War Diary November 19th to 23rd 1939

Sunday, 19th November

  • It was reported that 120 Czech students had been executed by the Gestapo, and many thousands transported, following riots on Independence Day.
  • Six enemy aircraft were sighted off South-East Coast, and unidentified planes over the Firth of Forth area.
  • Grenade attacks on the Western Front.
  • Five more ships reported sunk by German mines off the East Coast, namely Swedish ‘B.O. Borjesson’, ‘British ‘Blackhill’ and ‘Torchbearer’, Italian ‘Grazia’ and Yugoslav ‘Carica Milica’.
  • The British steamer ‘Pensilva’ was torpedoed.
  • The Lithuanian vessel ‘Kaunas’ reported sunk by a mine near Zeebrugge.
  • Both Dutch and Belgian Governments protested as flights of belligerent planes over their territories.
  • Paris announced that in the last four weeks the tonnage of German merchandise captured exceeded by several thousands tons that of French merchantmen lost through enemy action.
  • Mr Eden broadcast a speech in French on his visit with Dominion Ministers to France.
  • Captain Knudsen, master of the Danish vessel ‘Canada’ sunk on November 4th near the Humber, declared that his was due to a ‘magnetic’ mine.

Monday, 20th November

  • SS Guards reported to be in control of Prague.
  • The Admiralty announced that German air-craft made an unsuceesful attack on a British destroyer in the North Sea.
  • German aircraft, seen over Kent, Essex and the Thames estuary chased out of sea by British fighters. One, a Heinkel bomber, was later proved to have been shot down. No bombs were dropped.
  • Enemy plane appeared over the Orkneys and was beaten off by anti-aircraft fire.
  • German reconnaissance planes made a number of flights over France, including Normandy and Rhone Valley.
  • Twenty-two survivors of British steamer ‘Arlington Court’, torpedoed off the Irish Coast on November 16th, were landed.
  • British Trawler ‘Wigmore’ was reported sunk.
  • German plane shot down over Holland by Dutch Air Patrol.
  • Reported by London agents of Royal Netherlands Steamship Co. that the number of those lost in the ‘Simon bolivar’ totalled 83.
  • Reported from Capetown that the German liner ‘Windhuk’ has slipped out of Lobito, Portugese East Africa, refitted with full armament of a raider.

Tuesday, 21st November

  • Gestapo announced arrest of man alleged to be responsible for the Munich bomb explosion, and also of two British confederates.
  • HM Destroyer ‘Gipsy’ struck a mine off East Coast and was later beached. There were 40 casualties.
  • Japanese liner ‘Terukuni Maru’ sunk of East Coast by German mines.
  • Premier announces that, as a reprisal to German violations of international marine law, exports of German origin and ownership will be subject to seizure on the high seas.
  • RAF Fighters shot down a Dornier 17 reconnaissance bomber off Deal.
  • Enemy aircraft appeared about 7pm over East Coast. Fighter aircraft went up and anti-aircraft batteries engaged them. Coastal defences and a German seaplane fought a machine-gun duel. No bombs were dropped.
  • German Heinkel bomber sighted over Sutherland. Enemy planes were seen over the smaller islands of the Orkneys.
  • Admiralty announced loss off East Coast of minesweeper trawler ‘Mastiff’ by German mine.
  • Paris reported air engagements on Western Front. German reconnaissance plane brought down over French lines. Two fighters brought down in flames over enemy lines. Heinkel bomber pursued out to sea and brought down by British fighter.
  • Three Fleetwood tawlers, ‘Thomas Hankins’, ‘Delphine’, and ‘Sea Sweeper’ reported sunk by enemy action.
  • Finnish steamer ‘Asta’ seized by German warship near the Aaland Islands. This was the 16th Finnish ship detained by Germany.
  • German cargo steamer ‘Rheingold’ brough as naval prize into Scottish port.

Wednesday, November 22nd

  • France decided to take measures of reprisals against German breach of mines law similar to those announced by British Government.
  • Six Germans aircraft made a bombing attack on the Shetlands. An RAF seaplane lying in its moorings was set on fire. No British casualties.
  • Enemy aircraft appeared during the day over East Coast and Thames Estuary. One raider driven almost on housetops by RAF fighters.
  • During Wednesday night enemy aircraft approached South-East Coast; one shot down over the sea by anti-aircraft fire.
  • Six German aircraft shot down by Allied aircraft over French territory, including three Messerschmitts. Another Messerschmitt was shot down by anti-aircraft guns.
  • Air Ministry announced that RAF aircraft made successful flights on Monday and Tuesday over Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Breman.
  • Italian steamer ‘Fianona’ struck by mine during Tuesday night off SE Coast of England, but did not sink.
  • Paris announced that two U-boats had been sunk by French torpedo-boat.
  • The Admiralty announced that German freighter ‘Bertha Fisser’ which has been masquerading as ‘Emden I’ and also as Norwegian Iceland. Her crew tried to scuttle her, the ship ran on the rocks, and her crew were picked up by the intercepting warship.
  • Sir John Simon broadcast an appeal to the British public to save and lend to the Government.

Thursday, November 23rd

  • Admiralty announced that HM minesweeper ‘Argonite’ had been sunk by a mine.
  • Proved that magnetic mines had been dropped by parachute from German seaplanes over Thames Estuary and SE Coastal waters.
  • Six vessels reported sunk by mine or U-boat action around British coasts; British steamers ‘Geraldus’, ‘Lowland’, ‘Darino’, and trawler ‘Sulby’; Greek steamers ‘Elena R’; French trawler ‘Saint Claire’.
  • Air Ministry announced that RA in France brought down seven enemy bombers.
  • Unidentified aircraft passed over North Scotland.
  • Romanian Cabinet resigned.
  • Dutch Government lodged a protest against British and French blockade.
  • Total of dead in Bohemia and Moravia following suppression of Czecho-Slovak demonstrations said to be 1,700.
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