War Diary 23rd August – 3rd September 1939

Wednesday 23rd August

  • Germany signs a pact of Non-agression with Russia signed by Molotov and Ribbentrop in the presence of Stalin
  • Sir Neville Henderson, British Ambassador to Germany, delivers a message to Hitler from the British Government and a personal letter from the Primeminister
  • King Leopold of Belgium broadcasts an appeal for peace on behalf of seven smaller countries

Thursday 24th August

  • The King arrives in London to hold a Privy Council meeting
  • Parliament passes the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act
  • President Roosevelt sends an appeal to King Victor Emmanuel urging a peace conference
  • The Pope broadcasts an appeal for peace
  • Von Ribbentrop returns from Moscow to see Hitler
  • British subjects warned to leave Germany
  • Herr Forster proclaims himself head of the State of Danzig

Friday 25th August

  • Sir Neville Henderson, the French, Italian and Japanese envoys all call on Hitler at his requests
  • Hitler cancels the Tannenberg celebrations
  • Anglo-Polish Agreement of Mutual Assistance is signed in London
  • Mussolini speaks to Hitler by telephone, twice
  • President Roosevelt sends message to Hitler and Polish President urging them to settle their differences by negotiation, arbitration or conciliation at the hands of a disinterested Power
  • Germans advised by their Embassy to leave Great Britain
  • German Government orders all merchant ships to remain or return to German ports

Saturday 26th August

  • Sir Neville Henderson arrives back in London with a message from Hitler and the reply was considered at a Cabinet meeting
  • The French Ambassador visits Hitler
  • The Nazi party’s ‘Congress of Peace’ is cancelled
  • Germany assures Belgium, Holand and Switzerland respect for it’s borders
  • Further messages are exchanged between Mussolini and Hitler
  • Roosevelt makes a second appeal to Hitler to maintain the peace, enclosing the reply from the Polish President

Sunday August 27th

  • The Cabinet meets to consider and reply to Hitler’s proposals.
  • Hitler rejects a proposal from M Daladier that one more attempt should be made for direct negotiation between Germany and Poland. At the conclusion of the letter Hitler makes the clear demand that Danzig and the Corridor be returned to the Reich
  • The Admiralty assumes control over British merchant shipping
  • The entire German-Polish frontier closes to railway traffic
  • France now has about 300,000 men under arms

Monday August 28th

  • Sir Neville Henderson delivers the British Government’s reply to Hitler
  • The Stationery Office issues Defence Rgulations made under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act
  • The Admiralty order the Mediterranean closed to British ships
  • Holland orders mobilization of the Army and Navy
  • Japanese Cabinet falls

Tuesday 29th August

  • Hitler hands to Sir Neville Henderson his reply to the British Government, with verbal explanations. Transmitted in code direct to London the reply states that the British proposal of direct negotiation between Germany and Poland has been accepted providing that a Polish Plenipotentiary arrives in Berlin within 24 hours
  • Halifax and the Prime Minister gave statements on the crises to the House of Commons at a brief sitting
  • Germany occupies Slovakia as a ‘protection’ from the Polish, and Poland issues a protest
  • Queen Wilhelmina and King Leopold jointly offer a mediation, which is accepted by the British, French and Polish Governments

Wednesday 30th August

  • Poland decides not to send the plenipotentiary under menace
  • A reply is sent to Sir Neville Henderson in Berlin to give to Von Ribbentrop after the British Government consider Hitler’s last communication
  • Hitler issues a decree to set up a Council of Ministers for the Defence of the State. Field Marshall Goering is appointed as chair and given very wide powers

Thursday 31st August

  • The Soviet-German pact is approved in Moscow by the Supreme Council
  • The German government broadcasts a 16-point plan for settlement with Poland. In spite of the fact that this was the first the Polish Government had heard of it, the German Government went on to say they had waited 2 days for a Polish negotiator, and therefore considered that the proposals had been rejected
  • The British Fleet was mobilized
  • The French railway under military control
  • The Pope makes a new appeal for peace

Friday 1st September

  • Poland is  invaded by German forces from East Prussia, Slovakia and the main body of the Reich in the early morning. No declaration of war has been made
  • Britain and France delivers their final warnings to Hitler to withdraw from Poland
  • German mobilization proclaimed in Britain and France
  • Statements on the German invasion of Poland were made in both the Houses of Parliament. In the Commons war credits totalling £500,000,000 were voted. A number of emergency measures were passed through all their stages
  • President Roosevelt appeals to Great Britain, France, Poland and Germany to ensure they do not bomb civilians and fortified towns. He receives assurances from Britain, France and Poland. Italy replies that they are not concerned as they are to remain neutral
  • The the Schleswig Holstein opens fire on the Polish Fortress in Danzig and World War II begins
  • Hitler, addresses the Reichstag gives his reason for the invasion of Poland and a bill is passed with acclamation on ‘The Law for the Reunion of Danzig with the German Reich’
  • Nearly 500,000 of Britain’s children are evacuated from exposed and congested areas
  • The Government takes over the control of the railway

Saturday 2nd September

  • Fighting increases in intensity and Warsaw is bombed six times.
  • Hitler sends a favourable answer to Roosevelt’s appeal against bombing open towns
  • Mr Chamberlain, addressing the Commons announced that Germany’s delay in replaying to the British warning might be due to consideration of a proposal put forward by Mussolini for a Five-power Conference
  • British Government received pledges of support from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and from 46 Indian rulers. They also pass the Bill for compulsary military service for the ages of 18 to 41
  • Berlin officially denies that either gas or incendiary devices had been used during raids on Polish towns

Sunday 3rd September

  • Britain give a final note to Hitler a 9am in Berlin giving him until 11am to withdraw his troops from Poland
  • At 11.15am Mr Chamberlain, in a broadcast to the nation, states that “no such under taking has been received and that consequently this country is a war with Germany”
  • The French also presented an ultimatum at 12.30pm and it expired at 5pm
  • The German reply rejected the stipulations that German troops should withdraw fro Poland and accused the British Government of forcing war on Germany
  • There is fierce fighting on both of Poland’s fronts
  • A War Cabinet of 9 members is created, to include Mr Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty
  • The King broadcasts a message to the country
  • Hitler leaves Berlin to assume command on the Eastern Front
  • The British liner Athenia is torpedoed without warning by a German Submarine 200 miles north-west of Ireland
  • Roosevelt that the USA would remain nuetral
  • Mr de Valera accounces that Eire would remain neutral
  • Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany

>> Next Week’s Diary <<

Further Reading or Listening:
Original BBC Archived Recording of News on 1st September 1939

Sources: Various

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3 Responses to War Diary 23rd August – 3rd September 1939

  1. Pingback: The war, day by day! - World War 2 Talk

  2. beanokid says:

    this is awesome

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