October 1939

Oct

16

1939

First German air raid on UK

Aerial view of HMS Southampton being bombed near the Forth Bridge

‘Almost simultaneously there was a giant waterspout as high as the bridge alongside one of the capital ships and a barge tied up alongside; it seemed to fly up in the air! In later life I discovered it was HMS Southampton.’

Oct

14

1939

The last minutes of HMS Royal Oak

‘We consider that Captain W.G. Benn and his officers did all that was possible to save their Ship. Captain Benn remained in the ship until the last possible moment, until in fact the ship left him, and his behaviour was in the best traditions of the service.’

Oct

14

1939

U boat U-47 fires its torpedoes

Torpedo fired from stern; in the bow two tubes are loaded; three torpedoes from the bow. After three tense minutes comes the detonation on the nearer ship. There is a loud explosion, roar, and rumbling. Then come columns of water, followed by columns of fire, and splinters fly through the air. The harbor springs to life. Destroyers are lit up, signaling starts on every side, and on land 200 meters away from me cars roar along the roads.

Oct

13

1939

U-47 enters Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow was the natural deep water base for the British Home Fleet. As the anchorage is surrounded by islands with only narrow channels between them it appeared to be easy to secure, especially when ‘block ships’ were sunk in these channel to further obstruct them. However as the base for many capital ships it was a natural target for German attention, whatever the potential dangers.

Oct

13

1939

LIndbergh argues for United States neutrality

n the past, we have dealt with a Europe dominated by England and France. In the future we may have to deal with a Europe dominated by Germany. But whether England or Germany wins this war, Western civilization will still depend upon two great centers, one in each hemisphere.

Oct

12

1939

German Navy at sea, Soviet Russia threatens Finland

Pilots have reported that German anti-aircraft fire is extremely accurate. Nevertheless, very few aircraft have been destroyed by this means in western Germany. On 8th September French reconnaissance aircraft was brought down at the height of 16,000 feet, and on 11th September a similar type of aircraft was destroyed by ground machine gun fire. Four other aircraft were missing during September and may have been shot down from the ground. It is more probable however that they were lost by fighter action.

Oct

7

1939

Germany transfers troops to the ‘West Wall’

‘I soon realized what a gamble the Polish campaign had been, and the grave risks which were run by our High Command. The second-class troops holding the Wall were badly equipped and inadequately trained, and the defences were far from being the impregnable fortifications pictured by our propaganda. . . the more I looked at the defences the less I could understand the completely passive attitude of the French.’

Oct

6

1939

Hitler addresses the Reichstag

Mr. Churchill may be convinced that Great Britain will win. I do not doubt for a single moment that Germany will be victorious.
Destiny will decide who is right.

Oct

5

1939

A lull in U-boat operations, the Red Army in Poland

The equipment of the first-line divisions of the Red Army is said to be good, but that of the reserve divisions pitiable. The cavalry and infantry are described as an undisciplined rabble, but the appearance of the armoured troops is satisfactory. In northern Poland the soldiers appear to be greatly impressed with the standard of living of the people.

Oct

5

1939

The German victory parade in Warsaw