Saturday 20 January 1940
|Finnish 150 mm m1914 howitzers of Japanese origin, after being captured in Summa by the Soviets in February 1940.|
Winter War: The weather remains frigid across Europe on 20 January 1940. London's temperature is the lowest recorded since 1881 at -11°C (-12.2° F) of frost.
Winter War Army Operations: The Soviet 122d Division at Maekaejaervi on the southern prong of the Soviet advance out of Salla attempts to make a stand against Finnish attacks. Soviet artillery bombardment of Summa continues.
The Soviet 18th Rifle Division has been encircled for a week north of Lake Ladoga. Soviet 60th Rifle Division attacks to relieve it.
Winter War Air Operations: Soviet bombers attack the ports of Turku and Hango and set massive fires with 75 incendiary and 150 explosive bombs. The Soviets also perform strafing missions.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-44 (Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes) continues its successful patrol, torpedoing and sinking 5,329 ton Greek freighter Ekatontarchos Dracoulis west of Portugal. There are 6 lives lost, but there could have been more had Captain Mathes not held his fire as the crew took to the boats.
U-57 (Kapitänleutnant Claus Korth) torpedoes and sinks 1,328 ton Norwegian freighter Miranda 30 miles northwest of Peterhead in the North Sea. Three crew survive, fourteen perish. The survivors spend the night in the water before being picked up by a passing Antarctic exploration vessel, RRS Discovery II.
British 7,807 ton tanker Caroni River hits a mine laid by U-34 in Falmouth Bay, southwest England. All 43-55 crew survive (sources vary). The ship was on sea trials and was only carrying ballast.
US freighter Examelia is detained at Gibraltar, but allowed to proceed later in the day.
Convoy OA 76 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 76 departs from Liverpool, Convoy SL 17F departs from Freetown, Convoy HXF 17 departs from Halifax.
European Air Operations: RAF bombers make a bombing run in the North Sea and are attacked by anti-aircraft guns from four Kriegsmarine patrol vessels. The British planes suffer no damage.
Anglo/French Relations: Generals Weygand and Wavell meet in Beirut.
Argentina: President Roberto Marcelino Ortiz and minister of agriculture José Padilla issue a decree expanding Basque immigration from Spain and France.
German Government: Hitler orders the Wehrmacht's Fall Gelb pre-invasion countdown reduced from four days to 24 hours for security purposes. He also uses his intuition (and perhaps intercepts) to surmise that the British are thinking of invading Scandinavia (they are). Thus, he agrees with the Generals to put off Fall Gelb until the spring, but begins thinking himself more seriously about invading Norway.
British Government: First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill broadcasts a speech made to Parliament aimed at the neutral countries such as Holland and Belgium. He urges them to join France and Great Britain in fighting the Nazis, comparing them to "crocodiles victims" who only hope to be eaten last.
He also has unusually harsh words for the Soviets. Previously, he has been quite circumspect about lumping them in with the Nazis. However, this time he calls them "brutish" and compares "Nazidom to Bolshevism" and finds both wanting.
The government releases some reconnaissance photographs taken over Germany.
US Government: The State Department protests at the detention practices of the British authorities in Gibraltar, who have been the most aggressive in the British system both in detentions and confiscations.
American Homefront: Three-alarm fire at the Central Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
|Winston Churchill reading his prepared remarks, 20 January 1940.|
January 1940January 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