Thursday 7 September 1939
|These prisoners were taken at Westerplatte, 7 September 1939.|
Battle of Poland: Westerplatte, which the Germans had attacked first thing during the invasion, finally falls to the Germans. It had held out for a full week and inspired resistance elsewhere despite intense German shelling. Its fall is a shock to the nation. However, it remains a national symbol of resistance somewhat akin to the Alamo in the United States. The battleship Schleswig-Holstein, which had begun the war by firing on Westerplatte, now switches its fire to the Polish naval base at Hela.
The Polish town of Wizna is part of the Polish line of defenses of Łomża. The 10th Panzer Division of the XXI Army Corps (General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst) captures it, but the retreating Poles blow up the bridge across the Narew. German patrols cross the river late in the day and attack Giełczyn, but are stopped. This becomes part of the larger battle of Łomża, which straddles the Narew River. Around mid-day, the 21st Infantry Division advances directly into Polish defenses at Łomża without preparation (aside from scattered Luftwaffe attacks in previous days) but is repelled. The Germans lose 6 tanks and relatively heavy infantry casualties. The Poles hold out, causing the 21st ID to withdraw north and taking 57 German prisoners.
German radio announces that its forces have reached Pultusk, 30 miles north of Warsaw.
Western Front: The French Army mounts an expedition in the Saarland against German screening forces. The area is in peacetime conditions, with German power plants still supplying the French towns with electricity.
Operation Saar, one of the more controversial episodes of the war because of its missed opportunities, is launched by French General Maurice Gamelin's Third, Fourth and Fifth Armies (11 divisions total). They advance timidly into the Cadenbronn and Warndt Forest salients. The advance is extremely measured, and the German outposts retreat without any fuss. The Germans leave behind placards in French stating that Germany has no quarrel with France. They also position loudspeakers blasting propaganda message in French with a similar theme. The defending German forces are light in infantry and have no panzers. They also are very weak in anti-tank weapons. The French military, of course, knows none of this.
Along with the propaganda efforts, the Germans have mined the roads and fields and booby-trap the towns. General Gamelin orders the hesitant French infantry to drive a herd of pigs through the mines, with many of the animals blown up.
Hitler appoints General Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein to be the commander of Army Detachment A, an ad hoc force for the defense of the Siegfried Line. Hammerstein is overdue for retirement, and his appointment is an expression of Hitler's desire that nothing dramatic occurs along the Western Front. Factories in Saarbrücken continue to operate as normal with French forces just miles away and virtually no defenses in between.
Battle of the Atlantic: Winston Churchill organizes and sends out the first British convoy to America. However, many ships still sail without convoys due to being particularly fast or slow. These are called "independents" and provide the easiest targets for U-boats.
The Dutch steamship Batavia is attacked but the torpedoes miss. British freighter Olivgrove is sunk in the Bay of Biscay 200 miles northwest of Spain.
Hitler meets with Admiral Raeder, CIC of the Kriegsmarine. He issues the Athenia Order, which is that "in order not to provoke neutral countries, the United States, in particular, it is forbidden to torpedo passenger steamers, even when sailing in convoy. Warfare against French merchant ships, attacks on French warships and mine laying off French ports is prohibited."
British Government: Ambassador to Germany Sir Neville Henderson is repatriated to England. General Viscount Lord Gort is appointed to command the British Expeditionary Force.
German Government: The death penalty is prescribed for anyone "hindering the defensive power of the German people."
United States Military: The military takes over control of the Panama Canal.
Irish Government: The Eire government calls up volunteers to supplement Army reserve.
Yugoslav Military: Yugoslavia mobilizes its military.
International Relations: Iraq, independent since 1932, breaks diplomatic relations with Germany. The British maintain two RAF bases there, RAF Shaibah, near Basra, and RAF Habbaniya, between Ramadi and Fallujah.
United States Homefront: In the Webster Times of Webster, Massachusetts, the big news is of the finale of sailboat racing at the lake.
September 1939September 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