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 September 1939

19 September 1939
In Danzig…

Hitler makes

a triumphal entry into the formerly free city

and makes a foreign policy speech that seems to offer conciliation with France and Britain, suggesting that the war could be concluded on the basis of the German territorial gains already achieved. He also swears that Danzig will be German forever and that Germany will fight to the bitter end, if necessary.

In Poland…

The Soviet advance reaches the Hungarian frontier.

In the north Vilna (Wilno) is taken.

The Soviets link up with the Germans at

Brest Litovsk,

which is given up to the Soviets according to the provisions of the secret agreement of August 23, 1939.

Meanwhile, about 30,000 Polish troops reach Warsaw after fighting their way out of


 German bombers being a continuing assault on Warsaw, initially striking utilities and other essential public facilities.


the battle of Bzura ends

with the surrender of 100,000 officers and men of the defeated Polish Pomorze and Poznan armies (consisting of 19 Polish divisions). In eastern Poland, German forces surround



In France…


The first British army corps lands


in France.

to be continued

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 September 1939


18 September 1939

: Polish President Ignacy Mościcki


and Commander-in-Chief Edward Rydz-Śmigły leave Poland for Romania, where they are both interned;

Russian forces reach



and Brest-Litovsk.



submarine escapes from


Estonia‘s neutrality is questioned by the Soviet Union and Germany.

In Romania… The Polish president, Moscicki, and the Commander in Chief, Rydz-Smigly, enter Romania and are interned. They leave behind messages telling their troops to fight on.

In Poland… Soviet forces have advanced 100 km into Poland, meeting little resistance.

The German 3rd and 10th armies begin attacking Warsaw. Members of the Polish cipher bureau, with vital knowledge of the German Enigma code, flee the country and head for Paris.

In Copenhagen,




and Reykjavik…

In simultaneous announcements, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland declare that they intend to continue trading with all belligerents to protect their economic existence.

In Berlin… A week after making his first broadcast to Britain,

the Irish ex-Mosleyite William Joyce is given a contract with German radio.

In the North Atlantic…

SS Kensington Court is shelled

and sunk by a German U-boat;



2 RAF Sunderland flying boats rescue 34 men

To Be continued

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 September 1939


: General Gamelin

orders a halt to the French advance into Germany.

On September 12, the Anglo French Supreme War Council gathered for the first time at

Abbeville in France.

It was decided that all offensive actions were to be halted immediately. By then, the French divisions have advanced approximately eight kilometres into Germany on a 24 kilometres long strip of the frontier

in the Saarland area.

Maurice Gamelin ordered his troops to stop not closer than 1 kilometre from the German positions along the Siegfried Line. Poland was not notified of this decision.

On the Western Front… French forces have now advanced about 5 miles (8 km) into Germany on a 15-mile (24 km) frontage in the Saarland region.

The French claim that the action has forced the Germans to withdraw 6 divisions from Poland, although British observers express doubts.

The advance places the front within half a mile of the Siegfried Line and a frontal assault on this defensive system is considered to be out of the question. General Gamelin calls an end to the Saar offensive.

In Poland… Some of List’s troops are

fighting near Lvov

while others are

moving north from their bridgeheads over the San.

The Polish army


around Poznan, the one that was to have marched on Berlin, unexpectedly turns about and attempts to take the German 8th Army in the flank.

This is the start of

the violent battle of

the Bzura River.

Polish troops push

the German forces 12 miles south of Kutno


and recapture Lowicz.




evacuated by the Poles.

Luftwaffe planes bomb


Krzemieniec (Kremenets)

in eastern Poland, a declared open village where the diplomatic community from Warsaw has sought refuge.

In Bucharest…

The German Foreign Minister,

von Ribbentrop, demands that the Romanians not give asylum to Polish officials crossing the border and threatens military action in case of noncompliance.

. Meanwhile,

a Czech army-in-exile is formed.

In Britain… The home office opens an inquiry into blackout rules.

In the North Atlantic…

The US Navy begins regular neutrality patrols along the entire length of the eastern seaboard

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 September 1939

September.17th .1939

: The Soviet Union invades Poland from the east,


the territory east of the Curzon line as well as



Eastern Galicia.

17th : Aircraft carrier HMS Courageous torpedoed and sunk by U-29 on patrol off the coast of Ireland

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 September 1939

6th  September 1939
Over Britain.

.. Two RAF Spitfires shoot down 2 RAF Hurricanes in error during the first air raid warning, which turns out to be false.

The incident becomes known as the “Battle of Barking Creek.”

Battle of Barking Creek

 (a friendly fire incident resulting in the first RAF fighter pilot fatalities of the War).[3]

In Poland…

The German 10th Army (Reichenau) continues to lead the advance, having already penetrated to

the east of Lodz.

 Armored spearheads of the German forces capture




southwest of Warsaw.

Krakow is taken by troops of the German 14th Army (List).

The Polish government and supreme command leave Warsaw. The government is relocating to

the region of Luck-Kremieniec,

while the supreme command moves

to Brzesko on the Bug River.

The Polish supreme command issues orders for all Poles capable of fighting, in and out of uniform, to retire to the line of

the Narew,



and San rivers.


Hitler visits


the headquarters of the German 19th Panzer Corps (Guderian), on the northeastern front.

In Pretoria… The government of South Africa, lead by


Prime Minister Jan Christian Smuts,

declares war on Germany.

In Madrid…

The Spanish government, led by dictator General Franco, declares its neutrality. Franco also makes a secret pledge to support the Axis cause.

In Britain…The Royal Navy forms the Northern Patrol consisting of 8 cruisers. The first British eastern convoy sails.

In France… A 72-hour working week is introduced in the munitions industry.

In the Soviet Union…

The German passenger liner, Bremen, (52,000 tonnes)

arrives at Murmansk, in northern Russia,

from New York.

In Baghdad… The Iraqi government breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany.

: South Africa, now under Prime Minister Jan Smuts, declares war on Germany.

One of Germany’s land forces (Wehrmacht Heer) captures

Kraków in the south of Poland; Polish army is in general retreat

to be continued

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16 September 1939


Hitler’s troops were already

wreaking havoc

in Poland,

having invaded on the first of the month. The Polish army began retreating and regrouping east, near Lvov, in eastern Galicia, attempting to escape relentless German land and air offensives.

But Polish troops had jumped from the frying pan into the fire-as Soviet troops began occupying eastern Poland.

The Ribbentrop-Molotov Non-aggression Pact, signed in August, had eliminated any hope Poland had of a Russian ally in a war against Germany. Little did Poles know that a secret clause of that pact, the details of which would not become public until 1990, gave the U.S.S.R. the right to mark off for itself a chunk of Poland’s eastern region.

The “reason” given was that Russia had to come to the aid of its “blood brothers,” the Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who were trapped in territory that had been illegally annexed by Poland.

Now Poland was squeezed from West and East-trapped between two behemoths.


Its forces overwhelmed by the mechanized modern German army, Poland had nothing left with which to fight the Soviets.

As Soviet troops broke into Poland, they unexpectedly met up with German troops who had fought their way that far east in a little more than two weeks. The Germans receded when confronted by the Soviets, handing over their Polish prisoners of war. Thousands of Polish troops were taken into captivity; some Poles simply surrendered to the Soviets to avoid being captured by the Germans.

The Soviet Union would wind up with about three-fifths of Poland and 13 million of its people as a result of the invasion

September,17 th.1939


Gamelin informed

marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły

that half of his divisions are in contact with the enemy, and that French advances have forced the Wehrmacht to withdraw at least six divisions from Poland.

The following day,

the commander of the French Military Mission to Poland, General Louis Faury, informed the Polish Chief of Staff,


General Wacław Stachiewicz, that the planned major offensive on the western front had to be postponed from September 17 to September 20. At the same time, French divisions were ordered to retreat to their barracks

along the Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line was named by

the French Minister of War André Maginot

it was a series of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery and machine-gun positions, observation, communication centers, shelters and other defenses, which France had created along borders with Germany and Italy, due to the bad experience of the First World War. Generally, the term describes only the defenses mentioned in Germany, while the term Alpine Line is used for the Franco-Italian defenses. The length of the line covering the borders of France and Switzerland to Luxembourg and the width of the area covered ranged between 20 and 25 kilometers inside the country. Its construction started in 1930 and completed in 1939 The French built the fortification was to prevent any surprise attack by German forces and to give time to deploy the army in case of attack, allowing French forces after he arranged to go to Belgium for a decisive showdown. The success of static, defensive combat during the First World War was a key influence on the minds of the French people for the construction of the project. Military experts thought the Maginot Line as a brilliant military work, believing that this will prevent future invasions from the east and especially from Germany When the Germans invaded France, the fortification system really successful in avoiding a frontal assault. Proved but strategically ineffective, as the Germans invaded by Belgium, bypassing

the Maginot Line through the Ardennes forest …

The Germans constructed a line of defences some distance east of the Maginot Line, called the Siegfried Line, in order to defend the Greater Reich from attacks from the west, however, I can’t seem to find any historical mentioning of a similar line of defence built in the east? There were none in the south either, but the combined Italian and German “Gustav Line” in Italy at least gave them some defence to the south even though it didn’t primarily defend Germany, but rather the northern part of Italy, and thus in turn protected Germany. The north was not (as far as I know) protected that well as it faced the Baltic sea, and the Baltic sea was in turn cut of from the Atlantic by the massive gun placements in the north of Denmark (Near Hanstholm) and the south of Norway (Near Kristiansand), as well as a minefield in the middle. So, even though the German navy was rather devastated, an allied naval invasion to the north of Germany would be rather futile. (And The Soviet Union didn’t really have a navy to speak of, so no real threat from the eastern Baltic sea)

In fact, the whole Atlantic seaboard was heavily fortified! From the border of Spain to the north of Norway (At the time of capitulation there were about 400 000 fit soldiers and loads of great equipment stationed in Norway alone, and there’s a bunker complex in Norway that was finished on the 7th of May 1945, 1 day before the capitulation), so it was clear that Germany really feared an invasion.

But what about the east? Why didn’t Germany fortify more heavily there? And one may say that the distances was greater, and yes, they were great indeed, but to fortify from Crimea to Leningrad are no greater task then to fortify from the the border of Spain to the northern tip of Norway.

Was it simply the fact that Germany didn’t really get full control over its eastern campaigns? The partisans, the environment, the demolished infrastructure, the mud? Or that they didn’t have enough time? Or was it simply that Germany didn’t think they would ever lose in the east?

I’m actually curious that this has not struck me before as I have watched countless hours of documentaries (some good, some crap) and read countless pages in books and magazines about this war, and I have never encountered an “Eastern Siegfried Line”.

The Phoney war started. The French remained in control of a pocket

in the Saarland.

As a symbolic gesture, the 1st Polish Grenadier Division later raised in the French Army was stationed to occupy this German territory.

The Allied attitude towards Poland in 1939 has been a subject of an ongoing dispute among historians ever since. Some historians[24] argue that if only France had pursued the offensive agreed on in the treaties, it would have definitely been able to break through the unfinished Siegfried Line and force Germany to fight a costly two-front war that it was in no position to win. At the same time, others argue that France and Britain had promised more than they would deliver —

 especially when confronted with the option to declare war on the Soviet Union for violating Poland’s territory on September 17, 1939 the way they had on Germany on September 3, 1939 (though in fact the pledge would not have obliged France and the United Kingdom to declare war on the Soviet Union due to the actual wording of the pact that specifically named Germany as the potential aggressor) — and that the French army was superior to the Wehrmacht in numbers only.


 It lacked the offensive doctrines, mobilization schemes, and offensive spirit necessary to attack Germany.


Also, while the bulk of the Luftwaffe’s bomber force was engaged in Poland (most of the fighter units were in the West), neither the French airforce nor the British Royal Air Force engaged in any operations against Germany

beyond leaflet droppings


and the bombing of German naval bases.[citation needed]

It seems unlikely, given the Soviet strategic doctrine of opportunistic war, that they would have carried on with invasion of Poland fulfilling their promises given to the Germans. [citation needed] Though the Germans asked the Russians to invade Poland on September 3 no such action took place till September 17, 1939. This is partly because the Soviet Union waited for a proof of Poland’s collapse as well as a lack of military involvement on the part of the Allies [citation needed].

The problem with Polish expectations was that the French and British commitments greatly exaggerated their capabilities[citation needed]. Although France promptly declared war, the French mobilization was not complete until early October[citation needed], by which time Poland had fallen. In Britain where mobilization was more rapid, only 1 in 40 men were mobilized (compared to 1 in 10 in France, and 1 in 20 in Poland), thus providing only a token force against Germany’s forces of several million.

 The presumption that “something could have been done but wasn’t” overlooks the basic fact that the West, just like Poland, was ill-equipped to fight Germany even with the majority of German forces engaged in the east[citation needed]. After the war, General Alfred Jodl commented that the Germans survived 1939 “only because approximately 110 French and English divisions in the West, which during the campaign on Poland were facing 25 German divisions, remained completely inactive.”

To Be Continued

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15 September 1939

In Bucharest.


The Romanian government grants asylum to

Polish civilian refugees;

military personnel are to be disarmed and interned.

In Germany… German radio broadcasts interviews with British and New Zealander aircrew captured during



the Wilhelmshaven


raid on September 4th.

In Britain…

Motorists besiege

petrol stations,

although no date for rationing has been fixed yet.

In Canada…

The first British trans-Atlantic convoy

sets sail from


Nova Scotia.

From now on all ships carrying vital supplies of Canadian wheat and US munitions are to travel in convoys scheduled and protected by the British and Canadian navies. The first convoy organized during the war sailed from Gibraltar on September 2nd.


The vital Glasgow-Thames

coastal trade is now moving in convoys as well.


: The Polish Army was ordered to

hold out at the Romanian border until the Allies arrived.[5]



: The German Army complete the encirclement of

Warsaw. and then 


German Army taken this city

16th : The French complete their retreat from Germany,

ending the Saar Offensive


16 September

In Poland…

Warsaw is now surrounded but a German ultimatum

is rejected by the Polish garrison,

led by General Czuma,


the Warsaw  civil population.

The Poles have already fought off one German assault, inflicting heavy casualties.

This day is also the eve of

the Jewish New Year


and Luftwaffe planes dive-bomb the Jewish quarter of

the city.

Part of List’s army is still fighting

west of Lvov

while other units are advancing north to link with

General Guderian’s forces,

who are maintaining their attack along the Bug.

Polish air force bombers make their final sorties.

In Moscow…

The USSR informs the Poland that the Red Army will enter eastern Poland on September 17th “to protect the Ukrainian and Belorussian minorities.”

In Britain…

The Duke of Windsor is appointed a liaison officer with the French army.

In the North Atlantic.. In the first German U-boat attack on a North Atlantic convoy, U-31 sinks

SS Aviemore.

A major escorted convoy leaves Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada for Britain.

Sept. 17, 1939, Soviet Foreign Minister

Vyacheslav Molotov

declares that the Polish government has ceased to exist, as the U.S.S.R. exercises the “fine print” of the Hitler-Stalin Non-aggression pact-the invasion and occupation of eastern be continued

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