Friday, September 30, 2016

October 2, 1940: Hitler's Polish Plans


Wednesday 2 October 1940

2 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Hampden RAF No. 83 Squadron
The crew of a RAF No. 83 Squadron Hampden exit the aircraft "after a successful night's work over Germany," Scampton, 2 October 1940.

Battle of Britain: The Luftwaffe continues on 2 October 1940 its new and improved tactic of using "Jabo" fighter-bombers to entice the RAF up to battle. The tactics work reasonably well, and Luftwaffe losses have declined drastically since true bombers were restricted to night operations. The RAF has difficulty intercepting these raids because Jabos fly higher and faster than the medium bombers, and also can get back to France quicker, providing fewer attack possibilities. On the downside for the Luftwaffe, the Jabos carry fewer bombs that can cause less damage (though they can aim more accurately under some circumstances), and the pilots have a pronounced tendency to jettison their bombs randomly whenever confronted by interceptors.

It is a cloudy, rainy day, giving the attacks some much-needed cover. The raids start early today, heading for London and nearby airfields such as RAF Biggin Hill around 07:15. RAF Penrhos (Gwynedd in Wales) takes a beating, with numerous ancillary buildings destroyed.

The first major attack starts to form at 08:30. when the Luftwaffe assembles a mixed formation of bombers, Jabos and fighters above Calais and sends it against London. RAF Fighter Command intercepts with 8 squadrons when they approach London. More formations follow, with the first group heading for central London and following formations branching off to surrounding areas. Some ancillary formations cross at different locations, creating a confused picture for the RAF. The bombers generally reach their targets, and there are massive dogfights which result in few losses given the good cloud-cover.

A smaller raid crosses shortly before noon in the Maidstone area. This is a hit-and-run raid that bombs the coast there, but a larger, following formation heads for RAF Biggin Hill, RAF Lympne and RAF Kenley and also east London and causing moderate damage.

After the by-now standard break for lunchtime, the Luftwaffe returns with moderate-sized (a few dozen aircraft) raids at 13:30 heading for the same Biggin Hill/Kenley/east London areas targeted during the morning. Once again, there are many ancillary raids of much smaller formations bombing other targets in East Kent such as  Camberwell and Sheppey.

2 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Hurricane
Hurricane pilot and ground staff inspect the oxygen supply, October 1940. The mechanics back at base get no recognition, but the pilots knew who the real heroes of the Battle of Britain were.

Another large raid occurs around 16:30. This time, there is a large component of Heinkel He 111s amongst the 75 Luftwaffe planes. They target the same areas as in the earlier raids. Fighter Command, as one might expect, has better luck with the slow bombers than it had with the Jabos in the earlier raids.

Around dusk at 19:30, the Luftwaffe attacks a convoy off Peterhead with Heinkel He 115s, which have some luck (mentioned below). Fighter Command shoots down one Heinkel and damages another.

After dark, 180 Luftwaffe bombers queue up over London, Newcastle, Manchester, northwest Scotland and the Midlands. The raids are largely over by 01:00, much earlier than during September. The Luftwaffe also mines the Humber and the Thames Estuary. Overall, it is a fairly quiet night as these things have gone since the start of the Blitz on 7 September.

Losses are moderate, with the Luftwaffe losing about ten planes (half bombers, the rest Bf 109s) and the RAF apparently only one. The Luftwaffe's mix of fighters lost to bombers is "improving" in the sense that fewer bomber crews are being lost, though at the expense of more elite fighter pilots lost. Given the fact that there were bombers in only one moderate-sized raid throughout the raid, the attack around 16:30, a disproportionately high five Luftwaffe bomber losses just underscores how vulnerable they have become to the increasingly experienced and aggressive RAF fighter pilots.

For its part, the RAF is getting many more interceptors in the air at night - this time about 33 planes - but they remain singularly unsuccessful at intercepting the lumbering Luftwaffe bombers. The slow, largely unprotected Heinkel He 111s, Junkers Ju 88s and Dornier Do 17s still can conduct their operations virtually unmolested after dark aside from anti-aircraft fire (admittedly extremely intense over the London Inner Artillery Zone).

During the morning dogfights, some pilots of JG 53 claim to have a big day. Lt. Eric Schmidt and Uffz. Robert Wolfgarten, both from 9./JG 53, combine for claims of four Spitfires. RAF records, though, only report the loss of one plane during the day, so there was some, ah, German confusion over England.

An unusual incident happens in the morning when the crew of a meteorological/reconnaissance Junkers Ju 88 bomber - still a new entrant on the scene - gets disoriented. After departing Amsterdam Schiphol at 03:00, it wanders about in the dark, cloudy night and mistakes England for France (hey, it happens a lot during the war). Landing at 06:30, the RAF gets a perfectly good new plane for its "Ratwaffe," the British collection of intact captured aircraft.

2 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Bessie Knight-Hepburn George Medal
 Bessie Knight-Hepburn, pictured at right, and Mrs. Clarke (left) become the first women to receive the George Medal for civilian bravery at the hand of King George V. Mrs. Clarke drove an ambulance that carried Mrs. Hepburn to a minefield, which they crossed at great hazard to themselves in an attempt to help two badly wounded men (both ultimately perish). Their medals were exhibited at the Moot Hall Museum at Aldeburgh for many years.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command targets oil installations at Bottrop in the Ruhr, Stettin and Hamburg, Hamm, Cologne warehouses, the Essen Krupp factory, and several major ports (Flushing, Antwerp, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other invasion ports along the Channel). The bomber lands at Brightlingsea, Essex

Battle of the Atlantic: U-32 (Kplt. Hans Jenisch) torpedoes and sinks 4606 ton British freighter Kayeson along the trade routes 400 or so miles west of Ireland at 18:25. All 38 on board are seen by the U-boat to abandon ship, but none are ever seen again - Captain Jenisch notes high swells. The U-boat accidentally collides with the Kayeson's rudder and sustains damage and, since it is now out of torpedoes, heads for home. This is one of several incidents around this time when entire crews mysteriously disappear in the mid-Atlantic.

The Luftwaffe Focke Wulf Fw 200 Condors of 2,/KG 40 attack Convoy HG 44 a few miles west of County Kerry, Ireland. Oberleutnant Schlosser hits 2218 ton British freighter Latymer with a 250kg bomb and sinks it. There is some confusion about this sinking because the wreck site is west of Ireland, but she was heading from Lisbon to London and that was far out of her way. The ship may have been re-routed, but sending it clear around Ireland seems kind of odd. There was at least one fatality for this sinking, a seaman listed on the Plaques All Wars Seamen's Mission in South Shields (currently on the staircase).

RAF No. 801 Squadron based at Hatson bombs German shipping at Bjorne Fjord and lose a Skua, the two airmen perish.

The Luftwaffe attacks Convoy HX 74 off Scotland in the North Sea, but they cause no damage. However, in another attack off Peterhead against Convoy HX 74A, they damage freighter Trehata.

Convoy FN 297 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 298 departs from Methil.

U-144 (Kptl. Friedrich von Hippel) is commissioned.

2 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Curtiss Seamew
The Curtiss SO3C Seamew developed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in a wind tunnel, October 1940.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy destroyers HMS Havock and Hasty find and depth charge Italian submarine Berillo for two hours while returning to Alexandria after the Malta convoy. The sub surfaces after being heavily damaged, and all 45 on board are taken prisoner.

The Royal Navy fleet returns to Alexandria after its successful resupply mission to Malta.

Cruisers HMS Orion and Sydney attack the Italian base at the port of Maltezana on Stampalia (Astypalaia).

The Malta command, realizing how easy it is to confuse Royal Navy submarines and Italian ones (there are no U-boats in the Mediterranean at this time), develops a new protocol. Coastal batteries from now on will be given a stand-down order when Royal Navy submarines are known to be in the vicinity. The first such stand-down order (called "submarine sanctuary" orders, which is somewhat misleading) are issued today for the anticipated arrival of HMS Truant. Meanwhile, the infantry and artillery units on the island continue integrating the troops received in the recent convoy from Alexandria.

Anglo/US Relations: Pursuant to the destroyers-for-bases deal, the USS Mason (DD 191) becomes the HMS Broadwater (H 81, Lt. Commander Charles L. de Hauteville Bell).

The Greenslade Board inspecting the new US bases from that deal arrives at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

2 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Plymouth sailors destroyers for bases deal
"ON BOARD ONE OF THE US DESTROYERS RECENTLY TRANSFERRED TO THE ROYAL NAVY. 2 OCTOBER 1940, PLYMOUTH." © IWM (A 1062).

US Military: Colonel George S. Patton, Jr. receives a promotion to temporary brigadier general after well over a decade at the colonel level. Patton is commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade, part of the 2nd Armored Division, and is in charge of training. Patton is one of the few US Army officers with actual experience leading tanks in combat during World War I and is a key figure in one of the very few armored formation in the US Army.

Holocaust: Adolf Hitler meets in Berlin with Hans Frank, the Nazi Gauleiter in Occupied Poland. He sets forth his views about the Poles (notes of the meeting by Martin Bormann):
The General Gouvernment is our work force reservoir for low-grade work (brick plants, road building, etc.) ... Unconditionally, attention should be paid to the fact that there can be no "Polish masters"; where there are Polish masters, and I do not care how hard this sounds, they must be killed. (...) The Führer must emphasize once again that for Poles there is only one master and he is a German, there can be no two masters beside each other and there is no consent to such, hence all representatives of the Polish intelligentsia are to be killed ... The General Gouvernment is a Polish reservation, a great Polish labor camp.
In essence, Hitler sets forth the view that the Poles exist only to service the German war effort as slaves and otherwise are useless and unnecessary. This also is direct evidence of Hitler ordering executions of "undesirables." The issue of the Poles will remain an active topic until the last days of the Reich and will not deviate from this attitude. One last fact: many of the Polish "intelligentsia" (but not by any means all) are Jewish.

Free France: The British and General de Gaulle are having "issues." The Royal Navy sends the transports loaded with the troops intended for Operation Menace from Freetown to join de Gaulle at Duala, Cameroon. However, disagreements about objectives arrive, and the British turn the transports around and they return to Freetown. De Gaulle's prestige is at a low point due to the fiasco at Dakar.

British Homefront: The government formally ends the Children's Overseas Reception Board (CORB) due to the recent sinkings of the Volendam and City of Benares (the latter sinking on 18 September 1940 decisive because of the large loss of life by the evacuees).

2 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com fox Moorhead Minnesota
A pet fox waiting for its owner, Owning unusual pets was a big fad in the 30s-50s and included deer and pigs. Moorhead, Minnesota, October 1940.

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

2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

October 1, 1940: Wait Daddy


Tuesday 1 October 1940

1 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Wait For Me Daddy
"Wait For Me Daddy," by Claude P. Dettloff, October 1, 1940: A line of soldiers march in British Columbia on their way to a waiting train as five-year-old Whitey Bernard tugs away from his mother's hand to reach out for his father. The troops are the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles) in New Westminster, Canada. Other spouses and family members also say their goodbyes all along the column. This is widely considered one of the most powerful photographs ever taken. (H/t Jodi P)

Battle of Britain: The Luftwaffe high command - namely Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering - continues tinkering with strategy on 1 October 1940. He reverses a recent strategy to send in fighter-bombers ahead of the medium bombers, which drained the fighters of fuel. Now, he orders that each fighter squadron be outfitted with a Gruppe of Bf 109E-7 fighter-bombs ("Jabos") to entice the RAF fighters up to do battle, while leaving the all but the fastest Junkers Ju 88 bombers for night-time activity.

All of these tactical switches have a bad effect on Luftwaffe morale, but not everything that went wrong for the Germans was Goering's sole responsibility (even if he did have the final say on everything relating to the Luftwaffe except overall strategy). Goering was laboring under several handicaps which included:
  • Absolutely horrendous military intelligence about the RAF;
  • The fact that this was the first air campaign of its kind in history;
  • Equipment not suited to an air campaign of this nature;
  • Insufficient time to prepare for the campaign after the unexpectedly quick victory over France;
  • Orders from Hitler to bomb London.
Viewing the battle in its broadest sense, the German air effort in 1940 is a laboratory experiment regarding how to conduct a strategic bombing campaign against fierce defenses. In fact, it is one of the few times in history it ever has been tried. The lessons learned during it have helped every other air force since. Thus, if the Luftwaffe is making mistake after mistake, it is not (solely) because it was being run by stupid people with hideously misplaced objectives.

In the day's operations, the Luftwaffe gets off to an early start by attacking RAF Carew Cheriton at first light with two bombers. It is an unusually effective attack, destroying two Ansons on the field and several buildings. There was one death and 10 other casualties.

Several hours later, at 10:30, the Luftwaffe sends over a large fighter formation toward Portsmouth and Southampton. The 100+ fighters of JG 2, JG 53 and ZG 26 are met by RAF fighters in the area of the Isle of Wight. Losses are about even for the two sides. A problem with the new strategy arises early on, though, when the Jabos (fighter-bombers) have to jettison their bombs early at random in order to defend themselves, in some ways nullifying the benefits of the strategy. However, from the Luftwaffe's perspective, the strategy in the larger sense works because it draws the RAF fighters up to do battle, which they might not do otherwise if only pure fighters attacked.

Another formation approaches the coast at The Needles, and another dogfight breaks out. The Luftwaffe pilots appear to get the better of this engagement, shooting down several Spitfires.

After the now-typical lunchtime break, the Luftwaffe sends an attack on London at around 13:00 which consists of Jabos and some Heinkel He 111s escorted by Bf 109s. Fighter Command gets right on this highly predictable attack, but suffers a bunch of losses when it runs into elite fighter squadron JG 26.

Shortly after 16:00, the Luftwaffe sends another Jabo/fighter formation to the area of RAF Kenley. This formation manages to reach London, somewhat justifying the change in strategy as the slow Heinkels and other German bombers typically have had to turn back well before then. As a bonus, the Luftwaffe only loses one plane in this bombing, though the Jabos carry far fewer bombs than the bombers and thus cause much less damage than they could have.

After dark the main targets are London, Liverpool, Manchester, East Anglia, Bristol, and the Midlands - the usual targets. The British are catching on to the German radio direction-finding used by the Luftwaffe at night - the Knickebein system - and are learning how to jam it in RAF No. 80 Signals Section. This is an ongoing process that continues throughout the remainder of the battle. The raids during the night are very moderate, and by now the civilian population has learned how to protect itself as much as possible.

Losses for the day are fairly even, with the usual score given as 6 Luftwaffe losses and 4 RAF ones. This, as usual, does not include planes lost on the ground, RAF bombers lost on their own attacks, and the two-sides respective amounts of bombing damage, which overall gives the Luftwaffe a pretty good day. However, while the change of tactics to reduced bomber use during daylight may be working, it also represents a strategic defeat since the medium German bombers no longer can carry out precision daylight raids.

The first RAF bomber equipped to drop "Mutton" parachute bombs into the path of approaching Luftwaffe planes goes into operation. This follows on earlier, moderately successful attempts to drop bombs in the path of bombers during August.

Hptm. Helmut Wick of Stab I./JG 2 files claims for two Spitfires, giving him a total of 36 victories.

1 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Manchester Guardian Battle of Britain statistics
The Manchester Guardian runs one of its periodic summaries of the course of the Battle of Britain (for those keeping score at home). The loss figures shown are extremely fanciful and simply tally the highly inflated numbers distributed each day to the press. 1 October 1940.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command continues its assault on Berlin, attacking a munitions plant there. Other raids occur on Cologne and Duisburg power plants, the coastal guns at Cap Gris Nez, and various airfields and ports in northwestern Europe. The raid on Berlin is notable because the RAF drops propaganda leaflets. The improving Luftwaffe night-fighter force shoots down four RAF bombers over Berlin, and anti-aircraft claims three others along the coast. The RAF is sending numerous small-scale raids on various targets - 105 separate attacks tonight - which prove difficult to intercept. Individually, however, they do not cause much damage, especially when taking into account poor accuracy endemic to bombers of the period.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-38 (Kptl. Heinrich Liebe), on her seventh patrol, uses a total of three torpedoes and sinks 14,172 ton British liner Highland Patriot (Master Robert Henry Robinson). Before sinking the ship, Liebe allows the passengers to disembark after first attacking at 06:47, preventing more casualties, then puts in his final torpedo. The sinking is about 400 miles (700 km) west of Ireland at 07:08. There are only 3 deaths out of the 172 people on board as sloop HMS Wellington (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN) is nearby to pick the survivors up quickly.

Italian submarine Maggiore Francesco Baracca (C.C. Enrico Bertarelli), operating out of Bordeaux about 300 miles (560 km) west of Porto, Portugal, disembarks the crew and then uses its deck gun to sink 3687 ton Greek freighter Aghios Nicolaos at 16:15. There are 27 survivors and four crew perish.

Dutch freighter Haulerwijk, torpedoed on 30 September by U-32, is sunk by gunfire after the crew is taken off shortly after midnight.

Minesweepers MSW Britomart and Retake collide in the Firth of Forth, causing minor damage.

The Luftwaffe attacks Convoy WN. 19 Slow in the North Sea at dusk, machine-gunning the ships.

Force H cruises off the Azores as it steams north toward England, investigating reports of Nazi invasion convoys.

Convoy FN 296 departs from Southend, Convoy OA 223 departs from Methil, Convoy OB 222 departs from Liverpool, Convoy SHX 77 departs from Halifax.

Battleship HMS King George V (41, Captain Wilfrid R. Patterson), built by Vickers-Armstrong, is commissioned for trials at Walker Naval Yard, Newcastle upon Tyne. It introduces the first Mk IV Pom-pom director and is the first ship with gyroscopic target tracking in tachymetric anti-aircraft directors. The battleship remains incomplete and, after completion of trials, will be taken to Rosyth for final fitting out. This is a major event in the life of the Royal Navy, as the King George V is state-of-the-art and the first in a projected series of battleships. She also comes along just at the right time, as later events will prove.

1 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Highland Patriot
A Royal Mail postcard of Highland Patriot.

Battle of the Mediterranean: At Malta, cruisers HMS Gloucester and Liverpool, having unloaded their 1000+ troops and cargo, scoot back out of Grand Harbour and head back to Alexandria. The island's army units spend the day reorganizing and inspecting the new troops.

Manhattan Project: Uranium produced at the mine located at Shinkolobwe, Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) is shipped to New York. Director Edgar Sengier stores the final total of 1140 tons of uranium in a Staten Island warehouse. The ore is freakishly rich, containing 65% U3O8. The mine itself has been closed and its location made classified - it even has been removed from maps - but the US Army at some point sends a squad from the Corps of Engineers there to reopen the mine and upgrade the nearby airfields at Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) and Elizabethville (now Lubumbashi) and the port of Matadi.

Albert Einstein receives his US citizenship documents.

German/Finnish Relations: The two nations continue tightening ties with each other. In addition to the transit rights granted to Wehrmacht troops recently, they agree that Germany will receive the right to all of Finland's nickel exports in exchange for arms shipments. Throughout the war, right into its final days, Germany may run short of many things, but nickel is not one of them because of this deal. The mine is in the far north near Petsamo and from this point forward becomes one of the most important but little-known strategic locations in Europe.

1 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Naz German propaganda newspaper
German propaganda newspaper Naz (dated 1 October 1940) blares the headline "Ten British Spies Caught in Japan." What is somewhat ironic about this headline - which apparently relates to a months-old incident - is that three German spies have just been caught in Scotland as part of Operation Lena.

German Military: Hubert Lanz receives the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross as a Oberst on the General Staff and as Chief of Staff of XVIII. Armeekorps during the Battle of France.

Erich Alfred Hartmann, who goes by the nickname "Bubi," begins his basic military training at the 10th Flying Regiment (Friegerausbildungsregiment) in Neukuhren (near Königsberg in East Prussia).

Wolfgang Falck, considered the "Father of the Nachtjagdwaffe (Night fighters)" and commander of NJG 1, receives the Ritterkreuz. Falck is busy developing new tactics with General Josef Kammhuber for better defense against growing RAF raids.

Also receiving the Ritterkreuz is Oberleutnant Gustav “Micky” Sprick, Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 26, for his 20th victory on 28 September.

I,/NJG 3 forms at Vechta with Bf 110s. Its first commander is Hptm. Günther Radusch.

At Zossen, General Halder continues the Army's perpetual preparations for phantom operations and sets in motion a detailed planning process for Operation Felix, the projected assault on Gibraltar. These sorts of contingency planning sessions take place in all armies, but the Wehrmacht's obsession with this particular operation - which would be easy with Spanish cooperation, and impossible without - creates an impression of pointless make-work for an idle staff.

 Only Francisco Franco in Madrid can create the conditions necessary for Operation Felix, and his attitude remains obscure. His Foreign Minister Serrano Suner, having just met with Hitler, meets today with Mussolini in Rome to discuss similar "things."

US Military: The US Navy conducts landing operations in the Caribbean (probably Puerto Rico) with the Marines. The operation is called Special Landing Operation No. 2.

Clarence L. Tinker is promoted to Brigadier General. He currently serves as Commandant of the Air Services Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas and is considered one of the US Army's top aviation experts (the US air force still being the US Army Air Corps). He also is a Native American, one of the first to reach the rank of General in the Army.

Jacob Devers is promoted to Major General. He now commands the US 9th Infantry Division based at Fort Bragg.

1 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com barrage balloons
"Kite balloons of No. 1 Balloon Training Unit at Cardington, October 1940." Daventry B J (Mr) © IWM (CH 17333).

China: The Japanese 22nd Army, weakened by transfers south for the invasion of French Indochina, battles fiercely to hold its supply lines in the continuing Battle of South Kwangsi.

The Chinese Communist and Nationalist armies skirmish around Huangqiao.

Australian Homefront: The Chermside Army Camp is established in Brisbane, with construction beginning. It can accommodate 3500 militia troops in tents and, eventually, barracks.

Petrol rationing is imposed.

German Homefront: In today's Manchester Guardian (page 2) is an account lifted from a New York newspaper (Ralph Ingersoll's P.M.) by Richard Boyer. It recounts a recent visit to Germany. Boyer recalls a:
dead listlessness which is spreading like a plague and infecting increasing numbers with defeatism. If the contagion is not halted, Germany itself, even in victory, may go the way of France.
While Boyer's interpretation is perhaps a bit sensationalized for the press and flavored by the source newspaper's liberal orientation, it does comport with other indications that German morale is depressed relative to, say, British morale and that of 1914. Virtually all of Germany's pre-war grievances relating to the Treaty of Versailles have been satisfied at this point, and yet Berliners still must sit endlessly in bomb shelters as the British launch repeated attacks. While many Germans are happy about the undeniable military successes to date, there appears to be an underlying sense even among many loyal to the regime that perhaps the war has served its purposes and should be put to rest. That, however, appears to be the last thing on Hitler's mind.

British Homefront: The media publicizes the recipients of the new George Cross and George Medal. These include Thomas Hopper Alderson and Patrick King, both involved in civilian rescues after bomb damage.

A debate rages in England as to whether the government should be building deep shelters for the citizenry (as opposed to mere "surface shelters" which have proven vulnerable to direct hits. Former Prime Minister Lloyd George leads this point of view. Today, Lord Davies writes in to the Guardian supporting this argument, calling the refusal properly to acknowledge the air war's dangers "another legacy of the Chamberlain regime" (which is perhaps the worst insult imaginable at this time).

Davies, George and many, many others would be perhaps discomfited to learn that the government, despite its protestations, indeed is building massive, deep, well-constructed shelters - but only for its own use. Cost, it turns out, is no object when it comes to protecting government bureaucrats. Many of these shelters survive today, virtually intact, down to the teapots and cutlery to be used in 1940. The public is not informed of their existence until the 21st Century.

1 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein becomes a US citizen, 1 October 1940.


September 1940


September 1, 1940: RAF's Horrible Weekend
September 2, 1940: German Troopship Sunk
September 3, 1940: Destroyers for Bases
September 4, 1940: Enter Antonescu
September 5, 1940: Stukas Over Malta
September 6, 1940: The Luftwaffe Peaks
September 7, 1940: The Blitz Begins
September 8, 1940: Codeword Cromwell
September 9, 1940: Italians Attack Egypt
September 10, 1940: Hitler Postpones Sealion
September 11, 1940: British Confusion at Gibraltar
September 12, 1940: Warsaw Ghetto Approved
September 13, 1940: Zeros Attack!
September 14, 1940: The Draft Is Back
September 15, 1940: Battle of Britain Day
September 16, 1940: italians Take Sidi Barrani
September 17, 1940: Sealion Kaputt
September 18, 1940: City of Benares Incident
September 19, 1940: Disperse the Barges
September 20, 1940: A Wolfpack Gathers
September 21, 1940: Wolfpack Strikes Convoy HX-72
September 22, 1940: Vietnam War Begins
September 23, 1940: Operation Menace Begins
September 24, 1940: Dakar Fights Back
September 25, 1940: Filton Raid
September 26, 1940: Axis Time
September 27, 1940: Graveney Marsh Battle
September 28, 1940: Radio Belgique Begins
September 29, 1940: Brocklesby Collision
September 30, 1940: Operation Lena

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

2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 30, 1940: Operation Lena


Monday 30 September 1940



30 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Vera von Schaburg
Vera von Schaburg.

Battle of Britain: There is fine flying weather again on 30 September 1940, which taunts the Germans whose grand plans over the summer came crashing down to earth due to erratically poor weather. The Luftwaffe shows once again that it has no plan when it alters tactics once again, returning to the close-escort formula which annoys the fighter pilots and tends to shift losses from the bombers to fighters. The attacks once again are heavy, continuing the on-again, off-again pattern that the Luftwaffe has set throughout the battle.

The first large attack is at 09:00, when about 60 aircraft (only twelve bombers) cross the coastline and attack RAF Biggin Hill and Kenley. It apparently is an attempt to bait Fighter Command into a pointless dogfight, but fails.

At 10:10, another, slightly larger formation of 75 planes follows the first. This time, Fighter Command intervenes and disperses the bombers, which cause little damage. However, it loses five Hurricanes to JG 26, the premiere Luftwaffe fighter squadron at the time.

Around 11:00, an even larger formation of 100 aircraft heads north from Cherbourg. RAF No. 10 Group intervenes, and fierce dogfights erupt. Once again, the bombers turn back before reaching any important targets.

The usual break for lunch hour takes place, and then another raid appears at 13:10 with 100 planes, followed closely by another 80 planes. Along with fighters making sweeps over the Channel, the total number of Luftwaffe planes in the air is well over 200. The raid aims for London, and many of the bombers make it there. RAF No. 12 Group sends up its Duxford "Big Wing," and they chase the bombers and the few escorting fighters back to France, getting several kills. Once again, the "Big Wing" is effective once in operation, but very slow off the mark, allowing many bombers to escape that might have been caught with more timely interception.

At 16:00, another raid of 200 aircraft heads across at Dungeness. The target once again is Biggin Hill and other airfields in the general East Kent vicinity. Weymouth and Yeovil take the most damage. RAF No. 303 (Polish) Squadron, RAF No. 1 (Canadian) Squadron, and No. 229 Squadron attempt to form a "Big Wing" but get separated. However, they all stumble upon a huge formation of Bf 109s and Bf 110s and can only take some potshots before escaping into the clouds. Overall, the British fighters feast on this bomber attack, shooting down numerous planes. This is the most memorable action of the day, with bombers crashing to earth regularly, and the pilots of JG 2 also claiming several victories. Sgt. Franciszek, the Czech ace flying with the Poles, gets a Bf 109 before also escaping into the clouds for the final victory of his career.

As is usually the case when the Luftwaffe launches repeated attacks, it is a massively bad day for its planes and pilots. The figures are usually given as 47 Luftwaffe losses and 20 RAF losses. Such high losses are unsustainable, and it is becoming unclear why the Luftwaffe insists on these large daylight raids when night-time operations are productive and incur far fewer losses.

30 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Daily Mail headlines
Daily Mail, 30 September 1940.

For the month of September 1940, some ballpark estimates on the outcomes for both sides in the Battle of Britain:
  • Luftwaffe plane losses: 433
  • British fighter losses: 242
  • Luftwaffe bombs on London: 6532 tons
  • 6954 killed and 10,615 other casualties - not counting those made homeless.
All figures should be taken with a grain of salt. Even if historians have all the contemporary records available (many are lost or incomplete), disagreements about what constitutes a "loss" will never be resolved (many planes are badly damaged, some return to service, others are scavenged for parts, some spend long periods unavailable before receiving repairs etc.). These figures also do not reflect the human cost, either in the air or on the ground. Further, planes lost on the ground and RAF bombs dropped on European targets make the score much more even. There is no question that at this stage of the conflict, the Luftwaffe is losing more planes and pilots, while England is suffering more in numerous ways (bombing, rationing, shipping losses) than the Continent.

Wing Commander Laurence Frank Sinclair drags an airman from a crashed, burning plane, and for this later is awarded the George Cross. British Air Raid Precaution Officer Thomas Adlerson is awarded the George Cross for actions in saving civilians in Bridlington in August 1940. It is worth pointing out that the George Cross in theory is supposed to be oriented toward civilian heroism, as it is the "equivalent" of the VC, but in practice it usually goes to men acting in their official capacity on the home front (loosely defined).

F/O Urbanowicz of No. 303 Squadron claims two Bf109s and a Dornier Do 215 near the French coast. Dornier Do 215s are the German search and rescue planes, but the RAF considers them fair game despite that being of highly questionable legality. Pilot/Officer Radomski also shoots down a Do 215. Despite shooting down the German rescue planes, they remain effective at rescuing downed airmen from the Channel.

James Lacey downs a damaged Junkers Ju 88 bomber.

Oblt. Werner Machold of 9./JG 2 gets his 24th, 25th and 26th victories. Hptm. Helmut Wick of Stab I./JG 2 claims a Hurricane and a Spitfire for his 33rd and 34th claims.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command attacks Berlin, spending four hours over the city. Extensive damage is caused to industrial, rail and power targets. Other raids target the German coastal guns at Cap Gris Nez, the port of Cuxhaven, Amsterdam, and various airfields and railway targets in northwest Europe. Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm chip in with attacks on the port of Rotterdam and Ostend, along with other ports on the Channel. During a raid on Vlaardingen, the Fleet Air Arm loses an Albacore. Overall, the RAF loses five planes.

30 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Amsterdam bomb damage
Damage caused by a RAF raid on Amsterdam (Rechtboomsloot) during the night of 29/30 September.

Battle of the Atlantic: While it is easy to say at this distant point that all invasion worries have dissipated in England by now. However, the facts suggest otherwise. For instance, the Admiralty orders the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow to remain on four-hour's notice throughout the night. In addition, aircraft carrier Ark Royal and cruiser HMAS Australia, escorted by destroyers, depart Freetown bound for the Clyde. There also are rampant invasion rumors regarding the Azores and Canary Islands, which these ships will investigate along the way.

On its eighth patrol and operating out of Lorient along the trade route 300 miles west of Ireland, U-37 (Kapitänleutnant Victor Oehrn) has a big day.

At 10:13, U-37 torpedoes and sinks banana boat 5390 ton British freighter Samala (the British love bananas, and 1500 tons go down with the Samala). All 68 on board, including 2 passengers, perish.

At 21:56, U-37 strikes again. It torpedoes and sinks 2499 ton British collier Heminge, part of Convoy OA 222. There are 25 survivors, and one crewman perishes. The crew gets lucky by being picked up by British freighter Clan Cumming and landed at Liverpool.

U-32 (Kptl. Hans Jenisch) at 15:02 fires a torpedo at empty 3278 ton Dutch freighter Haulerwijk on the trade route west of Ireland. It is a straggler from Convoy OB 219. The torpedo runs under the empty freighter, and Jenisch has to spend hours chasing the now-alerted freighter as it zig-zags along in a panic. U-32 finally surfaces and uses its deck gun on the freighter. The ship stops and starts a couple of times, so U-32 keeps firing. Finally, the crew gives up and abandons ship, and after guiding the crew in its lifeboats toward land, U-32 sinks the ship by gunfire at 20:35. There are 27 survivors, while four crew perish.

The minefield audaciously laid recently by a Kriegsmarine destroyer flotilla at the southern end of the English Channel off Falmouth continues to pay dividends. It racks up a score with smaller ships which explode spectacularly. Due to the size of the mines, the crews of smaller victims tend to have little chance of survival.

Royal Navy minesweeping trawler HMT Comet hits one of the Falmouth mines There are 2 survivors, while 15 crew perish.

Some sources claim that Royal Navy armed yacht HMY Sappho hits a mine and sinks today in the same area as the Comet. Other sources say it occurs on the 29th. In any event, 29 are killed and  nobody survives.

In Operation MW, the British bring monitor HMS Erebus and its two 15-inch guns to Hellfire Corner between Dover and Calais. It fires 17 rounds at the German coastal guns at Cap Gris Nez and and nearby, joined by destroyers HMS Garth and Vesper, with little effect.

U-31 (Kptl. Wilfried Prellberg) narrowly escapes two torpedoes fired at it at 03:16. This is a mystery, as there is no record of any submarine by either side firing the torpedoes.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Kipling collides with British freighter Queen Maud while escorting Convoy FN 295. It returns to the Humber for minor repairs.

Patrol Sloop Mallard is damaged by a mine off Harwich and is taken by tug Kenia back to port for extensive repairs.

British freighter Sussex, sailing with Convoy SL 47 off Kinnaird Head, is damaged in a Luftwaffe attack at around 20:00.

A British minelaying flotilla departs from Loch Aish to lay Field NS 42 north of Scotland.

The Kriegsmarine sends torpedo boats to lay minefield Werner off Dover.

British freighter Automedon, a spy ship, departs from London for Singapore with highly classified information, codes and other materials on board regarding British Far East dispositions and plans.

Convoy OA 222 departs from Methil, Convoy FN 295 departs from Southend, Convoy HX 77 departs from Halifax, Convoy BHX 77 departs from Bermuda.

Kriegsmarine cruiser Admiral Hipper makes port in Kiel after experiencing engine trouble.

Allied Shipping Losses for the month of September 1940 total approximately 403,504 tons sunk in the Atlantic and about 450,000 tons overall.

Overall, 92 Allied ships sunk in the Atlantic:
  • 295,335 tons sunk by U-boat;
  • 56,328 tons sunk by aircraft
  • 96,288 tons sunk by raiders
  • 8,269 tons sunk by mines.
In addition, there were 6 Axis ships sunk in the Mediterranean totalling 21,466 ton. Elsewhere, there were 8 Allied ships sunk, primarily in the Indian Ocean, totalling 45,117 tons (overall figures may not exactly add up as taken from different sources). The Axis loses one U-boat during the month and has 28 ready for duty in the Atlantic. Italy continues to transfer submarines to its new base at Bordeaux and will focus on the area of Spain and to the south.

U-73 (Kapitänleutnant Helmut Rosenbaum) is commissioned.

Light cruisers HMS Dido (37), Nigeria (60), Phoebe (43) and corvette HMS Cyclamen (K 83) are commissioned.

30 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com HMS Gloucester Malta
HMS Gloucester enters Grand Harbour, Malta. Naval-history.net.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The RAF continues to focus on Italian supply lines. It bombs Marawa, Libya, a key crossroads about 65 km south of Bayda.

Some sources place the sinking of Italian submarine Gondar by HMS Stuart and Short Sunderland flying boats today, others on the 29th. In any event, all 47 on board survive.

At Malta, cruisers HMS Gloucester and Liverpool make port at Grand Harbour at 22:00. They carry 1000+ troops, primarily anti-aircraft gunners and infantry, and general cargo, including anti-aircraft guns and munitions. Furious unloading begins immediately so that the ships can clear out on the 1st. The troops have been at sea for weeks on the long way around the Cape of Good Hope. This completes Operation MB 5 (once they unload and sail).

The Italian fleet has been at sea due to reports about Convoy MB 5, but, having not spotted the enemy, returns to port.

Spy Stuff: During the night of September 29th/30th, the Germans implement a key part of Operation Lobster (Unternehmen Hummer), which encompasses the collection of military data about Great Britain. This particular part of Operation Lobster has been planned in early September 1940 to coincide with Operation Sealion, and proceeds despite the latter operation's suspension. This particular sub-operation is part of Operation Lena, the infiltration of spies ("HumInt") into England and Scotland. Major Klug in the Abwehr Office WN 2 (Section 2), under the general direction of Admiral Canaris, gives the final go-ahead.

At 02:30, three Abwehr agents board a Heinkel He 115 seaplane in Stavanger, Norway. They fly across the Channel to the west of Scotland and land just off the Banff coast, paddling ashore. The agents are (they all have multiple names and variations of those names, which, if any, are real is a little unclear):

  • Vera de Witte (alias for Vera Schaburg aka Vera Erikson aka Vera de Cottany-Chalbur), 
  • Theodore Drueke (aka Karl Druecke aka Karl Drucke, his name is spelled differently in every source) and 
  • Werner Waelt (aka Robert Petter). 

It is a favorite subject of historical conjecture to posit that the entire operation has been designed to fail (through poor choices of agents etc.) by anti-Nazi officials within the Abwehr. That is based on general anti-Nazi attitudes of those officers, not on actual proof. The entire affair is murky, including some of its outcomes.

The three agents are to observe military bases and airfields and report back to Germany using wireless in order to facilitate Operation Sealion. They carry in their luggage bundles of cash, lists of RAF airfields to observe, and 19 magazines of ammunition. It is widely believed by historians that Vera Schaburg is a double agent, but this has never been proved conclusively. This incident was made into a German television movie, "The Beautiful Spy" (2013), directed by Miguel Alexandre.

The agents attempt to act like normal train travellers. However, they are spotted at Port Gordon and two, Schaburg and Drucke, are arrested at Buckle on the Moray Firth. The third agent, Petter, is arrested around the same time in Edinburgh after he deposits a disguised wireless set at the train baggage claim area. The two men are executed as spies at Wandsworth Prison on 6 August 1941, while Vera Schaburg disappears from history. She is presumed by many to be a double-agent whisked away to parts unknown by MI5/MI6 - or perhaps they found another use for her.

Many rumors float around about this woman, a notorious spy both in Russia/Soviet Union and Germany on a par with Mata Hari, but very few facts. Let's just say that you could trust her about as far as you could throw her. The last hint of her fate is that she returned to Germany after the war. Born in 1912 in Russia, it is highly unlikely but not impossible that Schaburg still survives.

German Military: Georg von Bismarck, the commander of the 7th Schützen-Regiment (motorized infantry regiment) of Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division during the famous Channel Dash, receives the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

British Military: Air Marshal Hugh Dowding becomes a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of Bath, or Sir Hugh for short.

US Military: Battleship USS Arizona makes port at Long Beach, California.


30 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com  Bantam jeep Blitz Buggy
A Bantam Blitz Buggy, currently undergoing tests at Camp Holabird, Maryland on 30 September 1940.

Australia: Convoy US 5A departs from Sydney, including 1908 troops on Dutch liners Nieuw Zeeland and Johan De Witt. The convoy includes three freighters carrying munitions. The first stop is Fremantle.

China: The Communist Chinese New 4th Army leaves Jiangyan for Huangqiao to form a defensive position against an expected Nationalist Chinese attack. Much effort is wasted by the Chinese in these fraternal battles. The Japanese send an air attack against Kunming.

Free France: General Charles de Gaulle, in Freetown following the failed Operation Menace, departs by air for Lagos.

British Homefront: The government announces that 50 London firemen have perished during the month of September 1940.

German Homefront: Berlin Children are encouraged to visit rural relatives by being given extra vacation time if they do.

Future History: Dewey Martin is born in Chesterville, Ontario. He becomes famous in the 1960s as the drummer with Buffalo Springfield, and also for session work with The Monkees. He passes away in 2009.

30 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com US Iowa
Battleship USS Iowa (CV 16) under construction at New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, 30 September 1940.


September 1940


September 1, 1940: RAF's Horrible Weekend
September 2, 1940: German Troopship Sunk
September 3, 1940: Destroyers for Bases
September 4, 1940: Enter Antonescu
September 5, 1940: Stukas Over Malta
September 6, 1940: The Luftwaffe Peaks
September 7, 1940: The Blitz Begins
September 8, 1940: Codeword Cromwell
September 9, 1940: Italians Attack Egypt
September 10, 1940: Hitler Postpones Sealion
September 11, 1940: British Confusion at Gibraltar
September 12, 1940: Warsaw Ghetto Approved
September 13, 1940: Zeros Attack!
September 14, 1940: The Draft Is Back
September 15, 1940: Battle of Britain Day
September 16, 1940: italians Take Sidi Barrani
September 17, 1940: Sealion Kaputt
September 18, 1940: City of Benares Incident
September 19, 1940: Disperse the Barges
September 20, 1940: A Wolfpack Gathers
September 21, 1940: Wolfpack Strikes Convoy HX-72
September 22, 1940: Vietnam War Begins
September 23, 1940: Operation Menace Begins
September 24, 1940: Dakar Fights Back
September 25, 1940: Filton Raid
September 26, 1940: Axis Time
September 27, 1940: Graveney Marsh Battle
September 28, 1940: Radio Belgique Begins
September 29, 1940: Brocklesby Collision
September 30, 1940: Operation Lena

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

2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 29, 1940: Brocklesby Collision


Sunday 29 September 1940

29 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Brocklesby collision
The two Avro Ansons involved in the Brocklesby mid-air collision.

Battle of Britain: Maintaining a long-standing pattern in the Battle of Britain, 29 September 1940 is an "off" day after some "on" days. The Luftwaffe sends across scattered raiders, makes half-hearted attacks on shipping, and performs reconnaissance for most of the day. There are only a few halfway-major efforts which do not amount to much. Neither side takes many losses, and some of those are self-inflicted.

Late in the morning, the naval base at Lowestoft is hit which does not do much damage to the facility itself, but infrastructure such as water mains and houses take a beating. Another attack around the same time takes place against shipping off Portsmouth, and a third off the North Wales Coast. RAF Fighter Command does not get much accomplished in these instances, showing the value of these sorts of small-scale hit-and-run raids.

Shortly after 16:00, the day's major daylight raid takes place. Several medium-scale formations penetrate over Dungeness and another over Dover. Some of the bombers attack Central London, but they are just fighters which can cause little damage. The RAF makes a half-hearted interception and loses a couple of Hurricane fighters for its trouble.

Another, smaller series of raids occurs around 18:00 in waning daylight over St. George's Channel. Not much happens, but a German fighter is lost.

After dark, it is a fairly average night. Around 20:00, bombers cross over and target numerous areas in southern Britain, including of course London. Liverpool receives a major attack around 22:30, initiating fires at the docks and nearby warehouses.

In London, St. Paul's Churchyard takes an unexploded bomb, while the docks around Horse Shoe Wharf receive damage. Other raids target the aircraft factory at Gloucester. The Luftwaffe loses a couple of Heinkel He 111s late in the day. After midnight, the attacks are largely confined to London and surrounding areas,, and they end a little earlier than usual at about 03:00.

Late in the day, as the light is fading, the RAF has some friendly fire incidents which cause it to lose two Hurricanes. Both pilots, however, survive.

Befitting the quiet day, losses are minimal and even at about a handful of planes apiece. The strategy of attacking at night makes the Luftwaffe's bombers much more effective and reduces their losses, but it also reduces (actually eliminates) the precision necessary to selectively eliminate RAF infrastructure.

Hptm. Walter Oesau of Stab III./JG 51 claims two Spitfires for his 32nd and 33rd victories.

29 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com German land mine
An unexploded German land mine, dropped by parachute. These could destroy all buildings within a quarter of a mile.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command continues its campaign against Luftwaffe airfields. It also targets oil installations at Hannover and Magdeburg, warehouses at Cologne and Osnabruck, an aluminum plant at Bitterfeld, and a gas plant at Stuttgart.

Battle of the Atlantic: The Royal Navy is has a bad day, not of losses, but of errant chases of phantom sightings. Cruiser HMS Emerald departs from Plymouth with a destroyer escort to intercept the Kriegsmarine destroyer force which recently laid a minefield right outside the harbor, but the Germans are long gone. HMS Renown (RN Force H) departs from Gibraltar after reports of the French battleship Richelieu at sea, but that proves erroneous (and the Richelieu is incapacitated at Dakar anyway). There are reports of German transports heading for the Azores which Royal Navy destroyers waste much time pursuing, There also is a report of French destroyers trying to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar - probably a paranoid echo of the recent escape through there by French cruisers - but nothing there, either. This all points out how obscure the fog of war can be, and how lack of good intelligence can lead to waste of resources.

U-32 (Kptl. Hans Jenisch) continues stalking ships dispersed from Convoy OB 218 about 350 miles west of Ireland. After a long stern chase, at 00:53, it adds to its score by sending a torpedo into the stern of 5267 ton British freighter Bassa (Captain George Edward Anderson). All 50 aboard perish after the U-boat crew sees them taking to lifeboats... it's a long way to nowhere out there if you aren't found.

Dutch 1939 ton freighter Arizona hits a mine and sinks in the Firth of Forth near the Kincraig Signal Tower. There are three survivors, the rest of the crew perishes.

Royal Navy 387 ton armed yacht HMY Sappho, serving as a guard ship, hits a mine and sinks off Falmouth, Cornwall. As often happens when smaller vessels hit mines, the ship blows up and kills the kill. 33 men perish. This seems to be a victim of the mines recently laid by a German destroyer flotilla at the mouth of the English Channel.

Norwegian freighter SS Vestkyst I collides with another ship, tug Storegut (formerly Minerva), off Skibeskjærene, Norway and sinks. It is in shallow water, though, and can be re-floated.

Convoy FN 294 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 294 departs from the Tyne, Convoy FS 295 departs from Methil, Convoy OB 221 departs from Liverpool.

29 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com German marching band
The marching band of the Wehrmacht 10th Motorized Infantry Division in Regensburg, 29 September 1940.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The Royal Navy fleet is at sea in support of convoy MB 5, and some of its ships detach to bombard the coast road supporting the Italians at Sidi Barrani. This reinforces Marshal Graziani's fears about his supply lines.

Italian 1434 ton freighter Carmen hits a mine and sinks southwest of Durazzo, Albania, presumably while supplying the Italian garrison there. Some accounts state that the Carmen was sunk by a torpedo from British submarine HMS Osiris, which had recently sunk the Italian torpedo boat Palestro on the 22nd in the same vicinity. The Carmen, though, is not usually included among the Osiris' successes.

Operation MB 5, a resupply convoy to Malta, runs two cruisers into Grand Harbor at 22:00. It battles through Italian air attacks on the final run in. On board are over 1000 troops sent from England to help defend the island. Numerous units are represented, with a large artillery component.

Both fleets - the Italian fleet based at Taranto and Sicily and the Royal Navy fleet based at Alexandria - are at sea. The possibility of a major fleet action exists.

The Italian submarine Scirè (Commander Prince Borghese), heading to Gibraltar with manned torpedoes, heads back to base when the Italians learn that the large Royal Navy ships are out at sea (at Freetown following the failure of Operation Menace).


29 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com London evacuees
Children of the Blitz, September 1940.

Battle of the Pacific: It is a bad day for ships running aground in the Pacific.

Australian schooner Henrietta sinks at Port Phillip, Victoria in poor weather. The ship runs aground on a reef because there were no charts on board and is wrecked in a storm during the night. The three sailors on board survive, as well as the ship's cat, but the cat's kittens don't make it.

British 429 ton freighter Kinabulu runs aground at Batu Mandi Rock, North East Borneo. It is carrying cattle and other cargo to from Jesselton to Sandakan. The five crew perish.

Spy Stuff: During the night of 29/30 September, three German spies land by rubber dinghy on the Scottish Banff coast after being deposited offshore by a Heinkel He 115. They are Vera de Witte, Theodore Drueke and Werner Waelt. This is part of Operation Lobster (Unternehmen Hummer), a continuing operation to infiltrate Great Britain with spies in order to gather data.

US Military: The Greenslade Board, examining new US bases acquired in the bases-for-destroyers deal, departs from Norfolk, Virginia for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Madagascar: The local government affirms its allegiance to Vichy France.

Luxembourg: The Germans formally incorporate Luxembourg into the Greater Reich.

Midway Island: US Marine Corps Midway Detachment of the Fleet Marine Force (Major Harold C. Roberts) arrives on the island to prepare a camp.

29 September 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Brocklesby collision
Brocklesby mid-air collision.

Australia: Two Avro Ansons of No. 2 Service Flying Training School RAAF, based at RAAF Forest Hill near Wagga Wagga, create one of the most unusual incidents in aviation history. Flying in formation at 1000 feet (330 meters) over Brocklesby, the two aircraft come together, knocking out the upper aircraft's engines and somehow locking the two planes together. There are two men in each aircraft, all students in the final stages of their training, and three of them bail out, with the sole exception of the pilot in the top aircraft.

Leading Aircraftman Leonard Graham Fuller, 22, the pilot of the top aircraft, is now flying an aircraft whose engines are out, but which is still flying because the engines of the lower aircraft remain in operation. His controls otherwise work, though he later comments that they are "pretty heavy." Fuller flies five miles (8 km) and then spots a field about 4 miles (6 km) southwest of Brocklesby. Landing into the wind, he brings the two aircraft down in the field, sliding 200 yards (180 m) before they come to rest.

By landing the planes, Fuller not only avoids damage to the town or wherever else the planes might come down together, but saves £40,000 worth of military hardware (both aircraft are repaired and one returns to service, the other used as an instructional aid). Fuller receives an immediate promotion to sergeant, but also is reprimanded for talking to the media without authorization. He later receives the Distinguished Flying Medal for actions over Palermo in 1942, and in 1944 perishes when hit by a bus.

The incident is commemorated in Brocklesby by memorials and markers, most recently in 2007.




September 1940


September 1, 1940: RAF's Horrible Weekend
September 2, 1940: German Troopship Sunk
September 3, 1940: Destroyers for Bases
September 4, 1940: Enter Antonescu
September 5, 1940: Stukas Over Malta
September 6, 1940: The Luftwaffe Peaks
September 7, 1940: The Blitz Begins
September 8, 1940: Codeword Cromwell
September 9, 1940: Italians Attack Egypt
September 10, 1940: Hitler Postpones Sealion
September 11, 1940: British Confusion at Gibraltar
September 12, 1940: Warsaw Ghetto Approved
September 13, 1940: Zeros Attack!
September 14, 1940: The Draft Is Back
September 15, 1940: Battle of Britain Day
September 16, 1940: italians Take Sidi Barrani
September 17, 1940: Sealion Kaputt
September 18, 1940: City of Benares Incident
September 19, 1940: Disperse the Barges
September 20, 1940: A Wolfpack Gathers
September 21, 1940: Wolfpack Strikes Convoy HX-72
September 22, 1940: Vietnam War Begins
September 23, 1940: Operation Menace Begins
September 24, 1940: Dakar Fights Back
September 25, 1940: Filton Raid
September 26, 1940: Axis Time
September 27, 1940: Graveney Marsh Battle
September 28, 1940: Radio Belgique Begins
September 29, 1940: Brocklesby Collision
September 30, 1940: Operation Lena

2016