Tuesday, May 17, 2016

March 7, 1940: The Coal Ships Affair


Thursday 7 March 1940

7 March 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Sumner Welles Edouard Daladier
Sumner Welles towers over Edouard Daladier, 7 March 1940.

Winter War: With the situation becoming desperate on 7 March 1940, the Finns have begun calling up the next class of recruits, lowering the service age to 20.

Winter War Army Operations: The fighting continues in the Viipuri Bay sector and north of Lake Ladoga. The Soviets make small gains in both sectors. The major Soviet success is that the Soviet 28th Corps cuts the highway between Viipuri and Helsinki, which basically is a lifeline for Finnish positions further north.

The Finns have almost no ammunition left, but they know they have to stop the Soviets from continuing to cross the bay. Someone thinks of using saws to cut the ice... but the cuts quickly freeze.

Legendary Finnish sniper Simo Hayha, the "Magic Shooter" who has 505 kills in 95 days, is shot in the jaw, but survives. "Half his head is hanging out," says one man who helps to rescue him.

Winter War Peace Talks: The Finns arrive in Moscow in the evening. They announce that negotiations are in progress over Soviet terms that are even more drastic than those issued before the war - and they should know, since Juho Kusti Paasikivi is the one who failed at his negotiations with the Soviets in November. German and Swedish mediators are participating.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-14 (Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfarth) sinks 1,965 ton Dutch freighter Vecht in the North Sea off Knokke-Heist, West Flanders, Belgium. All 22 crew perish.

The British detain many more Italian vessels carrying German coal. The ships are brought to The Downs, off Deal in Kent, and anchored off the coast without being unloaded. Other ships are en route to Italy from Rotterdam. Italy is badly in need of the coal, as rationing has been imposed.

The incident is turning Italian public opinion against the British, who it is believed are using the war as a pretext for arms deals that Mussolini refuses to approve. It is an extreme example of the high-handed British attitude toward neutral rights that has permeated the Admiralty's conduct to date, exemplified by the seizure of mail and dubious "contraband" and lengthy detainments of neutral vessels. This current squabble gets the tabloid name "The Coal Ships Affair."

The Kriegsmarine conducts minelaying operations west of Heligoland.

The Queen Elizabeth completes its journey to New York in the service of the Admiralty.

Convoy OA 105G departs from Southend.

European Air Operations: RAF planes drop Polish-language leaflets over western Poland, then also drop German-language leaflets over Leipzig and the Ruhr.

The Luftwaffe conducts a night raid over ships anchored off the southeast coast of England. The RAF shoots down a Heinkel He 111 bomber east of Aberdeen.

Western Front: Heightened patrol activity continues in the no-man's land between the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. One officer, a Captain Twomey, states that British posts are so poorly situated that "No one can see another to support it."

RAF: Sir Kingsley Wood declares that the fighting capacity of the RAF has doubled over the past year.

Concerned about "loose lips," the RAF picks out some men and makes the "specially deputised" to report on those they hear speaking indiscreetly.

German Military: Hitler expands Operation Weserubung, which originally was a one-division operation, to eight division. It will include the occupation of Finland and, as a "land-bridge" to Finland, Denmark. At this point in the war, all of Hitler's military decisions are turning up roses.

British Government: The debate over land sale restrictions in Palestine boils over in the House of Commons, where Labour laments these cruel impositions on "a weak and hunted race," while Tories point out that "Now is not the time to face Arab revolt."

US Government: Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles continues his tour of world capitals in Paris. He meets first with President Albert François Lebrun, keeps wandering off into areas that were not "in the slightest degree significant." Welles then meets with French Premier Daladier in Paris, who surprisingly (in light of his many contrary public statements) says that he would not absolutely rule out negotiating with Hitler. Daladier emphasizes that restoration of Czech and Polish independence is the primary war aim.

7 March 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Simo Hayha
Simo Hayha, legendary Finnish sniper, before his injury.

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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