THE SECOND WORLD WAR July 1940

 

 

THE SECOND WORLD WAR July 1940

(Britain)

Brighton beach was closed to the public on the 2nd July 1940 and remained closed until February 1944. The Brighton Blitz as it was known was carried out by the German Luftwaffe with  a total of 56 recorded occasions during the beach closure period. Preparing for a possible German invasion the beaches were mined and guarded with barbed wire. To prevent the Germans using the piers as landing stages both the Palace and West Piers had their decking removed. 30,000 people were evacuated as the town was no longer considered to be a “safe area”.

On the 3rd, 10th and 12th July 1940 the Luftwaffe bombed the Welsh city of Cardiff. The docks were the prime target as they were the biggest coal-port in the world. Consequently, the docks and the surrounding area was heavily bombed.

After his abdication in 1936 King Edward VIII was given the title of Duke of Windsor and he relocated to France with his partner Mrs. Wallis Simpson. He married Mrs. Simpson, after her divorce was finalised, in France in 1937 and stayed until the outbreak of the war then they moved to neutral Portugal. Nazi German agents routinely courted the politically naïve Duke, suggesting he be made a puppet king in the event Germany defeated Britain. Anxious not to allow him to make defeatist statements, which he was prone to do, the British Cabinet proposed he be made the Governor of the Bahamas on the 4th July 1940. The Duke reluctantly agreed to the appointment which denied the Nazi regime their ongoing propaganda opportunities.

The Battle of Britain began on the 10th July 1940 and was considered to be the first military campaign fought entirely in the air. The Luftwaffe targeted mainly coastal-shipping convoys and ports. The Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters defended the attacks of which the prime objective of the Germans was to compel Britain to a negotiated peace. The Battle of Britain, which officially ended on the 31st October 1940, took its name from the speech:  “What General Weygand called the ‘Battle of France’. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin”. The speech was made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the 18th June 1940 to the House of Commons.

On the 11th July 1940 the British government closed down the Burma Road which was the chief supply line for military equipment for the Nationalist Chinese. The Japanese government pledged to end the war with China by seeking terms with the Chinese General Chiang Kai-shek.

At the Battle of Cape Spada in the Mediterranean on the 19th July 1940 the commander of the Allied squadron, Captain John Collins aboard the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney had sailed from Alexandria bound for the bay of Athens. Sydney was accompanied by HMS Havock and Collins had orders to support the flotilla of destroyers HMS Hyperian, Hero, Hasty and Ilex who were searching for Italian submarines in the Aegean Sea. Before making contact with the flotilla Sydney spotted two high speed Italian cruisers who were pursuing the flotilla. Maintaining radio silence Sydney hoisted her battle ensign and open fired at the Italians at a range of approximately ten miles catching both the enemy and the fleeing flotilla by surprise at the sudden appearance of support. Now in radio contact the two Allied groups joined forces north of Cape Spada, Crete. After receiving hits the two Italian cruisers attempted to retreat under cover of smoke screens. One of the Italian cruisers was seen to be on fire and losing headway and Hyperian and Ilex were ordered to sink her and pick up survivors. The second Italian cruiser outpaced the following Allied destroyers and the chase was abandoned. The Sydney sustained only one hit during the encounter.

On the 14th May 1940, in his radio broadcast, the Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden, called for members of the public to join the newly formed Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). By the 23rd July 1940 there were more than 1.000.000 volunteers for the Home Guard, as the LDV became officially known. With the threat of invasion by the German Army, some members of the civilian population began to organise into bands of armed men who were patrolling the countryside. The British government realised they would need to organise the defence of Britain properly. The volunteers were made up of older men who had fought in the Great War and the working force who were in reserved occupation. Initially the Home Guard was poorly armed as the regular forces took priority for equipment. The Home Guard were trained twice a week by the regular Army which developed into a ruthless guerrilla force capable of slowing a German invasion. This would allow the regular Army to regroup and re-establish defensive positions. Though the invasion never came the Home Guard remained on active service until it was stood down in December 1944. However, there were 1,206 members of the Home Guard killed during the course of the war. With the possibility of a new threat of a Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Home Guard was revised in 1952 and again was disbanded in 1957. At the height of the Cold War, the Home Service Force was established in 1982 and was disbanded in 1992 as part of the “peace process”.

On the 23rd July 1940, the British government ordered the evacuation of women, children, the elderly and the infirm from Gibraltar. It had been expected by the British authorities that Gibraltar would not be in the front line of hostilities. With the over-run of the Low Countries in May 1940 and Italy entering the war on Germany’s side in June 1940, the scenario changed. Gibraltar needed to be converted to fully – fledged fortress as it was Hitler’s wish to capture Gibraltar to gain complete control of the access to the Mediterranean. Shortly after the first evacuees landed in French Morocco, France capitulated and the evacuees were ordered to leave as they were technically on foreign soil. Eventually the evacuees arrived in London at the height of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.

…………

(France)

When France officially surrendered to Germany in June 1940 and the country was divided in two. The northern sector, including Paris was occupied by the Germans while the southern sector collaborated with the Germans. The French government, led by Marshal Phillipe Pétain, moved their operations to Vichy in central France on the 1st July 1940. The government remained at Vichy until the summer of 1944 with the Allied invasion of France, after which it was compelled to relocate to Germany. It continued to exist on paper until the end of hostilities in Europe.

The Battle of Mers-el-Kebir was conducted on the 3rd July 1940 and was one of the strangest and one-sided battles of the Second World War. Three weeks after the French had surrendered to the Germans, the large French navy was anchored at the French-Algerian port of Mers-el-Kebir. On the orders of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill the British Royal Navy, commanded by Admiral Sir James Somerville, fired salvo after salvo on the French fleet, sinking most of the ships that were at anchor. The fleet consisted of two battleships, two battle cruisers, six destroyers and a seaplane fender. Had the French navy fallen into German hands the combined naval would have given them the best opportunity for the invasion of Britain. With the diplomatic discussions between the Vichy and British governments the issues were unresolved by the beginning of July 1940. The French Admiral Francois Darian gave Churchill assurances that the fleet would not sail back to Toulon to join the German navy, but Churchill did not trust Darian. The British government ordered negotiations to be conducted suggesting the French fleet be handed over to the Americans or failing that the ships should be scuttled. The final alternative would be that the Royal Navy would destroy the French fleet. With the French using delaying tactics Somerville reluctantly ordered the attack. Nearly 1,300 French sailors were killed and a further 350 were wounded in what the French considered an attack without a declaration of war. The French considered Churchill to be a traitor.

Following the British attack on the French fleet the Germans agreed to the forming of a Vichy French Air Force, which on the 18th July 1940 half-heartedly bombed Gibraltar but the bombing did little damage. After France surrendered the French air force was split into two factions. Those who escaped from France during the retreat from Dunkirk who joined the Free French Forces and those who stayed on behalf of Vichy government and flew for the French Armistice Air Force.

…………

(Germany)

The German invasion and occupation of the Channel Islands began on the 30th June 1940. The actual occupation was completed by the 1st July 1940 and Alderney surrendered to the Germans on the 2nd July 1940. The occupation was finalised on the 4th July 1940 when the island of Sark was the last to surrender to the Germans. On the 28th June 1940 the Germans bombed the islands unaware the British government had demilitarised the islands. The British government requested the island occupants leave the islands as they did not have sufficient staff to protect them. The islands were liberated on the 9th May 1945 and were the only part of Britain occupied by the Germans.            –

Adolf Hitler concluded that the invasion of Britain could be achieved on condition the Luftwaffe had air superiority and that minefields and U-boats could limit the threat posed by the Royal Navy. Following the fall of France, Hitler hoped the British government would seek a peace agreement and reluctantly he considered an invasion as a last resort. On the 2nd July 1940 he ordered the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or “High Command of the Armed Forces”) to begin preliminary planning for an invasion codenamed Operation Sea Lion. By the 12th July 1940 the Luftwaffe attacks had begun on the dock areas of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

………..

(Italy)

Marshal Rodolfo Graziani was Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Regio Esercito’s (Royal Army) General Staff when he took the place of Marshal Ital Balbo on the 1st July 1940. Balbo had been killed in a friendly fire incident on the 28th June 1940. With orders from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, as the new Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and Governor General of Libya, he was given a deadline of the 8th August 1940 to start the invasion of Egypt.

In an effort to strike at the United Kingdom and Commonwealth throughout the Middle East the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) began a bombing campaign. On the 1st July 1940 the bombing of the British Mandate of Palestine was primarily centred on Tel Aviv and Haifa with its port and oil refineries. The British were forced to divert other troops in to defend the area in an effort to keep control of the supply of oil. The final Italian bombing on the territories of the British Mandate of Palestine occurred in June 1941.

During the East Africa Campaign, on the 4th July 1940 the Sudanese city of Kassala was captured by the Italian forces who were advancing from Italian East Africa. The British garrison whose 1,300 colonial troops and British officers were easily defeated, despite some initial heavy fighting, by 2,500 Italian soldiers plus one brigade of cavalry supported by 24 tanks. The Italians held the city until mid-January 1941 when the British returned to occupy the city.

………..

(USA)

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a huge increase in military re-armourment programme on the 10th July 1940. Although officially neutral the American president was aware that America would be drawn into the war although he stated to the American public that he did not want to send its boys to fight in any European conflict. The president’s request for the budget increase was granted on 27th August 1940.

President Roosevelt signed the “two ocean navy” bill on the 20th July 1940. The bill planned for the expansion of the U.S. Navy to meet the German challenge in the Atlantic and the Japanese threat in the Pacific. American companies built 201 new warships including seven battleships.

On the 22nd July 1940, delegates of European colonies in the Western Hemisphere whose mother countries had been over-run by the Germans attended the Havana Conference. The three day conference decided to establish a trusteeship policy applying to Dutch and French colonies in the Caribbean, South America and off the Canadian coast. The trusteeship was implemented to prevent Fascist infiltration into the Western Hemisphere through the colonies.

………..

(Japan)

At the Japanese Army’s request, Fumimaro Konoe was proposed once again, to become the Prime Minister. On the 22nd July 1940 the previous cabinet resigned and Konoe was appointed Prime Minister. Prince Fumimaro Konoe was born into the ancient Fujiwara clan at Tokyo in October 1891. He automatically became a member of the House of Peers in 1916 at the age of 25. His Racial Equality Proposal at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was rejected by American President Woodrow Wilson on the grounds it was not a unanimous decision. Konoe felt that all white people had humiliated Japan by rejecting the Racial Equality Clause and henceforth held a grudge. Japan had been at full-scale war with China since 1937 when Konoe became Prime Minister for the first time. Although Japan continued to be victorious the Chinese fought on and Konoe stated he was tired of being a ‘robot’ for the military and resigned in January 1939.

———————————

 

(Britain)

Brighton beach was closed to the public on the 2nd July 1940 and remained closed until February 1944. The Brighton Blitz as it was known was carried out by the German Luftwaffe with  a total of 56 recorded occasions during the beach closure period. Preparing for a possible German invasion the beaches were mined and guarded with barbed wire. To prevent the Germans using the piers as landing stages both the Palace and West Piers had their decking removed. 30,000 people were evacuated as the town was no longer considered to be a “safe area”.

On the 3rd, 10th and 12th July 1940 the Luftwaffe bombed the Welsh city of Cardiff. The docks were the prime target as they were the biggest coal-port in the world. Consequently, the docks and the surrounding area was heavily bombed.

After his abdication in 1936 King Edward VIII was given the title of Duke of Windsor and he relocated to France with his partner Mrs. Wallis Simpson. He married Mrs. Simpson, after her divorce was finalised, in France in 1937 and stayed until the outbreak of the war then they moved to neutral Portugal. Nazi German agents routinely courted the politically naïve Duke, suggesting he be made a puppet king in the event Germany defeated Britain. Anxious not to allow him to make defeatist statements, which he was prone to do, the British Cabinet proposed he be made the Governor of the Bahamas on the 4th July 1940. The Duke reluctantly agreed to the appointment which denied the Nazi regime their ongoing propaganda opportunities.

The Battle of Britain began on the 10th July 1940 and was considered to be the first military campaign fought entirely in the air. The Luftwaffe targeted mainly coastal-shipping convoys and ports. The Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters defended the attacks of which the prime objective of the Germans was to compel Britain to a negotiated peace. The Battle of Britain, which officially ended on the 31st October 1940, took its name from the speech:  “What General Weygand called the ‘Battle of France’. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin”. The speech was made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the 18th June 1940 to the House of Commons.

On the 11th July 1940 the British government closed down the Burma Road which was the chief supply line for military equipment for the Nationalist Chinese. The Japanese government pledged to end the war with China by seeking terms with the Chinese General Chiang Kai-shek.

At the Battle of Cape Spada in the Mediterranean on the 19th July 1940 the commander of the Allied squadron, Captain John Collins aboard the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney had sailed from Alexandria bound for the bay of Athens. Sydney was accompanied by HMS Havock and Collins had orders to support the flotilla of destroyers HMS Hyperian, Hero, Hasty and Ilex who were searching for Italian submarines in the Aegean Sea. Before making contact with the flotilla Sydney spotted two high speed Italian cruisers who were pursuing the flotilla. Maintaining radio silence Sydney hoisted her battle ensign and open fired at the Italians at a range of approximately ten miles catching both the enemy and the fleeing flotilla by surprise at the sudden appearance of support. Now in radio contact the two Allied groups joined forces north of Cape Spada, Crete. After receiving hits the two Italian cruisers attempted to retreat under cover of smoke screens. One of the Italian cruisers was seen to be on fire and losing headway and Hyperian and Ilex were ordered to sink her and pick up survivors. The second Italian cruiser outpaced the following Allied destroyers and the chase was abandoned. The Sydney sustained only one hit during the encounter.

On the 14th May 1940, in his radio broadcast, the Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden, called for members of the public to join the newly formed Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). By the 23rd July 1940 there were more than 1.000.000 volunteers for the Home Guard, as the LDV became officially known. With the threat of invasion by the German Army, some members of the civilian population began to organise into bands of armed men who were patrolling the countryside. The British government realised they would need to organise the defence of Britain properly. The volunteers were made up of older men who had fought in the Great War and the working force who were in reserved occupation. Initially the Home Guard was poorly armed as the regular forces took priority for equipment. The Home Guard were trained twice a week by the regular Army which developed into a ruthless guerrilla force capable of slowing a German invasion. This would allow the regular Army to regroup and re-establish defensive positions. Though the invasion never came the Home Guard remained on active service until it was stood down in December 1944. However, there were 1,206 members of the Home Guard killed during the course of the war. With the possibility of a new threat of a Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Home Guard was revised in 1952 and again was disbanded in 1957. At the height of the Cold War, the Home Service Force was established in 1982 and was disbanded in 1992 as part of the “peace process”.

On the 23rd July 1940, the British government ordered the evacuation of women, children, the elderly and the infirm from Gibraltar. It had been expected by the British authorities that Gibraltar would not be in the front line of hostilities. With the over-run of the Low Countries in May 1940 and Italy entering the war on Germany’s side in June 1940, the scenario changed. Gibraltar needed to be converted to fully – fledged fortress as it was Hitler’s wish to capture Gibraltar to gain complete control of the access to the Mediterranean. Shortly after the first evacuees landed in French Morocco, France capitulated and the evacuees were ordered to leave as they were technically on foreign soil. Eventually the evacuees arrived in London at the height of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.

…………

(France)

When France officially surrendered to Germany in June 1940 and the country was divided in two. The northern sector, including Paris was occupied by the Germans while the southern sector collaborated with the Germans. The French government, led by Marshal Phillipe Pétain, moved their operations to Vichy in central France on the 1st July 1940. The government remained at Vichy until the summer of 1944 with the Allied invasion of France, after which it was compelled to relocate to Germany. It continued to exist on paper until the end of hostilities in Europe.

The Battle of Mers-el-Kebir was conducted on the 3rd July 1940 and was one of the strangest and one-sided battles of the Second World War. Three weeks after the French had surrendered to the Germans, the large French navy was anchored at the French-Algerian port of Mers-el-Kebir. On the orders of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill the British Royal Navy, commanded by Admiral Sir James Somerville, fired salvo after salvo on the French fleet, sinking most of the ships that were at anchor. The fleet consisted of two battleships, two battle cruisers, six destroyers and a seaplane fender. Had the French navy fallen into German hands the combined naval would have given them the best opportunity for the invasion of Britain. With the diplomatic discussions between the Vichy and British governments the issues were unresolved by the beginning of July 1940. The French Admiral Francois Darian gave Churchill assurances that the fleet would not sail back to Toulon to join the German navy, but Churchill did not trust Darian. The British government ordered negotiations to be conducted suggesting the French fleet be handed over to the Americans or failing that the ships should be scuttled. The final alternative would be that the Royal Navy would destroy the French fleet. With the French using delaying tactics Somerville reluctantly ordered the attack. Nearly 1,300 French sailors were killed and a further 350 were wounded in what the French considered an attack without a declaration of war. The French considered Churchill to be a traitor.

Following the British attack on the French fleet the Germans agreed to the forming of a Vichy French Air Force, which on the 18th July 1940 half-heartedly bombed Gibraltar but the bombing did little damage. After France surrendered the French air force was split into two factions. Those who escaped from France during the retreat from Dunkirk who joined the Free French Forces and those who stayed on behalf of Vichy government and flew for the French Armistice Air Force.

…………

(Germany)

The German invasion and occupation of the Channel Islands began on the 30th June 1940. The actual occupation was completed by the 1st July 1940 and Alderney surrendered to the Germans on the 2nd July 1940. The occupation was finalised on the 4th July 1940 when the island of Sark was the last to surrender to the Germans. On the 28th June 1940 the Germans bombed the islands unaware the British government had demilitarised the islands. The British government requested the island occupants leave the islands as they did not have sufficient staff to protect them. The islands were liberated on the 9th May 1945 and were the only part of Britain occupied by the Germans.            –

Adolf Hitler concluded that the invasion of Britain could be achieved on condition the Luftwaffe had air superiority and that minefields and U-boats could limit the threat posed by the Royal Navy. Following the fall of France, Hitler hoped the British government would seek a peace agreement and reluctantly he considered an invasion as a last resort. On the 2nd July 1940 he ordered the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or “High Command of the Armed Forces”) to begin preliminary planning for an invasion codenamed Operation Sea Lion. By the 12th July 1940 the Luftwaffe attacks had begun on the dock areas of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

………..

(Italy)

Marshal Rodolfo Graziani was Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Regio Esercito’s (Royal Army) General Staff when he took the place of Marshal Ital Balbo on the 1st July 1940. Balbo had been killed in a friendly fire incident on the 28th June 1940. With orders from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, as the new Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and Governor General of Libya, he was given a deadline of the 8th August 1940 to start the invasion of Egypt.

In an effort to strike at the United Kingdom and Commonwealth throughout the Middle East the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) began a bombing campaign. On the 1st July 1940 the bombing of the British Mandate of Palestine was primarily centred on Tel Aviv and Haifa with its port and oil refineries. The British were forced to divert other troops in to defend the area in an effort to keep control of the supply of oil. The final Italian bombing on the territories of the British Mandate of Palestine occurred in June 1941.

During the East Africa Campaign, on the 4th July 1940 the Sudanese city of Kassala was captured by the Italian forces who were advancing from Italian East Africa. The British garrison whose 1,300 colonial troops and British officers were easily defeated, despite some initial heavy fighting, by 2,500 Italian soldiers plus one brigade of cavalry supported by 24 tanks. The Italians held the city until mid-January 1941 when the British returned to occupy the city.

………..

(USA)

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a huge increase in military re-armourment programme on the 10th July 1940. Although officially neutral the American president was aware that America would be drawn into the war although he stated to the American public that he did not want to send its boys to fight in any European conflict. The president’s request for the budget increase was granted on 27th August 1940.

President Roosevelt signed the “two ocean navy” bill on the 20th July 1940. The bill planned for the expansion of the U.S. Navy to meet the German challenge in the Atlantic and the Japanese threat in the Pacific. American companies built 201 new warships including seven battleships.

On the 22nd July 1940, delegates of European colonies in the Western Hemisphere whose mother countries had been over-run by the Germans attended the Havana Conference. The three day conference decided to establish a trusteeship policy applying to Dutch and French colonies in the Caribbean, South America and off the Canadian coast. The trusteeship was implemented to prevent Fascist infiltration into the Western Hemisphere through the colonies.

………..

(Japan)

At the Japanese Army’s request, Fumimaro Konoe was proposed once again, to become the Prime Minister. On the 22nd July 1940 the previous cabinet resigned and Konoe was appointed Prime Minister. Prince Fumimaro Konoe was born into the ancient Fujiwara clan at Tokyo in October 1891. He automatically became a member of the House of Peers in 1916 at the age of 25. His Racial Equality Proposal at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was rejected by American President Woodrow Wilson on the grounds it was not a unanimous decision. Konoe felt that all white people had humiliated Japan by rejecting the Racial Equality Clause and henceforth held a grudge. Japan had been at full-scale war with China since 1937 when Konoe became Prime Minister for the first time. Although Japan continued to be victorious the Chinese fought on and Konoe stated he was tired of being a ‘robot’ for the military and resigned in January 1939.

———————————

 

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