Monday 7 October 1940
|A sentry in Southern England. 7 October 1940.|
Battle of Britain: The weather is good on 7 October 1940 after a long stretch of clouds and rain, and the Luftwaffe gets busy. Daylight raids have become increasingly unprofitable, but they are essential to "keep the RAF honest" and prevent it from building an overwhelming force of fighters which might make an invasion impossible in 1941, too. While there apparently is no official order to change tactics, the Luftwaffe resumes including medium bombers in its daylight attacks.
Things get started at 10:30, when the Luftwaffe mounts a large raid of 127 aircraft, including Dornier Do 17s that appear after the initial formation composed solely of Bf 109s and 110s. The RAF intercepts, led by the elite No. 303 (Polish) Squadron, but some of the bombers penetrate to East London. The German escort fighters have some success, but most of the bombers are turned back.
Around 12:30, another formation of similar size crosses at Dover. Some medium Junkers Ju 88 bombers are escorted rather than just fighter-bombers (Jabos). Fighter Command disrupts the formation, turning most of the bombers back after they drop their bombs (and cause some random damage). The London dockyards are hit, starting fires at Rotherhithe and Tidal Basin
Another mixed formation of bombers and fighters approaches around 14:00. Once again, London is the target, particularly the nearby airfields. Strong Fighter Command opposition blunts the attack, and there are massive dogfights.
The day's fourth attack, at 16:00, targets primarily areas along the southern coast and slightly inland. At Yeovil, the Wrestland factory is hit, as is Portland Harbour and areas in Dorset. Government House and a furniture warehouse are hit and burn.
At the same time, a raid approaches against Kent and Sussex. This raid is entirely by fighters and Jabos, focusing on Thames River docks. Large fires start in several areas.
After dark, London is the main target. Other area hit include Liverpool, Newcastle, South Wales and the Bristol area, East Anglia Montrose, Sunderland and scattered areas in the Midlands. The railways at Sedgefield and Mill Hill East are disrupted.
Overall, it is a fairly even day. The Luftwaffe loses about 20 planes and the RAF a few less. In a way, it is one of the better days for the Luftwaffe, because previous daylight bombing raids using regular bombers usually resulted in much heavier losses. In fact, on a relative damage basis, the larger and more precise bombing made probably more than compensated for losing a few planes more than the RAF, so if you are scoring the battle, I would put this into the "Luftwaffe" column.
Major Bernd von Brauchitsch, Reichsmarschall Goering's adjutant, presents the Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz) to Wolfgang Falck. Falck, for his part, breaks protocol afterwards and complains (to General Milch) that pensions are not being awarded to to the families of new (less than 10 years service) Luftwaffe men who perish in action. This group, of course, covers virtually all Luftwaffe personnel.
Viktor Mölders, brother of leading scorer Werner, is shot down and captured. After his force-landing, the plane is repaired and joins the RAF's "Ratwaffe."
Lt. Erich Meyer, 2./JG 51, is shot down over the Channel and also becomes a POW. His plane is recovered in 1976 and restored.
Luftwaffe ace Oblt. Josef "Pips" Priller of 6,/JG 51 shoots down a Spitfire near Canterbury and another later in the day over the Thames.
Acting RAF No. 605 Squadron Leader "Archie" McKellar claims five Bf109Es during the day. Ace James Lacey also puts in a claim.
Major Gotthard Handrick moves from JG 26 to becomes Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 52 after the loss of Hptm. Wolf-Heinrich von Houwald.
|Daily Mail, 7 October 1940.|
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command targets the barges still in Dutch and French ports. It also attacks Berlin power stations again, the coastal guns at Cap Gris Nez, an aircraft factory in Amsterdam, and the U-boat base at Lorient. While not large by late-war standards, the Berlin raid is the largest of the war so far. The RAF's bomber force continues to gradually expand, and tonight it uses 140 planes.
Battle of the Atlantic: It is a fairly quiet day at sea. However, the U-boat fleet is active.
U-59 (Kptl. Joachim Matz), on her eighth patrol and operating out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5811 ton Norwegian freighter Touraine about 50 miles west of Ireland. The Touraine is a straggler from Convoy OB 225, and it is a tortuous sinking. The first torpedo hits at 16:01, but the ship remains afloat and the U-boat fires two more at 19:25 and 19:32 - but they both miss. An hour later, at 20:41, hits, but the ship stubbornly refuses to go down right away. Finally, at 21:59, it goes down. All but one of the 35 crew on board survive, some picked up by British freighter Derbyshire, others making land in their lifeboats after several days. The lone casualty is the cook, who perishes in the hospital from exposure.
U-37 (Kptlt. Victor Oehrn) finishes off 6989 ton British tanker British General with two more torpedoes at 20:00 after badly damaging it on the 6th. All 47 on board perish. Many accounts place this sinking on the 6th because that is when U-37 makes its initial attack. The British General had been travelling in Covoy OA 222.
The Royal Navy makes its third try to complete Operation Lucid. This involves "fireships," two old tankers (War Nizam and War African) filled with fuel oil. They are to be taken to Dutch ports and run into shipping there, with the intention of destroying barges assembled there for an invasion. The first attempt was scrubbed when the Nizam had engine troubles, the second due to the weather. On this attempt, escorting destroyer HMS Hambledon hits a mine near Folkestone, causing major damage and requiring it to be towed back to Chatham. Once again, the mission is scrubbed.
Convoy FN 302 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 303 departs from Methil, Convoy OB 225 departs from Liverpool.
Parts of Convoy WS 3 Fast ("Winston Special") loaded with troops for the Middle East depart from Scapa Flow, Liverpool, Londonderry and the Clyde. It has four troopships, the Georgic, Capetown Castle, Winchester Castle, and Orionsay. First stop is Freetown.
US destroyer USS Livermore (DD 429, Lt. Commander Vernon Huber) is commissioned.
The RAF bombs Aisha, a railway station on the Italian supply line heading from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, Abyssinia.
Italian destroyers lay mines in the Sicilian Straits off Cape Bon.
At Malta, Rome radio is monitored making some false claims about air victories. Otherwise, it is a quiet day with some normal reconnaissance.
|By Low, 'The Evening Standard', October 7, 1940.|
Battle of the Indian Ocean: Operating about 500 northwest of Australia (northwest of Christmas Island), German raider Pinguin spots a ship and closes. The Pinguin fires a warning shot with its 75 mm gun, causing Norwegian tanker Storstad to surrender. The tanker has 12k tons of diesel and 500 tons of heavy fuel oil. Rather than sink it, the Pinguin's Captain, Ernst-Felix Krüder, decides to convert the Storstad into a minelayer. He renames it the Passat and uses 1200 tons of the diesel oil to refuel his own ship. The ship is taken to a remote location and loaded with 110 mines. Five of the Storstad's crew switch sides and continue to serve aboard it, while 30 others become POWs.
German/Romanian Relations: With the Romanian government's permission, German troops move from Hungary to Romania. The expressed purpose is to help re-train the Romanian Army. They garrison Ploiești, home to Romania's oil fields. The oil is a major priority for Hitler throughout the war, and plays a much larger role in overall German strategy than many realize. Hitler is concerned about the Soviets seizing the oil, which fuels the Wehrmacht, and is one of the main reasons he gives during his June, 1942 meeting with Marshal Mannerheim in Finland for Operation Barbarossa. He says then that he has had "nightmares of the oil fields burning out of control."
US/Latin American Relations: Heavy cruiser USS Louisville makes port at Recife, Brazil as part of a "Show the Flag" mission in Latin America. This is but the latest in a series of such efforts.
US/Japanese Relations: The Japanese ambassador protests the US embargo on strategic materials, including oil.
US Military: Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, director of the Office of Naval Intelligence's Far East Asia section, submits the "Eight Action Memo" to Navy Captains Dudley Knox and Walter Stratton Anderson. It proposes:
- Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
- Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
- Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
- Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
- Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
- Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
- Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
- Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire
Beyond some general suggestions regarding military preparedness with other Allied Pacific rim nations, the "McCollum Memorandum" is notorious for its suggestion that the US intentionally provoke the Empire of Japan into making a hostile act of war - so it can be attacked and subdued once and for all. This memo becomes a cornerstone of later conspiracy theories that President Roosevelt manipulated Japan into the Pearl Harbor raid, but Roosevelt had nothing to do with it (as far as is known). It is "the smoking gun" showing that the US manufactured its entry into World War II out of whole cloth.
The McCollum Memo and its interpretation/use are quite controversial topics. There are no clear answers on what effect, if any, it may have had on US strategy. Possibilities - refuted by some major historians - are that it either gave the US military some ideas about provoking Japan into war, or perhaps just reflected thinking common in the Navy at the time. However, the McCollum Memo undeniably did exist and any evidence of its influence or lack thereof is entirely circumstantial. In other words: we just don't know what it really means in terms of later historical events.
Besides the entirely coincidental McCollum Memo and the Japanese protest previously mentioned, there is a third related development in the Pacific Theater. Admiral James O. Richardson, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CinCUS), arrives in DC for conferences with President Roosevelt and others. The topic is the stationing of the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Richardson is the key military figure who thinks that Hawaii is unsuited to being the base of the US Pacific Fleet. He considers the Pearl Harbor base to be underdeveloped and vulnerable. For those looking for subtle coincidences in history, today is a good start.
German Military: Reinhard Gehlen, a liaison officer to Army Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, transfers over to an operations post on the staff of Army Chief of Staff General Franz Halder. Gehlen is heading for a key intelligence position in the planning and execution of Operation Barbarossa. Gehlen also is considered to be a legendary figure in the post-war West German Bundeswehr. He definitely is a key player in the shadowy spy business both during the war and afterwards.
|Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller uses a fancy home movie camera at Crosley Field in Cincinnati during the World Series, The Reds take the game against the Tigers 4-0, to even the series at 3 games apiece. 7 October 1940.|
British Military: The RAF forms a top secret electronic warfare unit, the No. 80 (Signals) Wing. This unit will develop tactics such as developing devices to hone in on German radar installations.
Salvage efforts become consolidated in the No. 43 Group RAF (Maintenance), known as No. 43 Group Salvage and based at Cowley.
Vichy France: All Jews must now register with the authorities in German-occupied areas.
British Homefront: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill regularly receives reports on civilian morale. These reports are derived from postal inspectors secretly opening mail and reviewing the contents. Today, he orders that the latest report on "Home Opinion – As Shewn in the Mails to USA and Eire" be circulated to the entire War Cabinet. The report finds that:
Morale is highest in London, but the provinces run a good second, and only a few letters from Liverpool, mostly from Irish writers, show any sign of panic.What is most interesting about this report - and possibly the reason that Churchill finds it particularly significant - is that it shows that, exactly one month after the beginning of the bombing of London, morale there is higher than elsewhere in the country. This, of course, is exactly the opposite of many pre-war theorists claimed might be the case.
American Homefront: Soap opera Portia Faces Life debuts on NBC Red Network (radio), which eventually becomes the foundation of NBC-TV. The soap is an instant success.
"Drums of the Desert" is released by Monogram Pictures, starring Ralph Byrd, Lorna Gray and George Lynn. The film is interesting because, despite current developments in Africa, the film completely ignores them and instead concentrates on a plot involving the French Foreign Legion fighting Arabs. It illustrates the degree of distance between the US and actual understanding of the war, particularly since much more interesting real events are going on now in the film's locale.
|Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt, military commander of France, takes in a tour at the Louvre given by curator Alfred Merlin. They are discussing the Venus de Milo. October 7, 1940 (Ang, Federal Archives).|
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