Friday, July 15, 2016

July 11, 1940: "Nous, Philippe Petain"

Thursday 11 July 1940

11 July 1940 Stuka
Ju 87 B Stuka of 9/StG 77, Flers, France, July 1940.
Battle of Britain: The weather on 11 July 1940 is iffy, quite overcast in the morning. The Luftwaffe begins its raids at first light, sending lone raiders across the coast between Yarmouth and Flamborough at 06:00. These appear to be probing attacks to stretch out the defense and find any weakness. There are dogfights throughout the day.

At 11:00, the Luftwaffe begins its main attacks. It sends 50 planes - Stukas and Bf 109Es -  against the naval base at Portland and ships offshore near there. The RAF sends up five squadrons. Losses are about equal at 1 Hurricane, 2 Spitfires, 2 Bf 109s, and 2 Stukas.

At 17:00, the Luftwaffe sends in another raid against Portsmouth, causing fires.

At 21:00, yet another raid occurs in South Wales, Somerset, Bristol, Portland, Dorchester, and Plymouth sector.

RAF Bomber Command attacks French airfields.

The RAF chalks up its losses for the day as 3 Hurricanes and 2 Spitfires. Luftwaffe losses are much higher, estimated at 10-12 fighters and 13-25 bombers. Actual numbers of victories and losses is never clear-cut, almost always disputed, and virtually impossible to establish with precision, so estimates vary.

11 July 1940 RAF Spitfires

Battle of the Atlantic: U-34 (Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann) continues its successful patrol, torpedoing and sinking independent 2,197-ton Norwegian freighter Janna about 115 southwest of Cape Clear at 07:00. All 25 aboard survive after they sail almost all the way to Ireland when they are spotted by British decoy ship HMS Beauty. The Jannai is a straggler from Convoy HX-54 and was trying to rejoin another convoy but was unable to in deep fog.

Kriegsmarine torpedo boat S.26 sinks 332-ton freighter Mallard off of St. Catherine's Point. Three crew survive and become POWs, six perish.

The Luftwaffe sins 139-ton ship Providentia and damages freighter Kylemount about 10 miles west of Dartmouth and damages British freighters Peru, Eleanor Brooke, and City of Melbourne in Portland Harbor. The German planes also damage Dutch freighter Mies about 7 miles off of Portland.

The British lay a minefield in the North Sea by minelayer Teviotbank assisted by destroyers HMS Express and Esk.

Convoy SL 39F departs Freetown, Convoy HX 57 departs from Halifax.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Italian submarine Tarantini torpedoes and sinks Panamanian freighter Janna about 60 miles south of Cyprus. The submarine rescues the entire crew.

At Malta, churchgoers spot a "miraculous" result of a recent air raid. A famous statue that is known as "Behold the Man" has its head blown off, sending it to a spot peering out from a hole in the road. It is a rare day without any air raid alerts.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: About 400 miles south of Ceylon, German raider Atlantis sinks 7506-ton British freighter City of Baghdad with gunfire. All but two of the 83 men on board survive and are made prisoners. There is a bit of payback in this sinking because the City of Baghdad was a German ship taken as reparations after World War I.

The Atlantis sends a boarding party to the ship before sinking it which discovers valuable information, including a copy of the British codes and a report showing that the Admiralty knew about the Atlantis. This causes Captain Rogge to have his crew erect two new masts to the Atlantis to alter its appearance.

German/Spanish Relations: German Foreign Minister Joachim Ribbentrop asks Spanish leader Francisco Franco to detain the Duke of Windsor, who is heading for the Bahamas via Lisbon but may still be in Spanish territory. The Duke of Windsor is widely suspected of having fascist sympathies, and regardless would be a valuable hostage. It appears, though, that Ribbentrop is a day late and a reichsmark short.

British/Irish Relations: Lord Craigavon announces that Ireland has rejected British overtures for a joint defense arrangement.

British/Ethiopian Relations: British Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Rab Butler announces to the House of Commons that the government recognizes exiled Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as the legitimate head of state and will restore him to his throne. This contrasts sharply with the government's treatment of exiled King Zog of Albania, recently denied recognition.

Romania: The government quits the League of Nations.

Soviet Union: General Golikov is named to the Head of the Intelligence Directorate of the Stavka (General Staff).

French Government: Prime Minister Philippe Pétain, using the plenary powers granted him by the legislature on the 10th, replaces President Albert François Lebrun with himself as head of state. Rather than appoint himself President, though, Pétain simply abrogates Article 2 of the French Constitutional Laws of 1875, removing the office of President completely.

Former President Lebrun is not formally dismissed, does not resign, and is simply discarded. President Lebrun, uncertain where all this will lead, flees to Vizille. Pierre Laval becomes the new Prime Minister. Pétain also formally abolishes the Republican Constitution of 1875, thereby eliminating the Third Republic, and dismisses the legislature sine die. He also appoints 12 ministers and 12 governors of French provinces.

Pétain begins his "reign" oddly, with a proclamation that begins "Nous, Philippe Pétain." This sort of styling is reminiscent of Louis XIV. This is only the beginning of Pétain's eccentric, autocratic regime. He retains deep affection with the populace, and in any event, they no longer have any say in their own government, as they are not Philippe Petain. One can speculate that in a time of great national distress, Pétain at least provides the appearance of rock of strength juxtaposed against the menacing Germans. In some respects, that is true, too, as Hitler wants to coerce and cajole the French leader into cooperate, not anger him into defiance and outright opposition.

German Government: Kriegsmarine Admiral Erich Raeder confers with Hitler at Berchtesgaden about Operation Sealion and Norwegian naval bases, such as the U-boat hub at Bergen. Raeder is of the opinion that the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine alone can defeat Great Britain, and Hitler views an invasion as only a "last resort."

British Government: Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, announces that purchases of US aircraft will be virtually unlimited, with costs coming to about £2 million per day.

Generals Bernard Montgomery and Richard O'Connor are knighted, becoming Companions of the Order of the Bath.

US Government: The government solicits prototypes for a new generic light motor vehicle - what we now call a jeep - from automotive manufacturers. Prototypes must be submitted within 45 days and a pre-production run completed in 75 days.

The USS Witchita continues its "show the flag" trip in Brazil, departing Rio Grande du Sol, Brazil for Santos, Brazil.

Republican William Frank Knox takes over as Secretary of the Navy.

War Crimes: RAF attacks on hospital craft continue. Six Spitfires shoot down a Heinkel seaplane bearing appropriate Red Cross markings off the coast of Kent.

German Homefront: Food flows into the Reich from the occupied territories, easing years of privation.

British Homefront: The government continues imposing the pettiest economy measures, underlining the extremely dire nature of the U-boat blockade. Already it has banned women's high heels and rationed tea; today, Lord Beaverbrook appeals for housewives to contribute aluminum pots and pans "to build spitfires." These measures are not always absolutely necessary given the current economic situation, and certainly not for fighter production, but they gradually impose a sense of wartime discipline on the populace.

British guidebooks and maps are banned, and all in possession of the same must turn them into their local constabularies. This is for fear of spies and parachutists using them.

11 July 1940 Stuka
Ju 87 B Stuka of 9/StG 77, Flers, France, July 1940.

July 1940

July 1, 1940: Vichy France
July 2, 1940: Arandora Star
July 3, 1940: Operation Catapult at Mers El Kébir
July 4, 1940: Romania In Crisis
July 5, 1940: The Five Freedoms
July 6, 1940: Hitler's High Point
July 7 1940: Dakar And Ringo
July 8, 1940: Tea Rationing in England
July 9, 1940: Battle of Calabria
July 10, 1940: Battle of Britain Begins
July 11, 1940: "Nous, Philippe Petain"
July 12, 1940: Enter Laval
July 13, 1940: German Surface Raiders Attack!
July 14, 1940: Bastille/Mourning Day
July 15, 1940: Tallest Man Dies
July 16, 1940: Plans for Sea Lion
July 17, 1940: Burma Road Closed
July 18, 1940: FDR Runs Again
July 19, 1940: Last Appeal To Reason
July 20, 1940: First Night Fighter Victory
July 21, 1940: Soviets Absorb Baltic States
July 22, 1940: First RAF Night Fighter Victory
July 23, 1940: Invasion False Alarm
July 24, 1940: The Meknés Incident
July 25, 1940: Black Thursday for RAF
July 26, 1940: Capture The Duke?
July 27, 1940: What's Up, Doc?
July 28, 1940: Destroyers Pulled From Dover
July 29, 1940: Barbarossa On The Burner
July 30, 1940: Hitler Delays Sealion
July 31, 1940: Bloody Wednesday of Olkusz


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