War Diary 29th February to 6th March 1940

Thursday 29th February 1940

  • Russians claimed to be within four miles of Viipur and to be preparing final assault on town.
  • Finns repulsed three attempts by Russians to cross Taipale river, and frustrated an attack near Pitkaerantae, north-east of Lake Ladoga.
  • Germany’s methods of sea warfare denounced by Professor Koht, Norwegian Prime Minister.
  • French steamer ‘P.L.M.25’ reported sunk by mine in North Sea.
  • ‘Graf Spee’ wreck sold to Uruguayan firm for breaking up.
  • Estonian Government issued order forbidding Estonian merchant ships to navigate North Sea and other dangerous waters except under convoy.
  • Press Department of German Legation at The Hague issued statement warning neutrals that by accepting British system of navicerts they make themselves suspect to Germany.

Friday March 1st

  • Russians continued to press on Viipuri. There were violent air battles over the Karelian Isthmus.
  • Finns bombed Russian communications including a railways junction and troop trains.
  • Air Ministry announced that RAF aircraft made deep reconnaissance flights into Germany; one penetrated Berlin. Baltic ports of Kiel and Lübeck and ports in Heligoland Bight were also reconnoitred. No opposition encountered.
  • British steamer ‘Pyrrhus’ sunk by enemy action of West Cost of England.
  • Norwegian Steamer ‘Brott’ and British fishing trawler ‘Courage’ bombed and machine-gunned off Yorkshire coast, but reached port.
  • Survivors of mined Italian steamer ‘Mirella’ reached Suffolk coast.
  • Latvian steamer ‘Katvaldis’ reported bombed and machine-gunned Yorkshire coast.
  • Details of wartime rationing decrees in France were published.
  • Mr Summer Welles arrived in Berlin and had an interview with Herr von Ribbentropp.

Saturday March 2nd

  • Air Ministry announced that aircraft of RAF Bomber Command flew over Berlin during night of March 1-2. Leaflets and parachute flares were dropped. Ground batteries came into action, but fire went wide of mark.
  • Finns claimed that 34th Moscow Tank brigade had wiped out an area north of Lake Ladoga.
  • Russians reported to have reached suburbs of Viipuri, which was being set on fire by retreating defenders.
  • Finns admitted further short retreats in Karelian Isthmus to regions of Sainio, 5 miles south of Viipuri of coast, and of Heinjoki 27 miles east of the town. Russian attacks repulsed at Taipale.
  • Soviet bombers over Helsinki chased away by Finland fighters.
  • British India passenger ship ‘Domala’ attacked by Nazi bomber in English Channel; 100 persons reported missing or dead.
  • British steamer ‘Albano’ mined in North Sea.
  • Norwegian steamer ‘Silja’ overdue and presumed lost.
  • German steamer ‘Troja’ scuttled off Aruba Island, West Indies.
  • Mr Sumner Wells was received by Hitler.

Sunday March 3rd

  • Hand to hand fighting reported in southern suburbs of Viipuri. Russians claimed to have captured the railways station.
  • Finns reported that they had brought down at least 28 enemy planes during the weekend.
  • RAF bombers flew over Berlin during night of March 2-3, the fifth time within a week. Ground batteries opened fire and German fighters went up, but there was no engagement.
  • Standing patrol over seaplane bases of Frisian Islands met with intense fire from enemy guns.
  • Great air activity over Western Front during weekend; British fighters brought down three enemy aircraft, a Messerschmitt, a Heinkel and a Dornier, and French fighters accounted for two Dorniers.
  • British steamer ‘Cato’ sunk off West Coast.
  • Two Dutch cargo boats, ‘Schieland’ and ‘Limburg’ stated that they had been machine-gunned by Nazi planes in North Sea.
  • Many air attacks on British fishing boats were reported.
  • German cargo ship ‘Heidelberg’ seized by British cruiser after leaving Aruba, West Indie.
  • Nazi aircraft flying over Belgian territory, were chased by Belgian fighters, one of which was shot down and the other two damaged.
  • Mr Sumner Wells had interviews with Herr Hess and Field Marshal Goering. Later he left Berlin for Basle en route for Paris.

Monday Match 4th

  • Air Ministry announced that RAF planes bombed a U-boat, and probably destroyed it, in Schillig Roads, Cuxhaven.
  • Viipuri still in Finnish hands. Defenders repulsed attacks both across ice on Viipuri Bight and to east of town.
  • Russians suffered severe losses in fighting north-east of Lake Ladoga, and also withdrew their forces in Petsamo sector.
  • League of Nations mission stated to have arrived in Helsinki to inquire into Soviet methods of warfare.
  • Paris reported increased activity Western Front and much aerial fighting during which at least one, and probably three enemy machines were brought down.
  • British liner ‘Pacific Reliance’ sunk during enemy action off West Coast.
  • British trawler ‘Ben Attow’ sunk off the east coast of Scotland.
  • Reported that two more Dutch trawlers ‘Sint Annaland’ and ‘Rijnstroom’ were attacked during the weekend by Nazi bombers. Last named boat feared lost.
  • Three survivors of Dutch coastal vessel ‘Elziena’ sunk by enemy plane, arrived at port on North East Coast.
  • Swedish vessels ‘Lagaholm’ sunk.
  • Italian Government protested against British order that further imports of coal from Germany by sea are to be seized.
  • Announced that in 100 days ending March 1st, £1,000,000,000 was raised in saving certificates and defence bonds.

Tuesday March 5th

  • Russians continued assault on Viipuri which was still in Finnish hands.
  • They succeeded in crossing ice if Viipuri Bay, Finns contesting their landing on the western shore. Emery also attacked further along on its western shore. Enemy also attacked further west along the coast. Helsinki and other towns in south central Finland suffered from enemy air raids.
  • German raid made on Britain outpost in Maginot Line, during which enemy captured 16 prisoners. Casualties on both sides. The post was later recaptured.
  • British warships detained five italian steamers for examination in Down contraband control base.
  • Reported that two more neutral vessels – Italian ‘Maria Rose’ and Norwegian ‘Vestfoss’ – had been sunk.

Wednesday March 6th

  • Battle on ice of Viipuri Bay continued without further gains for Russians.
  • Enemy attacks on south coast of Finland driven off.
  • Patrol and artillery activity reported from other parts of Karelian Isthmus, also north-east of Lake Ladoga.
  • Cargoes of eight of out nine Italian shops carrying coal from Germany detained in prize.
  • Enemy air attacks made on lightship off Norfolk coast and on taker ‘Shelbrit II’ off northeast coast of Scotland.
  • New Cunard White Star Liner ‘Queen Elizabeth’ reached Nova Scotia, en route to New York, after 10 day secret voyage, without passengers from Clydebank.
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