ww2 timeline December 1939

December 1

1. The Soviet Union bombed Helsinki, the capital of Finland and sent a lot of ground troops to enter into Finland.

2. The Soviet Union established a puppet state named Finish Democratic Republic.

Summary of the day: after the negotiation lasting for more than one and a half month failed, the Soviet Union abolished the nonaggression treaty signed before and aggressively attacked Finland. To achieve the goal of invasion of Finland, apart from military preparation, the Soviet Union established a puppet state in the area near Finland in order to replace the country with the puppet state after conquering it.

December 2

1. Britain extended the recruitment to adult male of 19-41 years of old.

Summary of the day: Britain had a population of about 47 million in 1939. Major dominions such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand had 20 million in total. In the same period, France had only a population of 40 million while only Germany from the Axes had a population of 90 million. Thus, extension of age in the recruitment was necessary.

December 3

1. Finland’s government appealed to the League of Nations for investigation of the war.

Summary of the day: because of uncompetitive war potential compared with the Soviet Union, Finland’s goal was to delay the war as long as possible and strive for international support. But since Britain and France had declared war against Germany at that time and therefore was unable to interfere with the situation of Finland while Sweden didn’t dare to provide too much help under the pressure from Germany.

December 4

1. Royal Navy battleship HMS Nelson hit a torpedo laid by Germany along the coast of Scotland and suffered from substantial damages.

Summary of the day: torpedo laid by Germany caused some troubles to sea transport of the Allies. To reduce the losses, Britain must study German torpedo and find a way to clear torpedoes. HMS Nelson was damaged severely and was completely repaired till August of the next year.

December 5

1. The Soviet Union’s troops started to launch large-scale attack on Mannerheim line of Finland.

Summary of the day: Mannerheim line was a defensive works built by Finland near the border of the Soviet Union. Owing to insufficient funds, the defensive capability of Mannerheim line was far less than defense lines built by France and Germany. Additionally, Finland was in significant shortage of heavy weapons, especially antitank cannons, which made defense very difficult. Facing overwhelming advantage of size of troops of the Soviet Union, however, Finish army must use this defense line to defend its territory.

December 6

1. Finish army fully retreated to Mannerheim line to defend and the Soviet Union’s army started to attack from Taipale.

Summary of the day: Disadvantaged in size of troops, Finish army must make use of favorable terrain to defend. Therefore, Finland concentrated military forces on nearby areas of Mannerheim line. Taipale was located at east of the line and near Lake Ladoga. The 10th Infantry Division under the 3rd Corps of Finland was responsible for defending this area.

December 7

1. Italy, Norway, Sweden and Denmark declared neutrality on the war against Finland.

2. The main force of the Soviet Union arrived at the major defensive position of Karelian Isthmus of Finland.

Summary of the day: other countries in North Europe had a fear that their own interests would be damaged and therefore declared neutrality. In fact, if we analyze the situation then, we can have this conclusion that if the countries of North Europe spared no effort to support Finland, Finland could have resisted or even defeated invasion from the Soviet Union. But owing to the alliance relationship between Germany and the Soviet Union, North Europe countries didn’t dare to offer large-scale assistance to Finland. Italy was far away from the warring area, thus its declaration of neutrality was reasonable. The Soviet Union originally planned to defeat Finland in a short time and replace the government with the puppet government set up by itself and then eventually annexed it. Due to the unfavorable terrain and undesirable command, however, it took the Soviet Union’s army one week to advance its main force to close to the major defensive position of Finland.

December 8-10

Summary of the day: the Battle of Suomussalmi in the middle area of Finland continued, where the Soviet Army concentrated two infantry divisions and one tank brigade to attack. Finland had only several infantry regiments to defend this area. The Soviet Army attacked this area with military forces five times of that of Finland. At the same time, the Battle of Kollaa continued as well. Finish Army successively resisted attacks from the Soviet Army in both of the above-mentioned two battles.

December 11

1. The Soviet Army suffered defeat in several attacks.

Summary of the day: Finland deployed its major defensive troops in the southern area. There were only small amount of Finish troops to defend in the middle and northern area of Finland. Despites of advantages in equipment and troop size in several battlefields, the Soviet Army looked down on its opponent and therefore was defeated unexpectedly. It’s been over 10 days since the war started, the Soviet Army suffered from some losses rather than making any progresses.

December 12

1. Two Royal Navy warships hit each other in Scottish Water. Destroyer HMS Duchess was sunk by HMS Barham, causing deaths of 124 persons.

2. Finish Army launched an attack in the Battle of Tolvajärvi and successfully repulsed the Soviet Army.

Summary of the day: HMS Duchess was one of the escort ships of HMS Barham. The two ships hit each other because of dense fog, which resulted in weapon explosion on the destroyer. 124 out of 145 of the crew died. HMS Barham was slightly damaged. This accident happened between a destroyer and a battleship. At that time, destroyer’s water displacement was usually not more than 2000 tons, while that of HMS Barham was more than 3000 tons. Once the hit happened, the damage to the destroyer would be fatal. Facing troops of five times of its own in the Battle of Tolvajärvi, Finish army launched attacks and succeeded in defeating the opponent. In the following battles in this area, Finish army won again and destroyed most of the Soviet Army with huge advantage.

December 13

1. In the sea area near Uruguay, the Battle of the River Plate broke out. Naval battles happened between naval ships of Royal Navy and German Navy.

Summary of the day: Admiral Graf Spee, German heavy cruiser, was sent to implement the mission of destroying sea transport of the Allies. Since this was a large warship with water displacement of 15000 tons, Royal Navy must send large vessels to encircle and suppress it. At the end, Admiral Graf Spee was found by Royal Navy near Uruguay. Three cruisers of Royal Navy and Admiral Graf Spee fought with each other.

December 14

1. Admiral Graf Spee was hit and retreated to Uruguay’s Port.

2. Because of the invasion of Finland launched half a month ago, the Soviet Union was dismissed by the League of Nations.

Summary of the day: in the sea battle one day before, the three cruisers of Royal Navy were damaged to different extents. Admiral Graf Spee was also hit and damaged and retreated to Uruguay’s Port in order to be repaired and offered some supplies. Since the Soviet Union attacked Finland out of no reasons, it was dismissed from the League of Nations. Till now, among the major countries at that time, the Soviet Union, Germany, Japan, Italy etc. left by themselves or were dismissed from the League of Nations for various reasons. The United States never joined the League of Nations. There were only Britain and France left in the League of Nations.

December 15

1. The U.S. movie “Gone with the Wind” run for the first time.

2. The Soviet Army attacked Taipale again.

Summary of the day: Europe had a large-scale war to break out or was preparing for a war with larger scale. The United States still maintained peaceful, but ironically the movie run was about a war. The Soviet Army attacked Taipale again and again but still failed to break the defense line and suffered from huge casualties.

December 16

1. The Battle of Summa broke out in the west of Karelian Isthmus. The Soviet Army tried to break Finish defense line of this area.

Summary of the day: after the Soviet Army failed to make any progress in the east of the Isthmus, it attacked in the west later. Although due to Finish army’s fault, some Soviet army broke through the defense line, the Soviet Army was still beat back from this area several days later.

December 17

1. German Navy heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee was sunk at Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.

Summary of the day: Admiral Graf Spee was sunk at the port by the Germans themselves because they believed the false information that they had been surrounded by a lot of naval ships of Royal Navy.

December 18

1. The Battle of the Heligoland Bight broke out between Royal Air Force and Luftwaffe and the latter won.

2. Canadian Army arrived in Europe.

Summary of the day: because Kriegsmarine attacked carrying vessels of the Allies often, Royal Air Force decided to launch an air strike against German ports. But bombers of Royal Air Force were intercepted by German fighters. Eventually, Royal Air Force lost 12 bombers and 57 persons died while Luftwaffe only lost 3 fighters and 2 persons died. Because of the huge loss, Royal Air Force didn’t carry out air strikes in the daytime. The war entered into the fourth month and Canadian Army just arrived at Europe. The military preparation of the Allies was too slow while Germany was rapidly preparing for the new attacks.

December 19

1. In the Battle of Summa, some tanks of the Soviet Army broke the defense line of the Finish Army.

Summary of the day: the Battle of Summa started on 16th and the Soviet Army made some breaking through on 19th. Although these tanks entered into the rear of the defense line of Finland, they failed to cooperate with other troops effectively and finally were unsuccessful.

December 20

1. Hans Langsdorff, the captain of Admiral Graf Spee, a heavy cruiser of Kriegsmarine, committed suicide.

Summary of the day: Admiral Graf Spee was sunk initially because Hans Langsdorff misjudged the situation. He misjudged three cruisers as one cruiser and two destroyers. Admiral Graf Spee closed to them and therefore the sea battles happened. After the cruiser was sunk, Admiral Graf Spee reckoned that he was responsible for the accident and committed suicide.

December 21

Summary of the day: no major event on this day. Fighting in the battlefields of East Europe, Atlantic and China still continued.

December 22

1. Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared on 22nd December 1939 a “Day of Deliverance” for Indian Muslims.

Summary of the day: The relationship between the government of British India and the local people was continuously tense. Since British India followed Britain and directly declared war against Germany without negotiating with local people, many Indian officers resigned.

December 23

1. Finland launched counteroffensives in the southern area but failed.

Summary of the day: after attacks launched by the Soviet Army suffered from setbacks for continuous several days, Finish army planned to launch a counterattack for the purpose of separating and surrounding the three divisions of the Soviet Army, but eventually failed to achieve the goal. Finish and Soviet armies lost more than 1000 people in total.

December 24

1. Pope Pius XII called for peace to each warring countries on Christmas Eve.

Summary of the day: no matter countries actively or inactively involved in the war seemed not to have a plan for negotiation. Maybe Finland could be excluded, but it was impossible to make this wish to become real.

December 25

1. Finish army won in the Battle of Tolvajärvi.

Summary of the day: Finish Army gain significant victory in this battle, resulting in more than 10000 people lost by the Soviet Army.

December 26

Summary of the day: no major event of this day. But fighting in each battlefield still continued.

December 27

1. The first Indian army arrived at West Europe.

2. Finish Army repulsed the Soviet Army in the Battle of Battle of Kelja and won the battle.

3. Erzincan, a city of Turkey, had earthquake and 30000 people died.

Summary of the day: after Canadian Army arrived early this month, Indian Army arrived too. But the size of the British ground force still accounted for a small proportion in the Allies, that was to say in the following battles, French Army was be mainly responsible for ground battles. Although Finish Army won again and again, its usage of human resources had reached the limit. The only thing that Finland could do was to delay the war for changes to happen in the international situation. Different from the last world war, Turkey maintained neutral in this war, which enabled Turkey to avoid huge casualties. During the First World War, Turkey was one of the countries suffering from the largest casualties.

December 28

1. Britain started meat ration.

Summary of the day: expenditures and consumption of the war were huge. Britain must save resources as much as possible too. Since it lost the strategic advantage of the last world war, the Allies must face more difficult situation in this was.

December 29

1. B-24 Liberator designed and manufactured by U.S. flied for the first time.

2. Finish Army continued to persist in the Winter War and captured a lot of weapons and ammunitions.

Summary of the day: B-24 Liberator was one of the bombers used most in World War II by the Allies. The whole war produced more than 18000 such bombers and every theatre saw usage of such bombers. In the first month of the war, Finish Army consumed an extremely large number of weapons. Some ammunition had even been consumed about 70% of the total. Weapons captured from the Soviet Army became an important weapon source of Finish Army.

December 30-31

Summary of the day: the last two days of the year were peaceful. In the fighting of this year, the Allies suffered from huge defeat and were in an strategically disadvantaged situation. In 1940, the Allies would face more difficult conditions.

Summary of December: after the relatively peaceful November, fierce battles happened again in this month. But the battles happened between two countries that had completely unbalanced strength rather than between large countries. The result, however, was unexpected. A whole month

After the war started, the Soviet Army not only made no progress, but also suffered from huge losses. Finish people fought for their survival with outstanding courage and wisdom. Sea battles continued. Torpedo laid by the Germans caused some troubles to the Allies, but sinking of Admiral Graf Spee, a heavy cruiser of Kriegsmarine could be accounted as an obvious victory of the Allies. The first large-scale air strike happened this month and Luftwaffe won. In this period, Luftwaffe had some advantages. The most important battle front was still very quiet without any large-scale conflicts. The Allies and Germany were both actively preparing for the war, but it seemed that Germany had better preparation.

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