Monday, May 2, 2016

December 10, 1939: The Soviets Capture Salla in Finland

Sunday 10 December 1939

10 December 1939 Chinese Winter Offensive
A Chinese Maxim M1910 machine gun team at Kunlun Pass, Guangxi, China during the Winter Offensive of the Second Sino-Japanese War in late 1939.
Winter War Army Operations: Soviet 9th Army (Chuikov) 122nd and 88th divisions capture at least part of Salla in the waist of the country on 10 December 1939. The tiny village itself has been burned down during the fighting on 9 December, but it is a key milestone on the road to the coast. The Soviet long-range objective is the port of Tornio by way of Rovaniemi, the latter of which Soviet plans call for taking in two weeks.

There are only so many useable east-west roads in this part of Finland, and this is the best one north of Suomussalmi. Reaching Tornio would split Finland in two and effectively decide the war. Even just taking Rovaniemi, which sits astride the only major north/south road east of the coast, would seriously damage Finnish prospects. Thus, the stakes are extremely high for the Finns, though the Soviets have multiple options - and all those options may be weighing on them.

Once in possession of Salla, Chuikov has a decision to make, because there is a fork in the road there. What he decides will have a big influence on future events.

The Soviet 7th Army is being shelled by Finnish coastal batteries on the island of Saarenpää. Soviet battleship Oktjabrskaja Revolutsija (October Revolution) attempts to destroy the Finnish batteries, but cannot hit them in dense winter fog. Other Finnish batteries on islands in the Gulf of Finland prevent Soviet naval forces from invading behind the Mannerheim Line to undermine it. The Finns may not have an overwhelming amount of ordnance, but what they do have is cleverly used.

 Elsewhere, operations are fairly quiet after a rough week.

Winter War Naval Operations: The Baltic is the one area where the Kriegsmarine and German merchant marine does not have to suffer the oppressive superiority of the Royal Navy. However, with the onset of the Winter War, now a loose cannon that cannot be avoided there is shooting randomly at everyone: the Soviet Navy. This places a further strain on German/Soviet relations in addition to everything else - and the Soviets never apologize for their mistakes.

Soviet submarine SC-323 sinks Estonian freighter Kassari.

Soviet submarine S-1 sinks the German SS Bolheim in the Gulf of Bothnia, apparently mistaking it for a Finnish ship.

Soviet submarine SC-322 sinks German SS Reinbek in the Baltic Sea, also apparently mistaking it for a Finnish vessel. 

10 December 1939 Soviet submarine S-1
Soviet submarine S-1.

Battle of the Atlantic: A Canadian troop convoy that includes five big passenger liners full of troops sets sail from Halifax. It has numerous escorts. It is convoy HXF 12. It is bound for Liverpool.

The Soviet government formally protests to the British government about its blockade.

U-20 (Kapitänleutnant Karl-Heinz Moehle) sinks 1,674-ton Norwegian freighter Føina north of Scotland. All eighteen crew perish.

The 4,815-ton British freighter Willowpool strikes a mine laid by a U-boat and sinks a few miles from the Newark Lightship in the English Channel. All 36 crew survive.

British freighter Ray of Hope is sunk by a mine.

German liner Bremen decides to risk Allied patrols and leaves Murmansk for Germany.

The British detain US freighter Steel Engineer at Gibraltar.

Convoy OA 50G departs from Southend, Convoy OB 50 departs from Liverpool, and Convoy SL 12 and SL 12F both depart from Freetown.

Finnish Government: The government makes an international appeal for aid, stating in part that the USSR had attacked it "without the slightest cause," and that "our position as the active outpost of western civilization gives us the right to expect the active resistance of other civilized nations."

US/Finnish Relations: The US government grants Finland a $10 million letter of credit for agricultural supplies. While the timing is quite interesting, it appears to be in gratitude for Finland paying off its Great War debt to the United States in full (unlike virtually everyone else).

Peace Talks: The League of Nations continues deliberating the Soviet attack on Finland.

Nobel Prizes: The Nobel Prizes are announced. There is no Peace Prize awarded this year. Two German recipients are forced to refuse their awards.

China: The Chinese Winter Offensive opens with an attack by the Chinese 2nd War Area (Shansi and southern Shensi with 4th Army Group, 5th Army Group, and 14th Army Group) around Henlingkuan, Chenfengta, and Yenchangchen.

American Homefront: The Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game.

10 December 1939 Soviet battleship October Revolution
Soviet battleship October Revolution in 1934.
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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