The Second World War January 1940


The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland with a Soviet invasion beginning on the 30th November 1939. The Soviet offensive was halted on the 2nd January 1940 with the Finnish army achieving several victories and destroying many Soviet tanks. One whole Soviet division was eliminated and a large number of military vehicles were captured following the Finnish victory at Soumussalmi on the 7th January 1940. On the same day General Semyon Timoshenko took command of the Soviet armies in Finland from the previous disastrous commander, Kliment Voroshilov. By the 17th January 1940 the Soviets had been driven back but retaliated with heavy air attacks.
On the 7th January 1940, basic foodstuff rationing was introduced in the U.K. in response to German attacks on shipping bound for Britain. As the U.K. imported more than 50% of the food consumed, the Ministry of Food instituted a system of rationing.
An event occurred in Belgium on the 10th January 1940 that was known as the Mechelen Incident. A German officer was carrying the plans for Fall Geib (Case Yellow) when the aircraft being flown crash landed. Fall Geib were the plans for the German attack on the Low Countries which caused an immediate crisis in the countries involved. Once the dates mentioned in the plans had passed the crisis abated. However, documents captured on the 16th January 1940 revealed Hitler’s plans for the invasion of Scandinavia and a postponement of the invasion of France and the Low Countries. The revised plans were for the spring when the weather was more favourable.
HMS Exmouth was an E-class destroyer acting as patrol and escort vessel in the North Sea. From her base in Rosyth, Exmouth was escorting merchant ship Cyprian Prince, north of Scotland on the 20th January 1940 when she was spotted by German U-boat U22. She was torpedoed at 05.35 am and sank with the loss of all hands The Cyprian Prince sailed away without picking up seamen left in the water in order to get clear of the U-boat.
West of Portugal at 04.15 hours on the 21st January 1940 the unescorted Greek steam merchant ship Ekatontarchos Dracoulis was hit by torpedo fired from German U-boat U-44. The U-boat had chased the Greek vessel since 20.05 hours the previous day. The crew had abandoned ship and U-44 left the area before the vessel sank.
Reinhard Heydrich, a high ranking German Nazi official, was appointed by Hermann Göring on the 24th January 1940 to oversee the Jewish question. He was one of the main architects of the Final Solution. Heydrich was answerable to Hitler, Göring and Himmler only with everything connected to the deportation, imprisonment and extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust.
On the 27th January 1940, Germany finalised their plans for the invasion of Denmark and Norway which was carried out on the 9th April 1940.

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