Monday, October 31, 2016

October 28, 1940: Oxi Day


Monday 28 October 1940

28 October 1940  worldwartwo.filminspector.com Julia Division Pindus Mountains
The Italian Julia Alpini Division marches into the mountains. 28 October 1940.

Italian/Greek Campaign: Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas on 28 October 1940 rejects all demands from Italian dictator Mussolini by silence and appoints General Papagos as Commander in Chief. Half an hour before the expiration of the deadline, the Italians attack.

At 05:30, the Italians, under the command of General Visconti Prasca, attack with a total of 27 (understrength and ill-equipped) divisions (85,000 men, or less than 4000 men per division) at three points on the narrow frontier between Albania and Greece:
  1. Adriatic Coast;
  2. Pindus Mountains;
  3. Macedonia.
Employing 380 (largely obsolete) aircraft, 163 (light) tanks and large naval forces (which must look over their shoulders toward the Royal Navy) along the coast, the Italian land forces march forward. It is an odd time to attack, as the weather already is turning, especially at the higher elevations. This favors the defense. The power of air supremacy is limited against dug-in defensive positions in the mountains, too.

The Greeks are ready for the attack, being well-positioned and holding excellent defensive positions supported by natural geographical features. They have 30,000 men in position, but no armor and only 77 (also obsolete) planes.

The Italians cross the Kalamas River five miles off the front along the coast, but this direction basically leads nowhere. In the mountains, which is the strategic direction, they face poor weather and make virtually no progress. The Italian Julia Division moves forward in the opening moves of the Battle of Pindus. Their objective is the vital communications point of Metsovo, whose capture would decide the battle to the north. A long column of men advances single-file up narrow tracks.

The Italians bomb Patras, Greece, the main port of Athens in the Morea, and airfields around Athens.

This day becomes known as Oxi (No!) Day in Greece in celebration of Metaxas' rejection of Mussolini's ultimatum. The Greeks view the defense against Italy as a defense of their religion, their homes, of Western Civilization itself. The Greek still, incidentally, revere the day that Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, they have a long memory. US Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, reflecting on the Greek decision to fight, states:
The Greeks shattered forever the myth of Axis invincibility.
28 October 1940  worldwartwo.filminspector.com Greek troops Pindus Mountains
Greek troops defending against the Italians in the mountains.

Anglo/Greek Relations: Metaxas asks the British ambassador for assistance. Great Britain promises aid to Greece. Churchill goes into rhetorical overdrive, saying:
When you speak of Greek warriors, don’t say Greeks fight like heroes but that heroes fight like Greeks.
Churchill is probably secretly relieved by the invasion, because it dilutes Italian strength away from the Egyptian front and also takes pressure off of Malta. He plans on sending British troops to Crete, which shields the British naval base at Alexandria. However, he is not the only one eyeing Crete.

German/Italian Relations: Hitler has been informed of the Italian plans to invade Greece in recent days, including the date and time. He has done nothing to dissuade Mussolini from attacking and has expressed no sense of ill-will about the somewhat reluctant Italian attitude toward keeping him informed of developments. The myth persists that Hitler is "taken by surprise" by the invasion, but the evidence proves that this is incorrect. A better take on the situation is that Mussolini is acting alone or with Hitler's tacit approval, and Hitler chooses not to interfere. However, different accounts of his attitude throughout the week present a mixed picture of exactly what he knows and is expecting, with evidence on both sides of the ledger.

Hitler's train "Amerika" is travelling through Bologna at 10:00 when he receives the news of the Italian attack. According to his adjutant Major Engel, he begins "swearing and cursing" at his liaison officers in Rome for not informing him previously. He calls them "idlers, but not spies." All of this is odd, given the clear evidence in previous days that in fact his liaison officers in Rome have kept him very well informed, with a communication at noon on the 27th informing him of the precise start-time of the invasion. Besides... shouldn't his allies the Italians have told him? All sorts of guesswork has been made as to why he reacts this way upon learning the news, when it is clear that he has been informed previously of what was planned.

An hour later, at 11:00, Hitler's train pulls into Florence. He is greeted at the station by Mussolini, who says:
Fuhrer, we are marching! This morning a victorious Italian army has crossed the Greek border!
They - Hitler, Mussolini, Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano and German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop - adjourn to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. As always, it turns into a Hitler monologue, in which he rambles on upon his recent meetings with Franco and Petain. The gist of his rambling is that he does not like Franco or Laval, but Petain was a true gentleman (Petain was double-dealing the whole time with Churchill). He also brushes aside Mussolini's recent demands for territory in southern France and other concessions as being unnecessary.

Hitler offers an airborne division and a parachute division for an invasion of Crete - which Churchill also has his eyes on. Mussolini tells Hitler:
Don't worry, in two weeks, it will all be over.
Hitler departs at 18:00, having spent only about seven hours at the meeting. The Italians are happy because Hitler has reassured them that Italy is his most important partner, while Hitler is relieved because Mussolini has given up his exorbitant demands for concessions. However, after leaving, Hitler rails that the invasion was "pure madness" and Mussolini should have left Greece alone and invaded Malta instead.

Meanwhile, the invasion of Greece continues.

28 October 1940  worldwartwo.filminspector.com New York Times headlines


Battle of Britain: The weather remains acceptable for flying, though low-hanging clouds make the conditions quite different at ground level, with typical drizzly weather. There are only a few big raids during the day and long periods of little activity.

The Luftwaffe focuses on convoy attacks in the morning and does not attack inland until the afternoon. At 13:00, German fighter-bombers (Jabos) crosses into Kent and splits up to attack various targets. The RAF sends up No. 257 Squadron to intercept the fighters of JG 27. The Germans claim two Spitfires, but the RAF does not lose any planes.

At 16:00, the Luftwaffe sends across a variety of formations, including medium bombers such as Dornier Do 17s, some heading up from the south. They attack the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth without apparently any losses on either side. Other raiders, all Jabos, cross over at Dover and points south. This is a moderate-sized raid, and the RAF puts up nine squadrons in the defense. JG 51 and 53 tangles with the Hurricanes and Spitfires and comes off the worse for wear.

After dark, the Luftwaffe starts strong but the attacks peter out quickly. London, Birmingham and the Midlands are the primary targets, but there are scattered attacks all across southern England. Several RAF fields are attacked by a bomber or two each including Biggin Hill, Digby, Linton-on-Ouse, Driffield, Binbrook, and Massingham. In London, there is a huge fire at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich and a public shelter is hit at Southwark, which causes 100 casualties.

Biggin Hill is the airfield hit the hardest, with an estimated 300 bombs falling. The Luftwaffe drops a new kind of incendiary which acts somewhat like napalm on RAF Digby, but by the time it hits the ground it is inert.

Birmingham also is hit with incendiaries as well as high explosives. New Street Station is hit by incendiaries at platforms 3, 4 and 5, while the Midlands Parcel Office also is hit.

Overall, the Luftwaffe took a beating in the air. It loses about ten planes, while the RAF records show no losses. It is a half-hearted attempt at best by the Luftwaffe, which almost seems bored with the whole campaign by this point.

28 October 1940  worldwartwo.filminspector.com Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas was no saint: he was a typical European strongman of his day. He had studied at the Prussian Military Academy and knew how to fight. Metaxas is revered in Greece not for his rule, but for saying Oxi! (No!) to the Italians.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command attacks the ports of Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, Bremen, Hamburg, Emden, Cuxhaven and Boulogne. In addition, it bombs oil installations at Cologne, Hamburg and Homburg and railway infrastructure at Cologne, Coblenz, Krefeld and Mannheim. Other targets include various airfields in northwest Europe.

Battle of the Atlantic: Weather is worsening in the North Atlantic as a late-season hurricane heads north. This is going to damage ships over the next few days. All of the mining that the Luftwaffe has been doing recently continues to pay off, though the ships sunk tend to be smaller craft, coasters and tugs.

U-32 (Kptl. Hans Jenisch) maneuvers into position around midnight to finish off the Empress of Britain, the stricken 42k ton liner which is disabled and under tow back to the Clyde. Jenisch orders three torpedoes pumped into the liner, the first of which detonates prematurely but the latter two of which blow holes in her side. The liner immediately settles in the water and lists. It sinks around 02:05 northwest of Bloody Foreland, County Donegal. There is only a skeleton crew remaining on board, and they escape without incident. The ship capsizes and settles upside down at 500 feet (150 m). Rumors persisted for many years that there was a large cargo of gold aboard, but if there was, subsequent investigation revealed that it had been removed after the initial air attack on 26 October. U-32 and Oberleutnant Bernhard Jope, the pilot of the Focke-Wulf 200C Condor which bombed the liner originally, share equally in the sinking, each being credited with 1/2 ship and 21k tons of shipping sunk.

The British Home Fleet is alerted to the passage of the German battlecruiser Admiral Scheer to the Atlantic. A large force sets out to the Denmark Strait to intercept it, led by battlecruisers HMS Hood and Repulse and aircraft carrier HMS Furious. The object of all this attention, the Admiral Scheer, is safely in port at Stavanger, Norway.

Force H at Gibraltar, led by battleship Barham, puts to sea after receiving reports of a Vichy French destroyer flotilla putting to sea from Casablanca.

British 420 ton cargo ship Wythburn hits a mine in the Bristol Channel off Newport, Monmouthshire. Five men perish.

British 98 ton tug Devonia also hits a mine and sinks in the Bristol Channel off Newport, Monmouthshire. There is one survivor and three deaths.

British 490 ton coaster Sagacity hits a mine and sinks in the Humber southwest of Spurn Point, Yorkshire. Everybody aboard survives.

British 2719 ton freighter Sheaf Field hits a mine and sinks in the North Sea off the River Deben, Suffolk. All 26 aboard survive.

The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 96 ton Royal Navy trawler HMT Harvest Gleaner off Southwold, Suffolk in the North Sea. There are four deaths.

The Luftwaffe torpedoes and sinks Norwegian coaster H.J. Kyvig in Sunnfjord, Sogn og Fjordane. Five men perish.

Soviet icebreaker Malygin sinks in a storm off Kamchatka. All 98 men aboard perish in the frigid water.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Walpole hits a mine and is badly damaged. It is taken under tow by HMS Windsor.

Royal Navy minelayers HMS Teviotbank and Plover and destroyers Intrepid and Icarus lay minefield BS 43 in the North Sea.

The Germans seize Greek freighters Belgion (2844 tons) and Leontios Teryazos (4479 tons) at Bordeaux.

The Italians seize Gree freighters Athinai (2897 tons) and Maria Nomikou (1165 tons) near Messina.

Convoy HX 84 departs from Halifax.

28 October 1940  worldwartwo.filminspector.com Metaxas
Metaxas inspired fierce loyalty and still does in some people. His legacy is controversial.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Eagle patrols off western Greece, but despite the intense Italian activity around Albania finds no targets.

At Malta, the garrison is on edge because of the Italian invasion of Greece. The British War Cabinet meets at 17:00 and decides that Malta would be the best spot from which to launch air raids on Italy. It is close enough to attack Rome and achieve some political effects. They decide, however, to send a battalion which had been allocated to Malta to Crete instead. The Royal Navy priority from this point forward will be Crete, not Malta, with naval forces focusing on defending it. In essence, Malta increasingly will have to fend for itself.

Battle of the Pacific: After dark, German raider Pinguin and converted minelayer Passat begin laying mines, the Pinguin off Sydney, Australia and the Passat in the Banks Strait off Tasmania on the shipping lanes to Melbourne. They will continue doing this for the next ten days.

Anglo/African Relations: South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts, Anthony Eden, General Wavell and Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia meet in Khartoum to discuss strategy.

Spy Stuff: Alan Turing, in charge of the Enigma code-breaking operation, writes to Winston Churchill complaining about lack of support. Churchill orders that the code-breakers be given what they need.

British Military: General Neil Ritchie becomes commander of the British 51st Infantry Division.

US Military: Heavy cruiser USS Louisville arrives in Montevideo as part of the US Navy's continuing "Show the Flag" visits.

Vichy France: Pierre Laval, who has been acting unofficially as Marshal Petain's right-hand man in dealings with Germany, officially becomes Foreign Minister.

China: In the continuing Battle of South Kwangsi, the Japanese withdraw from Lungching and head for Nanning to recover it. The Chinese take possession of Lungching.

New Zealand Homefront: The New Zealand 8th Infantry Brigade begins leaving Wellington for Fiji.

Belgian Homefront: In occupied Belgium, the Nazis place new limits on Jewish employment and business dealings.

British Homefront: The authorities continue evacuating children from London to rural areas. The government reports that 489,000 children have departed to date. Evacuations overseas have been halted due to losses at sea.

28 October 1940  worldwartwo.filminspector.com Oxi Day



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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 27, 1940: Greece Rejects Italian Demands


Sunday 27 October 1940

27 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com North Africa British soldiers
Tommies on patrol in the Western Desert, 27 October 1940.

Battle of Britain: The weather remains acceptable for flying on 27 October 1940, and the pattern of recent days continues - that is, no real pattern. There are disjointed Luftwaffe raids throughout the day which primarily are made by fighter-bombers (Jabos) and cause little damage. They do stretch out the RAF fighter defenses, but they stress the Luftwaffe planes and pilots as well. As usual, the daylight attacks are bifurcated between the usual city targets and RAF airfields, with neither suffering particularly much due to the Jabos' small bomb loads.

The day has low-hanging clouds which allow the planes to battle it out in blinding sunshine, but on the ground it is dark, drizzly and miserable. For some reason, Fighter Command loses (at least temporarily out of action) several planes today due to running out of fuel. This may be related to the standing patrols that it has begun implementing.

The Jabos start early this morning, coming across in waves beginning around 07:30. The primary targets are the airfields around London (Biggin Hill, Kenley) and the city itself. As usual with the early morning raids, Fighter Command is slow off the mark and makes relatively few interceptions. Both sides take losses.

The first series of raids lasts for two hours, and another series begins around 11:30. This formation flies high and fast and heads for the London docklands. Two Hurricanes run out of fuel and are forced to crash-land, and a Spitfire is lost at Andover.

Another wave of Jabos crosses around 12:30. Fighter Command is ready and waiting for them and prevents any major damage.

The next wave of attacks is just after lunchtime at 13:30. The Jabos split up after crossing the coast, some heading for Central London, others for points further east. RAF No. 603 Squadron takes a beating in this encounter, losing three planes and two pilots.

The largest raids of the day take place around 16:30. This one includes medium bombers, a rare sight during daylight hours. Junkers Ju 88s, Heinkel He 111s and Dornier Do 17s fly over the Thames Estuary to East Anglia. RAF Martlesham and Coltishall are attacked, but they sustain little significant damage. The medium bombers strafe the airfields to little purpose, and the bombs, including some with delayed action fuses, only lightly damage the facilities.

At the same time, Junkers Ju 88s escorted by fighters attack Southampton and Portsmouth. Both sides claim victories in this attack. Further, but smaller, raids take place beginning around 18:30 against a bunch of RAF airfields: Leconfield, Feltwell, Driffield, Kirton-in-Lindsey and Martlesham. One of the Junkers is shot down near Driffield, and the men at the base recover one of the MG 15 machine guns for their trophy case. Italian BR 20M bombers participate in an attack on Ramsgate

After dark, the main targets are London, Liverpool and the Midlands. The London raids are of moderate intensity, and the bombers drop their loads all across the southern part of England without any main target. The LMS railway at Tottenham takes a hit which puts it out of action when a water main bursts. The Luftwaffe also drops mines all along the eastern coast, including Harwich and the Thames estuary.

Losses for the day are about even at roughly a dozen apiece. While the Luftwaffe attacks appear disorganized, they cause a fair amount of damage. The Germans do much better when they do not send their formations over "parade style" but instead vary the targets and intensity of their raids. The RAF loses four pilots killed, which is much worse than losing planes.

A Bf 109 shot down today in the marshes near Canterbury - flown by Oblt. Ulrich Steinhilper of I./JG 52 - will be recovered in 1980 for preservation by the Kent Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge. Steinhilper himself, who survived the war as a POW in Canada, visits the plane a few years later.

Another plane lost today at Congburn Dean, Edmondsley, a Hurricane of No. 43 Squadron flown by Sergeant L.V. Toogood, is recovered in October 1978. Toogood perished in the crash. This apparently was not a combat crash, but due to some equipment malfunction such as oxygen failure.

Major Hannes Trautloft of JG 54 claims a Spitfire over Ashford.

27 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Bf 109 Windsor Great Park
“The Messerschmitt Bf 109 E Oberleutnant Karl Fischer shot down in Windsor Great Park. October 1940.”

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command attacks several targets in Greater Germany, including oil installations at Hamburg, Hanover, Gelsenkirchen, Magdeburg and Ostermoor. Other targets include the Skoda plant at Pilsen, ports such as Antwerp, Flushing, Ostend, Lorient, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg, and warehouses at Krefeld, Hamm and Mannheim.

Battle of the Atlantic: British 42k ton troopship Empress of Britain is taken in tow by oceangoing tugs HMS Marauder and HMS Thames around 09:30. They make for the Clyde at 4 knots, covered by destroyers and Short Sunderland flying boats. U-32 (Kptl. Hans Jenisch), directed to the scene by U-boat Command, approaches the British ships during the day but must remain submerged throughout the day due to the British escorts. After dark, he surfaces and locates the stricken liner using hydrophones. Destroyer escorts HMS Broke and Sardonyx are zig-zagging. U-32 maneuvers into position to attack just after midnight.

Italian submarine Nani torpedoes and sinks 1583 ton Swedish freighter Meggie about 130 km off Santa Maria Island, Azores. Everybody aboard survives.

Dutch 325 ton coaster Margaretha hits a mine and sinks in the Bristol Channel near Newport, Monmouthshire. Everybody aboard survives.

British 20 ton drifter Persevere hits a mine and sinks in the Firth of Forth.

British 634 ton coaster Suavity hits a mine and sinks off Hartlepool, County Durham in the North Sea. Everybody aboard survives.

The Luftwaffe damaged 5013 ton British freighter Alfred Jones in Convoy OB 234 in the Irish Sea. There are 12 deaths.

The Luftwaffe also damages 411 ton British freighter Conister and 1556 ton British freighter Newlands.

Royal Navy light cruiser Arethusa collides with freighter Flaminian in the North Sea, slightly damaging its bow.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Swordfish reports damaging a freighter off Cherbourg.

German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer departs Germany for a raid into the Atlantic, proceeding north along the Norwegian coast.

Convoy OB 235 departs from Liverpool, Convoy FN 321 departs from Southend, Convoy FN 321 departs from Methil, Convoy SL 53 departs from Freetown.

27 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com USS Wasp
USS Wasp decked out for Navy Day. 27 October 1940.

Battle of the Mediterranean: General de Gaulle's Free Free troops in French Equatorial Africa are on the march into Vichy French Gabon. Under the command of General Edgard de Larminat, they advance from the Congo Valley, take the town of Mitzic, and invest the fortress of Lambarene. These events in central Africa are intended to consolidate de Gaulle's strength and set up bases for air attacks on the Italian positions further north and east.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, on a mission out of Alexandria, launches air attacks against the Italian seaplane base at Maltezana, Rhodes, Greece.

At Malta, there is an air raid around 10:00 which results in a massive dogfight over the island. Eight RAF planes (six Hurricanes, two Gladiators) take on an equal number of Macchi 200 aircraft. There is no bomb damage and both sides take some damage to a plane (the Italian plane may not have made it back).

Spy Stuff: An Enigma intercept puts British fears of an imminent invasion to rest. The German message refers to "training" for the invasion - which means it can't happen any time soon, if at all.

27 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Bears vs. Gians program


Italian/Greek Relations: Italian ambassador in Athens Emanuele Grazzi peremptorily delivers a demand from Mussolini late in the evening. The note demands that Italian troops be permitted to occupy key points in Greece. Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas replies:
Alors, c'est la guerre ("Then, it's war").
Everybody knows this is tantamount to a declaration of war. Metaxas is fully aware of increasing Italian provocations, such as their air raid on Greece on the 26th, but censors such news from the media.

Metaxas has been mobilizing his own troops in great secrecy and they are dug in along the mountains facing Albania. Mussolini, of course, did not deliver the demand in the expectation that it would lead to anything other than such a refusal. The Greek/Albanian front - the traditional invasion route from Italy for a millennia - is full of good defensive positions. It also is an extremely restricted front, with almost no maneuvering room. For the time being, Metaxas can concentrate his entire army there, because the Italians also have to worry about the Royal Navy and thus cannot embark on tenuous amphibious invasions further south. Deep-seated historical enmity guarantees that any conflict between the two countries will be fought with great savagery.

German/Italian Relations: The Germans remain in the dark about Italian intentions toward Greece, and news flows to them sporadically from various sources. German Generalmajor Enno von Rintelen, the liaison with the Italian military, calls the OKW at noon and informs them that it is now "practically certain" that the invasion will take place the next morning. This is the first "confirmation" of when the attack will take place, as Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano has been uncommunicative. German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, meanwhile, already is on his train "Heinrich" for the meeting on the 28th with Mussolini in Florence and remains completely out of the loop. General Alfred Jodl, OKW Chief of Operations, reviews the information and informs Hitler that the Italian attack will take place in the morning; Hitler simply accepts the information, issues no instructions, and leaves as scheduled in his train "Amerika" at 18:00 for Florence. If the attack does take place as anticipated, it will be while Hitler is still crossing the Alps in his train. By 21:00, the Italians reveal their plans officially to the Germans.


27 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com USS Texas
Today is Navy Day in the US. Here, battleship USS Texas shows its colors on 27 October 1940 (US National Archive).

US Military: The Greenslade Board investigating the British bases acquired in the destroyers-for-bases deal winds up its travels aboard light cruiser USS St. Louis at Norfolk, Virginia.

Free France: In a symbolic exercise, the Free French government officially is established in London. General de Gaulle, in Africa, broadcasts:
As long as the French Government and the representation of the French people do not exist normally and independently of the enemy, the powers formerly performed by the Chief of State and by the Council of Ministers will be exercised by the leader of the Free French forces assisted by a Council of Defense.
Albania: The Italians, preparing for their invasion of Greece, order all Jews out of Albania.

American Homefront: The 1939-40 New York World's Fair, which opened in April 1939, closes. A cultural success, it is a financial failure at least in part due to the outbreak of the war in Europe. Many countries have not participated or have withdrawn their their participation due to the conflict. The site in Flushing Meadows remains a park to this day and was later used for the 1964-65 World's Fair, which obliterated the remnants of the earlier fair but used the same basic geography. Monuments left over from the latter remain clearly visible to travellers on the nearby New York highways. Little is left of the 1939-40 Fair, however, which most people consider to have been more historically significant and a classier affair. The site, incidentally, also will be used briefly as the first home of the United Nations.

Future History: John Joseph Gotti, Jr. is born in the Bronx, New York. Born in poverty, he rises through the ranks of organized crime and becomes the boss of the Gambino crime family. He ultimately is convicted of five murders and numerous other crimes. He dies in prison on 10 June 2002.

27 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com 1939 1940 World's Fair
Frieda Siegel (Miss Brooklyn) at the Fair. The Crosley Pavilion and Trylon and Perisphere can be seen in the background.

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 26, 1940: Empress of Britain Attack


Friday 26 October 1940

26 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com P-51 prototype
North American Aviation’s prototype fighter, NA-73X, NX19998, at Mines Field, Los Angeles, California. (North American Aviation).

Battle of Britain: The weather continues to offer acceptable flying conditions today, so operations on both sides again are busy.

The day begins with the usual reconnaissance flights. Around 10:30 on 26 October 1940, a fighter-bomber (Jabo) sweep  accomplishes little, though the Luftwaffe pilots down a Spitfire of 4,/JG53 near Biggin Hill. There also is an exchange of losses off the coast.

A little later, a large formation heads across from Boulogne. Per recent policy, there are patrolling Hurricanes who intercept. A massive dogfight erupts which extends all the way across the Channel. A pair of Hurricanes of No. 229 Squadron attack a Heinkel He 59 rescue plane - standing orders for the RAF - and are both shot down by Bf 109s. One of the pilots becomes a POW, a relative rarity for RAF fighter pilots at this stage of the war, the other perishes.

During the noon hour, Jabos raid Kent and Sussex. Once again, there is a major dogfight. The RAF takes the worst of this encounter, but there are only a few planes lost altogether.

After that, there are primarily only small raids and RAF Fighter Command does not bother with them. There is one major action over Kent in which JG 26 tangles with RAF No. 605 Squadron (Hurricanes) and No. 222 Squadron (Spitfires). Adolf Galland of JG26 claims his 46th victory, a handful behind leader Werner Molders.

Toward dusk at 18:00, a small raid on RAF Wick by two Heinkel He 111s kills three and wounds a dozen other civilians. It causes moderate damage to the airfield and demolishes several nearby houses. The raid is a bit unusual because the Heinkels pretend to be RAF planes, flashing proper recognition signals. Among other damage, a Hudson plane is destroyed and two others damaged.

At 18:30, a somewhat similar raid by a pair of Heinkels is made on RAF Lossiemouth. They destroy one Blenheim and damage two others. There are two dead and a dozen wounded. The planes fly so low that one of the Heinkels is destroyed by its own stick of bombs.

After dark, the weather takes a turn for the worse, but both sides continue operations. The fledgling RAF night fighter service has a bad night when two Hurricanes of RAF No. 151 Squadron crash for unknown reasons shortly after taking off.

London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and the Midlands take the brunt of the night attacks. While the raid on London is considered one of the longest of the Battle of Britain, the attack on Birmingham is particularly notable and effective. Bombs hit the center of the city and destroy a large area of important buildings. Several factories are completely flattened, and an unexploded bomb comes to rest on one of the station platforms at New Street (LMS). A large fire breaks out at Saffron Hill but is brought under control after maximum effort.

In London, mass transit is in trouble. The subway station at Victoria Station, St. Pancras, is demolished along with nearby portions of Victoria Station itself. More and more provincial buses are in town to replace buses lost in bomb craters and the like. Numerous other stations, such as Balham, are completely out of service. The underground is vital to the functioning of the city, but "lucky hits" slowly are making it difficult to use.

The Luftwaffe also continues its mining operations in the Thames Estuary. Mines have taken an increasing toll on smaller ships, though larger vessels have been lucky recently.

Overall, it is fairly normal day in terms of losses. The Luftwaffe loses about 10 planes and the RAF roughly half as many.

A Swordfish from RAF No. 821 Squadron on a training flight crashes into Quendale Bay in the Shetlands, killing the three men on board.

RAF ace James Lacey scores a victory, shooting down a Bf 109.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command launches a heavy raid on Berlin. It also attacks the ports of Hamburg, Cuxhaven, Flushing, Antwerp and Bremen. Other targets include oil installations at Stettin, Leuna and Cologne and various rail lines and airfields in northwest Europe.

Coastal Command attacks a power plant at Brest.

RAF Beauforts attack shipping in Sognefjord (Norway's largest fjord). They bomb and sinks 763 ton Norwegian freighter H.J. Kyvig. Five crew perish. Some sources place this incident on the 28th.

26 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Empress of Britain
Empress of Britain (in naval gray) on fire and listing after being bombed. If you look closely, you can see the lifeboats being lowered.

Battle of the Atlantic: Royal Navy troopship (Canadian Pacific line) Empress of Britain, a 42,348 ton liner, is about 70 miles northwest of Aran Island, Ireland off the west coast and nearing its destination of Liverpool when it is spotted at about 09:20 by a German Focke-Wulf Fw 200C Condor long-range bomber of I./.KG 40, commanded by Oberleutnant Bernhard Jope. The Empress of Britain is a fast, modern liner, but fortunately it only has few passengers on board for its size. Jope strafes the liner and drops two 250 kg bombs on it. The bombs start a fire, and the bulk of those on board (416 crew, 2 gunners, 205 passengers) quickly abandon ship and are picked up by nearby destroyers and trawlers. 

The Luftwaffe, meanwhile sends reconnaissance planes to review the Empress of Britain situation and they conclude that, because the passengers are abandoning ship and it is on fire, that it is sinking. The ship, however, is only disabled and listing but not sinking. As the day ends, the Royal Navy makes plans to tow the Empress of Britain to port. There are 25 crew and 20 passengers who perish in the attack and all subsequent events.

The Empress of Britain is the largest Allied liner hit during the war. Liners, being fast, are difficult to attack. The bombing is big news in Germany. Berlin radio strongly implies that the liner has been sunk, but the Kriegsmarine vectors in U-boats just to make sure.

Elsewhere, U-28 (Kptlt. Günter Kuhnke) torpedoes 539 ton British banana boat Matina about 250 miles northwest of Ireland and west of the Outer Hebrides. The 69-man crew abandons ship and are seen in the lifeboats, but disappear without a trace. The torpedo disables but does not sink the vessel despite U-28 pumping 15 shells from its deck gun into it; the derelict remains afloat until the 29th, when U-31 (Kplt. Wilfried Prellberg) sinks it. This is the final success for venerable VIIA U-28 on its sixth and last war patrol; after this, she completes her duties without incident and returns to Germany. For the remainder of her service (until it sinks in 1944), U-28 is used as a training boat. Kuhnke's next command will be U-125.

British 8053 ton tanker Dosinia hits a mine and sinks in Liverpool Bay near Southport, Lancashire. Everybody aboard survives.

Royal Navy 8053 ton destroyer HMS Delhi stops Vichy French freighter Albi off Western Africa. The crew of the Albi scuttles it.

Belgian freighter Katanga hits a mine in the River Mersey near the Bar Lightship and is damaged.

Swedish 6549 ton tanker Strombus hits a mine near Mumbles Light and sinks. Everybody aboard survives.

Swedish 9583 tanker Pegasus also hits a mine a couple of kilometers south of Bar Light Vessel, Mersey and is damaged.

Norwegian 6549 ton whale factory ship hits a mine in the Bristol Channel off Swansea and sinks. All 40 crew aboard survive.

Destroyer HMS Sikh hits a tug at Rosyth and suffers minor damage.

Convoy FN 320 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 320 departs from Methil.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Thunderbolt (N 25, Lt. Cecil B. Crouch) is commissioned.

26 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Bernhard Jope Empress of Britain
Oberleutnant Bernhard Jope (center) after he bombs the Empress of Britain.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The Malta government long ago made hoarding illegal, but that hasn't stopped anyone. Police now are authorized to search houses for stockpiles. Petrol and silver are in short supply - both being hoarded - and buses only run a few hours a day. Nobody really knows where everything is heading, the German rapprochement with Romania, a key trading partner of Malta which heretofore has supplied much of its fuel, has created numerous problems on the island.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: German raider Atlantis, operating in the eastern Indian Ocean, transfers 216 POWs to captured Yugoslavian freighter Durmitor. The freighter then is sent toward Italian Somaliland with insufficient provisions for the large number of people on board. It is not a happy trip.

German Government: Adolf Hitler spends the entire day in Munich, his original power base, as he prepares for his meeting with Benito Mussolini in Florence on the 28th. Hitler, in fact, still maintains an apartment there (and will throughout the war). He stays in Munich until 18:00 on the 27th, when his train heads south.

Commonwealth Relations: To coordinate Far Eastern defenses, representatives of Britain, Australia and New Zealand meet in Singapore.

Soviet/Romanian Relations: Continuing its high-handed and predatory behavior to its neighbors, the Soviet Union occupies islands in the Danube Delta, contending that they are part of of Bessarabia - which the USSR already has occupied.

Italian/Greek Relations: Italy has been making aggressive moves against Greece in recent years as part of an ancient rivalry that stretches back to the dawn of time. Today, Italy lodges a diplomatic protest against Greece alleging incursions across the Albanian border due to "anti-Italian bigotry." Italian forces in Albania are preparing for the invasion of Greece still scheduled for 28 October 1940.

Three Italian bombs attack Greek territory even though the countries are not yet at war.

German Military: Hubert Lanz, Chief of Staff for XVIII Corps, takes over command of the 1st Mountain Division. This division had been earmarked for Operation Felix, the capture of Gibraltar, but that mission essentially has been scrubbed due to Spain's unwillingness to join the war effort on the Axis side. The 1. Gebirgs-Division soon will head east, along with many other army units. Lanz is an interesting figure during the war, a stout, relentless soldier who leads many successful operations but also a covert opponent of the Hitler regime. That said, he certainly is no saint and is implicated in war crimes.

26 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com P-51 prototype
Vance Breese in the cockpit of the NA-73X after the first five-minute test flight, 26 October 1940. (North American Aviation).

US Military: Prototype NA-73X of the North American P-51 Mustang has its first flight, only 102 after the order was first placed. An all-aluminum design, test pilot Vance Breese reports that the plane handles during a five-minute flight well despite a heavy fuel load. It is heavily armed, with two .50 caliber Browning machine guns in the fuselage and four .30 inch Browning machine guns in the wings. Even fitted out with armament and everything else, the plane is 56 km/hour faster than the Spitfire V. The Allison engine, however, does not do well at altitude and soon shows other issues.

The US Marine Corps forms a Marine Parachute Detachment at the naval air station at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

26 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com football program
A program for the Indiana-Northwestern game, 26 October 1940.

China: Japanese aircraft raid Loiwing (Leiyun), China. They cause extensive damage to the CAMCO factory which assembles CW-21 fighters from kits.

In the continuing Battle of South Kwangsi, Japanese army troops at Lungching and Pinghsiang are cut off and begin retreating to French Indochina.

British Homefront: The British government realizes some basic things about the homefront:

  1. Many citizens love fish and chips;
  2. Potatoes are one food item that people can grow at home fairly easily and thus are in fairly plentiful supply.
  3. The daily fish catch is sufficient for present needs.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Food begins subsidizing the consumption of fish and chips.

American Homefront: US Secretary of State Cordell Hull makes a radio broadcast about the necessity of a strong defense. He states:

To have peace, we must have security. To have security, we must be strong … Essential to effective national defense are constant and skilful use of political and economic measures, possession of' military weapons, and continuous exercise of wisdom and of high moral qualities. We must have planes and tanks and ships and guns. We must have trained men. We must hold to the ideal of a world in which the rights of all nations are respected and each respects the rights of all; in which principles of law and order and justice and fair dealing prevail. Above all, we must be a united people - united in purpose, and in effort to create impregnable defense … Thus can we maintain our inheritance.
26 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com football program
A game program for the 26 October 1940 football game between the Eagles and the Dodgers at Shibe Park.

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 25, 1940: Petain Woos Churchill


Friday October 25 1940

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com London Blitz bus

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com London Blitz bus
This picutre is from Holborn, London on 25 October 1940. The London bus system takes a beating throughout the Blitz, not just from bombs falling on them, but from drivers not seeing fresh bomb craters in the dark. (Imperial War Museum).


Battle of Britain: After an extended period of poor flying weather, on 25 October 1940 the skies clear and the Luftwaffe gets back into action. It is a busy day, with raids throughout and a return to large numbers of planes lost. As has been the case for a couple of weeks, the Luftwaffe emphasizes daylight fighter-bomber (Jabo) attacks, which are particularly difficult to prevent because the Jabos fly high and fast. The RAF, meanwhile, now has standing patrols over key sectors which make interception quicker and more effective.

The Luftwaffe fighter squadrons all fly three (or more) missions during the day, as is usually the case on days of maximum effort. The ratio of Jabos to fighters is usually 2 bomb-less Bf 109s per Jabo (which also, of course, are often Bf 109s).

The raids begin around 09:00, when JG 26 and JG 51, the two premier formations on the Channel coast, head for the Southern London area. Other Luftwaffe formations head toward Hastings and Dungeness, still others toward Central London. RAF Biggin Hill takes a beating despite fierce defense. The RAF fighters take a beating over Madstone, losing three fighters to one Bf 109.

Another large effort takes place around noontime. Once again, it heads for Maidstone and RAF Biggin Hill/Hornchurch. This is a large raid of over 100 planes crossing at Dover. As it flies inland, the formation breaks up to attack different targets. No. 12 Group has three squadrons in the air on patrol which lie in wait around London. The Jabos drop their bombs more or less over their targets, and then both sides take losses.

Another large formation crosses at around 13:00. This time, RAF Fighter Command has planes ready to confront the attackers near the coast. The Luftwaffe formation splits up, some remaining to tangle with the RAF fighters and the others heading west for Westminster, Blackfriars Road and areas nearby. This raid causes casualties at the Air Provost Marshal's department at Westminster (four dead, 8 other wounded). Both sides take losses as the Jabos fight their way through to their targets.

The next large raid is around 15:00, and once again the main target is London and nearby areas. Fighter Command is late off the mark and makes few interceptions, and the few RAF fighters that do take a beating. Two Hurricanes collide, killing one of the pilots.

Around dusk, RAF Montrose in Scotland suffers a rare raid from KG 26 Heinkel He 111s based in Norway. Five men are killed and 21 wounded in this raid, which is completely unexpected and causes a lot of damage. Perhaps as a result of poor bombing accuracy, nearby towns also suffer damage.

A 20-plane Luftwaffe formation attacks a convoy off North Foreland around 17:45. This results in one ship sunk.

After dark, the population centers of London, the Midlands, South Wales, Pembroke, Cardiff, and Liverpool are the primary targets. Airfields at Wittering and Middle Wallop also suffer damage. London is hit by about 150 bombers. The Luftwaffe continues its extensive recent mining operations (see below), dropping mines off Aberdeen, Liverpool, East Anglia and along the northeast coastline.

Overall, it is a day of moderate losses for both sides. The Luftwaffe loses roughly 15 planes while the RAF about 10. RAF No. 610 Squadron also loses two Hurricanes in a mid-air collision during training off Exmouth around 15:00 (this is in addition to the collision described above).

Maj. Werner Mölders of JG 51 downs a Spitfire off Dover for his 51st victory.

The British Air Ministry issues a statement noting that airmen from numerous countries are contributing to the defense of Great Britain, including the United States, Poland, France, Belgium, Holland and Czechoslovakia. The US pilots are part of the Eagle Squadron of volunteers.

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Bf 109E-4 crash-landing
Shown is Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 (W.Nr. 1988) ‘Black 7’ of 5./JG54. It crash-landed at Broom Hill, near Lydd, Kent at 09:30 on 25 October 1940. Pilot Oberleutnant Schypek was captured.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command focuses on the coast today. Targets include the coastal guns at Hellfire Corner and the Kriegsmarine ports, such as Kiel, Bremen, Hamburg, Cuxhaven, Amsterdam, Den Helder and Ostend. Some of the raids target oil installations in northern Germany. Berlin and Hamburg are recovering after the massive raid on the night of 24/25 October.

Battle of the Atlantic: The U-boats that have been on patrol in the Atlantic, having gorged on Convoys SC 7 and HX 79 earlier in the week, make port in France to re-stock their torpedoes and other supplies. This period thus marks a lull in U-boat successes, but the Germans have other ways to keep the pressure on Allied shipping which make their mark today. These primarily are mines and the Luftwaffe.

The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks the South Goodwin Lightship off St. Margaret's Bay, Kent.

The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 89 ton Royal Navy trawler HMT Duthies at Montrose, Angus. Everybody aboard survives.

In the same attack at Montrose, the Luftwaffe damages 25 ton fishing boat Janet.

Royal Navy 338 ton trawler HMT Lord Inchcape hits a mine and sinks near Plymouth, Devon. The ship sinks in shallow water and is later salvaged.

British 45 ton trawler Encourage also hits a mine and sinks off  Plymouth. All four men on board perish.

British coaster Buoyant hits a mine and blows up at the mouth of the Humber.

British 207 ton trawler Carlton also hits a mine at the mouth of the Humber and sinks. There are seven survivors and three men perish.

British 222 ton fishing boat Windsor also hits a mine in the Humber, just south of Spurn Point, Yorkshire. One crew member perishes.

British freighter Kyle Skye runs aground on the Isl of Arran, Bute. The ship is lost, but the crew survives.

British freighter Blairsprey, part of Convoy SC 7 and torpedoed on the 18th by U-101 and on the 19th by U-100, makes it under tow to the Clyde in Scotland, where it is beached. The ship will be repaired.

U-46 (Kptlt. Engelbert Endrass), still on patrol in the Atlantic after its numerous victories against the convoys earlier in the week, is attacked by three RAF Lockheed Hudson bombers. The submarine gets away, but one crew member (Matrosengefreiter (Able Seaman) Plaep) perishes from his wounds on the 26th.

Convoy OL 9 dparts from Liverpool, Convoy Fn 319 departs from Southend, Convoy SLS 53 depars from Freetown, Convoy BN 8 departs from Bombay bound for Suez.

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Avro Lancaster B Mk. I
Avro Lancaster B Mk.I. The second production Lancaster is delivered on 25 October 1940 to No. 207 Squadron at Waddington (Wing Commander Hyde). Production has been slow due to numerous modifications to the original design. The Squadron will receive 20 machines by the end of the year.

Battle of the Mediterranean: A large portion of the British Mediterranean fleet, led by aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, departs from Alexandria to launch raids against Italian bases. It intends to patrol as far north as the Dardanelles.

British gunboat HMS Aphis bombards Italian troop positions 15 miles east of Sidi Barrani. The RAF bombs Tobruk.

The war on Malta is causing serious morale problems that result from safety measures. One of these today is the closing of a cemetery, Addorlorata Cemetery, which lies on a direct path between Grand Harbour and Luqa Airfield. The cemetery has become a hot spot for bombs, so public access is restricted. While this in normal times might seem a minor inconvenience, local citizens have paid an unusual amount of attention to gravesites of their ancestors since the start of the war - perhaps because they know they might soon be joining them. Also, a new bomb disposal course concludes, the first one for men on the island.

German/Italian Relations: Ribbentrop's rushed letter to Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano, completed from start in France to hand delivery in Rome in about 18 hours, is greeted with joy by Ciano when ambassador Mackensen hands it to him around noontime. Ciano sees it as a tacit agreement by Germany that Italy is entitled to additional territory in southern France - which is not the intent behind the letter. Ciano off-handedly proposes a date of 3 or 4 November for the meeting between Mussolini and Hitler that Ribbentrop proposes in it. Ribbentrop calls immediately after German ambassador Mackensen has left and proposes an even earlier date. They agree on 28 October - only three days hence - for the meeting, to be held in Florence. Hitler redirects his train "Amerika" from its scheduled return to Berlin to go over the Alps for the meeting. It all fits perfectly into his schedule.

The timing of all this frantic activity has become a matter of historical debate. The 28th also just so happens to be the planned start date for Mussolini's invasion of Greece. The theory is that Hitler suddenly changes his plans and hurries down to Italy to try to stop the invasion of Greece. However, there is doubt whether the Italians have actually told the Germans the actual start date of the invasion, which Ciano previously has indicated would be 23 October but obviously has been postponed. The better view appears to be that Hitler was not planning to interfere with the Italian attack at all - he had not when informed of it previously - but instead decides to visit with Mussolini in Florence simply to smooth things over after the agitation caused by his visits to Spain and France. In other words, Hitler did not suddenly rocket down to Italy in a panic to try to stop the Italian offensive, but instead as a quick show of support to Mussolini and the alliance with Italy.

Hitler's quick schedule change also may fit into some broader themes. For security purposes, he likes to vary his itinerary on the fly. This, in fact, already has saved his life at least once (at the Braun Haus in Munich in late 1939). His visit to Paris in June also was unplanned. One never knows when the RAF or some lone wolf terrorist might want to try to bomb his train (and an awful lot of people know his general itinerary by this point).

Hitler also likes to take care of diplomatic visits all at once, in quick succession. An example of this is on D-Day, 6 June 1944, when he spends the day with such visits rather than reviewing the dire war situation. Since Hitler already is on his train, with all of his necessary staff close at hand, it makes sense to just do a quick jog over the mountains rather than disrupt his entire schedule to get his train ready at some future point. He also has the Molotov visit approaching, and it would be better to get his own house in order before making big decisions with the USSR. Finally, winter is approaching, and better to get this kind of travel over the Alps out of way now.

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com RAF Battle of Britain Pilot Charles Kingcome
On 25 October 1940, acting F/L Charles BF "Brian" Kingcome is awarded the DFC, the citation attesting him leadership "with judgment, skill and keenness," for his command of No 92 Squadron RAF. Between 20 September and 2 October, the 23-year-old pilot often ignored the controller's instructions, instead gaining height by turning north before heading south. Pouncing in a vertical dive from head on often split up a portion of the bombers before the fighter escort could interfere.

Anglo/French Relations: While Hitler is gallivanting across Europe meeting foreign leaders to little purpose, Marshal Petain in Paris is reaching across the Channel. His man Louis Rougier is in London meeting with Churchill and Foreign Minister Lord Halifax. Halifax, always a dove in such matters, is sympathetic, but Churchill, an adamant war hawk, is suspicious about Petain's motives in light of his recent meeting at Montoire with Hitler. Churchill says vaguely that he would support an anti-German regime in North Africa under overall French auspices, which Petain takes as a willingness to ally with Vichy France - which is a bit further than what Churchill intends. Anglo/French relations remain murky.

German Military: General Johannes Blaskowitz is appointed commander of German 1st Army. He takes over from Generalfeldmarschall Erwin von Witzleben, who remains in good standing but is a silent opponent to the regime. Von Witzleben will receive future appointments of significance, but for now is on the reserve rolls.

British Military: Air Marshal Charles Portal officially takes over as RAF Chief of Staff. He takes the temporary rank of air chief marshal. Issues confronting him include a desire by the Royal Navy to absorb RAF Coastal Command and the wishes of the British Army to form its own air force. Air Chief Marshal Richard Peirse remains in charge of Bomber Command, but there is some grumbling that bombing operations should be more aggressive.

The War Cabinet decides to continue the battleship construction programme due to concerns about developments in the Far East.

Italian Military: Commando Supremo forms the Forza Navale Speciale (FNS). The first commander is Vice Admiral Vittorio Tur.

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com General Benjamin O. Davis
General Davis in August 1944.

US Military: Benjamin O. Davis becomes the first African-American in the US Army, becoming a Brigadier General.

Light cruiser USS St. Louis leaves Hamilton, Bermuda for Norfolk, Virginia. It carries the Greenslade Board, which is inspecting bases aquired in the destroyers-for-bases deal with the UK.

Indochina: The Japanese 5th Infantry Division is withdrawing in northern Indochina, and the French re-occupy the territory around Lang Son. The French also launch operations against nationalists who have been taking over local governments in the area.

China: The Japanese (13th Kokutai) bomb Chungking again, which they have been doing regularly for months. This raid is different because the bombs fall close to US Navy gunboat Tutuila and the US embassy. The bombs fall within 300 yards of the US assets. The Japanese later blame the incident on faulty bomb-release mechanisms.

American Homefront: The US Presidential campaign is in the home stretch. Republican candidate Wendell Willkie campaigns today in Lackawanna Station.

Future History: Robert Montgomery Knight is born in Massillon, Ohio. Knight plays on the 1960 Ohio State NCAA Championship team (and also the team that played in the Championship game in 1961), then begins coaching JV basketball at Cuyahoga Falls High School. After joining the US Army, he becomes an assistant coach with the Army Black Knights team at West Point. One of his players is Mike Krzyzewski. In 1971, he joins Indiana State as head coach. He coaches some of the best college basketball teams of all time, including going the entire 1975-76 season without a single loss - the only time in history that has happened. Known as "Bobby Knight" for much of his career, he later indicates a preference for Bob Knight or, in most circumstances, Coach Knight. Bob Knight remains active to this day as both a coach and a broadcaster and dabbled in politics in 2016.

25 October 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Wendell Willkie
Wendell Willkie speaks to a huge crowd at the Lackawanna Station on October 25, 1940. Present are Mrs. Willkie, Supreme Court Justice George W Maxey, Mrs. Joseph F. Gunster, wife of the Republican nominee for congress. J. Russell Phillips, GOP candidate for representative in the Second Legislative district is standing at the extreme left of the photograph. (Times-Tribune Archives).

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