War Diary October 16th to 22nd, 1939

Monday October 16th

  • German troops launched an attack on a four-mile front immediately east of the Moselle. They were halted by French gun-fire. The enemy attacked later along a 20-mile front east of the Saar. French out-posts retired, according to plan, to lines of defence well in front of the Maginot Line.
  • Two enemy air raids were carried out in the Firth of Forth. The first, a reconnaissance raid, took place between 9am and 1.30pm, several aircraft being seen over Rosyth.
  • At 2.30pm a series of bombing raids began. Twelve to fourteen planes took part, four of which were brought down. Slight damage was done to the cruiser ‘Southampton’ and less still to the cruiser ‘Edinburgh’ and the destroyer ‘Mohawk’.
  • The RAF carried our further reconnaissance flights during Sunday night over northern and central Germany and further leaflets printed in large type so that they could be read without being picked up, were dropped.
  • The Polish Embassy in Paris stated that Polish troops were still holding out against German and Russian invaders, notably at Suwalki, in the Carpathians, and in the Pripet Marshes at Bialoweiza.
  • The French steamer ‘Vermont’ sunk by U-boat.
  • Paris reported the loss by torpedoing of the tanker, ‘Emile Miguet’

Tuesday October 17th

  • French command reported sharp infantry engagements following the two German attacks of Monday.
  • Two German air attacks were made over the north of Scotland. The first raid at 10.30am and directed at Scapa Flow, was carried out by four planes. The battleship ‘Iron duke’ suffered some damage. Two enemy planes were shot down. The second raid on the Orkneys, lasted from 12.30 to 2.30 and was carried out by ten planes. No damage was done.
  • Enemy aircraft were active near the east coast of Britain during the afternoon. Two were destroyed in a fight with the RAF. All British aircraft returned safely.
  • It was reported that the first of the two British Army Corp. in France had taken over a section of the front.
  • Turkish Prime Minister announced that negotiations between Turkey and Moscow had been broken off, and that M Sarajoglu, Foreign Minister, was returning to Ankara.
  • Mr Churchill announced in the House of Commons that the ‘Royal Oak‘ was lying at anchor in Scarpa Flow when she was torpedoed at 1.30am on October 14th.
  • The Norwegian Steamer ‘Lorentz W Hansen’ reported sunk in the North Atlantic.
  • Officers and crew of the British steamer ‘Sneaton’ sunk by a U-boat were brought to port by a Belgian tanker.

Wednesday October 18th

  • Paris reported great activity behind the German lines, but no renewal of the attack. Enemy aircraft approached Scapa Flow; no bombs were dropped. They were engaged by heavy anti-aircraft fire.
  • The Kings of Norway and Denmark and the President of Finland arrived in Stockholm to confer with the King of Sweden.
  • The German Ambassador to Turkey, von Papen, was recalled by his government.
  • General Wavell, commander of the British land forces in the Middle East and General Weygand, former chief of French General Staff, arrived in Ankara by air for talks with the Turkish General Staff.
  • The Admiralty announced that 24 officers and 786 men lost their lives in HMS ‘Royal Oak’ out of a complement of 81 officers and 1.153 men.
  • It was reported that two British liners, ‘City of Mandalay’ and ‘Yorkshire’ had been torpedoes in the Atlantic. US Steamer ‘Independence Hall’ picked up 300 survivors.
  • RAF aircraft made a successful night reconnaissance over North-West Germany.

Thursday October 19th

  • Heavy rain held up operations on the Western Front. Some German outposts were stated to be flooded.
  • Anglo-French Treaty with Turkey was signed at Ankara. The terms provide for mutual assistance in the even of an act of aggression by a European Power against any of the signatories, leading to war in the Mediterranean area. The Treaty has been concluded for 15 years.
  • Two German airmen, half the crew of a bomber shot down over the North Sea on Tuesday, drifted ashore in a collapsible rubber boat at Whitby.
  • German balloon, to which a long wire cable was attached, came down in a field at Cruden, Aberdeenshire.
  • Sir Kingsley Wood returned to London from a 2-day visit to France to inspect the RAF units.
  • The Scandinavian monarchs and the President of Finland broadcast declarations of mutual solidarity.
  • The Ministry of Transport announced that in September, first month of the black-out, the total number of persons killed on the roads of Great Britain was 1,130, compared with 617 in August.
  • During the week ending October 14th, the British Contraband Control intercepted and detained 23,000 tons of goods, making a total of 338,000 tons since the beginning of its activities.

Friday October 20th

  • The Western Front generally was quiet. There was patrol and reconnaissance activity between the Moselle and the Saar.
  • German reconnaissance aircraft appeared twice over the Firth of Forth area. RAF fighters took off to meet them, but the enemy planes disappeared before contact could be made.
  • King George and the President of Turkey exchanged telegrams expressing mutual satisfaction over the signing of the Treaty between Britain, France and Turkey.
  • Mr R G Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, announced the re-introduction in January, 1940 of compulsory military training for home service.
  • It was announced that Hitler had signed a decree by which 3,000,000 Jews now living in Poland will get their own territory in East Poland, with a Jewish capital at Lublin.

Saturday October 21st

  • A British convoy in the North Sea was attacked by twelve German raiders. They were engaged by British fighters and escort vessels, and four enemy aircraft were brought down. No causalities were suffered by British aircraft, nor was any damage done to the convoy or escort.
  • There was heavy artillery action from both sides on the Western Front.
  • Hitler summoned all Nazi district leaders throughout the Reich to ‘important consultations’ in Berlin.
  • Finnish delegation left Helsinki for Moscow with new instructions for the resumption of negotiations with the Soviet Government.
  • Mr Hore-Belisha, Minister for War, broadcast a review of the position at the end of the Seventh week of conflict.
  • Italo-German agreement for the transfer to the Reich of German citizens in South Tyrol was signed.
  • German minefield patrol vessel ‘Este 710’ struck German mines in the Baltic and sank.

Sunday October 22nd

  • Paris reported that, apart from sporadic artillery exchanges, the Western Front had been generally calm since the French took up their new positions. No-man’s land on the Moselle-Rhine front was said to be still a sea of mud.
  • There were further enemy air operations off the East Coast of Britain. In the morning RAF fighters went up to intercept unidentified aircraft flying northwards. no bombs were dropped. In the afternoon two enemy aircraft were seen over the south-east of Scotland, and one was shot down.
  • General Wavell and General Weygand left Ankara at the conclusion of successful talks with the Turkish General Staff.
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1 Response to War Diary October 16th to 22nd, 1939

  1. Pingback: War Diary October 9th to 15th, 1939 | WW2 Memories & History

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