Sunday, May 1, 2016

December 1, 1939: Finland Fights for its Life

Friday December 1 1939

1 December 1939 Helsinki bomb damage
The Soviet bombing of civilian areas in Helsinki.
Winter War: On 1 December 1939, the Soviets bomb Helsinki again during the night, killing 80 people.

On the ground, the Soviet advance is slow. The Finns may be small in numbers, but they are big in heart. The Karelian Front is the scene of savage fighting. The Finns report capturing 1200 prisoners, destroying 19 tanks and shooting down at least 16 aircraft.

Winter War Army Operations: Soviet 7th and 8th Armies on either side of Lake Ladoga are advancing, but slowly. They are meeting unexpected strong resistance and are behind schedule. Soviet tanks are operating independently from the infantry. These occasionally penetrate the Finnish lines but are eventually neutralized.

North of Lake Ladoga, the advance Finnish forces near the border flee back to the Mannerheim Line. The Soviets are in hot pursuit, aided by naval forces on Lake Ladoga.

Soviet 14th Army in the far north accomplishes its prime objective and captures the prime port of Petsamo.

Winter War Naval Operations: The Finnish troops on Russaro Island beat back the Soviet cruiser Kirov that is bombarding it. The Soviet ship takes 17 dead and 30 wounded, while the Finns report no casualties. The Finns are armed with four massive 234 mm coastal guns there, and they are able to return fire at a range of 24 km to good effect.

Soviet gunboat Orangenbaum runs aground on a sandbar in Lake Ladoga, a notoriously treacherous lake for ships. It is accompanying other ships trying to shell Finnish shore batteries and land troops at Taipale behind the Mannerheim Line. The overall Soviet attack is unsuccessful.

The Soviet Navy lands troops on Someri Island and Narvi Island.

Scandinavia: There are widespread pro-Finnish demonstrations throughout the Nordic region. These nations live in perpetual fear of heavy-handed tactics such as the USSR is displaying, and now the nightmare is coming true.

A recruitment office for volunteers wishing to help the Finns opens in Stockholm.

Winter War Peace Talks: Molotov rejects requests to negotiate with the new Finnish government.

United States Government: President Roosevelt condemns the Soviet invasion of Finland. US Ambassador to the USSR Laurence B. Steinhardt states that in particular, the US objects to "the alleged bombardment of civilians in Finland by Soviet airmen."

Soviet Propaganda: The Soviets set up a puppet Finnish government (the Democratic Republic of Finland) just across the border in occupied Finland, at Terijoki. It is led by Finnish Communist Otto Kuusinen, who asks Finns to "overthrow the oppressor" in Helsinki.

The TASS news agency touts the Kuusinen government that the Soviets have installed: "The people already rose in various parts of the country and proclaimed the formation of a democratic republic. Part of the soldiers of Finland's army already have sided with the new government, backed by the people." In actuality, the entire Finnish Army is fighting with great skill and determination against the Soviet hordes.

Battle of the Atlantic: British freighter Dalryan hits a mine and sinks off the southeast coast of England. Norwegian freighter Realf is reported lost at sea.

U-21 (Kapitänleutnant Fritz Frauenheim) sinks 4,260-ton Finnish freighter Mercator off Buchan Ness, Scotland in the North Sea. One crew member perishes, 35 survive.

U-31 (Kapitänleutnant Johannes Habekost) sinks 1,277-ton Norwegian freighter Arcturus east of Scotland.

Convoy OA 44 departs from Southend.

Battle of the Pacific: The US sends six submarines to join the Asiatic Fleet in Pearl Harbor.

France: Premier Edouard Daladier addresses the French and British people (with simultaneous translation as usual). He states that it "has not been necessary to take an attitude of aggressive attack" due to the strength of the Maginot Line. He makes a point of blaming French communist leaders' subversion ("treating with foreign governments") for France's situation, stating that it constitutes "treason."

China: A major Chinese winter offensive, long-planned by Chiang Kai-shek, begins. It starts in north China. The Chinese 1st War Area (Honan and northern Anhwei, with 3rd Army Group and 36th Army Group) cuts the Lunghai Railway in three places (Lowang, Neihuang, and Lanfeng).

In the Battle of Kwangsi, the Japanese, pursuing the fleeing Chinese, capture Kaofengyi north of Nanning.

1 December 1939 Edouard Daladier
Edouard Daladier.
December 14, 1939: Quisling Meets Hitler
December 15, 1939: Chinese Winter Offensive in High Gear
December 16, 1939: Battle of Summa
December 17, 1939: End of Admiral Graf Spee
December 18, 1939: Battle of Heligoland Bight
December 19, 1939: British Disarm Magnetic Mines
December 20, 1939: Finnish Counterattacks Continue
December 21, 1939: Finns Plan More Counterattacks
December 22, 1939: Enter Chuikov
December 23, 1939: Failed Finnish Counterattack
December 24, 1939: Soviets on the Run
December 25, 1939: Fresh Soviet Attacks
December 26, 1939: Vicious Battles at Kelja
December 27, 1939: Grinding Finnish Victories
December 28, 1939: Liberators
December 29, 1939: Finns Tighten the Noose
December 30, 1939: Finnish Booty
December 31, 1939: Planning More Soviet Destruction


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