17 September 1939
|Guderian (in command truck) in Poland. Note the light tanks with atypical markings that still were the mainstay of the Panzer arm during the Polish campaign. (Federal archive, tag missing).|
Battle of Poland: The Germans win the Battle of Brześć Litewski (Brest-Litovsk). After an advance of 100 miles in 8 days, General Guderian's XIX Corps takes the historic city of Brest-Litovsk. The Corps previously had advanced eastward in a lightning thrust from Germany proper to East Prussia across the Polish Corridor. The Corps then had reoriented its axis of advance southwards to strike across the Polish rear - to the east of Warsaw - along the River Bug. The XIX Corps remained in Brest-Litovsk until 22 September 1939, when Guderian handed the city over to the Soviets per the secret protocols of the 23 August 1939 Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact.
In Warsaw, the Luftwaffe bombs St. John's Cathedral. The dead are buried in public parks because the cemeteries are full and the Germans are blockading the city.
Polish Military: Surviving Polish air units flee to Romania.
Soviet Military: Pursuant to the secret protocols of the 23 August 1939 Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact, on 17 September 1939 the Soviet Union invades Poland from the East. It is not fair to say that it is completely without warning, as the Soviets had broadcast their intentions on the previous day - but it is without provocation. The Soviets meet virtually no opposition.
Polish Government: With Warsaw already threatened and no help arriving from England or France, the government of Poland leaves Kuty, it's fifth Polish refuge, and encamps for Romania, which is still neutral.
Battle of the Atlantic: HMS Courageous, an aircraft carrier originally built as a battlecruiser during World War I, is sunk on the Western Approaches. Captain-Lieutenant Otto Schuhart of U-29 spots Courageous whilst it is on anti-submarine patrol and puts two torpedoes into her. Some 514-19 of 1200 crew perish. U-29, which only a few days earlier had been stalking the Ark Royal, escapes after four hours of depth charges. The incident showed the Royal Navy the dangers of anti-submarine patrols, and is another step on the road to the full convoy system. The Courageous is the first British warship sunk by the enemy in World War II. Schuhart receives the Iron Cross First Class.
The British withdraw their remaining fleet carriers from anti-submarine patrols.
Czechoslovakia: A revolt breaks out in the former Czechoslovakia and begins to spread.
Italian Government: Italy offers Greece a guarantee that it will not take any military action against it.
Japanese Military: Japan launches an attempt to take the city of Changsha, Hunan after blowing through Chinese resistance led by the 184th Division of the Chinese 60th Corps.
September 1, 1939: Invasion of Poland
September 2, 1939: Danzig Annexed
September 3, 1939: France, Great Britain Declare War
September 4, 1939: First RAF Raid
September 5, 1939: The US Stays Out
September 6, 1939: Battle of Barking Creek
September 7, 1939: Polish HQ Bugs Out
September 8, 1939: War Crimes in Poland
September 9, 1939: The Empire Strikes Back
September 10, 1939: The Germans Break Out
September 11, 1939: Battle of Kałuszyn
September 12, 1939: The French Chicken Out
September 13, 1939: The Battle of Modlin
September 14, 1939: Germany Captures Gdynia
September 15, 1939: Warsaw Surrounded
September 16, 1939: Battle of Jaworów
September 17, 1939: Soviets Invade Poland
September 18, 1939: Lublin Falls
September 19, 1939: Germans, Soviets Hook Up
September 20, 1939: the Kraków Army Surrenders
September 21, 1939: Romania Convulses
September 22, 1939: Joint Soviet-German Military Parade
September 23, 1939: The Panama Conference
September 24, 1939: The Luftwaffe Bombs Warsaw
September 25, 1939: Black Monday for Warsaw
September 26, 1939: Warsaw on the Ropes
September 27, 1939: Hitler Decides to Invade France
September 28, 1939: Warsaw Capitulates
September 29, 1939: Modlin Fortress Falls
September 30, 1939: Graf Spee on the Loose