Saturday, May 7, 2016

December 24, 1939: Soviets on the Run

Thursday 24 December 1939

24 December 1939 Finnish ski troops

Winter War Army Operations: International aid to the Finns continues. Volunteers from virtually other European nations have been pouring in. Today, 24 December 1939, 50 Finnish-American volunteers arrive at the port of Oulu to serve in the military.

The campaign now has been in progress for 24 days, twice the amount of time expected in the Soviets' overly optimistic plans.

The remnants of Soviet 75th and 139th Divisions have been on the run in the Tolmojaervi and Aglajaervi (Ägläjärvi) districts. Group Talvela is pursuing them and enter into Soviet territory, though only briefly.

At Suomussalmi, the trapped Soviet 163rd Division tries to break out east down the Ratte road but makes no progress against the Finnish 9th Division. Soviet 44th Division, trapped further down the road, does not have enough strength to help them. The winter is working its magic on the Soviet troops and their vehicles, robbing them of strength and initiative. Part of the problem is that the Soviet 44th Division has plenty of skis, but no ski troops. The Finns can maneuver through the woods on skis and attack the Soviets all along the road.

Soviet troops further north are being pushed back to Salla from the Kemijoki River by the Finnish troops under the command of  Major General Kurt Martti Wallenius.

European Air Operations: The RAF sends 17 planes to attack German shipping but has no success.

Battle of the Atlantic: The fire on the Admiral Graf Spee finally burns out.

Convoy OB 59 departs from Liverpool and HG 12 from Gibraltar.

German/Soviet Relations: The two nations sign an agreement restoring rail links between their occupied areas.

German Government: Hitler is still inspecting the Siegfried Line.

Vatican: Pope Pius XII makes an appeal for peace on Christmas Eve before 25 Cardinals. He denounces aggression and the right of small countries to exist. He says that there have been "acts which cry for the vengeance of God." The Pope also offers a 5-point program to achieve "a just and honorable peace."

China: While elements of the Chinese forces remain on the offensive, the Japanese counterattacks are increasing. Japanese 21st Army Yinchanao and Pachiangkou north of Canton, while the Japanese 2nd Independent Mixed Brigade helps out the Japanese at Paotou and sends the Chinese 8th War Area on to the defensive. The Chinese West Route Force is attacking the Japanese 5th Infantry Division near Lungchow but is making slow progress.

Holocaust: German troops accompanied by Polish policemen encircle the synagogue in Siedlce, remove the two Torah scrolls, and set the synagogue on fire. They also burn the scrolls separately. The fire spreads to nearby Jewish offices. The Polish police prepare a report blaming the fire on the Jews. The Germans then prepare to deport many of the Jews of Lublin to labor camps.

24 December 1939 Siedlce Poland synagogue
The synagogue in Siedlce burning on 24 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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