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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Second World War  On This Day

December 1940

1 December 1940
Greek troops capture Pogradec in Albania from the Italians
In Italy pasta was now rationed.
It was the last of the three worst nights of the German bombing on Southampton.
2 December 1940
The armed merchant cruiser, HMS Forfar, was sunk south west of Scotland, by German submarine, U99, with the loss of 173 lives of the 194 crew.
3 December 1940
Greek troops capture Sarande, a coastal town in Albania.
4 December 1940
Private Job Witton of the 5th King’s Own, who had been captured in Northern France on 29th May 1940, arrived in Liverpool, from Gibraltar,  His escape from the Germans had seen him travel through occupied France, Vichy France and neutral Spain.   Job's successful escape saw him awarded the Military Medal.  (Pictured below on his 100th Birthday in 2018.)
Greek troops capture Permet and take more than 500 Italians as prisoner in Southern Albania.
5 December 1940
The Greek II Army Corps now broke into Albania.
In Lancaster the former Kingsway Cinema on Parliament Street was requisitioned in order to store property salvaged from bombed areas of the city.
6 December 1940
The Chief of the Italian Army was replaced due to the military reverses in Greece.  Mussolini made an approach to German for assistance in the war.
7 December 1940
Adolf Hitler said that Mussolini should resort to mobile courts martial execution if he wanted to turn the situation around in Greece.  Hitler did authorise 50 heavy troop transport planes to move fresh units from Italy to Albania.
The British Fairey Barracuda dive bomber had its first test flight.
8 December 1940
Greek troops occupied Gjirokaster and Delvine in Albania.
The British cargo liner SS Calabria was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U103 off Ireland.  All 360 passengers and crew were lost.  The Chief Cook was Santan Martins, who at the age of 79 years of age, may have been the oldest merchant seaman to be killed at sea in the Second World War.
9 December 1940
In the Western Desert, Egypt, Operation Compass was launched by the Allies.  The Western Desert Force advanced from Mersa Matruh in Egypt, launching a five day raid against the Italians.  The British were to take over 38 000 Italian and Libyan prisoners of war, plus hundreds of tanks, guns and many aircraft.
2nd Battalion, King's Own, take part in the defence of Mersa Matruh.
10 December 1940
In the Western Desert the Battle of Sidi Barrani begins.
Two Nazi spies, Jose Waldberg (left) and Carl Meier (right), found guilty under the Treachery Act of 1940, were the first to be hung at Pentonville Prison in London.  Both men had crossed the channel on 3rd September and planned to spy and report back to Germany to assist the planned German invasion.  Both were arrested on the morning they arrived having raised suspicions of a pub land lady when ordering a bottle of cider in the morning, the sale of which was prohibited by licensing laws.
11 December 1940
In the Western Desert the British achieved victory over the Italians at Sidi Barrani.
12 December 1940
It was the first of four nights of bombing of the City of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire.  A total of 660 people were killed, 40 000 made homeless, with 3 000 homes demolished and more than 3 000 seriously damaged.  Six George Medals were awarded to the citizens of Sheffield for their bravery in the raids.
13 December 1940
Hitler issued Directive Number 20, on the German invasion of Greece.
14 December 1940
The Italian submarine, 'Naiade' was shelled and sunk off Bardia, Libya, by HMS Hereward and HMS Hyperion.
15 December 1940
In a gesture of reconciliation by Adolf Hitler the ashes of Napoleon II were brought from Vienna to Paris.
With the recapture of Sidi Barrani, the 2nd Battalion, King's Own, are ordered back to Cairo.
16 December 1940
The Royal Air Force under took the first area bombardment of a German city, Mannheim, when 134 bombers attacked the city and started large fires on both sides of the Rhine.
17 December 1940
The British captured Fort Capuzzo and Sollum near the Egyptian and Libyan border.
Dorothy O'Grady of the Isle of Wight, was found guilty of making a plan likely to assist the enemy and with the intent to help the enemy she had cut a telephone wire.  Found guilty she was sentenced to death, which was commuted to 14 years in prison of which she served 9 years.
18 December 1940
Adolf Hitler issued Directive Number 21 on the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
19 December 1940
German submarine U37 mistakenly torpedoed and sunk the Vichy French submarine 'Sfax' and support ship 'Rhone' off the coast of Morocco.  The U-Boat campaign did not recorded either in the ships log.
20 December 1940
Three consecutive nights of bombing of Liverpool began, known as 'The Christmas Blitz'.
Two Royal Air Force Spitfires attached Le Touquet in France, attacking targets of opportunity such as power transformers.  RAF tactics moved to a more offensive role from this time.
The small Dutch Navy managed to escape across the Channel to Britain.
21 December 1940
The Royal Air Force bombed docks and oil tanks at Porto Marghera, near Venice, Italy. 
The Irish ferry 'Innisfallen' struck a mine off the Wirral Peninsula and sank with the loss of 4 of the 220 people on board, on the Dublin to Liverpool route.
22 December 1940
In the Greek-Italian War the Battle of Himara ended in Greek Victory.
Heavy raids over Manchester began and over the next two days a total of 654 people were killed and over 2000 injured.
23 December 1940
Prime Minister Winston Churchill broadcast an appeal to the people of Italy, telling them to overthrow Mussolini for bringing them into the war.  Although, as in Germany, it was forbidden in Italy to listen to foreign broadcasts.
In Lancaster, Mr George Harrison, Garage Night Foreman, Lancaster Corporation Transport Department, volunteered to drive a vehicle containing equipment and personnel to an area which had been set on fire during a heavy air raid.  Although he was in no way a part of the fire fighting service, Harrison helped the firemen in hose laying and branch holding.  When a pump was sandwiched between two intense fires and in danger of being destroyed, he volunteered to help to remove it.  Harrison's courage in the face of danger and his will co-operation were outstanding.  He was later awarded the British Empire Medal.
24 December 1940
The tanker 'British Premier' was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, 200 nautical miles south west of Freetown, Sierra Leone.  32 of her 45 crew were lost, 9 survivors were rescued by HMS Hawkins on 3rd January 1941 and 4 more by HMS Faulknor on 3rd February.
25 December 1940
In Palestine, Bethlehem is blacked out owing to the threat of Italian bombing.
BBC Radio broadcasts included 'From the Children' a radio card of Christmas greetings from evacuated children in Great Britain, Canada and the US, to their parents and others.  'Christmas under fire' described Christmas Day on the front line from a whole range of military and civilian people.
26 December 1940
The German cargo ship 'Baden' was scuttled 500 miles off Spain, when it was intercepted by the British Light Cruiser, HMS Bonaventure.
Adolf Hitler spoke to troops at a Christmas Dinner at a Hotel in Metz.
27 December 1940
The German fire bombing of London began.  Over the next few days 20 000 British firemen struggle to extinguish the flames.
28 December 1940
Italy asked for assistance in the Greco-Italian War.
29 December 1940
United States of America President Roosevelt made a radio broadcast promising to help the United Kingdom fight Nazi Germany with the provision of war supplies.
The fire bombing of London continued.
30 December 1940
The famous photograph of St. Paul's Cathedral, in the middle of a London in flames, was taken on this day.
31 December 1940
Royal Air Force bombers attacked Italian held Vlore in Albania, as well as targets in the Netherlands and Germany, including Rotterdam and Cologne.
In the Western Desert, 2nd Battalion, King's Own, now in Cairo, Egypt, belatedly celebrated Christmas Day.  Their main duty now was to guard the many Italian and Libyan prisoners of war captured in the recent fighting.


© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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