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31 Aug 1940
  • By the end of Aug 1940, a little over 51,000 British citizens had registered as conscientous objectors. ww2dbase [TH]
  • Battleship Bismarck fired 46 3.7cm shells against raiding British aircraft without any hits. ww2dbase [Bismarck | CPC]
  • Five British destroyers, ordered to intercept German ships, sailed into a new German airfield. HMS Express hit a mine and received serious damage; 56 were killed. HMS Esk moved closer to HMS Express to assist, but also ran into a mine, caused her sinking; 135 were killed and 25 survivors were captured on the beach. HMS Ivanhoe, also trying to help HMS Express, hit a mine and was damaged, killing 8 and wounding 3; she would be scuttled on the next day, and 23 of her survivors would be taken prisoner. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • 8,000 British and French troops departed from Britain for Freetown, Sierra Leone, escorted by British cruisers HMS Devonshire and HMS Fiji and five destroyers. Their destination would ultimately be Dakar in French West Africa, which was still under Vichy control. ww2dbase [British Attacks on the French Fleet | CPC]
  • Werner Mölders claimed two victories against British Hurricane fighters. ww2dbase [Werner Mölders | CPC]
  • US President Roosevelt called 60,000 men of the National Guard into federal service with the US Army. ww2dbase [Franklin Roosevelt | CPC]
  • Chen Cheng was relieved from his position as the head of the political bureau of the Nationalist military. ww2dbase [Chen Cheng | CPC]
  • Conrad Helfrich was promoted to the rank of vice admiral. ww2dbase [Conrad Helfrich | CPC]
  • Vannevar Bush met with Henry Tizard to arrange a series of meetings between American scientists and a British scientific delegation that would become known as the Tizard Mission. ww2dbase [Vannevar Bush | DS]
Atlantic Ocean
  • Allied convoy OB-205 was attacked by German submarines 100 miles north of Ireland; at 0000 hours, German submarine U-60 (Oberleutnant zur See Adalbert Schnee) hit Dutch steam passenger ship Volendam with two torpedoes (one exploded; the other, a dud, lodged in the hull); all of 273 crew and 606 British passengers (many were women and children) survived the attack, but one would die during the rescue. Norwegian fruit freighter Olaf Fostenes (Master Valvatne) rescued 251 of Volendam's survivors; the damaged Volendam was taken in tow by HMS Salvonia for beaching on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, United Kingdom. At 0206 hours, German submarine U-59 sank British ship Bibury, killing the entire crew of 38 and 1 gunner. At 0615 hours, German submarine U-38 sank British ship Har Zion; 33 were killed and 1 survived (rescued by Polish destroyer Blyskawica on the next day). To the west, 100 miles northwest of Ireland, German submarine U-46 sank Belgian passenger ship Ville de Hasselt; the entire crew of 53 survived on 4 lifeboats. ww2dbase [First Happy Time | CPC, HM]
  • Jaguar, Kondor, Falke, T2, T7, and T8 began escorting minelayers in the southwestern North Sea. ww2dbase [T2 | Jaguar | Falke | Kondor | First Happy Time | T7 | T8 | North Sea | CPC]
Germany Italy Mediterranean Sea
  • While escorting the Operation Hats convoy toward Malta, Garland was lightly damaged by Italian aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea. ww2dbase [Garland | CPC]
  • RAF photo-reconnaissance revealed that 56 barges from Antwerp, Belgium and Amsterdam, Netherlands were on the move towards ports on the English Channel. On the same day another 18 barges were spotted at Ostend, Belgium. Over the following weeks the number of barges assembled at the Channel ports increased considerably. Photographic interpreters counted 255 of them at Calais, France; 192 at Dunkirk, France; 230 at Boulogne, France; 140 at Flushing, Netherlands; and 227 at Ostend, Netherlands. Also at Antwerp, a further 600 barges and 200 merchant ships were gathering. ww2dbase [AC]
United Kingdom
  • Overnight, the British complete enough repairs to bring RAF Biggin Hill back to operational status. At 0800 hours, radar installations in Kent in southern England, United Kingdom picked up German formations; it was soon discovered to be all fighters, thus fighters already dispatched to intercept were called back, and only 3 fighters (all Canadian) were lost. Before noon, the real German raids arrived. 200 bombers attacked Essex; No. 56 Squadron RAF shot down 1 bomber but lost 4 fighters to German escort fighters from III./ZG26 and III./JG26. Debden, North Weald, Eastchurch, Dietling (strafed by fighters), Croydon (bombed by Bf 109 fighter-bombers of Erprobungsgruppe 210), and Hornchurch were all attacked in the morning. In the afternoon, Hornchurch was attacked again, destroying 2 Spitfire fighters on the ground but at the cost of 5 Bf 109 fighters. At 1800 hours, Biggin Hill was bombed from low level, destroying 2 of the 3 remaining hangars, cutting telephone lines, and destroying the operations room. On this day, the RAF lost 41 fighters and 9 pilots, while the Luftwaffe lost 56 fighters and 29 bombers. After sundown, Liverpool was bombed for the fourth consecutive night; other cities received bombs, too. ww2dbase [Battle of Britain | England | CPC]
  • James Lacey shot down a German Bf 109 fighter over Britain. ww2dbase [James Lacey | CPC]
United States
  • The Hollywood actors Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh married on a ranch in California, United States with only four wedding guests. The glamorous couple, who both divorced previous partners after a scandalous four year affair, had amassed six Oscar awards, five Emmy awards and three BAFTA awards between them. They would stay together for 20 years. ww2dbase [California | AC]

31 Aug 1940 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945

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