The Bay Museum is a friendly museum situated on Canvey Island. Based in a degaussing station, it now offers a wealth of artefacts, books and displays focusing on both local and world military history. Open from 10am till 4pm, the museum also organises trips to France and Belgium to experience the battlefields first hand, as well as helping you research your own family military histories. The museum is run by volunteers who always warmly welcome visitors and are never short of a war story!
THE SECOND WORLD WAR February 1940
Japan’s military had a strong influence on Japanese society since the days of the Samurai. On the 1st February 1940 the Japanese government announced that over half of its record high expenditure would be on the military. Before the Second World War, as Japan possessed very few natural resources, the Japanese had built an extensive empire in order to import raw materials essential to its economy. They regarded the military as essential to the empire’s defence.
Norway had favourable trade agreements with Britain and France, as well as with Germany. Both Norway and Finland were neutral countries with Norway having a long western coastline giving access to the North Sea and North Atlantic. On the 5th February 1940, Britain and France decided to intervene in Norway in order to cut off the iron ore in anticipation of the expected German occupation. They were also keen to keep the route open for access to Finland. The operation was scheduled to commence about the 20th March 1940. On the 21st February 1940, German General Nicolaus von Falkenhorst was informed by Adolf Hitler he would be the ground commander for the German invasion of Norway. He would need a basic plan for the invasion which Hitler approved when submitted.
Erich von Manstein was a German General who was given command of the German 38th Army Corp, on the 9th February 1940. Manstein had devised an invasion into France through the Ardennes Forest but the German High Command disagreed with his plan. They wished to implement their own proposals, which was a modified version of the Great War’s Schlieffen Plan. This disagreement was followed by his transfer from the High Command’s Headquarters. Adolf Hitler however, was seeking a more aggressive plan and Manstein presented his proposals for the invasion of France on the 17th February 1940.
The German – Soviet Commercial Agreement was signed on the 10th February 1940. The agreement was an economic arrangement between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union agreed to sell and deliver to Germany such commoditize as oil, raw materials and grain.
On the 15th February 1940, the Soviet Army broke through the Mannerheim Line and captured Summa, an important defence point in Finland. The Mannerheim Line was a defensive border fortification built by Finland against the Soviet Union, and on the 17th February 1940 the Finns continued to retreat from the Mannerheim Line.
World opinion supported the Finnish cause in the struggle against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1940. British civilians were asked to volunteer, on the 14th February 1940, to provide material aid such as medical supplies. Britain and France sold aircraft to the Finnish air force and the British government provided small arms and ammunition.
On the 15th February 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered unrestricted U-boat warfare in an effort to blockade England of the supplies transported across the Atlantic from America. It was hoped that Germany could sink sufficient ships and starve the British nation into suing for peace.
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
1 Jan to Duty on staff at Tendring. Back at Gt Clacton on 28th Jan.
28th Jan 1916
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
27 January 1917 Captained Bn Team v Gunners at football (we won 2.1).
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
24 January 1917 Played in “From Ann” at B Coy Hq.
ROYAL FLYING CORPS COMMUNIQUE. – No 123.
During the period under review, 15th to 21st January (inclusive), we have claimed officially nine E.A. brought down and four driven down out of control. Six of our machines are missing.
Approximately 11 tons of bombs were dropped and 34,112 rounds fired at ground targets.
The weather generally throughout the week was adverse to flying.
January 15th. – Heavy rain during the day prevented any flying, except two test and practice flights taking place.
41st Wing. – On the 14th one machine of No 55 Squadron attempted photography, but was forced to return owing to heavy banks of clouds and thick mist. No plates were exposed.
On the night 14th/15th instant, 11 machines of No 100 Squadron left to bomb the steel works at Diedenhofen (Thionville) in Germany. Six 230-lb, 29 25-lb. and two phosphorus bombs were dropped on the objective with good results; two 112-lb. and 12 25-lb. bombs were dropped on the railway junction two miles south-east of Metz, and one 230-lb., two 25-lb. and one phosphorus bombs were dropped on Ebingen Railway Junction, while 1,680 rounds were fired at searchlights and trains in the railway stations. Anti-aircraft fire was heavy, but very inaccurate, and the searchlight barrages were considerable. All machines returned.
January 16th. – High wind and rain all day made flying practically impossible.
2nd-Lieut McLeod and Lieut Hammond, No 2 Squadron (1st Brigade), attempted an artillery patrol. They fired 225 rounds at an anti-aircraft gun and a group of men near La Bassee, and dropped two 20-lb. bombs on La Bassee.
A machine of the 2nd Brigade fired 300 rounds at a party of the enemy.
January 17th. – Low clouds, rain and mist made operations impossible.
41st Wing. – On the night of the 16th/17th, six machines of No 100 Squadron left the ground to attack the railway and factory at Diedhofen. Owing to a thick mist, four machines were forced to return; the remaining two crossed the lines. The weather conditions rapidly deteriorated. One machine dropped one 230-lb. and two 25-lb. bombs on the large railway sidings at Bernsdorf; the other machine dropped one 230-lb. and one 25-lb. bombs on lights at Orny and one 25-lb bomb on a searchlight near Vigny. All results were obscured.
January 18th. – In spite of mist and rain-storms, a certain amount of flying was done. A total number of 13 successful reconnaissances were carried out – nine by the 5th Brigade. Forty-two hostile batteries were successfully engaged for destruction, and one neutralized: three gun-pits were destroyed, 22 damaged, 35 explosions and 16 fires caused. Fifty-five zone calls were sent down. Out of the total of batteries successfully engaged for destruction 22 were by the 2nd Brigade.
Sixty-nine photographs were taken, 115 bombs dropped and 7,791 rounds fired as follows:-
1st Brigade. – Corps Wing dropped 48 25-lb. bombs; 10th Wing fired 1,370 rounds; No 4a Squadron fired 100 rounds, and No 43 Squadron fired 400 rounds into a procession where many casualties were caused.
2nd Brigade. – Took 40 photographs, dropped 29 25-lb. bombs and fired 1,910 rounds.
3rd Brigade. Took 11 photographs, dropped 26 25-lb. bombs and fired 1,890 rounds.
5th Brigade. Eighteen photographs were taken; No 8 Squadron dropped four 25-lb. bombs and fired 721 rounds; No 35 Squadron dropped eight 25-lb. bombs and fired 900 rounds, and No 52 Squadron fired 500 rounds.
Enemy Aircraft. 2nd-Lieut A.E. Wylie, No 65 Squadron, shot down one E.A. near Westroosebeke.
Major R. Maxwell, No 54 Squadron, fired a burst at 70 yards at an enemy scout, which turned over, the right bottom wing came partly away and the E.A. went down in a steep spiral.
2nd-Lieut G. Clapham, of the same Squadron, attacked an Albatross Scout and fired a burst at point blank range. The E.A. went down in flames.
One E.A. was brought down near Lens by infantry.
Miscellaneous. – Capt. J. Medcalf, No 43 Squadron, whilst on patrol, lost his way in the clouds, and coming down found himself in the vicinity of Douai. He saw a party of infantry 500 strong marching through a village, and fired at them from a low altitude. They all scattered and left several casualties on the road. Capt Medcalf reports that he glided down to 500 feet and intended to land on an aerodrome, because he saw there an R.E.8 and two A.W.’s standing on the ground. Hostile machine-gun fire was opened on him. He noticed that the R.E. 8 and the A.W.’s were camouflaged blue and green and had no national markings of any kind.
Lieut McCall and Lieut Farrington, No 13 Squadron, ranged the 78th Siege Battery on hostile batteries. Seventy-nine observations were given and two direct hits were obtained on gun-pits, in one case a large explosion being caused.
Capt. Solomon and Lieut Morgan, No 15 Squadron, gave 53 observations for the 48th Siege Battery on hostile batteries, and three gun-pits were badly damaged and one set on fire.
January 19th. – The weather was fine all day and the sky was covered with high clouds. The visibility was good.
Nineteen reconnaissances were carried out; 10 of these were by machines of the 5th Brigade, including eight by No 52 Squadron.
Ninety hostile batteries were successfully engaged for destruction and six were neutralized; 16 gun-pits were destroyed, 44 damaged, 52 explosions and 26 fires caused. One hundred and forty-seven zone calls were sent down.
Eight hundred and seventy photographs were taken, 317 bombs dropped and 14,458 rounds fired at ground targets as follows:-
1st Brigade. – 187 photographs. 1st Wing dropped 69 25-lb. bombs and fired 380 rounds, and 10th Wing fired 2,450 rounds.
2nd Brigade. – 263 photographs. 2nd Wing dropped 61 25-lb. bombs; No 57 Squadron dropped 68 25-lb. bombs on Heule Ammunition Dump, and 3rd Squadron A.F.C. fired 2,400 rounds. 2,110 rounds were fired by other Squadrons.
3rd Brigade. – 221 photographs were taken, 73 25-lb. bombs dropped and 2,826 rounds fired.
5th Brigade. – 195 photographs. No 8 Squadron dropped 22 25-lb. bombs and fired 1,652 rounds; No 35 Squadron dropped 24 25-lb. bombs and fired 1,140 rounds, and No 52 Squadron fired 1,500 rounds.
Enemy Aircraft. – Enemy aircraft were active, especially in the neighbourhood of Lens. Capt. J.L. Trollope, No 43 Squadron, while on offensive patrol over Vitry, shot down one D.F.W., which was seen to crash.
Lieut. G. McElroy, No 40 Squadron, shot down out of control an Albatross Scout, and 2nd-Lieut W. Harrison, of the same Squadron, shot down a D.F.W. out of control.
Flight Commander Price, Naval Squadron No 8, observed three Albatross Scouts near Vitry. He dived and attacked one of these and fired 300 rounds. The E.A. fell over sideways and fell vertically.
In a general engagement between Naval Squadron No 8 and 14 Albatross Scouts, Flight Sub-Lieut Johnstone attacked one E.A. and followed it down to 8,000 feet, firing all the while. The E.A. was observed to fall completely out of control. Flight Sub-Lieut Dennett fired a good burst at another E.A. at very close range, and it went down completely out of control. Flight Lieut. Jordan fired a burst of 50 rounds into an E.A. which turned on its side and spun. Flight Sub-Lieuts Dennett and Johnstone followed this machine down, each firing 250 rounds, and the E.A. went down out of control.
2nd-Lieut. F. Hobson, No 70 Squadron, dived at an E.A. two-seater, which went down out of control and then burst into flames. 2nd-Lieut. G. Howsam, of the same squadron, attacked an enemy two-seater which had been pointed out to him by anti-aircraft fire. He fired a burst and the E.A. went down out of control.
2nd-Lieut. Jones and Lieut Phelps, No 20 Squadron, dived at an Albatross Scout, and after firing 50 rounds brought it down out of control.
Capt. Harrison and Lieut. Noel, No 20 Squadron, saw four E.A. and dived on one and fired 20 rounds after which the E.A. went down out of control.
Sergt E. Clayton and 2nd-Lieut. L. Sloot, No 57 Squadron, when returning from a bomb raid were attacked over Roulers by six Albatross Scouts. The observer fired 200 rounds, and one E.A. went down in a vertical dive for 8,000 feet.
Capt. R. Hilton and Lieut A. Clayton, No 9 Squadron, were attacked by six E.A. two of which dived on the R.E.8. the observer opened fire at 100 yards and the leading E.A. was seen to loose a wing and crash; the other E.A. was driven off after 150 rounds were fired.
A patrol of four machines of No 54 Squadron engaged seven Albatross Scouts, and Capt. K. Shelton dived on two of them and followed them down to 500 feet. One of these fell out of control and was later seen to be crashed on the ground by two other pilots of the same patrol.
January 20th. – Although the sky was covered with clouds, the visibility was good, and a lot of artillery work was carried out.
Seventeen reconnaissances were carried out, 12 of which were by machines of the 5th Brigade.
Seventy-two hostile batteries were successfully engaged for destruction and 12 neutralized with aeroplane observation; five gun-pits were destroyed, 30 damaged, 18 explosions and 18 fires caused. One hundred and fifty-four zone calls were sent down.
Three hundred and twenty-three photographs were taken, 222 bombs dropped and 10,572 rounds fired at ground targets as follows:-
1st Brigade. –. Fifty-six photographs. 1st Wing dropped 55 25-lb. bombs and fired 1,150 rounds, and 10th Wing fired 2,050 rounds.
2nd Brigade. – Nine photographs were taken, 36 25-lb. bombs dropped and 1,040 rounds fired.
3rd Brigade. – Sixty photographs were taken, 76 25-lb. bombs dropped and 2,682 rounds fired.
5th Brigade. – One hundred and ninety-eight photographs. 15th Wing dropped 55 25-lb. bombs, No 8 Squadron fired 830 rounds, No 35 Squadron 250 rounds, No 52 Squadron 870 rounds and No 84 Squadron 700 rounds.
Enemy aircraft activity was slight all day.
Capt. J.B. McCudden, No 56 Squadron, brought down one enemy machine.
On the 19th, eight targets were registered by balloons of the 2nd Brigade, four of the targets being hostile batteries.
January 21st. – Low clouds and rain prevented much flying being done.
Six reconnaissances were carried out, one by 2nd Brigade, two by the 3rd Brigade, and three by the 5th Brigade.
Twenty-two hostile batteries were successfully engaged for destruction with aeroplane observation and five neutralized; 15 gun-pits were damaged, 26 explosions and seven fires caused. Seventy-five zone calls sent down.
One hundred and forty bombs were dropped and 9.086 rounds fired at ground targets as follows:-
1st Brigade. – 43 25-lb bombs were dropped;1st Wing fired 3,600 rounds, and No 4a Squadron 100 rounds.
2nd Brigade. – 2nd Wing dropped 39 25-lb. bombs; 2,455 rounds were fired.
3rd Brigade. – Dropped 29 25-lb. bombs and fired 1,150 rounds.
5th Brigade. – No 8 Squadron dropped 16 25-lb bombs and fired 591 rounds; No 35 Squadron dropped four 25-lb. bombs and fired 500 rounds; No 48 Squadron dropped nine 25-lb. bombs; No 52 Squadron fired 500 rounds and No 54 Squadron 100 rounds.
Enemy aircraft activity was slight all day, a few indecisive combats taking place.
2nd-Lieut Churchman and Lieut Lewis, No 10 Squadron, obtained many O.K.s on a hostile battery. During this shoot, a hostile battery was seen firing and a switch was given on to it and the hostile battery was silenced.
Lieut Douglas and Lieut Senior, No 15 Squadron, made many observations and three O.K.s were obtained. Direct hits were obtained on two pits and the whole position badly damaged. During the same flight, seven active hostile batteries were reported by zone calls.
41st Wing. – On the night of the 21st/22nd, 17 machines of No 100 Squadron started to bomb the steel works at Thionville and Bernsdorf railway sidings. Twelve machines crossed the line and dropped bombs as follows:-
Four 230-lb., 12 25-lb. and one phosphorus bombs on Thionville; five 230-lb., 16 25-lb., and two phosphorus bombs on Bernsdorf, and two 230-lb., and eight 25-lb. bombs on various targets. 1,520 rounds were fired at searchlights, trains and factory lights.
One machine of Naval Squadron No 16 dropped 12 112-lb. bombs on the railway junction at Arnaville, south of Metz.
23rd January, 1918
L.A.K. BUTT, Captain,
Printing Section, Depot F.S.C. R.E. G.H.Q. 655x/3,000/1-18
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
12 January 1917 On special dental leave to Colchester.
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
9 January 1918 Attended Drive Lodge Woodbridge with Mr BARTON the
Warden at Hollesley College. Lord Shaftesbury present. Replied for Visitors recited Essex ballads.