Tuesday, April 19, 2016

September 14, 1939: Germany Captures Gdynia

Thursday 14 September 1939

Here on 14 September 1939, Hitler visits front-line Luftwaffe units. Here he is seen shaking hands with Helmut Lent, a top Luftwaffe ace who has a patch above his left eye covering a slight injury he suffered in a forced landing following an encounter with a Polish aircraft on 12 September. The fourth officer from the right is Gordon Gollob.
Battle of Poland: The Germans capture Gdynia and rename it Gotenhafen on 14 September 1939.

Heinz Guderian and his XIX Corps, pressing south from East Prussia, attacks Kobryń. Polish Colonel Adam Epler begins a delaying action using scratch troops of the 60th Infantry Division.

The XIX Panzer Corps also attacks the old fortress of Brześć. This is in the Russian sphere of influence according to the Ribbentrop/Molotov pact, but the Soviets were still on the sidelines at this point, so the Germans attack anyway. Some 77 tanks of the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Panzer Regiment of the 10th Panzer Division are repelled in a lightning attack on the fortress. The Germans bring up their artillery late in the day, and overnight capture about half of the town.

A fierce engagement breaks out near the town of Jaworów, where Polish troops (the 11th, 24 and 38th Infantry Divisions) begin a break out toward Lwów to reinforce it (Lwów is an important oil field center and provides communications with Romania).  They inflict heavy casualties on a battalion of the SS-Standarte Germania regiment of the 14th Army, virtually wiping it out and capturing its equipment. The Germans' 1st Mountain Division further south, however, holds its ground.

The Germans capture the former Austrian fortress of Przemysl after the Poles have held out there for three days.

German High Command: Hitler plans ahead and orders the bombing and investiture of Warsaw despite the suffering this will impose on civilians.

British Government: Prime Minister Chamberlain states in the House of Commons that the British will never resort to terror bombing. Lord Halifax states in the House of Lords that the Germans have agreed to comply with the Geneva Conventions regarding the non-use of poison gas and bacterial warfare.

Soviet Propaganda: Pravda blames Polish military reverses on its mistreatment of Polish Ukrainians and White Russians.

Western Front: The French launch new attacks near Luxembourg, and there is an artillery duel near Saarbrücken.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-39 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Glattes spots the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. Glattes fired two torpedoes, but neither hit. Three British destroyers hunt down and sink the U-39 with depth charges. The entire U-boat crew survives and goes into captivity, probably the luckiest thing that ever happened to them. It is the first near-miss for the Ark Royal and the first of a series of false victory claims by the Kriegsmarine of sinking it.

Other U-boats sink the British merchant ships Vancouver City and British Influence.

United States Aviation: The first tethered flight of Igor Sikorsky's Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter at Stratford, Connecticut. This is erroneously reported as the "world's first helicopter," but the Germans have been working on helicopters for years and have several successful versions already.

Igor Sikorsky flying his VS-300, replete with his signature Homburg.
Future History: Gordon Gollob, seen in the background of the top picture with the Fuhrer, later becomes a top Luftwaffe ace. He gets 150 kills in over 340 missions. The majority of his victories are on the Eastern Front, and he is never shot down and never loses a wingman. Gollob rises through the ranks and eventually replaces Adolf Galland as General der Jagerflieger. He is at the center of the Revolt of the Fighter Pilots in January 1945. After the war, he dabbles in neo-German politics, works at a car parts factory, and passes away in Lower Saxony on 7 September 1987.

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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