History Podcasts

8 July 1940

8 July 1940

8 July 1940

War at Sea

The destroyer HMS Whirlwind is sunk by a U-boat

The French battleship Richelieu is put out of action by a British attack

War in the Air

RAF attacks Ostend, targeting German invasion barges

Night bombers attack Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, oil refineries at Homburg and Luftwaffe airfields

Mediterranean

Malta hit by three air raids



With the Labor Unions on the Picket Line

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 13, 8 July 1940, p.ق.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Cutting a Slice of Boloney from the Republican Platform

The first sentence in the Labor Relations section of the Republican Party election platform reads: “The Republican Party has always protected the American worker.” This will be news to workers who have been clubbed on picket lines, who have had their wages slashed, who have been set out to starve and freeze by Republican employers while their stooges in Washington were raising the tariff and lowering corporation taxes.

Are we to suppose that Hoover was protecting the American worker when he had the army shoot and gas the unemployed – including the babies – out of Washington on that Bloody Thursday in 1931? Are we expected to believe also that the GOP was protecting labor when Republican senators opposed the La Follette Civil Liberties Bill? By their opposition they defended the right of the big corporations to maintain their spies, stool-pigeons, finks, armed thugs and private arsenals to be used against the unions.

Another sentence reads: “When differences arise (between employer and employee) they should be settled directly and voluntarily across the table.” This of course came right out of the mouth of Sam Gompers and was picked up by Bill Green. Gomper’s position was that strikes are out of style. The Republican platform agrees with Gompers. When the worker and the boss have a difference over such little matters as wages, hours, charged barbed wire or stool pigeons, they should get together with the boss in his mahogany office, forget such trivial matters, kiss and make up.

The final paragraph says that the National Labor Relations Act should be amended. The present act is not fair to the employers and some groups of employees. Some groups of employees of course include the company unions, the scabs and the stool pigeons.

The Republicans also shed a few tears over the unemployed. They want the unemployed to get a larger share of the money appropriated. They want relief on a “fair and non-political basis.” And how do they propose doing this? By turning relief administration back to the states with “Federal grants-in-aid.” That is, the federal government will continue to put up some money (not much of course) but it will be handled exclusively by each state.

If we can understand this it means that the Republicans are telling the unemployed workers that there are no politicians in the various capitals, not even in Louisiana! Furthermore the Republicans seem to believe that the workers have very short memories. At the beginning of the thirties, the states had complete charge of relief. The unemployed were nearer to starvation than they are now. They went into the streets (”not across the table”) and fought. This forced the New Deal administration to appropriate money from the federal treasury. The Republicans intend to return to the Hoover era and the Hoover methods.

We will have to wait until August to see what the Democrats hand out. We know however that their platform will not be in any important way different from the Republican. They will use other words to put over the same line of bunkum.
 

Did Bill Green Get an Honorary Degree from the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

There was a queer piece of news hidden away in the New York Times on Sunday. Tacked on to the article informing us that the President had signed the bill to finger print all aliens was the information that Bill Green had attended the graduating exercises of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He made a speech but the report did not say whether or not he was the commencement orator wishing the graduates success in their careers. Nor was anything said as to whether or not Mr. Green received an honorary degree.
 

There Is No Doubt About It – Patriotism Is a Paying Profession

If workers have any doubts that patriotism, as practiced by the bosses, is a paying profession they can cast an eye at some profits for the first quarter of 1940. Aircraft went up with a roar. Douglas profits were $771,552 in the first quarter of 1939 and $1,804,877 in the first quarter 1940, an increase of 134%. Glenn Martin rose from 𨼂,496 to $2,162,670, an increase of 218%. In automobiles GM was $53,177,928 in 1939 and $60,028,461 for the first quarter 1940. Studebaker profits increased 800%.

U.S. Steel made $660,551 in the first quarter of 1939 and $17,113,195 in the first quarter 1940, an increase of 2500%. Bethlehem, Youngstown and Republic Steel increased profits by millions. General Electric went from $7,373,431 to $11,951,450. Westinghouse profits were $2,356,150 in first quarter of 1939 and 54,041,428 for first quarter of 1940.

This is a sample of what is taking place in the war industries. These profit figures are the answer to any demands made on the workers to slow up in their demands for more wages. The workers must demand and get more and more of these huge profits (and they will increase!) in the form of wages, right now. Who makes the airplanes, the automobiles and electrical equipment? Who sweats and toils in the steel mills while the bosses play? Any employer or government official who tells workers that patriotism calls for no increases in wages or hours is a scoundrel. Any worker who falls for this blarney is a Scissor Bill Sam and a fool.
 

FBI Gives Strikers a Lesson in Democracy

President Robinson, of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers says that the FBI gave 20 strikers in Polk County, Tenn. “some kind of narcotic that left them with such severe headaches and so violently ill that a doctor had to be summoned for one of them while he was being tortured into ‘confessing.’” The strikers had been arrested in connection with the alleged dynamiting of TVA power lines during a strike against the Tennessee Copper Corporation. Robinson also claimed that the G-men threatened the striker’s families and put them through other cruel third degree treatments.
 

Business Doesn’t Want to be Hampered by Wage-Hour Acts

The bosses want to get rid of the Walsh-Healy Act. It interferes with their patriotism. They can’t support the national defense program if they have to pay prevailing union wages on government contracts. The Model Blouse Company, of New Jersey, has been caught chiseling and ordered to pay $18,000 in back wages. The company evaded the minimum wage rate, crooked its payrolls and employed child labor on government contracts.

Of course this sort of business is not confined to the little fellows like Model Blouse. The big steel companies all want the Wage Hour Act, the Walsh-Healy Act and the Wagner Act all put on ice – at least for the duration of the war-time big-profits period.


FIRST 16 FIGHTING YANK STORIES FROM THE 1940s

With the big 4th of July holiday coming up, this weekend’s light-hearted bit of superhero escapism will combine some Revolutionary War nostalgia with some World War Two nostalgia. Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the early adventures of the Nedor Comics hero called the Fighting Yank.

For many more Nedor superheroes click HERE.

THE FIGHTING YANK

Secret Identity: Bruce Carter III

Origin: See below

Powers: The cloak bestowed upon wealthy Bruce Carter III by the ghost of his ancestor, a Revolutionary War soldier, granted him a large degree of super-strength, made him bulletproof and let him run at over 60 miles per hour.

STARTLING COMICS #10 (September 1941)

Title: Introducing The Fighting Yank

Villains: Nazi Spies

Synopsis: Wealthy Bruce Carter III is the spitting image of his ancestor, Bruce Carter I, a soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War. Unjustly accused of neglecting his duty Carter’s ghost has been wandering since then hoping to restore the family honor. He believes fighting in the expanding World War will provide that opportunity for his look-alike descendant, so he emerges from his life-sized portrait on the wall of the Carter home. The ghost leads Bruce III to the attic of the old family home and reveals to him a cloak which will bestow super-powers on the wearer.

In his first adventure, the Fighting Yank rescues a Senator from Nazi spies who have replaced him with a lookalike. That lookalike has been using the Senator’s popularity to rally the people toward an alliance with the Axis Nations. Our hero exposes the deception and clobbers the spy ring. Bruce Carter III’s girlfriend Joan Farwell recognizes him under the domino mask and shares his secret identity with him from now on.

STARTLING COMICS #11 (November 1941)

Title: Champion Of America

Villains: The Volunteers

Synopsis: A Major in the United States Army is the secret leader of a vast army called the Volunteers, an organization plotting to take over the country and impose a military dictatorship. After the Volunteers blow up a munitions factory Bruce Carter has Joan Farwell infiltrate their organization as a secretary.

As the Fighting Yank he thwarts the Volunteers’ attempts to blow up the Pentagon and the Capitol while kidnapping the president. He also takes down their leader.

STARTLING COMICS #12 (January 1942)

Title: The Petroleum Blitz

Villains: American traitors employed by Germany

Synopsis: The Fighting Yank and Joan Farwell get involved when a gang of American Nazi sympathizers begin blowing up gas stations and oil refineries across the nation. Needless to say our heroes defeat and round up the gang.

Joan gets to kick some serious butt in the fight scenes this time around.

STARTLING COMICS #13 (February 1942)

Title: The Faceless Legion

Villains: Mavelli and his Faceless Legion

NOTE: That’s Captain Future in the cover pic.

Synopsis: A costumed mad scientist named Mavelli has granted himself super-strength to rival that of the Fighting Yank. He has also invented a ray-gun that fires balls of energy which transform the people they hit into faceless (as in smooth, featureless faces) thralls with greater than human strength. In addition they cannot feel pain.

To launch his plans to conquer the world, Mavelli has his Faceless Legion assassinate several high-ranking officers in Washington D.C. His plans to sabotage the Panama Canal and to kidnap the president and his cabinet are thwarted by the Fighting Yank, who also uses Mavelli’s ray-gun to literally KILL all of the incurable Faceless Legion. He also defeats Mavelli in a one-on-one fight.

STARTLING COMICS #14 (April 1942)

Title: The Return Of Mavelli

Villain: Mavelli

NOTE: Once again, Captain Future is in the cover pic.

Synopsis: Long after the previous story, Mavelli is being put to death in the electric chair. The dose of electricity doesn’t kill the supervillain, it just increases his strength and lets him smash his way out of the prison. He joins up with Nieder, a Nazi agent who runs a spy ring in the U.S. Mavelli invents a ray which causes insanity and has his and Nieder’s underlings use it on high-placed officials in politics and the military.

When the Fighting Yank tracks the villains down he squelches that operation so Mavelli and Nieder flee to a remote Pacific island held by their Japanese allies. From there the mad scientist develops a super-explosive and refines a process for turning unwilling natives into obedient flame-people after dipping them in the island’s volcano. Our hero locates the island, defeats the flame-people and causes the entire island to blow up in a massive volcanic eruption courtesy of Mavelli’s super-explosive.

STARTLING COMICS #15 (June 1942)

Title: Out of the Mists of Dead Time

Villains: Mavelli and Dr Heinrich

Synopsis: It turns out Mavelli escaped before the island was destroyed by using a secret underground river. Getting back to the U.S. he joins up with more Nazi spies, then publicly threatens to blow up an interstate bridge. The Fighting Yank saves the bridge despite Mavelli’s use of a special gas which can knock out even someone with our hero’s strength and his use of metal coils which can restrain the Fighting Yank.

Mavelli next works with Dr Heinrich, a mad scientist and parapsychologist. Heinrich has invented a device which lets him harness the souls of evildoers from beyond the grave and convert that spiritual energy into Godzilla-sized monsters. The resulting army of giant monstrosities run amok through the country with the Fighting Yank unable to stop them. When Dr Heinrich and Mavelli keep double-crossing each other our hero seizes an opportunity and destroys the summoning device. Mavelli escapes.

STARTLING COMICS #16 (August 1942)

Title: Snatched From Silent Graves

Villains: Doctor Vetter and Krag

Synopsis: A Nazi-sympathizing mad scientist named Dr Vetter works out of a creepy old mansion in Northern Virginia. He has already created a large, shambling brute named Krag to be his super-strong (but slow-witted) henchman. Next he invents bullets which will make it look like the military and scientific figures whom he has his underlings shoot are dead. Secretly, they are in suspended animation and he has them removed from their graves after burial and hypnotically extracts their secrets from them.

The Fighting Yank and Joan Farwell investigate and discover a secret underground tube system which lets Dr Vetter and Krag rob graves at will. Vetter also uses a method of shrinking henchmen down to a few inches in height. Our heroes overcome everything the villains throw at them. Dr Vetter dies in a hail of bullets from the police and with his dying breath he orders Krag to find Mavelli and work for him from now on. Krag escapes.

THE FIGHTING YANK #1 (September 1942)

Title: Here Comes The Fighting Yank

Villains: Mavelli and Mr Hamuka

NOTE: The Fighting Yank now has his own separate comic book but will continue appearing in Startling Comics, too.

Synopsis: The Fighting Yank gets caught between Mavelli with his latest plan and a Japanese Spy named Mr Hamuka. The latter refuses to work for the former, so the two fight each other as well as our hero. The Fighting Yank and Joan Farwell – who drives a steam-shovel this time – thwart Hamuka’s plan to keep blowing up ships at the Washington Navy Yard and also thwart Mavelli’s potent gas which renders all of Washington DC unconscious and helpless before him and his gang. Mavelli escapes in the end.

Title: Plague Rats in the Fog

Villain: Nomma

Synopsis: An Imperial Japanese agent named Nomma steals a fog machine from an American scientist whom he then kills. He uses the machine to coat an entire city with fog, which he and his men use as cover to machine-gun to death countless people in drive-by shootings. When the Fighting Yank puts the kibosh on that plan, Nomma unleashes dog-sized plague rats to spread a new disease he has invented. Our hero and his butt-kicking lady Joan defeat this plan as well.

Title: After The Fox

Villain: The Fox

Synopsis: The Fighting Yank and Joan Farwell take a plane to England, where they work at breaking up a spy ring run by a spy in a Fox-head mask (like a sports team mascot). After surviving multiple attempts on their lives by the Fox and his men, the Fighting Yank leads British commandos in a hit and run raid on occupied France. Once back in England he wipes out the spy ring and exposes the Fox as a War Ministry official named Redmont.

Title: Mavelli Strikes Again

Villain: Mavelli

Synopsis: The Fighting Yank’s archenemy Mavelli teams up with a ring of Imperial Japanese spies and launches a reign of terror around the country, sabotaging railroads, ships, arms factories, oil storage facilities, you name it. Our hero fights him at various locations across the country but never succeeds at catching the villain, even though he catches all the Japanese spies.

Mavelli’s sidekick Drygo extracts blood from a briefly-captive Joan Farwell to make a serum which temporarily makes Mavelli look handsome to help his sabotage efforts. In the end the Fighting Yank defeats the last of the spies and Mavelli himself before they can torpedo a U.S. warship. Mavelli seems to go down with the sub while our hero escapes.

STARTLING COMICS #17 (October 1942)

Title: The Cosmaton

Villain: The Adder

Synopsis: In the Washington D.C. area lurks a Nazi agent called the Adder. His face is horribly mutated and looks snake-ish, complete with snake fangs in his mouth. He has been using John Calvin’s newspaper the Daily Bugle (really) to pass coded messages accommodating his plans. Those plans? Having Axis Agents smuggle a high-tech device called a Cosmaton into the country piece by piece to avoid detection.

Calvin’s latest editorial supporting Japan in the war has brought unwelcome attention to the paper from a federal agent named Sloan. Since all of the Cosmaton’s pieces have arrived, the Adder decides to kill off Calvin for his editorial blunder. Using the high-tech device, the Adder causes a cat and a frog to grow to King Kong size and rampage through a business hub. The Fighting Yank defeats the giant animals and kills the Adder in battle.

THE FIGHTING YANK #2 (November 1942)

Title: The De-Oxotron

Villains: Nixo and his gang

Synopsis: An American inventor named Nixo turns traitor, hires a gang of men and begins using his latest invention, the de-oxotron, to shoot down test pilots at various proving grounds around the country. The Fighting Yank and Joan Farwell clash with Nixo, his men and his high-tech death-traps in multiple cities over the course of several days.

The ray from the de-oxotron destroys oxygen in the air, and doing that to the pilots caused them to suffocate to death and crash their planes. Now Nixo has created a SUPER de-oxotron which will destroy the oxygen in an entire city, wiping out millions. Naturally the Fighting Yank stops Nixo and brings him in.

Title: The Radium Rifle

Villains: Hackle and Mangler

Synopsis: Two Nazi saboteurs named Hackle and Mangler are at large. Hackle has invented a radium rifle that shoots irradiated bullets which strike with the force of missiles. With his hulking bodyguard Mangler he has been using his high-tech weapon to blow American ships out of the water by sniping at them. The Fighting Yank clashes with the duo a few times, sometimes saving their targets from damage. The radium rifle’s bullets can even stun our hero, but in the end he prevents Hackle and Mangler from destroying a skyscraper called the Tower Building. Both Nazi villains die, Mangler from a fall and Hackle from a grenade.

Title: The Lightning Man

Villains: Demenscha and his Lightning Man

Synopsis: Hitler sends word to Nazi spies in New York City to go to Upstate New York and kill off the mad scientist called Demenscha for not producing as promised. Demenscha has just completed his work as the spies arrive and he protects himself by unleashing his Lightning Man, a humanoid bolt of lightning which he crafted in a vacuum tube using actual strikes of lightning. The spies vow allegiance to Demenscha now instead of Hitler.

Inspired, Demenscha decides to play along with the Fuehrer for now, then overthrow him following the war. He has his Lightning Man destroy six Defense Plants but the Fighting Yank and Joan Farwell show up to save the seventh. After a monumental battle, our hero loses to the Lightning Man but drives it/ him away.

Joan is captured by Demenscha and his goons but manages to use the scientist’s equipment to create a Lightning Woman controlled by HER mind. She flies off to find the Fighting Yank and leads him to Demenscha’s lair just in time to stop the multiple Lightning Men that the Nazi has unleashed. Demenscha commits suicide to avoid capture.

STARTLING COMICS #18 (December 1942)

Title: The Lycans

Villains: Dr Fantom and a pack of wolf-spirits

NOTE: Pyroman was on the cover pic, not the Fighting Yank.

Synopsis: A Nazi sorceror called Dr Fantom is brought to America via a U-Boat. He casts a spell which unleashes the wolf-spirits of several long-dead werewolves and sends them out to prey upon the countryside. In this tale’s version of werewolf lore the Lycans can fly, are super-strong and can assume full-wolf form or erect-walking furry wolfmen form.

Fantom’s plan is to transform enough Americans into Lycans that he will have a werewolf army with which to conquer the country. The Fighting Yank gives it his all and, just barely, helps stop the supernatural rampage.

FOR 1940s MARVEL SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE. AND HERE.

FOR FAWCETT SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE.

FOR THE QUALITY COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE.

FOR THE HILLMAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE HARVEY COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE FOX FEATURES SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE PRIZE COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE SPARK COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE HARRY CHESLER PUBLISHING SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE DELL SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


8 July 1940 - History

"This Joe Louis of the Insecticides."

Those were the headlines that greeted readers of Nebraska Farmer magazine in 1946. Obviously, DDT was an unqualified success in initial trials of the poison.

In the July 6, 1946 issue of the magazine, Keith Carter wrote, "After winning a glorious victory during the World War II over the insidious insect foes of G. I. Joe, DDT has shucked its military clothes, wrapped up its world-wide service bars, and come back home to take over the No. 1 spot in America's bug battle."

  • It killed a wide range of insect pests, in other words it had a "broad spectrum" impact.
  • It was persistent, meaning it didn't break down in the environment so it didn't have to be reapplied too often.
  • It did not wash off in water, that is, it was "insoluble."
  • It was relatively cheap and easy to apply.

In April 1946, Nebraska Farmer carried an article by University of Nebraska entomologist – a "bug-killing authority" – Don Whelen who had served for 18 months as an Army entomologist, presumably battling the carriers of malaria and typhus. In his article, Whelen outlined over a dozen different uses for DDT on the farm and in the home while only briefly mentioning that "other [entomologists] feel that it still needs further experimentation in order to work out proper dosages or safeguards."

With that one note of caution, Whelen outlined ways to use DDT as a spray or dust on livestock, in the garden or in the house. He wrote that the insecticide could rid a house of flies, fleas, roaches, ants and bed bugs. He noted that DDT could be sprayed from airplanes and that "it is probably out of the question to absolutely rid a town of flies by spraying with DDT but it is not impossible to greatly reduce the number of flies so that they will hardly be noticed."

Later that year, Nebraska Farmer reported that a year's worth of testing on livestock had shown huge profits from the product.

"Carefully controlled tests with 8,000 head of cattle showed that spraying or dipping with DDT through the fly season improved the gains of beef cattle on pasture an average of one-half pound a day per head. At that rate, the improved gain for the DDT treated cattle averaged 50 pounds a head in a 100-day season. For the entire 8,000 head it meant 400,000 pounds more beef produced at a cost of some labor and a little money."

The article went on to report results in dairy herds. "The treatment indicated that knocking out the flies would improve the flow of milk by 15 percent."

Weight gains of 400,000 pounds in a herd and 15 percent more milk were huge numbers that few farmers could ignore. DDT sales took off, and the government quickly had to step in and require accurate labeling of the strength and contents of DDT products.

With the labeling, research and promotion, sales of DDT rose from $10 million in 1944 – mostly for military use – to over $110 million in 1951, mostly for agricultural use.

More and more uses were promoted. One company advertised "Carbola-DDT Disinfecting White Paint." In barns, this paint did "Three Necessary Jobs . in one easy lower cost operation: 1) Kills flies 2) Kills disease germs 3) Gives white walls." We don't know if the paint was ever used inside a farmer's house."

Research sponsored by the USDA (U. S. Department of Agriculture) kept discovering more and more crops that could be saved. A few studies showed the chemical was ineffective against some pests, but by this time, the techniques used to synthesize DDT had shown chemists how to formulate related insecticides. DDT is an "organochlorine," meaning it's based on carbon (organo) and contains chlorine and hydrogen. Within a few short years after the war, chemists had formulated other organochloride compounds with amazing names, like chlordane, toxaphene, heptachlor and dieldrin. Other chemists were working with the cousins of DDT known as organophosphates. The insecticides produced included parathion and malathion. There were literally thousands of new chemicals coming to the market promising to control specific insect pests.

These developments were nothing short of a chemical revolution in the fight against pests. In 1946, the USDA announced a study that showed that "Combinations of new organic insecticides provide control of all major cotton insects for the first time." [emphasis added.] Three years later, the USDA announced another first – "Grasshopper control by individual farmers is possible for the first time by use of chlordane or toxaphene in sprays, dusts, or baits."

Yet, as early as 1946, one USDA study buried in the mix discovered that some flies were becoming resistant to DDT, and substitute materials had to be recommended.

In 1949, the first government study to raise health concerns for humans was published. The study found DDT traces in the milk of cows sprayed with the chemical. "Safe alternative substitute insecticides" were recommended to control flies and lice on cattle because the economic impact of a reduced milk production was too high a cost for most dairy farmers to forego insecticide use. The USDA warned milk producers not to use DDT on dairy cattle, but it did not even consider banning the chemical.

Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. A partial bibliography of sources is here.


Stories of the Battle of Britain 1940 – Has it Started Yet?

10 July 1940 is today recognized as the date when the Battle of Britain officially began. Or did it? Looking through yesterday’s press news commemorating its 70th Anniversary, I was amused to see the variety of interpretations of what actually happened on that day.

“On this day in 1940, the Germans begin the first in a long series of bombing raids against Great Britain, as the Battle of Britain, which will last three and a half months, begins.”
[History Channel]

“On 10 July 1940, the German Luftwaffe bombed London and south east England”
[BBC News]

“[10 July..] is the first major assault by the Luftwaffe and is being seen as what the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, dubbed in a speech three weeks ago as the beginning of the ‘Battle of Britain’.”
[BBC On This Day]

“Over Britain… The Germans send 70 planes to raid dock targets in South Wales. In the British reckoning this is the first day of the battle of Britain.”
[onwar.com]

Each of these statements – hand-picked for the occasion, but authentic – is wanting in some respect. The Luftwaffe bombing raid on 10 July wasn’t the first, wasn’t sent against London (which the BBC should have known) or the South Wales.

So what happened, really? Let’s have a closer look on a day which became the “official” starting date of the Battle of Britain.

An urban myth surrounding the beginning of the Battle is that after the momentous events of Dunkirk evacuation, June constituted a relative lull for the Royal Air Force – a much-needed month for rest and recuperation of losses. Such assertion does not withstand closer analysis. As we have demonstrated before in this article series, attrition of the RAF fighter squadrons, so dreaded by Dowding, continued in Norway until 8 June, in France – until 18 June 1940. German forays in force over Britain commenced almost immediately thereafter – on 18 and 19 June.

Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding was unequivocal in his assessment of the “lull”:

“After the evacuation from Dunkerque the pressure on the Fighter Command became less intense, but it by no means disappeared. Hard fighting took place along the coast from Calais to Le Havre to cover the successive evacuations from that coast. Then the centre of gravity shifted to Cherbourg and its neighbourhood, and the Battle of Britain followed on without any appreciable opportunity to rest and re-form the units which had borne the brunt of the fighting.

The fall of Belgium and France had increased the danger to the South and West of England, and had necessitated a considerable modification of the original arrangements when bombing attacks could start only from German soil.

As has been explained above, few squadrons were fresh and intact when the Battle began. No sufficient respite has been granted since the conclusion of the Dunkerque fighting to rest the squadrons which had not left the Fighter Command, and to rebuild those which had undergone the ordeal of fighting from aerodromes in northern France. These last had been driven from aerodrome to aerodrome, able only to aim at self-preservation from almost continuous attack by bombers and fighters they were desperately weary and had lost the greater part of their equipment, since aircraft which were unserviceable only from slight defects had to be abandoned.”

It is true that the Luftwaffe had to regroup to deploy its two Luftflotten, 2 and 3, along the Channel coast, plus Luftflotte 5 in Norway. The relocation in France, according to Adolph Galland, was completed rather quickly – he recalls in his memoirs that the fighter units became operational at their new bases around the midsummer week. While establishment of the units at their new bases and resolving all the supply logistics took some additional time, the Luftwaffe reports show that by 1 July, the collective strength of the air fleets in France and Norway was 2,186 serviceable aircraft including 898 bombers, 708 single-engined fighters and 202 twin-engined fighters. These numbers indicate a high degree of readiness for the forthcoming assault.

By end of June, many Luftwaffe units were ready to commence operations agains Britain. This photograph was taken on 21 June.
[Bundesarchiv]

Since around 1 July, the Germans were in position of mounting subsequently larger raids over Britain at will. This is also exactly what they did, as shown by their record of operations. 1 July saw a prelude to daylight strategic bombing of British industrial cities: Hull in Northeast England and Wick in Scotland were attacked by two separate bombing raids. On 3 July, Luftwaffe followed up by bombing Cardiff in South Wales. 4 July saw the first large-scale convoy attack. German dive-bombers and torpedo boats attacked a merchant convoy in the Channel between Cherbourg and Bournemouth. Five ships were sunk and additional vessels damaged – an unqualified success for the attackers. Later on the same day, Luftwaffe also bombed Portland harbour.

On 8 July, Spitfires of No. 54 Squadron from Rochford intercepted a formation of Bf 110s escorted by Bf 109s. There was a rapid engagement with short bursts of fire, and two Spitfires had been lost. On the next day, the Luftwaffe was over the Channel again, bombing more shipping near the British coast. Hurricanes of No 43 Squadron were scrambled, intercepting six Bf 110s among low, scattered clouds for a non-conclusive clash.

Attack on a channel convoy, July 1940.
[Crown Copyright]

So what really made the quoted “first day” different from these engagements? In fact, it might only be the weather. It remained consistently and unusually bad during the first days of July, with heavy, low hanging clouds with continuous rain and thunderstorms precluding any large-scale operations by the RAF these ten rainy days of July were perhaps Dowding’s only “respite”.

Wednesday, 10 July dawned with similarly dense cloud, but before noon the weather over the South of England and the Channel cleared. This is where the Luftwaffe put their main effort during the day, concentrating on a merchant convoy which was just crossing the straits between Dover and Dungeness. The main German force was about 120 aircraft. The RAF sent up five fighter squadrons to aid a standing patrol of six Hurricanes. An air battle ensued. German bomber pilot Leutnant Bechtle, observing the swirling fighters from the elusive safety of his Dornier, described it as:

“A magnificent dogfight! From a distance, the aircraft looked like bunches of grapes…”

Despite the impression which the air battle made on everyone involved, the British remained unaware that their big battle had started. In fact, they would remain so for many more weeks. It must be remembered that when Churchill said “I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin” in his famous speech of 18 June, he was not referring to an aerial battle, but the “fight on the beaches” – the invasion of German land forces. A mere clash of substantial aircraft formations over the Channel did not indicate the beginning of that battle. Even a month later, on 8 August 1940, order of the day read aloud at all units of the RAF stated:

“The Battle of Britain is about to begin [emphasis added – Ed.]. Members of the Royal Air Force, the fate of generations lies in your hands.”

By the end of 1940, when British Air Ministry issued a pamphlet aiming to familiarize the general public with RAF exploits during the battle, it followed the meaning of that order. The book was entitled: “The Battle of Britain – An account of the great days from 8th August to 31st October 1940”. It defined the public understanding of the Battle for years.

Back on 10 July, the only person who recognized that something had actually started seemed to be Oberst Johannes Fink. Fink was recently appointed Kanalkampfführer, commander of the air campaign to clear the Channel for invasion, with a moderate force of 60 Stukas and 75 twin-engine bombers at his disposal. Fink had his command post at Cap Blanc Nez – improvised from an old bus parked so that it offered a great view of the blue waters of the Channel all the way to the White Cliffs of Dover.

That evening, he called upon his young officers for a celebration in a nearby garden to feast over the day’s results, even though no enemy ships were sunk. There were glasses of champagne served al fresco. The mood was that of self-confidence and apprehension: they were young, they were in France and they were the victors. But more importantly, they were finally succeeding in pulling Fighter Command into battle.


Myths of History: The Battle of Britain (July -October 1940)

After the defeat of France in June 1940, Britain alone and faced the might of the armed forces of Nazi Germany which plans for the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) to sweep the skies over Britain to make way for an invasion. Nothing stood between British defeat but the men of the ‘few’, the British Fighter Pilots of RAF Fighter Command. After intense air battles however, the RAF won by the narrowest of margins and Hitler is forced to turn his attention to Russia.

Makes for a great story doesn’t it? But no this isn’t quite what happened. Despite the above often being the popular narrative of the Battle of Britain, especially in the area of public history, it just simply isn’t the full story and elements are pure myth. So often with history the true story paints a much more interesting picture of events. As historians our job is to uncover the truth and often the more interesting true story shines greater light on the incredible events of history. So, let’s take a look at a few points about the Battle of Britain that seem to hang in the collective memory.

The RAF in 1940 compromised of numerous ‘Commands’. The three we will examine are Fighter Command (made of fighter aircraft), Bomber Command (Yup, bomber aircraft – see how this works) and Coastal Command (okay slightly different here but these were a mixture of aircraft types that were stationed near the…well coast and would mainly be used in…well coastal operations.) All these commands would play an invaluable role in the Battle of Britain.

As this headline suggests, the Battle of Britain was just as much an offensive battle for the RAF as a defensive and the offensive operations would be critical to the RAF’s success. Image: https://c8.alamy.com/comp/e5ggfr/1940-the-sun-new-york-front-page-reporting-luftwaffe-bombing-raid-e5ggfr.jpg

As Fighter Command defended the skies over Britain, Bomber and Coastal Command launched numerous raids over Germany and the occupied territories which included a raid on Berlin that forced Hitler to order the Luftwaffe to focus on bombing British cities rather than the RAF airfields – an event made famous as the turning point in numerous books and in the 1969 film Battle of Britain. Again, these raids diverted resources away from the offensive. However, there is more to even this key event, and these raids were vital to the Battle, demanding and came at a huge loss of aircraft and aircrew.

A key and often forgotten fact is that Bomber and Coastal Commands raided Luftwaffe airfields over a longer period than the Luftwaffe ever did on RAF airfields during the battle. This campaign on Luftwaffe airfields began on 19 th June 1940 and would consist of 1097 sorties (a combat mission of an individual aircraft) over the whole course of the Battle, the raids by the Luftwaffe on RAF airfields lasted, sporadically, from the 12 th August until the 7 th September. The damage done by the RAF raids varied, but there were cases of airfields suffering severe damage and these raids occurred night and day proving a thorough nuisance to the Luftwaffe. Luftwaffe fighters were diverted to provide cover for these raids and away from the offensive on Britain. Numerous German sources from Luftwaffe personnel attest to the irritation and damage of these raids.

The RAF Bomber and Coastal Command aircrews’ part in the Battle of Britain is often completely forgotten’. Here a painting depicts German Messerschmitt 109’s engaging with Blenheim bombers in 1941. Similar scenes were frequent in 1940. © Robert Taylor https://www.artranked.com/topic/Robert+Taylor#&gid=1&pid=13

The RAF bombers would also attack the invasion barges along the coast. From July to September the RAF would destroy roughly a tenth of the invasion fleet assembled to invade Britain and two Victoria Crosses (the highest gallantry award in the British military) would be awarded to Flight Lieutenant Roderick Learoyd on 12 th August Sgt John Hannah on the 15 th September for raids against the invasion barges. These raids would disrupt invasion preparations, force German forces to the defensive and send a clear message that the skies not only over Britain were denied to the Luftwaffe but also that the RAF’s presence was clearly visible over mainland Europe. A key part of denying the option of invasion.

In May 1947 an official Roll of Honour for aircrew lost by the RAF in the Battle of Britain was published and stood at 1497, which included the Bomber and Coastal Command losses and copy of which lies in Westminster Abbey. Today though, the numbers given for losses stands at 537 with the members of Bomber and Coastal Command omitted. Why the change?

The Battle of Britain ‘Roll of Honour’ at Westminster abbey in London. Image: https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-news/battle-britain-sunday-2019

Well, Bomber crews don’t perhaps make for ‘natural heroes’. Later raids such as that on cities like Dresden would question the use and conduct of the bomber crews and play a part in the removal of their part in the battle. Attacking civil targets would eventually become a war crime under the UN. The bombers also often flew from airfields hidden away deep in the countryside, frequently at night and their actions took place over enemy territory. The air battles the fighter pilots took part in were clearly visible for the British public to see during the day and often over built up areas, including London and over the ‘Home Counties’ whilst bomber squadrons were stationed much more north. Additionally, if we compare Luftwaffe losses (1400) to RAF losses including the bombers crews in the Battle (1800), the RAF come off much worse than the usual figure of around 500 only including Fighter Command losses. Hardly the statistics for a British victory.

The RAF aircrew were not all officers, many were NCO’s (often Sergeants) and came from a variety of backgrounds. If we were to walk through a typical RAF airfield in 1940 the air would be filled with a variety of accents, we might hear a Yorkshire accent or an Irish one. You could perhaps hear American accents, or maybe French or Polish. The countries recognised for Fighter Command are (in no order): Canada, Poland, New Zealand, France, Jamaica, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Australia, South Africa, South Rhodesia, Belgium, Barbados and the USA. (I want to add here that the cover image of this article includes, on the far left, Sgt Billy Strachan from Jamaica who flew in Wellington bombers during 1940)

‘The Men who saved the World’ by Frank Oswald Salisbury in 1946 located at the RAF Museum Hendon. Such heroic and superhuman imagery would rarely be depicted of the bomber crews. The white male dominated arena of the battle in title of the painting is a common popular conception of the Battle after the war © Photograph James Jefferies 2015

The effort was a multi-national and multi-cultural one. Later in the war the list of nations would grow and even include some Germans. A famous example being Ken Adams who was born in Germany in 1921 and emigrated to Britain in 1934 to escape the Nazi’s (Ken and his family were Jewish). He would later go on to fame as a set design and win numerous awards working on films that included James Bond and Dr Strangelove.

Women also played a critical role as members of the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). These would act as plotters for maps of raids over England, drive lorries and act as radio operatives guiding aircrew as well as take on many other crucial roles. There were also women in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) who would deliver aircraft to RAF airfields. Additionally, Women would crew the anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons. Women played many vital roles in the Battle.

Though the role of women supporting the RAF was made evident at the time, as seen by this Picture Post cover, the narrative changed post war and the public memory has only recently started including the important role that women played. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/312648399123485083/?nic_v2=1a6mRDnYR

The battle is shrouded in many more myths, but just taking the above examples and looking at the true story, an ever more fascinating and inspiring story is revealed. The survival of Britain during the Battle of Britain meant that it’s Empire, Commonwealth and allies, with vast resources and access to these could carry on the fight to Nazi Germany, which, with ever demanding drains on resources, needed a quick victory that it failed to achieve. Once the USSR held off invasion from Nazi Germany and the USA entered the war in 1941 (interesting fact: RAF aircraft were armed with American Browning Machine Guns during the Battle of Britain) it merely quickened the inevitable defeat of an overstretched and out resourced Nazi Germany. There is a lesson here in unity, not solidarity, to be taken. The truth of history is so often more fascinating than the myths that nations, societies and cultures tend to build. As historians, I feel it is our duty to tell the more nuanced truths of history and confront the prevailing myths to tell fuller, richer and inspiring lessons from our past.


Legacy

In 1986, a life-size statue of Wadlow was erected on College Avenue in Alton, opposite the Alton Museum of History and Art, in honour of the city's most famous resident.

There are also a number of real-size models of him in a variety of museums across the world.

His influence has even stretched into the music world: in 2005, American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens recorded a track titled "The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders", about Wadlow's life.

The tallest man has always been a favourite title of Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief at Guinness World Records:

"This record resonates across the whole world because every country understands how powerful this record is."

The tallest man ever lives on in the history books and the Guinness World Records archives – an enduring record that perhaps will never be beaten.

For our 60th anniversary, we looked back over the years at the tallest people, from Robert Wadlow to Sultan Kösen (who currently stands 8 ft 2.8 in tall).

In the video below, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday explains how this category is one of our most iconic, featuring archive footage and interviews with medical experts and celebrities.

We also talk to school children who give their take on the challenges that might arise from being the tallest man in the world.

RECORDS
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Today in History, July 8, 1947: New Mexico newspaper reports a ‘flying saucer’ recovered at Roswell

Col. John Nixon gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, outside the State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia.

Florenz Ziegfeld staged his first “Follies,” on the roof of the New York Theater.

In 1911, cowgirl Nan Aspinwall became the first woman to make a solo trip by horse across the United States, arriving in New York 10 months after departing San Francisco. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Cowgirl “Two-Gun Nan” Aspinwall became the first woman to make a solo trip by horse across the United States, arriving in New York 10 months after departing San Francisco.

A patent was issued to Alfred Carlton Gilbert for his toy construction blocks known as the Erector Set.

A New Mexico newspaper, the Roswell Daily Record, quoted officials at Roswell Army Air Field as saying they had recovered a “flying saucer” that crashed onto a ranch officials then said it was actually a weather balloon. (To this day, there are those who believe what fell to Earth was an alien spaceship carrying extra-terrestrial beings.)

President Harry S. Truman named Gen. Douglas MacArthur commander-in-chief of United Nations forces in Korea. (Truman ended up sacking MacArthur for insubordination nine months later.)

A giant corncob pipe became the trademark of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his World War II Pacific campaigns. Here he's shown in Manila in 1945. (Photo: Associated Press)

Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 21, a Douglas DC-6B, crashed in British Columbia after the tail separated from the fuselage all 52 people on board were killed in what authorities said was the result of an apparent bombing.

Kurt Waldheim was inaugurated as president of Austria despite controversy over his alleged ties to Nazi war crimes.

Venus Williams beat Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 7-6 (3) for her first Grand Slam title, becoming the first black female champion at Wimbledon since Althea Gibson in 1957-58.

Group of Eight leaders, including President Barack Obama, pledged to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as they met in L’Aquila, Italy.


Alton Hornsby, Jr. (1940-2017)

Alton Parker Hornsby, Jr., author, historian and professor, was born on September 3, 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia to Lillie Mae Newton Hornsby, an entrepreneur and voting rights activist, and Alton P. Hornsby, an automobile painter. Hornsby was one of six children whose parents briefly owned Atlanta’s Greasy Food Café in the 1950s. He attended the William H. Crogman elementary school, Booker T. Washington High School (1954-1955), and Luther J. Price High School (1955-1957) where after passing the early entrance exam, spent his senior year at Morehouse College where he majored in history.

Hornsby’s Morehouse years (1957-1961) were influenced by president Benjamin E. Mays, history chair Melvin Dow Kennedy, and fellow students such as future Morehouse president Leroy Keith, actor Charles Black, and activist Julian Bond. His own civil rights activism began on February 2, 1960 when he and classmate William Andrews, along with white Morehouse history professor Ovid L. Futch, were ejected from the Georgia State Capitol after attempting to integrate the House visitor sitting gallery. Hornsby also picketed the McCrory and Richards Variety stores in Atlanta.

Graduating from Morehouse in 1961 with an honors bachelor of arts degree, he immediately enrolled at the University of Texas–Austin (UTA) on a Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Fellowship, earning a master of arts degree in 1962. In 1969, he completed “Southern Negroes, 1877-1929: The Outsider’s View,” becoming the first African American to earn a UTA history Ph.D. Hornsby taught at Tuskegee Institute (1962-1965) and in 1968 returned to Morehouse as an assistant professor.

During his forty-two year Morehouse career (1968-2010), Hornsby chaired the history department for thirty consecutive years (1971-2001), was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1984, and appointed the Fuller E. Callaway professor of history in 1996. He won dozens of prizes for excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service including the 2012 Southern Historical Association’s John W. Blassingame Award. In 1979, he became an early supporter of the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH) where he established the Lillie M. Newton Hornsby Award (1995) to honor his mother by annually recognizing the academic accomplishments of an undergraduate woman.

One of the nation’s leading African American history scholars, particularly of Atlanta and the South, Hornsby was a prolific writer who published dozens of books and articles. His most prominent books were Black Power in Dixie: A Political History of African Americans in Atlanta and Southerners, Too?: Essays on the Black South, 1733-1990. Between 1976 and 2001, he was the editor of the Journal of Negro History (renamed Journal of African American History in 2002). Hornsby also edited the John and Lugenia Burns Hope papers, Blackwell’s Companion to African American History, and Dictionary of Twentieth Century Black Leaders.

Over his career, Hornsby served as the president of the Southern Conference on African American Studies (1986-1988) and the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists. A life member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Hornsby held memberships in numerous organizations including the State Committee on the Life and History of Black Georgians, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association.

Dr. Alton Parker Hornsby Jr. died at seventy-six in Atlanta on September 1, 2017 and is survived by his wife Dr. Anne R. Lockhart Hornsby, Spelman College economics professor, and children: historian Dr. Angela Hornsby-Gutting and patent attorney Alton Hornsby, III.


Watch the video: Operation Frostbite, Germany Turn 8, July 1940. (December 2021).