Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 425 October 29, 1940

Battle of Britain Day 112. Despite overcast skies, Luftwaffe mounts strenuous attacks from 10.25 AM until 5 PM (4 raids towards London and 2 over Portsmouth on the South coast). These are more than the nuisance raids of previous days, with up to 40 medium bombers escorted by Messerschmitt fighters (London and Portsmouth both suffer some bomb damage). At dusk, airfields in East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire are attacked by dive bombing Ju88s and Bf109s. Germans lose 22 Bf109s, 3 Bf110s and 2 Dornier Do17 bombers. RAF loses 7 fighters including 2 destroyed by bombs when taking off from North Weald airfield (2 pilots killed). 15 Fiat BR20M bombers of the Corpo Aereo Italiano bomb Ramsgate in formation, wing tip to wing tip, and 5 are hit by anti-aircraft fire. There is heavy night bombing of Birmingham and Coventry & London is also bombed.

Following invasion by Italian troops from Albania, Greece requests help from Britain by invoking Chamberlain’s guarantee of 13 April 1939 ("in the event of any action being taken which clearly threatened the independence of Greece, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend all the support in their power"). A joint reconnaissance party of all 3 British services lands at Suda Bay on the island of Crete in a flying boat. A flotilla of 4 British battleships, 2 aircraft carriers, 19 destroyers and various other vessels leaves Alexandria, Egypt, to sweep the seas around Crete of Italian warships. They are carrying 158 sailors from damaged cruiser HMS Liverpool as a base defense party to reinforce Suda Bay.

At 10.00 PM, U-31 torpedoes and sinks the drifting wreck of SS Matina (destroyed by U-28 on October 26). In the Bay of Biscay, U-29 rendezvous with German armed merchant cruiser Widder. Widder is returning from raiding in the mid-Atlantic with worn out engines at a speed of 5 knots (the journey has taken 13 days).

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