King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


Museum & Collections
Soldiers of the Regiment
Contact Us

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

Further Reading


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

Second World War  On This Day

July 1940

1 July 1940
The 9th Battalion, King’s Own moved troops to cover the defence of reservoirs at Rhyedr and Vrywny in North Wales.

Philippe Pétain's government moved to Vichy. The collaborationist state run from there came to be known as Vichy France.
2 July 1940
The passenger ship Arandora Star was heading for Canada transporting German and Italian internees and prisoners of war when she was torpedoed and sunk west of Ireland by German submarine U-47. 865 lives were lost.
3 July 1940
the British attacked the French Navy base in Algeria at Mers-el-Kébir, to ensure that the Vichy French government would not turn the naval fleet over to the Germans.

German aircraft bomb the city of Cardiff for the first time.
4 July 1940
Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed "sincere sorrow" as he delivered a speech to the House of Commons explaining "the measures which we have felt bound to take in order to prevent the French Fleet from falling into German hands."
5 July 1940
the Vichy French Government severed diplomatic relations with Britain over the attack on Mers-el-Kébir and the destruction of the French Naval Fleet.
6 July 1940
The first German U-boat (submarine) base in France became operational at Lorient.
German aircraft bombed the City of Plymouth for the first time.
7 July 1940
The 8th Battalion, King’s Own moved from Criccieth in North Wales, to Exmouth in Devon, to start coastal defence. Within a couple of days the Battalion was divided between Exmouth, Budleigh Slaterton, Sidmouth (pictured) and Ottery St. Mary.
8 July 1940
British torpedo bombers targeted the French battleship Richelieu at Dakar in French West Africa, today’s Senegal. inflicting damage but failing to sink her.
9 July 1940
The City of Lancaster was encouraging all residents to salvage as much as possible for the war effort. The film “Raw Material is War Material” had been screened in local cinemas and displays in Woolworth’s window on Penny Street encouraged people to recycle. Sadly many iron railings were cut down for the war effort, never to be replaced.
10 July 1940
The Battle of Britain began. In its opening phase the Luftwaffe attacked coastal targets and shipping convoys in the English Channel with the goal of reducing Britain's air defences and naval supply lines ahead of a general air offensive.
11 July 1940
The 5th Battalion of the King’s Own was headquartered in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, and had received eight new subalterns (junior officers) from the King’s Own Infantry Training Centre. They were also ordered to find instructors to train the Northallerton Local Defence Volunteers
12 July 1940
German bombers attacked a shipyard in Aberdeen, killed 29 people and injuring 100.  Three RAF Spitfires from Dyce were scrambled, one of which shot down one of the bombers, which crashed in the newly built Aberdeen ice rink.
13 July 1940
Italian forces crossed the border from Ethiopia into Kenya and attacked the British garrison of Moyale…the war was now spreading into Africa.
14 July 1940
Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a radio address declaring that Britain would fight on alone, saying that "be the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley; we may show mercy-we shall ask for none.
14th July 1940
8th Battalion, King’s Own: all Companies less B Company were moved to new sectors
Battalion Headquarters and HQ Company moved to Sidbury, with a detachment of HQ Company to Sidford.
A Company Colyton
D Company Seaton
C Company Beer
The Battalion was now attached to the 48th Division.
15 July 1940
Germans bombed Brighton for the first time.
The 8th Battalion, King’s Own, got to work in Devon with numerous defence works including:
Wiring of beaches
Erection of pill boxes
Planning and erection of road blocks
Obstructions to potential landing grounds for hostile aircraft
Anti-tank traps
16 July 1940
Adolf Hitler issued Directive No. 16, authorizing Operation Sea Lion, the cross-channel invasion of the British Isles. The invasion relied upon the defeat of the Royal Air Force, the Battle of Britain now underway in the skies above south-east England.
17 July 1940
The 5th Battalion, King’s Own, was located in Northallerton, and the Commanding Officer attended a conference with the Local Defence Volunteers in order to assist with a plan for local defence constructions.
18 July 1940
Royal Air Force Bombers conducted night time raids on the Krupp armament works at Essen (photographed) as well as Bremen and Hamm.
19 July 1940
Adolf Hitler made a speech to the Reichstag reviewing the course of the war and then warned, "Mr. Churchill, or perhaps others, for once believe me when I predict a great empire will be destroyed, an empire that it was never my intention to destroy or even to harm. I do realize that this struggle, if it continues, can end only with the complete annihilation of one or the other of the two adversaries. Mr. Churchill may believe this will be Germany. I know that it will be Britain." Hitler then appealed "once more to reason and common sense", saying, "I can see no reason why this war must go on." He said if Churchill brushed aside this appeal, "I shall have relieved my conscience in regard to the things to come."
20 July 1940
The British government banned the buying and selling of new cars.
21 July 1940
The Special Operations Executive was created in the United Kingdom. The purpose of SOE was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe and later also in occupied South East Asia.
22 July 1940
The 5th Battalion, King’s Own, was based at Thirsk in North Yorkshire, and the Battalion held a Mobile Column Exercise in the Sutton Bank Area.
Sutton Bank was the location of the Kilburn White Horse, (centre of image) dating from the 1800s and is visible for miles around. In the peaceful interwar years Germany led the world in the sport of gliding and many German glider pilots would have been familiar with the horse when visiting the local gliding club, at the top of Sutton Bank, in the 1930s.
With the outbreak of war, the authorities feared that the Luftwaffe would use the horse as a known navigational landmark for bombing raids, so camouflage was essential. It was partially covered during the war to break up its outline and make it less distinguishable from nearby rocky outcrops.
23 July 1940
he Local Defence Volunteers organisation was renamed the ‘Home Guard’ at Prime Ministers Churchill's suggestion. For many members of the Home Guard this simply meant a change in their “LDV” with a sewn on patch stating “Home Guard”!
24 July 1940
The French passenger liner Meknés departed Southampton for Marseilles for repatriation of the 1,277 captured French Navy sailors aboard. The ship was torpedoed in the English Channel by the German torpedo boat S-27 despite the Meknés' displays of neutrality. Four British destroyers rescued the survivors but 416 perished.
25 July 1940
A British coal convoy took heavy losses from German dive bombers. The Admiralty ordered future convoys to take place at night as a result. Ships lost included the SS Corhaven (pictured) SS Henry Moon; SS Leo; SS Polgrange and SS Portslake.
26 July 1940
The 5th Battalion, King’s Own held a Mobile Column Exercise in the Thornaby Aerodrome Area.
27 July 1940
The British destroyer HMS Codrington was bombed and sunk in Dover by the Germans. The port came under air attack and a bomb fell alongside HMS Codrington. The subsequent explosion broke her back and she sank. She had only three men wounded. The sinking was not made public until 18 May 1945. The wreck was still evident in 1947.
28 July 1940
The 5th Battalion, King’s Own, Church Parade took place in Thirsk Parish Church. This was followed by an air display showing the different types of aircraft in use.
29 July 1940
Private Job Witton of the 5th King’s Own, who had been captured on 29th May 1940, managed to escape with Sergeant Phillips of the Royal Air Force and headed south east of Paris, kept to the side roads and headed to Free France. Job made it home via Gibraltar and was awarded the Military Medal for his escape.
30 July 1940
A question was asked in the House of Commons about the procedure in obtaining the names of Prisoners of War from Germany. The reply was detailed:
The German Prisoners of War Information Bureau furnish lists of British prisoners of war to the United States Embassy at Berlin as representing the Power in charge of British interests. These lists are normally transmitted to the United States Embassy in London by mail and sent by the Embassy to the British Prisoners of War Information Bureau. The lists are then passed on to the Casualty Branch of the Service concerned. At the same time as the lists are handed to the United States Embassy in Berlin, a duplicate is sent by post, occasionally by telegraph, to the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva which also issues postcards to be filled in by prisoners on first capture. Under arrangements recently made details of identification are extracted from the lists and postcards by the International Committee and telegraphed to the Prisoners of War Information Bureau in London and the lists are being sent by the United States Embassy at Berlin to Lisbon and forwarded from there to London by air mail. In consequence of the large number of prisoners captured by the Germans, there has been considerable delay in the transmission of the lists to the United States Embassy at Berlin, but lists containing the names of about two-thirds of all British prisoners of war have now reached Geneva. It is hoped that the methods which I have described will result in complete lists of all prisoners being received by the Casualties Branches of the Service Departments concerned in the near future.
31 July 1940
The British began the action code named ‘Operation Hurry’, with the goal of ferrying fourteen Hawker Hurricane aircraft to Malta for the garrison's defence from the aircraft carrier HMS Argus.

August 1940

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

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2020 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum