World War II Day by Day - Page 9 - Politics | PoFo

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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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By Doug64
January 10, Wednesday

Invasion plans found in German plane

The Luftwaffe HQ in Berlin is in turmoil today after news from the German embassy in Brussels tells of the crash-landing of a German military plane near the Belgian town of Mechelen-sur-Meuse.

The plane, on a flight from Munster to Cologne, became lost in thick cloud. After it came down, one of the passengers jumped out and raced for a clump of bushes, where he set fire to papers he had taken from his briefcase. Belgian soldiers closed in and retrieved the partly-burned papers.

The man was identified as Major Helmut Reinberger, a Luftwaffe staff office, and the papers were operational plans, complete with maps, for a German airborne attack on the west, to begin January 14th with saturation bombing attacks on French airfields.

When distraught aides give news of the lost plans to Hitler, he says, “It’s things like this that can lose us the war.”

Rail buckles under blackout pressure

In Britain, widespread complaints about train delays have been excused by the Railway Executive on the grounds of the blackout, which prolongs the loading of goods vans and makes for late starting. It also blames unexpected arrivals at ports of shipments of fresh food, which have to be distributed hurriedly by commandeering trains. Troop movements are also a factor.

Passengers point out that this does not explain why so many trains run late in the daytime. Even daily commuter journeys habitually take half an hour longer than advertised, if not more.
By Doug64
January 13, Saturday

Women play their part with vital role in the war effort

Two days ago Britain’s Women’s Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary delivered its first airplane from factory to depot. This is one more indication of women’s increasing usefulness in the war effort, but not everybody likes it. There has been considerable public protest against the use of women pilots while men are kept idle on the waiting list for the RAF.

Women’s place in the Land Army has been more easily accepted, though fears have been voiced about “the wisdom of casting on one side, even temporarily, the whole elaborate system of agricultural education built up during the last 25 years, for the purpose of training a few hundred land girls.”

Not everyone shares this view. A course was held this week in London to advise headmistresses on the changing face of women’s work during the war.

No one need fear that the pilots of the Women’s Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary are underqualified. The nine women—one first officer, Pauline Gower, with eight second officers in her command—have over 7,500 hours’ flying time between them. The youngest of them, Joan Hughes, is 22 and learned to fly at 17 before she left school. She is also qualified as an instructor.

Labor shortfalls worry Nazi government

Falls in the size of the German male workforce are giving the regime in Berlin cause for concern and could leave to a relaxation of the Nazi doctrine, fostered since 1933, that a woman’s place is firmly at home.

The Nazis foresaw the potential problem as early as February 1939, when a new regulation allowed employers to recruit any skilled worker not yet called up for military service for compulsory work in any industrial sector important to a war economy. This measure has led to a partial redistribution of the German workforce to agriculture and armaments, but it may still prove inadequate to make up expected shortfalls. In 1939 1.5 million men were called up for the armed forces, but four times that number could get their papers this year.

The idea of employing more women is opposed by senior Nazi leaders on the grounds that it contravenes the Nazi belief that women are fit mainly to be housewives and mothers. But the Reich may yet find it has little choice.
By Doug64
January 15, Monday

Poetic general is Middle East leader

As Italy looks at Britain from its African colonies with growing hostility, the British leader in the front line is General Sir Archibald Wavell, Britain’s C-in-C Middle East.

An officer in the Boer War at the age of 18, he lost an eye at Ypres and later became an advocate of mobile warfare. As GSO (General Staff Officer) 1 of 3 Division he was closely involved in the training of the Experimental Armoured Force when it was formed as part of the division in 1927, and from 1930 he commanded the 6th Infantry Brigade. A poet and an intellectual, Wavell is both an outstanding staff officer and a formidable leader of men; his book Generals and Generalship (1939) is a classic.
By Doug64
January 16, Tuesday

Poles tell of death and forced labor

A report which vividly describes Nazi atrocities in Poland is presented today to the exiled Polish government at Angers, France. It contains graphic accounts of public executions, forced labor, looting, and hostage-taking on a vast scale.

In Poznan, for example, the invaders are said to have shot 5,000 Poles. Thousands more are being held in makeshift concentration camps. Mass arrests of prominent Poles are commonplace. Germans take precedence over Poles for food, clothes, and housing.

The two million Jews and gypsies in Nazi-occupied Poland suffer the most brutal persecution and indignities.

Admiral heads new Japan government

The emperor of Japan today appoints Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, aged 60, to form a new Cabinet after General Abe and his ministers resigned after an urgent session early on January 14th.

The resignation of General Abe’s government is a setback for the war hawks in the army. It has come under mounting criticism for the way the war in China has been allowed to drag on. The army’s plans to reduce the China Expeditionary Army and deploy troops to strengthen Japanese positions along the border with the Soviet Union have been thwarted by the Chinese Nationalists’ winter offensive. Instead Japan has had to send additional troops to China.

Anti-war elements in the Diet have become increasingly reluctant to float more loans, which are crippling government finances, to support the war. It is not known whether the new premier, who was a compromise choice after the army failed to get its own candidate appointed, is a hawk or a dove.
By Doug64
January 18, Thursday

New ways to tackle magnetic mines

A British company has today delivered the first of a very large Admiralty order for buoyant electrical cable. It is to be used in the fights to remove the threat of the magnetic mine to British ships. When the cable is towed behind a wooden trawler, a current generated by the ship will produce a magnetic field around it sufficient to detonate a mine. In the meantime ships continue to be sunk by mines—over 260,000 tons between September and December 1939.
By Doug64
January 20, Saturday

Record snowfalls and plunging temperatures freeze war plans

All Europe is held in the icy grip of one of the most severe frosts on record. Switzerland has recorded the lowest degrees of frost since 1920. Heavy snow has fallen in Oporto, Portugal, for the first time in 40 years, and in Corunna, Spain, for the first time since 1800.

On the border of Norway and Sweden the mercury has frozen in the thermometers. The Danube is frozen in Hungary and 1,200 ships are held by the ice. In the Baltic islands ships can only move preceded by ice-breakers, and German mines off Heligoland are being exploded by ice-floes. A German ship is sunk by an iceberg off Iceland.

On the Finnish front nearly 1,000 Russian troops are believed to have died of exposure. In China 20,000 had died and the war has been halted.

The expected German attack on the Western Front has not materialized, presumably at least partly because of the weather. Both Holland and Belgium are expecting an onslaught at any moment. The Germans have evacuated civilians from the area adjoining the Dutch border and trains passing through have to draw their blinds. Captured plans show that the invasion should have taken place on January 14th.

Russian bombers hit back at Finnish strength on ground

There is a lull in the ground fighting as the Russians prepare for the expected “big push,” but the war goes on as fiercely as ever in the air with the Russian bombers trying to make up for the superior skill of the Finns on the ground.

They attack the Finnish positions every day, not only in the front line but ranging over most of the country. The news has been released that the historic castle at Aabo on the Baltic coast has been destroyed by incendiary bombs.

The port of Viipuri, only 70 miles (112 km) from Leningrad, is under constant attack. A hospital has been hit and many patients have been killed. But the Russians are not having it all their own way.

The Finns, flying British-built Blenheim bombers, have carried out raids on the Soviet island bases of Oesel and Dagoe and scattered three million leaflets over Leningrad, giving the true facts of the situation in Finland.

The Finnish fighters have also been in furious action, hurtling themselves at the Red bombers whenever they appear.

One of the fighter pilots, Jorma Sarvanto, has scored a most spectacular success, knocking down six out of a formation of seven Ilyushin bombers while he is on a lone patrol over the devastated town of Mikkeli.
By Doug64
January 22, Monday

British Ministry of Information news vetting “not censorship”

From today on newsreels have to be submitted to the Ministry of Information before they are exhibited. Newsreels have been exempt from scrutiny by the British Board of Film Censors because they are produced to tight deadlines twice weekly. Now this loophole is closed. The Ministry’s film division has appointed a liaison officer to convey “do’s and don’ts” of film propaganda. An “editor” from the Ministry will view all newsreels before release. The word “censor” is not used in the announcement.

The Control of Photography Order already makes it an offense to film or photograph any object of war interest without a permit. But the ban on the representation of living persons on feature films has been lifted in regard to enemy aliens such as Nazi leaders.
By Doug64
January 23, Tuesday

ENSA (Entertainment National Service Association) troupes learn lessons from their first night failures

Following allegations by troop entertainers that ENSA’s organization in France is in a “chaotic muddle,” its officials are to report to the War Office.

Jack Payne, who has just completed a three-week tour of France with his dance band, says that they missed four concerts completely owing to bad organization, including their Christmas Day concert with Gracie Fields (the troops’ favorite). “When we arrived in France there was no transport and no-one at the port had heard of us,” Payne says in a press interview headlined “Sack the Lot!” Billy Cotton and his band missed their engagements because a bridge collapsed, leaving the truck carrying their instruments on one side and the coachload of players on the other.

There have been many complaints about the standard of entertainment offered, and Lord Haw-Haw has sneered on German radio that the troops have to be paid to attend ENSA shows. Basil Dean, who runs ENSA from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, does not deny that mistakes have been made, but says that time was needed to perfect the service overseas. Since ENSA has gone to France, 383 live shows have been given, led by Gracie Fields, Leslie Henson, Will Hay, and other stars.
By Doug64
January 26, Friday

Germans migrate into Reich’s new lands

The resettlement of ethnic Germans from Wohlhynien (western Ukraine) and eastern Galicia into the territories of the Reich, agreed to during negotiations with the USSR, has been completed. The “migrants” come from what used to be eastern Poland, which has been pushed on with all haste since December 20th, with ethnic German groups covering forty miles (64km) a day in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40C). German-Soviet agreements late last year mean that some 205,000 ethnic Germans can leave the Soviet “sphere of interest” for the Reich. Many are earmarked by the Reich’s Agency for the Organization of Space to displace Poles in the General Government area (occupied western Poland), regarded by the Nazis as part of the Reich’s new Lebensraum {living space}. Just over 100,000 families from southern Germany are also expected to resettle in the occupied zone.
By Doug64
January 27, Saturday

South African MPs reject peace move

In an extraordinary spectacle, with the former Prime Minister, General Hertzog, openly supporting Hitler, South Africa’s all-white parliament has rejected the call for a separate peace with Germany.

The pro-British Premier, General Jan Smuts, likens the speech of Hertzog, his former Boer comrade-in-arms, to a chapter from Mein Kampf. “Goebbels could not of done it better,” he says.

The division in the lobby is clear-cut, reflecting the division in the country—the English-speakers and liberal Afrikaners in one camp, the irreconcilable Boers, with their own theories of racial supremacy, in the other.

Finns await new onslaught by Red Army

There is an expectant air about the Mannerheim Line today as the Finns prepare for the massive attack they know is being prepared by General Timoshenko, who has been whipping the Red Army into shape behind his defensive lines on the Karelian isthmus. This does not mean that there is no action. Soviet guns have kept up a steady pounding of the Finnish positions and small groups of soldiers, now well trained in winter tactics, have launched a series of attacks to wear down the Finns.
By Doug64
January 30, Tuesday

Waste not wasted, but wanted for war

In Britain a national campaign is launched today to utilize almost all of the 120 million tons of household waste that are disposed of every year. Scrap iron and steel are urgently needed for conversion into armor plate for guns, ships, and tanks. “Old bedsteads, bicycles, fire-irons—we want them all,” says the chairman of the scrap merchants’ federation. The National Farmers’ Union is to arrange collection from farms of the many discarded plows, harrows, scythes, drills, milk pails, and other rusting implements.

Wastepaper is urgently needed for pulping to save imports. The paper controller is appealing for people to bundle their newspapers, wrapping paper, cardboard, and old letters beside the dustbin. There is also an appeal for kitchen waste to be kept separately from tins and bottles, because it is wanted for pigswill. Even bones are wanted for grinding up as fertilizer.
By Doug64
January 31, Wednesday

Homesick evacuees return to cities

A survey of evacuees by local authorities reveals that out of 734,883 unaccompanied children evacuated from the cities since September 1, 1939, 316,192 have returned home. In addition 145,681 mothers with 233,381 young children have gone back, about 90 percent of accompanied evacuees. About 500,000, mainly schoolchildren, remain in the “safe areas.”

A third of London’s schoolchildren and more than a third of Liverpool’s are still evacuated, but in most cities only ten percent are still away and the number is falling. Only two of the hutted camps built for evacuees at a cost of over £1 million ($4 million) are in use. One in six firms that evacuated are back in London. Apart from the absence of air raids, the reason for the failure of the evacuation scheme has been the homesickness of the children, their parents’ anxieties, and the attempt to collect a charge of 6/- (30p/$1.21) a week per child from parents.

It's been the worst winter this century, but don’t tell anyone—it’s a secret

It can now be revealed that, like the rest of Europe, Britain has been shivering since Christmas in the coldest spell since 1895. All reference to the weather is censored until 15 days after the event.

Temperatures of 20˚ to 25˚ Fahrenheit below freezing (-12˚ Celsius) have been common, and a remarkable 35 degrees of frost were recorded at Edgbaston observatory. The Thames was frozen for eight miles (13 km) between Teddington and Sunbury, and ice covered stretches of the Humber, Mersey, and Severn. The sea froze along the shoreline at Felpham, near Bognor Regis. Folkestone Harbor and the Southampton docks iced over. The Grand Union Canal was at a standstill from London to Birmingham. Even central London was below freezing for a week, and Londoners have been skating on ice six inches thick on the Serpentine. Skating has been possible on Rydal Water in the Lake District, and skiing has been in full swing on the South Downs. Main roads have been blocked in Kent with snowdrifts up to 12 feet deep. A foot of snow fell in an hour at Folkestone and covered some villages up to the rooftops, marooning occupants unless they could dig their way out.

Some people have been cut off for two weeks. Last weekend only seven games of League soccer could be played. The west coast rail route to Scotland was cut. The number of deaths is unknown.
By Doug64
February 1940

February 2, Friday

Rabbits hop to the top of the menu

The popularity of rabbit meat has increased by leaps and bounds as part of the menu in British households since meat rationing began.

Recipes for enhancing—or disguising—its taste fill the cookery columns. Rabbit, they point out, can be stewed, blanched, fricasseed, jugged, or, of course, put in a pie. It is also plentiful and cheap, at 2/- (10p/40¢) for one rabbit. Fish is also unrationed but always seems to be scarce and is getting expensive. Cod is now ¼ (6½p/27¢) a pound. Herring, the price of which is controlled, costs 6d (2½p/10¢) a pound.
Doug64 wrote: February 1940

February 2, Friday

Rabbits hop to the top of the menu

The popularity of rabbit meat has increased by leaps and bounds as part of the menu in British households since meat rationing began.

Recipes for enhancing—or disguising—its taste fill the cookery columns. Rabbit, they point out, can be stewed, blanched, fricasseed, jugged, or, of course, put in a pie. It is also plentiful and cheap, at 2/- (10p/40¢) for one rabbit. Fish is also unrationed but always seems to be scarce and is getting expensive. Cod is now ¼ (6½p/27¢) a pound. Herring, the price of which is controlled, costs 6d (2½p/10¢) a pound.

By Doug64
February 5, Monday

Allies pledge aid to Finland, but it may be too late

The Supreme War Council, meeting in Paris, decides today to send an Anglo-French expedition of three or four divisions to the aid of Finland. The plan is to land the force either through Petsamo (in northern Finland), which is under attack by the Russians, or through Narvik (in northern Norway). The route to Finland from Narvik passes through Sweden, but the War Council favors it because holding Narvik would allow the Allies to cut off Germany’s supply of Swedish iron ore, which has to be carried by rail to Narvik for shipment to Germany. It is not clear what action would be taken if Norway or Sweden refuse to cooperate.

Meanwhile, all possible aid has been promised to the Finns, and some equipment and a few thousand volunteers, mainly Scandinavians, have already arrived. It may be, however, that too little will arrive too late.

British women work in munitions factories and take to the lifeboats

Women who turn out of their beds at dawn today to help drag a northeast coast lifeboat a mile across land before it can be launched show the determination and energy which is there to be tapped by the war industry.

Talks begin today between Ernest Brown, the Minister of Labour and National Service, and the National Executive Committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union to hammer out, among other things, possible ways of speeding up the supply of women workers to the munitions factories. As the idea of women taking over men’s work becomes more generally accepted, pressure is also growing for equal pay to be given to the new recruits. Negotiations are underway between engineering employers and the unions.
By Doug64
February 6, Tuesday

Britain covers up shipping losses

Pressure from the Admiralty leads to new guidelines for BBC war reporting being agreed at Broadcasting House today. From now on, the sinking of a small ship may be mentioned only once on a BBC news bulletin. Sinkings of larger ships, like the Canadian Pacific freighter Beaverburn, sunk today, may still be mentioned in consecutive bulletins. The government is worried by the rising effectiveness of German U-boats, and fears that zealous reporting by the BBC will give the impression that British losses are even greater than they are.

Britons warned: watch your tongues

A nationwide campaign to stamp out war gossip has been launched under the slogan “Careless Talk Costs Lives.” The Ministry of Information is distributing two and a half million posters to offices, hotels, shops, banks, and public houses about the dangers of giving information to enemy sympathizers.

Some are amusing, such as a drawing of two women chattering on an underground train, with Hitler and Goering sitting on a seat behind them. The caption is “You never know who’s listening!” Drawn by the Punch cartoonist “Fougasse” (Kenneth Bird), it is in a series that shows Hitler eavesdropping from train luggage racks or telephone kiosks, or concealed in the framed portraits on the walls.

The artist Norman Wilkinson has painted a torpedoed ship plunging to the bottom with a reminder “A few careless words may end in this.” Other posters show a man telling his wife at breakfast, “Of course, there’s no harm in your knowing,” or a seductive siren listening in at an officers’ club with the caption “Keep mum, she’s not so dumb.” The posters are snappier than an earlier ministry effort which read: “Do not discuss anything which might be of national importance. The consequence of any such indiscretion may be the loss of many lives.”

The ministry’s film division, directed by Kenneth Clark, is financing three short films to be made by Michael Balcon at Ealing Studios on the same theme: in All Hands a sailor tells his girlfriend in a café that his ship is sailing at 9 o’clock that night from Portsmouth. The waitress who serves them tells the manageress, who is an informer. An agent signals from the shore and a waiting U-boat torpedoes the ship. “Such a nice couple, I wish I could have done something for them,” sighs the waitress. “We don’t want people to think there is a spy in every public house,” says Kenneth Clark, “but our job is to show the danger of careless chatter.”
By Doug64
February 9, Friday

Air attacks back Karelian offensive

Fierce fighting continues in Finland today as General Timoshenko presses his massive and well-organized attack on the Mannerheim Line. The offensive opened with a barrage so concentrated that 300,000 shells fell on Finnish positions near Summa on the first day.

The Russian guns are virtually wheel to wheel as they pour their shells onto the Finns. At the same time, bombers are attacking the Finnish lines of communication and reserve bases. It is estimated that the Russians have assembled some 1,500 aircraft of all types, including the modern Ilyushin 116/17 fighter, for this fresh offensive. Joseph Stalin doesn’t mean to fail this time.

The Russians are also using a new weapon, troop-carrying armored cars mounted on sledges and armed with machine guns. These are dashing forward, laying smoke screens, dropping off their troops and then moving on. Tanks, each accompanied by a group of soldiers, are then sent forward through the smoke to attack the Finnish positions. In this way the Russians are avoiding the terrible casualties they suffered in the first round of fighting when they drove forward in massed ranks and were mown down.
By Doug64
February 10, Saturday

Nazis order Czech Jews to close shops

The Nazis today order the closing down of all Jewish-owned textile, clothing, and leather goods stores, and warn that Baron von Neurath, the “Reich Protector” of Bohemia-Moravia, may order all other Jewish businesses to shut.

The Baron has also ordered the sale of all jewelry, gold, platinum, silver, and works of art owned by Jews. The measures are seen here as part of a plan to eliminate the Jews from the economic life of what used to be Czechoslovakia.
By Doug64
February 12, Monday

Army wives receive better allowances

Women living in the London postal area whose husbands are away in the services are to receive increased allowances, payable immediately. The rise brings the separation allowance to 3/6 (17½p/70¢) a day and will date back to December 4th. Oliver Stanley, the new Secretary of State for War, promised a full review of the army pay system when he took office last month. This increase follows widespread complaints about hardships experienced by service wives while their husbands are away.
By Doug64
February 13, Tuesday

British government to run railway network

The present owners of Britain’s railways will continue to run them during the war—but under strict government control. MPs are assured tonight that the private interests of the various companies which have been unprofitable in recent years will not be allowed to impede the war effort.

A proposal by the Labour Party for the nationalization of all forms of inland and coastal transport is then defeated in a Commons vote. While controlling railway fares and charges, the government will now guarantee the companies against financial losses. Railway company shares have risen sharply in the past few weeks.
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