Saturday, October 1, 2016

October 3, 1940: British Cabinet Shakeup

Thursday 3 October 1940

3 October 1940 Hurricane RAF fighter
"Hurricane Mark I, P3408 ‘VY-K’, of No. 85 Squadron RAF based at Church Fenton, Yorkshire, in flight." October 1940. © IWM (Daventry, BJ, CH 1501).
Battle of Britain: By now, on 3 October 1940, the battle has settled down to a predictable routine. The Luftwaffe sends across Jabo (fighter-bomber) raids during the day, along with occasional medium bombers mixed in, and reserves the real bombing runs for after dark. However, there is a new element about to be introduced to the Channel Front: the Italians. While not yet operational, the Italian air force units assigned to bases in Belgium begin sending observers on Luftwaffe missions. The Italians drop various odd items over England such as medallions extolling Benito Mussolini which mystifies the people on the ground.

The weather turns nasty. While a bad day for large-scale operations, it is an excellent one for "pirate raids" by lone bombers against select targets. During the morning, the Luftwaffe sends over one bomber after another, some targeting London and others RAF airfields. Birmingham, Wellingborough, the Isle of Gra (Shell offices), Rushden and the airfields at North Weald, St. Eval, and Debden catching some bombs that cause damage of random intensity.

One morning raid that accomplishes something takes place at Hatfield shortly before noontime, when a Junkers Ju 88 hits the de Havilland aircraft factory. Several important buildings are destroyed, slightly delaying the Mosquito program and killing 21 and injuring 70 more. The bomber is brought down at by anti-aircraft fire (it comes in very low) at Hertingfordbury (see picture below).

Shortly after noon, a bomber causes light damage at the Mining & Engineering Co. at Worcester. Another at about 13:30 attacks RAF Upwood, but accuracy is poor and no significant damage is done. A gas plant at Banbury receives attention around 14:40 and is put out of action with moderate damage.

Not long after 15:00, some Luftwaffe bombers stumble upon a convoy near Selsey and bomb it, but do no damage. Woodley, Cosford, Wyton, Tatsfield, Skegness, Stanton Harcourt, White Waltham, and St. Merryn are bombed, but very little damage is reported at any of those locations.

The poor weather continues through the night, and the solo raids continue. They are almost all against London, with a few forays to RAF Gravesend and Ford, but the damage is light.

RAF Fighter Command barely takes to the skies, and the only British loss is a Blenheim of No. 600 Squadron based at Hornchurch which crashed while returning to base.

Overall, the score for the day is 9 losses for the Luftwaffe and only the one Blenheim for the RAF.

3 October 1940 Flight Magazine recent air force losses
A tally of recent losses compiled in today's issue of Flight (the official magazine of the Royal Aero Club). Just like those in the papers, the numbers just reflect the fanciful numbers being peddled by the government. 3 October 1940.
European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command continues its attacks on the Channel ports and oil installations in Cherbourg. Foul weather greatly restricts night operations, so a repeat of the previous night's large Berlin raid is out of the question. Only seven bombers hit Rotterdam, Dunkirk, and Cherbourg, as opposed to 81 bombers in action the night before.

Battle of the Atlantic: British 359 ton cargo ship Actuosity founders in bad weather off Great Yarmouth in 24 meters of water. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution motor-powered lifeboat HF Bailey saves 8 crew members. The Actuosity's wreck since has become a popular dive site.

Both Royal Navy cable layer HMS Lady of the Isles and Dutch Tug Lauwerzee hit mines and sink about 6 km east of St. Anthony Point, Cornwall. The 16 crew onboard the former, and 12 crew on the latter, all perish.

The Luftwaffe damage British trawler Framlingham about 20 miles off Fastnet, and also trawler Iwate about five miles northwest of Mizzen Head, Ireland.

Convoy FN 298 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 299 departs from Methil, Convoy OB 223 departs from Liverpool, Convoy SL 50 departs from Freetown.

Convoy WS 3 A departs from Liverpool for the Middle East (WS stands for Winston Special). There are seven troopships and numerous escorts. The first stop is scheduled for Freetown on the 13th (it is a slow convoy).

Corvette HMS Hyacinth (K 84,  Lt. John I. Jones) is commissioned.

3 October 1940 Junkers Ju 88 crashed
Junkers Ju 88 (W.Nr. 4136: 3Z+BB) of I/KG 77 which crashed at Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire on 3 October 1940.
Battle of the Mediterranean: In the Mediterranean the weather is fine, but little happens anyway. The British fleet at Alexandria sorties to interdict Italian convoys supporting the Italians at Sidi Barrani. The Admiralty also plans to send another 1000 men from Alexandria to Malta to bolster its defenses.

The question of Malta is high on the British War Cabinet's agenda. It now is inescapable that the Germans are not going to launch an invasion of England in 1940, so the question arises of where they might strike instead. Heretofore the Mediterranean has been an almost exclusively Italian responsibility for the Axis (aside from a few Luftwaffe raids on Malta), but it seems a likely priority for Hitler. The highest levels of the British government are set in motion to review the situation.

British Government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill shakes up the Cabinet. After thinking about it for almost two weeks, he finally accepts the resignation of Neville Chamberlain, the former Prime Minister. Chamberlain, unbeknownst to almost everybody, including himself, has terminal cancer and has not been at work since 19 September due to his illness. Chamberlain leaves his position as Lord President of the Council and Sir John Anderson replaces him. John Reith, the broadcasting baron, moves from the Ministry of Transport to First Commissioner of Works. Herbert Morrison, the Labour MP who has been Minister of Supply, succeeds Sir John Anderson as Home Secretary. Sir Kingsley Wood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Ernest Bevin, Minister for Labour and National Service, join the War Cabinet.

Former prime ministers retiring shortly after leaving that office is nothing odd; in 2016, for instance, former PM David Cameron stepped down from his seat in Parliament only weeks after leaving the post. The press, though, not realizing the true situation surrounding Chamberlain, does not go easy on him. This annoys the former prime minister, who finds the treatment "cold" considering all the work he has done for the country. However, everything will become clear to everyone soon enough, and Chamberlain really has bigger issues to deal with now than Fleet Street.

Vichy French Government: The  Philippe Pétain/Pierre Laval government enacts a prohibition against Jewish Frenchmen holding any positions of responsibility in government, the military, the press or industry. The law is signed by them and Raphaël Alibert, Marcel Peyrouton, Paul Baudouin, Yves Bouthillier, Charles Huntzinger, and François Darlan.

3 October 1940 Savannah Army Air Force Base
Savannah (Georgia) Army Air Force Base before any building when up. Savannah Morning News, 3 October 1940.
Japanese Government: Prince Kan'in Kotohito, Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff since 1931, retires at the age of 75. He is succeeded by Sugiyama Hajime. Prince Kotohito remains an influential advisor throughout the war.

China: Pursuant to an agreement with the Japanese to prevent any confrontations over Hong Kong, the British in India have kept the Burma Road from there into China closed since mid-summer. However, that agreement was only for three months, and the British now announce that they will re-open the critical supply route to Chiang Kai-shek's beleaguered forces centered on Chungking. The Japanese, of course, want the route to remain closed.

American Homefront: Two trains of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway collide head-on east of Morning Sun. Nobody is killed, but one of the train engineers commits suicide soon afterward.

Future History: Jean Ratelle is born in Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec. He develops into a top hockey player and stars for the New York Rangers, playing center and regularly leading the team in scoring. He continues his strong play after being traded to the Boston Bruins in 1975, becoming the league's sixth all-time scorer by the time he retires in 1981. Jean Ratelle is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

3 October 1940 Las Vegas Fremont Street
Proof that Las Vegas existed before Bugsy Siegel. Fremont Street in 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


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