There's no doubt what's newsworthy today. The Daily Mail trumpets the big battle over the Home Counties yesterday, the 'most shattering defeat' the Luftwaffe has ever experienced (1):
The Air Ministry state that between 350 and 400 enemy aircraft were launched in two waves against London and south-east England.
Of these no fewer than 175 were shot down, four of them by A.A. fire. This is a proportion of nearly one in two destroyed. All these are "certainties," for the total does not include "probables."
The R.A.F. lost 30 'planes, and ten of the pilots are safe.
A million Londoners are said to have seen the battle overhead, some of whom saw the first enemy aircraft to fall on central London:
A German bomber, with a Spitfire in pursuit, fell out of the clouds and hurtled down in flames, crashing in a busy spot in the Central London area.
Those who were in the open set up a cheer for our fighters.
People flocked out of the shelters to see what it was all about. And they joined the cheering.
A later headline asserts that 'London is world's greatest city'. As proof it offers the way in which the capital, despite being 'bombed and harassed by Hitler's hordes, is still Going To It':
The typists, the clerks, the office boys, and the directors are still arriving at their offices every morning, the shop girls are still arriving at the stores, fresh and eager for work after a good night's sleep in the shelters.
If their trains and buses fail them, they are getting lorry lifts to work or leaving home extra early to be at their desks and counters on time.
If they cannot get to and from their work easily enough, they are sleeping at their work.
Other items of interest: a rather forward-looking article by veteran war correspondent G. Ward Price on how Britain can invade Europe (2); R. A. Saville-Sneath explains how the Ju 88 and the Bristol Blenheim can be distinguished from one another; and the introduction of pay-as-you-earn income tax is described as the 'Chancellor's Blitzkrieg' (5).
By comparison with yesterday's air battles, the Mail doesn't talk much about invasion, aside from assurances that the RAF is still hitting the invasion ports hard. It's the other way around with today's Home Intelligence report. About all it says is, in the opening sentence of its summary, that 'Yesterday's aerial successes have produced enthusiastic praise for the RAF'. Then there's a whole paragraph on invasion rumours: 'Most people' think an invasion will come soon, in a few days, but equally they are 'very confident' that it will fail. In fact, there are rumours that it has already been attempted and repulsed:
From Nottingham comes the rumour that German bodies have been floating in the Channel. In North Nottinghamshire the invasion is said to have been attempted on Lincolnshire and the South Coast. In Northampton it is said that the attack was launched on the West Coast. Invasion rumours are also reported in the South-Western Region and Scotland.
As for Londoners Going To It, here's a slightly less cheery view. Admittedly,
The people of London are in the great majority more optimistic, but unplanned evacuation of the 'jittery' to Bucks., Berks., Herts., Oxford and Kent continues. These evacuees magnify their adventures and the amount of destruction in London, thus alarming people in Reception Areas. Nightly migrations to public shelters which people regard as safe in the West End and London are now routine events. Tubes are also being used as shelters.
I've suggested before that Home Intelligence may have been predisposed towards bad news. Given this bias, civilian morale actually looks pretty healthy at the moment.
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