Friday, May 20, 2016

March 29, 1940: Soviets Prefer Neutrality

Friday 29 March 1940

29 March 1940 Captain Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Captain Antoine de Saint-Exupéry makes a successful flight over the Reich on 29 March 1940.
Battle of the Atlantic: Two freighters depart from Halifax on 29 March 1940 with cargoes of US warplanes. The two ships are specially escorted by French cruiser Algerie.

Convoy OB 119 departs from Liverpool, Convoy OG 24F forms off Gibraltar.

European Air Operations: RAF fighters shoot down a Luftwaffe Bf 109, part of a larger formation, near Metz.

Luftwaffe bombers make a sweep across the North Sea but make no successful attacks.

French Military: French author Captain Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, an experienced pilot, makes the first reconnaissance flight over Germany in a Bloch 174 light bomber.

British Military: Based upon the decisions taken at the Allied Supreme War Council on 28 March, the British General Staff begins furious planning. Plan R4 covers the reaction to a German attempt to invade Norway. It provides that the British will:
  • use the 1st Cruiser Squadron to land an infantry brigade at Navik and another battalion at Trondheim, both to come from Rosyth;
  • Other, regular transport ships will take a battalion to Stavanger and another to Bergen;
  • The RN ships will be screened by other RN ships but have no air cover whatsoever.
The possibility that the Germans might arrive at Narvik before the British, and in greater force, is not part of Plan R4. William Shirer, writing from Berlin, notes that "Germany can't stay in war without Swedish iron, shipped via Norway - which the UK may cut off."

RAF: Pilot Prince Alexander Obolensky, a famous rugby star, perishes during a crash-landing of his plane in East Anglia.

Air Marshal Charles Portal is named the head of Bomber Command.

There is a laudatory article in the UK magazine "Flight" saying that the new Supermarine Spitfire is "popular with pilots, dreaded by Germans." The Spitfire is only just now arriving in a few RAF front-line squadrons, the main defending RAF fighter is the Hawker Hurricane.

Soviet Government: Foreign Minister Molotov gives a comprehensive review of the world situation for the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He argues that Finnish territory, especially the Karelian Isthmus, "had been converted into a place d'armes ready for an attack by third powers on the Soviet Union, for an attack on Leningrad." He refers to England's "imperialist policy" and Prime Minister Chamberlain's "malicious regret" at the Soviet victory in Finland, and also the "hostile statements" of former French Prime Minister Daladier.

With regards to Romania, Molotov says “there exists a non-settled controversial issue, the question of Bessarabia, whose seizure by Rumania the Soviet Union has never recognized…” Regarding a Japanese suggestion that maritime disputes in the Pacific between the two countries could be resolved by the USSR selling territory to Japan, he characterizes the suggestion as "stupid" and suggests that they, instead, sell the USSR South Sakhalin. As to the US, those relations "have grown worse" even aside from the "meaningless" moral embargo against the USSR. With reference to the Baltic states, recent pacts with them were "being carried out in a satisfactory manner and this creates premises for further improvement in relations between the Soviet Union and these states."

He concludes that "we must maintain a position of neutrality and refrain from participating in the war between the big European powers."

Norwegian/German Relations: Everybody is confused by the Allied intentions towards Norway.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Halvdan Koht sends a message to Berlin with a tacit message for the Germans:
The British apparently did not want to take upon themselves the responsibility for openly violating Norwegian territory and Norwegian territorial waters without cause, and for carrying out warlike operations in them.
The German Foreign Minister's representative in Oslo, Dr. Curt Breuer, comments on this assessment by Koht:
The future will show whether Foreign Minister Koht sees things quite right. It definitely appears, however, as I have frequently pointed out, that the British have no intentions of landing, but that they want to disturb shipping in Norwegian territorial waters perhaps, as Koht thinks, in order to provoke Germany. Of course, it is also possible that the British behavior of last week, which I have pointed out as well, will grow into more or less regular and increasing interference in territorial waters to attack our ore traffic off the Norwegian coast. .... The firm intention of Norway to maintain her neutrality and to insure that Norway's neutrality rules be respected can be accepted as a fact.
Nobody outside of Oslo really cares too much about Norway's neutrality at this point.

German Government: As part of the ongoing "white book" propaganda war being waged by both sides, Germany releases its own pre-war Poland-related documents suggesting US complicity in the outbreak of the war.

Holocaust: Only Jewish doctors may now treat Jewish patients. Dr. Zygmunt Klukowsk in Poland ponders the obvious: "What do we do when there are no Jewish doctors? I had a difficult situation..."

China: The Chinese 8th War Army continues attacking around Patzepu, Hsishantzu, Hsichiao, and Manko.

Future History: Astrud Gilberto is born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. She becomes famous in the 1960s as a bossa nova singer with such classics as "The Girl From Ipanema."

29 March 1940 Spitfire Fund
Developing the Supermarine Spitfire has been a British national priority for years.

March 1940

March 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


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