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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

January 17, 1940: Bletchley Park in Action


Wednesday 17 January 1940

17 January 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Finnish booty
Finns inspecting Soviet booty, 17 January 1940.

Winter War: An anonymous individual comes up to the Finnish Minister in London, Mr. Gripenberg, on 17 January 1940, hands him £5,000, and walks away.

It is a brutal winter, so brutal that the waters between Sweden and Denmark are said to have frozen over. In Moscow, 79 degrees of frost are recorded. The mercury drops to −43°C (−45°F) on the Karelian Isthmus, −45°C (−49°F) further north in Summa. At noon it is −39°C (−38°F) in Taipale. Lake Lagoda freezes over completely. It is frosty across Europe, and it would have been a terrible day for Hitler's Fall Gelb. On the whole, it benefits the Finns, who have mastered the skill of staying warm while the Soviet soldiers often freeze to death, but everyone on both sides has a hard time with the brutal weather.

Winter War Army Operations: Finns take Kursu near Salla after driving the Soviets back about 12 miles.

The Soviets keep pounding away with their artillery at Summa.

Battle of the Atlantic: An unknown U-boat (or perhaps Soviet submarine) has a narrow escape. British submarine HMS Tribune spots a mystery sub in the Skagerrak Strait, fires six torpedoes, and all miss. Nobody knows what submarine it was.

In a convoluted attack, U-25 (Kapitänleutnant Viktor Schütze) torpedoes and sinks 4,751 ton British freighter Potzella north of Muckle Flugga Shetland Isles. All 36 crew perish. He had been firing at the Norwegian 1,140 ton steamer Enid, but the torpedo missed and Schütze then turned his attention to the Potzella. The Enid, though, sees the U-25 sink the Potzella and intervenes to pick up the men in the water. U-25 then surfaces and uses its deck gun on the Enid. The men of the Enid abandon ship, and the U-25 then sinks their ship, too. The men of the Enid survive.

British 5,494 ton freighter Cairncross hits a mine west of Liverpool and sinks. All 48 crew survive. Cairncross was sailing with convoy OB-74. The mine had been laid by U-74 on 6 January 1940.

European Air Operations: The RAF sends Whitley bombers over Prague and Vienna to drop leaflets.

Spy Stuff: Polish cryptographers, having brought over two Enigma machines, succeed in decoding the Luftwaffe key of 28 October 1939. The ciphers are working at Poste de Commandement Bruno (Chateau de Vignolles at Gretz-Armainvillers, 40 km northeast of Paris) and Dilly Knox’s team at Government Code and Cypher School (Bletchley Park, England).

Anglo/American Relations: The British Foreign Office brushes off US protests about impounding US mail bound for the Continent, stating:
"His Majesty's Government find themselves unable to share the views of the United States government that their [the British] action in examining neutral mail in British or neutral shipping is contrary to their obligations under international law".
The British at Gibraltar detain both the US passenger liner Manhattan and the US freighter Excambio.

Convoy OA 74 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 74 departs from Liverpool.

China: Japanese 21st Army retreats to Canton, and Chinese 4th War Area lets them go and digs in about 50 miles north of there.

The 31st Army of Chinese 5th War Area battles the Japanese near Wanchiatien, Chientingmiao, Lohanting, and Huashan.

Japanese forces around Yehchiachi and Lochiachi attack the 13th Infantry Division of Chinese 5th War Area. The Chinese are under pressure with their backs to the Han River.

17 January 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Scharnhorst Kiel harbor
Kiel harbor, ca. 17 January 1940, KMS Scharnhorst in the background. It is not often that you can walk out to a pocket battleship.

January 1940

January 1, 1940: Finns Carve up the Soviets
January 2, 1940: Finnish Counterattacks Continue
January 3, 1940: Soviets Trapped
January 4, 1940: Soviet Breakout Attempts Fail
January 5, 1940: Dicing Up the Soviets
January 6, 1940: Soviet 44th Division Runs
January 7, 1940: Shakeup in Soviet High Command
January 8, 1940: Ratte Road Battle Ends
January 9, 1940: British Submarines in Peril
January 10, 1940: Mechelen Incident
January 11, 1940: Finns Surround More Soviets
January 12, 1940: New Soviet Attacks at Taipale
January 13, 1940: Fall Gelb Postponed
January 14, 1940: Japan's Government Falls
January 15, 1940: Soviets Prepare More Carefully
January 16, 1940: German Atrocities Uncovered
January 17, 1940: Bletchley Park in Action
January 18, 1940: New Hope for Allied Shipping
January 19, 1940: Finnish Attacks at Salla
January 20, 1940: Churchill Urges Cooperation
January 21, 1940: Asam Maru Incident
January 22, 1940: Dissension Within British Government
January 23, 1940: Dissension in South Africa
January 24, 1940: NKVD Blocking Detachments
January 25, 1940: Auschwitz Site Selected
January 26, 1940: Millionaire Bunker Destroyed
January 27, 1940: U-20 Sinks Four Ships
January 28, 1940: Softening Up the Finns
January 29, 1940: Moscow Willing to Talk
January 30, 1940: Hitler Throws Down the Gauntlet
January 31, 1940: Timoshenko Is Ready



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