WW2 War Diary January 25th to 31st 1940

Thursday January 25th

  • Russian Objectives north-east of Lake Ladoga still held by Finns after five days and nights of fighting.
  • Enemy also attacked in north at Maerkaejaervi and in Petsamo district, but were beaten back.
  • Soviet planes sank Finnish steamer ‘Notung’ by bombing and machine-gunned crew when they took to lifeboats. Latter reached port safely.
  • Air Ministry announced that RAF plane had failed to return from a reconnaissance flight over north-west Germany.
  • Paris announced that a U-boat had been sunk by patrol ships; also that the German freighter ‘Albert Janus’ was scuttled to avoid capture.
  • French vessel sunk by U-boat off coast of Portugal.
  • Two Norwegian steamers sunk; ‘Biaritz’ by mine off Ymuiden harbour; and ‘Gudveig’ by U-boat without warning.
  • Crew of mined Swedish vessel ‘Gothia’ rescued from uninhabited island off west coast of Scotland.
  • Lord Tweedsmuir announced that Canadian parliament would be dissolved and a General Election held
  • British delegation, headed by Sir Walter Citrine, and sent to Finland by National Council of Labour, arrived at Helsinki.

Friday January 26th

  • Russian attacks north-east of Lake Ladoga dies down after lasting six days. One estimate gave Russian casualties during this period as between 13,000 and 15,000.
  • No change was reported from the Salla front.
  • Reported that Marshal Voroshilov, War Minister and C-in-C of Soviet forces, was on his way to Finnish front.
  • Latvian steamer ‘Everine’ sunk without warning by U-boat off Northumberland coast.
  • Reported that Swedish steamer ‘Sonja’ had been sunk in Atlantic, probably by U-boat, on January 22nd.
  • Four Survivors of mined Norwegian steamer ‘Manx’ were landed at Bergen.
  • German Ambassador in Rome protested against recent Vatican broadcasts on German persecution in Poland.

Saturday January 27th

  • Stated that Russian attacks north of Lake Ladoga were only means open tot hem to avoid encirclement.
  • Finnish communique announced that Russian submarine had been sunk in Finnish minefield.
  • After five days debate South African house of Assembly rejected General Hertsog’s peace motion by 81 votes to 59.
  • American cargo steamer ‘City of Flint’, which on October 9th and been captured by the ‘Duetchland’ and taken to Murmansk arrived home at Baltimore.
  • Twelve French deputies arrived in England to observe British war effort and to confer on war co-operation with members of the Anglo-French Parliamentary Committee.
  • Nr Churchill addressed a meeting in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester.

Sunday January 28th

  • Paris announced that patrol units had been out for first time for several days.
  • Fighting continued north of Lake Ladoga, but Russian attacks were on smaller scale.
  • Stated that on Salla front Soviet forces were beleaguered within their fortified lines and were awaiting reinforcements.
  • Reported that Finnish steamer ‘Onto’ was sunk by a mine on January 23, and that Swedish steamer ‘Sylvia’ was overdue and must be considered lost.
  • It was revealed that Britain had experiences, during the month of January, coldest spell since 1894. At Brixton 33 degrees of frost were recorded. London’s reservoirs were covered in 12″ of ice. Thames froze over at Kingston and for 8 miles between Teddington and Sunbury. Sea froze at may points on coast.

Monday January 29th

  • Widespread German air raids on Britain were attempted, extending from Shetlands to coast of Kent. At least 13 ships were attacked, two bring lightships. Fighters engaged raiders at many points.
  • New outbursts of fierce fighting reported north-east of Lake Ladoga, where Finns captured several enemy positions and repulsed all attacks.
  • Soviet air raids renewed over Finland, ten localities being attacked, including coast towns on Gulf of Bothia. At Hangoe about 50 people killed and 200 injured; at Turku, 28 killed and 46″ injured.
  • Soviet airmen dropped bombs on Red Cross hospital in Karelian Isthmus, killing 23 persons.
  • Reported that four neutral vessels had been sunk without warning by U-boats: Danish ship ‘England’ and ‘Fredensborg’ ; and Norwegian steamers ‘Faro’ and ‘Hosanger.’
  • Official report of Polish Government estimated that about 18,000 Polish Leaders drawn from all classes, had been put to death in German-occupied Poland.
  • Rome stated that Germany had released Italian planes ordered by Finland before outbreak of hostilities and detained in the Reich during transit.
  • M Daladier broadcast to the French nation.
  • Chief of German nay proclaimed Friesian Islands as ‘military security districts’ for duration of war. All inhabitants were evacuated.

Tuesday January 30th

  • Helsinki claimed that Finnish fighters and anti-aircraft batteries had brought down one of the 200 Russian bombers which raided Finland on Monday.
  • New Finnish offensive launched north of Kuhmo, Central Finland, Russian 54th Division being attacked with marked success.
  • Further Nazi air raids made on shipping off east cost of Britain. Heinkel shot down by RAF fighters. Another approaching the Firth of Forth was disabled.
  • Several ships attacked in Great Yarmouth roadstead, and three in Firth of Tay. RAF planes active all along East coast, but were handicapped by poor visibility.
  • Paris reported marked activity of contact units west of the Saar. In same region artillery
  • Unknown British steamer lost with all hands off Scottish coast.
  • British steamers ‘Giralda’ and ‘Highwave’ sunk by Nazi bombers.
  • British steamer ‘Eston’ presumed lost in North Sea.
  • War Office issued first list of army casualties, comprising 758 names.

Wednesday January 31st

  • Admiralty announced that naval ships and aircraft destroyed U-boat which attacked a convoy on Tuesday and sank the British tankers ‘Vaclite’
  • Finns reported several successes in new battle at Kuhmo, Central Finland.
  • They also claimed that five more enemy planes had been brought down.
  • At least 150 bombs were dropped on Rovaniemi by Russian planes.
  • Paris reported patrol activity on the Western Front.
  • Announced that British steamer ‘Stanburn’ had been sunk by bombing on Monday.
  • Mr Chamberlain made a speech on the rising might of Britain.
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