28 October, 2010

Day 111 - Battle of Britain

Germany announces "European Front" against England. This is no mere polemic, but a carefully constructed propaganda campaign aimed at the United States, to position the United Kingdom as the "aggressor" against a united Europe. Only England's intransigence is causing the war to continue. Without her, and the warmonger Churchill, there would be peace.

It is the Daily Mirror, oddly enough, which picks up the vibes on Greece most prominently, splashing the Italian moves on its front page as the lead item. Initiated without consultation with the Germans, Hitler is said to be furious and an emergency meeting is arranged.  It is too late to stop Mussolini, so a facade of unity is projected to the outside world. But it makes a mockery of Germany's propaganda play.

Too soon for the British press to report, the details on the moves on the ground are retailed by the New York Times. The Italian government had served an ultimatum at 03:00hrs, to expire at 06:00hrs. Italy was then reported to have attacked Greece by land, sea and air, "hurling" at least ten divisions of 20,000 troops across the Albanian-Greek border.

British sources declared that warships of the British Mediterranean Squadron were steaming from their patrol posts to the assistance of Greece, "who holds a British guarantee of aid in event of attack",

The Daily Express chooses to feature RAF raids on Berlin, claiming that the heaviest bombs ever have been dropped on the city in a "fierce" ninety-minute raid that "showed Berlin what blitz-bombing is really like". "Many works smashed, trams and buses wrecked, gas cut off", the sub-heading to the report reads. There is a small item about the Empress of Britain in the Mirror, the paper noting that the Nazis are saying that the ship is still on fire, having claimed two days ago on the Saturday that it had been sunk.

There is little more on Petain, with the Yorkshire Post noting that "this has been a week-end of waiting in London for further news" on the Hitler-Petain pact. Until further information on the terms of the pact, and on certain other questions, is available, it would be fruitless to speculate widely on what the agreement may involve, the paper says.  It continues:
It seems at least possible, however, that Petain is still trying to hold out against some of Hitler's demands. But the veteran leader of the Vichy Government has placed himself in an extremely difficult position with Hitler by his unconditional capitulation last summer. Petain may now feel that he is faced with only two possibilities: complete surrender to the Fuehrer or resistance which France is in no position to maintain.
Back in Britain, night spotters of enemy aircraft assert that three-engined aeroplanes have been used for some of the attacks on London. This lends confirmation to the German report that the Regia Aeronautica has been in action against Britain.  Very soon, there is the physical evidence.

As the war goes on elsewhere, a haunting incident occurs far out in the Atlantic. Sunderland P9620 becomes lost while on convoy patrol after its compass fails in an electrical storm. The aircraft runs out of fuel and is forced to ditch, some 200 miles west of Ireland. It stays afloat for nine hours in gale conditions before breaking up. Of the 13-man crew, nine are rescued by HMAS Australia. In gathering darkness, a crewman is seen on the keel of the upturned craft as it drifts away into the gloom. He is not saved.

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