War Diary January 11th to 17th, 1940

Thursday, January 11th, 1940

  • Russians attacked in region of Salla, but were repulsed.
  • German raiders crossed British coastline at points from East Scotland down to Thames Estuary. Anti-aircraft fire and fighter patrols drive them out to sea. No bombs dropped.
  • British Coastal Command aircraft attacked three enemy destroyers off Jutland coast.
  • Three RAF fighters saved three British cargo boats from attack by Nazi raiders in North Sea.
  • Paris reported increased artillery activity on both sides of Western Front, and patrol clashes in the Vosges, Three German planes brought down behind French lines.
  • Heinkel bomber made forced landing Holland after being damaged in encounter with British fighters.
  • British steamer ‘Keynes’ bombed and sunk in North Sea.
  • British Tanker ‘El Oslo’ mined in convoy off West coast.
  • British trawler ‘Celita’ machine-gunned in North Sea.

Friday, January 12th 1940

  • Fierce fighting reported in Salla sector where Russian force is in danger of encirclement.
  • Soviet aircraft raided several towns in southern Finland and severely damaged Lahti radio station.
  • RAF plane had running fight at 20,000 feet with four Messerschmitt fighters over Siegfried line, but returned safely.
  • RAF carried out night reconnaissance flights over West and North West Germany, and patrols over German seaplane bases in Heglioland Bight. Bombs were dropped in Rantum Bay and put out lights forming a guide to mine laying aircraft.
  • Enemy aircraft over East Coast and Thames Estuary driven out to sea by fighter patrols.
  • British steamer ‘Granta’ sunk off East Coast.
  • British ship ‘Pitwines’ bombed and sunk in the North Sea.
  • British trawler ‘St Lucia’ sunk by mine off North East Coast.
  • Norwegian steamer ‘Fredville’ reported mined.

Saturday, January 13th, 1940

  • Soviet advance reported in Salla sector.
  • Russian planes bombed Helsinki, Turka and other southern towns in Finland.
  • RAF carried out greatest war-time survey flight during Friday night, reconnaissance being made over Austria, Bohemia, Eastern and North West Germany.
  • Leaflets were dropped over Vienna and Prague. All planes returned safely.
  • Heinkel bomber shot down off Firth of Forth.
  • Paris reported artillery activity, particularly west of the Vosges and east of the Moselle.

Sunday, January 14th, 1940

  • Forty Russian planes took part in attacks on Petsamo front. There were movements of Russian reserves and supplies southwards of Petsamo.
  • Helsinki was twice bombed.
  • Heavy Russian attacks reported on the Salla front, which Finns claimed to have repulsed.
  • Soviet planes bombed Swedish island of Kallaxoen.
  • All army leave suspended in Holland and Belgium and also for the BFF.
  • Paris reported successful photographic survey flights over Germany during the weekend.
  • Eighteen members of the pro-nazi organisation in New York arrested for conspiracy.

Monday, January 15th, 1940

  • Severe infantry struggle reported to be in progress north of Lake Ladoga.
  • Russian aeroplanes again bombed Finnish towns, particularly Viipuri (Viborg).
  • Tension in Belgium and Holland somewhat relaxed, although increased German activity across Dutch frontier still gave rise to anxiety.
  • British trawler ‘William Ivey’ bombed and machine-gunned in North Sea.
  • Dutch steamer ‘ Arendskerk’ sunk by U-boat in Bay of Biscay.
  • Threatening protests by Soviet Government against help being given to Finland rejected by Norway and Sweden.
  • At Germany’s request Danish island of Roenoe, near Nazi base of Sylt, is now blacked out.

Tuesday January 16th, 1940

  • Admiralty announced that three British submarines ‘Seahorse’, ‘Undine’ and ‘Starfish’ failed to return or report and must be considered lost.
  • German High Command stated that the two latter submarines had been destroyed in Heglioland Bight, but part of their crews had been rescued.
  • On Salla front Finns dispersed two companies.
  • Further Russian air raids over southern Finland. Reported that since January 12 Soviet planes had dropped nearly 3,000 bombs on 50 centres.
  • Intense cold prevailing over whole of Europe.

Wednesday January 17th, 1940

  • Patrol activity north-east of Lake Ladoga in which Finns routed an enemy company.
  • In Salla area Russians were driven back about 12 miles and were still in retreat, Finns recaptured Kursu.
  • The Sound, between Denmark and Sweden frozen over. In Moscow 79 degrees of frost was recorded.
  • British fighters went up to intercept Nazi plane sighted over Suffolk.
  • Reported that a 300 mile moat, 40 ft wide, had been completed around Russia, Poland and Hungary.
  • Anonymous donor handed £5,000 to M Gripenberg, Finnish Minster in London
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