20 October, 2010

Day 103 - Battle of Britain

It is now just over two weeks to the general election in the United States, upon which outcome will depend Britain's fate.  If Roosevelt wins, there is a chance America will enter the war.  His opponent, Wendell Wilkie is running on an isolationist ticket, which could auger ill for the UK, except that Roosevelt looks to have a two to one lead in the electoral college.

Back in the war, the Luftwaffe is continuing to pursue its daylight tactics of sending over high-level fighter bombers. Such aircraft and their escorts amount to 300 on this day, in five separate waves, keeping RAF pilots busy and tired. Fighter Command flies 745 sorties and loses four aircraft, the Luftwaffe combat losses amounting to eight, including a Do 17 on a reconnaissance flight. As always, the RAF exaggerates its score, claiming 14 aircraft downed.

Overnight, bombers revisit London. Coventry is heavily bombed and considerable damage is done. Rescue parties are heavily tested as several people are trapped in wrecked buildings. Minelayers are also active off East Anglia, and from the Humber to the Tees.

Meanwhile, British Intelligence has picked up rumours that the Vichy government is preparing its ships and colonial troops to aid the Germans in the war against the United Kingdom. Churchill is informed, but does not believe the rumours.  Nevertheless, he appreciates that, if the French fleet, now at Toulon, was handed over to the Germans, it would be a very heavy blow.  He writes to the US president, expressing his concerns.

Roosevelt responds in  very positive fashion, warning that such an action would constitute "a flagrant and deliberate breach of faith with the United States Government". It would definitely wreck the traditional friendship between the French and the American peoples, create a wave of bitter indignation against France and permanently end all American aid to the French people. Further, there would be no US assistance when the time came to secure for France the retention of her overseas possessions.

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