February 1940

Feb

25

1940

British bombers arrive in Finland

Blenheim-bomber-Winter-War

The very large number of rifles which we supplied were all of .303 calibre, equivalent to 7-7 mm. The German calibre of rifle which the Finns had adopted was 7-6 mm. The Finns filed down much of our ammunition to fit their own rifles; many of them were specialists in squirrel shooting and during the war they shot to kill as usual. They were also expert In forest warfare and in due course were to train the Germans, but without the success expected since the Germans were never attuned to such an individual role.

Feb

24

1940

The British supply anti-tank bombs for the Winter War

Soviet-T26-tank

I was never allowed to accompany them on raids and was generally protected from even the mildest dangers. I spent my time making” clams” to blow up tanks.” 808″ or “plastic” was the explosive used for these charges, with a block of guncotton to hold the detonator and fuse. The whole was then wrapped in a piece of mackintosh, proof against damp, and fitted with magnets so as to make it cling, clam-like, to the tank. The tent was redolent with a smell of almonds and geraniums emanating from the explosives, and I got rather bored with sitting cross:legged on my palliasse and gradually covering it with neat little rows of these samples of my handicraft.

Feb

22

1940

German Naval Disaster: Operation Wikinger goes wrong

The German destroyer Maas, sunk on 22nd February 1940

In the following minutes there was confusion in the remaining five destroyers who had apparently not seen the second attack by the aircraft. In the confined area of the swept channel they faced considerable dangers from their own mines as they tried to rescue the crew from the freezing cold waters. The situation was then compounded by the belief that they were under torpedo attack. The Theodor Riedel interpreted hyrophone sounds as a submarine but she was travelling too slowly when she dropped her depth charges and she damaged her own hull and steering. The Max Schulz was then blown up in another large explosion.

Feb

17

1940

Altmark prisoners return on HMS Cossack

altmark-thumb

Movietone News released on 22 February 1940 of the return of HMS Cossack on 17th February 1940.

Feb

16

1940

"The Navy's here" – the Altmark boarded

The Altmark in Jossingfiord, spotted by RAF Coastal Command

The Altmark eventually sought to return to Germany by travelling through Norwegian territorial waters, to escape British attention. The ship was stopped and superficially searched by the Norwegians on three occasions. When the British finally located the ship they insisted that the Norwegians take it into port for a thorough search or allow them to board the ship themselves. There was a stand off with the Norwegian authorities whilst Captain Vian on HMS Cossack sought instructions on how to proceed whilst dealing with an enemy ship in neutral waters whilst being opposed by the neutral Norwegian navy.

Feb

15

1940

The persecution intensifies in Poland

The original caption states: 'Three Jewish Criminals from the Radogosz concentration camp near Litzmannstadt (Lodz) 15.2.40'

Radogosz is located not far from the industrial city of Lodz. Installed in a factory, the camp of Radogosz was exclusively under the command of the SS and the Gestapo administration. Different than other camps, the prisoners in Radogosz were not forced to work but they were constantly beaten and tortured by SS and Gestapo guards.

Feb

15

1940

U-33 sunk, The Finns resist even stronger attacks

Finnish troops were adept at mobile winter warfare

A report, dated 10th February, stated that the Russians had penetrated the Mannerheim Line at several points to a depth of 2 km, and it seems almost certain that they have made some further progress. The Mannerheim defences have, however, a depth of about 18 km in the more important sectors, and it is unlikely that the extent of the Russian advance is in itself of great importance. The most dangerous factors from the Finnish point of view are the exhaustion of their troops and the heavy expenditure of their limited stocks of ammunition. These difficulties are causing the Finnish General Staff grave anxiety. …

Feb

15

1940

HMS Exeter returns home

exeter-thumb

British Movietone News of the return to Plymouth, on February 15th 1940, of HMS Exeter following the Battle of the River Plate on 13th December 1939.

Feb

12

1940

Newsreel coverage of attacks on Shipping

ship-under-attack-thumb

British Movietone News from 12th February 1940. Contrasting German newsreel, celebrating their attacks, was released on 7th February 1940, and the issue was considered by the War Cabinet on the 8th February 1940.

Feb

10

1940

Stalin deports Poles from Russian occupied Poland

At two o’clock in the morning of 10 February 1940 my mother’s crying in the kitchen woke me up. I got up to see what was happening and, on opening the door, was grabbed by four men with rifles: two in NKVD uniforms, and two civilians with red bands round their sleeves. They searched me to ensure I wasn’t carrying arms, then allowed me to return to the bedroom, as they told us to pack our belongings for departure to the railway station in Klewan.