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The first ‘Situation Report’ given to the War Cabinet

Inside a RAF bomber over Germany: dropping leaflets down the chute
Inside a RAF bomber over Germany: dropping leaflets down the chute

The Naval, Military and Air Situation. An Appreciation by the Chiefs of Staff Committee for the period up to 7th September 1939:

This was the first of the weekly resumes produced by the Service Chiefs, summing up the war situation for the War Cabinet.

1. The Royal Navy has been fully engaged in its task of securing sea communications, escorting military and air reinforcements, giving protection to British and Allied shipping, and in interrupting the enemy’s seaborne trade.

2. The entire fleet has taken up or dispositions as modified to meet the naval situation which has developed in the opening days of the war. The necessary patrols have been established.

3. Three Polish destroyers made a timely passage from the Baltic to the North Sea, and will, in due course, make a valuable addition to our destroyer strength.

4. Progress is being made with the fitting out of liners as armed merchant cruisers.

5. The French fleets have taken up their dispositions as agreed in the Allied war plans.

29. The main cause of the great difficulties with which the Polish armies have been faced has been the overwhelming German air superiority. Polish railways have been heavily attacked, a considerable proportion of their war industries have been put out of action, and their meagre Air Force has been reduced to a state of impotence.

Nevertheless the last official reports stated that the morale of the Polish Army remained high.

33. There have been rumours ever since the German — Soviet non-aggression pact was signed on 22 August that a military pact was also contemplated. Certain Soviet officers have gone to Berlin but there is no confirmation yet that a military pact will be concluded. The reports of Soviet military concentrations on her western frontiers are not conclusive and appear, at present, to be no more than is reasonable under the present circumstances. There are few signs that the Soviet is yet likely to abandon the policy of letting other nations fight, while she waits to reap the benefits later.

British Air Operations

39. An attack against German warships was carried out on 4 September, 1939, by two squadrons of Wellingtons and two squadrons of Blenheims. The results reported were – two hits with 500 lb. bombs on a warship in the Schilling Roads, and one hit on the side of the lock alongside a warship at the entrance to the Kiel Canal.

The attack was carried out at a low altitude in the face of considerable opposition by fighters and A A. fire . Seven of our aircraft failed to return.

40. In addition flights over western Germany have been carried out each night in order to distribute propaganda pamphlets. Opposition has been slight, and has been confined to spasmodic A.A. fire. No fighters have been encountered and it is estimated that some 9,000,000 pamphlets have been dropped on Germany.

See TNA CAB 66/1/13