Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 252 May 9, 1940

British Prime Minister Chamberlain awakens determined to stay in power. He suggests an alliance with the opposition Labour party to form a National Government but he is rebuffed. In the afternoon, he meets with Churchill and Halifax to determine a successor. Churchill silently refuses to support Halifax, who bows out. Churchill is the heir apparent.

While Chamberlain ponders his future, Germany prepares to advance on a broad front along its Western border from Luxembourg to the North Sea. The plan is to draw the French Army and British Expeditionary Force Northeast into Belgium and then encircle them with a fast armoured sweep across Northern France to the Channel. This requires moving huge armoured columns secretly through the Ardennes forest which the French have deemed impassable and left undefended.

At Narvik, Polish Podhale Brigade (4 battalions) arrives. Poles and French Chasseurs Alpins move to positions 5 miles West of Narvik, to reinforce South Wales Borderers. Allied artillery in the Narvik area totals 24 guns (French 75's & British 25-pounders) and 10 small French tanks.

At 0.14, U-9 torpedoes French submarine Doris (Q135) on the surface 40 miles off the Dutch coast. Doris sinks immediately (45 French & 3 British sailors killed).

British destroyer HMS Kelly (captained by Lord Louis Mountbatten) is on patrol in the Skagerrak between Sweden and Germany with cruiser HMS Birmingham and destroyers HMS Kandahar, Bulldog, Kimberley, Kelly and Hasty, searching for German warships and troop transports. In the evening, they are attacked by 5 torpedo boats (Schnellboot). Kelly is hit amidships with one torpedo by S-31 and badly damaged (27 lives lost). Kelly will be towed back to Newcastle for repairs by HMS Bulldog, arriving May 13 after further Schnellboot attacks. She will be out of commission until December.

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