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.

———————————

 

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service June 1940.

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service June 1940.

 

 

Date                Time   Location         Damage

 

18/06/1940    23.40  Hadleigh        1 – H.E. exploded at side of Florence Gardens in a

field.  Slight damage to property.  No casualties.

18/06/1940   23.50  Pitsea             Failure of electric light and supply due to H.E. on

Road B.1015 in Southend Borough.

19/06/1940    00.45  Canvey          2 – H.E.s & I.B.s on Coastal Wharves.  Main pipe

Island             line hit, extensive damage to Oil Wharves by fire.  2 casualties.  1-H.E. 100 yards from Northwick.  Water main burst.  Telephone wires down.  Gas main damaged at Winter Gardens.  1 – H.E. unexploded on Hadleigh Marshes

19/06/1940    00.55  South             5 – H.Es and 15-20 I.Bs (1 – H.E. exploded near

Benfleet         St. Marys Drive.  Damage to bungalow.  2 – H.Es exploded at Lawrence Gardens.  11 houses badly damaged.  1 – H.E. exploded at Larwood Drive Essex Way.  Damage to a bungalow.  1 – H.E. unexploded in garden of 347 Appleton Road.  I.Bx on Benfleet Marshes and 1 at Salvation Citadel, damaged by fire.

19/06/1940    01.16  Foulness       Enemy aircraft fell in flames in North Sea off

Island             Foulness Island.  No survivors.  No sign of plane.

19/06/1940    01.17  Canewdon    3 – H.Es 2 exploded and 1 unexploded in a field at

Sealdhurst Farm near RAF Camp.  No casualties or damage.

22/06/1940    00.03  Foulness       11 – H.Es at side of road between Lodge Farm and

Island             New-Wick.  5 are unexploded.  No damage or casualties.

22/06/1940    00.50  South             4 – H.Es exploded on marshes.  No casualties or

Benfleet         damage.

22/06/1940    01.32  Canvey          7 – H.Es exploded in mid-air.  3 unexploded in a

Island             field between Scars Elbow Point and The London Coastal Wharf and 3 unexploded in a field beside Haven Road.  No damage or casualties.

22/06/1940    01.33  Canvey          1 – H.E. exploded near huts at Furtherwick Gun

Island             Site.  Damage to property. 1 soldier suffering slight shock.

22/06/1940    06.15  Canvey          1 – H.E. unexploded in Senior Schools Playground,

Island             Long Road.  No damage or casualties.

22/06/1940    10.55  South             3 – H.Es exploded on Smokey Farm.  12-20

Benfleet         houses damaged, 1 badly.  Slight damage to Police property.  No casualties.

24/06/1940                Thundersley 1 – H.E. unexploded 200 yards North of London

Road, opposite Hazlemere House.

 

THE SECOND WORLD WAR June 1940

THE SECOND WORLD WAR June 1940
Dunkirk and the North Sea
For Britain the 3rd June 1940 was the last day of Operation Dynamo. When the German army advanced through Northern France, British troops were cut off from their French allies and they were encircled on all sides by the Germans. With assistance of hundreds of British civilian small boats they ferried soldiers stranded on the beaches at Dunkirk to waiting warships anchored at sea. During the evacuation the Royal Air Force (RAF) successfully resisted the German Luftwaffe who were bombarding the beaches. The evacuation continued for nine days and the operation ended with over 335,000 soldiers transported to Britain. The campaign became known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk”. On the 4th June 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill made another of his great speeches to the British government. When the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had been encircled in France he remarked he thought 20,000 or 30,000 soldiers might be evacuated to Britain. When over 335,000 men including French servicemen were evacuated off the beaches at Dunkirk it was declared a triumph out of a tragic defeat. He promised to defend our island home by fighting on the beaches, landing grounds, streets and hills and that “we shall never surrender”.
When the main Allied force evacuated the beaches of Dunkirk, the 51st Highland Division, Commanded by General Victor Fortune, was tasked with holding the German army at bay for as long as possible. Churchill had placed the 51st Division under French command as part of the French 9th Army. With the Germans rapidly approaching, the French Army surrendered on the 10th June 1940. On the same day, Fortune realised his 51st Division would not reach the Dunkirk beaches therefore ordered a retreat to the coastal port of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. The Highlanders formed a horseshoe defence, but Fortune realising he was outnumbered, surrounded and running short of ammunition, decided to surrender. Fortune made the decision after the French surrender in order not to unnecessarily waste British lives. General Major Erwin Rommel, commander of the German 7th Panzer Division accepted Fortune’s surrender on the 12th June 1940.
The lesser known Operation Aerial was the code name given to the evacuation of British and Allied troops from the ports of North West France. The evacuation took place between the 15th and 25th June 1940. When the German tanks reached the coast at Abbeville on the 20th May 1940 they had split the BEF in two. Another 150,000 Allied troops were present in bases leading back to the ports along the line of communications. With the Germans concentrating on the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Royal Navy was able to evacuate these troops to England, proving once again Britain’s control of the seas had saved her from military disaster.
Charles De Gaule was a brigadier general who became Undersecretary of State for defence and war in the French Raynaud government. When Raynaud resigned, De Gaule left for England on the 9th June 1940. Having set up headquarters in England and following a radio broadcast to the French people, De Gaule was formally recognised by Britain as the leader of the ”Free French forces” on the 28th June 1940. This term was little more than those French troops who were evacuated from Dunkirk and volunteers from Frenchmen already living in England.
Whilst travelling through the Norwegian Sea, HMS Glorious was a British aircraft carrier proceeding toward Scapa Flow escorted by two destroyers on the 8th June 1940 when they were spotted by the German Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Destroyer HMS Ardent was despatched to investigate while Glorious continued on the original course and speed. Five Swordfish aircraft were ordered to the flight deck but before they could be despatched Scharnhorst had opened fire and hit the upper flight deck preventing any aircraft from taking off. Ardent, producing a smokescreen, was sunk after she had fired torpedoes at Scharnhorst. Further shells hit Glorious and the aircraft carrier sank. The other destroyer, HMS Acasta was also producing a smokescreen and managed to fire two volleys of torpedoes at Scharnhorst which was badly damaged. Acasta was sunk by further shells fired from Scharnhorst. The two German ships had suffered extensive damage and beat a hasty retreat unaware there were no British ships nearby to pick up survivors. The total killed or missing from the three British ships was 1,519 and only 40 survivors were brought to safety. Glorious was a Courageous-class-battlecruiser built during the Great War and began conversion to an aircraft carrier in 1924. She was completely converted in February 1930 and re-entered service with the Royal Navy.
………………..
Germany
The German air force, following the evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk, was wanting to provoke terror to the citizens of Paris by a bombing campaign. The bombing took place on the 3rd June 1940 and most of the 254 people killed were civilians including school children. On the 13th June 1940 the Germans marched into Paris in the early hours of the morning as French and Allied troops retreated. They took up a position south of Paris allowing the Germans to access and occupy the city without it being destroyed. The RAF had bombed German convoys, mechanical units and lines of communications prior to the Germans entering Paris. Bridges from Rouen to Mante had been destroyed by the RAF to prevent the enemy bringing up material and reserves.
The Cunard liner RMS Lancastria had been pressed into service as a troop ship. She took on board as many men, women and children as possible as there were tens of thousands of British military personnel left in France after the Dunkirk evacuations. Lancastria had not long left the port of St Nazaire on the 17th June 1940 when German bombers located her. The Lancastria sank twenty minutes after she was bombed and approximately 4,000 people lost their lives. Records of precise numbers of women and children lost do not appear to be readily available. Fewer than 2,500 people survived the largest loss of life from a single engagement in British Maritime history. The sinking of the Lancastria was covered by a news blackout as the British government feared the news would have a detrimental effect on morale after the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Anticipating a swift victory over Britain following the fall of France, the Germans were unaware the British government had decided the Channel Islands could not be defended without great loss of life. The islanders were given the option to leave as the islands were being demilitarised. This information was not communicated to Germany. As part of their invasion plans they bombed the Channel Islands on the 28th June 1940. After the islanders were instructed, by the British government, to fly the white flag and paint white crosses on the aerodromes, the German occupation began on the 30th June 1940. The Channel Islands were the only part of Britain occupied by Germany during the war. The occupation lasted until their liberation on the 9th May 1945.
Norway was forced to surrender to the Germans on the 10th June 1940 after two months of desperate resistance. The last Norwegian and British defenders were overwhelmed by the Germans and Norway had been conquered with all Allied forces having been driven out.
France
In France, after the German bombing, Paris was declared an open city on the 13th July 1940 and the French government fled to Bordeaux. The Germans marched into Paris on the 14th June 1940 without any resistance from the French population. On the 16th June 1940, Paul Raynaud resigned as French President and Marshal Philippe Pétain replaced him. What remained of the government decided to seek an armistice on the 17th June 1940. Franco/German armistice negotiations began on the 21st June 1940, then Hitler completed France’s humiliation on the 22nd June 1940. He insisted the document of capitulation was signed in the same railway carriage in the Compiegne Forest where Germany had been forced to sign the armistice after the Great War. Under the capitulation terms France was to be divided in two. Northern France was to be occupied by the Germans while southern France would collaborate with the Germans, with Pétain leading the “legitimate” French government and the regime having its capital at Vichy in central France. On the 25th June 1940, France officially surrendered to Germany.
The French government realised the Germans would not allow the war to continue against their Italian Allies following the Franco/German request for an armistice. The French sought an armistice with the Italians on the 20th June 1940, with the request being made via the Vatican in Rome. The Franco-Italian armistice was signed on the 24th June 1940 which ended the brief Italian invasion of France during the Second World War. The armistice remained until November 1942.
—————–
Mediterranean
The British colony of Malta was crucial to the Mediterranean war. The island hosted several airfields and the only British harbour between Gibraltar and Alexandria in Egypt. Operations from Malta hindered German supply convoys destined for North Africa. On the 11th June 1940, the Axis Powers of Germany and Italy, who had declared war against Britain and France the day before, began a bombing campaign. The Siege of Malta had begun and Hitler showed no mercy toward Malta which became one of the most intensely bombed areas of the whole war. The island was defended by the RAF but there were no supplies getting through and the island was cut-off. The Siege of Malta lasted until May 1943 when supplies arrived intact, delivered by a convoy codenamed Stonehenge.
Benito Mussolini, the egotistical dictator of Italy declared war on Britain and France on the 10th June 1940. Up until this time Italy had been neutral as he had been in negotiations with both sides on account of Italy’s lack of raw materials. It will never be known whether he joined the Axis because of Germany’s occupation of Paris. Mussolini wanted to be on the winning side and the thought of Germany singlehandedly achieving this was too much for his ego to bear. Repercussions by the Allies was immediate. Italians living in Britain less than twenty years were interned. President Roosevelt of America promised support for Britain and France with “the material resources of this nation”.
The Italian Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa, Italo Balbo was killed by friendly fire on the 28th June 1940, when his plane was shot down over Tobruk by Italian anti-aircraft guns. Balbo was an Italian Blackshirt and was one of the principle architects who brought Benito Mussolini to power. He was given the government of Italian Libya to lead and was “heir apparent” to Italian dictator Mussolini. He had served as Italy’s Marshall of the Air Force popularising aviation in Italy.
Traditionally since the 1930s the French Navy and the Royal Navy agreed to split the theatres of war. The French would take charge in the Mediterranean and the British took over the Atlantic and North Sea area. Prior to the Italian declaration of war the joint French and British navies planned to raid the Mediterranean area to test Italy’s air and submarine forces. Technically the French/British raid was planned before the Italian declaration of war. On the 12th June 1940 a false report of German warships entering the Mediterranean scrambled the French fleet. On the 13th June 1940, the French navy launched Operation Vado from Toulon bound for Italy with Vado and Genoa as their objective. Two heavy cruisers and five destroyers targeted Genoa and two heavy cruisers and seven destroyers targeted Vado. Four submarines escorted them to cover the withdrawal if required. In the early hours of the 14th June 1940 the cruisers began their attack on the shore and were reasonably successful. The Italian coastal artillery were able to force the French to withdraw. On the 16th June 1940 an Italian submarine attacked a French convoy without success and the French launched a depth charge retaliation which damaged the submarine and forced her to surface. An escorting sloop rammed the submarine which sank, and it was only Italian submarine sunk by the French Navy. On the 21st June 1940, as part of the French/British operation a squadron of aircraft raided Italian airfields Italian. The very last French naval aircraft attack was on Livorno before the French surrender.
…………………..
Soviet Union
For the Soviet Union, in June 1916 the occupation of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania involved the military occupation by the Soviet Union. They intended to turn these states into puppet regimes and to have a newspaper campaign against the pro-Allied sympathies of the Baltic governments. On the 15th June 1940 the Lithuanian government had no choice but to agree to the Soviet ultimatum and permit Soviet troops to enter the country after they had been accused of military collaboration with Allies against the Soviet Union. The Lithuanian president proposed armed resistance but the government refused to comply. The Soviets sent their candidate to take charge of affairs, after having refused the Lithuanian proposal that they would have their own candidate taking charge. In the meantime the Red Army occupied the states of Latvia and Estonia, after they had both received the same ultimatum, on the 16th June 1940. On the 18th and 21st June 1940 respectively new governments were formed in these two states and rigged elections guaranteed they were accepted by the citizens.
On the 26th June 1940 the Soviet People’s Commissar presented an ultimatum to the Romanian Minister in Moscow. The note demanded that the Romanian military evacuate the Romanian area of Bassarabia and Northern Bukovina. Under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbontrop Pact in 1939, Romania remained neutral with the country being influenced by either the Soviet Union or Germany. Romanian troops began to mobilise on the 27th June 1940 after King Carl II had meetings with his ministers and the ambassadors of Italy and Germany. The Soviets declared that should the Romanians reject the ultimatum Soviet troops were crossing the border. The Romanian government replied it would agree to negotiations to discuss terms but the Soviets issued a second ultimatum requiring the Romanian government evacuate Bassarabia and Northern Bukovina. On the 28th June 1940 Romania agreed to Soviet demands and ordered the Army to step down. By 2.00 pm on the 28th June 1940 Romania was occupied by the Soviets.
_________________

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service May 1940.

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service May 1940.

Date Time Location Damage

01/05/1940 19.00 Hockley 1 – A.A. unexploded shell in a field at
Walfords Farm. No damage or casualties
04/05/1940 06.20 Canvey British Spitfire made a forced landing on flats
Island between Canvey Wall and Chapman Lighthouse. Pilot safe. Instruments salvaged.
10/05/1940 11.45 Pitsea Several cases of slight damage to bungalows by
falling shrapnel from our guns.
15/05/1940 15.30 Ingrave British Spitfire crashed at Thorndon Park.
Machine burnt out. Number N. 3185 K.L.N.
Pilot Officer Ross killed.
25/05/1940 01.35 Wickford 1 – H.E. exploded at South Beeches Avenue.
Windows broken. Rabbits and chicken killed to the value of £5. Glass broken in skylight of Police property.

OPERATION DYNAMO

OPERATION DYNAMO
The Germans put into effect the invasion of Holland, Belgium and France on the 10th May 1940. The United Kingdom sent the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to aid in the defence of France in September 1939.
During the 1930s the French had constructed as a series of fortifications along the French –German border known as the Maginot Line. The area to the north of the Maginot Line, was the Ardennes Forest which was considered to be impassable and therefore was only lightly defended.
The Luftwaffe was the dominant air force, with the French Air Force too small to resist and most of Britain’s RAF Fighter Command at home awaiting the inevitable attack on Britain. German air forces attacked towns in Holland, Belgium and Northern France on the 10th May 1940.
The German Army attacked through the Ardennes establishing bridgeheads along the Meuse River and rapidly drove toward the English Channel. The BEF advanced to meet the German Panzers but were overwhelmed and ordered to begin a fighting retreat to the Scheldt River on 14th May 1940, after the Belgian and French position on the flanks failed to hold.
On his visit to Paris on the 17th May 1940 English Prime Minister Winston Churchill was astonished to learn that the French had no reserve forces as they had committed all their troops to the ongoing engagement, and there were no troops between the Germans and the sea. By the 21st May 1940 German forces had the Allied Armies trapped along the Northern coast of France. Evacuation across the channel was seen as the best course of action. Dunkirk was the closest port for evacuation and a withdrawal was planned.
Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsey headed the planning from his naval headquarters below Dover Castle, with Churchill being informed of every step. Ships began gathering at Dover. Brigadier Gerald Whitfield had been sent to Dunkirk to begin the evacuation and he found the area to be in utter chaos. On the 22nd May 1940, Churchill ordered the BEF to attack southward in co-ordination with the French First Army to reconnect with the remaining French forces. On the 25th May 1940, the BEF had abandoned any hope of achieving this objective and withdrew behind the Lys Canal. The canal sluice gates had been opened to create a barrier against the German advance.
By the 24th May 1940, the Germans had captured the port of Boulogne and surrounded Calais. German engineers built five bridges over the Canal Line and only one British battalion barred the way to Dunkirk. With Adolf Hitler’s endorsement the panzer units were ordered to halt. Air Marshall Hermann Göring urged Hitler to let the Luftwaffe finish off the British. Later that day, Hitler issued a directive to that effect. At 15.30 pm on the 26th May 1940, Hitler ordered the panzer groups to continue their advance, but most of the units took another sixteen hours to attack. The delay gave the Allies time to prepare defences vital for the evacuation.
Just before 19.00 pm on the 26th May 1940, Churchill ordered Dynamo to begin, by which time 28,000 troops had already departed. Initial plans called for the recovery of 45,000 men from the BEF within two days, at which time German troops were expected to block further evacuation. Only 25,000 men escaped during this period, including 7,669 on the first day. Abandoned vehicles with floods of refugees heading in the opposite direction created chaotic conditions for the retreat. On the 27th May 1940, the first full day of the evacuation, one cruiser, eight destroyers and twenty six other craft were active. Admiralty officers combed nearby boatyards for small craft that could ferry personnel to larger craft in the harbour. An emergency call was put out for additional help, and by the 31st May 1940 nearly four hundred “little ships” were voluntarily taking part in the effort.
Both the town and dock installations of Dunkirk were heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe on the same day. The Luftwaffe was met by RAF squadrons of fighters who inflicted considerable damage to the German bombers. The troops on the beaches were mostly unaware of the RAF efforts to protect them, as they were generally fought inland. The troops accused the airmen of doing nothing to help them when German aircraft were bombing and strafing the beaches. By the 4th June 1940 over 338,000 Allied troops were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk. A flotilla of ”little ships” ferried the troops from the beaches to the larger vessels anchored offshore. Nearly 700 British ships were involved in the evacuation of which 226 were sunk.
In a speech to the House of Commons on the 4th June 1940, Churchill made a point that the evacuation had been made possible through the efforts of the RAF during his we shall fight the on the beaches speech. He also reminded the nation that “wars are not won by evacuations”. This speech was delivered to counteract the British press headlines of a “disaster turned to victory”.
After the Dunkirk evacuations, south of the Somme, three British divisions together with logistic and labour troops were cut off by the Germans. In order to try establishing a Second BEF further troops were moved to France. The BEF were forced to retreat to the coast where almost 192,000 Allied personnel were evacuated through various French ports from the 15th to the 25th June 1940 under the codename Operation Ariel. The 51st Highland Infantry Division became separated and were forced to surrender, in order to avoid more unnecessary losses, on the 12th June 1940.
The Germans marched into Paris on the 14th June 1940 and France surrendered eight days later.
Why did Hitler order his forces to halt, and was it a major German mistake on the Western Front? Many discussions by historians suggest that Hitler was convinced that once Britain’s troops left continental Europe, they would never return.
———————————————————-

THE SECOND WORLD WAR May 1940

THE SECOND WORLD WAR May 1940
On the 1st May 1940 the Allied commanders decided to withdraw from Norway all British and French troops, after they were overrun by the German army. On the 24th May 1940 the Allied command approved Operation Alphabet which was the codename for the retreat from Norway. The Allied retreat was covered by Norwegian forces, who then demobilised to avoid its soldiers being taken prisoner by the Germans. All Allied troops were evacuated by the 8th June 1940 and Norway capitulated to the Germans on the 10th June 1940.
……………………
In Britain Neville Chamberlain’s Conservative-dominated National Government was criticised regarding the progress of the Norwegian Campaign during the parliamentary debate of the 7th/8th May 1940. The opposition forced a “vote of no confidence” which the government won with a greatly reduced majority, but support for Chamberlain in his own party was crumbling. Chamberlain failed to reach an agreement with the Labour and Liberal parties over an all-party coalition. On the 10th May 1940 Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill succeeded him as Prime Minister. One of the first things Churchill did on the 11th May 1940, was to ask King George VI for his consent to send an RAF plane to Doorn in Holland to bring Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife to safety in England, to which the King agreed. The eighty-one year old Kaiser had been in exile at Doorn since the end of the Great War. The Kaiser declined the offer stating he did not wish the leave Dutch in the lurch and also give Churchill a propaganda victory. The phrase “blood, sweat, toil and tears” was Churchill’s first speech on the 13th May 1940 to the House of Commons since becoming Prime Minster. In this speech he asked the House to declare its confidence in his government and the motion was passed unanimously. This was the first of three which he gave during the Battle of France, which had commenced on the 10th May 1940.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the British Parliament had passed the National Service (Armed Forces) Act, under which all men between the ages of 18 and 41 were liable for conscription. The registration of all men in the different age groups began in October 1939 for those aged 20 to 23. On the 9th May 1940, registration had extended to men up to 27 but did not reach those aged 40 until June 1941. By the end of 1939 over one and a half million British men had been recruited into the armed forces.
……………………….
Germany began the invasion of the low-countries and France on the 10th May 1940. France and Britain expected the attack to come through Holland and Belgium. The Battle of Hannut in Belgium was an indecisive action between the German and the Belgian/French armies on the 12th to 14th May 1940. It was the largest tank battle of the campaign. The German main attack, on the 13th May 1940 however, was further south through the Ardennes Forest. German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes then along the Somme valley. In doing so they cut off and surrounded the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium to meet the expected German invasion. The Allied armies were pushed back to the sea. As part of the Battle for France, The Battles for The Hague and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, began on the same day. Queen Wilhelmina established a government-in-exile based in London on the 13th May 1940. While initial resistance by the Dutch was successful, the Dutch commander was forced to surrender, on the 14th May 1940 because of major setbacks on other fronts. On the 18th May 1940 the Germans won the Battle of Zeeland. In the meantime, the Dutch forces had held out and defeated the Germans at the Battle of Afsluitdijk on the 14th May 1940 and only capitulated when the Dutch Army surrendered to the Germans on the 15th May 1940.
……………………….
In Belgium, the Germans entered Brussels on the 17th May 1940 and captured Antwerp on the 18th May 1940. After the invasion of the Low Countries the Belgian government, led by Prime Minister Hubert Pierlot fled first to Bordeaux in France on the 16th May 1940, then on to London. Whilst in London the government established itself as the only legitimate representation of Belgium to the Allies. During the Battle of the Lys on the 25th to 28th May 1940, German troops deliberately murdered between 86 to 140 civilians. This massacre was a war crime retaliation for the Belgian army’s resistance in the village of Vinkt near Ghent. Belgian gold reserves were evacuated to Britain on the 26th May 1940 on the Belgian patrol vessel A4. The vessel was a small Mersey-class naval trawler operated by Belgium. The gold reserves arrived in Plymouth, and the operation allowed the Belgian government-in-exile to fund its operations but also deprived the German occupiers of an important asset to support their war effort. Belgium surrendered to Germany on the 28th May 1940 and were under occupation almost until the end of the war.
………………………..
In the Battle for France, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Paris on the 16th May 1940 where he was told by the French government that the French war was all but over. On the 17th May 1940, Paul Raynaud formed a new French government and appointed Maxima Weygand as commander of French Armed Forces on the 18th May 1940. Amiens was besieged by the Germans on the 19TH May 1940 and German Panzers capture Abbeville 20th May 1940. Boulogne-sur- Mer and Calais surrendered to the Germans on the 25th and 26th May 1940 respectively. By the 25th May 1940 British and French troops retreated to Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo, the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk began on the 26th May 1940.
………………………..
The British invasion of Iceland, code named Operation Fort, commenced on the 10th May 1940. The invasion was carried out by the Royal Navy and the Royal marines, because the British government feared the island would be used by the Germans to assist them going into the Atlantic Ocean. The Icelandic government issued a protest stating their neutrality had been violated and their independence infringed. The invasion ended on the 19th May 1940 after British troops had arrested all German citizens and secured all landing areas against the possibility of a German counterattack
0n the 14th May 1940, while preparing to fly to Paris, Churchill drafted a letter to American President Franklin D. Roosevelt hinting that France might soon fall but that Britain would fight on alone. He requested that America assist Britain with everything to enable the British to continue the struggle. The only exception being the United States would not engage the Germans. He pointed out that should Britain fail in the struggle against Germany, then the Nazified “United States of Europe” would turn its attention to America, who would then have to face them alone. Roosevelt replied he would need to consult with congress for their approval, but was faced with opposition from the isolationist contingent not to get involved in a European war again. However, Roosevelt did discuss with Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King the possibility of the eventual arrival of the Royal Navy into the United States and Canadian ports should Britain capitulate.
The British government made an urgent radio appeal also on the 14th May 1940 to all men aged between 17 and 65, who were not already in uniform, to become part-time soldiers. After the German attack on Belgium and the Netherlands and British troops in mainland Europe having been forced to retreat to the Channel Ports, many people thought an invasion of Britain would occur. Within 24 hours of the radio broadcast nearly a quarter of a million men applied and the creation of the Local Defence Volunteer service became a reality. Many of these men were employed full time in their profession as part of the war effort. The Home Guard as they were later called, when trained, defended thousands of miles of the British coastline. They also defended key targets such as docks, factories and explosive stores. They patrolled likely invasion sites at night in order to slow down any potential German advance until the army arrived. The expected German never took place and the main role of the Home Guard was capturing German airmen whose aircraft had been shot down over Britain.
Sir Oswald Mosley, a politician, .was jailed on the 23rd May 1940 for his fascist policies. After the Great War Mosley became a Member of Parliament during the 1920s and in the 1930s became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). At the outbreak of war Mosley led a campaign for a negotiated peace, but after the invasion of Norway overall public opinion turned to hostility owing to his sympathies towards Germany. When he was imprisoned the BUF was banned.
Winston Churchill was victorious in winning the vote to continue the war on the 30th May 1940. The War Cabinet consisted of Churchill, former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax, Labour leader Clement Atlee and Labour deputy leader Arthur Greenwood. The debate hinged whether Mussolini’s Italy should be asked to mediate a peace deal with Nazi Germany. At this stage Italy had not entered into the war, although it was an ally of Germany. Halifax argued for a truce but Churchill believed that Britain should go down fighting, mainly because he did not trust Germany to respect any peace terms. He effectively ended Halifax’s campaign with his famous speech, “If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the earth”. For Churchill this was his first victory of his war-time premiership, and possibly his most important.
……………………..
Following the Great War the Baltic States of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia became independent from Russian domination. On the 25th May 1940 the Soviet Union was preparing for a complete takeover of the three states. The proposed takeover was organised with staged conflicts between the Baltic States and the U.S.S.R. when the Soviet government accused Lithuania of kidnapping Soviet soldiers.
——————-
On the 31st May 1940 the Imperial branches of the Japanese Army Air Service and Navy Air Service began a two day terror bombing operation on the Chinese provisional capital of Chungking on the upper Yangtze River. The attack was authorised by the Imperial General Headquarters in Japan, mainly against residential and non-military targets as part of the planned Sichuan Invasion.
——————

THE SECOND WORLD WAR April 1940

THE SECOND WORLD WAR April 1940

The Katyn Forest, located in the Soviet Union was the scene in April 1940 of the massacre of captured Polish officers and intelligencia by the Soviet secret police (NKVD) – (“People’s Commissariat for the Internal Affairs”). Approximately 22,000 Polish prisoners were murdered and most, but not all, were found buried in mass graves. The massacre was a series of mass executions which took place in several different locations. The NKVD prompted the massacre for which the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was one of those who signed the order. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the Germans found the mass graves giving them the opportunity for propaganda against the Soviets for the barbaric treatment of the Polish people.
Germany invaded Denmark and Norway on the 9th April 1940 as a preventive measure against a planned British and French occupation of Norway. The German objective was to protect the two countries neutrality. German industry was heavily dependent on the import of iron-ore from the northern Swedish mining district and much of this was shipped through the Norwegian port of Narvik. By having bases in Denmark and Norway, Britain and France would have forced German ore ships to travel through the open waters of the North Sea. The invasion of Denmark lasted less than six hours and the capitulation resulted in a uniquely lenient occupation of Denmark. Norway was also occupied from the 10th April 1940. The Quisling regime which was the puppet government led by Vidkun Quisling until the end of the war. Quisling was the leader of the Norwegian fascist party who declared himself Prime Minister and ordered all resistance halted immediately. Adolf Hitler supported Quisling thereby forcing King Haakon VII and the pre-war government to escape to London.
The First Battle of Narvik was initiated by the British navy who had orders to prevent ten German destroyers landing 2,000 troops at the Port of Narvik in Norway. Narvik was important to the Germans because it was used to ship imported iron-ore to supply Nazi Germany’s industries. Early on the morning of the 10th April 1940 a flotilla of five British destroyers entered the harbour of Narvik under the cover of heavy snow. In the surprise attack they sank two German destroyers and six merchant ships, and damaging another destroyer. However, they had arrived too late to prevent the landing of the German troops. Unbeknown to the British navy, a further five German destroyers were at anchor nearby and these emerged to attack the British flotilla. The Germans were forced to retreat because of fuel shortages and the need to facilitate repairs despite having sunk the British flagship and killing the commander, Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee. The Germans also sank another ship and damaging a further two. A Second Battle for Narvik commenced on the 13th April 1940 when a new British force arrived consisting of a battleship and eight destroyers who opposed eight German destroyers and two U-boats. After the battle the only German survivor was U-boat, U-51, which managed to escape to the open sea.
The British occupation of the Faroe Islands was implemented immediately following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway. On the 12th April 1940 two British destroyers arrived at Torshavn harbour on the Faroe Islands which was an amt (county of Denmark). Following discussions between the Danish Prefect of the Islands and the Faroese Parliament the British terms were accepted regarding the occupation, on the basis that the U.K. would not seek to interfere with the internal affairs of the Islands. The British were in occupation for the duration of the war.
On the 14th April 1940 British troops landed at Namsos and Harstad in Norway as Anglo/French troops prepared to launch an operation against German forces at Trondheim and Narvik. The 15th April 1940 saw the British Guards Brigade landing at Harstad and on the 16th, 17th and 18th April 1940 land at Namsos and Andalsnes respectively. Fighting continued until the 25th April 1940 when the German forces successfully pushed the Allies back and on the 27th April 1940 the Allied forces decided to withdraw from Narvik and Andalsnes. This in effect abandoned the Allied involvement against the Germans at Trondheim. On the 30th April 1940 the Allied evacuation from Andalsnes began.
——————

THE SECOND WORLD WAR March 1940

THE SECOND WORLD WAR March 1940
Adolf Hitler directed his generals, on the 1st March 1940, to plan the invasion of Denmark and Norway.
On the 3rd March 1940, the Soviet army attacked Viipuri in Finland which was a suburb of Vyburg and established a beachhead on the Western Gulf of Vyburg. The Soviets declined the offer of the Finnish proposal for an armistice on the 5th March 1940. The Soviets wished to keep the pressure on the Finnish government and a peace delegation was hastily dispatched to Moscow via Stockholm arriving in Moscow on the 7th March 1940. As the Soviet military was in a strong and improving position the Soviet government made further demands to which the Finns had little choice but to accept the terms. The Moscow Peace Treaty was signed on the 12th March 1940 in Moscow. The ceasefire took effect the following day.
With a large proportion of food imported into Britain from across the world, on the 11th March 1940 the British Ministry of Food extended their rationing system. The extension went on to include meat, cheese, milk and eggs in addition to the rationing of basic foods from the 7th January 1940.
During an air raid on the 16th March 1940, thirty-two German Junkers Ju 88 dive bombers attacked the Royal Naval Base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. One of the bombs hit HMS Norfolk and blew a hole below the water line. There were 6 sailors killed and James Isbister was the first British civilian killed in the nearby village of Bridge of Waithe when a German bomb hit his house.
On the 18th March 1940, the fascist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass on the Austrian border. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss when Italy would join in the war against Britain and France. Hitler gave details of his planned invasion of Europe but did not disclose his intension with regard to Denmark and Norway. Mussolini promised, once it became obvious the German offensive proved to be victorious, that Italy would enter the war “at an appropriate moment”.
When Édouard Daladier lost the position of prime minister of France on the 21st March 1940, Paul Reynaud was elected as the new Prime Minister. As an opponent of appeasement Reynaud became a strong supporter of the military ideas of Charles De Gaulle. At a meeting with the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain a week later in London on the 28th March 1940, both men signed a joint declaration that the two countries would not sign a separate peace Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
On the 30th March 1940 the Reorganised National Government of the Republic of China was formed. In reality it was only a puppet regime of Japan whose advisors had extensive powers following the Second Sino-Japanese War.
On the 30th March 1940, Britain undertook secret reconnaissance flights inside the Soviet Union to photograph the Soviet Oil Industry. The photographs were to assist the bombing plan which would destroy the Soviet oil industry, causing the collapse of the economy thus depriving Germany of Soviet oil resources. The plan was devised after the Anglo-French alliance came to the conclusion that the Nazi-Soviet pact signed in Moscow would make the Soviet Union the ally of Hitler.