Wednesday 16 October 1940
|Houses in Moseley Road bombed on October 16, 1940.|
Battle of Britain: The variable weather of 1940 continues on 16 October 19540 with fog throughout the day. This leads to reduced operations today, a welcome relief for London, which has been savaged by both day and night attacks in recent days. The strategy remains fighter-bomber (Jabo) sweeps during daylight hours and regular bombing missions on major cities and military production facilities at night, with occasional participation of regular bombers during the day.
The RAF has instituted standing patrols at 20,000 feet, but this does not prevent losses from well-positioned German fighters, and in fact makes some of the fighters vulnerable to attacks out of the clouds. RAF No. 302 (Polish) Squadron, one of the elite RAF formations, learns this when it loses several planes. The poor visibility also makes barrage balloons with their dangling cables particularly effective.
The Luftwaffe beings the day with a Jabo missions between 08:00 and 09:00. One formation heads over Kent to the south London area, while another heads for east London. The Jabos fly high and fast. Fighter Command generally shoos them off, and there are no reports of major damage.
Another Jabo formation crosses the Kent coast around 11:30, heading for the Thames Estuary area. Fighter Command sends up six squadrons in defense. The Jabos bomb some hangars and nearby buildings at RAF Ternhill. Another raid around the same time comes from the south and hits the Southampton/Isle of Wight region. A third formation of fast Junkers Ju 88 bombers crosses near Falmouth and is welcomed there by Spitfires of Nos. 92 and 222 Squadron.
There is a lull during the afternoon, and at 16:00 another Jabo raid crosses the Kent coast heading for east London again. Most of these bombers get through, and there is extensive damage to railway tracks at Ashford.
After dark, the Luftwaffe mounts another major effort that is about half as large as on previous nights. The first night raids begin at 16:30 and hit the usual areas: London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stoke-on-Trent, and Liverpool. There is some mine-laying in the Thames Estuary, the Bristol Channel and off the coast of East Anglia.
Given the quiet nature of the day, losses are few. The Luftwaffe loses a handful of planes, while the RAF apparently loses none - a great rarity during the Battle of Britain.
|"Handley Page Hampdens of No. 61 Squadron at Hemswell prepare to take off on a raid, 16 October 1940." © IWM (HU 104631).|
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command attacks the ports of Bordeaux, Kiel, Hamburg, Bremen and Cuxhaven. Some industrial targets are hit in Germany, including various targets in Saxony and oil installations in Leuna.
Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Furious launches raids at oil installations, a Luftwaffe seaplane base and other targets of opportunity at Tromso, Norway. This is aimed at supplies for the U-boat fleet stationed there.
The Luftwaffe raids the Orkneys at 19:20, bombing Deerness and Shapinsay.
Reichsmarschall Goering promotes Oberst Josef Kammhuber to Generaloberst and appoints him to the new position of General der Nachtjägd (General of Night Fighters). Kammhuber works out of Utrecht, Holland. His duties are to both defend against RAF attacks on the Reich and prepare night attacks on RAF bomber bases. He becomes famous for the "Kammhuber Line" of night fighter bases across northwest Europe which works fairly well at first. Kammhuber is a good strategist and organizer, which the Battle of Britain has shown the Luftwaffe badly needs. The new position itself also is a sign of things to come in the air war. This is one area in which the Luftwaffe is slightly ahead of the RAF in the air war, as the RAF night fighter force is still in the process of becoming fully operational.
|North Carolina State College student registering for selective service. October 16, 1940.|
Battle of the Atlantic: While escorting new battleship HMS King George V from Vickers Armstrong, Tyne (actually preceding it to clear a path for mines) to Rosyth for final fitting out, three destroyers run aground at Whitburn Rifle Range near Sunderland on the Northumberland coast. HMS Maori gets off lightly, with some damage to its asdic (sonar). HMS Ashanti and HMS Fame, however, both suffer severe damage. The Fame sinks in shallow water. The Fame can and will be refloated, but it will take until 1 December 1940 and then repairs will lay it up until September 1942. The Ashanti makes it back to port, but also requires extensive repairs and will be out of action until 1 June. The battleship, meanwhile, makes it to its new port.
A wolfpack is gathering around Convoy SC 7, a 30-ship convoy from Sydney to Aberdeen. It is still three days or more out of port, plenty of time for the U-boat fleet to disrupt the final portion of its journey around Scotland. Today is just the start of their attacks. This will go down as one of the most disastrous convoys of the war.
U-124 (Kptlt. Georg-Whilhelm Schulz) is tracking convoy SC 7 along with 6 other U-boats when it spots straggler 1813 ton Canadian freighter Trevisa about 404 km west of Rockall. There are 14 survivors and 7 crew perish.
Operation PS: British monitor Erebus departs from the Nore to bombard Calais just after midnight on the 17th.
Royal Navy submarine HMS Tigris (Lt. Cdr. H. F. Bone) uses its gun and sinks 250 ton French freighter Cimcour in the Bay of Biscay about 120 miles west of the Gironde Estuary.
Royal Navy motor torpedo boat MTB 106 (S/Lt I. A. B. Quarrie RNVR) hits a mine and sinks in the Thames Estuary off Sheerness, Kent. This area has claimed a number of small vessels lately.
British fishing boat Pride hits a mine and blows up off Scarborough East Pier at Scarborough, Yorkshire. All four on board perish.
U-93 stalks Convoy OB 228, but is subject to repeated attacks by the escorts and aircraft and makes no attack of its own.
British 358 ton freighter Activity detonates a mine and is damaged, but makes it to port.
Minesweeper Dundalk is damaged when it detonates a mine off Harwich. She is put under tow, but sinks on the 18th. There are four deaths and 7 other casualties.
Light cruiser HMS Manchester detonates an acoustic mine in The Humber, but it far enough away to not cause damage.
German motor torpedo boats attack Convoy FN 9 in the Channel.
Convoys OA 230 and FS 311 depart from Methil, Convoy FN 310 departs from Southend, Convoy HX 81 departs from Halifax.
U-145 (Oberleutnant zur See Heinrich Driver) is commissioned. It is a smaller Type II destined to be used as a training boat.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Italian 1260 ton cargo ship Verace hits a mine and sinks just off the Benghazi, Libya breakwater.
British submarine HMS Pandora spots a submarine in the Otranto Straight and attacks, but misses.
The South African Air Force raids the Italian airfield at Neghelli, Abyssinia.
The RAF attacks points near Benghazi and Halfaya Pass outside Sollum.
In London, the British War Cabinet decides to send three battalions to Malta to shore up its defenses. Additional anti-aircraft artillery also will be sent from the UK. Additional air units (12 Hurricanes) will be transported from HMS Argus and half a dozen Genn Martin reconnaissance plans will fly in on their own. Generally, the plan is to make Malta more of an active base and not just an isolated and vulnerable outpost. At this time, the Axis does not have much interest in Malta.
Anthony Eden begins a tour of Middle East Command in Egypt.
|Royal Australian Air Force officers embarking on HMT Awatea in Sydney, Australia on 16 October 1940 for the long trip to Vancouver, Canada. They are bound for flight training pursuant to the Empire Training Scheme (Australian War Memorial).|
Battle of the Indian Ocean: Norwegian cargo ship Marly is lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There are no survivors, it is a mystery of the sea.
Japanese/Dutch Relations: While the Germans conquered and occupied Holland back in May, the country remains a regional power in Asia. Their possessions in the Dutch East Indies have extensive oil fields. It is well-known that the Japanese covet this oil, particularly since the US imposed a ban on oil exports to Japan for its military activities in China. Today, the two countries negotiate towards an agreement whereby the Dutch will supply 40% of Japanese oil needs for the next six months. The British, who also are a regional power, notice and begin steps to try to stop this agreement. They are in a position of some influence, as the Dutch royal family is sheltering in British territory.
While this transaction may seem fairly minor, in fact it is a symptom of a growing Japanese problem that is going to play a major role in coming events of world-wide importance whose effects will be felt for generations.
German/Soviet Relations: The German embassy in Moscow is still translating German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop's massive missive to Stalin about a New World Order. Ribbentrop is known to be wildly impatient about such delays and, if true to form, is bombarding the embassy with enquiries about when the job will be completed. It will not be ready until tomorrow.
Anglo/US Relations: A fifth tranche of US Navy destroyers arrives in Halifax for transfer to the Royal Navy pursuant to the bases-for-destroyers deal. The ships are: USS Twiggs, USS Philip, USS Evans, USS Wickes, USS McCalla, USS Rodgers, USS Conner, USS Conway, USS Stockton and USS Yarnall.
Spanish Government: Francisco Franco appoints his Ramón Serrano Suñer as Foreign Minister. Suñer is the brother-in-law of Franco and has been acting unofficially in that role. He is widely viewed as pro-Nazi, but later confesses a marked dislike of German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop. His background is in the EFE press agency and the large blind-person's organization ONCE.
|Queuing for food in the Warsaw Ghetto, date unknown.|
Holocaust: Gauleiter Hans Frank of Occupied Poland officially establishes the Warsaw Ghetto.
Japanese Government: The Japanese are hard at work on improving their air fleet, particularly naval aviation. In recognition of their progress, aviation engineers Ichiro Sekine (Nakajima), Joji Hattori (Mitsubishi), Yu Nakajima (Mitsubishi), Shuzo Kito (Mitsubishi), and Tomio Kubo (Mitsubishi) are awarded the Nagao Memorial Award for excellence.
Vichy French Homefront: The Petain/Laval government prohibits the manufacture, export or movement of war materiel. This likely (but perhaps not) is due to Italian pressure, as the Italians are very concerned about French rearmament. Germany, on the other hand (specifically Hitler) desires (or at lease would not mind) a military buildup in France to assist in the war against Great Britain. At this point in the war, Italy is flexing its diplomatic muscles in often counterproductive ways.
British Homefront: Looting is always a problem in dire situations. Stiff penalties are in place to discourage it. Today, two Air Raid Precaution workers are sentenced to one year in prison at the Old Bailey for taking £16 from a bombed residence. A similar scene is portrayed in the film "Slaughterhouse 5" with somewhat difference consequences for the looter. Incidentally, while that seems like a small amount, it is is roughly US$4200 in current value, so it wasn't as if they just grabbed a few cups and saucers.
American Homefront: President Roosevelts makes a "fireside chat" about the draft. He says:
Calmly, without fear and without hysteria, but with clear determination, we are building guns and planes and tanks and ships-and all the other tools which modern defense requires ... Today's registration for training and service is the keystone in the arch of our national defense … The duty of this day has been imposed upon us from without. Those who duty of dared to threaten the whole world with war - those who have created the name and deed of total war - have imposed upon us and upon all free peoples the necessity of preparation for total defense."The institution of a peacetime draft for the first time in US history is one of the most unpopular acts that Roosevelt takes during his four terms in office. The recent Select Service Act of 1940 requires that eligible males register for the draft (not to begin until 29 October). So far, 16.4 million men have complied.
Native Americans also are required to register, though some tribes deny the authority of the US government to compel them to do so (being technically separate nations). While many Native Americans willingly comply, some do not. US officials in southern Arizona today raid the O'odham tribe. This begins the Machita Incident.
Future History: Dave DeBusschere is born in Detroit, Michigan. he becomes a top basketball star with the University of Detroit and then the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. He leads the Knicks to championships in 1970 and 1973, and later becomes a basketball executive who is instrumental in the merger of the NBA with the ABA. DeBusschere passes away in 2003.
|Japanese and African Americans register for the draft. October 16, 1940|
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