ww2 timeline October 1939

October 1 

1. The Germans officially entered the Polish capital Warsaw a month after the war.

Summary of the day: it’s been a month since the war broke out. With careful preparation before the war Germany achieved victory in the invasion of Poland. After the falling of Warsaw, Poland, the main battles of areas of Poland ended in a short term.

October 2 

1. The Soviet Union and Latvia discussed the establishment of military bases. The Soviet Union claimed that military actions would be taken if its demands were not met.

2. The US-led American States announced the establishment of Pan-American Security Zone to prohibit belligerent countries to carry out military actions in this area.

Summary of the day: after obtaining military bases in Estonia on September 28, the Soviet Union began to take action against Latvia without methods almost identical with those applied to Estonia, such as border military force building up, blockade, invasion of airspace and diplomatic intimidation in order to ultimately achieve the purpose of military occupation and even annexation. After the United States set up a safe area in the western Atlantic, the escort pressure on the Allied concerning the Atlantic routes would be directly reduced and therefore easing the situation of shortage in escort vessels of the Allies. While Germany expressed outrage, in order to break the enemy one by one, Hitler did not take hostile actions against the United States.

October 3 

1. The Soviet Union and Lithuania negotiated. The Soviet Union proposed to incorporate Vilnius into Lithuania while Lithuania must allow the Soviet Union to establish military bases in the country.

2. The British army began to arming the Belgian border to prevent the Germans to attack through Belgium.

Summary of the day: before reaching the agreement with Latvia, the Soviet Union had already started to negotiate with Lithuania. Different from Estonia and Latvia, the Soviet Union could transfer the Polish city of Vilnius to Lithuania. The city had been occupied by Poland since the end of World War I and belonged to Lithuania in history. Since the declaration of neutrality of Belgium, the Allied troops could not enter the Belgian to defense. In World War I, the Germans entered into France just through Belgium. Therefore, in order to prevent the recurrence of the similar situations, the Allied made preparations in advance.

October 4 

Summary of the day: no important things happened this day. Things undergoing were: the Soviet Union negotiated with Latvia and Lithuania on the establishment of military bases. The allied forces of British and France continued to deploy defense in the West Line. Areas of Poland were still fighting for the final battles.

October 5 

1. Latvia and the Soviet Union signed an agreement to allow the Soviet Union to establish military bases in the country and stationed 25,000 troops.

Summary of the day: one week after obtaining military bases in Estonia, the Soviet Union through military and diplomatic means also gained military bases in Latvia. Although the Soviet Union also claimed to respect the country’s independence, it’s 50 years later when the country became truly independent again.

October 6 

1. With the ending of the Battle of Kock, the entire Polish campaign ended.

2. Hitler delivered a speech in Parliament, hoping to restore peace with Britain and France after the Polish Campaign ended.

3. The Japanese failed to occupy the Chinese city of Changsha and on the same day retreated northward.

Summary of the day: the Polish campaign lasting more than one month ended. Due to careful preparation before the war, Germany quickly won the war. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union occupied a plenty of eastern territories of Poland with a minimum cost. The first major battle of World War II ended with the result of the complete failure of the Allies. After the success, Hitler wished to restore peace with Britain and France. It seemed at that time that if a large-scale war broke out between Germany and Britain and France, it would be very difficult to predict the outcome. China’s war had well been into the third year and the Japanese had been deeply into the Chinese hinterland. But this time they failed to occupy Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. This is the first successful defense of a major city by the Chinese army.

October 7 

1. The Soviet Union and Lithuania discussed the establishment of military bases again.

Summary of the day: Estonia and Latvia signed an agreement with the Soviet Union and consequently it’s only a matter of time that Lithuania agreed to the Soviet Union’s requirement.

October 8 

1. Germany announced that it would incorporate German-occupied territories in western Poland into Germany.

Summary of the day: After World War I ended, Poland regained independence while Germany lost a lot of territories divided from Poland from 1772 to 1795, even including some of the original German territory. Therefore, Germany announced it would re-incorporate these regions into the German territory and the rest of the occupied territories would be subject to military rules.

October 9 

1. Germany began to develop invasion plans of Low Countries and France.

Summary of the day: Low Countries consist of Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. These three countries all declared neutrality in the war. To attack France, Germany must pass through one or all of these countries, otherwise the Germans must attack the carefully constructed French Maginot Line. In the last World War, Germany attacked Belgium that declared neutrality in order to pass through to attack France.

October 10 

1. The United Kingdom rejected the peace proposal of Germany.

2. Lithuania and the Soviet Union signed an agreement to allow the Soviet Union to establish military bases in the country and stationed 20,000 soldiers. Meanwhile, the country got to own Vilnius.

3. German Navy commander Raeder suggested to Hitler to occupy Norway.

4. The last Polish army surrendered to the Germans.

Summary of the day: Hitler’s surprise attack on and occupation of Poland not only resulted significant failure of the Allies in military but also great impact in politics. Invasion of Poland marked the German challenge to the international order led by Britain and France. Before victory or defeat was determined, the UK was unlikely to accept Hitler’s peace proposal. From September 28 when signing the agreement with Estonia, the Soviet Unions signed agreements within 12 days with all three Baltic countries on stationing troops and the activities of annexation would follow afterwards. Since Britain and France had already declared war on Germany, the Soviet Union could invade any country then. Due to the restrictions on army scale of Germany after World War I, German Navy strength was far inferior to the strength of the British Royal Navy. Raeder hoped to ensure safety of the northern German coast through occupying Norway. Although the Polish Army had surrendered, many Polish soldiers fled to France through neutral countries to continue fighting in the war.

October 11 

1. The United Kingdom had deployed 158,000 troops in France.

Summary of the day: Compared to Germany, Britain and France’s military mobilization was too slow. The war started 40 days ago, but the United Kingdom only deployed less than 160,000 people to France. The consequences of failure to carry out effective military mobilization would be fully displayed during the French campaign.

October 12 

1. France rejected the proposed peace agreement of Germany.

2. The Soviet Union negotiated with Finland. The Soviet Union asked Finland to abandon a military base near the capital and required to exchange some of Finland’s border areas.

3. Germany started to migrate Jews from Austria and the Czech Republic to the occupied areas of Poland.

Summary of the day: At that time, France and the UK generally maintained consistent foreign policy. After reaching a consensus, Britain and France would announce the policy successively. So after Britain rejected the peace proposal of Germany two days before, France also rejected the proposal. Only two days after obtaining Lithuania’s military bases, the Soviet Union began to target Finland. The Soviet Union claimed that it needed to obtain some lands of Finland in order to ensure the safety of its second largest city of Leningrad. The reason for that was it need to guard against possible attacks from the UK and Germany. And the lands required by the Soviet Union had more than 10% of the Finnish population, 20% of the industrial facilities of the whole country as well as a defense line built by Finland. Persecution of Jews in Germany had already begun before the Second World War. When Poland was occupied, Germany wanted to expel Jews from the country to the occupied territories.

October 13 

Summary of the day: No major things happened on this date. Ongoing things were: Germany made military preparations for the invasion of Western Europe. The Soviet Union continued to use diplomatic and military means to force Finland to cede its territory. In Western Europe, Britain and France continued defense deployment.

October 14 

1. The Soviet Union continued negotiations with Finland. Stalin implied that if the negotiations did not make progress, military actions would follow afterwards.

2. Royal Navy battleship HMS Royal Oak at Scapa Flow was sunk by German submarine U-47.

Summary of the day: the Soviet Union continued to use the previous method to force Finland to submit. Finland had a population of 3.7 million with a very small army. Facing the Soviet Union with the number of troops even more than its own population, it seemed difficult to make any resistance. HMS Royal Oak was moored in the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow because of the damage it suffered from previous battles. Since there were no equipment installed around the base to prevent the submarine into the base, HMS Royal Oak was surprisingly attacked by German submarines, eventually leading to death of 833 people onboard, including many minor sailors.

October 15 

Summary of the day: the Battle of the Atlantic continued. German naval vessels continued to attack merchant ships of the Allied while the Royal Navy coordinated with French Navy to stalk and attack German naval vessels.

October 16 

1. The Luftwaffe launched the first attack on the British mainland.

Summary of the day: This was just a beginning. After the Battle of France, British and Germany air forces broke out fierce air combats. Air control became a key element of whether to win the war.

October 17 

Summary of the day: The Soviet troops prepared for stationing in the Baltic countries. They obtained permit of stationing in all the Baltic countries five days ago.

October 18 

1. Soviet troops started to station in Estonia.

2. 12,600 Baltic Germans residing in Estonia left the country to return to Germany.

Summary of the day: the agreement signed by the Soviet Union and Estonia on September 28 stipulated that the Soviet Union could station up to 30,000 troops in the country. As to Estonia with a population of only 1.1 million, this was a very large number. Baltic Germans had lived in the area for 800 years. Because of the agreement signed by Hitler and Stalin, this region was placed under the control of the Soviet Union. Therefore, residents of these areas moved out them.

October 19 

1. Germany formally annexed the western parts of Poland.

2. Germany established the first Jewish Ghetto in the Polish city of Lublin.

Summary of the day: After Germany announced the annexation of these areas on Oct. 8, formal annexation happened on this date. But it was clear a victory based on military. After in 1945 the Soviet Union occupied these areas, not only these areas were re-classified to Poland under the control of the Soviet Union, but also a large number of the original German territories were also allocated to Poland as a compensation for the Soviet’s occupation of eastern Poland territory. Nazi Germany started to build some isolation zones to isolate the Jews. Since then, these Jews could only live in the isolated regions.

October 20 

1. The Pope issued a statement condemning dictatorship and racism.

2. British and French troops were defensive on the West Line. French troops stationed in the Maginot Line while the British were building new fortifications where the defense was not available.

Summary of the day: before the powerful dictators and racism everywhere, although the church statement expressed good wishes, it did not give practical help to innocent lives. As to war potential, Britain and France now were slightly superior to Germany. However, lack of preparation and improper command offset these advantages. After knowing German rapid victory in Poland, the Allies continued to reinforce of border defense in order to be able to carry out successful defensive operations.

October 21 -22

Summary of the day: these consecutive two days were relatively peaceful. At this point in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union had not taken military actions against Finland. In Western Europe, Germany was preparing a new invasion. The Allies continued to reinforce defenses. In the Atlantic battlefield, the German Navy continued to carry out attacks on Allied routes.

October 23 

1. Japan Air Force’s Mitsubishi G4M bombers flied for the first time.

Summary of the day: This is a medium bomber production by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Throughout World War II, it was the bombers mainly used in Japan. After the Pacific War broke out in 1941, Japan used these bombers to sink the Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse, giving the Royal Navy stationed in Southeast Asia with a heavy blow.

October 24 -26

Summary of the day: Europe was still in a state of peace. But fighting continued in the battlefield of China in Asia.

October 27 

1. Belgium declared neutrality.

Summary of the day: In the First World War, Belgium also declared neutrality. However, since the Germans needed to go through Belgium to attack northern France, Belgium’s neutrality was broken and had to join the British and French war camp. Belgium during the Second World War encountered a similar situation. As a small country in the key area, Belgian neutrality was difficult to bring its own safety.

October 28 -29

Summary of the day: no significant events happened in the battle of the Atlantic, the European theater and the Asian battlefield.

October 30 

1. The United Kingdom released a report to describe the establishment of the German anti-Nazi detention camps in Europe and the information related to Jewish people.

Summary of the day: as early as before World War II started, the Nazis established concentration camps to hold prisoners of opposition parties and deprived legitimate civil rights of Jews. With World War II continued and the German war situation was getting worse, Nazis held and executed more prisoners and opposition parties as well as a huge number of Jews.

October 31:

1. German General Erich von Manstein suggested to broke the defense line of the Allies through Ardennes region of Belgium in the upcoming battles one the West Line.

Summary of the day: This proposal became one of the key factors that the Germans gain victory. Manstein because of his remarkable ability was quickly promoted from lieutenant general to the rank of Marshal. Since the Ardennes terrain had a complicated terrain, it was difficult to launch large-scale offensive. The Allied defense there was weak. After the Germans broke through the area, it quickly inserted to the rear area of the Allied defense. In less than forty days, the Germans completely defeated the Allied troops with scale and equipment of equal level.

October Roundup: This month was the second month after World War II broke out. The Germans in this month completed military operations for invasion of Poland and announced to re-incorporate the western part of the territory of Poland into Germany. At the same time, through diplomatic and military pressure, the Soviet Union and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, respectively signed the agreement on stationing troops, preparing for annexation of these countries. Meanwhile the Soviet Union applied the same means, hoping to get some key territories from Finland. As of the end of October, the Soviet Union and Finland’s negotiations were still ongoing. After the victory in Poland, Hitler wished to restore peace with Britain and France, but Britain and France rejected Hitler’s proposal successively. Germany, therefore, developed operational plans and determined to conduct a large-scale war with the Western Allies. The Allies were actively strengthening defense, hoping to rely on a strong defense to win. Besides, the Battle of the Atlantic was still ongoing. The German Navy continued to attack Allied transport vessels and even used submarines to sink the battleship HMS Royal Oak in the naval base for Royal Navy’s own fleets. Compared with the situation in the early period of World War I, Germany this time owned much better strategic situation than before. Germany not only had its own territory and resources, but also accessed to the essence of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire region. Southern Italy also changed its stand to join the German side. In addition, Russia changed from enemies allies. Germany avoided fighting on two fronts and at the same time got a large number of supplies from Russia. For the Allies, the long war just begun. The Allies lost its allies of Italy and Russia in World War I and gradually became disadvantaged in strategy. Meanwhile, naval blockade effect was gradually declining. The Allies must continue to fight for their own survival.

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