Eighty years on. 31st August 1940


By huge effort overnight, Biggin Hill airfield was made operational after yesterday’s attack. The Luftwaffe again made concentrated attacks on RAF airfields, repeating yesterday’s exercise of flying large formations up the Thames Estuary which then split up to target different airfields.  RDF stations on the South coast were also hit.  The RAF lost 41 fighters and 9 pilots.  The RAF still had 613 Spitfires and Hurricanes but pilots were exhausted and many airfields out of action or badly damaged.  The Germans lost 56 fighters and 29 bombers. Their pilots too were exhausted.

Overnight, Liverpool was bombed for the fourth successive night and other cities in the Midlands are also targeted.

Five British destroyers sailed from England to lay mines off Texel Island on the Dutch coast.  They are suddenly ordered to intercept German ships but blundered into a new German minefield.  HMS Express hit a mine and was badly damaged.  HMS Esk went to assist, hit a mine and sank immediately. HMS Ivanhoe also tried to assist, hit a mine and was badly damaged.

Despite the threat of invasion by Germany, Free French troops under General De Gaulle and 8,000 British troops left England escorted by the British cruisers HMS Devonshire and Fiji and five destroyers, to establish a base in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  Their final destination was the port of Dakar in French West Africa which is under Vichy French control.  De Gaulle intended to land his Free French troops unopposed to secure the colony for the Free French.  Britain wanted to prevent Germany basing U-boats there to threaten trade routes around the Cape of Good Hope.  They also had an eye on ultramodern French battleship Richelieu which, although damaged by British attacks on 7th and 8th July, could be repaired and brought into the Royal Navy.

100 miles north of Ireland, U-boats torpedoed 3 ships from convoy OB-205. At midnight, the Dutch passenger steamer Volendam (carrying 273 crew and 606 passengers, including many British children being evacuated to Canada) was hit by two torpedoes from U-60.  She did not sink and everyone escapes to safety in the lifeboats, except one crewman who fell overboard.  Later U-59 sank the British SS Bibury and U-38 sank the  British SS Har Zion

U-46 sank the Belgian passenger steamer Ville de Hasselt 100 miles north-west of Ireland.  All 53 crew abandon ship in 4 lifeboats.

German submarine U-95 was commissioned

President Roosevelt called up 60,000 National Guardsmen into federal service.

A new Pennsylvania Central Airlines Douglas DC-3 passenger plane crashed near Lovettsville, Virginia during a storm, killing all 25 aboard.

The Caproni Ca.331 military aircraft had its first test flight at Ponte San Pietro, Italy.

Game day 366. Week 53. U.S.A.

The USA has a population of 148 million, including its dependencies, and a surplus of food amounting to 1,270,000 tons per week.

There are 27 major cities.  Production capacity is 7.6 million tons of coal per week, 2.6 million tons of oil, 680,000 tons of iron ore, 440,000 tons of pig iron and 690,000 tons of steel.

As for the armed forces, by the end of 1940 the USA had 2 armoured divisions and 18 infantry divisions.  The U.S. Army Air Force had 92 heavy bombers, 639 medium and light bombers and 625 fighters, in addition to 2,600 aircraft of other types (recce, training, transport, etc.).

I only have data for the navy as at December 1941.  Given that the navy was undergoing a massive expansion programme I have halved the number of ships for September 1940, making 4 carriers, 8 battleships, 18 cruisers, 82 destroyers and 53 submarines.

Published by

General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

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