March 1940

Mar

5

1940

Stalin orders the Katyn Forest murders

In the NKVD POW camps and in the prisons of the western oblasts of Ukraine and Belorussia there is currently a large number of former officers of the Polish army, former Polish police officers and employees of intelligence agencies, members of Polish nationalist c-r (counterrevolutionary) parties, participants in underground c-r rebel organizations, defectors and so on. All of them are implacable enemies of Soviet power and full of hatred for the Soviet system.

Mar

5

1940

British position on the Western Front overrun

A British 6 inch gun being demonstrated on the Western Front

One of our forward infantry posts on the edge of a wood was wiped right out. The Bosche started it off with some H.E. in the branches over their heads, from a six inch mortar battery and a battery of smaller guns (this information is from the fragments picked up). Then the concentration lifted 100 yds.and a Bosche patrol who had been cutting the wire in front of the post during the first concentration rushed the post and apparently took them all prisoner. When our people got to the post they found two British dead, one wounded, and one dead Bosche. Sixteen had been taken prisoner.

Mar

4

1940

With the French artillery in front of the Maginot Line

british-medium-artillery-1940

At this stage everyone is afraid of “starting it” and there is a tacit agreement that villages are not shelled. A few days previously the Bosche put a stray round into a house in this village next door to the Groupement HQ; the Commandant got furious, rushed to the telephone and said “Je lui donnerai un cadeau”. He then shot up every Bosche village within range, firing 600 rounds. The Bosche has not repeated his misdemeanour. There is a general fear of reprisals in this curious stage of the war.

Mar

3

1940

The idea for a ‘super-bomb’: first steps to the Atomic Bomb

Image of Frisch-Peierls_Memorandum document

The attached detailed report concerns the possibility of constructing a “super-bomb” which utilizes the energy stored in atomic nuclei as a source of energy. The energy liberated in the explosion of such a super-bomb is about the same as that produced by the explosion of 1000 tons of dynamite. This energy is liberated in a small volume, in which it will, for an instant, produce a temperature comparable to that in the interior of the sun. The blast from such an explosion would destroy life in a wide area. The size of this area is difficult to estimate, but it will probably cover the centre of a big city.

Mar

2

1940

U-50 returns after a successful patrol

U Boat captain and crew member

Typical of many U boat patrols at the time, U-50′s first patrol had taken her through the North Sea, around the north coast of Scotland and then down to the Atlantic Coast off Portugal. She had sunk four ships during February; one Swedish, one Danish, one Dutch and one British – the steamer British Endeavour, sunk 100 miles off Portugal on the 22 February 1940. Five men died in that attack, the 33 survivors were picked up by another ship in convoy OGF-19.

Mar

1

1940

Sumner Welles meets Ribbentrop

Sumner Welles, United States envoy to Europe

Ribbentrop has a completely closed mind. It struck me as also a very stupid mind. The man is saturated with hate for England, and to the exclusion of any other dominating mental influence. He is clearly without background in international affairs, and he was guilty of a hundred inaccuracies in his presentation of Geman policy during recent years.