Friday 12 July 1940
|A Heinkel He 111 P of Stab/KG 55 which crash-landed at Hipley in Hampshire on 12 July 1940. It was shot down by Hurricanes of ‘B’ Flight, No. 43 Squadron over Southampton Water. Crashed Luftwaffe bombers are still a novelty at this stage of the war.|
Battle of Britain: 12 July 1940 is the third day of the "official" Battle of Britain. The weather is poor, overcast and rainy, and prevents many RAF fighter interceptions.
There is one major RAF interception around the Thames estuary when Luftwaffe Heinkel 111 and Dornier Do 17 bombers attack convoy "Booty" off the Norfolk/Suffolk coast. The RAF loses two Spitfires and a Hurricane, but prevents any ship losses.
The Luftwaffe also attacks Portland and Exeter with Stukas covered by Bf 110s. The Bf 110s, evocatively nicknamed "destroyers," are extremely well thought of by the Luftwaffe hierarchy and considered capable fighters on a par with the nimble and fast Bf 109. Today's action shows that this confidence is misplaced, as the twin-engine planes have difficulty protecting the vulnerable Stukas, two of which are shot down.
The Luftwaffe launches a day raid on Aberdeen, killing 60 people.
During the night, the Luftwaffe raids Bristol and Cardiff. There are other small raids at Newport and Highbridge. In addition, there are scattered attacks at Billingham, Thomaby, Cupar, Dunfermline and Helensburgh.
The RAF raids the northern ports Emden and Kiel with 23 bombers.
Some sources state that during the day, the Luftwaffe loses about 10 planes, the RAF 3 Hurricanes - other sources say it is six RAF fighters and 7 Luftwaffe bombers.
|A Boeing 314 used on US Foreign Air Mail (FAM) routes.|
Battle of the Atlantic: U-99 torpedoes and sinks 4860 ton Greek freighter Ia about 200 miles west of Cape Clear in the Southwest Approaches in the Atlantic at 02:48. There are 27 survivors and 3 perish.
At 22:31, U-99 (Otto Kretschmer) spots 2136 ton Estonian freighter Merisaar and attempts to torpedo it, but fails due to rough weather. Kretschmer crew then disembarks the freighter's crew and has a talk with the ship's master. Unable to sink it due to rough weather, the crew of the Merisaar is allowed to reboard the ship under condition that they sail it to Bordeaux.
U-56 (Oblt.z.S. Otto Harms) spots the British liner Dunera, which is carrying 2,542 Axis prisoners, Nazi sympathizers and Jewish refugees to Australia. The Dunera is engaged in a very controversial journey during which the passengers are mistreated by the conditions and the British guards. The U-boat's torpedo strikes the ship but glances off and fails to explode. The Dunera sails on.
The Luftwaffe sinks British freighter Hornchurch off the Aldeburgh Light Vessel. Everybody survives when picked up by sloop HMS Widgeon.
The Luftwaffe sinks 255 ton British trawler Volante 20 miles west of Hvalbam, Faroe Islands. There is one death, the ship's master.
Kriegsmarine S-boat S-23 hits a mine and eventually sinks.
The Luftwaffe damages British freighter Josewyn about 8 miles off the Isle of Wight.
US liner Manhattan leaves Lisbon, Portugal for the US carrying about 800 Americans.
Kriegsmarine aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin, incomplete, reaches Gotenhafen/Gdynia, Poland under tow.
Convoy OA.183 departs from Methil, Convoy OG 37 forms at Gibraltar.
|Pan Am air mail pilots on the Auckland, New Zealand route, 12 July 1940. Pan Am is awarded the prestigious route FAM-19 ("FAM" an acronym for Foreign Air Mail) to Auckland from Hawaii today. Typically, they fly a Boeing 314.|
Battle of the Mediterranean: The Italians attack British shipping in Alexandria Harbor, sending 112 sorties without success.
The Regia Aeronautica attacks Malta at 16:12 and drops a few bombs near Verdala. The Italians also resort to an odd tactic that they have used elsewhere and drop bags of candy, apparently to curry favor with the locals.
The Malta authorities put in place code words in case of an invasion. "Asia" means full war expected, "Europe" for attack unlikely. Lines of defense are established and a "last ditch" citadel-type area around Valletta and the port facilities. The Maltese authorities chastise the populace for leaving air raid shelters before the "all clear" sounds. In particular, dog fights have become attractive bait for people to take risks to view them.
The Italians also attack British battleship HMS Warspite and cruiser HMS Liverpool at 08:50. The British lose one sailor, the Italians one plane.
Italian airplane losses are estimated to top 100 today. This is significant because the Regia Aeronautica neither has a large standing fleet nor factories which produce large quantities of planes quickly.
North Africa: The Italians in Libya send two columns against Fort Capuzzo, which the British repulse.
Soviet Government: Moscow's key Finnish lackey, Otto Wille Kuusinen, is appointed chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish SSR. Kuusinen had been the head of the Finnish Democratic Republic aka Terijoki Government, the Soviet puppet government during the Winter War which was marginally effective as a propaganda tool and achieved nothing else. Kuusinen now governs over the extensive territory gained by the USSR during that war.
British Government: The British ships carrying gold from Great Britain arrive at Halifax pursuant to Operation Fish. They have US$1,750,000,000 worth of gold and securities from the Bank of England. The remainder of the journey will be by truck to the Bank of Canada's vault in Ottawa.
French Government: Pierre Laval assumes his title of Vice Premier of Vichy France. He is Marshal Pétain's appointed successor, which is no small matter given the Marshal's advanced age. Laval has strong fascist tendencies and runs the day-to-day operations of the Vichy government.
Jean de Lattre de Tassigny becomes a Grand Officier of the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur.
|24-year-old Czech pilot officer Václav Bergman, here struggling into his flightsuit, joins No 310 Squadron RAF on 12 July 1940, then being formed at RAF Duxford.|
US/Latin American Relations: The light cruiser USS Phoenix (CL 46) visits Valparaiso, Chile on its "show the flag" mission.
Destroyers USS Walke (DD 416) and USS Wainwright (DD 420) visit Pará, Brazil. They also are on a "show the flag" mission, but carry marines to join those in heavy cruisers USS Wichita (CA 45) and USS Quincy (CA 39) on their own "show the flag" mission.
Anglo-Japanese Relations: The British and Japanese reach an agreement closing the Burma Road over the Himalayas that supplies Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces. The Japanese essentially are holding Hong Kong hostage, threatening to invade the defenseless territory if the British refuse to cave. Chiang is outraged at the British decision.
Holocaust: Vichy France bans Jews from holding civil service positions.
Turkey: The Prime Minister reaffirms its commitments to its allies.
China: Mao Tse-tung (Zedong) orders his troops to attack Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist troops in Jiangsu Province, China.
The Japanese raid Chungking again, continuing their fierce aerial campaign against the city.
American Homefront: "Stagecoach War, released on July 12, 1940, sees Hopalong Cassidy help capture a gang of singing stagecoach bandits led by a happy fellow called Smiley.
|Joachim Peiper and Max Wünsche at the Berghof in Berchtesdgaden, 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