January 1940

Jan

31

1940

Admiral Dönitz inspects a German U-boat crew

‘Admiral Dönitz, the commander of the U-Boot fleet, awards some of the brave sailors with the Iron Cross.’

Jan

29

1940

British minelaying in the North Sea

British minelaying operations were responsible for sinking a number of U-Boats and German ships, see for example [permalink id=3861 text='Operation Wikinger'] and the fate of [permalink id=3150 text='U-50']. This Movietone Newsreel demonstrates the enormous effort and resources that were needed to lay effective minefields.

Jan

25

1940

HMS Grenville sunk, the Russians attack again in Finland

From the Naval, Military and Air Situation up to noon on 25th of January 1940 as reported to the War Cabinet: Naval Situation – Home Waters 1. The Northern Patrol has been maintained at full strength, supported by a force of heavy ships which have also provided cover for the convoys to and from Norway. […]

Jan

20

1940

Churchill warns of the ‘criminal adventurers of Berlin’

Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty when he made a Radio broadcast on Sunday 20th January 1940. He was clearly not going to be constrained to speak only of naval matters. After his assertion that in the war at sea ‘things are not going so badly after all’ he moved on to examine […]

Jan

18

1940

Latest analysis of the U-Boat war

The Naval Military and Air Situation up to 12 noon on the 18th January 1940, as reported to the War Cabinet: Naval Situation General Review The period has again been one of relative quiet at sea, there being only minor incidents to report apart from the loss of H.M. Submarines; Seahorse, Starfish and Undine. In […]

Jan

14

1940

The British Expeditionary Force are put on alert

We discussed the whole evidence and came to the conclusion that the whole affair looked like a ‘plant’ on the part of Germany. It was not likely that officers would fly over Belgium with a plan of that kind in their possession.

Jan

11

1940

British Minelaying, Finnish tactics in the Winter War

‘A striking feature of the fighting has been the success of the Finnish anti-tank defence, despite a shortage of weapons. Various methods, such as the flinging of incendiary bombs, bundles of hand grenades and bottles of petrol at the tanks have been employed. A new and ingenious tank obstacle has been produced by means of pit props, coated with ice and placed on the frozen ground. These props rotate under the tracks of the tank, which can make no headway.’

Jan

10

1940

Ironside visits the Maginot line

‘The actual fort we saw was a marvel of engineering. It con
tained some five hundred men under an Infantry Captain. It provided about a battery of gunfire and a company of Infantry fire with anti-tank guns. It had all kinds of packed ammunition underground and could best be described as an anchored man o’ war. 
Gas-proof, and with immense power of resistance, it still seemed 
to me vulnerable in misty weather, where no observation could 
be obtained.’

Jan

7

1940

HMS Undine is depth charged

‘A period of complete quiet followed for about five minutes. Thinking there might be a possibility of attacking again or that the enemy had broken off the hunt, I returned to periscope depth and raised the Low Power Periscope, to look directly at a trawler on the starboard beam, so close that I could see only her port side from the bridge to the aft end of the engine room casing.’

Jan

4

1940

HMS Barham torpedoed, elsewhere a quiet week

‘During the afternoon of 28th December, H.M.S. Barham was torpedoed by a submarine in a position north-west of the Hebrides. Four men were killed and one wounded. The ship was able to proceed to Liverpool under her own steam’