Thursday 21 March 1940
|HMS Ursula in 1941.|
Battle of the Atlantic: British submarine HMS Ursula sinks German freighter Heddernheim off the Danish coast on 21 March 1940. It is the first victory by a British submarine of a German ship of the war.
At 01:00, U-38 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe) torpedoes and sinks 1,654 ton Danish freighter Algier about 15 miles northwest of Foula, Shetlands. There are 18 survivors and 5 crew perish. The Algier was carrying 11 Studebakers along with 302 tons of copper, 228 tons of tin, and 130 bottles of mercury. It was bound for Copenhagen.
Then, at 03:26, U-38 torpedoes and sinks 3,270 ton Danish freighter Christianborg. There are 24 survivors and one crew perishes.
Norwegian freighter Svinta sinks from unknown causes.
The Queen Mary departs from New York to an unpublished destination which turns out to be Sydney, Australia. It will be re-fitted as a troopship there.
Convoy OA 114 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 114 departs from Liverpool, Convoy HX 29 departs from Halifax, Convoy OG 23F forms at Gibraltar.
European Air Operations: A Sussex farmer, Gerald Winter, sees a RAF plane crash and risks his life to drag the pilot out of the burning plane.
German Military: German Labour battalions in the Todt Organization begin constructing bunkers along the "Ostwall," the border with the Soviet Union.
Applied Science: Sir Henry Tizard briefs the British Cabinet of research by two physicists at Birmingham University working on an atomic "super-bomb." He cautions that "It is quite conceivable that Germany is, in fact, developing this weapon." The government has appropriated funds to study this issue.
|Three French cabinet ministers, Édouard Daladier, Georges Bonnet and Paul Reynaud, 1940.|
French Government: Paul Reynaud becomes the new Prime Minister, as 239 French Deputies vote in favor and 1 against. However, indicating once again the fractured sentiment, there are 300 abstentions.
Former PM Edouard Daladier becomes Minister of National Defense and War. Reynaud also will serve as his own Foreign Minister. There are three Socialists in the cabinet. There will be an inner war cabinet of nine members. Daladier still has widespread support, and Reynaud essentially is forced to have him in the cabinet. However, former Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet is excluded.
Turkey: There is a secret meeting between British and Turkish representatives.
China: The Chinese battle it out with the Japanese defenders of Wuyuan all day long, then finally capture the city at 16:00. The Japanese move north.
At the Battle of South Kwangsi, the Chinese 93rd Infantry Division crosses the Yung River and heads toward Tatang. This is an attack along the lines of communication of the Japanese 22d Army spearhead at Yungshun.
British Homefront: George Orwell writes a review of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in which he concludes, "I would kill Hitler if I could, but I cannot dislike him."
American Homefront: Woody Guthrie makes his first recording for the Library of Congress.
|In this photo, taken between March 7 and 21, 1940, the "Normandie, "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth" sit in port. The "Mary" and the "Elizabeth" are painted wartime gray. The "Normandie" is slated to painted gray, too.|
March 1940March 1, 1940: Soviet Breakthroughs Past Viipuri
March 2, 1940: Soviets Swarm West in Finland
March 3, 1940: Soviets Across Gulf of Viipuri
March 4, 1940: USSR Apologizes to Sweden
March 5, 1940: Katyn Forest Massacre Approved
March 6, 1940: Finns Head to Moscow
March 7, 1940: The Coal Ships Affair
March 8, 1940: Peace Talks Begin in Moscow
March 9, 1940: Soviets Harden Peace Terms
March 10, 1940: Germany Draws Closer to Italy
March 11, 1940: Winter War Peace Terms Finalized
March 12, 1940: War is Over (If You Want It)
March 13, 1940: Winter War Ends
March 14, 1940: Evacuating Karelia
March 15, 1940: The Bletchley Bombe
March 16, 1940: First British Civilian Killed
March 17, 1940: Enter Dr. Todt
March 18, 1940: Mussolini To Join the War
March 19, 1940: Daladier Resigns
March 20, 1940: Soviets Occupy Hango Naval Base
March 21, 1940: Paul Reynaud Leads France
March 22, 1940: Night Fighters Arise!
March 24, 1940: French Consider Alternatives
March 25, 1940: Reynaud Proposes Action
March 26, 1940: C-46 First Flight
March 27, 1940: Himmler Authorizes Auschwitz Construction
March 28, 1940: Allies Ponder Invading Norway
March 29, 1940: Soviets Prefer Neutrality
March 30, 1940: Allied Uncertainty
March 31, 1940: The Tiger Cage