Friday, October 14, 2016

October 10, 1940: Führer-Sofortprogramm

Thursday 10 October 1940

10 October 1940 HMS Revenge
HMS Revenge bombards Cherbourg, 10/11 October 1940.
Battle of Britain: The weather on 10 October 1940 is mostly rainy with intermittent sunny periods. This does permit a couple of fairly large raids. While the Luftwaffe is said to change its tactics to targeting only cities today, it doesn't appear that anything has changed from the day's action.

The morning is occupied with minor fighter-bomber (Jabo) raids. At 10:00, about 30 from JG 26 cross into Kent and attack Hastings, Brighton, Eastbourne and Bexhill. The attack does what is really intended - drawing some RAF fighters into the air for battle - but the bombing itself is virtually inconsequential.

Another raid around noontime is more serious. Over 100 aircraft, including fighters from JG 53, head over the Dorset coast. Fighter Command is ready and gets eight squadrons in the air. The Germans shoot down several Spitfires, but again the bombing damage is slight.

After 15:00, another slightly smaller raid of over 65 planes crosses the Kent coast and heads for London, followed by a second wave of 80 planes over Dover. The RAF gets a dozen squadrons in the air. The Bf 109s fly high, even with their bombs, and interception is difficult. Some of the Spitfires do make contact. The bombers hit London, but again it is a raid with minimal effectiveness.

 After dark, the Luftwaffe bombers hit the usual targets in London, South Wales, Gloucester, and RAF Debden and Duxford. There are some "lucky hits" which cause especially bad damage in London. Bombing accuracy is fairly poor, with bombs dropped in the river and other harmless areas. A Wembley war main is hit, some railway lines cut, and some smaller towns also bombed (apparently at random).

At dusk, the German coastal batteries at Cap Gris Nez open fire on Dover and surrounding areas. This leads to a brief artillery duel at a range of 20 miles.

Losses for the day are minimal. Losses are generally given as around 4 apiece. There is enough bomb damage to make this a "win" by the Luftwaffe, but nothing that is of any strategic significance.

War in the air can lead to crazy results at times. Today, for instance, a Luftwaffe reconnaissance Dornier Do 17 is over RAF Tangmere when some RAF fighters intercept it. Two of the fighters collide, killing both pilots, while the bomber's gunner shoots down a third, which crash-lands. The bomber? It limps back to France and crash-lands there, having destroyed three front-line RAF fighters and accomplished its mission.

European Air Operations: Before daylight, RAF Bomber Command attacks Brest. The bombers damage destroyers Eckholdt, Loy, and Riedel. The RAF loses an Albacore bomber, the crew becoming POWs.

During the night, the RAF bombers hit ports up and down the coast, including Hamburg, Hannover, Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Amsterdam, Calais, Den Helder, Boulogne, Le Havre, and Brest. The Fokker factory in Amsterdam and oil installations at Hamburg receive special attention. At Wilhelmshaven, the RAF has 14 bombers attack the Tirpitz (under construction), without success.

10 October 1940 Naval recruits
Naval recruits learn to handle a bayonet at their training school in England. October 10, 1940. (AP Photo).
Battle of the Atlantic: After dark, in a rare sortie by a capital ship, the British battleship HMS Revenge departs from Plymouth and bombards the Cherbourg docks from long range. This is Operation Medium. The Revenge is accompanied by six destroyers and seven motor anti-submarine boats, along with a separate cruiser force to the west. The bombardment lasts from 03:33 to 03:51, including 120 15-inch and 801 4.7 inch shells. The objective is to disrupt invasion preparations, and several transport ships are hit. The Germans put E-boats to sea from Cherbourg, but accomplish nothing.

Further up the coast, Royal Navy motorboats MTB 22, 31 and 32 attack German trawlers Brandenburg and 234-ton Nordenham near Calais. The motorboats torpedo and sink both trawlers. The crew survives and 34 Kriegsmarine sailors are made prisoners. The British force returns to base unscathed.

The British also lose a trawler when 23 ton Royal Navy patrol boat HMT Girl Mary hits a mine and blows up in the Firth of Forth about 7.4 km off Inchcolm. Two crewmen die, another is wounded.

U-123 (Kptlt. Karl-Heinz Moehle) finishes 3697-ton British freighter Graigwen, which had been badly damaged on the 9th by U-103 (Viktor Schütze).

British 367 ton freighter Till hits a mine and is damaged in the English Channel.

British submarine HMS H28, an old World War I sub, is in the Bay of Biscay when it spots a smallish 1000 ton freighter. It fires a torpedo but misses.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Jersey returns to service after repairs from a mine strike, exiting the Humber.

Convoys OA 227 and FS 305 depart from Methil, Convoy FN 305 departs from Southend.

Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia arrives at Gibraltar and is temporarily assigned to Force H.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable is completed and prepares for trials.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The RAF attacks Benghazi and Assab, Eritrea.

In Malta, it is a quiet day. There is a lot of aerial reconnaissance due to a convoy coming from Alexandria, but there is little activity by the Italian fleet at Taranto. The Air Chief of Staff at Whitehall believes that, with winter fast approaching, fighters can be transferred from England to Malta in order to do more good there. Another dozen Hurricanes will soon be on their way.

Battle of the Pacific: German raider Orion meets up with supply ship Regensburg in the Marshall Islands.

10 October 1940 Lake Superior Regiment
The Lake Superior Regiment prepares to depart from Port Arthur, Quebec. 10 October 1940 (Thunder Bay Public Library).
Luxembourg: Somewhat hopefully, the German occupation government decides to conduct an honest plebiscite in Luxembourg (now incorporated into the Reich). The question is: are you happy with the occupation? As a result that surprises nobody except apparently the Germans, 97% of the responses are in the negative. It is the only such plebiscite held.

Cuba: Fulgencio Batista (elected in July) officially becomes the 9th President of Cuba. In practice, he rules like an autocrat.

China: Communist Chinese New 4th Army and 8th New Army link up at Baiju Village, Dongtai County, Jiangsu Province. The former has been engaged recently with the Nationalist Chinese.

Separately, the Japanese launch an air attack against Kunming.

German Homefront: Adolf Hitler begins the new Führer-Sofortprogramm (Leader's Emergency Programme). This is an effort to build bunkers for civilians and other essential personnel. The initial goal is to build 6000 bunkers in 92 cities across the Reich. This program will be a massive undertaking, with deliveries of concrete for the bunkers and other supplies requiring alteration of railroad timetables across German. It is the largest public works program ever, and is a major success of the current German regime, saving countless lives. It includes the construction of the massive flak towers in places like Berlin and Vienna that have such extraordinary structural integrity that they could not feasibly be destroyed after the war and remain in situ to this day (though some were buried). It also is an early acknowledgment that the war is going to last a lot longer, and involve a lot more effort and hardship, than originally thought. The results of this program are visible across Europe.

British Homefront: Pianist Myra Hess gives a dramatic concert at the National Gallery in London. It commemorates the anniversary of her first ceremony a year earlier. The windows are blacked out and the sound of bombing can be heard in the distance. This and similar contributions to morale eventually earn her the honor of being named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1941.

American Homefront: Earl Browder, American Communist Party Candidate for President (and head of the party), is indicted by a federal grand jury for passport fraud. He ultimately is sentenced to 4 years in prison. Browder advocates closer ties between the US and the Soviet Union.

10 October 1940 Earl Browder
Earl Browder, American Communist Party candidate for President. 
October 1940

October 1, 1940: Wait Daddy 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


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