Saturday 16 December 1939
|Finnish troops with a destroyed Soviet tank at Summa.|
Winter War Army Operations: Apart from its value as a chokepoint against Soviet attacks north from Leningrad, the Mannerheim Line on the Karelian Isthmu serves to shield the city of Viipuri. Loss of the city would open a communications network into the heart of Finland, and it would be a major blow to Finnish morale. The terrain is much more tank-friendly beyond the city. The Finns have heavily fortified the village of Summa to Viipuri's east which defends the city.
On 16 December 1939, frustrated at Summa, the Soviets attempt to bypass Summa and instead head through the nearby Munasuo swamp to the east. In prioritizing their defenses, the Finns have left this area relatively unprepared. With the ground hard, 20 Soviet tanks blow through this gap, sometimes passing directly over Finnish infantry who hold their ground in trenches. The tank raid, though, could undermine the entire Mannerheim Line if handled properly. This battle introduces the world to "Molotov Cocktails, which are bottles full of combustible fluids thrown at the engine compartments of tanks to set them on fire.
|Finnish antitank obstacles at Summa.|
At Tolvajärvi, the Soviet 75th Division marches to the relief of the 139th Division which has gotten into difficulty. The Finns counterattack and send the relief force into retreat.
Western Front: The French stop a German raid on an outpost east of the Moselle River.
Battle of the Atlantic: Captain Langsdorff communicates with Berlin through the German embassy. He asks for instructions. He is told to either move the Admiral Graf Spee to Buenos Aires, or scuttle the ship to avoid British intelligence from examining it. Admiral Raeder and Adolf Hitler are monitoring the situation closely. Force G remains outside the River Platte, with the Ajax's float plane monitoring the situation and the ships refueling. Commodore Harwood is promoted to Rear Admiral and knighted (KCB). The three Force G cruiser captains are made Companions of the Bath (CB).
U-59 (Oberleutnant zur See Harald Jürst) torpedoes and sinks 1,568 ton Norwegian freighter east of Scotland. Thirteen crew survive and five perish.
U-59 also torpedos and sinks 1,366 ton Swedish freighter Lister. All 19 crew survive.
British freighters Amble, Evelina and Sedgefly hit mines and sink.
Concoy OA 54 departs Southend, OB 54 departs Liverpool, and HG 11 departs from Gibraltar.
Italy: Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano gives a speech to the fascist assembly which is anti-Soviet and pro-Finnish. Italy is continuing to send volunteers to Finland along with heavy equipment.
German Homefront: The Germans complete their repatriation of 51,000 Baltic Germans via the port of Riga in Latvia. They are sent to populate the portions of Poland that have been annexed to the Reich.
China: The Chinese Winter Offense continues expanding:
- Chinese 3rd War Area (Anhwei south of Yangtze River, northeastern Kiangsi, and territory to the east with 10th Army Group, 23rd Army Group, and 32nd Army Group) opens offensive
- Chinese 5th War Area captures Japanese strongpoints at Niehchiachang, Funanchang, Wuhsuchiachang, Chouchiachang, Tunghsinchang, Tuochuanu, and Nanhofu
The Japanese forces are reeling, but manage some counterattacks such as against the Chinese 2nd War Area.
|Finnish troops at Summa, complete with bicycles.|
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