War Diary 15th to 21st February 1940

Thursday February 15th

  • Russian offensive on Karelian Isthmus continued with undiminished violence. Finns claimed to have repulsed all attacks and to have shot down 16 enemy aircraft.
  • Advance troops of Russian assault battalions reported to be in vicinity of Leipaesuo, north-east of Summa, 20 miles from Viipuri.
  • Italian cargo steamer ‘Giorgio Ohlsen’ sunk by mine off East Coast.
  • Danish ship ‘Martin Goldsmidt’ sunk by enemy action.
  • Survivors of Norwegian motor-ship ‘Snestad’ sunk by U-boat on February 11, arrived at Bergen. They stated that a U-boat, about to torpedo a Norwegian ship, was sunk by a British destroyer on February 12th.
  • ‘Exeter’ one of the cruisers which defeated ‘Graf Spee‘ arrived at Plymouth.

Friday February 16th

  • Admiralty announced that destroyer which sank two U-boats on February 9th was HMS ‘Antelope’.
  • U-boat bombed and possibly destroyed by planes of the RAF Coastal Command.
  • Finns admitted that Russians has penetrated their forward positions at three points-one east of Summa sector, and two between Muola lake and Vuoksi river-but elsewhere all attacks had been repulsed.
  • Eight more Soviet planes shot down.
  • Finnish planes bombed Soviet railways and stations behind the lines.
  • Swedish Government refused Finnish appeal for direct military assistance and also for passage of foreign troops through their territory.
  • Reported that Danish steamer ‘Rhone’ and ‘Sleipner’ were torpedoed off north-east coast of Scotland on Thursday night.

Saturday February 17th

  • British Government complained to Norwegian government of Perfunctory manner in which ‘Altmark’ was examined and pressed that she should now be interned.
  • Finns, by tactical retreat to new positions, said to have gained helpful respite.
  • Reported that near Kuhmo, south of Finnish ‘waistline’ several days fighting ended in complete destruction of three Russian battalions. Twenty-four enemy planes said to have been shot down.
  • Soviet air raiders bombed Tampere, Pori, Iisalmi and other towns.
  • British tanker ‘Imperial Transport’ reported blown in two by torpedo on February 11th. Crew later returned to stern half of their ship and after four days were picked up by warship and land in Scotland.
  • Dutch cargo boat ‘Ameland’ mined in North Sea.
  • Swedish steamers ‘Liana’ and ‘Osmed’ reported sunk in North Sea.
  • Norwegian vessel ‘Sangsted’ and Finnish ‘Wilja’ sunk by enemy action.
  • Spanish steamer ‘Bandera’ sank after explosion.
  • German steamer ‘Morca’ brought into West Country port by British warship.

Monday February 19th

  • Admiralty announced that HM destroyer ‘Daring’ had been torpedoes and sunk, with loss of nine officers and 148 ratings.
  • Finns gained another great victory by finally routing russian 18th Division which for some weeks has been beleaguered north of Lake Ladoga. Much was material was captured.
  • On Karelian Isthmus Russians began new attack on Taipale.
  • King of Sweden publicly announced that he fully supported his Government’s refusal to give military aid to Finland.
  • Paris reported that a French detachment was ambushed east of river Nied and 20 lives lost.
  • Norwegian Storting endorsed statement made by Prof. Koht, Foreign Minister, defending Norway’s action with regard to ‘Altmark’
  • Reported that Greek steamer ‘Ellin’ has been sunk by U-boat.
  • German cargo steamer ‘Rostock’ reported captured by French navy.

Tuesday February 20th

  • Prime Minister made statement in House of Commons in reply to Norwegian Foreign Minister’s account of ‘Altmark’ exploit.
  • Russian 164th division reported to be trapped by Finns at Kitelea, north-east of Lake Ladoga.
  • On Karelian Isthmus Finns claimed to have repulsed attacks on east flank of their defences. Other violent attacks were in region north-east of Vuoski river.
  • Intense Russian air activity over southern Finland.
  • Ships attacked by Nazi bombers off English east coast.
  • Norwegian ship ‘Hop’ reported to be overdue and must be considered lost.

Wednesday February 21st

  • British trawlers, attacked in North Sea by Nazi bombers, retaliated with fire from newly installed machine guns.
  • Blizzards, beginning of usual February snowfall, checked Russian attacked at Isthmus.
  • Soviet airmen bombed Swedish town of Pajala near Finnish frontier.
  • Finns claimed to have shot down 17 enemy planes.
  • Air Ministry announced that during preceding night RAF aircraft had carried out reconnaissance over Heglioland Bight.
  • Three Dutch ships reported lost: cargo steamer ‘Tara’, motor tanker ‘Den Haag’, and trawler ‘Petten’.
  • Survivors of norwegian steamer ‘Steinstad’ torpedoes on February 15th landed on island off west coast of Eire.
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