War Diary 24th to 30th November, 1939

Friday, November 24th

  • Over 200 drifting mines washed up on Yorkshire coast.
  • Enemy aircraft made two raids over Shetlands. No bombs were dropped. The Admiralty announce that the cruiser ‘Belfast’ was damaged on November 21st by torpedo or mine in the Firth of Forth.
  • The British Steamer ‘Magalore’ sunk by a mine off the East Coast.
  • Five survivors of the Dutch tankers ‘Sliedrecht’, sunk by U-boat in Atlantic, picked up after 7½ in an open boat.
  • Paris announced that a small French submarine chaser had sunk a U-boat.
  • Belgian Government addressed a Note to Britain on subject of British reprisals against mine-laying.
  • Stated that two British subjects Mr Best and Major Stevens, kidnapped at Dutch frontier on November 21st by Gestapo for alleged complicity in Munich bomb explosion, and believed to have been authorised by the British Government to inquire into genuineness of certain German peace proposals.
  • German liner ‘Watussi’ thought to be a supply ship for the raider in East African waters, left Mozambique on thursday night.
  • First RAF man to be decorated by France for gallantry in this war died in hospital. Sergeant-Observer J Vickers, awarded the Medaille Militaire.

Saturday, November 25th

  • Italy, Japan, Denmark and Sweden made representations to British Foreign Office with regard to policy of reprisals.
  • Two bombing attacks by German aircraft made on HM ships in North Sea. No hits were obtained and there were no British causalities.
  • Enemy aircraft seen over Orkneys and Shetlands.
  • RAF carried out successful flights over North-West Germany, including Wilhelmshaven Heglioland.
  • British refrigerator ship ‘Sussex’ damaged by mine in English Channel, reached port.
  • German liner ‘Adolph Woermann’ scuttled by crew in South Atlantic in order to avoid capture.
  • Swedish tanker ‘Gustaf E Reuter’ struck a mine off Scottish coast and was badly damaged.
  • Nazi mine-layer sank after striking a mine near Danish island of Langeland.
  • New Romanian Cabinet, with smaller pro-German element formed by M Tatarescu.

Sunday 26th November

  • Reported that Germans have laid mines within Swedish four-mile zone at southern entrance of the Sound, leaving a channel only 16 feet deep.
  • Admiralty announced that British armed merchant cruiser ‘Rawalpindi’ has been sunk.
  • Polish liner ‘Pilsudski’ under charter to British Navy, sunk by U-boat.
  • Reported that British steamer ‘Hook-wood’ was sunk by mine on Tuesday.
  • Paris reported patrol activities during night in region of Vosges.
  • Prime Minister broadcast an address on Britain’s war and peace aims.
  • Soviet Government alleged that Finnish artillery fired on Red Army troops on Soviet-Finnish frontier, and demanded that troops should be withdrawn from frontier district on the Karelian Isthmus.
  • Danish steamer ‘Cyril’ carrying coal from Britain to Stockholm, seized by Germans. This was thought to be the first capture by Nazis of neutral ship sailing from Britain to a neutral port.

Monday, November 27th

  • Admiralty announced that the sinking of the ‘Rawalpindi’ on November 23rd off coast of Iceland was due to overwhelming attack by the ‘Deutchland’ and another enemy warship.
  • Two enemy merchantmen, ‘Borkum’ and ‘Konsul Hendrik Fisser’, captured. The latter was brought into port; the former was sighted and shelled by a U-boat, killing four Germans, but none of the prize crew. The ship was abandoned.
  • Dutch liner ‘Spaarndam’ mined off Thames Estuary.
  • Paris reported local infantry and artillery engagement east of the Moselle.
  • Finnish Government issued denial that shorts had been fired from Finnish side of frontier, but suggested to Soviet mutual withdrawal of troops.
  • Reprisal Order-in-Council signed by the King.
  • Overwhelming response to Admiralty’s appeal for drifters to assist in mine-sweeping.
  • Two corporations formed in United States to enable Americans to contribute towards war relief in Great Britain and France.

Tuesday, November 28th

  • Announced that British and French reprisals in German export trade come into force on December 4th.
  • RAF fighter patrol attacked five seaplanes lying at mine-laying seaplane base at Borkum, once of the Fresian Islands.
  • Attack was made at low altitude with machine-guns. All British aircraft returned safely.
  • Air ministry announced that RAF planes carried out a successful flight over North West Germany during Monday night.
  • Soviet Government denounced their Treaty of Non-Aggression with Finland, and alleged two more ‘incidents’ on the Karelian Isthmus, Soviet -Finnish frontier.
  • Quiet day reported on the Western Front.
  • British steamer ‘Rubislaw’ sunk by a mine off South East Coast.
  • British steamer ‘Usk-mouth’ sunk by a U-boat in Bay of Biscay.
  • Paris announced that two German freighters, ‘Trifels’ and ‘Santa Fe’, had been captured by French warships.
  • Eleven survivors of the ‘Rawalpindi’ landed from merchant cruiser, ‘Chitral’.
  • The King opened a new session of Parliament.
  • Three RAF pilots were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
  • Cargo of ‘City of Flint’ has been bought by Norway.

Wednesday, November 29th

  • Unidentified aeroplane seen over the Shetlands.
  • Enemy bomber shot down by a British fighter in an air duel off the Northumberland coast.
  • Two British patrol aircraft shot down Dornier seaplane over North Sea
  • Russia severed diplomatic relations with Finland before receiving the Finnish reply to the Soviet Note of Tuesday.
  • Mr Cordell Hull, US Secretary of State, announced his Government’s willingness to intervene in the dispute between Russia and Finland.
  • Paris reported two successful reconnaissances by French troops into territory held by the Germans in the Vosges.
  • British steamer ‘Ionian’ sunk off East Coast.
  • Government of Eire decided to put into commission some motor torpedo boats and armed trawlers.
  • During week ending November 25th, British Contraband Control intercepted and detained 21,500 tons of contraband goods in suspected of being destined for Germany.

Thursday, November 30th

  • The RAF fighters encountered an enemy aircraft north of Firth of Fourth and chased it out to sea.
  • Soviet Union attacked Finland by land, sea and air. Helsinki, Viborg, Petsamo and other towns were bombed. Soviet warships shelled Finnish coast and strategic islands were seized.
  • Finnish Government resigned at midnight.
  • Paris reported that a French torpedo boat had sunk an enemy submarine.
  • British steamer ‘Sheaf Crest’, mined off South-East Coast.
  • Six survivors of a Greek steamer sunk west of Ireland were picked up after four days in their lifeboat.
  • Reported that two British destroyers, once towing a damaged submarine, had anchored off Mastrafjord, near Stavenger. The destroyers left later, and the submarine was taken to a ship yard for repair.
  • Admiralty announced the names of 39 officers and 226 ratings missing as result of loss of HMS ‘Rawalpindi’.
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