Phew – what a scorcher!

Phew! It was hot today. My plan to sit in the garden under the sunshade and paint was quickly abandoned because the paint coagulated and I began to fade. I retreated indoors with the portable air conditioning unit and watched horse racing from Goodwood instead.
Time now for a quick supper and a cool shower before looking into the “to-do list”.

Eighty years on. 31st July 1940


The Luftwaffe mounted numerous small raids on shipping all along the South coast of England.  One Messerschmitt and two Spitfires were shot down off Folkestone.  Göring was convinced by wild overestimates of RAF losses, as well as the Royal Navy’s withdrawal of warships from the English Channel, that the Luftwaffe has control of the skies. He believed he can proceed to Phase two of his plan, to eliminate the RAF by direct attacks on their airfields.  In fact RAF losses in July were 77 aircraft destroyed and 43 damaged (67 men killed, 23 wounded).  Britain produced 496 fighters in July (50% above the projected output) and has more serviceable aircraft than at the beginning of July, although still less than Germany.   British civilian casualties from bombing in July were 258 killed and 321 wounded.

A conference was held at the Berghof between Hitler, Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, Brauchitsch, Halder and Puttkamer.  Raeder reported that the navy would not be ready for Operation Sea Lion until mid-September, if then, so discussion turned to attacking the Soviet Union instead. Hitler believed that defeating Russia would make Germany unbeatable and force Britain to come to terms, so an invasion of the Soviet Union was set for spring 1941.

U-99 sank two British steamers 50 miles off the north coast of Ireland, the Jamaica Progress carrying fruit from Jamaica and the Jersey City from convoy OB-191.  U-99 was depth charged by the escorts but is undamaged. Another attack on convoy OB-191 was foiled by a flying boat which bombed U-99, again without damage.

Off Harwich, the destroyer HMS Whitshed hit a mine head on and lost most of her bow.  She was towed to Harwich stern first by the destroyer HMS Wild Swan.

The German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin sank the British SS Domingo De Larringa in the South Atlantic 1000 miles east of Pernambuco, Brazil.

The British submarine HMS Spearfish departed Rosyth to patrol the Norwegian coast.

The British began the action codenamed Operation Hurry, with the goal of ferrying fourteen aircraft to Malta for the garrison’s defence.

Vichy France imposed the death penalty for all French servicemen who joined a foreign army.

The U.S.A. imposed an embargo on the export of aviation fuel.  Germany was sourcing most of its oil from Rumania and the Soviet Union, while Britain was shipping it from the Middle East and South East Asia.  The country most affected by the embargo was Japan, who now began to look at the South East Asian countries as targets.

Game day 335. Vichy France.

The only activity was the movement of the convoy heading for Indo-China, which sailed southwards through the Red Sea.

What if?

This evening, while walking my dog Sparky, I decided to try an “emergency” test.

I slumped against a tree, apparently comatose. After a while Sparky dropped his ball between my legs, then continued to drop it closer and closer. He looked to left and right but did not move away.

Three young “pre-teens” arrived on bicycles. Sparky turned, between my legs, and growled at them.

I “awoke”, gave Sparky some fuss, and asked the youngsters what they would have done if they had found me unconscious. One said: “Call A&E”. None of them were carrying ‘phones.

All in all, an interesting test, for all of us.

Eighty years on. 30th July 1940


Low clouds and rain showers restricted flying all day.  Five German raids targeted the Scottish coast and North-east England.  At noon spitfires of 603 Squadron shot down one Heinkel He111 off Montrose. Further south, convoys were attacked off the coast of Essex and Suffolk.  Hurricanes of 85 Squadron shot down one Messerschmitt Bf110 off Southwold, Suffolk.  Overnight, there were a few small bombing raids over South-east England, South Wales and the Midlands.

The destroyer HMS Delight sank in Portland Harbour after being bombed the previous day in the English Channel.

21 nations of the Americas signed the Act of Havana, providing for an emergency establishment of a provisional administration “when islands or regions of the Americas now under the possession of non-American nations are in danger of becoming the subject of barter of territory or change of sovereignty.” Author’s note:  Was this in response to the “lend-Lease” negotiations, exchanging territory for war materials?

In the British parliament the Minister for Economic Warfare (a new title that I had not previously encountered), Hugh Dalton,announced a blockade of all ships in the North Atlantic carrying supplies to “enemy territory” , which now included not only Germany but France and all of French Africa.  Neutral countries would be granted certificates to cover essential needs.

Game day 334. China

China was in a difficult situation.  With all its territories now engaged in open warfare with the Japanese there would be no possibility to collect resources in August.  The only possibility was to beat the Japanese using the massive new infantry units raised in their previous turn.

As for units already deployed:  In Sinkiang six infantry units moved northwards to confront the Japanese invaders.  In China five units attacked two Japanese units.  One Chinese unit was lost, but the Japanese were forced back.  In Singkiang seven infantry units attacked four Japanese units, destroying one Japanese unit for no loss.

Thirty Infantry units moved east from the centre of Singkiang.

Eighty years on. 29th July 1940


Forty Stuka Ju87s bombed Dover Harbour escorted by forty Messerschmitt Bf109s.  Spitfires of 41 and 64 Squadrons and Hurricanes of 43 and 56 Squadrons attacked, shooting down eight Ju87s and seven Bf109s.  Anti-aircraft guns downed two more Stukas.  Two Spitfires and one Hurricane were shot down. The Destroyer HMS Delight left Portland to patrol the west coast of Britain, despite new Admiralty orders banning sailing through the English Channel in daylight.   In the evening Delight was bombed by German aircraft from Cherbourg.  A bomb penetrated the foredeck causing an explosion below deck but she was able to steam back to Portland.

U-62 was on the surface sixty miles south-west of Stavanger when the British submarine HMS Sealion fired three torpedoes, which missed, and then attacked with her deck gun.  U-62 dived and escaped without damage.

U-99 sank the British SS Clan Menzies eighty miles west of Ireland. 88 survivors took to the lifeboats and made land at Enniscrone.

German naval command issued a memo noting that the mid-September 1940 date for an invasion of Britain as demanded by Hitler was possible, but recommended a postponement to May 1941.

Hitler told the military commander Alfred Jodl that the planned attack on the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1940 was no longer logistically feasible and that it would be postponed to spring 1941.

Game day 333.  Japan

Three infantry units crossed the border from China into Sinkiang at 107,37 (see map).  Four more units moved south-west to 110,41.  Six armoured units crossed from Manchukwo into Kwangtung via Peking.

A convoy carrying six armoured units left Japan for Shanghai.  Another convoy reached Japan to load more armoured units for shipment.

All Japanese units in contact with the enemy remained in defensive mode.

Two destroyers and two fighter units were commissioned in Japan and a bomber unit in Manchukuo.

Eighty years on. 28th July 1940


A hundred German aircraft in five groups crossed the Straits of Dover and were engaged by four squadrons of British fighters off “Hellfire Corner”.  Five Messerschmitt Bf109s and two Heinkel HE111 bombers were shot down for the loss of two Spitfires.  The Luftwaffe won a significant strategic victory, forcing the Royal Navy to withdraw all destroyers from Dover to Portsmouth during daylight, as warships are vulnerable to dive-bombing by Stukas.  Overnight, there was widespread minelaying along the coast and bombing of targets in England, Wales and Scotland.

Eighty miles west of Ireland U-99 sank the British MV Auckland Star, carrying 10,700 tons of general cargo from Australia to Britain via the Panama Canal.  The crew escaped in lifeboats and reached Ireland.

Seven hundred miles east of Brazil, near the island of Trindade, German and British armed merchant cruisers exchanged fire.  The British HMS Alcantara was hit by three shells while chasing the German raider Thor, causing Alcantara to slow down. As Thor turns away to break off, Alcantara hit her with two shells.  Both ships survived the encounter.

President Jozef Tiso, Prime Minister Vojtech Tuka and the Hlinka Guard leader Alexander Mach of the Slovak Republic met with Hitler at the Berghof.  Hitler demanded that “Slovakia should adhere loyally and unequivocally to the German cause in her domestic politics.”.  This followed meetings with the Rumanian and Bulgarian premiers in the precious two days.

The German fighter ace Werner Mölders was wounded in the legs by enemy fire during fighting over southern England but managed to return to his base at Wissant.  He was hospitalised.

In France, Germany closed the border between Vichy France and the occupied zone.

Game day 332. United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth.

1 Bomber unit flew from England to Gibraltar for operations in the Mediterranean.  Three warships also arrived at Gibraltar.  Three more sailed southwards past Portugal heading for the South Atlantic.

A cargo ship escorted by two warships passed Newfoundland en route for the USA.  The convoy was diverted to Canada to collect troops there.  Canada deployed two infantry and one armoured unit, as well as launching a new cargo ship.

Six bomber units attacked the German warship heading for Norway.  The battleship was hit five times and sank.  Britain launched a new aircraft carrier with two fighter units aboard.  The Anti-Aircraft units in the London area began to disperse to cover fighter bases.

Five submarines shadowing the German battleship came into contact with three German submarines off the north coast of Scotland.  One of the German submarines was sunk.  The other two retreated.

The Battleship en route for Singapore docked at Calicut, India.  The three merchantmen destined for Australia passed through the Straits of Hormuz.

On the border between Sudan and Italian East Africa twelve Infantry units attacked six Italian infantry units.  The Italians lost three units to the British one and fell back to the south, pursued by the British.

To the north the six Australian infantry units moved south-west with the intention of completing the British defensive line in Libya.

Eighty years on. 27th July 1940


Fifteen German dive bombers attacked six minesweeping trawlers and escort destroyers in the off Aldeburgh, East Anglia.  The destroyer HMS Wren was holed below the waterline by several near misses and sank.  HMS Montrose suffered damage to the hull, losing her bow, and was towed to Harwich. The Germans also bombed the port of Dover sinking the destroyer HMS Codrington, in dock for boiler cleaning.  Merchant convoys were also attacked in the English Channel.  Two German fighters and one Stuka were shot down.  The RAF lost a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

350 miles west of Scotland, U-34 attacked convoy OB-188, sinking the British SS Sambre and the tanker Thiara.

According to a Japan Foreign Affairs Ministry official report, Melville James Cox and ten other British citizens were arrested on suspicion of military espionage by Japanese military police in six Japanese cities.  Two days later, Cox committed suicide jumping from a window of his prison in Tokyo.

Game day 331.  Germany

The Warship to the north of Scotland continued towards Trondheim.  Six submarines left Bergen and fanned out in a protective screen behind the ship.

The Luftwaffe held back from any attacks in the face of superior numbers of British defensive fighter units.  The two fighter units in the Normandy area were transferred west to Brittany from where they could range further into the Atlantic or the Bay of Biscay, while still covering the south coast of England.  The Anti-aircraft units on the French northern coast began to move to protect the industrial areas following the devastating bombing of German factories by the British about a week ago.

Eighty years on. 26th July 1940


Despite poor weather several small and large raids approached within 10-20 miles of the English coast but turned away when RAF fighter squadrons arrived. It was not clear if this was due to the weather, the reluctance of Luftwaffe pilots to engage, or a new tactic designed to draw the RAF over the open sea towards France.  Three Messerschmitts and one Hurricane were lost.

Fifty miles south-west of Stavanger the British submarine HMS Thames fired a torpedo intended for the German battleship Gneisenau heading for Kiel.  The torpedo hit one of the screening vessels at fifty yards; the torpedo boat Luchs which sank immediately.  HMS Thames was never heard from again.

Three hundred miles west of Ireland, U-34 fired three torpedoes at convoy OB-188, sinking the British passenger ship Accra carrying 1,700 tons of general cargo.  465 survivors were rescued by the British SS Hollinside, the Norwegian Loke, the sloop HMS Enchantress and the corvette HMS Clarkia and landed at Liverpool.  The British MV Vinemoor was also hit and sinking.  Her crew were also taken to Liverpool.

President Roosevelt used the Export Control Act to restrict the export of aviation gasoline and certain types of scrap metal to Japan without special licence.

In Japan the new government resolved to block supplies to China via Indo-China, while securing its own supplies from the Dutch East Indies.  They decided that if diplomatic methods failed, Japan should prepare for possible war against Britain and the U.S.A. within twelve months.

Game day 330. U.S.A.

None of the minor neutral countries having taken any action, the turn passed to the United States.

With the Burma Road now closed by the British, the convoys of supplies turned for home, including the ships loaded with resources for the Philippines.  The resources would be put to good use in implementing the naval expansion programme on the West Coast.

What’s on the workbench?

Today the “to do” list threw up that I should do some more work On the German armoured forces for my 6mm game set on 4th September 1939.

The game board has been ready for some weeks now In the shed, but is suffering from summer sunlight. Some of the “Noch” adhesive roads are beginning to peel.

Anyway, back to the preparation. I grabbed a pot of Brushscape “muddy green” to have a go at the bases, which I had previously covered in scattered fine sand.

As is my normal procedure, once a paint pot is open I have a look around the table to see what is waiting for that particular application. Today I not only painted the bases of the 6mm 1939 German armour, but the replicated units in 3mm*, followed by two 6cm hexagon bases for 1/1000 bases destined for the “Bomber” game, the new railway sections for my “Travel Battle” boards needed for Operation Sealion, some woodland for my “Bathtubbed Blenheim” project, a section of Milliput barricade, and the back gardens of several 6mm terraced house models.

  • Nowadays everything I produce in 6mm I reproduce in 3mm, just to give me more playing options.

Eighty years on. 25th July 1940


Another fine day for flying. Waves of 20-40 German aircraft attacked shipping and naval bases around Dover.  Ju87s and motor torpedo boats attacked 21 merchant vessels in Convoy CW8 in the Dover Strait, sinking the SS Corhaven, Polgrange, Leo, Henry Moon and Portslade.  The Germans lost 14 aircraft.  The Admiralty ordered future convoys to take place at night.

The RAF loset 4 Spitfires.  Attacks on Naval bases at Portsmouth and Portland and the flying boat station at Poole cost the Luftwaffe 7 more aircraft.

After being torpedoed by HMS Clyde on 20th June the German battleship Gneisenau had been made seaworthy and departed Trondheim for Kiel to have further repairs.  She was escorted by the cruiser Nuernberg and the destroyers Karl Galster, Lody, Jacobi, and Ihn.  The torpedo boats Luchs, Jaguar, Kondor, Iltis and T.5 joined the convoy overnight near Stavanger.

Italian bombers attacked British naval bases at Haifa and Alexandria.

General Charles de Gaulle asked Capitaine Jacques Philippe, Viscomte de Hautecloque to rally Free French forces in Equatorial Africa.

Game day 329.  Colonies of exiled governments

Most French, Dutch and Belgian colonies continued to support the war against Germany and Italy.  Each had some form of Government in exile in Britain.

French colonies:  For game purposes I diced each turn to see if the colony would support Vichy France or de Gaulle’s Free French.  I made a subjective decision based on historical information.  Below are the results for siding with the free French.

Algeria: (close to Vichy France, historically Vichy). 6 required, 6 rolled.  

French Equatorial Africa: (De Gaulle raises forces). 5,6 required, 4 rolled.

French Indo-China: (indicated support for allied cause). 4,5,6 required, 1 rolled.

French West Africa: (indicated support for allied cause). 4,5,6 required, 2 rolled.

Madagascar:  (no specific information).  6 required, 4 rolled.

Syria: (indicated support for allied cause). 4,5,6 required, 1 rolled.

 Thus all the colonies that had declared their will to continue the fight did not switch to Free French but Algeria, which remained in Vichy hands until Operation Torch, changed sides.

Dutch colonies: In view of Japanese declarations of their “Sphere of Influence” the Dutch colonies began to prepare.  Industrial units were constructed in the East Indies and New Guinea.

Belgian Colonies: The Belgian Congo was not seen as being under any threat and no action was taken.