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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Second World War  On This Day

December 1939

1 December 1939
In England and Wales the evacuation plans allowed for up to 3 million persons being relocated.  In effect 1 230 000 took advantage of the scheme, and about 540 000 had now returned to the evacuation areas when no bombing came in the first months of the war.
2 December 1939
The cargo ship 'Doric Star' was shelled and sunk by the German cruiser the 'Admiral Graff Spee' in the South Atlantic.
Conscription was extended to men aged 19 to 41 years.
3 December 1939
The 5th Battalion, King's Own, with Headquarters at Longhorsley, Northumberland, despatched 25 other ranks to the Royal Army Service Corps School at Whitley Bay for motor transport driving courses.
24 Vickers Wellington bombers raided German warships at Heligoland.  A German anti-aircraft battery was hit, possibly the first British bombs of the war to land on German soil.
4 December 1939
The German submarine U-36 was sunk by the British submarine HMS Salmon in the Heligoland Bight.
5 December 1939
On BBC Radio programmes included 'Cooking in Wartime' which looked at 'meatless dinners' and in the evening Tommy Handley appeared in 'ITMA - It's That Man Again'
6 December 1939
The 5th Battalion, King's Own, based in Northumberland, were aware than a German aeroplane crashed near Longframlington.  The plane was a total loss but the pilot had escaped by parachute.  'D' Company mounted a guard over the wreckage.
In the Winter War between Finland and Russia the Battle of Taipale began.
7 December 1939
In the Winter War the Battles of Kollaa and Suomussalmi began.
8 December 1939
In the United States of America, President Roosevelt's administration protested at the British policy of seizing German goods on neutral ships.
9 December 1939
With the rule that mechanically propelled transport be confined to essential training or transport services, troops were being deprived the opportunity, through lack of transport, of playing football matches away from their home stations.  During the 'Phoney War' period many troops were simply sat in barracks across the country with not much to do.
10 December 1939
The BBC moved the mid-day news bulletin from 12 noon to 1 p.m. as this was considered a betting listening time for many.
The first convoy of Canadian troops departed Halifax, Nova Scotia for Britain.
11 December 1939
On BBC Radio an evening concert "For the Auxiliary Fire Service" was broadcast from the Central Fire Station at Isleworth in Middlesex.
12 December 1939
The British destroyer HMS Duchess sank when it was accidentally rammed, in fog, by the battleship HMS Barham off the Mull of Kintyre.  The destroyer capsized and her depth charges exploded killing 124 of her crew of 145.
13 December 1939
The Battle of the River Plate takes place between HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax and HMS Achillies of the Royal Navy and the German cruiser, 'Admiral Graf Spee', low on ammunition and suffering damage, the 'Graf Spee' takes refuge in Montevideo harbour.
14 December 1939
The Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations after it was declared the aggressor in the war in Finland.
Norwegian pro-Nazi politician Vidkum Quisling met with Adolf Hitler in Berlin as the Nazi's investigated ways to go about occupying Norway.
15 December 1939
The government in Uruguay gave the 'Admiral Graf Spee' 72 hours to leave Montevideo harbour.
In Lancaster a lecture 'Air Raid Precautions Lessons from Barcelona' was given by Doctor Margarite Camps.
16 December 1939
In the Winter War the First Battle of Summa began.
17 December 1939
The 'Admiral Graf Spee' was scuttled in neutral waters off Montevideo as Captain Hans Langsdorff believed that British re-enforcements were nearby.  He did not have enough fuel and ammunition to fight his way back to Germany.
In Berlin the decision was made to occupy Denmark.
The first Canadian troops arrived in Britain.
18 December 1939
An air battle took place in the skies above Heligoland Bight in northern Germany, between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe.
In Lancaster and Morecambe there was a test of the air raid sirens at 10 a.m.
19 December 1939
The Anglo-French Supreme War Council met for the fourth time, and decided to send help to Finland if requested, against the wishes of the neutral Scandinavian nations.
20 December 1939
Captain Hans Langsdorff, of the German  cruiser 'Admiral Graf Spee' shot himself in full uniform in his room in a Buenos Aires Hotel.'
21 December 1939
'B' Company, 5th Battalion, King's Own, moved into unfurnished billets and requisitioned buildings at Longhorseley, Northumberland.
In the Winter War, in the face of strong Finnish resistance the Soviet Union halted large scale operations before attempting a new offensive.
22 December 1939
In the Winter War the first Battle of Summa ended in Finnish victory.
23 December 1939
Cyclist had great difficulty in obtained rear lamps and batteries owing to the increased use of cycles, and some cyclists were being fined for not having rear lamps.  The production of lamps and batteries was being increased as rapidly as possible.
24 December 1939
Christmas Eve on the BBC Radio Home Service included the London Palladium Orchestra, and 'Santa's party' with characters from Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse cartoons.
25 December 1939
On BBC Radio His Majesty The King spoke to the Empire at 3 p.m.  Other programmes for the day included the Foden's Motor Works Band, Music for Christmas, A Soldiers' Christmas service from France and Gracie Fields in a NAAFI Variety Concert organised by ENSA 'Somewhere in France'.
In the Winter War, the Battle of Kelja began.
In the North Sea, 8 nautical miles off Blyth in Northumberland, the auxiliary minesweeper, HMT Loch Doon, struck a mine and sunk with the loss of all 15 crew.
26 December 1939
The first Royal Australian Air Force squadron, No 10 Squadron, RAAF, arrived in Britain.
27 December 1939
In the Winter War, the Battles of Kelja and Taipale ended in Finnish victories.
28 December 1939
The German submarine U-30 hit battleship HMS Barnham with a torpedo, west of the Outer Hebrides.  Four crew members were killed but the Barnham was able to make for Liverpool for repairs.
It was announced that rationing would be expanded to include butter, bacon, ham and sugar from 8 January 1940.
29 December 1939
In the Winter War about 250 Finnish ski troops ski across the border and blow up the Leningrad-Murmansk railway line in three places.
30 December 1939
On BBC Radio music from the London and North Eastern Railway Manchester District Silver Band, and a talk on 'Vermin' of vital interest to the backyarder for whether he keep rabbits of hens, pigeons or pigs, meal and corn about the place are bound to attract rats and mice.
31 December 1939
New Year's Eve in Britain, France and Germany was subdued due to the blackout and war time restrictions.  Most celebrations were held in private houses with the windows curtained.

January 1940


Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

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