SS Athenia is sunk outward bound to the United States. Listen to the BBC news for this day 80 years ago!
Posted in 1939
Tagged 1st lord of the admiralty, 4th september 1939, army, BBC, bbc news, events, history, London, military, ss athenia, Winston Churchill
80 years ago today King George VI delivered this speech addressing Britain’s involvement in World War II.
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Wednesday 13th March, 1940
- Finnish Foreign Minister, M. Tanner broadcast official confirmation of peace agreement and its terms. Later he announced that Finland, Norway and Sweden are to discuss formation of defensive alliance.
- Fighting continued on nearly all Finnish fronts up to 11am, when hostilities ceased.
- Statements on Russo-Finnish peace aims were made in both Houses of Parliament by Lord Halifax and Mr Chamberlain.
- M. Guenther Swedish Foreign Minister, defended his policy of neutrality in Riksdag.
- Nazi coal ship ‘Eschersheim’ sank off Danish Jutland coast, either mined or scuttled.
- Mr Sumner Welles left London en route for Rome.
Thursday March 14
- Finnish delegates arrived in Helsinki from Moscow, bringing text of peace treaty.
- Swedish Foreign Minister announced that Sweden had promised Finland to examine possibility of making defensive alliance between the two countries. Similar promise had been given by Norway.
- Evacuation from ceded areas began in Finland. Estimated that 470,000 persons will have lost their land and homes.
- French Senate held a secret session devoted to discussions on Finnish situation.
- Reported that three fishing trawlers had beaten off with machine-gun fire three Heinkel bombers in 70 minutes fight in North Sea.
- Legislative Council of Hong Kong agreed to offer monetary gift of $100,000 to the Imperial Government for war purposes, and also to build two mine-sweepers and four harbour defence craft.
- Mr Sumner Welles arrived in Paris. He has a talk with M. Daladier before leaving for Rome.
Friday March 15th
- Finnish Diet ratified with Russia M. Ryti said that allied help had not been sought because that would have involved Finland in major European war.
- Russian troops began moving into ceded areas of Finland.
- Announced that Romania’s Iron Guard, fascist terrorist organisation, had been revived, the proscribed leaders having declared allegiance to King Carol and the Government.
- Mass arrests were reported from Prague, where the first anniversary of Hitler’s seizure of the Czech State was being celebrated.
- HM Trawler ‘Peridot’ sunk by striking enemy mine. No casualties.
- British vessel ‘Melrose’ sunk off Belgian coast.
- British trawler ‘Leukos’ reported overdue and presumed lost.
- German merchant-ship ‘La Coruna’ scuttled after being intercepted by British cruiser.
- Mr Sumner Welles arrived in Rome.
Saturday March 16
- Air Ministry announced that during past 24 hours reconnaissance activities had included night flight over Polish territory by aircraft of Bomber Command.
- There as also an engagement between aircraft of Coastal Command and an enemy bomber. The latter escaped after being damaged.
- Aircraft of the Bomber Command carried out reconnaissance of Heligoland Bight Opposition was experienced from air and ground defences, but all British aircraft returned safely.
- A British bomber attacked a formation of naval auxiliary vessels east of Borkum by diving from 6,000 feet and dropping a salve of bombs.
- German aircraft made a raid on fleet anchorage at Scapa Flow, about fourteen planes reached their objective. Many bombs dropped one causing minor damage to a warship. Seven casualties of naval personnel.
- Bombs were also dropped on land. One civilian killed and seven wounded in village of Bridge of Waith.
- Enemy were driven off, one aircraft being shot down and others believed damaged.
- Admiralty announced institution of system of monetary awards to non-service to non-service personnel for information concerning enemy naval activities.
- Activity of both artilleries on region of the Saar reported from the Western Front.
- Stated in Paris that changed were likely in the French Cabinet.
- HM trawler ‘Maida’ sunk by striking enemy mine. Commanding officer and five ratings missing and feared lost.
- Yugoslav ship ‘Slava’ sunk in Bristol channel.
- Mr Sumner Welles had conversations with the King of Italy, and with Mussolini and Ciano.
Sunday March 17th
- Attacks made by enemy aircraft on fishing trawlers and cargo boat. All replied with machine-gun fire and drove the raiders off.
- Air Ministry announced that RAF Fighter command planes pursued two enemy aircraft engaged in attacks on shipping off east coast of Scotland. Damage believed to have been inflicted on both.
- Hitler and Mussolini left their respective capitals accompanied by their Foreign Ministers, for a meeting on the Bremner Pass.
- French naval sources announced that reports of the destruction of two more U-boats had been received.
- Paris reported marked activity of reconnaissance parties west of the Vosges.
- Dutch steamer ‘St Annaland’ sunk by mine.
- Danish trawler ‘Wilhelmine’ sunk on Dogger Bank.
- Ten thousand miners in Nottinghamshire decided to forgo larger part of their holidays in order to increase production of coal during the war.
Monday March 18th
- Accompanied by Ribbentropp and Ciano Hitler and Mussolini conferred together in a bullet=proof railway train in frontier station on the Bremner Pass. The conference lasted 2½ hours, after which the Dictators returned to their own capitals.
- From Rome came reports that Hitler had drawn up Eleven ‘Peace Points’ that Mr Sumner Welles considered unacceptable, and that Mussolini arrange the Bremner meeting to get them modified.
- Sir John Simon stated that the 3% War Loan recently launched had been over-subscribed.
- Italian collier ‘Tina Primo’ broke in two after explosion off South-East Coast.
- British steamer ‘Tiberton’ reported to be long overdue and believed lost with all hands.
- Announced that a new organization had been created to maintain permanent liaison between British Colonial Office and French Ministry of Colonies.
Sixty Eight years ago, on double British Summer Time, service-men from Allied Expeditionary Force were preparing to invade Fortress Europe by sea and air. I was trying to find two clips this year that encapsulate the D-Day landings, as yet there is very little available for British, Canadian and other Allied forces apart from documentaries, so here are probably the two most accurate movie clips:
If you want to know more then there are plenty of brilliant websites about the Airborn, but the most comprehensive is Mark Bando’s HERE
There are many more quality written website, but I am not writing this to recommend websites. Instead I am writing to “remember them.”
Thursday 29th February 1940
- Russians claimed to be within four miles of Viipur and to be preparing final assault on town.
- Finns repulsed three attempts by Russians to cross Taipale river, and frustrated an attack near Pitkaerantae, north-east of Lake Ladoga.
- Germany’s methods of sea warfare denounced by Professor Koht, Norwegian Prime Minister.
- French steamer ‘P.L.M.25’ reported sunk by mine in North Sea.
- ‘Graf Spee’ wreck sold to Uruguayan firm for breaking up.
- Estonian Government issued order forbidding Estonian merchant ships to navigate North Sea and other dangerous waters except under convoy.
- Press Department of German Legation at The Hague issued statement warning neutrals that by accepting British system of navicerts they make themselves suspect to Germany.
Friday March 1st
- Russians continued to press on Viipuri. There were violent air battles over the Karelian Isthmus.
- Finns bombed Russian communications including a railways junction and troop trains.
- Air Ministry announced that RAF aircraft made deep reconnaissance flights into Germany; one penetrated Berlin. Baltic ports of Kiel and Lübeck and ports in Heligoland Bight were also reconnoitred. No opposition encountered.
- British steamer ‘Pyrrhus’ sunk by enemy action of West Cost of England.
- Norwegian Steamer ‘Brott’ and British fishing trawler ‘Courage’ bombed and machine-gunned off Yorkshire coast, but reached port.
- Survivors of mined Italian steamer ‘Mirella’ reached Suffolk coast.
- Latvian steamer ‘Katvaldis’ reported bombed and machine-gunned Yorkshire coast.
- Details of wartime rationing decrees in France were published.
- Mr Summer Welles arrived in Berlin and had an interview with Herr von Ribbentropp.
Saturday March 2nd
- Air Ministry announced that aircraft of RAF Bomber Command flew over Berlin during night of March 1-2. Leaflets and parachute flares were dropped. Ground batteries came into action, but fire went wide of mark.
- Finns claimed that 34th Moscow Tank brigade had wiped out an area north of Lake Ladoga.
- Russians reported to have reached suburbs of Viipuri, which was being set on fire by retreating defenders.
- Finns admitted further short retreats in Karelian Isthmus to regions of Sainio, 5 miles south of Viipuri of coast, and of Heinjoki 27 miles east of the town. Russian attacks repulsed at Taipale.
- Soviet bombers over Helsinki chased away by Finland fighters.
- British India passenger ship ‘Domala’ attacked by Nazi bomber in English Channel; 100 persons reported missing or dead.
- British steamer ‘Albano’ mined in North Sea.
- Norwegian steamer ‘Silja’ overdue and presumed lost.
- German steamer ‘Troja’ scuttled off Aruba Island, West Indies.
- Mr Sumner Wells was received by Hitler.
Sunday March 3rd
- Hand to hand fighting reported in southern suburbs of Viipuri. Russians claimed to have captured the railways station.
- Finns reported that they had brought down at least 28 enemy planes during the weekend.
- RAF bombers flew over Berlin during night of March 2-3, the fifth time within a week. Ground batteries opened fire and German fighters went up, but there was no engagement.
- Standing patrol over seaplane bases of Frisian Islands met with intense fire from enemy guns.
- Great air activity over Western Front during weekend; British fighters brought down three enemy aircraft, a Messerschmitt, a Heinkel and a Dornier, and French fighters accounted for two Dorniers.
- British steamer ‘Cato’ sunk off West Coast.
- Two Dutch cargo boats, ‘Schieland’ and ‘Limburg’ stated that they had been machine-gunned by Nazi planes in North Sea.
- Many air attacks on British fishing boats were reported.
- German cargo ship ‘Heidelberg’ seized by British cruiser after leaving Aruba, West Indie.
- Nazi aircraft flying over Belgian territory, were chased by Belgian fighters, one of which was shot down and the other two damaged.
- Mr Sumner Wells had interviews with Herr Hess and Field Marshal Goering. Later he left Berlin for Basle en route for Paris.
Monday Match 4th
- Air Ministry announced that RAF planes bombed a U-boat, and probably destroyed it, in Schillig Roads, Cuxhaven.
- Viipuri still in Finnish hands. Defenders repulsed attacks both across ice on Viipuri Bight and to east of town.
- Russians suffered severe losses in fighting north-east of Lake Ladoga, and also withdrew their forces in Petsamo sector.
- League of Nations mission stated to have arrived in Helsinki to inquire into Soviet methods of warfare.
- Paris reported increased activity Western Front and much aerial fighting during which at least one, and probably three enemy machines were brought down.
- British liner ‘Pacific Reliance’ sunk during enemy action off West Coast.
- British trawler ‘Ben Attow’ sunk off the east coast of Scotland.
- Reported that two more Dutch trawlers ‘Sint Annaland’ and ‘Rijnstroom’ were attacked during the weekend by Nazi bombers. Last named boat feared lost.
- Three survivors of Dutch coastal vessel ‘Elziena’ sunk by enemy plane, arrived at port on North East Coast.
- Swedish vessels ‘Lagaholm’ sunk.
- Italian Government protested against British order that further imports of coal from Germany by sea are to be seized.
- Announced that in 100 days ending March 1st, £1,000,000,000 was raised in saving certificates and defence bonds.
Tuesday March 5th
- Russians continued assault on Viipuri which was still in Finnish hands.
- They succeeded in crossing ice if Viipuri Bay, Finns contesting their landing on the western shore. Emery also attacked further along on its western shore. Enemy also attacked further west along the coast. Helsinki and other towns in south central Finland suffered from enemy air raids.
- German raid made on Britain outpost in Maginot Line, during which enemy captured 16 prisoners. Casualties on both sides. The post was later recaptured.
- British warships detained five italian steamers for examination in Down contraband control base.
- Reported that two more neutral vessels – Italian ‘Maria Rose’ and Norwegian ‘Vestfoss’ – had been sunk.
Wednesday March 6th
- Battle on ice of Viipuri Bay continued without further gains for Russians.
- Enemy attacks on south coast of Finland driven off.
- Patrol and artillery activity reported from other parts of Karelian Isthmus, also north-east of Lake Ladoga.
- Cargoes of eight of out nine Italian shops carrying coal from Germany detained in prize.
- Enemy air attacks made on lightship off Norfolk coast and on taker ‘Shelbrit II’ off northeast coast of Scotland.
- New Cunard White Star Liner ‘Queen Elizabeth’ reached Nova Scotia, en route to New York, after 10 day secret voyage, without passengers from Clydebank.