THE SECOND WORLD WAR April 1940

THE SECOND WORLD WAR April 1940

The Katyn Forest, located in the Soviet Union was the scene in April 1940 of the massacre of captured Polish officers and intelligencia by the Soviet secret police (NKVD) – (“People’s Commissariat for the Internal Affairs”). Approximately 22,000 Polish prisoners were murdered and most, but not all, were found buried in mass graves. The massacre was a series of mass executions which took place in several different locations. The NKVD prompted the massacre for which the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was one of those who signed the order. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the Germans found the mass graves giving them the opportunity for propaganda against the Soviets for the barbaric treatment of the Polish people.
Germany invaded Denmark and Norway on the 9th April 1940 as a preventive measure against a planned British and French occupation of Norway. The German objective was to protect the two countries neutrality. German industry was heavily dependent on the import of iron-ore from the northern Swedish mining district and much of this was shipped through the Norwegian port of Narvik. By having bases in Denmark and Norway, Britain and France would have forced German ore ships to travel through the open waters of the North Sea. The invasion of Denmark lasted less than six hours and the capitulation resulted in a uniquely lenient occupation of Denmark. Norway was also occupied from the 10th April 1940. The Quisling regime which was the puppet government led by Vidkun Quisling until the end of the war. Quisling was the leader of the Norwegian fascist party who declared himself Prime Minister and ordered all resistance halted immediately. Adolf Hitler supported Quisling thereby forcing King Haakon VII and the pre-war government to escape to London.
The First Battle of Narvik was initiated by the British navy who had orders to prevent ten German destroyers landing 2,000 troops at the Port of Narvik in Norway. Narvik was important to the Germans because it was used to ship imported iron-ore to supply Nazi Germany’s industries. Early on the morning of the 10th April 1940 a flotilla of five British destroyers entered the harbour of Narvik under the cover of heavy snow. In the surprise attack they sank two German destroyers and six merchant ships, and damaging another destroyer. However, they had arrived too late to prevent the landing of the German troops. Unbeknown to the British navy, a further five German destroyers were at anchor nearby and these emerged to attack the British flotilla. The Germans were forced to retreat because of fuel shortages and the need to facilitate repairs despite having sunk the British flagship and killing the commander, Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee. The Germans also sank another ship and damaging a further two. A Second Battle for Narvik commenced on the 13th April 1940 when a new British force arrived consisting of a battleship and eight destroyers who opposed eight German destroyers and two U-boats. After the battle the only German survivor was U-boat, U-51, which managed to escape to the open sea.
The British occupation of the Faroe Islands was implemented immediately following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway. On the 12th April 1940 two British destroyers arrived at Torshavn harbour on the Faroe Islands which was an amt (county of Denmark). Following discussions between the Danish Prefect of the Islands and the Faroese Parliament the British terms were accepted regarding the occupation, on the basis that the U.K. would not seek to interfere with the internal affairs of the Islands. The British were in occupation for the duration of the war.
On the 14th April 1940 British troops landed at Namsos and Harstad in Norway as Anglo/French troops prepared to launch an operation against German forces at Trondheim and Narvik. The 15th April 1940 saw the British Guards Brigade landing at Harstad and on the 16th, 17th and 18th April 1940 land at Namsos and Andalsnes respectively. Fighting continued until the 25th April 1940 when the German forces successfully pushed the Allies back and on the 27th April 1940 the Allied forces decided to withdraw from Narvik and Andalsnes. This in effect abandoned the Allied involvement against the Germans at Trondheim. On the 30th April 1940 the Allied evacuation from Andalsnes began.
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A.R.P. Damage Reports Brentwood Div. Essex Fire Service March 1940.

Air Raid Damage Reports Brentwood Division Essex Fire Service March 1940.

Date Time Location Damage

02/03/1940 14.44 Vange Drifting Barrage Balloon shot down by RAF caught
in a tree at Clay Hill
19/03/1940 19.50 Rochford Two drifting Barrage Balloons shot down in the sea
by RAF 1 1/2 miles South East of Burnham.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR March 1940

THE SECOND WORLD WAR March 1940
Adolf Hitler directed his generals, on the 1st March 1940, to plan the invasion of Denmark and Norway.
On the 3rd March 1940, the Soviet army attacked Viipuri in Finland which was a suburb of Vyburg and established a beachhead on the Western Gulf of Vyburg. The Soviets declined the offer of the Finnish proposal for an armistice on the 5th March 1940. The Soviets wished to keep the pressure on the Finnish government and a peace delegation was hastily dispatched to Moscow via Stockholm arriving in Moscow on the 7th March 1940. As the Soviet military was in a strong and improving position the Soviet government made further demands to which the Finns had little choice but to accept the terms. The Moscow Peace Treaty was signed on the 12th March 1940 in Moscow. The ceasefire took effect the following day.
With a large proportion of food imported into Britain from across the world, on the 11th March 1940 the British Ministry of Food extended their rationing system. The extension went on to include meat, cheese, milk and eggs in addition to the rationing of basic foods from the 7th January 1940.
During an air raid on the 16th March 1940, thirty-two German Junkers Ju 88 dive bombers attacked the Royal Naval Base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. One of the bombs hit HMS Norfolk and blew a hole below the water line. There were 6 sailors killed and James Isbister was the first British civilian killed in the nearby village of Bridge of Waithe when a German bomb hit his house.
On the 18th March 1940, the fascist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass on the Austrian border. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss when Italy would join in the war against Britain and France. Hitler gave details of his planned invasion of Europe but did not disclose his intension with regard to Denmark and Norway. Mussolini promised, once it became obvious the German offensive proved to be victorious, that Italy would enter the war “at an appropriate moment”.
When Édouard Daladier lost the position of prime minister of France on the 21st March 1940, Paul Reynaud was elected as the new Prime Minister. As an opponent of appeasement Reynaud became a strong supporter of the military ideas of Charles De Gaulle. At a meeting with the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain a week later in London on the 28th March 1940, both men signed a joint declaration that the two countries would not sign a separate peace Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
On the 30th March 1940 the Reorganised National Government of the Republic of China was formed. In reality it was only a puppet regime of Japan whose advisors had extensive powers following the Second Sino-Japanese War.
On the 30th March 1940, Britain undertook secret reconnaissance flights inside the Soviet Union to photograph the Soviet Oil Industry. The photographs were to assist the bombing plan which would destroy the Soviet oil industry, causing the collapse of the economy thus depriving Germany of Soviet oil resources. The plan was devised after the Anglo-French alliance came to the conclusion that the Nazi-Soviet pact signed in Moscow would make the Soviet Union the ally of Hitler.