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September 24th, 1940 (TUESDAY)


RAF Fighter Command: In the early morning, there is fog in northern France. The English Channel is cloudy with haze in the Straits and Thames Estuary. During the morning, the Luftwaffe made two major attacks over Kent and the Thames Estuary. In the afternoon, two smaller attacks are carried out against objectives in the Southampton district.

By day attacks take place on Tilbury Docks, and the Supermarine Spitfire factory at Woolston, Southampton, by fighter-bombers. At night London and Merseyside are raided.

At 0830 hours, the leading formations of nine raids totalling about 200 aircraft, crossed the coast between Dover and Dungeness. The main body flew across Kent to attack objectives at Tilbury Docks and Gravesend, while a diversion of fighters crossed East Kent to the Isle of Sheppey. Weather conditions are very hazy. The proportion of German fighters to bombers is approximately two to one. At 1115 hours, a primary wave of about 100 aircraft flew in over the Dover Area. A secondary wave of 80 aircraft came in over the Estuary and turned South into Kent. Objectives are towns on the South East Coast and in the middle of Kent. The first attack on Southampton began at 1320 hours when 50 German aircraft of which about half are bombers, approached the Isle of Wight and attacked the Supermarine Spitfire factory at Woolston in the Southampton area. At 1610 hours 50 aircraft (half of which are again bombers) flew in over the Isle of Wight and penetrated inland to the borders of Oxfordshire. During the day, hostile reconnaissances are plotted over East Anglia (four), Kent, Biggin Hill, and the RAF Station at Rye and along the coast from Beachy Head to Shoreham. In the West of Scotland, a target at Oban is attacked.

Two groups of bombers operated today over the Medway area - one entering over Dover and the other by way of the River Crouch. They were challenged by 18 fighter squadrons. Soon after 13:00 from the Cherbourg direction came 18 Bf110s of Erpro 210 with ZG 76 providing top cover and making direct for Supermarine's Woolston works, upon which each dived delivering a 250-kg bomb. Five scored hits on the factory area without causing serious damage. One bomb, however, killed and wounded skilled and senior staff in a shelter, and for the loss south of the Isle of Wight of only one bomber. Higher level raiders also tried unsuccessfully for Woolston.

London was under Red Alert from 20:10 to 05:30. At 1930 hours, raids started coming out of Le Havre, France, making for Shoreham and London. These are followed by a sequence of other raids on the same course which are not, however, as numerous as usual. At about the same time, raids from the direction of Holland crossed the North Norfolk coast and for the most part remained in East Anglia except for two which penetrated more deeply Westwards. None of these raids appeared to proceed to the London area. At about 2230 hours, there is a temporary lull and after 2300 hours owing to returning friendly bombers, it became difficult to distinguish hostile tracks. However, German activity in the London area continued and appeared to increase after 0300 hours. Some raiders over the IAZ trying to fire the colours of the day. That did not discourage the gunners from firing another 5,480 rounds. Very heavy bombing commenced at midnight causing incidents at Camberwell, Chelsea, Islington, Kensington, St. Mary's Hospital, Chancery Lane, Queen's Hall, University College, Lambeth, Marylebone Road, St. Pancras, Waterloo Station, Wormwood Scrubs, Earl's Court Station, Kew Bridge and The Times building in Queen Victoria Street.

The approach is mainly from the South Coast but a few raids flew in from East Anglia. Early in the evening, several raids proceeded up the Irish Sea in the direction of Liverpool but turned away southeast across Wales. One raid remained in the Anglesey area for a considerable time. Later in the night, Liverpool is visited by several raids and there is also some activity in the Dundee area, the Midlands and South Midlands. In the London area, activity further increased after 0400 hours and only at 0538 hours had the last raid recrossed the coast.

Losses: Luftwaffe, 11; RAF, 4.

The 7,528 tons Blue Funnel Line merchant vessel SS Automedon of the A & R Holt Shipping Line prepares to leave Liverpool on a routine voyage to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Onboard is a general cargo consisting of crated aircraft, machinery, vehicles, foodstuffs and 120 mail bags, including the latest merchant navy code deciphering tables 7, 8 and 9. In addition to this is a slender green bag, placed aboard on the orders of Air Chief Marshall, Sir Cyril Newall of the Chiefs of Staff (COS). Inside of which is a full copy of the August 1940 COS Far Eastern Appreciation. This is destined for the attention of the Commander-in-Chief Far East, Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke Popham. Precisely why a copy of this report was sent to the colony in such an insecure manner is a question that, in all probability, will never receive a satisfactory answer. Explanation. Though whilst offering consideration to this point, another issue warrants far deeper consideration. This being, why was an Appreciation dealing mainly with the defence of Singapore and Malaya despatched to its Commanders at such a late date, particularly as the document had now been in restricted circulation for more than a month? (Denis Peck)


GERMANY: The Luftwaffe ace Adolf Galland commander of Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26 or Single-Engined Fighter Group 26) receives the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross; Hitler agrees with his admiration for the RAF.

RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group. 10 Sqn. Whitley P5055 Damaged by Flak, Plt Off Steyn and crew unhurt. 10 Sqn. T4130 force landed out of fuel. Damaged attempting to take-off after refuelling. Sgt V. Snell and crew unhurt. 58 Sqn. N1470 crashed on take-off. Sgt H. Cornish, Plt Off A.I. Waterson and Sgt L.H.Taylor killed, Sgts Fowlie and Chamberlain injured. aircraft burnt.

Bombing - industrial targets at Berlin and Finkenheerd.

10 Sqn. Twelve aircraft to Finkenheerd. Primary obscured, alternatives bombed. Two aircraft damaged.

58 Sqn. Seven aircraft to Berlin. One crashed on take-off with three killed. Primary obscured, alternatives bombed.

77 Sqn. Two aircraft to Berlin. Both bombed with good results.

After dark Berlin was bombed and a Wellington delivered 91,500 propaganda leaflets to residents there and at Hanover and Hamburg.

U-106 commissioned.
U-508 laid down.

GIBRALTAR: The Rock of Gibraltar has been hit by bombs for the first time in the war - dropped by a former ally. It was inevitable, after the British operation in Dakar, that the Vichy government would have to make some reprisal. Six bomber groups of the former Armee de l'Air and 4 escadrilles of the French naval air arm took part. The bombers were all stationed at the bases of Oran and Tafaroui in Algeria and Merknes, Mediouna and Port Lyautey in Morocco. The operation was approved by the German and Italian cease-fire commissions, and directed by Air Force Brigadier General Tarnier, commander of the French Air Force in Morocco. Just after 12:20 pm the first LeO 45 bomber groups (I/23 and II/23) took off from Merknes airfield and headed for Gibraltar. They reached their target at 1:00pm and bombed from 19,500 feet. No RAF fighter cover was detected. Between 1:30 and 2:15 pm a number of French fighter planes were deployed over Gibraltar to provide protection for the bombers. They included 12 Dewoitine 520s of GC II/3 based on Mediouna, 12 Curtiss Hawks of GC II/5 based on Casablanca and 12 Hawks of GC I/5 based on Rabat. Two escadrilles (2B and 3B) of Glenn Martin bombers from Port Lyautey concluded operations at 4:15 pm. The 64-bomber raid should have wrecked the port, 41 metric tons of bombs being dropped, but a large number of the French pilots appear to have deliberately dropped their loads into the sea, and a larger number of the fuses of the bombs that did land had apparently been tampered with so that they would not explode. The authorities are now strenuously applying themselves to retrieving the unexploded bombs, but these are the least of their problems. It is the diplomatic efforts of Hitler to bring Spain into the Axis, and of President Roosevelt to browbeat Spain back into neutrality, that are most concentrating their minds. If Spain does come in then Gibraltar's anti-aircraft gun toll of three planes last night is not a good sign. Gibraltar remains Britain's most vital strategic outpost; a key base for convoy escorts. Now, with Mussolini's fleet menacing the Mediterranean, any threat to the Rock must be viewed seriously.

FRENCH WEST AFRICA: Dakar: Dakar is bombarded by the RN warships of "Force M", and 'Richilieu' is attacked by HMS Ark Royal's aircraft. Vichy submarine Ajax is sunk by destroyer HMS Fortune. Battleship HMS BARHAM is hit by the coast batteries but suffers little damage.

CANADA: The third group of 6 overage USN destroyers exchanged for bases in the Western Hemisphere are turned over to the RCN at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

USS Bancroft (DD-256), commissioned as HMCS St Francis (I-93) USS McCook (DD-252), commissioned as HMCS St Croix (I-81), and USS Haraden (DD-183), commissioned as HMCS Columbia (I-49), part of the destroyers-for-bases deal. (Ron Babuka)

Minelayer HMCS Sankaty commissioned Halifax, Nova Scotia. Built Quincy Massachusetts, 459/11, 195x38x9.75ft, 8kts, crew 3/39, 1-.303mg. ex-Staford, Oyster Bay Massachusetts, Staten Island ferry, employed minelaying, loop laying, maintenance vessel. Pendant's (FY61)>(Z29)>(M01) Post WW.II, sold 1947, renamed Charles A Dunning, Prince Edward Island ferry.

Destroyers HMCS St Francis, St Croix, Niagara, Columbia, St Clair and Annapolis commissioned at Halifax.

U.S.A.: C-46A-5-CU, AAF s/n 41-12302, msn 26429 ordered on Contract AC-15999. First C46 to be ordered by the USAAF

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