War Diary 7th to 13th December, 1939

Thursday December 7th

  • Finns maintained defence of Karelian Isthmus and denied that Russians had broken through, Russians attacks in the north were repulsed. Fierce fighting in Pestamo district.
  • Nine enemy aircraft driven off by RAF fighters in the Firth of Forth area, five being hit.
  • Two enemy planes were engaged off North-East coast by RAF fighters and pursued out to sea; one was hit.
  • Air Ministry announced that in an engagement over the North Sea on December 6th two Dornier seaplanes were attacked and damaged by aircraft of the Coastal Command, one British aircraft failed to return.
  • Patrol activity was reported from the Western Front, German raiding parties showing great persistence.
  • HMS Jersey damaged by torpedo, but reached port. Attacking U-boat reported sunk.
  • Two Polish submarines, ‘Wilk ‘ and ‘Orzel’ escaped from the Baltic and joined the British Navy.
  • Reported that HM trawler, ‘Washington’ was sunk by mine in North Sea and December 6th.
  • Dutch freighter ‘Tajandoen’ torpedoes in English Channel. Survivors taken off by Belgian Cargo boat ‘Louis Scheid’ which later ran aground on Devon coast.
  • Norwegian tankers ‘Britta’ sunk off WEst Coast of England.
  • British steamer ‘Thomas Walton’ sunk probably by torpedo off Norway.

Friday, December 8th

  • The King in the course of his tour of the BEF visited aircraft units and decorated Flying Officer RC Gravely and Sergeant FH Gardiner.
  • Coastal Command aircraft sank a U-boat by bombing. Another was attacked.
  • Enemy aircraft reported off East Coast during preceding night. RAF aircraft wet up to intercept them. One enemy machine approached Thames estuary and was driven off by anti-aircraft fire.
  • British cargo-boat ‘Merel’ mined off South-East Coast.
  • British cargo steamer ‘Navastota’ torpedoed in Atlantic.
  • German naval launch mined in German minefield  off Langeland.
  • Russia declared a blockade of Finnish coast along Gulf of Bothnia.

Saturday, December 9th

  • The King visited the troops on the frontier and inspected a sector of the Maginot Line.
  • Announced that British troops had taken up their positions in the Maginot Line and had been in action against the enemy.
  • Finns repulsed new attacks on Karelian isthmus. Soviet bombers raided Hangoe.
  • Fierce fighting along the line Kuolajaervi-Suomussalmi-Kuhmo, where Russians claimed an Advance.
  • British ship ‘Brandon’ sunk off the West Cost. British steamer ‘Corea’ sunk off East Coast.
  • German steamer ‘Henning Oldendorff’ brought into port as naval prize.
  • League of Nations Council held private meetings to discuss Finland’s appeal against Russian aggression.

Sunday, December 10th

  • The King returned to London after his tour of Western Front.
  • Russian troops reported to be in contact with Finnish main line defences. Farther north the attack designed to cut Finland in two was said to be making slow progress.
  • Western Front reported that there were patrol encounters at carious points.
  • Soviet Government handed a Note tot he British Ambassador in Moscow protesting against Britain’s two-way blockade.
  • Sweden appointed General Thoernell Commander-in-chief of Swedish Defences.
  • HM Drifter ‘Ray of Hope’ sunk by mine.
  • Four neutral ships reported sunk: Swedish Steamer ‘Vinga’; Dutch motor-ship ‘Immingham’; Danish collier ‘ Scotia’; Norwegian steamer ‘Gimle’.
  • Estonian steamer ‘Kassa’ torpedoes in Gulf of Finland.
  • Von Papen, German envoy to Turkey, summoned to Berlin.
  • Depart of Public Prosecutions in Istanbul began an inquiry into the activity of the German Embassy’s Press Service.
  • Soviet Government refused offer of service of International Red Cross Committee in Geneva on grounds that Russia is not at war with Finland.

Monday, December 11th

  • Renewed Russian attacks on Karelian Isthmus were repulsed. On the central ‘bottle-neck’ front the Finns claimed the re-capture of Soumussalmi. Fighting continued in the Persamo area.
  • League of Nations urges Soviet Union to cease from hostilities with the next 24 hours.
  • Officially stated that four British steamships ‘Ashlea’, ‘Newton Beech’, ‘Huntsman’ and ‘Trevanion’ wer enow long overdue and must be considered lost.
  • British steamer ‘Willowpool’ mines in North Sea.
  • Greek steamer ‘Garoufalia’ torpedoed off Norway.
  • German aircraft seen of South=East Cost and over Yorkshire Coast.
  • German barrage balloon came down in Shetlands.

Tuesday, December 12th

  • Soviet Government refused League of Nations offer to mediate in the Russo-Finnish conflict.
  • Russians gained ground in central Finland and threatened lines of communication between North and South. Finns lost Salla, Kirovsk, and Kandalaksja. Russian advance in Karelian isthmus held up.
  • Enemy attacks on Western Front were repulsed.
  • British vessel ‘King Egbert’ Sunk in North Sea.
  • British collier ‘Marwick Head’ mined off East Coast.
  • Swedish steamer ‘Toroe’ mined off Bothnia by gunfire from Submarine believed to be Russian.
  • German liner ‘Bremen’ arrived in German port from Murmansk after having been sighted by British submarine which by rules of sea warfare, was precluded from torpedoing her without warning.

Wednesday, December 13th

  • Finns alleged to have recaptured Salla. They were also successful in heavy fighting north of Lake Ladoga.
  • HM Cruisers ‘Exeter’, ‘Ajax’, and ‘Achilles’, attacked German ‘pocket’ battleship ‘Graf Spee’ in South Atlantic. ‘Exeter’ received damage and fell out; enemy ship was hit repeatedly and sought shelter in Montevido harbour.
  • Air Ministry announced that two aircraft of Coastal Command attacked two Dornier flying-boats over North Sea and damaged them.
  • RAF fighters went up to intercept enemy raiders off east cost of Scotland.
  • U-boat sunk and enemy cruiser torpedoes by British submarine that sighted the ‘Bremen’ during voyage from Murmansk.
  • Air Ministry disclosed that RAF security patrols maintain a dusk-to-dawn watch over enemy mine-laying aircraft bases in Heligoland Bight.
  • German raids and patrols increased on Western Front, but were all repulsed by French.
  • League of Nations Assembly adopted a resolution condemning Russian aggression and calling on League members to help Finland.
  • House of Commons held secret sitting to debate questions concerning supply.
  • German liner ‘New York’ reached Manburg from Murmansk.

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