ww2 timeline January 1940

January 1

  1. Highland Patriot, a British cargo ship was sunk by German submarine U-38.
  2. Lars Magnus Trozelli, a Swedish cargo ship was sunk by German Submarine U-58.
  3. Leo, a Finish cargo ship was sunk by the Soviet Union’s airplane.
  4. Japanese army of more than 10000 people launched an attack in Shanxi Province of China.
  5. The Battle of Summa in the middle of Finland was begun.

Summary of the day: the battle for sea lines of communication continued. Kriegsmarine sunk merchant ships no matter from warring countries or not. Finland was caught in utmost shortage of material supplies. If not supplied quickly, Finland would be unable to continue to resist. The main battlefield of the Battle of Summa was in the middle of Finland. The Soviet Union planned to occupy this area and divided Finland into two parts. Since Japan occupied most of the areas of Shanxi Province at the early stage of Sino-Japanese War, the both sides had launched seesaw wars in this area. Neither one could push its own battle line forward.

January 2

  1. The Soviet Army’s offensive suffered a setback. Many tanks were destroyed by the Finish Army.
  2. Thor, a Finish cargo ship was sunk by the Air Force of the Soviet Union.

Summary of the day: although the Soviet Army’s offensive suffered from setbacks again and again, they still possessed a plenty of spare forces to use while Finland without actual assistance from the international society became worse and worse.

January 3

  1. S-2, a submarine of the Soviet Navy was sunk by hitting a torpedo in the Baltic Sea.
  2. U-58, a submarine of Kriegsmarine sunk Svartön, another Swedish cargo ship.

Summary of the day: The Soviet submarine was sunk by a torpedo laid by Sweden. All of 53 people on board died. Since it was inexpensive to lay torpedoes and the result was obvious, each nation laid a lot of torpedoes. U-58 hit and sunk two Swedish cargo ships within 3 days, which was very common. Fearing of powerful military force of Germany, neutral states could not take any measures on such events.

January 4

  1. HMS Mauritius (80), a light cruiser of Royal Navy started to take service.

Summary of the day: since the war broke out suddenly, Royal Navy felt in shortage of vessels. Therefore, new types of vessels were manufactured with all its strength after the war started. HMS Mauritius (80) was a new type of battleship of Royal Navy. Although it was manufactured as a light cruiser, its water displacement reached up to 10000 tons, which was even more than some old heavy cruisers.

January 5

  1. Swedish cargo ship Fenris was hit by the Soviet Navy near the Gulf of Finland and later sunk.

Summary of the day: the Soviet hit Swedish ships, probably because they reckoned these ships transported materials to Finland.

January 6

1. British tanker British Liberty, cargo ship City of Marseilles and trawler Eta all hit torpedoes and sunk on this day.

Summary of the day: hitting torpedoes caused a lot of losses. Material losses brought by the war were huge.

January 7

  1. The Battle of Raate Road ended and Finish Army won.
  2. Royal Navy submarine HMS Seahorse (98S) was sunk by Kriegsmarine and the crew on board died.
  3. Royal Navy submarine HMS Undine (N48) was sunk by Kriegsmarine on the same day and the crew were captured.
  4. Britain started to implement the basic food ration system.
  5. Semyon Timoshenko replaced Kliment Voroshilov to become commander of the Soviet Army for fighting with Finland.

Summary of the day: the Battle of Raate Road was one of the significant victories acquired by the Finish Army. In the battle lasting for one week, the Finish army annihilated more than 10000 people of the Soviet army and itself lost only 400 people. It also captured a lot of weapons and equipment, easing huge weapon consumption caused by the war. The number only tanks captured reached 43, which exceeded the total number of tanks owned by Finland before the war. The sea battle continued and was very cruel. Different from ground battles, in sea battles when vessels were sunk, most or all of the crew often died. After the meat ration system was carried out, now the basic food ration system was implemented, indicating that the war had caused significant impact on the economy. Since the Soviet Army suffered from major failure and huge casualties for many times, Stalin decided to change the commander and determined to dispatch more troops to invade Finland.

January 8

  1. The whole Battle of Suomussalmi ended and the Finish army won.
  2. Norwegian cargo ship Manx was sunk by German submarine U-19.
  3. Britain implemented a complete food ration system.

Summary of the day: the Battle of Suomussalmi lasting for a month ended. The Finish Army gain a complete victory in the middle of the country. It not only annihilated a plenty of the Soviet troops with minimum costs, but also captured a lot of weapons and equipment. The remaining Soviet troops retreated backwards, but most of which were executed by shooting immediately because the superior deemed they didn’t do their best in the fighting. Till the end of the war, the Soviet army failed to make any progress in this area. German submarines caused huge damages to the whole sea lines of communication, which would be improved till the anti-submarine capability of the Allies was enhanced. During the whole war, Britain implemented ration system on various major foods, including bacon, cheese, meat, sugar, etc. As the war continued, the economic situation became worse and worse and the rations became smaller and smaller. Till the end of World War II, the rations of many foods were only half of the peak supplies.

January 9

  1. Royal Navy submarine HMS Starfish (19S) was sunk by Kriegsmarine and the crew was captured.
  2. The British Ocean liner Dunbar Castle hit a torpedo and sunk. 152 people died.

Summary of the day: since there was no German cargo ship at sea, so Royal Navy submarine’s targets were German military navy ships, which was much more difficult than the target of German submarines. Torpedoes caused large casualties of innocent people again and attacks at sea happened almost every day.

January 10

  1. A German airplane crashed by accident in Belgium. The Allies captured the combat plan on the airplane for the Germany to invade West Europe.
  2. The Soviet Union and Finland had an official peace negotiation. But military operations still continued.

Summary of the day: although the German plan was captured by the Allies, the neutral nations involved in the German invasion plan still stick on neutrality. Owing to the powerful military forces owned by Germany, the neutral nations all feared it. Before any results of the military competition came out, negotiations between the Soviet Union and Finland wouldn’t have any outcomes.

January 11

  1. 350 Hungarian volunteers set out to Finland to fight in the war.
  2. Norwegian cargo ship Fredville was hit by German submarine U-23 at the North Sea with 10 people died.

Summary of the day: facing millions troops of the Soviet Union invading Finland, small number of volunteers wouldn’t have any substantial effects on the war. Finland needed large-scale weapon and troop assistance.

January 12

  1. German submarine U-23 hit Danmark, an oil tanker from Denmark, which had a water displacement of more than 10000 tons.

Summary of the day: the oil tanker from Denmark was eventually sunk. U-23 hit transport vessels from neutral nations for continuous two days. Such battles with civil vessels as targets could not be considered as a real war.

January 13

  1. Hitler decided to delay the plan of invading West Europe.
  2. Finnish escort Aura II was sunk while it was implementing an escort mission.

Summary of the day: since the plan was captured by the Allies, Hitler must delay the invasion. He must be very cautious in invading West Europe. If Germany could not rapidly defeat France, many neutral countries would join the Allies. Escort Aura II found submarines from the Soviet Army when it was implementing an escort mission and attacked them using deep sea bombs. Because the bombs exploded before being released by accident, escort Aura II was sunk.

January 14

  1. The British intelligence agency started to decipher Enigma code used by Germany.

Summary of the day: deciphering Enigma code and mastering military secrets of Germany was very important intelligence works. Deciphering of the code was originally started by the intelligence agency of Poland. After the Second World War broke out, Poland shared the technology with the Allies. Britain improved the technology for better usage.

January 15

  1. Owing to the blackout, people died from car accident in Britain were twice as much as those died from air strikes from the Germans.
  2. German submarine U-44 continuously sunk three cargo ships respectively from the Netherlands, Norway and Greece in the Bay of Biscay.

Summary of the day: damages brought by the war were increasing and these damages were imposed more and more on common people.

January 16

  1. According to the information captured on January 10, Germany planned to invade countries in North Europe and then invade those in West Europe.

Summary of the day: since Germany relied on supplies of iron ore from North Europe, so control of countries of North Europe was very important. The Allies knew this very well, but took actions slowly. As neutral countries, joining either side would probably cause attacks from the other side.

January 17

  1. The Soviet Army was repulsed by the Finish Army again. In order to take revenge, the Red Army launched large-scale air strike against Finland.
  2. There was temperature of minus 45 Celsius in Finland, which had huge impact on both sides.

Summary of the day: although the Soviet Army had overwhelming advantage in air forces, the advantage didn’t have much influence owing to poor command. Extremely cold temperature had significant impact on both of the warring sides. But the impact was larger on the Soviet Army, because many soldiers in the army came from the southern area of the Soviet Union and could not accommodate to such extreme climate.

January 18

  1. The Finish Army started to launch attack against the 54th Division of the Soviet Army after annihilating the 163rd and the 44th divisions of the army.
  2. Three Swedish cargo ships were sunk on this day, probably all sunk by German submarines.

Summary of the day: The Finish Army had advantages of good training and being good at fighting in winter. The disadvantages were poor weapon and equipment, which were hard to be supplied. The military gains of the Finish Army, however, were much better than that expected by the world. Sweden at that time was in a very difficult position. It wished to assist Finland but feared to draw fire against itself. Actually, like Finland, if Sweden was invaded, there was no country could give efficient assistance.

January 19

  1. William Borah, the senator of the U.S. passed away. He was a famous isolationist.
  2. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Grenville (H03) hit a torpedo and was sunk at the river mouth of Thames River. 75 people died.

Summary of the day: since many people reckoned that the United States contributed a lot without obtaining any gains, therefore they thought the U.S. should kept away from the war in Europe. Such mood directly resulted in maintenance of neutrality of the country at the early state of the Second World War till Japan launched a sudden attack at Pearl Harbor. The German Army laid some torpedoes at the mouth of the Thames River, which caused some losses.

January 20

  1. German submarine U-44 sunk Greek vessel Ekatontarchos Dracoulis in Portugal’s waters.
  2. Churchill assumed the office of First Lord of the Admiralty delivered a speech in the parliament, requesting the government to assist Finland as soon as possible.

Summary of the day: it seemed that Kriegsmarine attacked vessels of neutral countries without any difference. But it was not true. Vessels of the Soviet Union and Italy were not attacked by German submarines. Because of the speech delivered by Churchill in the parliament, Finland believed that they would get assistance in no time. It had been more than 50 days since the war started, the Finish Army still fought desperately. But Churchill was neither Prime Minister nor diplomatic minister of the UK. His speech did not represent diplomatic policies of Britain. In such unclear situation, Britain would not take any military operations without careful consideration against the Soviet Union, which had been revealed clearly in the period of the Battle of Poland.

January 21

  1. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Exmouth was sunk by German submarine U-22 in Scotland’s waters. The crew on board all died.
  2. The Eighth Army of the Soviet Union launched attacks again in the southern area but was repulsed once more.

Summary of the day: because the anti-submarine technology fell behind in this period, submarines threatened military and civil vessels a lot. In the first several months of the war, there were continuously some different types of Royal Navy battleships sunk by submarines. Due to consecutive military failures, the Soviet Union assembled more troops to put into the war.

January 22

  1. Lord Halifax, the diplomatic minster accused Churchill of interfering British diplomatic policy by delivering the speech in the parliament on the day of 20th.
  2. Three Norwegian cargo ships were sunk by German submarines on the day.

Summary of the day: Halifax’s words indicated that Britain would not offer quick assistance to Finland. So whether Finland could survive should be completely dependent upon its own strength. Although Norway was still a neutral country, its neutrality would be broken soon, since like Belgium, it was located at a very important position for the warring countries.

January 23

  1. Britain stipulated that during the period of blackout, driving speed should not be more than 30 miles per hour in residence areas at night.
  2. Another Norwegian cargo ships were sunk by German submarines in the North Sea.

Summary of the day: in order to protect from air strikes of the Germans, Britain implemented blackout. But such measures affected lighting at night a lot and therefore influenced traffic security. So Britain limited driving speed to reduce accidents. If Norway had better power and strength, it could have taken counteroffensives against the Germans. But Norway didn’t. So it could do nothing but watching its merchant ships being sunk again and again.

January 24

  1. A troop of the exile government of Czechoslovakia was established in France.

Summary of the day: Czechoslovakia was annexed by Germany in 1938 the part of Czech and Slovakia announced independence. But the latter was actually a satellite state of Germany. In fact, the Czech troops were well equipped and determined to resist attacks from the Germans. But Britain and France were unwilling to fulfill its alliance obligations, resulting in surrendering of Czech without fighting. After the World War II broke out, the exile government of Czech was set up in France and joined the Allies to fight. After the war ended, the Allies no longer implemented its alliance responsibilities and handed Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union.

January 25

  1. Merchant ships respectively from France, Latvia and Norway were sunk by German submarines.

Summary of the day: German submarines continued to obtain a lot of results, which however were based on attacking fleets with weak anti-submarine capability or civil vessels having no anti-submarine ability at all.

January 26

  1. Royal Navy supply vessel HMS Durham Castle was sunk by a torpedo in the North Sea.

Summary of the day: another loss caused by torpedoes. This torpedo was probably laid by German submarine U-57.

January 27

  1. Germany finally determined the plan of invading Norway and Denmark.

Summary of the day: because of the speech of Churchill on the day of 20th, Germany realized that it needed to control North Europe in advance to ensure its supplies of iron ore. If the Allies took actions first, German supplies of raw materials would be substantially impacted.

January 28

  1. Two Greek cargo ships were sunk by German submarines on the day.

Summary of the day: most of these neutral countries with ships sunk were eventually attacked by Germany.

January 29

  1. Japan had a train collision with 181 people died.

Summary of the day: although this accident caused deaths of a lot of people, compared with losses of the country in the war in China, it was completely incomparable. In spite of continuous victories of the Japanese Army, its consumption of human resource and materials was huge.

January 30

  1. Kriegsmarine submarine U-15 was sunk due to a collision accident.
  2. Kriegsmarine submarine U-55 was sunk by the Allies in the North Sea.

Summary of the day: the Allies suffered from losses almost every day. On this day, the German lost two submarines as well.

January 31

  1. The Soviet Army concentrated 12 divisions and 400 cannons in Karelian Isthmus in the southern area of Finland.

Summary of the day: repeated military reverses led to more troops and weapons and equipment invested by the Soviet Union, which would be used in February to attack larger-scale offensives in Finland.

Summary of the month: the Winter War entered into the second month in this month. Finland consumed a plenty of ammunition reserve in the first month and in this month it still persist in resisting and gained several victories and captured a lot of weapons and ammunition, which could enable Finland to resist for a longer time. But the Allies obviously did not plan to assist Finland in a short time, so Finland’s defeat was only a matter of time. A drama happened in the west line. The German military plan was captured by the Allies by accident. Germany had no choice but to delay and revise the operation plan. The plan revealed that Germany would invade neutral countries, which still dared not to join the Allies to fight. The battles at sea were very fierce. A lot of merchant ships were sunk. And surface and underwater vessels of the both sides were sunk as well. But large-scale attacks on vessels of neutral countries were obviously unacceptable. Britain and France started to decipher communication code of the Germans. This technology was originally researched and developed by Poland. The war in the Far East continued. But it still had no connections with the war in Europe.

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