Thursday, May 12, 2016

January 31, 1940: Timoshenko Is Ready

Wednesday 31 January 1940

31 January 1940 Finnish antiaircraft gun
Maavoimat Latil M2Tl6 towing AA gun in Summer 1940. Note the red swastika on the rear of the vehicle – Finnish AA-troops used this as their symbol (as opposed to the blue swastika of the Ilmavoimat) (this appears to be a re-enactment). 
Winter War: As of 31 January 1940, Marshal Timoshenko has been planning an assault on the very heart of the Mannerheim Line for most of the month. The Soviets have moved in 12 fresh divisions on the Karelian Isthmus alone. Opposite Summa, which Soviet artillery has been pounding with 7,000 shells per day for two weeks, he has assembled 400 heavy artillery pieces (200 mm or more). The Soviet rear is crowded with innumerable smaller artillery pieces, many of which cannot find a spot close enough to the front to be useful.

Soviet dispositions are aided by the lack of an effective Finnish bomber force, though that has been slightly remedied by the actions of a volunteer Swedish air group. Basically, the Soviets plan to swing an ax right at the heart of the Finnish defenses and then just keep going. To do it, they have brought a mass of men and weapons to overpower the crafty but thinly stretched Finnish forces and blast through the Mannerheim Line.

Winter War Air Operations: The Finns claim to have brought down 5 Soviet planes during a bombing raid on Rovaniemi in which at least 150 bombs were dropped.

Stalin likes to pick "significant" days for his intra-war offensives, and one is straight ahead: the first day of February.

Battle of the Atlantic: Totals of vessels lost in the Atlantic for January 1940 from all causes:
  • 73 Allied ships
  • 214,506 tons of shipping
  • 2 U-boats.
Today, U-13 (Max-Martin Schulte) torpedoes and sinks 1,168 Norwegian freighter Start off of eastern Scotland just after 24:00. All 16 crew perish.

U-21 (Wolf-Harro Stiebler) torpedoes 1,353-ton Danish coal ship Vidar 100 miles east of the Moray Firth, Scotland. Sixteen people perish and there are 18 survivors. The ship remains afloat throughout the day before sinking the next morning. Stiebler has to fire three torpedoes because the first two malfunction and he loses a later "kill" later when another torpedo misfires.

At Gibraltar, the British detain US passenger liner Washington for a few hours before waving it on. They also detain US freighter Jomar and release US freighter Examelia.

Convoy OA 83 GF departs Southend, OG 16 forms at Gibraltar, and Convoy HX 18 departs from Halifax.

British Military: A British commission led by Lord Hardwick and Air Ministry representatives, which has been in Italy since December, issues an order to purchase (along with marine engines, armaments, and light reconnaissance bombers) 300 Caproni-Reggiane Re.2000 Falco I. The Director of Aircraft Contracts confirms the British order today. The Falco I is a modern fighter and largely a copy of the US Seversky P-35, but the Italian Air Force itself does not like it.

British Military: A Royal Commission issues the "Barlow Report" regarding the "Distribution of the Industrial Population." The main prescription for the future is to spread out manufacturing through the creation of new towns.

British Homefront: Prime Minister Winston Chamberlain makes a speech lauding the "rising might" of Great Britain.

US military: General Walter Krueger becomes commander of US IX Corps.

China: Chinese 5th War Area goes over to the defensive.

31 January 1940 Finnish slingshot
Taking the whole David-vs.-Goliath theme one step further, here Finnish troops use a slingshot to hurl grenades at the Soviets.

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

February 1940

February 1, 1940: Second Battle of Summa
February 2, 1940: Soviet Assaults at Summa February 3, 1940: Soviets Capture a Bunker
February 4, 1940: Peace Talks in Stockholm
February 5, 1940: Allies to Invade Norway
February 6, 1940: Careless Talk Costs Lives
February 7, 1940: IRA Terrorists Executed
February 8, 1940: Spies!
February 9, 1940: The Welles Mission
February 10, 1940: Confiscation of Jewish Goods
February 11, 1940: Soviets Attack Mannerheim Line
February 12, 1940: Breaches In Mannerheim Line
February 13, 1940: Soviets Inching Forward in Finland
February 14, 1940: Soviets Batter Mannerheim Line
February 15, 1940: Finns Retreat
February 16, 1940: Altmark Incident
February 17, 1940: Manstein and Hitler Discuss Fall Gelb
February 18, 1940: Operation Nordmark
February 19, 1940: King Gustav Says No
February 20, 1940: Falkenhorst Commands Weserubung
February 21, 1940: Radar Advances
February 22, 1940: Friendly Fire
February 23, 1940: Soviets Present Their Demands
February 24, 1940: Fall Gelb Revised
February 25, 1940: Mr. Welles Comes to Visit
February 26, 1940: Battle of Honkaniemi
February 27, 1940: Finns Retreat Again
February 28, 1940: Overseas Volunteers Help Finland
February 29, 1940: Finns Accept Soviet Terms In Principle


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