ww2 timeline September 1939

September 1 

1. On the early morning of September 1, the Air Force of Nazi Germany launched bombing against Poland. German Navy also attacked the Polish coastal stronghold. German ground forces began to attack the Polish territory in the morning.

2. The United Kingdom announced general army mobilization in response to the sudden starting of war by Germany.

3. In order to avoid flames of war, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Nordic countries of Norway and Finland as well as and Switzerland declared to be neutral. In addition, Switzerland mobilized its army to respond to events that may occur.

4. In the United States, George C. Marshall became Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

5. Hitler signed the document on September 1, beginning Aktion T4 to kill patients who were considered as incurable.

6. The war between the Republic of China and Japan continued.

Daily Roundup: On September 1, Hitler started World War II with a sudden attack. Britain, Poland’s allies, began military mobilization in order to fulfill its obligations. Small countries near the war zones declared to be neutral immediately to avoid being involved. At this point, the United States was still far away from the war. The Chinese and Japanese war entered its third year.

September 2 

1. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Germany, demanding immediate withdrawal of the troops from Poland.

2. The two governments of Italy and Ireland declared to be neutral.

3. The British developed the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939 to ensure that the needs of troops were met in wartime.

4. The Germans made progress, taking the Free City of Danzig.

Daily Roundup: Britain and France still hoped to resolve the conflict through diplomatic channels. Over the past several years, the two countries had been hoping to use foreign policy to avoid the outbreak of the war. But in the end the war still happened. Italy as a German ally, at this time declared to be neutral. This approach and the practice of Italy during World War I are very similar. Irish became independent from Britain after World War I. This time they chose to stay out of the war. Germans moved ahead as originally planned and occupied Danzig located at the corridor of Poland.

September 3 

1. Germany ignored the ultimatum from Britain and France. Britain and France had to successively declared war on September 3. As a member of the British Empire, Australia, New Zealand and India also immediately declared war.

2. After the declaration of war by the two countries, SS Athenia, a British cruise ship containing more than 1100 people was sunk in the Irish Sea by German submarine u-30 with 112 people died.

3. On the same day, Britain and France launched joint naval blockade on Germany. Battle of the Atlantic began.

Daily Roundup: After using the last diplomatic approach, Britain and France had to declared war against Germany in order to fulfill their obligations to Poland. It is worth noting that among members of the British Empire that date only Australia, New Zealand and India, followed the British government immediately and declared war against Germany, while several other important members, such as Canada and South Africa did not declare war. This shows that as a whole, the British Empire had been weakened compared to time when the First World War broke out. After the war started, the war still followed the previous war routine. German naval army attacked the Allies’ vessels and the Allies implemented naval blockade on Germany.

September 4 

1. Due to the time difference, Newfoundland declared war on Germany on September 4.

2. As for the war in Europe, Japan declared neutrality.

3. The Royal Air Force dispatched Bristol Blenheim bombers for air strikes on German naval ships and boats stationed in the Heligoland Bight and intended to attack the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. After losing several aircrafts, it failed to achieve any success.

4. The U.S. Navy launched Neutrality Patrol, which was beneficial to and protected the UK transport in the Atlantic waters from Germany destruction.

Daily Roundup: Japan was busy with its war in China, so it declared neutrality on the war in Europe temporarily. On this day, another British dominion joined the war. Although the United States like in the First World War, announced in the beginning neutrality, it clear preferred to the Allies. Neutrality Patrol implemented on this date significantly reduced the pressure of the Royal Navy concerning escort. Although the RAF began to fight against Germany, obviously it had a bad beginning. While bombers hit German boats for three times, but the bombs did not explode, which indicated that prewar weapon maintenance works failed to be done well.

September 5 

1. The United States formally declared neutrality.

2. South African Prime Minister Barry Hertzog announced that South Africa hoped to remain neutral, which failed to get through the parliament and he also was dismissed immediately.

Daily Roundup: The United States once again declared its neutrality. Due to long distance from Europe, coupled with isolationist sentiment, the only possible action of the United States at this time was to declare neutrality. But President Roosevelt would still try to give assistance to the Allies. South Africa’s situation illustrates the British Empire’s internal disunity. Although ultimately it failed to declare neutrality, apparently there were a lot of people in South Africa did not want them to join the Imperial war.

September 6 

1. The Germans made new progress in Poland. They captured the Polish city of Kraków. Polish army was in full retreat.

2. The new Prime Minister Jan Smuts of South Africa declared war on Germany.

3. A friendly fire incident occurred in the UK. A Hawker Hurricane fighter was shot down by a friendly force and pilot Montague Hulton-Harrop was killed in the incident. He became the first pilot killed in Royal Air Force in World War II.

Daily Roundup: Britain and France’s declaration of war on Germany did not cause too much impact on their military operations. Germans captured Kraków, an important city in the south of Poland as planned, which was the location of the capital of the Kingdom of Poland. Due to the strength difference coupled with lack of preparation, the Polish army had to fully retreat. South Africa’s storm finally subsided and the new Prime Minister declared war on Germany, which ensured the unity of the empire. Royal Air Force once again suffered defeat. Command system disorder resulted that friendly aircrafts attacked each other and caused casualties.

September 7 

1. The French army launched ground operations and began to advance to German border city Saarbrückene. This action is called the Saar Offensive.

2. The British Parliament passed a new bill, the National Registration Act 1939 in order for the national population register. It also required that everyone must carry identity card containing their own details.

Daily Roundup: It had been one week since Nazi Germany started the war. Kraków, Poland’s second largest city has fallen, while the French army’s ground operations just began and rushed ahead with predictable results. British Parliament continued to implement a series of wartime measures. The new bill ensured that the government strengthened control over the society, enabling the UK to focus on facing the war.

September 8 

1. Britain announced the re-establishment of the British merchant convoy system, and the implementation of the comprehensive blockade on German vessels.

Daily Roundup: Whether transport line of the sea is smooth or not would determine whether Britain could continue the war. Like in the First World War, Britain began escorting merchant ships to prevent German submarine attacks. On the first day of the war, the German submarine sunk a large ship, which revealed that the merchant convoy was extremely important.

September 9 

1. The Battle of Hel broke out. The German army with the cooperation of the Navy and Air Forces began to attack Hel Peninsula along the coast of the Baltic Sea.

2. Due to the large number of German mine in Warndt Forest, attack by the French was delayed. Since the attack from September 7, the French had advanced forward for 8 km with only weak German resistance.

3. A Burmese monk U Ottama in Myanmar died in a hunger strike promoting independence.

Daily Roundup: Compared with the advance speed of the Germans, the French military action was quite slow. On the ninth day of the war, it entered into Germany for only 8 km and had not had any large-scale fighting with German troops. The Germans continued to move fast forward in Poland. German Wehrmacht on the same day launched a joint sea and ground and air offensive against the Polish garrison on Hel peninsula. But the Polish army in the area had a very successful defense. They not only stuck to the end of the whole campaign but also caused great losses to the Germans. A monk of Burma, which was then a part of British India, died from a hunger strike. The purpose of his hunger strike was to protest British colonial rule. 2 years later, the Allies would have a large-scale war with the Japanese in Burma.

September 10 

1. Canada declared war on Nazi Germany and joined the Allied camp. This is the first time in Canadian history that Canada declared a war as an independent nation.

2. When the Royal Navy submarine HMS Oxley was in a patrol in Norwegian waters, it was sunk by a torpedo from a friendly submarine HMS Triton. The latter considered HMS Oxley an enemy submarine. Only two of 54 people on the boat survived. This is the first submarine Royal Navy lost in World War II.

Daily Roundup: Canada finally declared war one week after Britain declared war on Germany. Even South Africa with a wavering attitude was four days earlier than Canada. Royal Navy submarine sunk a friendly submarine, causing death of 50 people. Following the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy had also a friendly fire incident, which proved again that Britain rushed into a war and the departments failed to adapt to the war status.

September 11 

1. The British Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow announced that due to the Indian state of war, the Indian federalism reform based on the Government of India Act 1935 was temporarily suspended.

Daily Roundup: This day was relatively calm, but this time the battle was still underway in Poland. Polish troops were still resisting. India, after the war, would also be independent from the British Empire.

September 12 

1. The French commander Maurice Gamelin ordered the French army fighting with Germany halted advancing.

2. Białystok, a major city in northern Poland was captured by Germany Third Army starting from East Prussia.

Daily Roundup: After the fall of Kraków on September 6, Białystok fell on September 12. Two cities respectively located in the southern and northern Poland meant that the Germans had started to advance near the Polish capital Warsaw. At this point, the French not only failed to strengthen its ground offensive, but also was ordered to suspend moving forward. In fact, France, like the UK, had a serious lack of preparations for war and was unable to effectively play fighting force in case of sudden outbreak of the war.

September 13 

1. The Polish defense line along the Vistula river was break through by the German, which approached the south of Warsaw.

Daily Roundup: After nearly two weeks of fighting, the Germans suddenly broke into the area near Warsaw. For the Polish army rushing to fight, persisting up to this time had been very difficult. Germany had formed a strategic posture of three sides being surrounded on Poland. In addition, Germany had superior forces and equipment to launch a surprise attack on Poland. Therefore, they were able to successfully execute its operational plans.

September 14 

1. The Germans captured the Polish city of Gdynia, Brest-Litovsk and Siedlce. These were the major cities in Poland.

2. The Polish Navy submarine ORP Orzeł was unable to return to the base and arrived the Estonian capital Tallinn on that date. Germany asked Estonia to fulfill its obligations under the Hague Conventions. Estonia subsequently arrested staff on the boat and started to had the submarine unarmed.

Daily Roundup: German troops started to occupy parts of major cities in eastern, indicating that the Germanys trended to surround Warsaw. If not effectively being supported, it was just a matter of time for the Germans to win Warsaw. On the same day, the Polish submarine arrived in Estonia and triggered Orzeł incident. Although this is only a small episode in the war and could nto change of the process of the war, it became an excuse for the Soviet Union to destruct neutrality of Estonia later and merged the country.

September 15 

1. The Battle of Bzura in the Polish Campaign reached climax. The Polish military offensive failed and the Germans gradually gain an advantage. On the same day, Przemyśl, an important city in eastern Poland was occupied by the Germans Fourteenth Army.

2. The Polish army was ordered to hold border regions with Romania to wait for the Allied’s reinforcements.

Daily Summary: Battle of Bzura is a large-scale battle during the Polish campaign, which lasted for about ten days from September 9 to 19. Early in the war, the Polish army suddenly attacked launched a counter attack in the battle. As the Polish commander successfully assaulted weak flank defense the German army, great progress was therefore made and even 4000 German soldiers were captured. But in the end due to the disparity between the two sides of troops and the Germans had air control and ground equipment advantage, most of the counterattacking Polish troops were surrounded and annihilated. In this battle, the number of people killed of the Germans was up to half of entire campaign period in Poland. Przemyśl’s being occupied revealed that the Germans continued to achieve its plan of attack. According to the pre-war plan, the Polish army would retreat to Romanian border when it was unable to resist the German offensive. However, this scheme was broke by the subsequent Soviet’s invasion.

September 16 

1. The Germans realized the military siege of Warsaw.

2. The French army fully retreated from Germany and Saar Offensive ended.

3. The Battles of Khalkhin Gol ended and the Soviet Union and Japan ended the military conflict in the Far East.

Daily Roundup: It’s been more than half a month since the war started. The Germans encircled the Polish capital Warsaw as planned. French army’s offensive gained nothing and fully retreated from Germany only after some small-scale fighting with the Germans. Although the entire Allied military camp was in shortage of preparations for the war, compared to the Polish army, the French army’s performance was really bad. Facing the situation that the Germans surrounded the three sides and suddenly attacked, the Polish troops resisted for half a month before the Germans approached the city of Warsaw with a disadvantage in number of troops and equipment. During that period, it also launched an effective counterattack. French army had far better equipped army and superior force, but failed to launch any effective military action on the battlefield, which indicated that French army high command lacked of determination and frontline combat commanders were also ineffective. On the same day, the Soviet Union and Japan achieved a ceasefire. After both sides suffered from heavy casualties, the Soviet Union and Japan decided to negotiate peace and end border conflict. But both sides of this battle claimed it as their own victory.

September 17 

1. According to the agreement with Germany before the war and encouraged by the victorious Germans, the Soviets began to invade Poland from the east.

2. The German Eighth Army captured the city of Kutno in the central of Poland.

3. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Courageous was sunk by the German Navy submarine U-29 in the Irish Sea. 519 people were killed. This is the first ship of Royal Navy sunk by the German navy.

4. Japanese forces launched an attack against the Chinese city of Changsha.

Daily Roundup: The day before after German completed siege of Warsaw, the Soviet Union finally started the invasion. According to a secret agreement reached pre-war between Germany and the Soviet Union, after the defeat of Poland, the two countries would divide and share the land equally. It became another division of Polish territory in history, but this time Habsburg dynasty was unable to be involved. As the Germans had assumed major combat operations, the Soviet Union would only need to pay minimal costs to get large swathes of territory and without taking any consequence. All of the liabilities of invasion of Poland would be taken by Germany alone. Besides, the former Soviet Union invaded Poland after achieved a cease-fire with Japan the day before, which enabled the Soviet Union has nothing to worry about. With the defeat of the Battle of Bzura, Kutno’s occupation is not unexpected. Royal Navy since the war suffered a major defeat for the first time. The aircraft carrier HMS Courageou was sunk on the way of its patrol, which indicated that it’s an urgency that at this time the Royal Navy anti-submarine capability needed to be improved. Japan’s action target is Changsha, the capital Hunan Province, China. At this point, the main battlefield of the Sino-Japanese war moved to China’s Hunan Province.

September 18 

1. Polish President Ignacy Mościcki and armed forces commander Edward Rydz-Śmigły fled to Romania and was detained by the Romanian government.  

2. Soviet troops arrived in Vilnius.

3. Germany began to launch propaganda broadcasts to UK in English, which continued to 1945 till the British occupation of Hamburg. The broadcaster responsible for broadcasting in Germany gained the nickname Lord Haw-Haw.

4. Polish Navy submarine ORP Orzeł fled from Estonia and went o UK base in Scotland. The Soviet Union took this as an excuse to question the neutrality of Estonia with the intension of actual annexation of Estonia.

Daily Roundup: Warsaw was surrounded two days ago. Now president and commander in chief fled to other countries. Poland’s defeat seemed hard to change. Soviet occupied the territory according to the agreement as planned and made use of the escape of the Polish submarine as an excuse to attempt to occupy Estonia. In fact, Estonia had been allocated to the Soviet Union in the prewar German-Soviet agreement. Germany begun propaganda broadcasts to Britain, but it seemed to have little effect.

September 19 

1. The Soviet army occupied Vilnius. On the same day, the Soviets and the Germans met near Brest Litovsk.

2. The Battle of Kępa Oksywska ended. The Polish army casualties were more than 9,000 people, accounting for 60% of the war troops.

3. The Soviet blockaded Tallinn, the Estonian capital.

4. The Japanese continued to attack the army of the Republic of China along Sinchiang River in Hunan Province and used poison gas in battles.

Daily Roundup: The Soviets and the Germans joined forces and occupied their respective spheres of influence basically according to the pre-war agreement. After the northern city of Gdynia, Poland was occupied by the Germans on September 14, the fighting continued till the end of the day. The Polish forces suffered heavy casualties in the battle. In Estonia, the Soviet Union continued to expand operations in preparation for the annexation. Sino-Japanese war continued, the two armies entered into a stalemate in Hunan Province, China.

September 20 

1. The German submarine U-27 was sunk in the waters of Scotland by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Fortune and HMS Forester using depth charges and all 38 crew members were captured.

Daily Roundup: Royal Navy achieved some victories this day, making German submarine hunting targets in the waters near Britain understand that they themselves would become targets to be hunted. On this day, German was still in the siege of the Polish capital Warsaw.

September 21 

1. The Romanian Prime Minister Armand Călinescu was assassinated by domestic violence organizations Iron Guard.

Daily Roundup: Romania declared neutrality at the beginning of the war to avoid conflicts leading to their own losses. During World War I, Romania fought together with Britain and France and obtained Transylvania, a territory of Hungary after the war. Iron Guard was a pro-Nazi Romanian organization, which was banned in the 1941 for rebellion by the Romanian Government.

September 22 

1. The Soviet occupied Lviv, an eastern city of Poland.

2. Germany and the Soviet Union held a joint victory parade in the Brest-Litovsk to celebrate another success in dividing Poland.

Daily Roundup: After World War II, everyone seemed to have forgotten this joint victory parade. One of the two countries co-launched World War II was defeated and the other got great benefits through the war. From this perspective, the countries launching World War II succeeded in the war. The Allies not only gained nothing, but also lost a lot of lives and property.

September 23 

1. The Japanese army expelled the Chinese troops from Sinchiang river region and continued to advance southward along the Miluo River.

Daily Roundup: The day was relatively quite in Europe, but the Germans continued siege of Warsaw.

September 24 

1. The Soviet air force infringed the airspace of Estonia and threatened further action if failed to get military bases in Estonia.

Daily Roundup: After the acquisition of territory in Poland, the Soviet Union began to take a series of measures to gradually annex the Baltic states.

September 25 

1. The Soviet Air Force continued its activities in Estonia airspace. Meanwhile the Soviet assembled 160,000 troops, 600 tanks and 600 aircraft at the border of Estonia.

2. Germany began the domestic implementation of the food rationing system.

Daily Roundup: Soviet’s infringement to Estonia became a real action and would soon later occupied Estonia. Because of the implementation of naval blockade by the Allied against Germany, the German had to carry out food rations. But ultimately naval blockade needed the support of military forces on land, allied ground forces failed and offset the effect of the naval blockade.

September 26 

1. Soviet bombers entered the airspace of Tallinn, capital of Estonia.

Daily Roundup: Estonia was weak and unable to effectively resist the Soviet’s invasion. Otherwise Soviet bombers would certainly cast some “bread” to the city. In the war between the Soviet Union and Finland later, the Soviet leader claimed the bombing of the city as relief food such as bread airdrop.

September 27 

1. Warsaw defenders were unable to continue to resist and the Battle of Warsaw was about to end.

2. The Germans launched an offensive in the west line and launched artillery fire against France. Part of the villages near the Maginot Line were attacked.

Daily Roundup: It’s been nearly a month since the war started and the Allies failed to take any effective action on the ground. In addition to the naval blockade, it failed to give Germany any substantive blow. The Polish army crumbled, enabling Germany effectively to avoid the dilemma of having two fronts. After the victory of the East, the Germans even started probing the level of the French defense.

September 28 

A Polish government in exile was established in France and Władysław Sikorski served as commander of the Polish army.

2. The last defenders of Warsaw surrendered to the Germans.

3. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed German-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation to formally agree upon how to carve up Poland.

4. The Estonian government was under pressure to agree to the establishment of a Soviet military base containing 30,000 people in Estonia. At the same time the Soviet government stated that it would respect the independence of Estonia.

5. The Soviet army began a large-scale build-up on the border of Latvia and intruded Latvian airspace.

Daily Roundup: Warsaw’s resistance finally ended and the entire Polish campaign was also nearing completion. Germany and the Soviet Union in Poland achieved a complete victory. Polish government in exile was established in Paris the same day and began their long exile period. Till 50 years later, the Polish government in exile was able to return to the motherland. Germany and the Soviet Union signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation, from which each of them received tremendous benefits. Estonia finally succumbed to the pressure of the Soviet Union and agreed to let it set up its military bases. Soviet claimed to respect the independence of Estonia, but this soon proved to be a lie. On the same day the Soviet Union began looking for the next target, and repeated their practice in Estonia. Latvia would be the next victim.

September 29 

1. The war in the Far East continued. The Japanese army arrived on the outskirts of Changsha City. However, since the supply lines were cut by the ROC military, it failed to capture the city.

Daily Roundup: Japan did not have a long-term strategic plan for the occupation of Changsha, and therefore did not have adequate preparation for carrying out the military operation. Consequently, it was possible to obtain great progress.

September 30 

1. France expected that the Germans would probably launch an invasion, French troops at the border began to retreat within Rumaqinuo defense to defend.

2. The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee sank British ships in the waters near Brazil.

Daily Roundup: Due to the slow response and poor command, French army failed to carry out effective support to Poland. Germans could now focus on the war against France. French army hurried back into their defense which cost a lot to be built. German battleship’s scope of activities reached the South Atlantic. The Royal Navy escort task was tremendous.

September Roundup: World War II broke out fully on September 1. The Germans invaded Poland in three columns after being fully prepared. At this time the British and French were still trying to resolve the issue through diplomatic means, but the only effect was to give Germany a few days more to attack. French army launched on September 7th ground action, but the action was slow, and the army soon returned to the territory of France. So the Germans in the west did not suffer any strong pressure from the Allies. German troops rapidly advanced and occupied major cities in Poland one by one and Warsaw was surrounded. After the Soviet Union and Japan signed a ceasefire agreement and confirmed the Germans would definitely win the battle, the Soviet Union invaded Poland according to the agreement from the east. A few days afterwards, the two countries conducted a joint German-Soviet victory parade, and signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation to determine their sphere of influence. Warsaw fell in late September and Poland campaign was almost over. The Soviet Union also launched at the end of September military operations in Estonia and Latvia with the intention of annexing the two countries. Although with maritime superiority, the Allies did not have many battle results in the first month of the sea battles. Instead, friendly fire resulted in a submarine sank and the Royal Navy had an aircraft carrier sunk by German Navy. Large-scale aerial combat had not yet commenced. Luftwaffe at this time was mainly used to support the Polish campaign, while the Allied air force had not been able to complete preparations for war. In this month, a country of the Allies fell and troops of 1 million were lost. The only gain was forced Germany to introduce food rationing through naval blockade.

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