Friday, May 6, 2016

December 22, 1939: Enter Chuikov

Friday 22 December 1939

22 December 1939 Chuikov
Vasily Chuikov

Finnish Winter War: The Kremlin is becoming increasingly agitated about the lack of Soviet successes in Finland. On 22 December 1939, they remove the commander of the Ninth Army, Dukhanov, and on 22 December 1939 bring in one of the successful and most hard-bitten commanders from Poland, Vasily Chuikov. For what was supposed be a mere formality, the invasion of Finland is turning into a real dogfight.

Chuikov is a brutal but effective commander. Some of his troops committed war crimes in Poland while he was in command of 4th Army, but he is a keen strategist and is adept at recovering from bad situations. He and his staff immediately start trying to figure out what is going wrong at Suomussalmi and the other flashpoints that have held up the advance.

He quickly realizes that the vaunted 44th Rifle Division, strung out along the Ratte road and essentially surrounded, was incapable of breaking out on its own. He sends a message to the Stavka that the division, highly regarded, "adjusts to the local conditions very badly." His requests for troops to relieve this relief force, however, are denied.

Finland is becoming the graveyard of not only the graveyard of Soviet soldiers, but also of the careers (and ultimately lives) of their Generals. Chuikov's appointment is a sign that things are seriously off the track.

Winter War Army Operations: The Soviets give up their attacks on Summa, handing the Finns a major defensive victory.

At Ägläjärvi, Group Telvela destroys the Soviet 139th Rifle Division. It also sends the Soviet 75th Infantry Division reeling. The remaining Soviets head back for the border. The Soviets lost over 1,000 dead, 20 tanks, 60 machine guns and the guns of two artillery batteries. The Finns lose over 100 dead and 250 wounded. This effectively ends the battle in this area.

Despite Chuikov's appointment, Soviet 44th Rifle Division on the Ratte road continues to say that it is unable to break through the Finnish roadblock formed by Group Kontula. Thus, it cannot relieve 163rd Rifle Division.

Soviet 17th Railway Artillery Battalion is attached to 7th Army and bombards Viipuri.

Winter War Air Operations: The Soviets again raid Helsinki. The attacks are small, this time with only three bombers, and do not cause much damage.

Battle of the Atlantic: British freighter Gryfevale is damaged by a mine off Tyne Pier in the North Sea.

US destroyers are keeping watch on British ships around Florida.  British light cruiser HMS Orion is still roaming around and is currently off Port Everglades.

Convoy OA 58 departs from Scotland and OB 58 departs from Liverpool.

European Air Operations: There is a major dogfight over the Western Front. Two Hurricanes and one Bf 109 go down.

Soviet Air Force: First flight of the Petlyakov Pe-2 light bomber and ground attack plane.

France: Premier Daladier announces that the Maginot Line has been strengthened and extended in northern France an din the Jura Mountains.

Great Britain: The British Ministry of Economic Warfare announces that, all told since the beginning of the war, the government has seized 870,000 tons of contraband.

India: Many Indian Muslims are upset about not being consulted about the country's support of Great Britain in the war. Members of the Indian National Congress resign from the government in protest. They call this the "Day of Deliverance."

China: The Japanese are counterattacking as the Chinese attacks wind down. The IJA attacks the Chinese 5th War Area near Wangwutai and Lochiatang and clear road from Wangwutai to Taopaowan. The Japanese 2nd Independent Mixed Brigade attacks the Chinese 8th War Area, relieving a garrison trapped at Paotou.

American Homefront: "Gulliver's Travels" is released.

22 December 1939 U-boat Wilhelmshaven
Loading torpedoes on a U-boat at Wilhelmshaven, 22 December 1939.
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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