War Diary September 11th to September 17th 1939

Monday September 11th

  • Germany attacks Warsaw and troops are retired to the outskirts.  Polish broadcasts are still continuing from the capital despite Nazi interference on the same wave length.  In the South of Poland the German advance aimed at Lvov (Lwow)) is held up.
  • French attacks are making substantial progress on a 12 mile front east of the Saar.  Bayonet charges by the French in the sector between Merzig, 22 miles south of Trier, and the Miselle and air raids are taking place on troop concentrations behind the Siegfried line.
  • It has been reported that RAF planes carried out a raid on September 9th on the island of Sylt, which is a large German airbase off the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein.
  • The Polish Government have moved their headquarters to the Brzesc-Litewki (Brest-Litovsk), 115 miles east of Warsaw.
  • The King opened the fund this week to the British Red Cross and Order of St John with a gift of £5,000.
  • The Government have issued, through the ministry if information, a declaration of policy, in which it was stated that Britain will make peace only with a German Government whose words could be trusted and that no peace was possibly with Hitler.
  • A message to India from the King-Emperor was read by the Viceroy to the Central Legislature in Simla.

Tuesday September 12

  • A meeting of the Supreme War Council has been held in France, attendees were Mr chamberlain and Lord Chatfield for Great BRitain, and M Daladier and Germeal Gamelin for France.
  • The French have made further progress in their advance in the region of the Saar. There was a strong reaction to the enemy.
  • British troops have received a warm welcome in France.  It is reported that RAF contingents have been stationed in France for a long time.
  • The Polish have taken advantage of the pause in the German attack on Warsaw to consolidate their principal lines of defence.  The main German force was held up at Modlin, on the north bank of the Vistula, 15 miles from the capital.  Other German attacks in Poland were to the North East, towards Bialystok, and from the south across the San River.
  • The German high command have claimed that Polish troops trapped in the area west of the Vistula have failed to break through, and that the equipment of four Polish divisions has been captured.
  • A German submarine stopped and searched the American freighter ‘Wacosta’ off the coast of Ireland.
  • Four more British cargo vessels were reported sunk by U-boats, namely ‘Iverliffey’, ‘Firby’, ‘Blairlogie’ and ‘Gartavon’. A Finnish barque, ‘Olivebank’ was sunk by a drifting mine in the North Sea.
  • It was also announced that owing to doubts about the performance of neutrality, almost all German residents in Eire had left for Germany.
Wednesday September 13th

  • The German High Command announced that in order to crush civilian resistance, open towns and villages in Poland will be bombed and shelled.
  • Lord Halifax stated in the House of Lords that if such action were taken by the Germans, the British Government would hold themselves free “to take such action as they might deem appropriate.”
  • According to statements issued by the Polish Embassy in London and by the American Ambassador in Poland, German aeroplanes have for some time been bombing civilians in Poland.
  • German advance on Warsaw still held up, but encircling movement were made round the Polish position. Attacks on Modlin and Lvov had been repulsed but east of Warsaw Polish forces have withdrawn under heavy pressure.
  • Paris reported that French troops had improved the whole of the positions taken in the course of the last few days.
  • The French War Cabinet was formed with M Daladier as Prime Minister, Foreigh Minister and War minister.
  • Mr Chamberlain gave Parliament a second survey of the progress of the war.
  • It was reported from Brussels that Hitler has issued an appeal to all doctors, engineers and other technical experts, whatever their race, who had fled from Germany to return with the promise that fortunes confiscated from such refugees would be restored.

Thursday September 14th

  • Germany claimed to have captured Gdynia and to be making rapid progress in the encircling of Warsaw.  Polish reinforcements were hurried to Lvov (Lwow) where the enemy’s aim is to seize important oilfields and to cut communications with Romania.
  • The French launched a new offensive on the extreme north of the common frontier with Germany.  There was also a heavy artillery duel in the region of Sarrbruecken.
  • Two British merchant ships, ‘Vancouver City’ and ‘British Influence’ have been sunk.
  • The Official Kremlin organ ‘Pravda’ attributed, what is termed Poland’s “military debacle” mainly to her brutal oppression of her minorities especially the Polish Ukrainians and the White Russians.
  • In the House of Commons Mr Chamberlain stated that no British Government would ever resort to deliberate attacks on women and children for the purpose of terrorism.
  • Lord Halifax announces in the House of Lords that the British Government has received a notification from the German government that it would for the duration of the War Observe the Geneva protocol prohibiting the use of poison gas and bacteriological methods of warfare.

Friday September 15th

  • A Polish communique declared that an attack on Lwow by German troops crossed the frontier from East Prussia near surrounded Warsaw; also to have occupied most of the Polish oilfields.
  • Poland stated that Germany had begun a ruthless campaign of bombing open towns.
  • On the Western Front a strong French force reached the out posts of the Siegfried Line.
  • It was reported that the situations in Palestine had markedly improved since the outbreak of war, and that Jews and Arabs were co-operating against the common danger.
  • The Australian Cabinet decided to raise immediately an initial volunteer force of 20,000 for service in Australia or overseas.  The Ministry of Information announced that vast seizures of good intended for Germany, including 28,000 tones of petroleum had been made by the British Contraband Control.

Saturday September 16

  • Germany claims to have captured Przemsyl and Bialystok. the struggle for Warsaw and Brest-Litovsk continued.
  • French troops advanced still farther on the 40 mile front from Luxembourg frontier to 12 miles east at Saarbruecken.
  • A Soviet-Japanese armistice on the Manchukuo-Mongolia frontier was arranged in Moscow.
  • Four vessels, ‘Fanad head’, ‘Davara’, ‘Rudyard Kipling‘ and ‘Cheyenne’ have been sunk by U-boats.  The Belgium steamer, ‘Alex van Opstal’ was also sunk near Weymouth by either a submarine of a mine dropped by an enemy minelayer.

Sunday September 17th

  • Soviet troops invaded Poland without warning along the whole length of the frontier ostensibly to protect the population of Wester Ukraine and Western White Russia.  A Note to this effect was handed to the Polish Ambassador in Moscow and the copies of the Note to the representatives of all Stated with which Russia maintain diplomatic relations.  A broadcast later from Moscow repeated this declaration of ‘protection’ and added that the invasion of Poland would open a new read for the world-wide triumph of the Communist creed.
  • The Polish front collapsed under crushing German attacks.  Germany claimed to have taken Brest-Litovsk.  The Polish Government stated to have removed to Kuty near the Rumanian frontier; some members of it crossed in Rumania.
  • Germany presented terms for the surrender of Warsaw.
  • German attacks on the Western frontier were repulsed with loss.  The French High Command recorded the arrival of large German reinforcements from Poland.
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