German Navy at sea, Soviet Russia threatens Finland

The Naval Military and Air situation up to noon on 12 October 1939, as reported to the War Cabinet:

Naval situation

North Sea

1. The principal item of Naval interest during the past week was an encounter between British naval forces and German aircraft. On 8th October aircraft sighted a German force, consisting of one battleship, with three cruisers and two destroyers, off the Norwegian coast proceeding northwards. British naval forces were disposed to intercept them, and a force of 12 Wellington bombing aircraft left to attack, but failed to locate them in bad visibility and returned. The Germans are believed to have turned back during the night of 8th/9th October and returned via the Kattegat.

2. On 9th October the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, with destroyers in company, whilst carrying out a sweep off the Norwegian coast in connection with the above incident, was bombed by German aircraft intermittently over a period of about four hours without effect, although over 100 bombs were dropped. At least four separate high-level bombing attacks were made by groups of six aircraft and and one dive bombing attack by a single aircraft.


12. The Dover barrage is nearly completed.

13. Many floating mines have been reported in the southern part of the North Sea. A large number have drifted ashore in Suffolk and Essex: 16 of these are definitely German, some are Dutch, others British. No doubt that the hard gales of the last week account for this.

Military situation

Western front

British Expeditionary Force.

20. The 2nd Corps and remaining G.H.Q. troops have now moved forward, and, by 12th October, the B.E.F. with the 51st French Division under command, will have completed taking over the Lille sector of the French frontier defences, from Maulde (north of St Armand) to Armentieres.

Soviet Russia

28. The Soviet has adopted a somewhat threatening attitude to Finland in connection with the forthcoming talks. This has led the latter to mobilise some 50,000 to 60,000 men, and to deploy forces along her more vulnerable frontiers. The scope of the Soviet demands on Finland is not yet known. But, if they are excessive, it is quite probable that the Finns will resist.

It is reported that the Soviet has a total of four divisions on or near the Finnish frontier. It is assumed that this total does not include the normal garrison of the Leningrad area, and and in any case these forces could be reinforced quickly if necessary.

Air situation

Effectiveness of German anti-aircraft fire.

39. 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.

It is it therefore appears that of the twenty-seven French aircraft are lost during September as a result of enemy action, and only two are known to have been destroyed by A.A. fire, although the loss of four more may have been due to the same cause.”

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