Tuesday October 17 1939
|October 17, 1939: U-47 passing the cruiser Emden at Wilhelmshaven, Germany following the sinking of HMS Royal Oak. Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien "The Bull of Scapa Flow" can be seen on the conning tower.|
European Air Operations: Just like the day before, on 17 October 1939 four Ju 88s raid Scapa Flow in mid-afternoon. This time, they badly damage (it must be beached at Ore Bay) the training ship HMS Iron Duke (former flagship of Admiral Jellicoe in World War I) for the loss of one plane. There is a second raid on the Orkney Islands by ten planes, with no hits of importance by either side. There is a battle over the English Channel that claims two Luftwaffe planes.
Battle of the Atlantic: Admiral Doenitz orders U-boats to attack all enemy merchant ships without warning on the ground that resistance was to be expected. This is due to Doenitz learning that British merchant ships are being armed and were giving information by radio to the Royal Navy and were under orders to attack U-boats on sight. [This is according to Doenitz's testimony at the Nuremberg trials following World War II.]
German destroyers advance to the mouth of the Humber Estuary in the North Sea and lay some mines.
Churchill appears in the House of Commons to explain the loss of the Royal Oak and explains that it was laying quietly at anchor when it was sunk in the middle of the night.
U-37 torpedoes and sinks 10,183-ton British passenger ship Yorkshire off the coast of Spain. There are 58 dead with 223 survivors.
U-46 torpedoes and sinks 7,028-ton British freighter City of Mandalay. Of the 80 crew members, two perish.
U-48 torpedoes and sinks 7,256-ton British freighter Clan Chisholm. Four of the 78 people on board perish.
Admiral Graf Spee is working in conjunction with the supply ship Altmark. It transfers the crew of the Huntsman to the Altmark and then sinks the Huntsman.
One of the developing problems of the convoy system is that U-boats are having an easy time with un-escorted convoys. The Yorkshire, the City of Mandalay and Clan Chisholm were all sailing in convoys that had no escorts.
US freighter Cranford is detained by British authorities, who release the Black Falcon.
Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien "The Bull of Scapa Flow" returns to Wilhelmshaven to an epic hero's welcome in U-47, saluted by the entire harbor for his sinking of the HMS Royal Oak.
Convoy OA 21 departs from Southend, while OB 21 departs from Liverpool. At Gibraltar, convoy OG 3 is forming. Convoy HX 5 departs from Halifax.
Western Front: There are two BEF corps at the front, and one has taken over a section of the front. The French report some infantry engagements, while the Germans claim there is "absolute quiet."
Turkey: Like Spain, Turkey is in control of a key naval chokepoint and otherwise is not very vulnerable by land attack. Both sides are courting Turkey, which is remaining neutral. Turkey announces today that it is breaking off negotiations with Moscow and that its negotiator, Foreign Minister Sarajoglu, is returning to Ankara. The holdup is that Turkey has certain deals with France and Britain with which a proposed agreement with Russia would conflict.
Switzerland: Immigrants are prohibited from engaging in political activities.
Finland: Marshall Mannerheim becomes Finnish Commander-in-chief, just like in World War I. Unlike then, though, he now has a real army to command. Finland is not yet at war, but Mannerheim's appointment shows that nobody is under any illusions about what is likely to happen.
Canada: General Andrew McNaughton is appointed commander of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.
German Homefront: Reinhard Heydrich issues the so-called Settlement Edict: (Festsetzungserlaß) Romani may not leave their current place of residence.
|Guenther Prien at Wilhelmshaven. He will be awarded the coveted Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) by Adolf Hitler only days later.|
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