Thursday, May 12, 2016

January 27, 1940: U-20 Sinks Four Ships

Saturday 27 January 1940

27 January 1940 SS Faro
The good ship Faro drifts ashore in Tarcliff Bay.
Winter War: General Siilasvuo's 9th Division completes its deployment opposite the Soviet 54th Mountain Division on 27 January 1940. His plan is a copy of his plan to destroy the 44th Rifle Division on the Ratte road. First, his men will destroy the Soviet division's lines of communication by using mobile ski groups. Then, his men will cut the column - stretched out on the road - into the "logs" that are easier to "burn." This has become known as the "motti" strategy.

The 7,000-shell bombardment of Summa continues for another day. It has now been a continuous rain of artillery shells for two weeks.

The final preparations are now being made for a massive Soviet offensive on the Karelian Isthmus. Comrade Stalin likes to begin his offensives on days that have some larger significance. The first of the month is the nearest one available.

Battle of the Atlantic: US freighter City of Flint arrives back in Baltimore after a historic journey that sparked repeated international incidents.

U-20 (Kapitänleutnant Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt) goes on a wild U-boat spree, with four victories in a matter of hours. However, they are all small, empty, neutral steamers, so the effect is not as great as appears at first glance. Operating just to the east of the Orkneys, he sinks in order:
  • 844 ton Norwegian SS Faro (8 men perish, 7 survive);
  • 2,094 ton Danish SS Fredensborg (20 men perish);
  • 2,319 ton SS England (20 men perish, one survivor);
  • 1,591 ton Norwegian SS Hosanger (17 men perish, one survivor).
Klot-Heydenfeldt could have sparked wars with the neutrals by these sinkings. However, neither Norway nor Denmark is looking for a fight.

The winter waters are extremely rough on the survivors. The sole survivor of the Hosanger, Magnus Sandvik, is near death, and a crew member of the HMS Northern Reward must jump into the water to help him aboard. The Fredensborg and England are both torpedoed as they came to help the stricken Faro, which somewhat ironically does not itself sink but instead drifts ashore and was wrecked in Taracliff Bay, Deerness. The crew reboarded the Faro at one point, but her list drew the propeller out of the water, making her un-maneuverable. She then broke free of the anchor the crew set.

The British at Gibraltar detain the US freighter Cold Harbor.

Convoy OA 80G departs from Southend, and Convoy OB 80 departs from Liverpool.

German Military: Hitler okays the expanded Kriegsmarine plan for the invasion of Norway and orders preparations to begin, and the code name Weserubung is adopted - which suggests that Admiral Raeder already has the ultimate date in mind.

British Homefront: First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, undaunted by the very mixed reviews to his previous radio address, takes to the broadcast waves again. At the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, he gives a pep talk to workers, stating: "each to our station. . . there is not a week, nor a day, nor an hour to be lost!" He almost sounds disappointed that England has not been bombed yet, which would spur the national effort.

South Africa: After five days of debate in Parliament, General Hertzog's peace resolution is defeated, 81-59. PM Jan Smuts says of Hertzog's arguments, "Goebbels could not have done it better."

China: Chinese 3rd War Area forces the Japanese 22nd Infantry Division to withdraw to Hsiao-shan.

27 January 1940 City of Flint
The evening papers in Baltimore are full of news about the City of Flint.

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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