War Diary 4th to 10th January 1940

Thursday, 4th January

  • Russian air force active in region bordering railway line to Swedish frontier.
  • Finns isolated a Soviet battalion, part of a force sent to make contact with Russian troops at Soujaervi, north of Lake Ladoga.
  • Finnish war planes dropped 3,000,000 pamphlets over Leningrad on January 3rd and carried out bombing raids on Soviet island bases at Oesel and Dagoe.
  • RAF made successful reconnaissance flights over north-west Germany and patrols over seaplane bases in Heligoland Bight.
  • Goering assumed supreme control of German war industries and all Government departments concerned with economic side of war.
  • Paris reported that in Lower Vosges enemy detachment of 100 was surprised and machine gunned by French patrol.
  • British trawler ‘Daneden’ feared lost with crew of nine.
  • Reported that British liner ‘Tuscan Star’ had been bomed and machine gunned by German aeroplanes shortly after leaving England. Raider driven off by ship’s anti-aircraft guns.

Friday, 5th January

  • Russians reported to be digging themselves in opposite middle of Mannerhein Line.
  • Soviet warship ‘Kiroff’ damaged by Finnish coastal batteries, towed into port for repairs.
  • Mr Hore-Belisha, Minister of War, resigned from the Government, and Mr Oliver Stanley was appointed in his placce.
  • Sir John Reith became Minister of Information in place of Lord MacMillan.
  • Paris reported intense artillery activity along 125 miles of the Western Front.
  • Announced that part of the first Indian contingent to join the B.E.F. had reached the British forward zone.
  • Swedish steamer ‘Fearis’ shelled and sunk by Soviet submarine in Gulf of Bothnia

Saturday, 6th January

  • Helsinki reported that fighting was continuing near Suomussalmi and that on the Karelian Isthmus artillery fire had intensified.
  • Battle on five ‘Fronts’ in progress in Salla sector.
  • Finns said to have made contact with new Russian division near frontier north of Kiantijearvi
  • Russians lost eight planes in raid on Utti, 60 miles north east of Helsinki.
  • British trawler ‘Eta’ sunk by mine in North sea.
  • British liner ‘City of Marseilles’ struck a mine off east coast of Scotland, but was safely towed into port.
  • Dutch Government issued formal declaration that Holland would defend her integrity against any attack.
  • Discussions took place at Venice between Count Ciano and Count Csaky, Foreign Ministers of Italy and Hungary.

Sunday, 7th January

  • Mr Churchill in France visiting British Forces.
  • Attempt by Russian ski detachment to outflank Finns in Salla sector was defeated.
  • Russian planes again bombed Turku and also raided town in Knopie.
  • Paris reported patrol activity at different points of the front. Artillery action east of the Blies.
  • British collier ‘Townele’ mined off South-East coast.
  • British ship ‘Cedrington Court’ sunk off South-East coast.

Monday, 8th January

  • Fight on Karelian Isthmus continued in desultory fashion.
  • During weekend Finns won great victory in ‘waistline’ area. Russian 44th Division destroyed, 1,000 prisoners and large quantity of war material captured.
  • Successes were also reported from farther north, engagements on Salla and Petsamo fronts yielding much valuable booty.
  • Paris reported patrol activity in region west of Voges.
  • New German Army HQ said to have been established at Recklinghamhausen, 10 miles from Dutch frontier.
  • Reported that British liner ‘Highland Patriot’ was attacked by U-boat on December 29th, but beat enemy off with a 4-inch gun.
  • British tanker reached Amsterdam after being attacked by Heinkel bomber on North Sea.
  • Sir Edmund Ironside and Lord Gort decorated with Grand Cross of Legion of Honour by General Gamelin.
  • Rationing scheme came into operation, food affected being sugar, butter, bacon and ham.

Tuesday 9th January

  • Nazi planes attacked, with bombs and machine-guns, merchant ships, fishing craft and Trinity House vessel off East Coast. British steamers ‘Gowrie’, ‘Oakgrove’, and ‘Upminister’ sunk; steamer ‘Northwood’ attacked and trawler ‘Crystalite’ disabled. Danish ships ‘Ivan Kondrup’ and ‘Feddy’ also attacked but reached port.
  • Union Castle liner ‘Dunbar Castle’ sunk by mines off South-East Coast.
  • British tanker ‘British Liberty’ sunk.
  • Dutch steamer ‘Truida’ mined.
  • British trawler ‘River Earn’ reported sunk by Natzi bomber in North Sea.
  • Russian communique admitted that Red troops had retreated several kilometres east of Suomussalmi.
  • Soviet aircraft raided six small towns in Finland.
  • Reported that Leningrad-Mumansk railway had again been cut by patrols.
  • Announced that out of 5,911 ships – British Allied and neutral-convoyed by British Navy, only 12 were sunk while in convoy.
  • First Colonial contingent from Cyprus land in France to join B.E.F.
  • Creation of a Royal Air Force Command in France announced, with Air-Marshal A.S. Barrat as Commander-in-Chief.
  • Reported that Italy had made representations to Germany concerning detention in German ports of war supplied sent by Italy to Finland.

Wednesday 10th January

  • Artillery action and air activity reported from Western Front.
  • RAF made bombing raid on German seaplane base of Sylt; reported that Hindenburg Dam connecting island with mainland was damaged.
  • RAF aircraft had running flight with Messerschmitts over North Sea. One enemy fighter destroyed and at least one disabled. One British plane lost.
  • Helsinki reported battle in progress north-east of Lake Ladoga. In Suomussalmi region Finns drove Russians back over frontier.
  • Russians attacking in Salla sector with fresh troops.
  • Finns reported that 700 out of 1,000 Soviet bombers ranged on eastern frontier were snowbound and frozen up.
  • Norwegian steamer ‘Manx’ mined in North Sea.
  • Sweden passed emergency laws giving Government wide powers in case of war.
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