war ensues. On the German side about forty dive-bombers and a considerable number of ME 109 fighters are involved. Anti-aircraft guns fire continuously for more than half an hour whilst the fight in the air lasts for a full hour. First a dive-bomber is brought down by anti-aircraft fire, then four more are brought down by British fighters and before long two Messerschmitt’s are disposed of by a Hurricane and some Spitfires.
  • The Prime Minister broadcasts to the nation. With regard to the French Navy, he says that Britain’s “painful task” is completed. The rest of the French Navy cannot upset the balance of naval power. As to the future of that unhappy country he says: “I proclaim my faith that some of us will live to see a Fourteenth of July when a liberated France will once again rejoice in her greatness and in her glory, and once again stand forward as the champion of the freedom and the rights of man.” As regards air activities, he says that “the R.A.F. have shot down more than five to one of the German aircraft which have tried to molest our convoys in the Channel or ventured to cross the British coast.” Finally, he says that “should the invader come, there will be no placid lying down of the people in submission before him. We shall defend every village, every town and every city.”
  • The Admiralty announce the loss of H.M. destroyer Escort in the Western Mediterranean.
  • In Kenya, the small British garrison still holding out at Moyale, in the neighbourhood of which there has been severe fighting between Italian and British reinforcements, withdraws according to plan during the night.
  • BBC commentator Charles Gardner was recording live a dog-fight from a vantage point on the cliffs outside Dover.
General Charles de Gaulle inspecting French troops on Bastille Day 14th July 1940
Gen. Charles de Gaulle inspects French troops on Bastille Day 14th July 1940

July 15, 1940

  • A raid by 140 men of No3 Commando on Guernsey is unsuccessful when they find the German barracks there empty.
  • The French Legation in Dublin issues a communication to the Irish people on the subject of British action against the French Fleet. This statement is officially characterised as “inaccurate and misleading” because it made no reference to the negotiations lasting 84 hours before the British opened fire at Oran, or to the four honourable alternatives put before Admiral Gensoul.
  • It is announced that H.M. submarine Shark (N54) is considerably overdue and must be presumed lost.
  • The R.A.F. attacks enemy aerodromes at Lisieux and Evreux, Norderney and De Kooy, where hangars, petrol dumps and aircraft on the ground are set on fire. Various military objectives in Germany are also bombed.

July 16, 1940

  • An enemy bomber which was active over the North-East coast of Scotland is shot down into the sea and two Junkers 88 bombers are brought down in the English Channel.
  • The Japanese Cabinet resigns as the result of pressure from the army and navy which want a more “forward” policy.
  • In the House of Commons Mr. Attlee says that as a result of the loss of the French Fleet, it is essential to concentrate our whole naval forces on the task of meeting the overriding demands of national security and the Government must therefore postpone the operation of the scheme for the transference of children oversea.

July 17, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that a Sunderland flying-boat of the Royal Australian Air Force attached to the Coastal Command recently bombed and sank an ocean-going German submarine in the Atlantic. The survivors were picked up by a naval sloop.
  • Owing to adverse weather conditions, British bomber forces gave the enemy a rest during the previous night, but interesting particulars are revealed of the damaging effect of many raids on the Dortmund-Ems Canal, one of the principal traffic arteries of Germany. Barges can be seen high and dry in the mud. The aqueducts are unusable, and the canal is empty.
  • An agreement is reached between Great Britain and Japan, which ends the Burma Road controversy with a provision that the passage of arms, ammunition, petrol, trucks, and railway material will be prohibited for three months.

July 18, 1940

  • British bomber aircraft make daylight attacks on barge concentrations near Rotterdam, on Boulogne harbour, and on warehouses at Le Havre. The aerodrome at St. Omer is also attacked.
  • At night, Krupp’s works at Essen are attacked during widespread operations over North-West Germany and the Rhineland. The objectives include the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory at Bremen.
  • At the Democratic Convention in the United States President Roosevelt receives an almost unanimous invitation to stand as democratic candidate for the Presidency. If he accepts the nomination and is elected a record will be created, for no American President has yet been in office for more than two terms.
  • The Prime Minister announces in the House of Commons that at monthly intervals the general total of air raid casualties shall be announced in Parliament and published in the Press.

July 19, 1940

  • Aircraft of the Fighter Command and anti-aircraft guns engage large forces of enemy aircraft in several actions of the south-east coast of England. Many fierce encounters take place in the course of which eight enemy aircraft are shot down by our fighters, and one by anti-aircraft gunfire.
  • Hitler summons the Reichstag, to which he makes a long speech containing the usual apologies and polemics. Another feature - also becoming usual - is the announcement of the casual discovery of documents, this time secret documents of the Allied Supreme War Council, proving the criminal designs of the Allies to involve all Europe in the holocaust of war. After a diatribe against British leaders, he makes an appeal for “common sense” and an end to the war, but adds that, if the war continues, it can only end in the annihilation of Britain or Germany.
  • Early this morning the Australian cruiser, Sydney, accompanied by destroyers, contacts two Italian cruisers north-west of Crete. Action follows, and the enemy cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni is speedily sunk, though she was quite as powerful as the Sydney, and considerably faster.
  • The Admiralty announces that two British merchant ships have been sunk in the West Indies by an enemy raider.

July 20, 1940

  • R.A.F. bombers attack the dockyard of Wilhelmshaven, oil refineries at Hamburg and Bremen, shipping in the harbour of Emden and aircraft factories, aerodromes and oil depots in Central Germany, the Ruhr, Holland and Belgium. At night Coastal Command bombers fire German oil tanks at Vlaardingen, near Rotterdam.
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean Swordfish aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm attack the Italian base at Tobruk and score hits on an oiler, transports and supply ships.
  • In air battles round the British coasts eighteen enemy aircraft are brought down by fighters and three by anti-aircraft guns. The “star turn” of other engagements is the frustration of a particularly violent enemy attempt on a convoy off the South-East Coast.
German Messerschmitt ME109 crashed in Southern England
German Messerschmitt ME109 crashed in Southern England

July 21, 1940

  • General Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, broadcasting to Britain and the United States, says that “if Dunkirk has any message for us, it is the heartening one that Britain will prove to be an impregnable fortress against which Germany’s might will be launched in vain. If that attack fails. Hitler is lost. And if Hitler does not venture to attack Britain, he is equally lost.”
  • Six Hurricanes take on 80 German aircraft attacking shipping in the English Channel. A Messerschmitt 109 is shot down and the formation broken up. In air battles round our coasts four enemy aircraft are destroyed. Aircraft of the Coastal Command on patrol off the Danish coast successfully bomb a 14,000-ton enemy supply ship. Military objectives in Germany, Holland, and Belgium, including oil depots and oil tanks, aircraft factories, goods yards, barges and aerodromes are bombed by the R.A.F. in operations in which French airmen take part. Some idea of the havoc wrought is conveyed by the statement that a trail of blazing oil marked the course of the Ghent-Salzaete Canal after the bombers had passed.

July 22, 1940

  • It is announced that the destroyer Brazen received dam age during an attack by enemy aircraft and subsequently sank while being towed into port. No lives were lost and the ship shot down three aircraft during the engagement.

July 23, 1940

  • The onslaught on military objectives in enemy and enemy-occupied country continues. Aircraft factories at Gotha, Kassel and Wenzendorf, the oil depots at Hamburg and Gelsenkirchen, railway communications, goods yards, anti-aircraft batteries, searchlights and twelve aerodromes are among the targets attacked by British bombers. Enemy patrol boats in Dunkirk harbour also come in for attention.
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, introduces a War Emergency Budget. Income tax is increased, as also the taxes on beer, tobacco and entertainments. The proposed purchase tax is retained but is intended to be restricted to luxuries. A novel proposal is that salaries and wages are to be taxed at the source. The immediate reaction is not what might have been expected. The general view is that the proposals are not as wide, drastic and imaginative as they might and should have been.

July 24, 1940

  • The Germans torpedo the French merchant-ship S.S. Meknes which is carrying 1,300 French officers and men returning to France. Nearly 400 lives are lost.
  • A German auxiliary vessel with a naval escort is attacked in the North Sea with torpedoes by Swordfish aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. An escort vessel of the Koenigen Luise class is hit by a torpedo.
  • In the English Channel one of our motor torpedo boats engages six enemy torpedo-boats, putting them all to flight.
  • German aircraft attacking ships and shipping routes round the British coast are very severely handled. In particular, there is a set battle of the South-East Coast where a squadron of Spitfires drive a large German force across the Channel. In all, at least twelve enemy units are brought down with a loss of two British fighters.
  • In spite of bad weather, docks at Emden, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg, aircraft factories at Wismar and Wenzendorf, and the seaplane bases at Borkum and Texel are attacked by the R.A.F.
  • In North-East Africa nine Italian aircraft are brought down and successful attacks are made on Derna, Bardia and Macaaca.
  • As a result of parliamentary opposition to the “War Courts” Bill, the Government promises that death sentences, and certain others, shall be reviewed by civil tribunals.

July 25, 1940

  • The enemy persists in his aerial attacks on shipping but achieves little success and at very heavy cost. Off the South-East Coast there is a big air battle in which a squadron of Spitfires engage a large force of bombers and their escort attacking a convoy. Twenty-eight German aircraft are shot down during the day. This is a day record for engagements over and around Britain.
  • It becomes known that the liner R.M.S. Lancastria was sunk by German bombers when evacuating British troops from St. Nazaire at the conclusion of the fighting in France. Of 5,000 men on board about half were lost.
  • The Admiralty announces that the trawlers H.M.T. Kingston Galena and H.M.T. Rodino have been lost.
  • R.A.F. bombers set on fire oil supplies at Bremen, Sterkrade, Bottrop, Kastrol-Rauxel, Dortmund and Kamen; bomb aircraft factories at Kassel, Eschwege and Gotha, fourteen aerodromes in Holland and Germany, the Dortmund-Ems Canal, Hamburg docks and other military objectives.
  • The United States Government prohibits the export of petroleum, petroleum products and scrap metal except under licence.
German Heinkel HeIII bomber that crash landed in England
German Heinkel HeIII bomber that crash landed in England

July 26, 1940

  • The Rumanian Premier and Foreign Minister meet Hitler and Ribbentrop at Salzburg to discuss the plight of their country and the claims of Hungary and Bulgaria.
  • The Admiralty announces that arrangements have been made whereby French naval units in this country will be manned to the fullest extent possible by French officers and men.
  • 340,840 men register for service in the armed forces.

July 27, 1940

  • The British Ambassador in Tokyo visits the Japanese Foreign Minister to tell him that Great Britain regrets the absence of improvement in the relations between the two countries and to ask whether Japan intends to throw in her lot with the Axis Powers. The Japanese Minister states that his country’s foreign policy is under consideration so that he cannot reply.
  • British bombers attack the Nordsee Canal in North Holland, barges at Stavoren in Friesland, oil depots at Hamburg and Amsterdam, dorks and wharves at Wilhelmshaven and Bremen, and eight enemy aerodromes in Holland and Germany.
  • American-built aircraft (Hudsons) of the Coastal Command severely damage two German supply ships and bomb others off the Norwegian and Dutch coasts.

July 28, 1940

  • H.M. the King inspects sections of the Upper Thames Patrol between Henley and Windsor.
  • During the afternoon forces of enemy aircraft are intercepted and engaged by British fighters off the South East Coast. Five enemy fighters are shot down. Later, our fighters shoot down two more enemy aircraft in the Channel. Only two British fighters are lost.
  • It is made known that Messerschmitt fighters are being used by the enemy as bombers.
  • The Rumanian Premier and Foreign Minister are received by Mussolini and Ciano. Simultaneously the President and Prime Minister of Slovakia interview Hitler at Berchtesgaden. It is assumed that these moves presage a “new order” in South-Eastern Europe.
  • It is reported that nine Britons resident in Japan, including several prominent business men, have been arrested in various parts of the country.
A Heinkel III crew, which was shot down by a Hurricane off the South-East Coast are marched off under escort
A Heinkel III, which was shot down by a Hurricane off the South-East Coast, burns in the
background while the crew are marched off under escort

July 29, 1940

  • One of the most spectacular aerial engagements of the war takes place over Dover. After preliminary reconnaissance early in the morning the Germans make a surprise raid on Dover Harbour. The attack is delivered by a large force of Junkers 87 dive bombers with a formidable escort of Messerschmitt fighters. Within thirty minutes they are driven off with a loss of 17 aircraft. Only one British fighter is lost.
  • The Air Ministry announces that for some time past the Germans have been using seaplanes painted white and marked with the Red Cross. They are fitted with wireless and are known to make valuable reconnaissances and to be used for general salvage purposes. The British Government have therefore made known that while reasonable facilities for the transportation of the sick and wounded will be accorded, immunity will not be granted to such aircraft flying over areas in which operations are in progress or approaching British or allied territories or British or allied ships.
  • The Japanese report that Mr. Melville Cox, one of the arrested Britons, “committed suicide” by throwing himself from the window of a police station.
RAF fighter pilots after a battle over Dover on the 29th July 1940
RAF fighter pilots after a battle over Dover on the 29th July 1940

July 30, 1940

  • Lord Halifax refers in the House of Lords to the Japanese charge that there is a network of British spies in Japan. He says that there is no foundation whatever for the accusation. He also says that the British Government does not accept the Japanese account of Mr. Melville Cox’s death.
  • Throughout the day R.A.F. bombers carry out attacks on sidings, hangars and aircraft in France and Holland. Gun emplacements on the Norwegian coast and the naval base at Emden are also attacked.

July 31, 1940

  • It is announced that there has been a fight in the South Atlantic between the armed merchant cruiser Alcantara and a German raider. The latter escaped destruction but is known to have received damage affecting her fighting efficiency. She is a fast converted merchant ship with four guns on each broadside. The damage to H.M.S. Alcantara is slight.
  • The United States Government prohibits the export of aviation petrol outside the Americas.
  • The destroyer H.M.S. Delight is reported to have been sunk as a result of enemy air attack.
  • British bombers continue attacks on military objectives, including oil refineries, aerodromes and shipping.
  • Germ an aircraft appear over a south-east coast town and an action takes place in which three enemy machines are lost.
  • The Air Ministry announces that at least 240 German aircraft have been shot down during July.


August 1, 1940

  • It is announced that two Italian submarines were destroyed by aircraft in July.
  • Speaking in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister says that there has been no change in the foreign policy of his country, which will continue to take no part in the war. Relations with Germany remain as before and no essential changes have occurred in Anglo-Russian relations, though “the appointment of Sir Stafford Cripps may point to a British desire to improve them.”
  • A single enemy aircraft, flying at great height, crosses the cast coast in the afternoon and drops bombs on Norwich, causing some damage to industrial premises and a number of civilian casualties. Elsewhere, enemy air attack is desultory. British bombers make daylight attacks on aerodromes in Holland and night attacks on synthetic oil plants, supply depots, the Krupp works and aerodromes in Germany.

August 2, 1940

  • H.M.S. Weston, escorting a convoy, shoots down an enemy aircraft, and a merchant ship, the S.S. Highlander, accounts for two enemy aircraft which have attacked her.
  • H.M. trawler Cape Finisterre is attacked by four enemy aircraft. The first aircraft to attack is shot down into the sea, but the ship suffers damage from the attacks of the remaining three and subsequently sinks.
  • Lord Beaverbrook becomes a member of the War Cabinet while retaining his post as Minister of Aircraft Production.

August 3, 1940

  • At Monheim and Bottrop some of the most important sources of Germany’s synthetic oil supply are successfully attacked by R.A.F. bombers. The docks at Kiel are located in spite of poor visibility and naval buildings are set on fire. Aerodromes in Holland and France, an armoured train and barges are also bombed.
  • Enemy aircraft are active over the Thames estuary, the east coast of Scotland and a number of points in Wales during the night. In addition, leaflets containing Hitler’s Reichstag speech are distributed from aircraft in various areas.
  • The Japanese make a protest against the United States decree forbidding the export of aviation petrol.
  • It is announced that two Japanese business men have been arrested in London. The Japanese Ambassador protests, but is informed that the step is in no way intended to be a reprisal for the arrests of British citizens in Japan.

August 4, 1940

  • R.A.F. bombers make a night attack on the oil plant at Sterkrade which is left in flames. An attack is also made at Krefeld aerodrome where the hangar is hit and fires are started among the aerodrome buildings.
  • In an air battle north of Calais a squadron of Spitfires shoots down three enemy fighters.
  • The Italians, operating from Abyssinia, begin the invasion of the Protectorate of British Somaliland. Their army is divided into three columns which advance towards Odweina, Hargeisa and Garagara respectively. The British land and air forces are organised to resist these advances in spite of the collapse of French Somaliland.

August 5, 1940

  • It is announced that two drafts of Australian reinforcements for the Second Australian Imperial Force, which left Australia towards the end of June, have arrived in England.
  • In British Somaliland an Italian column occupies Zeila, on the coast, without opposition. Hargeisa is captured by a strong force. The British delaying force falls back after inflicting severe casualties, including three tanks.
  • A military agreement covering the terms of co-operation between the British forces and the Polish armed forces in this country and elsewhere is signed by the leading representatives of both Powers. It provides, among other things, that the Polish military units will be under the supreme command of the British High Command. All Polish armed forces will take an oath of allegiance to the Polish Republic.
  • One of the Japanese business men who had been arrested is released, there being insufficient evidence to justify his detention.
  • Hitler returns to Berlin after his series of conferences with various Balkan statesmen.

August 6, 1940

  • Odweina in British Somaliland is occupied by Italian and African troops estimated at 2,000. A small motorised force of the Somaliland Camel Corps harasses the enemy without itself suffering any loss.
  • Italian aircraft raid Haifa but no bombs fall on the town. Military casualties are nil and civilian casualties under ten.
  • Mr. Cordell Hull, commenting on the result of the Plavana Conference, says that “the vast forces of lawlessness, conquest and destruction are still moving across the earth like a savage animal. Of their very nature they will not stop unless they recognise that there exists an unbreakable resistance.”
  • H.M. the King bestows the Victoria Cross on Captain Ervine-Andrewes. He also presents to the widow of Lance-Corporal Harry Nicholls (Grenadier Guards) the Victoria Cross posthumously awarded to her husband.
  • Eighteen British ships of a total tonnage of 65,601 and two allied ships of 7,090 tons, have been sunk in the week ending 28th July.

August 7, 1940

  • It is announced that the Elder Dempster liner Accra was torpedoed by a German submarine on 26th July off the coast of Eire. The loss of life was very slight.
  • The Admiralty announces that the British mine-sweeping trawler River Clyde has been sunk by an enemy mine.
  • In the course of a review of the economic organisation of this country, Mr. Greenwood, Minister without Portfolio, makes some observations on the situation facing Germany. He says that multitudes of fleeing refugees had trampled down the growing corn of Western Europe; Hitler’s tanks and aeroplanes had devastated much of the countryside, and his crops would not be very good this year. Next spring Hitler would begin to feel the pinch of the food problem very seriously.
  • R.A.F. bombers, in their night raids over Germany, attack the Hamburg oil plants, the Kiel dockyard and a number of aerodromes.

August 8, 1940

  • Enemy attacks on one of our convoys in the Channel are made by E-boats early in the morning. One of the E-boats is sunk and another damaged. Subsequently, the convoy is repeatedly attacked by bombers and some damage is caused. In the last attack the Germans employ no less than 150 dive-bombers and fighters. The German Air Force suffers their heaviest loss since the fighting round our coasts began. Twenty-four dive-bombers and thirty-six fighters are destroyed.
  • The Secretary of State for India, in a statement in the House of Commons, says that in order to associate India more closely with the Empire in the war effort, he has invited a certain number of representative Indians to join the Executive Council.
  • The Government decides to make an increase of pay of 6d. a day to sailors, soldiers and airmen under commissioned rank.
  • It is announced that civilian casualties from air raids in July were 258 killed and 321 injured.

August 9, 1940

  • Mr. Garfield Weston, M.P., gives £100,000 to build 16 Hurricanes and Spitfires to replace British losses in the Channel air battle.
  • Aerial activity on the German side is greatly reduced, being confined to one or two random raids.

August 10, 1940

  • In Somaliland the Italian invading columns continue their advance towards the British main position in the mountains west of Berbera.
  • R.A.F. bombers make daylight attacks on a number of enemy-occupied aerodromes in Holland and France. The airport at Guernsey is also bombed. During the night attacks continue on military objectives in Germany, including the naval base at Wilhelmshaven, oil supplies at Frankfurt and Hamburg, a power station and an explosives factory at Cologne, a chemical works at Frankfurt and a blast furnace north of the city, wharves at Duesberg, supply depots at Hamm and Soest. and several aerodromes in Holland and Germany.

August 11, 1940

  • There is a great aerial battle over the Strait of Dover, followed by further actions over Weymouth and Portland, which are attacked in force by German aircraft. At Portland minor damage is caused to two naval ships by splinters, and some damage is caused to naval buildings, including a hospital. In addition, enemy aircraft attack shipping off the East Coast. Sixty German machines are shot down, five by anti-aircraft. Our losses are 26 fighters. British bombers carry on high-level bombing of enemy aerodromes.
  • It is announced that the S.S. Mohammed Aliel Kebir, while acting as a transport, has been torpedoed and sunk. Of the 860 on board 740 are saved.
  • In Somaliland the first battle between defenders and the Italian invading columns begins in the Yurgargan Pass, where the British covering positions are situated. In spite of intensive support by low-flying aircraft, attacks are broken up and repulsed.

August 12, 1940

  • The Germans carry out wholesale bombing attacks over the Kent and Sussex coasts, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. At Portsmouth the onslaught on the dockyard meets with little success. Two small harbour service craft are sunk. A railway station is hit and some buildings, including a brewery, are set on fire. Sixty-two enemy aircraft are destroyed, of which 26 are bombers. British losses are 9.
  • In the night and early hours of the morning British bombers achieve a resounding success when the synthetic oil plant at Dortmund blows up with a violent explosion and the oil-plant at Kastrup-Rauxel blows up. The oil plants at Gelsenkirchen and Wanne Eickel are also heavily bombed and tanks are set on fire at the oil depot at Cherbourg.
  • In Somaliland, the position in the Yugargan Pass remains unchanged. An enemy column advances from Zeila on the coast road to Berbera.
  • It is announced that the British submarine Odin is considerably overdue and must be presumed lost.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Flight Lieutenant 38760 Roderick Alastair Brook LEAROYD, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Flight Lieutenant Roderick Alastair Brook Learoyd, 49 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 12th August 1940 Flight Lieutenant Learoyd was one of the pilots briefed to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Germany. Of the four other aircraft which had already made the attack on that night, two were destroyed and two were badly hit. Flight Lieutenant Learoyd took his plane into the target at only 150 feet, in the full glare of the searchlights and flak barrage all round him. The aircraft was very badly damaged but the bombs were duly dropped and he managed to get his crippled plane back to England where he flew round until first light, finally landing without causing injury to his crew or further damage to his aircraft.

August 13, 1940

  • In the course of further desperate efforts to sweep the R.A.F. from the skies enemy aircraft make a fierce attack on Southampton. Several fires break out but are soon extinguished. Several R.A.F. aerodromes are attacked and at one of these some casualties are caused. Bombs are also dropped in Berkshire and Wiltshire. Seventy-eight enemy aircraft are destroyed for the loss of two Spitfires and eleven Hurricanes (remarkably, only three pilots are lost).
  • During the night British bombers attack Junkers aircraft factories at Dessau and Bernburg, munition factories at Luenen and Grevenbroich, various military objectives in the Ruhr, and 14 aerodromes in Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. In addition, a large force of bombers attack Milan and Turin.
  • In Somaliland enemy attacks on the Yugargan position are renewed but are on the whole half-hearted and meet with little success. A column advancing along the coast road from Zeila is engaged by our aircraft and gunfire from naval vessels.
  • Two explosions causing loss of life, occur on the South-East Coast. Metal splinters are examined and investigated, as the result of which it is established that they are from shells fired from German long-range guns on the French coast.
  • British motor torpedo-boats engage enemy light naval forces, and one rams a German vessel.
German Junkers Ju88 crashed in England on 13th August 1940
German Junkers Ju88 one of 78 bombers shot down 13th August 1940

August 14, 1940

  • During the night and early hours R.A.F. bombers fly 1,600 miles, including the double crossing of the Alps, in scientific and most successful raids on two of Italy’s most vital aircraft works, the Caproni factory at Milan and the Fiat works at Turin. The factories are devastated and set on fire. Simultaneously, other British bombers heavily damage the great Junkers factory at Dessau, one of Germany’s main centres of aircraft production, the aircraft factory at Bernburg, munition factories at Luenen and Grevenbroich, various military objectives in the Ruhr and fourteen aerodromes.
  • German aircraft are less active over this country, but their objectives include barrage balloons at Dover, a lightship, an aerodrome in Kent, and Southampton, where a stationary train is hit. Thirty-one German aircraft are lost.
  • In Somaliland the Italians bring up fresh forces and launch a violent attack under which the British forces vacate their forward lines and retire to positions in the rear. Two British destroyers, Malcolm and Verity, engage six armed German trawlers and three E-boats. Three of the enemy ships are seen to be hit, and it is thought that one armed trawler and one E-boat were sunk.

August 15, 1940

  • The Germans take to the big scale again in the air - with (to them) most unfortunate results. Among other objectives is Croydon aerodrome, where every German raider is brought down without inflicting any serious military damage on the airport. Other aerodromes are attacked and also towns in the Tyneside area and South-East and South-West England. No less than 180 German machines are brought down at a cost of but 37. The German press excels itself in lurid descriptions of purely imaginary havoc.
  • During the night R.A.F. bombers again visit Northern Italy, renewing their attacks on the Fiat and Caproni works and paying a call on a blast furnace near Genoa. The good work over Germany also continues; oil plants, munition factories, wharves, supply depots and aerodromes come in for severe punishment.
  • It is announced that the armed merchant-cruiser H.M.S. Transylvania has been torpedoed by a German submarine and subsequently sank.
  • The Greek cruiser Helle is torpedoed by a submarine while at anchor off the island of Tenos. Everyone knows that the submarine is Italian.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Acting Captain Eric Charles WILSON, East Surrey Regiment awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Acting Captain Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, The East Surrey Regiment, attached Somali Mounted Infantry. From 11th to 15th August 1940 at Observation Hill in Somaliland, Captain Wilson kept a machine-gun post in action in spite of being wounded and suffering from malaria. Some of his guns were blown to pieces by the enemy's field artillery fire, and he himself was taken prisoner, but was freed later when Eritrea was conquered.
Mighty bomb crater in a Croydon garden, evidence of the Luftwaffe raid of 15th August 1940
Mighty bomb crater in a Croydon garden, evidence of the Luftwaffe raid of 15th August 1940

August 16, 1940

  • The Germans continue fierce air attacks on England. The Thames estuary and the suburbs of London come in for special attention and the German airmen did not hesitate to use machine-guns against people in the streets. There is not very much to show for all their energy and spite, and 75 of the raiders pay the penalty.
  • The King sends a message to the Secretary of State for War, warmly congratulating the fighter squadrons “who in recent days have been so heavily engaged in the defence of our country.”
  • President Roosevelt says that the United States are holding conversations with the British Governments with regard to the acquisition of naval and air bases for the defence of the Western Hemisphere and especially of the Panama Canal. They are also discussing common defence problems with Canada.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Flight Lieutenant 39329 James Brindley NICOLSON, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson (39328), No. 249 Squadron. On 16th August 1940 near Southampton, Flight Lieutenant Nicolson's Hurricane was fired on by a Messerschmitt 110, injuring the pilot in the eye and one foot. His engine was also damaged and the petrol tank set alight. As he struggled to leave the blazing machine he saw another Messerschmitt, and managing to get back into the bucket seat, pressed the firing button continuing firing until the enemy plane dived away to destruction. Not until then did he bale out, and when he landed in a field, he was unable to release his parachute owing to his badly burned hands.

August 17, 1940

  • A British naval force, comprising battleships and cruisers, bombards Bardia and Fort Capuzzo in Libya and other military objectives in the vicinity. With the assistance of aircraft for spotting great damage is done. On the way back the force is heavily attacked by Italian aircraft, but at least eleven are brought down without inflicting any damage or casualties on the Fleet.
  • There is a lull in the German air attack on Britain, but British activity against Germany and German occupied countries continues unabated. Seaplanes and shipping in Boulogne harbour are heavily attacked, and oil plants, munition factories, aircraft targets and aerodromes are bombed.

August 18, 1940

  • The air war over Britain flames up afresh. Large formations of German aircraft attack the South London area, Kent; parts of South-East, South-West, North-East and North-West England and the Midlands. The enemy’s aerial armada comes in for terrible punishment without attaining results in any way commensurate with the effort and the loss. One hundred and fifty-two enemy aircraft are destroyed.
  • During the night British bombers again attack Italian aircraft factories at Milan and Turin, in addition to the aluminium works at Bad Rheinfelden, chemical works at Waldshut and aerodromes at Freiburg and Habsheim.
  • The German Government announces a total blockade of the British Isles.
A bombed out shop continues to stay open in Croydon after 18th August 1940 air raid
A bombed out shop continues to stay open in Croydon after 18th August 1940 air raid

August 19, 1940

  • It is announced that H.M. submarine Orpheus is considerably overdue and must be presumed lost.
  • It is officially stated that Spitfires and Hurricanes are destroying German bombers and fighters in the ratio of nearly three of their bombers to one of their fighters.
  • The Germans make various minor attacks on British aerodromes and in general there is a marked lull in their aerial effort.
  • The R.A.F., on the other hand, is as busy as ever. During the day the aerodrome at Flushing is bombed, and at night, in addition to 30 aerodromes, the naval base at Kiel, an oil refinery at Hanover and the power station at Zschornewitz are successfully attacked.
  • It is announced that the evacuation of Somaliland has been successfully completed. All guns except two have been embarked and a great part of the material and stores and equipment has been evacuated, the remainder being destroyed.

August 20, 1940

  • The Prime Minister makes the speech of his life. Among many memorable utterances some will go down to history. Speaking of General de Gaulle and his “gallant band”, he says that they have been condemned to death by Vichy, but “the day will come when their names will be held in honour and their names will be graved in stone in the streets and villages of a France restored in a liberated Europe to its full freedom and its ancient fame.” And of the R.A.F. he says: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
    The speech was made in the House of Commons and not recorded or broadcast at the time (although portions were read out by a BBC announcer). It was not until after the War that Churchill actually recorded it, along with many other of his famous speeches, for an LP for posterity.

August 21, 1940

  • The collier SS Anglo Saxon, loaded for coal for Argentina, was intercepted by the German armed merchant cruiser Widder 1,000 miles off Africa. Abandoning the sinking ship, the surviving crew members were then machine-gunned in the life boats. After drifting 2,500 miles in 71 days, only two survivors make land at Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. The Captain of the Widder was tried at the end of the War for war crimes.
  • Bad weather gives Germany a respite from R.A.F. bombing on the night of the 20th-21st, but aerodromes in enemy-occupied territory are attacked with success during the day. At night the important Brabag refineries at Magdeburg and the Deurag installations at Hanover are attacked and the R.A.F. also bomb the aerodromes at Caen, Abbeville and Quakenbrueck and key railway centres in the Ruhr and the Rhineland. Enemy activities over this country consist of a series of attacks by aircraft operating singly or in small numbers, mainly in coastal areas. Attacks on aerodromes prove abortive.
  • In the Middle East the British and Dominion Air Forces raid Sidi el Imimi, Bomba. Mogadishu and Merka.

August 22, 1940

  • For the first time, German heavy guns mounted on the French coast attempt to prevent a British convoy from passing through the Strait of Dover. Thanks to smoke screens put up by escorting warships, no ship of the convoy or escort is hit. The same result attends a subsequent attack by aircraft.
  • At night the Dover area is shelled from the same point. The German gun positions are heavily bombed by the R.A.F.
  • General de Gaulle says that on the orders of the Vichy Government 800 French aeroplanes from Morocco are being flown to France to be surrendered to the enemy.
  • In the House of Commons Sir John Anderson reports that certain relaxations of the system of control of enemy aliens had been recommended by the Asquith Committee, and these would enable a substantial number of aliens to be released.
  • Successful air attacks are made on Bomba roadsteads and Derna in Libya; two submarines, a destroyer and a submarine depot ship are destroyed at the former, and motor transport concentrations, a repair depot, shipping and aircraft are hit at the latter. The home R.A.F. continues its attacks on the German gun emplacements near Calais and renews the bombardment of military objectives in Germany and aerodromes in Germany and occupied territory.

August 23, 1940

  • Enemy air activities are confined to attacks by a small number of aircraft operating singly in widely separated areas. A village and a police station in the Midlands are machine-gunned. London comes in for attention, but the enemy achieves no result beyond slight damage and casualties in the suburbs.
  • It is reported from New Zealand that the British steamer Turakina has been attacked by a German raider in the Tasman Sea.
German bomber wreckage which crashed in a London suburban garden
German bomber wreckage which crashed in a London suburban garden

August 24, 1940

  • After what seems to have been an experimental period the Germans return to the system of mass air attack on this country. The day’s real activities start with a series of raids on aerodromes in Kent, the area of the attack extending to the suburbs of London. Manston Aerodrome suffers considerable damage, and Ramsgate, where nearly one thousand houses are shattered, is made the victim of an outburst of Nazi hatred and spite. Another great raid is made on Portsmouth, where the Chief Events damage is utterly incommensurate with the force employed and the loss suffered. At night a further attack is made on London and some buildings in the city are set on fire. The price paid for these pitiful “successes” is high—at least 50 aircraft destroyed.
  • Both Germany and Italy feel the weight of Britain’s air arm. The targets include military objectives in towns in South-West Germany, including Frankfurt. Ludwigshafen and Stuttgart. Many aerodromes are also attacked. In Italy operations are hampered by bad weather, but the Magneto Marelli factory at Milan and the Savoia airframe factory at Sesto Calende are badly damaged.
  • In the early hours of the morning British naval forces bombard Bardia and Bomba on the Libyan coast.
  • Colonel de Larminat, Chief of Staff of the French Army in Syria, arrives in England to join General de Gaulle. H.M. the King reviews a portion of General de Gaulle’s Free French Army stationed in England.

August 25, 1940

  • German activity is on a smaller scale, but includes attacks on the Scilly Isles and South Wales, and also a great and most determined onslaught on the Dorset coast by about 40 German bombers. The latter suffer disaster, 24 being brought down in a very short time. Altogether, the Germans are officially reported to have lost 55 aircraft during the day.
  • First major air raid on central Birmingham.
  • The German guns near Calais shell Dover again and the R.A.F. reply with a raid on their emplacements. They also attack enemy aerodromes in Holland, Belgium and Northern France and military objectives in Germany, including the Berlin area.
  • A Sunderland flying-boat of the Coastal Command attacks enemy flying-boats at anchor in the Tromso area; two are sunk, a third is set on fire, and others are damaged.
  • The first French unit of the Free French army fighting with the British forces in Egypt is reviewed by the British Ambassador and the British commanders in that theatre.

August 26, 1940

  • A German bomber flies over County Wexford in Eire, dropping bombs which wreck a co-operative creamery and kill three girls. The Eire Government protests to the German Government and demands full reparation.
  • The weight of the German air attack is mainly concentrated on the Thames estuary, where attempts to reach London are frustrated. A heavy attack on Folkestone is also beaten off. The Germans lose 47 aircraft against a loss of 15 British fighters, six of the pilots of which are saved.
  • All day and during the night R.A.F. bombers make heavy attacks on the Continent, among their targets being 27 aerodromes, the famous Leuna synthetic oil plant, the oil depot at Frankfurt, the Fiat works at Turin and factories near Milan.
  • It is announced that the destroyer H.M.S Hostile has been sunk by an enemy mine.

August 27, 1940

  • General de Gaulle announces that the French Chad Territory has joined his cause.
  • Enemy air activity is very slight, but includes a “nuisance” raid over London at night.

August 28, 1940

  • R.A.F. bombers again raid Berlin at night, dropping a large number of bombs, high explosive and incendiary, on carefully selected military objectives and works vital to war production. A concentrated attack is made by another force on the Junkers factory at Dessau, over fifteen tons of high explosives and incendiaries being dropped on the target. The Mookau Erla aeroplane factory at Leipzig, oil plants and aerodromes are attacked at the same time.
  • Skua aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm carry out operations over the Norwegian coast, firing tanks at an oil depot and obtaining direct hits on a motor patrol vessel and a 2,000-ton supply ship.
  • German air activities take the form of attempts to penetrate our fighting defences from the Thames Estuary during the afternoon, followed by a minor night raid on London and scattered attacks on provincial towns. The Germans lose 24 aircraft.
  • First major air raid on Liverpool.
Dogfight vapour trails over London.
Dogfight vapour trails over London.

August 29, 1940

  • General de Gaulle, commenting on the adhesion of the Chad Territory, the Cameroons and French Equatorial Africa to the cause of Free France, says that “this great and mighty part of the French Empire has resolved to defend itself and will be defended. Other portions will without doubt also re-enter the path of honour and duty. The French Empire is lining up to wage war.”
  • Enemy aircraft attack the Scilly Isles, dropping bombs and firing at civilians with machine-guns. Various provincial towns are also attacked. There are two main raids along the Kent and Sussex coasts in which two bombers and seven fighters are shot down at a cost of three British fighters.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out day light attacks on enemy-occupied aerodromes in Holland and on convoys and shipping along the Dutch coast. At night they bomb the Krupp works at Essen, oil refineries and plants at Gelsenkirchen, Bottrop and St. Nazaire; power stations at Duisburg and Reisholz; various military objectives in the Ruhr; the goods yards at Hamm and Soest and a number of aerodromes in Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.
  • In the South African Parliament General Hertzog introduces a motion demanding immediate peace with Germany and Italy. General Smuts makes a vigorous reply: “We are not going to be deflected from our course by Hitler’s victories or glorification of Germany. That colossus had feet of clay and collapsed in 1918. In this war, so long as Great Britain maintains her control of the sea and continues to bring her Air Force to the first rank, there can be no question of victory for Germany and there is every prospect of victory for those who oppose her.”

August 30, 1940

  • German aircraft make heavy attacks mainly on aerodromes in the south-east area. They achieve very little and no less than 62 are destroyed at a cost of 25 British fighters, from which 15 pilots are saved.

August 31, 1940

  • It is announced that the armed merchant cruiser H.M.S. Dunvegan Castle has been torpedoed by U-46 and sunk. There are 250 survivors and about 30 of the crew are reported missing. While this is a legitimate military measure, the same cannot be said of the torpedoing of a ship carrying 320 children who are being evacuated overseas. Fortunately, the ship is not sunk and it proves possible to transfer all the children to other ships and bring them back without loss.
  • Aircraft of the Coastal Command make a successful attack on the oil tanks at Vlaardingen, near Rotterdam. At night R.A.F. bombers inflict heavy damage on military objectives in Germany, including lighting installations, an aero-engine factory and an aerodrome at Berlin, oil plants at Cologne and Magdeburg, goods yards at Hamm, Soest, Osnabrueck and Hanover, and shipping at Emden.
  • In the Near East the R.A.F. raid the aerodrome at El Imini, in the Gulf of Bomba, where at least four enemy aircraft are bombed on the ground. Other good results are obtained at Tobruk, El Gazala, Derna, Bardia and El Gubbi.
  • The Germans make big mass raids on South-East England, principally against aerodromes. They lose no less than 85 aircraft in achieving surprisingly small results.


September 1, 1940

  • The enemy attempts to destroy aerodromes in South-East England are continued, but with no better success. A further 25 aircraft are lost.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack the enemy aerodromes of Ypenburg and Schipol. At night they range over enemy and enemy-occupied countries, bombing aircraft factories, oil plants, munition factories, shipping, a power station, goods yards and many aerodromes in Germany, Munich is visited for the first time. In Italy the Fiat aircraft factory in Turin and the Marelli magneto works at Sisto San Giovanni are successfully attacked.

September 2, 1940

  • It is announced that the sloop H.M.S. Penzance has been torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.
  • The Germans make three unsuccessful mass attacks on Kent and Thames Estuary aerodromes. It is officially stated that 650 aircraft were employed, of which 55 were brought down with a loss of 20 fighters, 10 British pilots being saved. In one of these raids the Polish Fighter Squadron greatly distinguishes itself.
  • The Air Ministry announces that Fighter Command pilots have destroyed 1,752 German raiders during the first twelve months.
  • At night the R.A.F. again bomb important military targets in Germany and Italy.
  • The United Kingdom acquires 50 old escort destroyers from the U.S.A in return for U.S use of British naval ports in the West Indies.
the Queen shakes hands with a fireman who was injured on duty
During her visit to a London hospital H.M the Queen shakes hands with a
fireman injured while on duty during night Air Raids on 2nd Sept

September 3, 1940

  • It is announced that the British and United States Governments have come to an agreement whereby 50 American destroyers are transferred to British ownership and Britain grants the United States leases of naval and air bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua and British Guiana.
  • The Germans renew their onslaught on South-Eastern England, concentrating particularly on Kent and the Thames Estuary. The attacks are beaten off and little damage is affected. The Nazis lose 25 aircraft.

September 4, 1940

  • Hitler makes a speech to the German nation at the inauguration of the Winter Relief Fund. Beneath a veil of boasts and threats he tries to conceal the rage of the Nazi leaders at Britain’s rejection of the last “peace offer”; he explains the failure of the overdue invasion by reference to Germany’s careful planning and promises that “it will come” at her chosen moment.
  • During the night and early morning British bombers visit Berlin and attack power stations, gas works, an armament factory and main railway lines. The Grunewald Forest is also bombed with a view to setting fire to arms factories hidden beneath the trees. Many fires are started in the Black Forest and the Luneberg Heide between Hamburg and Hanover.
  • In frustrating day light attacks on this country, the R.A.F. bring down 54 German planes, themselves losing 17. Twelve British pilots are saved.

September 5, 1940

  • The Prime Minister makes a great speech in the House of Commons. Some of its gems deserve immortalisation. Speaking of the Anglo-American agreement he says: “I have no doubt that Herr Hitler will not like this transference of destroyers, and I have no doubt that he will pay the United States back, if ever he gets the chance.” He explains that the general air battle continues and the attempt of the Germans to dominate the Royal Air Force and our anti-aircraft defences by day light attacks has proved very costly for them. Their losses of at least three to one in machines and six to one in pilots and crews continue. British casualties in air raids, even if multiplied several times, are not serious “compared to the majestic world issues which are at stake.” The mood of the R.A.F. and the nation is “grim and gay.”
  • The Admiralty issue a communique describing recent operations by the Mediterranean Fleet involving a sweep of that sea from end to end and the escorting of a great convoy without any interference from the Italians. Among other objectives, the Fleet Air Arm has bombed Rhodes and Sardinia.
  • In attacks over the South East and the Thames Estuary the Germans lose 39 more aircraft, the British loss being 20. The R.A.F. ranges over Germany as far as Stettin; among other military objectives are depots and stores concealed in the Harz Mountains, the Thuringian Forest and the Black Forest. A power station and an aircraft factory in Berlin are attacked.

September 6, 1940

  • The air attack on this country is intensified. Large forces approach London from Kent and the Thames Estuary and in fierce air battles suffer a loss of 46 compared with a British loss of 19, 12 pilots being saved.
  • Military objectives concealed in the German forests and important oil installations are again the principal targets attacked by R.A.F. bombers. Fires are started in the Flarz Mountains and in the Black Forest. Further attacks are made on the Fiat aero-engine works at Turin.
  • King Carol of Rumania abdicates and is succeeded by his son. Prince Michael. General Antonescu becomes the totalitarian Prime Minister - Dictator.

September 7, 1940

  • The air Blitzkrieg, in famously described by the Germans as “reprisals” for R.A.F. attacks on Germany, begins with a tremendous onslaught in the evening and at night on the British capital, particularly the docks, dockland, the East End and the Thames side. There are several great fires and many streets are devastated in the East End, but when all the fire and tumult have died down it is seen that the material damage is far less than might have been expected, and instead of fear the public mood is one of anger and indignation.
  • The afternoon’s preliminary to the night’s onslaught proves extremely expensive to the Germans who lose no less than 103 aircraft against a loss of 22 British.
London Tower Bridge silloutted against a sky lit by flames following the daylight Air Raid
London Tower Bridge silloutted against a sky lit by flames following the daylight Air Raid of 7th Sept 1940

September 8, 1940

  • R.A.F. bombers attack shipping in the ports of Dunkirk and Boulogne and convoys in the North Sea. At night strong forces carry out operations against the enemy and enemy-occupied ports, large concentrations and shipping at Hamburg, Bremen, Emden, Ostend, Calais and Boulogne. Great damage is done to oil tanks and ammunition stores.
  • All the A.R.P. services have acquitted themselves magnificently in their first real test. The King and Queen visit the smitten areas and are given a welcome which shows that the object achieved by Hitler is the very opposite of what he intended. At night, the raids are renewed on a great but somewhat less intense scale. To the everlasting shame of the enemy, considerable damage is done to an old and famous hospital!
Blast of a bursting bomb in the night attack of 8th September 1940 flung a stationary bus against a building
Blast of a bursting bomb in the night attack of 8th September 1940 flung a stationary bus against a building

September 9, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that the submarine Osiris has sunk an Italian supply ship of about 3,000 tons and another submarine, the Rorqual, torpedoed two Italian supply ships escorted by a destroyer.
  • Considerable forces of enemy aircraft approach the London area again during the day. Only a few penetrate north of the river. No serious damage is caused. Fifty-two German aircraft are shot down while British losses total 13, six pilots being saved. In these actions the Canadian and Polish squadrons greatly distinguish themselves.
  • London suffers the longest night raid - ten hours - which the Germans have yet effected over Britain. Again, a good deal of scattered damage is done but with negligible effect so far as targets of military importance are concerned.
  • R.A.F. bombers pay back the debts in coin of a more telling kind. Lighting installations in Berlin, ship yards at Bremen and Hamburg, docks at Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Wismar, goods yards at Krefeld and Brussels, factories at Essen and Barnstorf, rail communications and several enemy aerodromes come in for heavy punishment.
H.M.S. Submarine Rorqual
H.M.S. Submarine Rorqual

September 10, 1940

  • London is but slightly harassed during the day but at night is subjected to constant raids. Various other areas also have night visits. The damage is widespread if not very serious and again there seems to be no method save terrorism in the enemy’s action and very little military damage is done.
  • Axis Italian forces begin building up a force of 200,000 troops in Albania prior to the invasion of Greece on October 28th 1940.

September 11, 1940

  • The Prime Minister impresses the nation and the world with a broadcast in which he says that the enemy’s preparations for the invasion of this country are going forward steadily despite their conspicuous failure to secure daylight mastery of the air over Britain, which is the crux of the whole war. This failure has cost them very dear and “there is no doubt that Herr Hitler is using up his fighter force at a very high rate, and that if he goes on for many more weeks he will wear down and ruin this vital part of his Air Force.” An attempt at invasion would be a very hazardous project but “no one should blind himself to the fact that a heavy full-scale invasion of this island is being prepared with all the usual German thoroughness and method and that it may be launched at any time now upon England, upon Scotland, upon Ireland, or upon all three.” If it is to be tried at all it does not seem that it can be long delayed.
  • The Admiralty announces that strong and repeated offensive actions are being taken by our naval light forces against German shipping movements, ports and concentrations of shipping. The enemy has suffered losses and damage to port facilities.
  • German night raiders over London get a most unpleasant surprise when they find an intense barrage waiting for them. There is a notable diminution of the damage and casualties inflicted by them.
  • During the night and early morning, the R.A.F bomb military objectives in Berlin, including the Potsdam railway station, where fires are caused.
  • Attacks are also made on the docks and the Focke-Wulf air-frame factory at Bremen. At Wilhelmshaven the naval barracks are hit. Successful operations are carried out against barge concentrations, docks and harbours on the French, Belgian and Dutch coasts.
  • In a two-hour battle over London and South-East England the Germ an Air Force loses nearly a quarter of its raiders. In all 89 German aircraft are destroyed during the day, the British loss being only 24, the pilots of seven of which are safe. A heavy delayed-action bomb causes considerable damage at Buckingham Palace.
Bombed areas in Londons East End were visited by the King and Queen
Bombed areas in Londons East End were visited by the King and Queen on 11th September 1940

September 12, 1940

  • The R.A.F. keep up the good work over Berlin in attacks on railway stations, goods yards and an aerodrome. Military objectives are also bombed in other parts of Germany and the enemy’s invasion preparations are once more hampered by air onslaughts on barge concentrations, docks and shipping at Ostend, Flushing, Calais and Boulogne, and on docks and shipyards at Hamburg, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven.
  • German air activity is limited and sporadic by day, and at night the raiders over London find themselves faced with the same new intense barrage as before. Casualties and damage were again on a minor scale.
  • The Netherlands East Indies makes a gift of money to provide 40 Spitfires and 18 bombers.

September 13, 1940

  • London has four air raid warnings during the day, owing to sporadic enemy activity. One German aircraft makes a deliberate attack on Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Chapel is wrecked and other damage caused.
  • The Italians from Libya advance into the Western Desert and occupy Solium. Opposition is deliberately confined to constant harassing by British aircraft, armoured vehicles and artillery fire.

September 14, 1940

  • Enemy bombers make intermittent attacks on the London area during the night, causing some damage, mainly in the suburbs and outlying districts.
  • Simultaneously R.A.F. bombers make heavy and sustained attacks on shipping, barge concentrations and military equipment assembled at the Channel ports, and also on distribution centres. Antwerp, Ostend, Flushing, Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne are also bombed.

September 15, 1940

  • The Germans suffer their heaviest and most devastating defeat of the war in a gigantic air battle over London and South-East England. Nearly half the enemy force is destroyed. Against 185 enemy aircraft lost, only 25 of our machines are lost, the pilots of 14 of which are saved.
  • Two mine-sweeping trawlers, the Libra and the Conquistador, destroy an enemy aircraft by gunfire,
  • A bomb-disposal squad successfully removes a one-ton high-explosive delayed-action bomb buried 27 feet in the ground so near to St. Paul’s Cathedral that its destruction was inevitable if the bomb exploded.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Sergeant 652918 John HANNAH, Royal Air Force awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Sergeant John Hannah, 83 Squadron, Royal Air Force. On 15th September 1940 over Antwerp, Belgium, after a successful attack on German barges, the bomber in which Sergeant Hannah was wireless operator/air gunner, was subjected to intense anti-aircraft fire, starting a fire which spread quickly. The rear-gunner and navigator had to bale out and Sergeant Hannah could have acted likewise, but instead he remained to fight the fire, first with two extinguishers and then with his bare hands. He sustained terrible injuries, but succeeded in putting out the fire and the pilot was able to bring the almost wrecked aircraft back safely.
Artist's impression of how Sergeant John Hannah aged 18 won his Victoria Cross extinguishing a fire in his aircraft
Artist's impression of how Sergeant John Hannah aged 18 won his Victoria Cross extinguishing a fire in his aircraft

September 16, 1940

  • In a message to the Fighter Command the Prime Minister says that “yesterday eclipses all previous records of the Fighter Command. They cut to rags and tatters three separate waves of murderous assault upon the civil population of their native land.”
  • At night the R.A.F. again bomb military objectives in Berlin and further heavy attacks are made on concentrations of barges, war supplies and shipping at the dockyards and ports of Germany. Holland and Belgium. Distribution centres in Germany are hammered as usual. Daylight raids are made on invasion bases at Calais, Ostend, Dunkirk and Veere.
  • German raiding of London continues during the night and a certain amount of damage is done, mainly in the central district.
  • The Italians continue their movement into the Western Desert, opposition being deliberately confined to delaying action as before.

September 17, 1940

  • Operation Sealion, the proposed German invasion of Great Britain, is indefinitely postponed because of the Luftwaffe’s inability to crush the R.A.F.
  • The Italians are engaged in consolidating their position around Sidi Barrani where they are heavily and successfully bombed.
  • Aircraft of the Coastal Command search the enemy Channel coast and soon find the new hiding-places of the enemy ships and craft, assembled for invasion, which had been scattered by incessant bombing and a strong gale.
  • British, allied and neutral shipping losses in the week ending 8th September were 16 ships of 54,547 tons. As usual, the Germans multiply this figure by more than three.
  • In a speech in the House of Commons the Prime Minister says that the deployment of the enemy’s barges and ships in preparation for the invasion of Great Britain and Ireland continues steadily, and we must expect that he will make an attempt at what he judges to be the best opportunity.

September 18, 1940

  • There is considerable air activity in the South-East during the day, at the end of which 48 German aircraft have been lost against 12 British, the pilots of 9 of which are saved. As usual the enemy’s revenge for continuous failure takes the form of in discriminate night bombing of London where some famous buildings, such as the Inner Temple Library and the County Hall, are hit.
  • At night the R.A.F. continues to disconcert the enemy’s invasion plan by delivering sustained attacks in great strength on the Belgian and French Channel ports. Much damage is done to shipping and military stores and many fires are started. The attack on distribution centres in Germany and Belgium is also kept up. Among the successes of Coastal Command aircraft is a direct hit on an enemy destroyer of Borkum.
  • The Admiralty announces that the submarine H.M.S. Narwhal is overdue and must be considered lost.
  • The House of Commons holds a secret session to debate the recent aerial bombardment of this country.

September 19, 1940

  • Enemy air activity during the day is of a minor character though some damage is done in East London. Five German aircraft are destroyed. The Prime Minister pays a visit to the scene of enemy frightfulness in Battersea and in reply to cries for reprisals says: “Don’t worry; they’ll get it back.”
  • It is made known from Cairo that a highly successful attack has been carried out on Italian bases in the Dodecanese Islands. Great damage is done at Maritza, Cala to and Portalegre Bay. Further damage is also done to enemy bases in Eastern Libya while the South African Air Force from Kenya raids aerodromes at Mogadishu and Tavello.
  • During the night R.A.F. bombers attack communications in Germany, including the Dortmund-Ems Canal, besides several ports and aerodromes in enemy-occupied territory. The bombing of the aqueducts which carry the Dortmund-Ems Canal over the River Ems, one of the most vital links in Germany’s internal communications, is carried out in terrible weather and the enemy’s attempts to repair the damage done on previous occasions is frustrated.
  • Ribbentrop arrives in Rome on a visit which is presumed to be in connection with the visit of General Franco’s brother-in-law. Senor Suner to Berlin.

September 20, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that the submarine H.M.S. Sturgeon torpedoed and sank a heavily laden enemy transport, SS Pionier, off the northern point of Denmark on 2nd September. She was a ship of about 10,000 tons and was being escorted by small naval vessels and aircraft. Almost all of the 750 - 1,000 troops aboard were killed.
  • Enemy aircraft activity during the day is limited. Cloud conditions make interception difficult but not many Germans reach London and few bombs are dropped.

September 21, 1940

  • Brigadier-General George Strong, of the American Military Mission to Britain, has many heartening things to say on his return to his own country. “The British are confident that in the long run they will win the war, and the present indications are that they not only ran but will do it.”
  • The R.A.F. keeps up an all-night bombardment of enemy naval bases in Holland, Belgium and France.

September 22, 1940

  • It is announced that all but seven out of 90 child evacuees to Canada have been lost in a British passenger ship which has been torpedoed by a German submarine.
  • German air activity at night has again been distinguished by the prodigal use of incendiary bombs, but most of the many fires caused are quickly extinguished.

September 23, 1940

  • The Germans are given a strong taste of their own medicine. Throughout the night a heavy air attack is made on military objectives in and around Berlin, among the targets being Rangsdorf railway station and several goods yards, the West and Wilmersdorf electric power stations, gasworks at Dantziger Strasse and Neukoeln, factories at Charlottenburg and Spandau including Brandenburg motor works. Military objectives in other towns are also attacked and the Channel ports in enemy occupation are again subjected to sustained and heavy bombing.
  • There is interesting news from a new quarter. General de Gaulle, believing that he will find local support, appears with a Free French force at Dakar. He sends emissaries under a flag of truce to summon this naval base to surrender. The Free French representatives are fired on and withdraw, suffering several casualties. General de Gaulle then tries to land his troops peacefully, but resistance being encountered, these are also withdrawn to avoid bloodshed between Frenchmen. Meanwhile the supporting British naval squadron is also fired on by French batteries and warships in the harbour. Their fire is necessarily answered.
  • H.M. the King broadcasts to the nation. After saying that the armies of invasion are massed only 20 miles from our shores and the air fleets of the enemy launch their attacks, day and night, against our cities, lie announces that he has decided to create new honours for civilian gallantry, consisting of the George Cross— to rank next to the Victoria Cross— and the George Medal.

September 24, 1940

  • The George Medal (GM) was instituted on 24th September 1940 by King George VI as a second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. The George Medal is presented to those performing acts of bravery in, or meriting recognition by, the United Kingdom.
  • During night raids on London the enemy paid special attention to Central London, mainly with incendiary bombs. Another hospital and a Wren church are hit.
  • In spite of the use of large forces, day light attempts by German aircraft to penetrate to the London area meet with little success.
  • British bombers damage enemy mine-sweepers in the Channel and aircraft of the Coastal Command drop many bombs on the torpedo-boat station, oil tanks and stores at the enemy-occupied naval station at Brest.
  • The submarine H.M.S Thames is reported overdue and must be considered lost.
  • The Dakar proceedings end with the British naval squadron also withdrawing in view of Bretain’s promise to General de Gaulle that his troops will not be called on to fight Frenchmen.
  • French aircraft drop a very considerable number of bombs on Gibraltar, presumably by way of revenge for the Dakar “affair”.
  • Shipping losses in the week ending 15th September are 16 vessels. British, allied and neutral, of 49,200 tons.

September 25, 1940

  • The Ministry of Information issues an account of the Dakar incident in which it is stated that attacks on the British naval force were made not only by the shore batteries and heavy French ships but also by three submarines, two of which were sunk. It is further stated that when it became plain that only a major operation of war could secure the fall of Dakar, it was decided to discontinue hostilities as the British Government did not contemplate serious operations against pro-Vichy Frenchmen.
  • Gibraltar is again bombed by the French, this time with no less than 100 bombers, which drop about 300 bombs, doing very little military damage. This is alleged to be “reprisals” for the attack on Dakar.
  • A Sunderland flying-boat finds forty-six survivors, including some children, of the torpedoed liner City of Benares who were drifting in an open boat 600 miles from land.
  • British naval forces again attack targets in the Sidi Barrani area in the Western Desert, while aircraft do further damage to the harbour and foreshore of Tobruk.
  • The Canadian armed merchant cruiser Prince Robert captures the 9,179-ton German steamer Weser off Manzanillo, Mexico.
  • German air operations are on a somewhat larger scale and include an attack on Bristol as well as scattered raids over South-East England. The enemy’s efforts are everywhere challenged and in the resulting fighting 26 German aircraft are destroyed. British losses are 4 aircraft, the pilots of 3 of them being safe.
  • Senor Suner has a further interview with Hitler in Berlin.
  • At night R.A.F. bombers carry on the good work of destroying Germany’s power to make war. Power stations, railway communications and the Tempelhof aerodrome are Berlin’s contribution to the military targets selected. At Kiel the docks are bombed and great damage is done to railway centres elsewhere, not to mention invasion bases in Holland. Belgium and France.

September 26, 1940

  • Enemy aircraft, in further attempts to be more venturesome by day, suffer another reverse. A special attack is made on Southampton and here and elsewhere the Germans incur a loss of 34 aircraft, of which 17 are bombers. The British loss is 8, but 3 pilots are safe.
  • German long-range guns again shell the Dover area.
  • The Minister of Aircraft Production makes a special appeal for accelerated production of Defiants. He says that the manufacture of this aircraft is “a task of paramount importance in the defence of our country.”
  • The R.A.F. make further sustained attacks on the invasion bases, and also on Kiel and other military objectives in North-West Germany.
  • The Admiralty announces that the British submarine H49 scored hits with torpedoes on two supply vessels in convoy and that the submarine Tuna destroyed a large supply vessel screened by two destroyers.

September 27, 1940

  • The event of the day is the overwhelming defeat of another German attempt to secure mastery of the air in the daytime. In a series of onslaughts, no less thar 133 German aircraft are destroyed; only 34 British fighters are lost, 16 pilots being saved.
  • It is announced that over 1,000 enemy aircraft have now been destroyed in air attacks on this country since 1st September. This is the second month in succession in which the figure of 1,000 has been exceeded.
  • At midday a ten-year alliance between the Axis Powers and Japan is signed. It is said to be a pact of mutual co-operation to set up a new world order. The American reaction is illustrated by the comment of Mr. Cordell Hull, that it does not substantially alter a situation long known to exist.
  • The Italians admit that a torpedo-boat destroyer has been sunk in the Ionian Sea by a British submarine. America declares a complete embargo as from 15th October on the export of iron and steel scrap to all nations save those of the Western Hemisphere and Great Britain.
German Messerschmitt ME109 wreckage passes the Palace of Westminster 27th September 1940
German Messerschmitt ME109 wreckage passes the Palace of Westminster 27th September 1940

September 28, 1940

  • The first batch of American destroyers to be transferred to the British Navy arrives in this country.
  • Mr. Sumner Welles, United States Under-Secretary of State, reports that the overwhelming majority of the American nation is determined to render all material support and assistance to the people of Britain “successfully defending their homes with a heroism which is worthy of the finest traditions of that brave people.”
  • At night the R.A.F. successfully attack power stations in Berlin, dockyards at Bremen and Wilhelmshaven, a munitions factory at Hanau and centres of railway communication over a wide area of Germany. Invasion bases also get their nightly visitation.

September 29, 1940

  • In the nighty German air attack on London a barrage of record intensity is put up. During the day 10 German aircraft are destroyed at a cost of two British fighters.
  • At night the R.A.F. again turns its attention to the enemy’s oil refineries, notably at Magdeburg and Hanover. Aircraft and munition factories, rail communications and aerodromes, as well as the Channel ports, are also successfully bombed.
  • The British Government protests against the arrest of five British subjects by the Rumanians.

September 30, 1940

  • The Germans deliver a series of six serious daylight attacks on this country in which their failure is as marked as before. They suffer a loss of 49 aircraft; 22 British fighters are lost but the pilots of 12 are safe.
  • At night the R.A.F. give Berlin a four-hour bombing and also attack the oil-refineries at Leuna and Hanover, an aircraft factory at Rothenburg and munition factories and other important objectives elsewhere, including the great railway yards at Mannheim.


October 1, 1940

  • The Germans add a new item to their programme of terrorisation by machine-gunning a train in a south-east district.
  • The three first awards of the new George Cross are made to a member of a rescue-party at Bridlington and an officer and sapper of the Bomb Disposal Section.

October 2, 1940

  • R.A.F. operations at night are hampered by bad weather but the oil plants at Stettin, Hamburg and Bottrop, Krupps’ works at Essen, the goods yard at Cologne, a railway junction near Hamm, and several enemy aerodromes, docks and ports are heavily and successfully bombed.
  • The Germans have little success in scattered daylight raids on London and elsewhere. They introduce a further element of vicious novelty in swooping down on a passenger train and plastering it with machine-gun bullets. But there are only a few minor casualties.

October 3, 1940

  • There are some important changes in the Government. Mr. Neville Chamberlain resigns; Mr. Herbert Morrison is Home Secretary and Minister for Home Security in place of Sir John Anderson, who joins Sir Kingsley Wood and Mr. Ernest Bevin as new members of the War Cabinet. Sir John Reith is given the new post of Minister of Works and Buildings.
  • It is announced that the purchase-tax will come into operation on 21st October.
  • It is announced that H.M. yacht Sappho has been sunk, probably by an enemy mine, and also that the British Fleet carried out a sweep in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean from 29th September to 2nd October, in the course of which additional military forces were landed at Malta. The enemy fleet did not come within 100 miles of our Fleet and was then racing home. On three occasions the British Fleet was attacked by aircraft but without suffering any damage. Four Italian aircraft were shot down.
  • Single enemy aircraft make attacks during the day and drop bombs at random; a train is machine-gunned and a few persons are slightly injured.

October 4, 1940

  • It is announced that Sir Cyril Newall, Chief of the Air Staff, is shortly to relinquish that post and will be the next Governor-General of New Zealand. He is to be succeeded by Air-Marshal Sir Charles Portal.
  • It is reported that Skuas of the Fleet Air Arm attacked a 5,000-ton enemy supply ship at Haugesund, setting it on fire, and also a smaller ship which is considered to have been sunk.
  • With reference to the enemy’s recent successes with submarines on merchant shipping, the Admiralty says that this was to be expected after the collapse of France and the German seizure of the French Atlantic ports. But the U-boats have paid toll; during the last few weeks seven German and two Italian submarines have been sunk by our naval and air forces. Others have been damaged.
  • It is also announced that the British submarine Osiris torpedoed and sank an Italian destroyer of the “Curtatone” class in the Adriatic on 22nd September.
  • Hitler and Mussolini meet at the Brenner Pass. According to the official statement it is a “cordial” affair, at which all questions concerning the two countries are discussed. Ciano and von Ribbentrop lend a hand and for part of the time Field-Marshal Keitel is present also.
  • British bombers carry out daylight attacks on various objectives on the enemy occupied coast of Holland.

October 5, 1940

  • Colonel Knox, Secretary of the United States Navy, makes a speech in which he says that the recent military alliance of Japan, Germany and Italy is directed against America, which is “the largest obstacle in the path of the totalitarian powers.” If Britain failed, America would find herself surrounded by “these international brigands.” But “if the fight is forced on us, we shall be ready for them.”
  • At night, British bombers attack the oil plant at Gelsenkirchen, Krupps’ works at Essen, goods yards at Hamm Osnabrueck and Cologne and shipping at Rotterdam. Aircraft of Coastal Command attack shipping and warehouses in the harbour of Brest and barge and motor transport concentrations at Gravelines.
  • In a naval communique issued in Alexandria it is stated that units of our naval forces recently carried out a bombardment of the Italian naval and air base at Stampalia, in the Dodecanese Islands.

October 6, 1940

  • After enjoying an unusually quiet night. London and South East England have a series of short successive raids in which the enemy’s main concern seems to be to unload bombs anywhere and make off as fast as he can. These tactics naturally have no moral, and a minimum of material effect.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out daylight raids on the Channel ports and shipping and barge concentrations in Holland. In the course of these operations a Blenheim bomber shoots down an enemy fighter.

October 7, 1940

  • German troops enter Rumania. The Rumanian Government states that this movement is the result of its agreement with the German Government that the latter is to reorganise and train the Rumanian army and supply it with all military necessities. But no one is deceived. The Germans are in Rumania to secure the oil wells and bases for military action.

October 8, 1940

  • In London the night is marked by the longest alert period, eleven hours, to date, and the Germans make strenuous and repeated efforts to bomb the capital during the day. In particular they seem to wish to create panic and confusion in the morning rush-hour but no success is secured at the cost of great effort, very few of the attacking aircraft succeeding in even reaching their objective. The Germans have some reason for their ill-temper, for during the night British bombers have been busy with military targets in Germany and raids over Berlin continue for five hours.
  • In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister makes another fighting speech, dealing more particularly with the war in the air. He says that the cry for reprisals is muddle-headed and academic, for the R.A.F. bomber force is wholly and systematically engaged in a planned campaign to destroy Germany’s power to make war, a campaign which will bring relief much sooner than any mere tit-for-tat reply. As regards Dakar, he says that the passage of the French cruiser force through the Strait of Gibraltar was not reported to the Admiralty or the War Cabinet through some error which was being investigated.

October 9, 1940

  • Mr. Winston Churchill is elected Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. In some quarters there is a tendency to criticism on the ground that the Prime Minister should not identify himself with a party in these times, but in general it is considered appropriate that the greatest historic party should have his guidance in facing the problems of the future.
  • During the day enemy air activity is again restricted to raids by small formations of high-flying bombers. At night the bright moonlight is a distinct help to the enemy and the raids on London are more or less continuous though little, if any, military damage is done.
  • It is announced that as all Canadian copper will soon be needed to meet British requirements no further permits for copper, except to British countries and perhaps the United States, will be permitted in future. The real significance of the step will be its effect on the war production of Japan.
  • An increase in the allowances to families and dependents of men in the three Services is announced by the Secretary of State for War.

October 10, 1940

  • The enemy continues daylight raids in the south eastern counties and some planes reach London, dropping a few bombs which do little dam age. The night is marked by the longest raid to date. There is much indiscriminate bombing in which three ancient churches suffer more or less severely. The fact is made known that during a recent raid a bomb fell through the roof of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It demolished the high altar but miraculously failed to do any further substantial damage and the structure was not affected.
  • Heavy and light forces of the Navy carry out a night bombardment of the enemy-occupied port of Cherbourg, where a concentration of enemy shipping has been detected by aerial reconnaissance. The large fires resulting are visible from our ships on their way home at a distance of 40 miles. Our ships meet with no naval opposition though it is known that enemy light forces were at Cherbourg.

October 11, 1940

  • It is announced that the mine-sweeping trawler H.M.T. Sea King has been sunk by an enemy mine. In the course of several scattered daylight raids a Messerschmitt dives on Canterbury and drops a bomb in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral. The damage is, however, confined to the shattering of glass. The onslaught on London at night reaches a new level of intensity. The Germans themselves say that 200 tons of bombs are dropped and the figure is probably not exaggerated. Yet though there is great damage to private and commercial property not one military objective is hit. No doubt the Germans have some right to feel sore for their oil plants have been mercilessly pounded during the night.

October 12, 1940

  • President Roosevelt makes a great speech which must be a severe blow to the hopes of Germany, Italy and Japan that the United States of America can be intimidated into isolation from the struggle in Europe and Asia. He says that no threats of the dictators can make America do what they want her to do. “No combination of the dictator countries of Europe or Asia will stop the help we are giving to almost the last free people now fighting to hold them at bay.”
  • In view of the German military penetration in Rumania and the Axis pressure on Greece and Bulgaria, great significance is attached to a statement by the Turkish General Staff that Turkey will not provide a path to conquest but a barrier of two million bayonets.
  • Battle of Cape Passero. At 2.00am the cruiser H.M.S Ajax returning to Alexandria after resupplying Malta, was attacked by the Italian torpedo boats Ariel, Alcione and Airone. H.M.S. Ajax returned fire sinking Ariel and Airone. Shortly afterwards the Italian destroyers Artigliere and Aviere arrived in the area. H.M.S. Ajax opened fire on them, badly damaging Aviere and crippling Artigliere, before retiring. The crippled Artigliere was sunk by torpedoes the following day.

October 13, 1940

  • Princess Elizabeth made a radio address to the children of the Commonwealth. The broadcast by the young Princess from Windsor Castle was a huge success and marked the beginning of a regular feature for children.
  • Severe weather conditions hamper our bombing operations during the night. Attacks are made on the naval bases of Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, on the oil plants at Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg, on Krupps’ works at Essen, and several enemy airfields, anti-aircraft batteries and searchlight positions. The nightly offensive against Channel ports from Ostend to Le Havre is continued.
  • The London area is again the enemy’s principal night objective, but attacks are also made on Merseyside and the North-West. In London and the surrounding districts damage is caused to residential, commercial and industrial buildings.
  • Once again, the bombers of the R.A.F. make the appropriate reply. Military objectives in Germany are heavily bombed and those in Berlin are by no means spared. The extent to which Germany is being hit is revealed by the chorus of anguish and threats of reprisals which rises from the controlled German Press.
Princess Elizabeth's first broadcast on 13th October 1940
Princess Elizabeth's first broadcast 13th October 1940

October 14, 1940

  • A large force of the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps starts work in helping to clear away raid debris.
  • During the day enemy activity over this country is on a comparatively small scale, being confined to a series of attacks by single aircraft which drop a few bombs at a number of points in the south of England and the Midlands. A t night there is widespread raiding. London gets its customary bombardment and in addition enemy planes visit Liverpool and inland towns in the North-West, the Midlands. East Anglia and the South-West.
  • It is revealed that American volunteers are forming a squadron, to be known as the first Eagle Squadron to serve with British fighters and are now being trained in England.
The King talking to U.S. airmen of the RAF's Eagle Squadron
H.M. the King talking to U.S. airmen of the RAF's Eagle Squadron

October 15, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that our naval forces have carried out an extensive sweep in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean without coming into contact with the main forces of the enemy. During these operations H.M.S. Ajax met three Italian destroyers. She at once engaged and sank two destroyers outright. Soon after she engaged and crippled a destroyer of a fresh enemy force which came up but fled on contact. Next morning the Ajax found the damaged destroyer in tow of another Italian destroyer which at once slipped the tow and made off for Sicily. The damaged destroyer was then sunk after the crew had been given time to take to their boats.
  • In air fighting during the day nine enemy aircraft are destroyed, but 10 of our fighters are missing.
  • In reply to a suggestion that Britain should state her war aims, the Prime Minister says that our principal war aim is to survive.

October 16, 1940

  • Conscription in peace-time, an unprecedented event in United States history, begins with the registration of 16,000,000 men.
  • The Admiralty announces that a German convoy of three supply ships with two escort vessels accompanying them has been destroyed. One was a merchant ship of about 7,000 tons. Another ship of about 7,000 tons was attacked and hit with three torpedoes.
  • There is little enemy air activity by day, following a night of indiscriminate bombing on a much larger scale. But it is officially stated that in spite of the wide-spread and quite wanton bombing of civilians in London, the number of persons killed, though larger than in recent raids, is considerably less than in the earlier raids of last month.
  • It is announced that Mr. Anthony Eden has arrived in Egypt.
  • In the House of Commons, the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that Britain is spending over £9,000,000 a day.
  • At night the R.A.F. is busy against enemy naval bases and docks. Extensive fires are caused in the target areas at Kiel and Hamburg. Bremen and Cuxhaven are also attacked, with good results. The synthetic oil production plant at Leuna is visited again and munition factories and a power station in Saxony are bombed. Five British aircraft are lost.
  • In Egypt British bombers attack Bengazi, motor-transport concentrations near Solium and an enemy camp at Sofafi.

October 17, 1940

  • Vice-Admiral John C. Tovey is appointed Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, in succession to Sir Charles Forbes, and Rear-Admiral Sir Henry Harwood (victor of the River Plate action) becomes a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and an Assistant Chief of Naval Staff.
  • The enemy’s daylight activity is confined to scattered attacks against London and the South-East generally. Owing to the persistent attentions of R.A.F. fighters most of these are broken up and only a few isolated raiders get through to their target areas, where little damage is caused. But Canterbury Cathedral has a narrow escape. At night the enemy come in rather stronger force.
  • The Admiralty announces that three trawlers, H.M.T Resolvo, H.M.T. Listrac and H.M.T Warwick Deeping, and the drifter H.M.T Summer Rose have recently been sunk by enemy action.

October 18, 1940

  • An enemy flotilla of four destroyers is found in conditions of low visibility 100 miles south-west of Land’s End. In the ensuing chase one of our cruisers engages the enemy at extreme range. In the failing light the hostile force escapes into Brest. German air attack on our ships is unsuccessful.
  • A large enemy trawler is sunk off the coast of France.
  • The Air Ministry, in a circumstantial account of the prolonged offensive of the R.A.F., says that a German invasion was intended for the night of 16th September, but was completely frustrated by intense British bombing.
  • The air raid casualties for the month of September are announced as 6,954 civilians killed and 10,615 seriously injured.

October 19, 1940

  • Bahrein Island, in the Persian Gulf, is bombed by four Italian aircraft. There are no casualties and the damage is very slight. British bombers attack shipping and military objectives at Bengazi and Berka, Halfaya, Buqbuq, Maritza, in the Dodecanese, and Diredawa.
  • British bombing operations at night are on a very reduced scale owing to adverse weather conditions, but attacks are made on the railway yards at Osnabrueck and an aerodrome in Northern Holland.
  • Formal charges against MM. Leon Blum, Paul Reynaud and Georges Mandel are made before the French “War Guilt” Court at Riom.

October 20, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that the German seaplane base at Tromso in Northern Norway has been successfully attacked by naval Swordfish and Skua aircraft. A supply ship was attacked and almost certainly damaged by near misses.
  • The British Ambassador to the United States, Lord Lothian, returns to this country for a short leave. He says that in America there is a universal desire now to help Britain in every possible way by supplying aeroplanes, munitions and other war material. Aeroplane factories would work 24 hours a day.
  • German air activity by day is mainly over South-East England. Some aircraft drop a few bombs in the London area but the damage is not heavy. At night the R.A.F. distinguishes itself in widespread operations over enemy territory. Several important objectives in the Berlin area are attacked. In Italy industrial targets at Milan and Turin are hit and a steel works at Aosta is damaged. Other targets are the naval docks at Hamburg and Wilhelmshaven.
  • An Italian night attempt to attack one of our convoys in the Red Sea fails and results in the destruction of the destroyer Francesco Nullo by H.M.S. Kimberley.

October 21, 1940

  • The Prime Minister broadcasts to the French nation both in French and English. Among other points in a rousing speech, he says: “We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes. In spite of occasional losses, we have the command of the seas. In 1941 we shall have the command of the air. Remember what this means.”
  • During the day the Germans again indulge in continuous scattered raiding and their barbarous methods are once more illustrated by a machine-gun attack on a bus, which fortunately fails to attain its object.
  • British bombers carry out daylight attacks on the ports of Boulogne and Gravelines. At the former a merchant ship is hit. An enemy convoy is also attacked and one ship is hit and disabled. Bad weather at night does not prevent a fierce onslaught on the naval dockyard at Hamburg. Industrial objectives elsewhere are also attacked.

October 22, 1940

  • Enemy attacks on this country are on a very small scale. A successful piece of retaliation is an attack by an R.A.F. bomber on a German cargo vessel, a direct hit being scored.
  • Hitler and Ribbentrop meet Laval during a visit to France.

October 23, 1940

  • The Prime Minister visits coast defences in the East of Scotland.
  • The House of Commons decides that the life of the present Parliament is to be extended for a year.
  • It is announced that there is to be a 6 per cent increase on present railway fares other than season tickets and workmen’s fares.
  • Laval reports to the Vichy Government on his discussion with Hitler in Paris yesterday. Hitler meets Franco on the Franco-Spanish border in the presence of the German military chiefs and the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Spain. The usual announcements are made that the meeting was most cordial but the world is left to speculate as to its precise outcome.
  • Bad weather stops R.A.F. bombing operations over Germany during the previous night but the conditions improve so greatly during the day that after nightfall Berlin gets a further taste of the medicine which Germany thought she alone could administer. Many military objectives are attacked there. In addition, there is a concentrated raid on railways, wharves and warehouses at Emden and oil plants at Magdeburg and Hanover, goods yards east of Berlin, near Hanover and at Frankfurt, docks in Holland and many enemy aerodromes get what the Axis powers are fond of calling a “plastering”. Aircraft of the Coastal Command torpedo two enemy supply ships in the North Sea.

October 24, 1940

  • It is announced that Summer Time is to be continued through the winter.
  • The House of Commons holds a secret session for a debate on air defence.
  • Hitler continues his “progress” for the establishment of his boasted New Order. He meets Marshal Petain somewhere in France, and we are told that the Marshal was in full military array and was received with all the honour due to his rank and position and an expression of regret that he who “had not wanted the war” should find himself in such a position. It is assumed that Petain requires further elaboration of the peace terms which Hitler put before Laval on Tuesday.
  • It is announced that the Mexican Government has cancelled an oil concession recently acquired by Japan.
  • The Admiralty reports that the trawlers H.M.T. Velia and H.M.T. Lord Stamp have been sunk by enemy mines.
  • In fitful daylight attacks enemy aircraft drop a few bombs in London, Kent, Hampshire and Somerset. The Germans state officially that Italian aircraft took part.
  • During the day British aircraft carry out reconnaissance over enemy-occupied coasts and at night they devote renewed and strenuous attention to Berlin, many oil plants, docks and shipping, rail communications and goods yards and several aerodromes.

October 25, 1940

  • Laval, continuing his peace contacts, meets Count Ciano. H.M. the King and President Roosevelt send messages to Marshal Petain; their terms are not disclosed, but it is not difficult to guess at their object.
  • The loss of the destroyer H.M.S. Venetia is announced but it is also made known that the submarine Swordfish has sunk a German torpedo boat off the French coast and the submarine Regent has destroyed an Italian supply ship of 6,000 tons in the Mediterranean.
  • During daylight raids over this country, mainly in the direction of London. 12 enemy aircraft are destroyed. Eight British fighters are lost but four pilots are saved.
A Messerschmitt ME109 shot down on 25th October 1940 in Sussex
A Messerschmitt ME109 shot down on 25th October 1940 in Sussex, the pilot was
unhurt and handed over to the police by a farmer

October 26, 1940

  • The Vichy Government discusses the situation in the light of Hitler’s talks with Laval and Petain. It is announced that in principle France has agreed to co-operate with Germany, but the Free French authorities in London say that they will not pay any regard to any agreement providing for the mutilation of France or any association with her mortal enemy. A Council of Defence is appointed.
  • Beaufort aircraft of the Coastal Command sink a 2,500-ton supply ship off Norway and other aircraft of the same Command deliver a successful attack on the electric power station at Brest.
  • At night the British bomber offensive is renewed, despite poor weather conditions, Berlin, Stettin, Leuna and Cologne are among many places to receive further visitations.
  • The liner S.S. Empress of Britain is lost as the result of an enemy bombing and submarine attack. Less than 50 persons out of a total of 643 on board fail to be rescued by British warships.

October 27, 1940

  • There is further desultory German raiding over the South of England; ten aircraft are destroyed. Eight British fighters are lost or missing but the pilots of four are known to be safe.
  • At night the R.A.F. make a successful attack on the Skoda works at Pilsen and once again oil plants, docks, goods yards and aerodromes in Germany - not to mention ports from Holland to Western France – come in for concentrated attacks. The onslaught on Skoda is the first and shows once more that distance is no obstacle to the British air forces.

October 28, 1940

  • After an ultimatum delivered in the approved style in the early hours of the morning, Italy invades, or rather tries to invade, Greece from Albania. There is the usual air attack on civilians and open towns. Much to Italian surprise, the Greeks neither submit without fighting nor fail to put up any serious opposition. On the contrary, the challenge is taken up with alacrity.
  • The British Government immediately undertake to implement its guarantee and H.M. the King sends a message to the Greek nation in which he says that Britain is with Greece in this struggle. “Your cause is our cause; we shall be fighting against a common foe.”
  • Hitler and Mussolini meet in Florence.
  • There is little German air activity during the day but four enemy aircraft are brought down, following on the destruction of three of their bombers during the night. The R.A.F. bomb German shipyards at night.

October 29, 1940

  • Becoming more venturesome in their day raids, the Germans lost 22 aircraft against a British loss of seven; four British pilots are safe.
  • The Greeks hold their lines on the Albanian frontier when these are attacked by Italian formations in successive waves.
  • It is announced that shipping losses for the week ending 20th October are the heaviest yet, 198,030 tons, including neutral and allied.

October 30, 1940

  • General Petain offers France an explanation of his meeting with Hitler, says that it means the first vindication of his country. He had accepted the principle of collaboration and the working out will be discussed later. France must trust him as her leader.
  • Italy makes little progress in her invasion of Greece. It is said that at no point have her armies advanced more than three miles over the frontier. The British Admiralty announces that Greek waters have been mined. British aeroplanes carry out reconnaissance flights over Greek and Italian waters.
  • Enemy aircraft activity during the day is slight. Seven raiders are shot down, the British loss being four.
  • Cherbourg harbour is attacked by the R.A.F. but operations at night are restricted by bad weather, though the docks at Antwerp are heavily bombed, and an onslaught is made on the naval base at Emden.
  • President Roosevelt reveals that the number of aeroplanes to be built in the United States for Great Britain has been increased by 12,000 to 26,000.

October 31, 1940

  • Official end date of the Battle of Britain. Although night bombing continues for many months and there are sporadic daytime raids, the Luftwaffe has been contained by R.A.F. and the threat of a German invasion of Britain is over 915 R.A.F. aircraft were lost, whilst shooting down 1,733 enemy planes. 2,936 Fighter Command aircrew (mostly pilots) were awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp to the 1939–45 Star by flying at least one authorised operational sortie from 10th July to 31st October 1940.
  • The Italians claim that their advance into Epirus has reached the River Kalamas but affect to explain their lack of progress elsewhere by exceptionally bad weather. Italian aircraft attack Patras and other Greek towns.
  • At night a small force of Bomber Command aircraft make a successful attack on oil tanks and other objectives in Naples.
  • There is a spirited air battle over Mersa Matruh in the Western Desert of Egypt. A large force of Italian bombers, escorted by lighters, tries to bomb the town. The enterprise is unsuccessful and eight enemy aircraft are shot down.


November 1, 1940

  • Italian aircraft attack the port of Athens (the Piraeus) and carry out a series of raids on Salonika, where many civilian casualties are caused. The R.A.F. effectively raid oil depots at Naples and Poggio Reale.
  • At a meeting of the Turkish National Assembly, President Incunu says that the attacks on Great Britain were meeting with strenuous resistance. Greece, Turkey’s neighbour and friend, had found herself forced into war and Turkey with her ally, Great Britain, was examining the situation which had been created. Turkey’s relations with Soviet Russia had been restored to their normal friendship.
  • The Germans make a large-scale raid on a convoy off the Thames estuary. Eight enemy aircraft are shot down by pilots of the Fighter Command in addition to a Messerschmitt 109 brought down by anti-aircraft fire.
  • The German coastal guns shell a British convoy passing through the Strait of Dover, but without success.
  • Five German bombers are shot down during the preceding night. Activity during the day is moderate and the attacking formations are quickly dispersed and driven off. At night Berlin receives the heaviest bombing it has yet undergone. There are two intense and concentrated attacks. Power stations and rail communications, including three of the main railway stations, are repeatedly hit and damaged by high explosive bombs of heavy calibre. Incendiary bombs falling among the wreckage start some of the greatest fires yet seen by British raiders over Germany. Only two British aircraft fail to return.

November 2, 1940

  • Contrary to Italian expectations, the Greeks continue their offensive over the Albanian frontier in the most northerly sector of the front. They seize a new line of heights overlooking the important Italian base of Koritza.
  • The Italians bomb Salonika. They say that Count Giano led the “suicide” squadron and that Mussolini’s two sons also took part in the raid.
  • President Roosevelt, speaking at Cleveland, Ohio, says that the policy of the United States is to keep war away from America and also to give all possible material aid to the nations which still resist aggression across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

November 3, 1940

  • Success still smiles on the arms of Greece. The Greeks hold their newly conquered positions over the Albanian frontier. A strong Italian thrust in the direction of Fiorina is repulsed and some prisoners are taken. The Italian retort with bombing raids is a failure, and equally futile is an aerial assault on Salonika which costs the Italians four bombers.
  • The R.A.F. launches an attack against the naval dockyards at Kiel, which is heavily bombed for nearly seventy minutes by relays of aircraft. Other bombers of the Bomber Command attack Naples. The anti-aircraft opposition is more effective than previously but the main railway station and the junction are heavily bombed, as also the oil tanks at Poggio Reale.

November 4, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that two more Italian submarines have been destroyed by our light forces, the R.A.F. co-operating in one case. It is also made known that the armed merchant cruisers H.M.S. Laurentic and H.M.S. Patroclus have been torpedoed and sunk but in each case the majority of the personnel were saved.
  • After a comparatively calm interval the Germans intensify their night bombing. The day passes without much incident though it is observed that they continue to employ the bestial variation of machine-gunning civilians when opportunity offers.
  • Bad weather again hampers bombing operations over Germany but there is sufficient improvement to enable effective attacks to be made against docks and shipping at Le Havre, Boulogne and Ostend.

November 5, 1940

  • This is the day of the Presidential election in the United States. All the signs are that President Roosevelt will be re-elected by a substantial majority.
  • The Greek General Staff announces further progress in the northern sector of Albania.
  • In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister reviews the course of the war in encouraging terms but says that the campaign against the German naval effort in the Atlantic is grievously handicapped because we cannot use the naval bases returned to Eire.
  • Among German targets in our night bombing are petroleum sheds at Emden and shipbuilding yards at Bremerhaven and Bremen.
  • Victoria Cross recipient – Acting Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty FERGEN, Royal Navy awarded the Victoria Cross: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: - Acting Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, Royal Navy. On 5th November 1940 in the Atlantic, Captain Fegen, commanding HMS Jervis Bay, was escorting 37 merchantmen, when they were attacked by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. Captain Fegen immediately engaged the enemy head-on, thus giving the ships of the convoy time to scatter. Out-gunned and on fire Jervis Bay maintained the unequal fight for three hours, although the captain's right arm was shattered and his bridge was shot from under him. He went down with his ship but it was due to him that 31 ships of the convoy escaped.

November 6, 1940

  • As a result of the Presidential Election in the United States Mr. Roosevelt makes history by becoming President for the third time. The American parties at once close their ranks in a general determination to concentrate on giving Britain all help short of an expeditionary force. The Axis has suffered its worst blow to date.
  • In a surprise attack British and Indian troops recapture Gallabat, the Sudanese post on the Abyssinian frontier which the Italians rushed soon after they entered the war.
  • R.A.F. raids over Germany cover the Berlin district, oil plants, factories and railway yards and junctions.

November 7, 1940

  • There is little fresh news from Greece, but the Italians claim that they have a division over the River Kalamas. The R.A.F. helps to fight off an air raid on Athens and patrol the zone of operations.
  • In the House of Commons an attack is made on the First Sea Lord, particularly in connection with the loss of the Glorious. Mr. Alexander makes a vigorous defence of his professional colleague.
  • The Germans attempt raids on the London and Portsmouth areas during the day; without reaching their objectives they lose seven aircraft.
  • At night R.A.F. bombers make a violent attack on the Krupp works, and inflict severe damage on the factories. The official description is that “the whole of the factory area has become a mass of raging flames, engulfing long lines of buildings and lighting up the sky with a glow which could be seen from 60 miles away.” Italy, too, feels the weight of the British air arm, Brindisi being the target of a particularly heavy and successful attack.

November 8, 1940

  • The Home Secretary says that the direct effect of German bombing on our vital factories must be considered a very poor return for the number of bombs and the number of aeroplane-hours which the enemy has expended. Orders for material to replace that which has been dam aged amount to one quarter of one per cent of the material originally supplied.
  • German dive-bombers with fighter escorts make several attempts to attack shipping. In these and other daylight operations they lose 22 aircraft, the British loss being six. One Hurricane squadron destroys 15 Junkers in five minutes. At night our bombers in strong force raid Munich at the time when Hitler is due to speak there on the anniversary of the unsuccessful putsch in 1923. The four-mile-long sorting yard and railway workshops are heavily battered and dam aged. There are also long-distance raids on Italy.
  • Mr. Anthony Eden returns home from his visit to the imperial army in the Middle East.
  • The Germans claim that an entire British convoy has been destroyed by surface raiders in the North Atlantic.
  • It is announced that the speed of passenger trains in an air raid is to be raised from 15 to 25 miles an hour.

November 9, 1940

  • The Germans announce the sinking of a warship by a British submarine, and it is also made known that the submarine Sturgeon has destroyed two enemy supply ships.
  • A great earthquake occurs in Rumania. It is believed that the plant and equipment of the oil-fields have also suffered greatly.
  • Mr. Neville Chamberlain dies aged 71 at his country house in Hampshire.
  • Aircraft of the Bomber and Coastal Commands attack the German submarine base at Lorient in France. The docks at Boulogne and Calais and aerodromes used in bombing Britain are other targets. A further attack is made on Naples.
  • In a speech at the Mansion House the Prime Minister says that we have not yet taken the offensive because our production in munitions is now only in the early part of its second year, and the enormous factories and plants laid down on the outbreak of war are only now beginning to come into production.

November 10, 1940

  • The 2nd Italian Venezia Division, consisting of the famous Alpini, suffers rout in the Pindus Mountains. Its remnants flee back to Albania, leaving much equipment and many prisoners in Greek hands.
  • The earthquake in Rumania continues, creating further havoc at important centres.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack a variety of targets from the Baltic to the Bay of Biscay. Danzig is their “farthest cast”.

November 11, 1940

  • The Polish and Czech governments in Britain announce that they have entered into a closer political and economic association, and that their policy after the war will be to co-operate in a manner practically equivalent to federation.
  • The Dachau concentration camp conduct its first mass execution, killing Polish academics
  • The Fleet Air Arm deals the Italian fleet a deadly blow when 21 Fairey Swordfish from the carrier H.M.S. Illustrious attack Taranto. Sinking the battleship Conte di Cavour and badly damaging two others, Littorio and Caio Duilio. Two cruisers and two auxiliaries are also severely damaged. The attack was the first all-aircraft naval attack in history and all but two Swordfish returned safely.
  • British bombers attack the ports of Durazzo and Valona in Albania. At the former much damage is done including the destruction of a fuel depot, and at the latter an ammunition dump is blown up.
  • A squadron of naval light forces intercepts an Italian convoy off Valona; only one out of four Italian ships escapes.
  • Enemy daylight raiders over this country have a very lean time and Italians taste the medicine so freely administered to their German comrades. In an attempt to attack shipping off the Thames estuary they meet two fighter squadrons and soon lose 13 aircraft, including 8 bombers, without any British loss. The Germans also lose 13 aircraft.

November 12, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that at least three-quarters of the Atlantic convoy attacked by the German raider escaped; this was due to the heroic action of the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Ray in steering for the enemy and engaging her with greatly inferior armament.
  • M. Molotov reaches Berlin with his diplomatic and economic mission.

November 13, 1940

  • It is officially stated that the number of merchant ships, British, allied and neutral, lost by enemy action during the first 12 months of the war was 762, with a tonnage of 2,855,870. Enemy losses in the same period were 261 ships, totalling about 1,269,000 tons.
  • Air Chief-Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham is appointed Commander-in-Chief, Far East, with head-quarters at Singapore. The post is a new creation.
  • German daylight raiding over England is of the scattered variety and four bombers are shot down.
  • At night R.A.F. bombers are active over Germany in spite of extremely adverse weather. A station, a goods yard and other objectives in the centre of Berlin are attacked as well as power stations, inland docks, a battery of coke ovens, oil plants and other military targets elsewhere. The docks and harbour at Taranto are also heavily bombed.

November 14, 1940

  • The Egyptian Prime Minister, Hassan Sabry Pasha, dies suddenly.
  • The Greek General Staff announces that Greek aircraft have bombed Koritza and that in the Pindus sector the routed enemy have been pursued into Albanian territory.
  • M. Molotov leaves Berlin, and all that the Germans say is that the meetings took place in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and agreement has been readied on all important questions affecting the two countries.
  • The Luftwaffe again pays for daylight enterprise with heavy losses. Thirteen dive-bombers and one fighter are destroyed before they can make any attack, and a single heavy bomber is immediately shot down after crossing the South Coast. In all they lose 19 against a British loss of two.
  • The first Victoria Cross (V.C.) for a fighter pilot is awarded to Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson.
  • The R.A.F. makes further heavy attacks on military objectives in Berlin and Hamburg, in addition to 26 enemy-occupied aerodromes and harbours and shipping in ports from Stavanger to Lorient.
  • The Germans make an indiscriminate mass attack on Coventry at night. They describe it as the most severe in the whole history of the war. The city suffers very seriously and there are over 1,000 casualties.

November 15, 1940

  • The Germans lose 20 aircraft in fighting over this country during the day.
  • The Admiralty announces that further reconnaissance has established with certainty that three Italian battle-ships were crippled at Taranto.
  • The Greeks continue to pursue the Italians over the Albanian frontier. They bomb the enemy aerodromes at Koritza and Argyrokastro and destroy 11 aircraft.
  • The Admiralty, reporting on the fine work of the mine-sweepers, announces the loss of four trawlers and one drifter.
A busy shopping centre in Coventry destroyed during a  bombing raid
What was once a busy shopping centre in Coventry destroyed during
a night bombing raid on the city on 15th November 1940

November 16, 1940

  • On the Italo-Greek front there is hard fighting all day in the mountains east of Koritza. The Italians give way and the Greeks capture many prisoners and much war material.
  • The R.A.F. makes another violent attack on military objectives at Ham burg, and there is a special concentration against the great Blohm and Voss shipyards. Oil refinery plants and the Dortmund-Ems Canal receive renewed attention.
  • Three German merchant vessels, which had left Tampico to attempt to run the British blockade, return to harbour after sighting what they believe to be British destroyers. A fourth, the Phrygia, is scuttled.

November 17, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces that British light forces have carried out a naval bombardment of Mogadishu in Italian Somaliland.
  • In air battles over this country during the day 14 Germ an aircraft are shot down for the loss of five British fighters and one pilot.
  • Air Vice-Marshal W. S. Douglas is appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Fighter Command.

November 18, 1940

  • In order to secure the most effective basis of co-operation between the Army and the R.A.F., it has been decided to create an Army Co-operation Command comprising all squadrons allotted to Army formations.
  • Air-Marshal Sir A. S. Barratt is appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of this new Command.
  • The R.A.F. makes a concentrated attack on the Leuna works. Several large fires are caused, particularly at the northern end of the target area.
  • In Africa, Italian ports, bases and aerodromes receive a heavy hammering. Two large ships are hit in Bengazi harbour and aircraft are damaged at Tobruk and Barce.
  • In Albania, fierce fighting continues in the Koritza sector. Italian counter-attacks are beaten back and the Greeks, recovering from the effects of fierce divebombing, continue to thrust the enemy back. At the southern end of the line the Italians are driven back over the River Kalam as and in the centre Greek forces are deep in enemy territory. The Greek Air Force distinguishes itself equally, bringing down seven bombers and two fighters at a cost of two of its own machines.
  • King Boris of Bulgaria returns from a secret and private visit to Germany, where he has seen Hitler.

November 19, 1940

  • Shipping losses, British, allied and neutral, for the week ended 10th November are 13 ships of 71,749 tons.
  • Following on the recent dastardly onslaught on Coventry, the Germans make a very severe attack on the Midlands, particularly Birmingham. Much damage is done to dwelling-houses and other buildings but the number of casualties is comparatively small.
  • R.A.F. fighters score a fine success on their first appearance on a part of the Albanian front. Within a few hours of their arrival, they destroy nine Italian fighters without suffering any loss.
  • At night British bomber squadrons carry out widespread raids in Germany and extend the area of their activities to the great Skoda armament works at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. Munition stores in Berlin, shipyards and docks at Kiel, Hamburg and Bremerhaven, the synthetic plants at Gelsenkirchen and Flamburg and the inland port of Duisburg-Ruhrort are among the targets successfully bombed.

November 20, 1940

  • During the night a naval unit, assisted by air co-operation successfully bombards Maktila camp, on the Libyan coast, for one hour. Three large fires are started.
  • Hungary signs a formal agreement undertaking to join the pact between Germany, Italy and Japan.
  • The Germans claim that the new 35,000-ton battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz are in service. British expert opinion is that these vessels cannot be ready for many months yet and that the German object is to offset the British victory at Taranto.
  • The Germans make a heavy and utterly indiscriminate attack on a Midlands town, which they say is Birmingham.
  • R.A.F. carry out a large-scale attack on the inland port of Duisburg-Ruhrort damaging shipping and warehouses and causing m any fires and explosions.

November 21, 1940

  • The Greeks have a day of great successes. They break the Italian line on a wide front in Epirus and in the Koritza region they leave behind them the peaks of the Morava massif in their progress to the west. The enemy aerodrome at Argyrokastro is successfully bombed.
  • East Anglia and the Home Counties are visited by enemy aircraft during the day, and Liverpool at night. Among the targets damaged was the British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park. Most likely by a returning aircraft dumping a bomb load as there are no indications the Germans knew the importance of the site. Although the bombing caused an amount of structural damage, there were no casualties.

November 22, 1940

  • The Greeks achieve a great victory by driving the Italians from Koritza their northern base in Albania. The Italians claim that they are re-forming on a new line to the west of the town, but the pursuit continues with no sign that they will be able to make a prolonged stand anywhere.
  • Coastal Command Hudsons make a heavy attack on Stavanger Aerodrome. Lines of fires are started and the targets are seen to be still burning nearly an hour after the bombing ends.
  • There are no R.A.F. bomber operations over Germany at night owing to unfavourable weather conditions. But elsewhere great successes are achieved, particularly at Taranto and at Bari on the Italian Adriatic coast. The jetties are bombed and set on fire. A heavy explosion near the main railway station lights up the whole town and large fires and explosions are caused near the oil refineries. Other bombers destroy the communications of the retreating Italians at Pogradets.
  • After night raids over the Midlands the appearances of German aircraft during the day are comparatively few and far between. Two bombers are shot down.

November 23, 1940

  • The R.A.F. has a field day, or rather field night, over Berlin and Turin. At the former the Pulitzerstrasse and Lehrter railway goods yards are bombed, causing 28 fires. About 1,000 incendiaries are dropped on yards between two other stations. The Potsdamer station receives a direct hit. Elsewhere, Krupps works and other objectives receive further visits.
  • At Turin the Royal Arsenal and the Fiat works are raided.
  • During the night Southampton experiences the heaviest attack it has yet known. The enemy make no pretence of confining their attentions exclusively, or even mainly, to military objectives. Indiscriminate bombing results in the destruction of much private property and the loss of m any lives.
  • Turkey declares martial law in Thrace.
  • It is announced in the United States that Admiral Leahy will be appointed Ambassador to France in the place of Mr. William Bullitt.

November 24, 1940

  • Viscount Craigavon. Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, dies.
  • German air activity during the day is slight. Three enemy aircraft are destroyed.
  • The German long-range guns on the Channel coast again shell the Dover area.
  • R.A.F. bombers carry out a further raid on Durazzo. A direct hit is registered on a 10,000-ton ship and another on a smaller ship, which immediately bursts into flames. Damage is done to the quay, jetties and harbour buildings.
  • The Red Sea port of Assab is bombed, causing an immense fire which can be seen fifty miles away.
  • Early in the morning Coastal Command aircraft attack the aerodrome at Christiansand and the harbour of the Hook of Holland while Fleet Air Arm aircraft bomb Boulogne docks.
  • At night the R.A.F. concentrates on shipyards and industrial plants at Hamburg, the Altona gas works, Wilhelmshaven docks, a chemical factory at Harburg-Wilhelmsburg and other military objectives.
  • The Greeks report that during clearing-up operations in the Koritza district 1,500 prisoners and 12 guns have been taken. In all a further 8,000 Italians have been taken prisoner in Albania.

November 25, 1940

  • The Vichy Government announces that M. Jean Chiappe is to go to Syria as French High Commissioner.
  • It is announced from the Headquarters of the Free French Forces that General de Gaulle has arrived back in London from French Equatorial Africa.
  • The first airmen to be trained in Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme arrive in London.
  • There is to be only one day’s holiday at the Christmas season this year.
  • The loss of the trawler Kingston Alalite and the drifter Reed by enemy mines is announced.
  • British bombers attack the naval base and dockyards at Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. Other bombers attack the docks at Hamburg and Willemsoord.

November 26, 1940

  • The Government announces that to increase home food production it will guarantee that the present system of fixed prices and an assured market will be maintained during the war and for at least one year afterwards.
  • The Greeks continue their advance, which is substantially assisted by the operations of the R.A.F. in harassing the retreating Italians by bombing their transport.

November 27, 1940

  • There is a pleasant sequel to the stirring affair at Taranto. A section of the British Mediterranean Fleet, commanded by Sir James Somerville, encounters and batters the other half of the Italian Fleet which was not crippled at Taranto. Thanks to decidedly superior speed the Italians escape to their new base at Cagliari but are severely m au le d in the process. Seven Italian warships are damaged, including a battleship of the Littorio class, and the only damage on our side is to the cruiser Berwick. Aircraft from the Ark Royal play a great part in this triumph. A curious and unfortunate incident is that the plane carrying M. Jean Chiappe to Syria gets accidentally in volved in the air action and is shot down, M. Chiappe losing his life.
  • Simultaneously the Fleet Air Arm attacks the Dodecanese and Tripoli. At Port Laki the dock yard area and a ship, probably a warship, are hit. At Tripoli the quay and a ship alongside it are damaged, and fires can be seen 60 miles away.
  • In a speech in the House of Commons Mr. Arthur Greenwood refers to the shipping losses and says that the position to-d ay is much like that of April 1917. He does not, however, suggest that it is equally serious.

November 28, 1940

  • The main R.A.F. targets are Duesseldorf and Mannheim, but other aircraft bomb additional objectives such as the naval ship building yards at Stettin, the docks at Cuxhaven, the Channel ports and aerodromes.
  • The Luftwaffe makes a mass raid on Liverpool, the onslaught being entirely in discriminate and doing comparatively little military damage but a great deal of damage to shopping and residential areas.

November 29, 1940

  • British light naval forces make contact with German light forces in the Channel. A running fight ensues, in the course of which the Germans get back to Brest, though with what damage is not known. The British destroyer Javelin suffers some damage from hits and torpedoes.
  • The Spitfire Fund of the Netherlands East Indies is to be used to send £35,000 as a birthday present to Mr. Churchill for the purchase of seven of these fighters.
  • Five German aircraft are shot down during the day. At night British bombers make another severe attack on Cologne and Bremen, and the invasion ports also come in for a “pasting”. The German night effort is mainly concentrated on London, which goes through a more serious ordeal than for some weeks past.
  • In the Balkans the Italians make a last desperate effort to stem the Greek thrust from Koritz a towards Pogradets.

November 30, 1940

  • The Greeks crown five days of strenuous effort and prolonged battle with the capture of Pogradets, which gives them further security against any renewed Italian attempt to force the northern corridor to Salonika.
  • Continuing their policy of singling out one town for their nightly bombing the Germans descend upon Southampton. The commercial centre of the city is their main, if not exclusive, target, and here they live up to their infamous principles and do a great deal of damage to a non-military target.


December 1, 1940

  • For the second night in succession Southampton is chosen as the target for German mass bombing without regard to military objects. Further damage is done to shopping and residential districts and the casualties in the last two nights are about 370 killed and seriously injured.
  • British aircraft take the usual counter-measures. Our bombers attack the naval ship building yards at Wilhelmshaven, and Coastal Command aircraft bomb the submarine base and naval docks at Lorient, a military camp, barrack buildings and quay side warehouses at Kristiansand and the gasworks at Esbjerg in Denmark.
  • In the Albanian campaign British aircraft lend vital help by bombing the south-west Albanian road used by the Italians to bring up their reinforcements. An important bridge is damaged.
  • Greek Headquarters say that the advance of their troops is being continued along the whole front in Albania.

December 2, 1940

  • An important financial agreement is concluded between Great Britain and Spain. It is universally regarded as affording proof that Spain does not intend to enter the war.
  • The Admiralty announces that the destroyer Sturdy has run ashore on the Scottish coast and become a total loss.
  • In Norway the pro-Germans allege that a bomb has been thrown at the traitor Quisling.
  • It is announced that shipping losses for the week ended 24th November were 22 ships with a total tonnage of nearly 88,000.
  • It is Bristol’s turn to be the victim of an indiscriminate mass air attack. It is continued on a somewhat heavy scale until a little before midnight; several fires are started and considerable damage is done to houses and public and commercial buildings.
  • R.A.F. bombers make a successful attack on important military objectives at Valona. A ship and the main jetty are hit and a fire is started in a large building near the harbour. Other British bombers carry out a raid on Naples. Oil refineries are set on fire and the main railway is hit. The aerodromes at Catania and Augusta are also attacked.

December 3, 1940

  • General de Gaulle gives an account of his visit to French Equatorial Africa in which he says that the Free French Forces now number 35,000 men, about 20 warships and a large merchant fleet. By his visit about 10,000,000 people have been won over to the side of the Allies.
  • The Greeks issue an encouraging account of fresh heights captured in the Pogradets region and further progress along the whole line.
  • Bad weather restricts British bombing operations, but attacks are made on Ludwigshaven, a blast furnace plant at Essen, the port of Dunkirk and enemy-occupied aerodromes in Northern France.

December 4, 1940

  • The Minister of Economic Warfare, speaking of the oil situation in Germany, says that the margin between the enemy’s total supplies and the distributional minimum was diminishing and would be awkwardly narrow within a few months. His imports from Russia and Rumania had been disappointing.
  • The United States air observer, Major-General Chaney, reports that his observations in Britain have led him to the belief that Britain cannot lose the war unless she becomes over-confident or careless.
  • Sir John Anderson tells the House of Commons that the Prime Minister himself, with his unrivalled experience, is giving constant consideration to enemy attacks upon our ships in convoy.
  • The R.A.F. have great successes everywhere. In a fierce air battle in Albania, they destroy eight Italian aircraft and severely damage seven others without loss to themselves and bomb a destroyer which seeks refuge at Santi Quaranta in a crippled condition. The Duesseldorf area and Turin are heavily bombed, as well as Antwerp, Calais and many aerodromes.
  • The Greeks announce that they have advanced further and captured Premeti.

December 5, 1940

  • The Germans suffer heavy losses in daylight raids. Fourteen aircraft are destroyed at a cost of two British planes.
  • The Admiralty announce the loss of five minesweepers.
  • The House of Commons gives a magnificent example of the true spirit of democracy in action by rejecting by 341 votes to 4 a proposal for an immediate conference to bring about a cessation of hostilities.
  • The Greeks capture Santi Quaranta.
  • There is an action in the South Atlantic between the armed merchant cruiser Carnarvon Castle and a fast and heavily armed German raider disguised as a merchant ship. The latter makes off at high speed and what damage is inflicted on her is not known. The British ship receives slight damage and there are some casualties.
  • British motor torpedo-boats make raids on the German coast.
  • Coastal Command aircraft attack an electro-chemical factory at Eindhoven, the Rotterdam airport, the Haamstede aerodrome and the submarine base at Lorient.

December 6, 1940

  • The Fascist Government announces that Marshal Badoglio, the Italian Commander-in-Chief, has been relieved of his post “at his own request”. He is succeeded by General Ugo Cavallero.

December 7, 1940

  • The Greeks capture Delvino in their further advance.
  • The R.A.F. carry out an effective and sustained attack on many important industrial military targets in the Duesseldorf area, famous for its iron and steel foundries. Other objectives are Belgian and French ports, aerodromes and naval shipyards and docks at Lorient and Brest.
  • In the Mediterranean theatre R.A.F. bombers make a heavy attack on Castel Benito, near the town of Tripoli. All five hangars on the aerodrome are hit. Petrol and bomb dumps and administration offices and quarters are also hit. Italian shipping is also bombed off the coast of Albania.
  • President Roosevelt, in a message to the King of the Hellenes, says that “it is the settled policy of the United States Government to extend aid to those Governments and peoples who defend themselves against aggression. Steps are being taken to extend such aid to Greece”.
  • To-night is the first night for four months that there has been no German air raid over this country.

December 8, 1940

  • There are more resignations in high places in Italy. Marshal Badoglio is followed by the naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Domenico Cavagnari, and General de Vecchi, Governor and Commander in the Dodecanese.
  • The Greeks achieve another resounding triumph, their troops entering the important town and base of Argyrokastro.
  • R.A.F. bombers renew their attacks on industrial and military targets in the Duesseldorf area. Lorient, Bordeaux and Brest are also bombed and further visits are paid to Flushing, Dunkirk and Gravelines.
  • The German cargo ship S.S Idarwald, 5,000 tons, is intercepted by the British cruiser Diomede in the Caribbean Sea and scuttled by its crew.
  • The Germans make a very heavy night attack on London and the surrounding districts. Seven hospitals and four churches are hit and there are many casualties.

December 9, 1940

  • The war in Africa begins with a vengeance, but it is the British and not the Italians who take the offensive. An attack on a wide front is made on the Italian advanced position at Sidi Barrani. An Italian general is killed, two others are captured and the haul of prisoners at once runs into thousands. After sweeping over the Italian positions, the Imperial army, which includes a Free French force, presses on to the west.
  • The R.A.F. bomb an aircraft factory at Bremen, the naval base at Lorient and the docks at Boulogne.

December 10, 1940

  • Two German spies are hanged in London. Carl Meier and Jose Waldberg are the first spies to be executed in the UK.
  • The British victory in the Western Desert assumes major proportions. In the House of Commons Mr. Winston Churchill describes how the centre of the Italian position was broken. Warships bombarded the various coastal positions involved in the fighting, including particularly Maktila and Sidi Barrani, and the R.A.F. attacked Italian advanced aerodromes in prelude to the action and continually harassed enemy troops and motor transport, causing substantial losses. At least 4,000 prisoners have been taken though the counting has hardly begun. British armoured units have reached the coast between Sidi Barrani and Buqbuq, thus isolating at least two Italian divisions to the East.
  • With reference to the intensified attacks on shipping, the Prime Minister says that it is necessary for the Coastal Command to play a larger part in trade protection and it is being increased for that purpose.
  • In spite of very unfavourable weather bombers of the R.A.F. carry out attacks on a number of targets in Western Germany, including railway junctions, a power station, aerodromes and inland docks!

December 11, 1940

  • In the Western Desert Sidi Barrani is captured and more than 6,000 prisoners are reported to have been taken. The R.A.F. continues to lend vital help. Both bomber and fighter aircraft support the offensive by the incessant bombing of every advanced aerodrome and by attacking enemy troops, particularly Blackshirt troops retreating from Halfway House to Solium. The Italian Air Force suffers substantial losses, while only one British aircraft fails to return.

December 12, 1940

  • The western advance from Sidi Barrani continues. The size and nature of the success begins to become clear. The number of prisoners is already known to be at least 20,000 and they include a Corps Commander and two General Officers commanding divisions. The gravity of the situation for Italy is revealed by the Italian announcement that they are throwing huge reserves of men and equipment from Libya into a desperate effort to prevent any further British progress. But it is all in vain.
  • The R.A.F. also keeps up its pressure and carries out a particularly heavy raid on Tobruk during the night. The resulting explosions and fires near petrol dumps are seen from Solium Bay, sixty miles away.
  • The Prime Minister summarises the measure of our achievement and its outstanding importance for the future of the war in a short speech in the blouse of Commons. “The whole episode must be judged upon the background of the fact that it is only three or four months ago that our anxieties for the defence of Egypt were acute. Those anxieties are now removed, and the British guarantee and pledge that Egypt would be effectively defended against all comers has been in every way made good.”
  • Free French troops took part in the battle, and it is announced that the 1st Battalion of Marines has been specially mentioned by General de Gaulle.

December 13, 1940

  • German night raiding is in the m ain concentrated in a violent and prolonged raid on Sheffield.
  • The Admiralty announces that the submarine Sunfish, while operating close to the Norwegian coast, has torpedoed and sunk a German supply ship of about 4,000 tons, and has also hit and damaged an oil tanker of about 4,000 tons.

December 14, 1940

  • There are strange happenings at Vichy. During a meeting of the Cabinet, it transpires that Laval is engaged in a plot to get Marshal Petain kidnapped in Paris so that he may take his place as head of the State and come to the degrading and humiliating arrangement with Germany which Hitler so much needs and desires. Laval is at once put under arrest.
  • The imperial advance continues in the Western Desert with the enemy trying to hold it up on the Libyan frontier. It is estimated that some 20,000 prisoners are now in our hands, together with guns, tanks and large quantities of equipment of all types.
  • The Navy and the R.A.F. continue to support the Army without respite during the day. The latter gives fighter protection to the advancing troops and bombs aerodromes, landing grounds, fuel dumps, motor transport, troops and stores of all kinds.
  • The Germans make heavy night attacks on two towns in the Midlands. British bombers are equally busy over Germany, where the catalogue of targets includes ship-building yards at Kiel and factories and other targets at Bremen. Docks and aerodromes in Holland are bombed, as also the German submarine base at Bordeaux. In Albania, the Italian base and port of Valona is twice raided by R.A.F. aircraft.
  • The British motor-ship Western Prince is torpedoed in the Atlantic. Among those saved are the Canadian Minister of Munitions and some of his colleagues.

December 15, 1940

  • As on the previous night the R.A.F. wreak havoc on Italian military installations in Africa. Raids are carried out on Bardia, Imimi, Gazala. Tobruk. El Gubbi and El Adem. During the day Bomba, Appollonia, Derna and Benina are bombed.
  • Germany, too, is not unmolested. There is a heavy attack on railways, factories and public utility services in the Berlin area; other targets are the inland port of Frankfort-on-Main, the Kiel shipyards and the port of Bremen.
  • There is a striking sequel to the sensational news from Vichy. Marshal Petain, in a broadcast to the nation, announces that Laval has been dismissed from the Government, and that he has repealed the decree appointing Laval his successor in case of his death. The new French Foreign Minister is Flandin.

December 16, 1940

  • This is a great day in British military annals for it is officially reported from Cairo that though the Italians are still putting up a stiff resistance at Solium our advanced forces are well across the Libyan frontier.
  • H.M. the King visits Bristol, which has suffered somewhat severely in recent air raids.
  • The series of concentrated attacks on Germany is continued at night when aircraft of the bomber command subject targets at Mannheim, the chief industrial centre of the Upper Rhine, to a sustained attack lasting seven hours. There is particularly great havoc at the Ludwigshaven aniline dye factory. With eight of the Pathfinder bombers missing the city centre with their incendiary canisters, the majority of the bombs landed wide of their intended targets. Learning from this failure, the R.A.F. developed the concept of "bomber stream" to drop the maximum amount of bombs in the smallest area over the shortest time.

December 17, 1940

  • The victorious advance in Libya continues. In addition to Solium, Fort Capuzzo and three other Italian frontier forts at Musaid, Sidi Omar and Shefferzen are captured. Fighting goes on in the Bardia zone.
  • Shipping losses for the week ended 9th December are announced as 23 ships of 101,190 tons.
  • Lord Beaverbrook makes some interesting points in a broadcast. He says we are over-confident. Hitler is using the winter to bring out an enormous air force in the spring while meanwhile trying to blockade us with raiders, submarines and aircraft. We can overcome this danger by enterprise, endurance and fortitude.
  • The South African Army in Kenya, with Gold Coast units, raids the post of El Wak in Italian Somaliland.
  • R.A.F. bombers again attack Mannheim.

December 18, 1940

  • A black day in Italian history, for the Adriatic is no longer an Italian lake. During the night a British cruiser and destroyer force sweeps as far north as Bari and Durazzo. Simultaneously a force of battleships passes through the Strait of Otranto and carries out a heavy bombardment of Valona. Nearly 100 tons of high explosive shells are fired.
  • British motor torpedo-boats while carrying out offensive patrols off the Belgian coast make a successful attack on a large enemy supply ship which is seen to break up and sink. An escort vessel is also hit by a torpedo and ceases firing.
  • From America comes news of what appears to be an attack on a British convoy. The liner Napier Star and the Dutch tanker Pendrecht are torpedoed.
  • In the early hours of the morning R.A.F. bombers carry out a devastating attack on Derna aerodrome in Libya. In addition to heavy damage to buildings, the enemy’s loss is at least 18 aircraft destroyed. Another successful attack is made on the seaplane base, docks and warehouses at Valona.
  • At night the R.A.F. again attack Mannheim where fires from previous raids are observed to be still burning. Other aircraft bomb a factory at Milan, the docks at Genoa and an aerodrome in Northern Italy.

December 19, 1940

  • The British advanced troops which have hemmed in the superior Italian force at Bardia are being continually reinforced and it is stated officially that the enemy’s position there is precarious. Since the African operations began the number of prisoners actually counted into permanent prisoner-of-war accommodation is 31,546, while several thousands more have not yet been counted.
  • Derna and Bardia are both heavily raided by R.A.F. bombers.
  • The Japanese Foreign Minister pleads with America to think twice, thrice, nay a thousand times before joining in the fray, as Japan is and will remain faithful to the Tripartite Alliance. To which the American Ambassador retorts that deeds, not words, are what count with the United States.
  • British bombers attack synthetic oil plants, power stations and a railway junction in the Ruhr and Western Germany. Coastal Command aircraft successfully bomb aerodromes at Le Touquet and Maupertuis. Direct hits are also scored on the Bergen-Oslo railway.

December 20, 1940

  • The Admiralty announces recent successes by the submarine Truant, which attacked an escorted convoy of Italian supply ships off Cape Spartivento, sinking one for certain and possibly another, and also torpedoed and sank a large tanker off the Calabrian coast.
  • The Germans make a heavy night raid on Merseyside. The R.A.F. in the Middle East make Bengazi and Berka their targets for a concentrated attack. Buildings and dispersed aircraft are the sufferers at the former, while at the latter there are various explosions on the mole and two fires are seen near warships.

December 21, 1940

  • The R.A.F. has a particularly busy night. Oil plants in the Ruhr and the Rhineland are hit and set ablaze. Factories, inland docks, railways, aerodromes and a large military store near Cologne are successfully attacked. Porto Maghera, near Venice, is another target and further damage is done to docks and harbour works at invasion ports.
  • Albania provides another field for a striking illustration of British superiority over the Italians in the air. Nine British fighters encounter fifty Italians over Argyrokastro. After a sharp engagement the enemy loses eight, and probably eleven, aircraft, while the British loss is two.
  • The Germans repeat their attack on Merseyside.
  • Germany ventures upon a somewhat timid reaction to America’s proclaimed determination to assist Britain with arms, even without cash payment. A spokesman in Berlin says that she is observing the attitude of a nation which has “indulged in pinpricks, challenges, insults and moral aggression to the point of insupportability”, and adds that he fully appreciates the serious nature of what he is saying.

December 22, 1940

  • From Libya comes the news that reinforcements are steadily reaching our troops in the Bardia area.
  • For the third night in succession German night raiding is mainly concentrated on the Merseyside area.
  • R.A.F. bombers attack the oil wells at Kucove in Central Albania. In Germany their main target is Mannheim once more. Industrial targets there and at Ludwigshaven, on the opposite bank of the Rhine, are severely punished. Fires are started and there are a number of explosions.

December 23, 1940

  • Lord Halifax is to be the new British Ambassador to the United States. Mr. Anthony Eden takes his place as Foreign Secretary and Captain David Margesson is the new Secretary of State for War.
  • An event of equal novelty and importance is a broad-cast by the Prime Minister to the Italian nation. He says that one man, and one man only, has brought Italy to its present plight. He is Mussolini. Italy had no quarrel with England and he had made it clear in a message to Mussolini on 16th May that Britain never would give the signal for strife between the “joint heirs of Latin and Christian civilisation”. The Italian dictator had rejected his plea. As a result, “British armies are tearing and will tear your African Empire to shreds and tatters”.
  • Shipping losses for the week ended 15th December are seven ships, amounting to 41,476 tons. This is well below the average weekly loss since the beginning of the war and well below half of the figure in recent weeks.

December 24, 1940

  • Valona aerodrome, where there are many aircraft dispersed on the ground, is successfully attacked. The aircraft on the aerodrome are bombed and much damage is done to the hangars and buildings, the bombs being followed up with a low-level machine-gun attack. A cruiser which puts up an anti-aircraft barrage is heavily machine-gunned from a low height.
  • Bardia is hemmed in by an ever-increasing British force. The Italians show a little more enterprise in the air and make quite a heavy' raid on British communications at Solium.

December 25, 1940

  • There are no bombing raids, but in the Mediterranean area many reconnaissance flights are made. In the course of one such flight over Naples an Italian bomber is shot down.
  • The Italians make a particularly dastardly bombing raid on the unfortified island of Corfu. Among the civilian casualties are 21 women and children killed and 31 injured.
  • A German surface raider attempts to attack one of our convoys in the North Atlantic. A merchantman is hit and slightly damaged and the raider makes off at low speed as soon as it discovers that the convoy is escorted. It is vigorously pursued but gets away owing to poor visibility. Its supply ship, S.S. Baden, is less fortunate and is destroyed by its own crew to prevent it falling into British hands.
  • H.M. the King broadcasts to the nation. In wishing his people a happy Christmas and happier New Year, he says that “we may look forward to it with sober confidence. We have surmounted a grave crisis. We do not underrate the difficulties and dangers which confront us still, but we take courage and comfort from the successes which our fighting men and their allies have won at heavy odds by land and air and sea”.

December 26, 1940

  • Coastal Command aircraft attack several aerodromes in Brittany and shipping at Le Treport. A small force of bombers makes a night attack on the aerodrome at Bordeaux.
  • In the Western Desert aircraft of a Royal Australian Air Force Squadron shoot down two Italian C.R.32 fighters and severely damage four other enemy aircraft. R.A.F. bombers attack Krionero in Southern Albania. In spite of attempted intervention by Italian fighters, warehouses and military buildings are effectively bombed.

December 27, 1940

  • Coastal Command aircraft bomb the submarine base at Lorient and aerodromes in Brittany. An enemy fighter is shot down off the French coast.
  • Skua aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm attack enemy shipping and harbour works in the Haugesund area. A supply ship of 4,000 tons is hit and set on fire.
  • German aircraft resume bombing raids over this country after the Christmas pause. During the day some bombs are dropped on a south-east town and London is among the targets at night.
  • It is announced that since the beginning of the war 192 enemy aircraft have been actually destroyed, 91 conjecturally destroyed and 100 damaged by allied ships and naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm has accounted for 52 destroyed and 49 damaged.
  • A German raider, disguised as a Japanese ship, shells the island of Nauru in the Pacific. As Nauru is mandated territory, in which any kind of fortifications are forbidden, the Australian Prime Minister describes the attack as “another example of German duplicity and lack of regard for the common decencies of civilised nations”.
  • Two new forms of loan are announced, “Three per cent Savings Bonds, 1955-1965” and “Two-and-a-half per cent National War Bonds. 1946-1948”.

December 28, 1940

  • The concentration of the “Army of the Nile” investing Bardia is proceeding smoothly while our artillery continues to harass the Italian garrison. Prisoners counted to date since the operations in the Western Desert began now number 38,114, of which 24,845 are Italians.
  • In bad weather R.A.F. bombers make a heavy night attack on oil targets at Rotterdam and Antwerp and the invasion ports of Boulogne and Cherbourg. Lorient is also attacked once more and a large fire is observed.

December 29, 1940

  • The Germans make a deliberate attempt to set the City of London on fire. An enormous number of incendiary bombs is scattered indiscriminately, but for some reason, probably a change in the weather, the fire attack is not followed up by the anticipated bombing attack. Among the ancient buildings which become victims of this vandalism are the Guildhall and several Wren churches.
  • It is announced in Athens that the Greek submarine Papanikolis has torpedoed three Italian troopships in the Adriatic. She evaded the continuous and concentrated attack of their escorts and successfully returned to her base.
  • The R.A.F. raid Naples, dropping bombs and leaflets.
  • In Libya they attack enemy landing-grounds at Tmimi, Derna and Gazala. In Albania they hammer at Valona for the twenty-first and twenty-second time.
  • President Roosevelt broadcasts to the American nation and emphasises that his country will not be deflected by any Axis threats from its policy of giving all aid to Britain and her allies short of war. The risk of war will not deter America in the slightest degree. The victory of those who are now successfully resisting the aggressors is the paramount interest of the United States. His confidence in their victory is complete. “I believe that the Axis is not going to win this war - I base that belief on the latest and best information.”
St. Paul's Cathedral seen through smoke of London fire-bombing
St. Paul's Cathedral seen through smoke of London fire-bombing on 29th December 1940

December 30, 1940

  • The Prime Minister and Mrs. Churchill visit the city to see the destruction effected in the fire raid of Sunday night. It is noted that no reference to damage to ancient and historic monuments is made in the German official account.

December 31, 1940

  • The end of the old year brings news of another welcome drop in the figure of shipping losses. In the week ended 23rd December. 15 British ships and three neutrals have been lost; the total tonnage is just over 43,000.
  • Mr. Herbert Morrison, in a broadcast to the nation, says that the bulk of the damage done in the City on Sunday night could have been saved if an effective system of fire watching had been in operation. The Government had decided to make such a system compulsory.
  • British bombers ring a change on the aerial scene by attacking targets in Germany and the Low Countries during the day. A factory at Cologne, objectives at Rotterdam and in the docks at Ijmuiden are bombed with success.


Various sources have been used to create this timeline but a large proportion have come from ‘Hutchinson’s Pictorial History of the War’ within the Forces War Records Document Library

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