Thursday December 14 1939
|Honor Guard on the Admiral Graf Spee, December 14, 1939.|
German Government: Hitler meets Vidkun Quisling on 14 December 1939. Admiral Reader, the originator of the idea of invading Norway, has convinced Adolf Hitler to meet Vidkun Quisling. Quisling is a minor Norwegian politician who is pro-German, pro-defense and also a huge anti-Semite. A friend of explorer Fridtjof Nansen, Quisling among other things had been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to Britain in the Soviet Union (there are rumors he was a spy), given the Romanian Crown Order and also the Yugoslav Order of St. Sava for humanitarian efforts. More recently, he had become the "Fører" of his Nasjonal Samling, the Norwegian equivalent of the Nazi party. He has an awesome resume, particular with the kinds of international contacts that Hitler envies - the one catch is that he isn't very popular in Norway, seen as more of a quaint quack than a national leader.
At the Hitler meeting, Quisling is like a Nazi dream. He asks for help with a pro-German coup that would open the huge Norwegian coastline to the U-boat fleet and save them days of transit to their Atlantic stations. Thereafter, he - as leader of Norway - would help to broker an Anglo/German settlement. Hitler is polite and promises to fund Quisling's party, but he is enough of a realist to see many of Quisling's promises as puffery, "broker's talk." His financial and moral encouragement of Quisling does not dissuade Hitler in the slightest from continuing to plan the invasion of Norway, which is not really what Quisling has in mind, and in fact encourages it. Basically, Hitler sees Quisling as a potentially useful tool for managing a conquered nation, while Quisling sees himself as a future potentate.
The main result of the meeting is that Hitler orders the OKW (military high command) to begin a preliminary study on invading Norway. The first operational name for the project is "Studie Nord." The eventual code name is Weserubung ("Weser Exercise," because it is planned for April 9, which is the little-known holiday "Weser River Day" in Germany).
Winter War Army Operations: In the far north, the Soviets embark on a new offensive in the Petsamo region, the one area where they have freedom of action.
Winter War Naval Operations: Soviet destroyers Gnevny and Grozyaschi shell Uto Island.
Battle of the Atlantic: German liner Columbus, perhaps emboldened by the successful return to Germany of the Bremen from Murmansk, slips out of Vera Cruz, Mexico to return to Germany. There is an involved situation wherein Australian cruiser HMAS Perth is shadowing the Columbus, while several American destroyers and the cruiser USS Vincennes (CA 44) are shadowing the Perth, much to the latter's annoyance.
The Columbus almost slips out unnoticed, but two US destroyers see it leave and tail it. German freighter Arauca also departs from Vera Cruz before Columbus, perhaps as a decoy. The US ships in pursuit openly broadcast the Columbus' position for anyone who might be interested.
Admiral Graf Spee is given 48 hours to leave Montevideo port or be seized by the government after Captain Langsdorff requests two weeks. The British through their naval attaché Henry McCall are all over the Uruguayans and force this decision, though the authorities give the ship an extra day more than required (or allowed) by international law. Commodore Harwood of Force G, meanwhile, is lurking outside the estuary - 120 miles wide - with his battered ships, pondering what might happen in another action against the pocket battleship.
British destroyer Kelly (Lord Mountbatten) is damaged by a mine off the Tyne. Freighter Inverlane hits a mine, but is beached before sinking and is later re-floated.
Royal Navy submarine HMS Ursula sinks Kriegsmarine escort vessel F-9.
The British release US freighter Extavia from detention at Gibraltar.
Convoys OA 53 and OB 53 depart from Southend and Liverpool, respectively.
|Kapitän zur See Hans W. Langsdorff at the funeral of his men. (Photo courtesy of Hugo R. Sochi, from the private collection of Delia S. Neumann wife of Matrosenobergefreiter Gustav Neumann, Division 3, Admiral Graf Spee)|
European Air Operations: The RAF sends 42 planes, its largest force yet, to attack German harbors. The Luftwaffe has a successful day, shooting down 5 of the attacking bombers.
Western Front: Premier Daladier summarizes the results of the first three months of the year in a communiqué, stating that 2,100 French soldiers had lost their lives. He rather incongruously contrasts this with 2,975 road deaths in Great Britain during the same period - road deaths having increased dramatically due to the blackout.
League of Nations: The League expels the USSR, which doesn't really notice since it has been boycotting the League anyway. The reason is for violating (among other things) the UN charter the USSR signed in 1934. Furthermore, the League coordinates relief efforts for the Finns. With Italy, Germany and Japan already having left the League for one reason or another, it is losing relevance.
China: The Chinese Winter Offensive continues. Chinese 40th Army and 27 Army surround Japanese 36 Infantry division at Changtze and Tunliu; River North Army crosses the Han River; 19th Army Group of Chinese 9th War Area beats off a Japanese counterattack by Japanese 33rd and 40th Infantry Divisions Yuchiafan, Lungkang, and Dafan.
American Homefront: Festivities are in full swing for the Atlanta premiere of "Gone With the Wind," attended by Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and most of the cast. There are extended festivities, including a costume ball and various parades, which all culminate on 15 December 1939. It is probably the most elaborate film premiere of all time.
|Clark Gable and Carole Lombard flying to Atlanta for the premiere of Gable's film "Gone With The Wind" - the salary of which had enabled Gable to marry Lombard.|
December 1939December 1, 1939: Finland Fights for its Life
December 2, 1939: First RAF Bombs on Germany
December 3, 1939: Soviets Still Advancing in Finland
December 4, 1939: Molotov to Roosevelt - Mind Your Own Business
December 5, 1939: Prien Returns
December 6, 1939: Attacks on Mannerheim Line
December 7, 1939: Kollaa Holds!
December 8, 1939: Polish Pilots Return
December 9, 1939: First British BEF Fatality
December 10, 1939: The Soviets Capture Salla in Finland
December 11, 1939: Finns Make Their Move
December 12, 1939: Finnish Success in the Winter War
December 13, 1939: Battle of River Platte
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