War Diary February 22nd to 27th 1940, WW2

Thursday, February 22, 1940

  • Further naval awards were announced in recognition of gallantry in battle with ‘Graf Spee.’
  • Two Heinkel bombers shot down by RAF, one in Berwickshire, the other in sea off Northumberland coast.
  • Russians reported to have lost 2,000 killed in attempt to break through left-wing od Mannerheim Line at Taipale.
  • Fourteen Russian divisions said to be massed in preparation of attack on Viipuri.
  • Blizzards continued in Karelian Isthmus, hampering transport and air activity.
  • HM trawler ‘Fifeshire’ sunk by enemy aircraft with loss of 21 lives.
  • British steamer ‘Loch Maddy’ torpedoed without warning in North Atlantic.
  • Enemy attacks on fishing trawlers off East Coast driven off by machine gun fire.
  • Paris reported increased air activity over Western Front.

Friday, February 23rd

  • Air Ministry announced that RAF had made reconnaissance flights over Austria and Bohemia during night of February 22-23; leaflets were dropped over Vienna.
  • Air Ministry also stated that RAF aircraft had bombed German warships in Heligoland Bight during night of February 20-21. Owing to bad weather conditions once aircraft failed to return.
  • Fighting was general trough Karelian Isthmus. Russians were held before Viipuri in spite of continuous bombardment.
  • Heavy bombing raids made by Soviet machines over Finland.
  • Moscow denied bombing of Swedish village Pajala on February 21st.
  • Nazi raiding planes attacked British shipping by moonlight. Captain and mate of steamer ‘gothic’ wounded by bullets.
  • Norwegian steamer ‘Telnes’ overdue and considered lost with all hands.
  • British naval squadron reported in northern waters, between Kirkenes and Murmanks.
  • Officers and men of cruisers ‘Ajax’ and ‘Exeter’ entertained in Guidlhall.
  • HMS ‘Achilles’ welcomes home in New Zealand.
  • State of emergency declared in Turkey, following alleged crossing of Caucasian frontier by Soviet detachments.

Saturday February 24th

  • Russians resumed onslaught against Viipuri, but without effect. Heavy snow hampered their tanks, and for their bombers.
  • Two Soviet detachments stated to have been trapped inside Finnish lines on Karelian Isthmus, east of Lake Muola, and annihilated.
  • Attacks on other parts of the Mannerheim Lines said to have been repulsed.
  • In Kuhmo sector (Central Finland) there were patrol encounters.
  • RAF carried out successful reconnaissance flight over Prague during night of February 23-24 and another over north-west Germany. One aircraft lost its bearing and made a forced landing in Belgium.
  • RAF planes also carried out daylight reconnaissance flights over Heligoland Bight and north-west Germany. One aircraft was attacked by five Messerschmitts, but returned safely.
  • HM Trawler ‘Benvoloi’ reported sunk by mine.
  • British steamer ‘Jevington Court’ sunk by mine in north sea.
  • British ship ‘Royal Court’ sunk by mine in North Sea.
  • British ship ‘Royal Archer’ sunk by enemy action.
  • Conference of Scandinavian Foreign Ministers to discuss war problems opened in Copenhagen.

Sunday February 25th

  • First squadron of Royal Canadian Air Force to leave Canada arrived in England.
  • Russians reported to have concentrated troops on Kolvisto peninsula and in region of Kaislahti, on coastal railway. They also hold island off Revonsaari, in Gulf of finland, Kaemaerae still held by Finns.
  • Reported that Russians had lost 25 tanks during weekend on Isthmus and another 17 north of Lake Ladoga.
  • Unsuccessful Soviet attack reported in Salla direction.
  • Norway informed Great Britain that she will propose arbitration in ‘Altmark’ dispute if British Government maintain their position.
  • Mr Sumner Welles, American under Secretary of State and envoy of President Roosevelt, arrived in Rome.

Monday February 26th

  • War Office announced that from March 11 Scotland north of Caledonian Canal would become a banned area, and that only persons specially exempt would be permitted to remain or enter.
  • Finns evacuated fortress of Koivisto. Defence of Viipuri continued, although town now in ruins. New defence lines prepared in the west.
  • German aeroplanes flew over Paris, but were driven off by anti-aircraft fire.
  • Swedish steamer ‘Santos’ reported sunk in North Sea.
  • Survivors of torpedoed tanker ‘British Endeavour’ land at Madeira.
  • Mr Sumner Welles saw Count Ciano and Signor Mussolini in Rome.

Tuesday February 27th

  • Battle for Viipuri proceeding among islands in Bight of Viipuri. Finns repulsed violent attack on Taipale.
  • Finns repeated further from Petsamo after day-long battle.
  • RAF shot down two Heinkels,one off Firth of Forth, the other off Northumberland coast.
  • Air Ministry announced that during preceding 24 hours reconnaissance flights were made over Heligoland and German North Sea coast, as well as large areas of western Germany. Leaflets were dropped over Berlin, British planes returned unmolested.
  • U-boat sunk by French destroyer off Cape Finisterre.
  • Norwegian steamer ‘Annfinn’ collided with U-boat, which was probably sunk. STeamer damaged.
  • German merchant ship ‘Wahehe’ brought into port as naval prize.
  • British steamer ‘Clan Morrison’ reported mined.
  • Danish ship ‘Maryland’ overdue and considered lost.

Wednesday February 28th

  • Attack on Viipuri continued with infantry and artillery. Finns repelled attacks on new positions and defeated russian attempt new positions and defeated russian attempt to cross ice to west side of harbour.
  • Finnish aircraft raided Russian lines of communications.
  • Air Ministry announced that RAF had carried out further extensive reconnaissance flights over northern Germany. Aircraft flew over Berlin and Hanover, as well as naval bases at Kiel and Cuxhaven.
  • German patrols active on Western Front, particularly east of the Saar and in Alsace. Reconnaissance flights were made by both sides.
  • Paris announced that two German aeroplanes reconnoitering over France had been shot down.
  • Mr Sumner Welles, who had left Rome for Berlin, broke his journey at Zürich to aware further instructions from Washington.
  • British volunteers in Finland to be commanded by Major Kermit Roosevelt. First Canadian Volunteers arrived in Finland.
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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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We Saw The Jewish Pogrom in Germany

Among the reports in the White Paper concerning the treatment of Jews in Germany was one from Mr R T Smallbones, formerly H.M. Consul-General in Frankfurt-on-Main, Mr Smallbones and his daughter, who witnessed the terrible effects of the progrom of November, 1938, told the following story to Mr E.P. Montgomery of the “News Chronicles”.

During the first two weeks of the terror, said Mr Smallbones, we gave sanctuary to hundreds of people who would have been safe nowhere else.  Men and women who did not dare to show their faces in the light would hide in the woods by day and creep into the consulate at night for food and shelter.

They slept in the hall, in the dining room, in the kitchen, on the stairs.  My wife and daughter, my staff of 11, even my servants, turned and helped to give them what food and comfort we cold.   Some of us who has seen the sufferings of the people in Germany persuaded the British Government to allows us to grant “transmigration visas”, which would enable refugees to get out of Germany quickly and to stay two years in the United Kingdom while awaiting an opportunity to emigrate to the United States and other countries.

This was provided their maintenance was guaranteed by friends, relatives or charitable organisations.
I worked closely with my American colleague in Stuttgart, and as soon as the formalities for immigration into the United States were complete, I would issue a ‘Letter of Promise’, which gave the refugee a promise of a British visa when he could obtain his German passport.
These ‘Letters of Promise’ were regarded almost as talismans, for with them the relatives of men in the concentration camps could obtain their release, and possession of them made the holders safe against further molestation by the police and S.S.
During the worst of the terror we were besieged with applicants for the letters, often trying to deal with as many as 800 to 1,000 a day.
People would begin to gather in the Consulate garden long before dawn, and by 9 o’clock, when we opened the doors, there would be hundreds waiting.
Miss Turnbull, a 23-year-old English teacher who has come in to help, would stand on a table in the hall to deal with the first rush.
We instituted a system of numbered metal disks, which Miss Turnbull handed out in order to save people from standing drearily in a queue for hours. Each one knew his turn and could go away and come back when his time drew near.
One day she had to hand out a number to her own finance, a German who was trying to get out.
In the main, the people who came to us were mostly women with husbands, sons or brothers in the concentration camps, some had to bring their children with them, not daring to leave them alone at home.
All of us had to work long hours to keep abreast of the rush. In addition to the hundreds of interviews daily we had to deal with 200 ro 300 applications a day by post.
“my own records, I think, was four days at my desk with six and a half hours’ sleep. And the others on my staff worked just as hard, or harder.
All through November, December and January the persecutions, and our work, went on. Then things became a little easier, because the German-Jewish Aid Committee took over some of the work of investigation into means of subsistence and ultimate destination.
Even so, we combined right up tp noon on September 1st, forty-eight hours before war was declared, with our job of trying to give those frightened, distressed and suffering people our help. If I may say so – England’s help.”

For weeks Mr Smallbones’ wife and daughter helped in the work, calming the fears of hysterical refugees and serving then with coffee, soup and bread when they came pleading for sanctuary in the Consulate.
They turned their sitting room, drawing room and hall into offices for interviewing the victims.

The first few days of the pogrom were terrible, said Miss Smallbones.  Women whose husbands and been beaten up and taken to concentration camps, and women who husbands had committed suicide rather than be arrested, came clamouring for shelter.
Some of them were frantic in their despair-their faces recognizably swollen with weeping.  Their gratitude for what we did was pathetic.  They offered us little articles of jewellery and trinkets-which, of course, we could not accept-in expression of their thanks.

One old man who had maintained stoical calm broke down and wept when we gave him coffee and bread.  There was one awful scene when a woman in the Consulate saw her husband, who was waiting outside, seized and manhandled by a band of Nazi hooligans.

Miss Smallbones emphasized that the masses of the ordinary German people had no sympathy with and took no part in the pogrom.

“Nazi hooligans alone were responsible,” she said “More than one German apologized to me for what was happening, using such phrases as ‘I am ashamed to be a German when I see such things happening.‘ “

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Graf Spee German Warship is Brought to Bay – WW2 1940

On December 8, 1914, ‘Admiral Graf von Spee’ went down with his flagship at the Falkland Islands.  Twenty five years later the ‘Admiral Graf Spee’ badly battered was driven into port on the same coast.

For a hundred days of war the pocket battleships that were the pride of Nazi Germany’s fleet sailed the vast open spaces of the ocean, and the only news of their voyaging was contained in the brief messages which stated that yet another merchant ship has been sent to a watery grave.  Now it was the ‘Deutschland’ that set the cables buzzing; then it was the ‘Admiral Scheer’; then, but more rarely, the newest of the ‘pocket battleships’ trio, ‘Admiral Graf Spee’.”  All the world knew that these ships, amongst the eight most powerful war vessels in existence, were at large; all the world knew that they were being hunted night and day with the most relentless persistency by the ships of the British Navy.  At last, one of the quarry was sighted, and after a few hours of dramatic combat ‘went to earth’ in a neutral harbour.

On December 13 she was making her course along the Uruguayan coast -‘ Admiral Graf Spee’ third and newest of the ‘pocket battlefields.’  It was already dawn when at 6am the German warship was spotted by a British cruiser and ‘Formose,’ a French merchantman.  Within two hours the cruiser, with her speed of over thirty knots compared with the German ship’s twenty-seven, had come within range, and both ships opened fire.  No doubt ‘Graf Spee’ hoped that with her vast superiority of armament she would be able to repel the attack, and possibly sink her opponent. But now another British warship, the ‘Exeter’ appeared over the horizon.

Natives on the shore of Punta del Este, who has rushed from their homes at the sound of firing and were watching with eager eyes the flashes of flame as the great guns went into action, heard twelve shots fired in quick succession.  A the same time the first British cruiser, supposed to have ben ‘Ajax’ poured out a vast smoke screen.

Now, the ‘Graf Spee’ headed for the open sea, but the second cruiser began to close in, and a running fight developed which continued within sight of shore at intervals throughout the day.  As fast as her engines could take her the German ship made for the refuge of the River Plate, and as hard and as fast as their guns could fire, the British cruisers-by now a third, the ‘Achilles’ had come up-were doing their utmost to sink her, or at least put her out of action before she could reach territorial waters.

In a later stage of the engagement one of the British cruisers, the 8″ gun ‘Exeter’ was damaged and in consequence forced to reduce her speed and drop behind.  The other two cruisers, ‘Ajax’ and ‘Achilles’ both small ships mounting 6″ guns only continued the chase and scored repeated hits.  They were unable, however, to bring the hunted ship to bay, and as dark fell the ‘Graf Spee’s’ searchlights played on the shore of Montevideo as she searched for the opening of the harbour.  Maritime police put off in a tug and guided the sip to her anchorage.  Ambulances were rushed to the quay as soon as she moored, and thirty-six  dead and some sixty wounded were taken off.  Her captain was among the wounded, having been injured in the arm.  A Uruguayan spokesman was reported to have said that the badly damaged battleship would be allowed to remain in the port up to thirty days in order to effect necessary repairs.

So the day ended, and in the outer harbour or int he estuary all three ships of Commodore Harwood’s squadron-for despite her damage, the ‘Exeter’ has succeeded in coming up-maintained an unsleeping vigil.  ‘Graf Spee’ was trapped.

With the coming of the morning light the battered ship showed her gaping wounds to the crowds which packed the quays.  There were three shell holes on the water line on the starboard quarter, and through a huge hole in the port quarter one could see into the crew’s sleeping compartments.  The plates were bent outwards, indicating a terrific explosion inside the vessel.  On deck a mass of wreckage was all that was left of an aeroplane which has suffered a direct hit from a British shell.  A shell had gone right through he control tower, and another tremendous hole had been torn in the fighting towers, where were most of the 36 men who were killed.  The gun tower on the port side has been torn from its foundations.

As one observer said, the British did everything but blow ‘Graf Spee’ out of the water.  It was obvious that she would need the most extensive repairs, and there were many who believe that she would never put to sea again, particularly in view of the fact that outside the harbour the three cruisers which had chased her so gallantly has now been strongly reinforced.

The news of the battle electrified the world.  Perhaps the most dramatic account of the battle was that given by the six British captains of merchantmen who has been kept as prisoners in the ‘Graf Spee’ since their vessels were sunk by the raider.  Said Captain Dove after a tribute to the courteous conduct of the German commander, ‘When the battle started  yesterday they bolted the door, and I did not know what was happening until I heard the ‘Graf Spee’ guns and felt the impact of the British shells. According to our reckoning the ‘Graf Spee’ was hit sixteen times.  We played cards, including bridge, throughout the battle.  One shot exploded near us, and we kept splinters of it as souvenirs.”

Everywhere the fight was hailed as a British triumph-everywhere, that is, but in Germany where it was claimed that the ‘Graf Spee’ in an heroic battle had won a great victory.  Said one German paper, the British had fired gas grenades, and ” as there was a danger that foodstuffs might be affected by poison gas the commander of the ‘Graf Spee’ put to anchor in the harbour for fresh supplies” !

Naval experts were amazed at the success of the three comparatively small British cruisers in driving from the seas one of the most formidable of modern battleships.  The British cruisers’ gun range is only 18,000 to 25,000 yards as compared with the 30,000 yards of  the German ship, and their biggest guns fired shells of only 250lbs as against the 670lbs shells belches from the ‘Graf Spee’.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister referred to the “very gallant action which has been fought by three comparatively small British ships against a much more heavily armed adversely”; and in the House of Lords, Lord Chatfield spoke of the “brilliant and successful fight in the South Atlantic”.  He went on, “we had been hunting for the ‘Graf Spee’ for some time.  It could be assumed that any ship that got into touch with her was not going to lose touch.  That is the spirit which animates the Navy today, as it has animated the Navy of Past days.”   Lord Chatfield concluded by saying that he had no doubt that the ‘Graf Spee’ would soon put out to sea again”, and added grimly, “for a short time.”

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War Diary 8th to 14th February 1940

Thursday February 8th

  • Battle in Karelian Isthmus reaches its ninth day, and Finns were reported to be still standing firm against repeated attacks.
  • Russian battalion which attempted to come to relief of division encircled at Kuhmo, central Finland, was driven back.
  • Reported that the Swedish brigade in Finland, consisting of 6,000 men, had been in action on the Salla front.
  • French steamer ‘Marie Dawn’ sunk by mine in North Sea.
  • Third contingent of Canadian Active Service force landed at a West Coast fort.
  • Labour Party issued a declaration of its Peace Aims.

Friday February 9th

  • Admiralty announced that two U-boats had been sunk by one British destroyer while they were attacking a convoy.
  • German bomber shot down near Firth of Forth during raids on shipping in North Sea. Two other bombers believed to have been damaged. Other raiders engaged at various points ranging as far north as Peterhead.
  • Russian offensive on Mannerheim Line still held in check. Attacks made not only at Summa, but also between Punnusjoki and over ice of Taipale River.
  • Finns claimed to have improved their positions in Kuhmo sector. In far north Finnish patrols attacked Soviet positions at Salmijaervi.
  • Paris reported artillery activity between the Moselle adn the Saar; also a severe encounter during reconnaissance, when losses were suffered on both sides.
  • British steamer ‘Chagress’ sunk by enemy action of the North West coast.
  • President Roosevelt announced that he was sending Mr Summer Welles, US Under Secretary of State, to collect information about conditions in Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain.
  • Reported from Istanbul that about 80 German Specialists employed in a munitions factory, a naval dockyard and in coalfields had been dismissed.

Saturday February 10th

  • Field Marshall Mannerheim reported to have taken over command on Karelian Isthmus front.
  • Russians continued their attacks here, first bombing Finnish troops by aeroplane, accompanied by heavy artillery fire, then pushing forward succeeding waves of men all along the line. Finns claimed that all attacks were repulsed.
  • Admiralty announced loss by enemy action of HM Trawlers ‘Robert Bowen’ and ‘Fort Royal’ with loss of four officers and 18 ratings.
  • Swedish Government protested to Moscow against sinking on February 5 of Swedish steamer ‘Wirgo’ by Russian bombers.

Sunday February 11th

  • Wave of intense cold returned to Europe. Reported that 58 degrees of frost Fahrenheit were recorded at Stockholm, and that it was possible to walk across the frozen Kattegat from Jutland to Sweden.
  • Fierce fighting continued unabated on the Karelian Isthmus.
  • North of Lake Ladoga Finns destroyed column of 60 lorries.
  • Finnish Command issued a summary of Russian losses after 10 weeks of warfare. They included 327 planes, 594 tanks, and 206 guns captured in addition to those destroyed. Russian casualties in personnel were not mentioned.
  • Norwegian tanker ‘Gallia’ mined off South East Coast.
  • Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor-General of Canada, died at Montreal.

Monday February 12th

  • Russian attacks on Finnish defences on Karelian Isthmus increased in violence. In Summa sector several infantry divisions were flung into the line, supported by a large tank force. It was stated that everywhere the Finns stood firm.
  • Russians launched simultaneous attacks farther north-east on the Isthmus, between Lake Muola and the Vuoksi river, and also near Taipale.
  • Two German aircraft sighted near Orkney Islands. No bombs were dropped.
  • Dutch steamer ‘Burgerdijk’ reported sunk by U-boat on February 10th.
  • Estonian steamer ‘Linda’ reported sunk by enemy action.
  • First contingent of Second Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force arrived at Suez.

Tuesday February 13th

  • German bomber over Thames Estuary driven off by RAF fighters.
  • Russians believed to have captured advanced positions of Mannerheim Line.
  • Admiralty announced that German Steamer ‘Wakama’ had been scuttled off Brazilian coast.
  • British trawler ‘Togimo’ and Swedish steamer ‘Orania’ reported sunk by U-boat.
  • RAF planes made reconnaissance flight over North West Germany.
  • Second Australian Imperial Force arrived in Palestine.

Wednesday February 14th

  • Finnish Command admitted that Russians had captured advanced positions in Summa sector, but stated that the advance was checked by second line of defences.
  • Stated that a general licence has been granted to British subjects to enlist in Finnish forces.
  • Admiralty announced destruction of two U-boats concerned in sinking of three British ships.
  • British tankers ‘Gretafield’ and ‘British Triumph’ and cargo liner ‘Sultan Star’ sunk by U-boats.
  • Mr Churchill stated that soon all British ships would be armed against murderous attacks of German air raiders in North Sea.
  • Swedish steamer ‘Dalarao’ reported torpedoes and shelled by U-boat on February 12th.
  • Danish ship ‘Chastine Maersk’ sunk by U-boat off Norwegian coast.
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Mr Chamberlain Speech January 9th 1940

What Are We To Do To Win This War?
At the opening of a year which must be fateful in the history not only of our own country, but the whole of Western civilisation. Britain’s Primeminister delivered a speech at the Mansion House, London on January 9th, a speech which was at once a warning of the grim things which may be in store and an encouragement in the path that must be followed to victory.

Mr Chamberlain opened his speech by saying that since war broke, his sole thought and actions had been directed to doing all he could, in the closest collaboration with France to bring the war to a successful conclusion. He went on:
“Once again, as twenty-five yeas ago, the historic buildings and the ancient streets of Britain are looking upon the faces of the King’s subjects who have come here from all parts of the world of their own free will, far away from their homes and their families, to take their part side by side with us in the great struggle that is before us.
Their presence here and the profound conviction of the necessity of putting an end to the German policy of constant aggression, which alone could have induced them to undertake such sacrifices, has brought to the aid of the Allies not only almost welcome addition to their fighting strength, but what is perhaps even more valuable, the moral support of their unanimous approval of our cause.
This New Year, which will probably be a fateful one in the history of the world, has opened quietly, but it is the quiet of the calm before the storm. We are at war.
It is only on the sea that the war may be said to be in full operation, and it is on the sea that we can discern most clearly the trend of hostilities in the fist fours months of war.”

After surveying the respective gains and losses of the belligerents at sea, Mr Chamberlain said that inexorable pressure of sea power acting upon the enemy was producing ever-increasing difficulties of her whole economy and for her ability to carry on the war.
Germany (he went on) used her brute force upon unhappy Poland, and today we can see how she is treating the Poles and the Czechs – exploiting their resources, carrying off their food, staring and shooting the people, tearing and uprooting them from their homes to make way for Germans who, in their turn, have been forced to leave the lands where they and their families have been settled for generations.
And now it is the turn of Finland to be attacked by that Power with whom Germany made an unholy pact and to whom she set the example of aggression.
Finland today, amidst her snows and her frozen lakes, is fighting against the forces of unscrupulous violence, just as we are ourselves.

Mr Chamberlain then referred to the assistance given by the British and French governments tot he victims of the Turkish earthquakes, and continued:
This collaboration between France and ourselves for humanitarian purposes is only just another instance of that close, that even intimate, association between us which now covers every aspect of the war – military, political, financial and economic.
“I cannot help thinking that our experiences of this association during the war will prove it to be so valuable that when the war is over neither of us will want to give it up.”
It might even develop into smoothing wider and deeper, because there is nothing which would do more to facilitate the task of peaceful reconstruction which has got to be undertaken at some time-there is nothing which would contribute more towards the permanence of its results-than the extension of Anglo-French collaboration in finance and economics to other nations in Europe and, indeed, perhaps to the whole world.
Mr Chamberlain spoke of our mobilisation as prodigious and, dealing with the civil defence, said:
“Whilst we have already reviewed all our different precautions and modified and amended them where we thought that we could do so without disregarding the important factor of safety. I do not consider that the risk of air raids is over or even that is has diminished.
And as long as that is so I am certain that we should make a capital mistake if we were to reverse the policy that we have hitherto followed – the policy which I may sum up by saying that it is the evacuation, while the evacuation can be carried out free from bombs and machine guns, of all who can be evacuated without the serious loss of efficiency.”

Paying a tribute to the British people’s willingness to make sacrifices to win the war, Mr. Chamberlain said:
“What I am not quite sure of is that they understand what they are up against or that we shall have to face a phase of this war much grimmer than anything we have seen yet.
We have got to do without a lot of things that we shall miss very much, and I am going to try to show you why. Although we are not yet actually fighting on land, we are making preparations to enable us to do so with the greatest effect whenever the right moment comes.
For that purpose, we are devoting more and more of our man-power to the production of armaments. That must mean that there is less and less of our man-power available to produce civilian goods.
Even supposing we had ample supplies of labour we should still have to curtail our imports of goods which are not necessary for the prosecution of the war, so as to leave available our resources of foreign exchange and of sipping to purchase and to bring home in ships imports of those things which we cannot do without.”

Saying that he did not think anyone at home would complain of the necessary sacrifices, the Premier continued:
“Nearly a year ago, speaking in the House of Commons, I warned the county that it was the intention of the Government, on the outbreak of a major war, that direct taxes, already so heavy as to constitute conscription of wealth would be still further increased.
That prediction was fulfilled when my heavy-handed friend and colleague [Sir John Simon] last September placed his little finger upon the shoulder of the income-tax payer.
Already, the wealthier classes have suffered a very heavy reduction on their income, and we have left them mighty little prospect of being able to increase it again.
I don’t say that we have come to the end of our demands upon them, but……it is not possible for them along to solve the problem of how to reduce consumption of unnecessary articles, because two-thirds of the consumption of the people of this country is b those who only have small incomes; and, therefore, I say that it is necessary that they too should make their sacrifice as is done, not only in totalitarian Germany, but also in the great democracy of France.”

“What are we to do to win, and, if possible, to shorten this war?
We must save, we must control imports, we must do without commodities that are not necessary, we must, if required, ration them so that all may share and share alike.
If you find that you cannot buy woollen goods that you have been accustomed to, remember that wool is wanted for clothing the army. If you are asked to lessen your consumption of bacon and sugar, remember that you are making available space in ships which can be used for iron ore or machine tools. If you are asked to put your savings into savings Certificates, instead of spending them, remember that you are giving help to the Chancellor in his Herculean task in finding the where withal for our unprecedented expenditure.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the German Government has long-planned the successive stages of a programme of conquest, and that its appetite grows by what is feeds upon. Today, the members of that Government do not hesitate to say that they desire to achieve the ruin of the British Empire, and no doubt they would rejoice if they could treat us as they are treating the victims already within their grip. We on our side have no such vindictive designs.
But, on the other hand, the German people must realise that the responsibility for the prolongation of this war, and all the suffering as well as that of the tyrants who stand over them. They must realise that the desire of the Allies for a social human, just, Christian settlement cannot be satisfied by assurances which experience has proved to be worthless.
In his recent message to the Pope by President of the United States declared that only by the friendly association of the seekers of light and the seekers of peace everywhere can the forces of evil be overcome.
Against such a combination as that, the powers of wickedness will fight in vain, and we, at the beginning of this New Year, can await the future with unshaken confidence in the strength of our arms and in the righteousness of our cause.”

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War Diary February 1st to 7th 1940

Thursday February 1st 1940

  • Reported that battle in Kuhmo sector of Central Finland, in which Finns were attempted to encircle a Russian division, was reaching critical stage.
  • Russian forces said to be entrenching themselves on the front North of Lae Ladoga.
  • Soviet troops launches a violent attack at Summa, in centre of Mannerheim Line in Karelian Isthmus.
  • Russian planes bombed Rovaniemi and Kemi, on Lapland front.
  • Announced that both British and American aircraft had reached Finland and been in use for past fortnight.
  • Balkan Entente conference opened in Belgrade, Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece meeting to discuss questions of Balkan policy.
  • Reported that Greek cargo ship, “Eleni Statathos’ has been sunk bu u-boat on Jany 28th and British steamer ‘Bancrest’ by enemy air attack on Jany 29th or 30th.
  • Lord Mayor’s Red Cross and St John Fund reached over £1,000,000.

Friday February 2nd 1949

  • Russians continued violent attacks on Kerelian Isthmus using armoured sledges pushed forward by tanks. Their advance was repulsed after heavy fighting.
  • Helsinki announced that at least five enemy planes were shot down in the Isthmus.
  • Twenty places bombed in Southern Finland, including Helsinki and Sortavala.
  • British tanker ‘British Councillor’ sunk by enemy action on North Sea.
  • Reported that on Jan 31 Danish steamer ‘Vidar’ had been sunk by bombing and Swedish steamer ‘Fram’ by mine or torpedo.
  • Announced that the whole of the crewe of submarines ‘Starfish’ and ‘Undine’ sunk in January in Heglioland Bight were prisoners of war in Germany. No survivors of ‘Seahorse’ so far reported.

Saturday February 3rd

  • German aircraft made further raids on unarmed vessels in North Sea. RAF machines made contact on several occasions shot down three raiders and disabled a fourth. Once crashed in Yorkshire, another in sea off mouth of Tyne.
  • Fighting was intense at Summa in Karelian Isthmus, this being third day of new Russian offensive. Four fierce attacks repulsed by Finns.
  • Army communique stated that Finns had brought down at least 13 planes over Isthmus.
  • Mass Soviet raids on Finland, the worst being at Kupio. Attack went as far west as Pori, on Bothnian coast.
  • Norwegian ship ‘Tempo’ sunk by bombing off North-east Coast.
  • New Anglo-Turkish trade agreement signed in London.

Sunday February 4th

  • Helsinki stated that Russians had attacked positions newly occupied by Finns in Kuhmo sector, but had been repulsed.
  • North of Lake Ladoga enemy forces were almost all entrenched.
  • Finnish communique claimed that 22 more enemy planes had been brought down.
  • Vilpuri suffered severe bombing raids, with some loss of life and much material damage. Other attacks were made at Ekenaes, Aabo, and Rovaniemi.
  • First British airmen – flight-Lt RV Jeff to be decorated by the French, awarded the Croix de Guerre by General Vuillemin.
  • Reported that British ship ‘Polzella’ and Norwegian steamer ‘Varild’ were both overdue and must be considered lost.
  • Meeting of Balkan Entente at Belgrade ended with declaration of the four States to maintain solidarity of S.E. Europe in spirit of ‘regional neutrality’.
  • Reported that German arms were being send by sea to Russian forces at Persamo and Murmansk.

Monday February 5th

  • Russians stated to have got nearer to Mannerheim defences and to be now 29 miles from Vilpuri.
  • Finns reported to have gained another big victory to course of which Russian 18th Division, operating north-east of Lake Ladoga, was almost annihilated.
  • Russian air raids continued; objectives included churches and amublances. Island monastery of Valamo on Lake Ladoga bombed ans et on fire.
  • Admiralty announced that H.M. minesweeper ‘Sphinx’ foundered after being damanged by enemy air attacks on Feb 3rd.
  • Reported that Canadian-Pacific lined ‘Beaverburn’ had been sunk by u-boat in Atlantic.
  • British steamer ‘portelet’ reported mines in North Sea.
  • Stockholm announced that Swedish steamer ‘Andalusia’ was overdue and was feared lost.
  • Fifth and largest meeting of Sumpreme War Council took place in Paris.
  • M. Pampunchi, French Minister of Marine, stated that 40 of Germany’s 55 submarines at sea in September had been sunk.

Tuesday February 6th

  • Finnish Army Command stated that new attacks by large Russian forces and tanks in Summa sector of Mannerheim Line were repulsed after 16 hours of fighting.
  • Reported that Russian parachute troops had been dropped behind Finnish lines both on Isthmus and at Rovaniemi, in Lapland, but were either killed or taken prisoner.
  • Swedish steamer ‘Wirgo’ sunk by Russian bombers
  • Estonian cargo ship ‘Anu’ mines in North Sea.
  • Norwegian motor-ship ‘Segovia’ reported overdue and feared lost.
  • Notes exchanged between Britain and Japan, over removal on Jan 21 of 21 Germans from the ‘Asama Maru’ were published as a White Paper.
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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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War Diary, January 18th to 24th 1940

Thursday January 18th 1940

  • Western Front reported mutual artillery action in region west of the Saar.
  • Russian retreated nearly 30 miles on Salla front, reaching vicinity of Maerkajaervi.
  • Finnish communique announced that eleven Soviet bombers had been brought down.
  • Dutch royal decree proclaimed state of siege in several coastal areas.
  • Berlin announced the rescue of four officers and 26 men of the three submarines lost in Heglioland Bight.
  • Crew of British steamer ‘Cairnross’ mined of the West Coast of England on January 17th, were landed.
  • Eight of the crew of Norwegian steamer ‘Enid’ shelled and torpedoed by U-boat on January 17th, reached port.
  • Swedish steamers ‘Flandria’ and ‘Foxen’ sunk by mines off Ymuuiden.
  • Reported that Norwegian steamer ‘Fagerheim’ had been sunk in Bay of Biscay on January 14th; and that Greek steamer ‘Asteria’ has been mined in North Sea on January 17th.
  • Danish steamer ‘August Thyssen’, sailing without pilot, sunk by Swedish mine off Stockholm.
  • Explosion in Royal gunpowder Factory, Waltham Abbey, with loss of five lives.

Friday January 19th 1940

  • Soviet bombers raided outskirts of Helsinki.
  • Severe fighting in ‘waistline’ area of Finland, where Russians were still in retreat.
  • Russian division north of Lake Ladoga, under command of General Grigori Stern, also began to retire.
  • Russian attacks on Finnish position at Taipale, south of Lake Ladoga repulsed.
  • Finnish communique reported that Swedish volunteer pilots had bombed Soviet troops.
  • RAF fighter attacked Jeinkel raider off Aberdeen.
  • Reconnaissance flights carried out over north west Germany by RAF.
  • Swedish steamer ‘Pajala’ sunk by U-boat.
  • Reported that entire crew of British tanker ‘Inverdargle’ were lost when she sank after explosion on Jan 16th off South West Coast.
  • Intense cold still being experienced over whole of Europe. In Italy 20 degree of frost Fahrenheit recorded, and in Finland 81 degrees.
  • Denmark expressed, for the first time, intention of preserving neutrality by force of arms if necessary.

Saturday January 20th

  • Heavy air raids over town in South Finland, especially Turku, where 75 incendiary and 150 explosive bombs were dropped. There were also machine gun attacks from the air. Much material damage was done.
  • Continued fierce fighting in Salla sector. Russians attempting to make a stand at Maekaejaervi. One Soviet division reported to have been cut off.
  • RAF aircraft dropped bombs when attacked by anti-aircraft guns from four German patrol vessels in North Sea. No damage or casualties suffered by our aircraft.
  • British tanker ‘Caroni River’ mined off West Coast.
  • Estonian steamers ‘Nautic’ sunk off Shetlands.
  • Air Ministry released a number of photographs taken by RAF during flights over Germany.
  • Foreign Ministries of Yugoslavia and Romania met at Versecz, on mutual frontier to confer.

Sunday January 21st

  • Admirals announced that HM destroyer ‘Grenville’ had been sunk in North Sea. Eight men were killed and 73 were missing and presumed dead.
  • Finnish aircraft, piloted by foreign Kronstadt island base of Soviet fleet near Leningrad. They also raided Russian bases in Estonia, including air base south of Talinn.
  • British steamer ‘Ferryhill’ mined off North East Coast.
  • British steamer ‘Protesilaus’ struck a mine off West Coast.
  • Two neutral vessels, Danish ‘Tekla’ and Norwegian ‘ Miranda’ sunk by enemy action.
  • Announced that since the beginning of the War Norway had lost 28 ships through German mines and warships.
  • Official Dutch communique stated that, owing to the improves situation, army leave would soon be restored.
  • Eight French war correspondents attached to B.E.F. arrived in England as guests of Ministry of Information, for a tour arranged by War Office, Admiralty and Air Ministry.

Monday January 22nd

  • In Salla sector, Russian army still fighting stubborn rearguard action.
  • New Russian offensive was started around Lake Ladoga.
  • Russian attacks in Karelian Isthmus were repuled.
  • Soviet aircraft made bombing raids over Northern Finland and were met by Swedish Volunteers in new fighter aeroplane
  • Admiralty announced that H.M. trawler ‘ Valdora’ was overdue and must be considered lost.
  • Greek steamer ‘ Ekatontarchos Dracoulis’ reported sunk by U-boat south of Portuguese coast.
  • Admiralty stated that two officers and 25 rating from ‘HMS Rawalpindi’ are prisoners of war in Germany.
  • Helsinki announced that new Foreign Legion including Estonian, Lithuanian, British, French, German and Italian volunteers had been formed and would shortly go to the front.

Tuesday January 23rd

  • Helsinki reported that strong Russian offensive at Taipale had been beaten back after six hours fighting.
  • Attempt to out flank Mannerheim Line by encircling movement from north of Lake ladoga was also repulsed by Finns, with heavy loss to the enemy.
  • On Salla front small isolated force of Russian troops were still holding out oat Mearkaejaervi, supplies being dropped by Soviet planes.
  • Admiralty announced that HM Destroyer ‘Exmouth’ had been sunk by mine or torpedo and that there were no survivors.
  • Two steamers British ‘Baltanglia’ and norwegian ‘Pluto’ sunk by a mine off north East Coast.
  • In South African Parliament General Hertzog delivered tirade in defence of Nazis, and was at once denounced in vigorous speech by General Smuts.
  • M Paderewski elected speaker of Polish National Council, first meeting of which was held in Paris instead of at Anvers. All Polish parties were represented.
  • Reported that Japan ha made formal protests against action of British warship in stopping Japense liner ‘Asama Maru’ on Jan 21 and removing 21 German passengers of military age.
  • In view of mortality rate on British roads, (1,200 killed during December) Government decided to reduce speed limit in built-up areas during darkness from 30 to 20 miles an hour.

Wednesday January 24th

  • Fighting continued north-east of Lake Ladoga, where Russian onslaught was very strong, and in the Karelian Isthmus. Finns withstood all attacks.
  • Fierce encounters on Salla front round Maerkaejaervi, where Russians are entrenched.
  • Soviet air raiders bombed four Finnish hospitals, 19 persons being killed.
  • Two German aircraft flew over Shetlands and dropped four bombs but did no damage.
  • Two British Vessels ‘Newhaven’ and ‘Parkhill’ reported lost with all hands.
  • Announced by Finnish authorities in London that two aeroplanes laden with medical supplies left London for Helsinki.
  • Unconfirmed report that 30 British aircraft had arrived in Helsinki.
  • The King reviewed Canadian troops training at Aldershot.
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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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