Wednesday 23 October 1940
|A young lady is rescued from rubble after an unexpected daylight raid. 23 October 1940.|
Battle of Britain: The day remains cloudy and dreary. As on previous days, the poor weather on 23 October 1940 greatly slows the tempo of all operations. It also causes various flying accidents which are becoming almost as deadly as actual combat.
The morning is taken up with scattered reconnaissance flights. One of these just past noontime penetrates the London Inner Artillery Zone successfully and causes damage there. There are a couple of abortive raids in the early afternoon in which planes cross the Channel but don't actually make any attacks. RAF No. 145 Squadron intercepts this raid and loses two Hurricanes for its pains.
After dark, London bears the brunt of the damage. The Luftwaffe also hits Glasgow and mines off the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire areas and off the west coast. A land mine at Tynemouth Park creates a huge crater and damages numerous nearby buildings, including well over 200 homes. St. Pancras is bombed, cutting the rail line and damaging rail cars.
The weather appears to be implicated in some crashes. A RAF No. 600 Squadron Blenheim on a training mission crashes into a hillside at Kirkby Malzeard, Yorkshire, killing the pilot.
In France, a Heinkel He 111H of 1,/KG 27 misses the runway at Tours and hits a nearby barracks, killing not only the four crewmen but 13 occupants of the building. There are 11 other casualties from the ground crew.
In another bad weather accident, a Swordfish of RAF No. 767 Squadron collides with a Shark aircraft of No. 758 Squadron, killing the pilot of the Swordfish.
Overall, there are fewer than a handful of losses on both sides, probably the lowest number of overall planes lost since the battle began.
European Air Operations: After a respite due to poor weather, RAF Bomber Command returns to the attack today. The primary targets are railway installations and power plants around Berlin. Other bombing raids are sent against the port of Emden, oil installations at Hanover and Magdeburg, the port of Hoek van Holland, and various communications points in northwestern Europe, including airfields.
Battle of the Atlantic: It is a quiet day at sea because the U-boat fleet is back in port after a stunningly successful week. Convoys SC 7 and HX 79 are still struggling into port after being mauled. The Royal Navy Admiralty reassesses how its escorts are performing.
Royal Navy submarine HMS Taku torpedoes and sinks Norwegian freighter Prinsesse Ragnhild off Bodo.
Swedish 65 ton trawler Essie hits a mine and sinks in the Skagerrak about 19 km south of Skagen, Denmark. Six crew perish.
Norwegian 1590 ton liner Prinsesse Ragnhild hits a mine and sinks in the Norwegian Sea off Bodø, Nordland. There are 78 deaths and 62 survivors.
The Luftwaffe damages British 7603 ton freighter Empire Ability at Gardoch.
Battlecruisers Hood and Repulse are at sea supporting Operation DNU, a destroyer sweep in the North Sea by HMS Somali, Matabele and Punjabi and accompanying vessels.
German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer sails from Gotenhafen (Gdynia) in Poland to Brunsbuttel en route to a raiding cruise in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.
Convoy OB 233 departs from Liverpool, Convoys FN 316 and FN 317 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 318 departs from Methil.
Battle of the Mediterranean: The RAF raids Gura, Asmara Airfield, Gondar, Tessenie, Kassala and Sidi Barrani.
At Malta, the island loses a scarce Swordfish when it ditches in the sea close to shore. A trawler recovers the crew. In addition, after a lot of hard work all the ammunition recently received is stocked away, and a one-week bomb disposal course - the island's first - is instituted. Previously, untrained men have been disarming bombs.
|Hitler and Franco at Hendaye.|
German/Spanish Relations: Hitler travels by train to Hendaye. Ramón Serrano Súñer, Francisco Franco, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Hitler meet in the Hendaye railway station. This is one of the most fateful meetings of the war. They speak for three and a half hours. Franco is completely noncommittal about entering the war and repeats the demands for enormous supplies he would require that previously have been communicated by Suner. Hitler offers Gibraltar and North African territory, but Franco wants territory on the far side of the Pyrenees, Morocco and much of Algeria. All of these demands would spoil relations with France and Italy, and Franco probably knows that. It is becoming clear that Franco is not interested in entering into another war so soon after gaining power. However, for what it is worth, he reaffirms that he is strongly pro-Axis and does promise to enter the war at some point if his numerous and onerous conditions are met.
Hitler leaves with nothing, and later comments that the discussion was worse than "having three or four teeth pulled." He likely expected more cooperation given the aid he had given Franco during the Spanish Civil War - without which Franco likely would no longer even be alive. Unlike the talks with Laval on the 22nd, this meeting at Hendaye absolutely can be deemed a failure. There now is no possibility of performing Operation Felix, the conquest of Gibraltar. After the war, Reichsmarschall Goering will claim that the single biggest mistake that the Axis made was not simply invading Spain after this failed meeting and seizing Gibraltar anyway. That would have closed off the Strait of Gibraltar to the British fleet and vastly improved communications to North Africa.
Next stop on Hitler's itinerary is a meeting with Marshal Petain. The trip is becoming an exercise in why you should have agreements ready to sign due to prior negotiations before you actually travel to meet with your counterpart. The idea of a "continental bloc" against Great Britain is evaporating before Hitler's eyes. However, he still might be able to work something out with Petain, who today meets with Laval at Vichy regarding Laval's meeting with Hitler on the 22nd and appoints him Foreign Minister.
|Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler and Franco. 23 October 1940.|
German/Italian Relations: Hitler's journey to France already is having an effect - a bad one - on Italy. Mussolini is described as being in "a black mood" over the fact that "the Germans prefer the French to us." Mussolini instructs Count Ciano to demand control of the French Mediterranean coast and Marseilles, which is far more than they could ever hope to achieve through military action. The sole reason for this apparently is Mussolini's feeling abused like a spurned lover.
German/Italian/Arab Relations: German radio endorses German/Arab relations. There is a lot of support within the Middle East for Germany, though Great Britain and France maintains a somewhat precarious hold on the region. Italian radio does the same thing at the same time in obviously coordinated outreach.
Anglo/French Relations: At the same time that Hitler is about to woo Marshal Petain, Petain has his man in London, Louis Rougier, meet with British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax. They work to see if there can be some kind of reconciliation between the countries.
Anglo/US Relations: Another tranche of US destroyers are transferred to the Royal Navy pursuant to the destroyers-for-bases deal. They are:
USS Evans -> HMS MansfieldThe new Royal Navy destroyers man up with Royal Navy sailors and begin departing piecemeal for ports in Great Britain.
USS Philip -> HMS Lancaster
USS Wickes -> HMS Montgomery
USS Stockton -> HMS Ludlow
USS Conway -> HMS Lewes
USS Conner -> HMS Leeds
USS Twiggs -> HMS Leamington
USS Yarnall -> HMS Lincoln
USs McCalla -> HMS Stanley
USs Rodgers -> HMS Sherwood
Luxembourg: What remains of the Luxembourg government, the Chamber of Deputies and the Council of State, is formally dissolved.
Japan: The country gives a one-year notice of withdrawal of the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911. Signed by the United States, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Empire of Japan, and the Russian Empire, the treaty led to later treaties of a similar nature. The Convention is considered a landmark in wildlife preservation issues.
Holocaust: The Gauleiter of the Saar, Robert Wagner, boasts that he has made the area "Judenfreie" (free of Jews) due to the Aktion Wagner-Burckel begun on the 22nd. The Aktion will continue for another year.
American Homefront: President Roosevelt gives a speech in Philadelphia in which he vigorously denies wanting to lead the country into war. He emphasizes:
We will not participate in foreign wars and will not send our Army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas except in case of attack. It is for peace that I have labored; and it is for peace that I shall labor all the days of my life.Roosevelt will abide by this promise, though one could interpret his blatant support of Great Britain in the war against Germany and embargoes he has imposed against Japan as subtly pushing the Axis to attack the United States. In other words, Roosevelt may be provoking an attack on the United States in order to achieve a larger goal of entering the war. However, there is no direct evidence that this is his plan.
British Homefront: Prime Minister Churchill and wife Clementine inspect Polish troops at St. Andrews in Scotland. General Wladyslaw Sikorski, Premier of the Polish Government-in-Exile and commander of Polish forces, accompanies them.
Future History: Edson Arantes do Nascimento is born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He receives the (nonsense) nickname "Pelé" in school due to his fan worship of a Brazilian goalkeeper with a similar name. He becomes a local amateur soccer (football) star, then in the late 1950s a member of the national team. This begins a legendary soccer career that makes Pelé a household name around the world. He remains an ambassador of Brazilian soccer.
|Winston Churchill, Clementine and Sikorski at St. Andrews. 23 October 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