Saturday 14 October 1939
|HMS Royal Oak (British government photo).|
Battle of the Atlantic: At 01:30 on 14 October 1939, U-47 (Kplt Guenther Prien) weasels its way into Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, the main fleet base of the Royal Navy and one of the most secure places on earth. It is one of the most audacious operations of the war, and Prien is presented with a plethora of targets. He chooses the Battleship Royal Oak and sends seven torpedoes into it. Down it goes when three strike, amidst the hulks of the German battlefleet from World War I. Some 833 men die (including Rear Admiral Henry Blagrove) and 414 survive among the 1200-man crew.
After an investigation, it is revealed that there is a 50-foot gap in the net over Kirk Sound. The Royal Fleet changes its location to Loch Ewe.
The Polish submarine Orzel has been at sea for almost a month after escaping from Estonian detention. It now completes its journey to the British Isles.
Southwest of Ireland, British destroyers HMS Inglefield, Ivanhoe and Intrepid sink U-45 (Kapitänleutnant Alexander Gelhaar). The crew perishes. This is after U-45 sank two members of Convoy KJF-3, the French Bretagne and the British Lochavon.
The Deutschland continues its extended raid in the Atlantic, sinking the 1,918 ton Norwegian freighter Lorentz W. Hansen 420 miles east of Newfoundland.
The British detain the US freighter Scanstates in the Orknesy, and the freighter Exporter at Gibraltar. The French detain the US freighter Nashaba at Le Havre.
Western Front: French Commander-in-chief General Gamelin issues an order of the day predicting a German attack "at any moment."
Finland: The country mobilizes its military as the Finnish delegation to Moscow returns to Helsinki. Finnish proposals for a land swap so that the USSR can get the territory it wants north of Leningrad have been rejected.
The Finns have 340,000 men in ten divisions and accompanying units, a formidable force that is expert in winter weather.
Italy: A new ambassador is sent to London, Signor Bastianini.
British Military Intelligence: Having brought over two copies of the Enigma machine, Polish cryptanalysts resume their efforts to break the German ciphers in France.
Population Transfers: Ethnic Germans in Latvia begin sailing to the Reich.
American Homefront: There is great umbrage taken by various constituencies in the United States at the sharp America First radio address by Charles Lindbergh on 13 October.
China: at Changsha, Japanese forces of the 11th Army withdraw to their starting points on both the eastern flank (101st and 106th divisions) and the center of the line (33rd Division).
Future History: Ralph Lauren is born in the Bronx, New York.
|The Royal Oak today.|
October 1939October 1, 1939: Occupation of Warsaw
October 2, 1939: Hel Peninsula Falls
October 3, 1939: The Diamantis Incident
October 4, 1939: Otto Kretschmer Gets Rolling
October 5, 1939: Polish Resistance Ends
October 6, 1939: Hitler Peace Effort
October 7, 1939: The British Have Arrived
October 8, 1939: First RAF Kill from UK
October 9, 1939: "City of Flint" Incident
October 10, 1939: Lithuania Under Pressure
October 11, 1939: The Atomic Age Begins
October 12, 1939: England Rejects Hitler's Peace Offer
October 13, 1939: Charles Lindbergh Speaks Out
October 14 1939: Royal Oak Sunk
October 15, 1939: Cuban Rockets
October 16, 1939: First Aircraft Shot Down Over UK
October 17, 1939: Marshall Mannerheim Returns
October 18, 1939: Prien Receives His Award
October 19, 1939: Preliminary Plan for Fall Gelb
October 20, 1939: Hitler Grapples with the Jews
October 21, 1939: Hurricanes to the Rescue!
October 22, 1939: Goebbels Lies Through His Teeth
October 23, 1939: Norway the Center of Attention
October 24, 1939: German "Justice" Gets Rolling
October 25, 1939: Handley Page Halifax Bomber First Flies
October 26, 1939: Jozef Tiso Takes Slovakia
October 27, 1939: King Leopold Stands Firm
October 28, 1939 - First Luftwaffe Raid on Great Britain
October 29, 1939: Tinkering with Fall Gelb
October 30, 1939: Defective Torpedoes
October 31, 1939: Molotov Issues an Ultimatum