Monday, March 28, 2016

September 4, 1939: First RAF Raid

Monday 4 September 1939

September 4 1939
The Daily Mirror, 4 September 1939.

European Air Operations: After only dropping leaflets performing reconnaissance during the day, the RAF mounts its first raid of the war on 4 September 1939. It is against Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel, which had been the subject of the previous day's recon. There are fifteen Blenheim and fourteen Wellington bombers in the raid, and the RAF comes off the worse for the day: it loses 7 bombers.

One of the aircrews killed over Wilhelmshaven on this first night of the war is Herbert Brian Lightoller, an RAF pilot. He is the son of Charles Lightoller, a senior surviving officer of RMS Titanic.

The Luftwaffe gets its first kill of the war, as seven (sources vary) of the bombers go down and at least one is a victim of a Bf 109 from II/JG 77. The cruiser Emden is damaged when one of the bombers lands on it but remains operational. The Pocket-battleship Admiral Scheer suffers a light hit but also remains operational.

Battle of Poland: The Luftwaffe is focusing its offensive operations in Poland, where cutting-edge Bf 109s meet and destroy 11 Polish fighters and three bombers over Lodz. The Polish air force is hopelessly obsolete and under-equipped and will quickly be put out of operation.

The Luftwaffe continues Operation Wasserkante against Warsaw, but results are minimal as Polish air defenses remain intact. The Polish news service announces several minor victories but admits the loss of the Silesian town of Czestochowa. A small Polish garrison of three old World War I forts at Różan holds out against a superior German panzer division. In the Battle of the Border, German forces crush Polish forces at Ćwiklice, forcing the withdrawal of the entire Armia Kraków from Upper Silesia.

Battle of the Atlantic: Great Britain blockades German ports. The German propaganda service announces that the sinking of the SS Athenia on 3 September was a false-flag operation arranged by the British to cause issues between Germany and the United States.

In actuality, the Kriegsmarine is completely in the dark about what had happened to the SS Athenia the previous day (the ship only sinks this morning). It won't know until the U-30 makes port and the commander reports. In the interim, Hitler wants no more enemies for the moment and announces a prohibition against attacks on passenger ships which will mostly be followed for some time. Propaganda Minister Goebbels has his outlets basically accuse Winston Churchill of using the Athenia to mount a false-flag operation to drag the United States into the war. The Germans, of course, were the masters of such operations, having just performed several phony "attacks" against themselves as part of Operation Himmler to "justify" their invasion of Poland.

Western Front: The French are ensconced behind the Maginot Line without British support yet, and the Germans are occupied in Poland. The latter also are happy to stay behind the mostly fictional Siegfried Line as the Reich continues to re-arm. Thus, there are only sporadic "demonstration" attacks by both sides along the border as Hitler studiously avoids the greatly feared "two-Front war."

Meanwhile, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) hurries into action and begins ferrying troops to Cherbourg, France via destroyer.

International Relations: On Monday, 4 September 1939, New Zealand (part of the British Commonwealth) declares war on Germany backdated to the time of Great Britain's announcement on 3 September. Egypt, garrisoned by British troops under the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936, breaks off relations with Germany but remains neutral. Japan remains neutral - though only in Europe. Its predatory operations in China will continue, and it will remain a covert supporter of the Reich..

German Government: Hermann Goering meets with British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson, who is getting ready to return to England. He assures him that Germany has no qualms with France or Great Britain and will not attack them with troops. Goering says the same thing to unofficial diplomat Birger Dahlerus, whose efforts had failed.

British Government: Winston Churchill accepts PM Chamberlain's offer of the previous day to join his war cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill had been First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911–1915 during the early part of World War I with mixed results. Now, he is seen as a strong war hawk with a wealth of experience about naval matters, but, as events show, he retains many of his old and sometimes unsuccessful ideas about naval strategy (such as landing operations in the Balkans). Chamberlain broadcasts a message in German to the German people explaining the decision to declare war.

British Homefront: The planned evacuation of 650,000 children and non-essential adults from London concludes smoothly.

German Homefront: The German income tax is increased to 50%.

September 4 1939
The interwar years had been full of various "stunts," and it was a hard habit to break. Here, the 4 September 1939 edition of the NY Times reports breathlessly on a six-year-old who swam from New Jersey to the Dyckman Street Ferry slip. To show how popular these stunts were, this wasn't even the first time a six-year-old had done it: another boy, Johnny "Freckles" Devine, had beaten him to it in 1925.

September 1939

September 1, 1939: Invasion of Poland
September 2, 1939: Danzig Annexed
September 3, 1939: France, Great Britain Declare War
September 4, 1939: First RAF Raid
September 5, 1939: The US Stays Out
September 6, 1939: Battle of Barking Creek
September 7, 1939: Polish HQ Bugs Out
September 8, 1939: War Crimes in Poland
September 9, 1939: The Empire Strikes Back
September 10, 1939: The Germans Break Out
September 11, 1939: Battle of Kałuszyn
September 12, 1939: The French Chicken Out
September 13, 1939: The Battle of Modlin
September 14, 1939: Germany Captures Gdynia
September 15, 1939: Warsaw Surrounded
September 16, 1939: Battle of Jaworów
September 17, 1939: Soviets Invade Poland
September 18, 1939: Lublin Falls
September 19, 1939: Germans, Soviets Hook Up
September 20, 1939: the Kraków Army Surrenders
September 21, 1939: Romania Convulses
September 22, 1939: Joint Soviet-German Military Parade
September 23, 1939: The Panama Conference
September 24, 1939: The Luftwaffe Bombs Warsaw
September 25, 1939: Black Monday for Warsaw
September 26, 1939: Warsaw on the Ropes
September 27, 1939: Hitler Decides to Invade France
September 28, 1939: Warsaw Capitulates
September 29, 1939: Modlin Fortress Falls
September 30, 1939: Graf Spee on the Loose


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