Thursday 7 December 1939
|The Finns are perfectly prepared for fighting in severe weather.|
Winter War Naval Operations: The Soviet Union announces a naval blockade of Finland on 7 December 1939.
Winter War Army Operations: The events of today mark a climax of recent operations. The highly disciplined and well equipped (for winter warfare) Finns have retreated to prepared positions. They can retreat no further without beginning to jeopardize their rear. The battles begun on 7 December 1939 are destined to be major turning points in the Winter War, for better or worse, but at this point nobody knows which way they will go.
The Soviets attack Kollaa north of Lake Ladoga. It is the center of the Finnish line and provides absolutely vital flank protection for positions protecting the heartland of Finland. Their own deep flank also is vulnerable, but is more easily defended because of the nature of the terrain (lakes and forests). The Finnish 12th Division, along with some odds and ends from other units, has to make its stand here at Kollaa. Their determination becomes a rallying cry for the Finns elsewhere: "Kollaa holds!" The Soviets, though, have more troops, more artillery, and more of pretty much everything except experience in the extreme conditions.
The Finns evacuate Suomussalmi, which is threatened from two different directions. They destroy it to deny the Soviets any shelter. The Soviet 163rd division of the 9th Army (KomKor M.P. Duhanov), seeing this as a welcome gift, is coming up the road to occupy it. The Finns have only scratch forces in the area, two incomplete companies, and are badly outnumbered. The Finns withdraw to the opposite shores of lakes Niskanselkä and Haukiperä. The Finns are using lakes and forests as defensive weapons, and are adept at moving through the woods that the Soviets avoid. The Finns have a plan for Suomussalmi and have not given up on it.
On the Karelian Isthmus, the Soviet 7th Army begins pounding against the Mannerheim Line with no success.
Western Front: The Germans step up their patrolling activity.
Battle of the Atlantic: Admiral Graf Spee claims another victim. It sinks the 3,895 ton SS Streonshalh south of Trinidad. It is the pocket battleship's ninth victim. Captain Langsdorff, as usual, takes the 32-man crew off, then sinks the vessel with scuttling charges and 6-inch shells.
Captain Langsdorff has made a habit of ransacking his victims for anything useful before sinking them, and this time it pays off handsomely. In the Streonshalh's captain's cabin, Langsdorff's men find papers indicating that a 4-ship convoy will be departing Montevideo on 10 December 1939. It seems likes a wonderful gift, as if his next victims are going to meet him practically by appointment rather than his having to scour the empty sea for them. Langsdorff decides to head there to intercept them. Langsdorff is now holding 61 prisoners after previously having transferred 305 to the Altmark.
U-38 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe) sinks 4,460 ton British freighter Thomas Walton in Norwegian territorial waters south of Svolvaer and 80 miles from Narvik. Liebe also mistakenly fires a torpedo at a German rescue ship, the SS Sebu, but it misses. The Sebu takes the 31 survivors to Bodo, Norway. Thirteen perish.
U-47 (Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien) torpedoes and sinks 8,159 ton Dutch freighter Tajandoen. Six perish, 62 survive. Prien mistook the freighter for a tanker and wastes a torpedo on her.
U-23 sinks the Danish vessel Scotia.
US freighters Effingham and Winston Salem are released from Ramsgate. The British seized the latter's cargo of cotton.
Royal Navy destroyer HMS Jersey intervenes at night against Kriegsmarine minelaying destroyer Erich Giese and is damaged by a torpedo.
Belgian steamer Louis Sheid is wrecked at Leas Foot, Thurlestone. It had been making for Antwerp and floods the surrounding coast with the cargo of grain it is carrying.
Sweden: Declares neutrality in the Winter War.
Denmark: Declares neutrality in the Winter War.
Norway: Declares neutrality in the Winter War.
Italy: Declares non-belligerence in the Winter War.
Romania: King Carol asks London if it will guarantee Romanian security against Soviet attack.
India: Sir Stafford Cripps, an early foe of fascism and a socialist, arrives in India for consultation with leaders Gandhi and Jinnah. It is felt that Cripps, with his communist leanings, may be best suited to keep the wayward Indians in line during the war, by offering various inducements for what may transpire after it.
Holocaust: Pursuant to a decree from Adolf Hitler, the SS begins overseeing the euthanization of mental patients at the Dziekanka Psychiatric Hospital in Gniezno. SS Untersturmführer Herbert Lange is in charge. The tool used to kill the patients is a simple van with its exhaust fed back into the compartment.
China: The Japanese attack against Chinese 2nd War Area around Wenhsi and Hsia Hsien continues.
|Improvised Finnish camouflage and shelter for their horses during the battle of Kollaa.|
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