December 1939

Dec

14

1939

‘The Battle off the River Plate’: post action report

‘The fire of the enemy’s 11 inch guns at a range of 13 miles was very accurate; this emphasises the necessity of zigzagging (speed permitting) to throw out the enemy’s ranged plot. A drastic alteration of course at the moment a salvo was fired was found to be desirable.’

Dec

13

1939

HM Submarine Salmon successfully attacks German cruisers

“My First Lieutenant called me to the periscope and I observed enemy forces to the northward, steering to westward at a range of about 12,000 yards.”

Dec

13

1939

The Battle off the River Plate

“A splinter had jammed the door and prevented the medical parties from reaching us. The wounded never murmured.”

Dec

12

1939

HMS Salmon spots the Bremen

“I decided to surface on a firing course and stop her with my gun with the intention of firing torpedoes if she opened fire on me, or gunning her only if she refused to stop but did not open fire.”

Dec

12

1939

HMS Duchess sunk in collision with HMS Barham

Barham impacted the Duchess, cutting her in half. There were only 23 survivors of the 160 crew.

Dec

7

1939

The RAF attack Heligoland, the war in Finland

‘The aircraft proceeded to attack in sections of three and dropped thirty-nine 500-lb, semi-armour-piercing bombs from heights between 7,000 to 10,000 feet. One of the larger ships appeared to be hit by three bombs, while one of the smaller was closely straddled, if not actually hit by two bombs. Cloud prevented accurate observation of other attacks.’

Dec

6

1939

The British prepare trenches on the western front

“For the British, digging was the order of the day-digging in cold, wet soil behind the Franco-Belgian frontier. Day after day and week after week the trenches slowly grew.”

Dec

4

1939

Nazi aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin under construction

She was never completed, as the constant argument within the Nazi regime as to how best to allocate naval construction resources was to continue throughout the war.

Dec

4

1939

HMS Salmon sinks a U-boat in the North Sea

“At least one torpedo broke surface and much disturbance was visible on the surface on firing. I lost trim temporarily but regained it in time to be at periscope depth before my shot could have taken effect. I saw her through the periscope blown to small fragments which rose at least 200 feet into the air.”

Dec

2

1939

Soviet troops advance into Finland

The Soviet invasion of Finland was marked by incompetence. Although their Intelligence services already possessed detailed maps of the Mannerheim Line, the main Finnish defence line, these were not consulted by the invading Army.