War Diary 13th to 18th November, 1939

Monday, November 13th

  • RAF fighter aircraft repulsed a German raider over the East Coast.
  • Two attacks on the Shetlands were made by enemy aircraft, which were driven off by anti-aircraft gunfire. Bombs were dropped, the first time in this war on British soil, but did no damage.
  • The Air Ministry announced that an attack on a U-boat was made on Sunday by a British reconnaissance aircraft of the Coastal Command.
  • German reconnaissance planes reached the outskirts of Paris and were met by anti-aircraft fire.
  • Activity of aircraft on both sides was reported from the Western Front.
  • Finnish delegation left Moscow for Helsinki without an agreement having been reached.
  • The British steamer ‘Ponzano’ was reported sunk by a U-boat.
  • The Admiralty announced that two German steamers, ‘Mecklenberg’ and ‘Parana’ intercepted by British warships had been scuttled by their crews. After rescuing the crews, the warships finally sank the ships by gunfire to prevent their being dangerous to navigation.
  • Formation of a South African seaward defence force officially announced.

Tuesday, November 14th

  • Hitler’s reply to the offer of mediation by Queen Wilhelmina and King Leopold was reported to have been communicated to the Dutch Minister, and the Belgian Ambassador in Berlin, and to be unfavourable.
  • The Admiralty announced the loss of a destroyer through striking a German mine.
  • Survivors of the Fleetwood trawler ‘Cresswell’ sunk by U-boat shell-fire off the North of Scotland, were landed by another trawler after spending over six hours in the submarine.
  • Norwegian tanker ‘Arne Kjode’ reported sunk by a U-boat.
  • Polish Prime Minister, General Sikorski, and the Foreign Minister, M Zaleski, arrived in London.
  • Medals of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire were awarded to two airman for gallantry in helping comrades.
  • Trade negotiations in Stockholm between Sweden and Germany were broken off.
  • Czech police broke up a Czech Fascist demonstration in Prague, 12 persons being injured.

Wednesday, November 15th

  • Von Ribbentrop received the Belgian Ambassador and Dutch Minister in Berlin and informed them that as a result of the ‘blunt rejection’ of the peace appeal by Great Britain and France, the German Government considered the matter closed.
  • Dr Paasiki, head of the Finnish delegation, which had returned to Helsinki, stated that Russia had made military demands which could not be granted.
  • Violet propaganda against Finland was broadcast from Moscow.
  • It was reported that recent daylight reconnaissance flights by RAF planes over Germany had yielded valuable photographs of military objectives.
  • The King received General Sikorski and other members of the Polish Government
  • Mr Eden and the Empire envoys returned to London after their tour of the Western Front.
  • M. Paul Reynaurd, French Finance Minister, who had paid a two-day visit to London at the invitation of Sir john Simon, returned to Paris.
  • British steamer, ‘Woodtown’ reported blown up, with the loss of nine lives.

Thursday, November 16th

  • Paris reported that formidable defence in front of the Maginot Line had been completed.
  • A German plane which flew over Dunkirk on November 11th now known to have been shot down by French batteries.
  • The German steamer, ‘Leander’ was brought into a West Country port after the crew had prevented the captain from scuttling her.
  • The British ship ‘Africa Shell’ was sunk by German raider off Portuguese East Africa.
  • The French Minister of Economic Warfare stated that from the outbreak of war to November 10th the French Navy and seized 223,297 tons of contraband goods.
  • Cost of living officially stated to have gone up by 2½% during October.
  • General Sikorski discussed with Mr Burgin, Minister for Supply, proposals for the equipment of Polish forces designed to co-operate with Allied forces.
  • The German reply to the offer of mediation was considered by the Dutch Cabinet. Later it was announced that the Netherlands Government would communicate with the Belgian Government on the matter.

Friday, November 17th

  • Meeting of the Allied Supreme War Council was held in London.
  • An enemy reconnaissance plane flew over South-west Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales, and another over the Shetlands. No bombs were dropped. Anti-aircraft guns were in action.
  • The Air Ministry announced that daylight reconnaissance over North-west Germany were carried out and an important naval base successfully photographed.
  • Enemy reconnaissance planes dropped leaflets over towns in Central and Southern France.
  • Nine Czech students were executed and many demonstrators arrested following riots in Bohemia. Czech universities closed down for three years.
  • Violent attack on Russia, warning her not to interfere in the Balkans, broadcast from Rome in Russia.
  • General Sikorski, Polish Prime Minister, visited Scotland and presented war decorations to members of Polish naval units.

Saturday, November 18th

  • Martial law declared in Prague and other big Czech towns. Further executions took place.
  • Dr Hacha, President of the Protectorate, broadcast an appeal to the Czechs to refrain from disturbances or resistance to authority.
  • Dutch liner ‘Simon Bolivar’ sunk by German mine in North Sea. About 140 persons reported missing.
  • German aircraft sighted in Dutch territorial waters, returned the fire of Dutch planes which went in pursuit.
  • Enemy aircraft reported off the East Coast and the Firth of Forth area. They disappeared when British fighters went up.
  • Members of the crew of ‘Africa Shell’ identified the raider which sunk her off the East African coast as the German ‘pocket’ battleship ‘Admiral Scheer’.
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