Saturday 12 October 1940
|The Italian torpedo boats in action today are all Spica class. This is Spica class torpedo boat Cassiopea.|
Battle of Britain: There is another "baby step" on 12 October 1940 along the long, tortuous unwinding of Operation Sealion, the proposed German invasion of England. There is no one date when Operation Seeloewe truly "disappears"; it is more a gradual withering of the operation's prospects until, eventually, it is stricken from the books entirely as a mere clerical formality, all hope of anything of the sort long since passed.
Hitler, basically admitting the obvious, today officially postpones the invasion until 1941. This frees up forces allocated to the operation for other purposes, which sounds impressive, but they don't have much to do anywhere else, either. The issue is so trivial to Hitler that, rather than issue another pompous Fuhrer Directive as he did in July to start the process, he simply has General Keitel issue a somewhat indifferent order which states in relevant part:
The Führer has decided that until next spring the preparations for ‘SEELOEWE” are to be continued with the sole intention of maintaining political and military pressure on England. Should the projected landing be resumed in spring or early summer, orders will be given for new preparations. In the meantime, it is necessary to shape conditions in the military sphere to suit a final invasion.In essence, this order simply confirms what almost undoubtedly was the case all along, that Operation Sealion was a sham deception operation with virtually no chance of being undertaken.
The day itself is fairly clear again, and the aerial action is virtually a repeat. Once again, the Luftwaffe concentrates on high-altitude fighter-bomber (Jabo) attacks, which don't cause a lot of damage but do manage to draw up RAF fighters for combat.
The raids start a little later than yesterday. At 10:00, a raid crosses into Kent and is intercepted by RAF Nos. 72 and 92 Squadrons flying out of Biggin Hill. It is a fairly heavy Luftwaffe commitment by JG 54, JG 77 and LG 2. The Luftwaffe loses two fighters and the RAF one.
Another formation approaches over Hastings. Another massive dogfight results. This action is notable because Major Werner Mölders, Kommodore of JG 51, claims three Hurricanes of RAF No. 145 Squadron. Hptm. Walter Oesau, Stab III./JG 51, gets a Hurricane for his 36th victory.
The raids come in waves thereafter, not particularly large but steady. Around 13:00, a formation over Maidstone leads to a fierce dogfight in which both sides take losses.
At 15:30, the Luftwaffe sends over some Junkers Ju 88 bombers escorted by fighters from JG 53 and JG 54. They are intercepted off Beachy Head, and another battle ensues.
By 17:00, the raids are pretty much over, with only some lone raiders and reconnaissance aircraft appearing on the radar scopes.
After dark, the Luftwaffe hits the usual targets: London, the Midlands, East Anglia, the Northeast. This night is particularly bad for London, as the bombers stay overhead until first light. Trafalgar Square Station takes a bad hit, killing seven people and injuring 30 in the Tube. The National Gallery takes a hit, but Myra Hess performs her Bach and Beethoven selections as usual. Coventry also takes damage, starting fires. Some scattered raids along the southern coast hit some factories and put out the telephone exchange for a while.
Overall, losses again are about even. The Luftwaffe loses eleven planes, the RAF ten. The Luftwaffe seems to have found a successful formula at long last - though how long they will stick to it is an open question, given the OKL's predilection for constantly changing strategy.
With his three victories, Major Mölders now has 45 and leads the war in victories.
RAF ace James Lacey gets a victory, a Bf 109.
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command raids Berlin, attacking the usual power stations, gas works and warehouses. In addition, the aluminum factory at Heringen, the Krupp factory at Essen, the Fokker factory at Amsterdam, oil installations at Cologne and Hanover, an aqueduct at Dortmund-Ems, and smaller targets receive attention. at Other raids target points along the Channel Coast, including the coastal guns at Cap Gris Nez.
Battle of the Atlantic: it is a busy day at sea, both in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The sharpest incidents take place at night, a common theme throughout the conflict. In addition, an unofficial wolfpack has gathered around Convoy HX 77 in the North Atlantic and goes to work.
German E-boats are operating out of the Cherbourg area after Royal Navy forces shell the port. Just after midnight, the Greif sinks two French Navy trawlers, Chausseurs 6 and 7, with the loss of 8/19 crewmen in the first and 12/19 in the second. The Greif picks up the survivors and makes them POWs.
U-48 (Kplt. Heinrich Bleichrodt) is stalking Convoy HX 77 west of the Outer Hebrides and northwest of County Donegal. It torpedoes and sinks 7102 ton Norwegian freighter Davanger. There are 17 deaths and 12 survivors.
U-59 (Kptl. Joachim Matz), on her 12th war patrol and heading back from Lorient to Bergen due to obsolescence, also is stalking Convoy HX 77. It torpedoes and sinks 6895 ton British lumber freighter Pacific Ranger in the same area as U-48. All 53 men on board survive, though some have to make landfall in their lifeboats. It is U-59's last victory after a very successful career in the war's first year, having sunk 17 merchant ships, 2 auxiliary warships, completely wrecking another freighter, and damaging a tanker.
U-101 (Kptlt. Fritz Frauenheim), on her fourth war patrol and operating out of Lorient, also is tracking Convoy HX 77. It torpedoes and sinks 5799 ton Canadian freighter Saint Malô. There are 16 survivors and 28 men perish.
Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli, on its third patrol and in the process of transferring from La Spezia to Bordeaux, uses its deck gun to sink 5135 ton Yugoslavian wheat freighter Orao in the Atlantic west of Gibraltar. Two crew perish. The sinking technically is not a violation of neutrality because the ship radios the Royal Navy at Gibraltar during the encounter. In addition, the Orao previously had been intercepted by destroyer HMS Hotspur and ordered to Gibraltar with Royal Navy guards aboard, so it was a legitimate target for that reason, too. Destroyer HMS Wishart scuttles the sinking ship.
Royal Navy 231 ton trawler HMT Resolvo (Temporary Skipper A. Affleck RNR) hits a mine and sinks in the Thames Estuary. All the crew are taken off by nearby HMT Peter Carey, and the wreck eventually drifts ashore at Sheerness. One sailor is wounded.
British motor yacht Astrid also hits a mine and sinks in the Thames Estuary and sinks.
German E-boat S-37 hits a mine and sinks in the North Sea about 74 km east off Orfordness, Suffolk.
Large elements of the British Home Fleet put to sea in Operation DH. This is a to cover a destroyer mission off Egero, and includes aircraft carrier HMS Furious and two heavy cruisers (HMS Berwick and Norfolk). The patrol is uneventful. Monitor Erebus bombards the German invasion barges still gathered at Dunkirk.
Minesweeper HMS Kellet hits the pier at Leith and requires repairs.
The Luftwaffe damages trawler HMS Longscar off Hartlepool.
The Luftwaffe damages 1320 ton British freighter Starling just southwest of San Sebastian Light.
Convoys OA 228 and FS 307 depart from Methil, Convoy OB 227 departs from Liverpool, Convoy HX 80 departs from Halifax, Convoy SL 51 departs from Freetown.
Royal Navy destroyer HMS Mendip is completed and is ready to be worked up at Scapa Flow.
U-98 (Kapitänleutnant Robert Gysae) is commissioned.
Royal Navy corvette HMS Arbutus (K 86, Lt. Commander Hugh Lloyd-William) is commissioned.
|An Imperial Airways short c class flying boat, October 1940 (Damien Peter, Australian War Memorial).|
Battle of the Mediterranean: The Royal Navy is withdrawing from the vicinity of Malta after the successful MB 6 convoy. Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham is in his flagship, HMS Warspite, along with three other battleships and 16 destroyers. So far, the voyage has been quiet, with only a destroyer damaged by a mine. An Italian aircraft, however, has spotted the British ships on the 11th. This leads to the Battle of Cape Passero.
Upon learning of the Royal Navy presence so close to Italy, Admiral Inigo Campioni orders a destroyer force to sea, with four destroyers (Artigliere, Camicia Nera, Aviere, and Geniere) accompanied by three torpedo boats (Ariel, Alcione, and Airone).
The battle opens when Alcione spots RN cruiser HMS Ajax at 01:37. The three Italian torpedo boats close at full speed, and Alcione gets within 1900 yards (1700 m) and launches two torpedoes. The Italians also open fire with their 100 mm guns, which is a bit unwise as it alerts the British to their presence. The Ajax sends off star shells and uses its fire-control radar to quickly open fire, destroying the Ariel and the Airone. Only the Alcione escapes. The Ajax itself takes no damage from the two or three torpedoes fired at it. Pretty good night gunnery by the British.
The incident - which costs the lives of the crew on the two Italian torpedo boats - alerts the four Italian destroyers. They close on the British force, perhaps not realizing what they are up against (destroyers generally don't like to take on cruisers). At 02:15, the Ajax radar spots two of the destroyers and opens fire. The Aviere is heavily damaged but able to withdraw, then Artigliere is bombarded. The Ajax takes some minor damage from four shells, including putting out her radar. Ajax takes four dead. Italian ship Camicia Nera takes the drifting Artigliere in tow, but at first light cruiser HMS York drives it off and sinks the Artigliere with a torpedo. The 100 survivors take to lifeboats and are rescued by the Italian Navy. The Ajax loses 13 men and has 20 wounded, but remains operational (though with the damage to gun turrets and the radar).
The Italians send heavier forces, led by Heavy cruisers Bolzano, Trento and Trieste of the 3rd Cruiser Division, to support the destroyers. However, they arrive late.
The Italians send aircraft after the British ships, too. They bomb anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Calcutta, without success, and also destroyer HMS Perim. HMS Eagle takes some damage from a near-miss.
The RAF in North Africa bombs Bardia and Tobruk, Libya, causing extensive damage and fires. The South African Air Force chips in with an attack on Javello Airfield in East Africa.
At Malta, Governor Dobbie writes to the War Office proposing an increased bomb disposal service. Unexploded bombs have become a major issue on the island. In addition, some downed Italian pilots picked up at sea by a Sunderland flying boat (their Cant 501 flying boat had been shot down by a Fulmar) are interrogated and give some insight into Italian reconnaissance practices.
Battle of the Pacific: German raider Pinguin, which captured Norwegian tanker Storstad on the 7th of October, has been working it up into being a minelayer. Today, the process is complete and the ship, renamed the Passat, heads for the Banks Strait off Tasmania and for the east and west ends of the Bass Strait off Melbourne. Pinguin, meanwhile, heads for Sydney to lay mines as well. The presence of the Passat, manned by German sailors, doubles the effectiveness of Pinguin.
|This picture shows a typical Wurts Bros. Long Island, New York home, list price $3000-10,000. Taken 12 October 1940. (Museum of the City of New York).|
German/Romanian Relations: The German troops taking up positions in Romania continue fanning out to specific billets. Some four hundred Wehrmacht troops arrive in Bucharest to set up a new military mission. The ostensible purpose of this is to supervise the training of the Romanian Army pursuant to a request by Romanian leader Ion Antonescu. Erik Hansen leads the mission. The Aerian Mission or the Deutsche Luftwaffenmission in Rumänien commanded by General Withelm Speidel also arrives. The 13th Motorized Infantry Division is the source of the troops. The primary focus of German duties in Romania will be anti-aircraft protection of the oil fields against Allied bombers and security against sabotage.
German Military: Directive Warschau-Sud is issued. This is an instruction to aircraft companies Junkers and Messerschmitt to develop gliders to carry assault forces for invasion purposes. The companies are given a fortnight to come up with designs, but it is a much larger project than that and requires much more time. Messerschmitt is mandated to use steel tube and fabric, while Junkers must use non-strategic materials such as wood. This project eventually leads after a long and winding road to the Ju 322 "Mammut" and the Me 261w, Me 263, Me 321 and Me 323 - none of which were used for invasions.
Soviet Military: The prototype of the Ilyshin Il-2 Shturmovik, TsKB-57, flies for the first time.
US Military: The US Navy issues contracts for infrastructure projects just outside the perimeter of the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.
|Canadian Pacific Railway No. 5804 at Revelstoke, October 12, 1940 (Bud Laws Collection).|
US Military: USS Wasp, based at Norfolk, launches 24 USAAC P-40 Warhawks and 9 O-47 observation planes for training and evaluation purposes.
Destroyer USS Rhind visits Port-au-Prince, Haiti as part of the continuing Show the Flag operations.
Argentina: Juan Manuel Fangio, a former soldier now become a race car driver, wins the Turismo Carretera, Gran Premio del Norte, the Grand Prix International North. The two-week race involves a 9500 km drive through Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. In particular, the racers have to drive up through the Andes to Lima, Peru and then back down again in stages. His time is 109 hours 36 minutes. Fangio is the first TC Argentine Champion to win the race with a Chevrolet. It is Fangio's first major victory and leads him to become Argentine National Champion for 1940.
|The Carolina Times, 12 October 1940.|
Holocaust: German Governor-General of Poland Hans Frank issues new orders for the 138,000 Polish Jews living in occupied Warsaw. They are to move into the Jewish Ghetto, euphemistically called the Jewish residential quarters. This area is vastly overpopulated, with 30% of the city's 400,000 people crammed into 2.4% of the city's land area. They also, of course, are penned in by a large wall.
American Homefront: President Roosevelt gives a speech in which he reassures the country that the US is only arming for defense of the western hemisphere. He is in the midst of his re-election campaign, and indications from polls and the like is that public sentiment remains strongly in favor of non-intervention.
Cowboy star Tom Mix perishes in an auto accident. Driving his bright yellow Cord Phaeton sports car, Mix is heading north from Tucson at 80 mph when he fails to notice a sign warning that a bridge is out on the road ahead. The Phaeton flies through the air and crashes into a dry wash. Mix is killed when a heavy aluminum suitcase in the convertible’s backseat strikes his head. The area is now know as the Tom Mix Wash, with a small commemorative iron statue of a riderless horse.
|So long to Tom Mix.|
October 2, 1940: Hitler's Polish Plans
October 3, 1940: British Cabinet Shakeup
October 4, 1940: Brenner Pass Meeting
October 5, 1940: Mussolini Alters Strategy
October 6, 1940: Iron Guard Marches
October 7, 1940: McCollum Memo
October 8, 1940: Germans in Romania
October 9, 1940: John Lennon Arrives
October 10, 1940: Führer-Sofortprogramm
October 11, 1940: E-Boats Attack!
October 12, 1940: Sealion Cancelled
October 13, 1940: New World Order
October 14, 1940: Balham Tragedy
October 15, 1940: Mussolini Targets Greece
October 16, 1940: Japanese Seek Oil
October 17, 1940: RAF Shakeup
October 18, 1940: Convoy SC-7 Catastrophe
October 19, 1940: Convoy HX-79 Catastrophe
October 20, 1940: Convoy OB-229 Disaster
October 21, 1940: This Evil Man Hitler
October 22, 1940: Aktion Wagner-Burckel
October 23, 1940: Hitler at Hendaye
October 24, 1940: Hitler and Petain
October 25, 1940: Petain Woos Churchill
October 26, 1940: Empress of Britain Attack
October 27, 1940: Greece Rejects Italian Demands
October 28, 1940: Oxi Day
October 29, 1940: US Draft Begins
October 30, 1940: RAF Area Bombing Authorized
October 31, 1940: End of Battle of Britain