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

Second World War  On This Day

September 1939

1 September 1939
Germany invades Poland at 4.44 in the morning.  Airfields, ships and troops were bombed by the German air force, the Luftwaffe.
A 9 p.m. in the evening the British issued an ultimatum to Germany that they should withdrawn from Poland.
BBC Radio started the 'Home Service' a combination of the 'National Programme' and 'Regional Programme' because of the war.
2 September 1939
A state of war existed in Poland.  Italy proposed a peace conference.
In London it was confirmed no reply had been received from German.
3 September 1939
At 9 a.m. Britain gave Germany a deadline of 11 a.m. to announce they were prepared to withdrawn from Poland, or a state of war would exist.
At 11.15 a.m. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced we were at war with Germany.
At 5 p.m. France declared war on Germany.
At 6 p.m. King George VI addressed the Empire on the radio.
The passenger liner SS Athena was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-30.  128 civilian passengers and crew were killed out of the1103 passengers on board.  This included 28 US citizens and 54 Canadians.  The Germans denied any responsibility for the sinking.  It was not until January 1946 that the Germans admitted the Athena had been sunk by U-30 and every effort had been made to cover this up.
4 September 1939
The 5th Battalion, King's Own was mobilised.
The Royal Air Force bombed German warships at Wilhemlshaven and Brunsbuttel.  Of the 29 planes, 7 were shot down.  The German Cruiser 'Emden' was damaged.
5 September 1939
The United States of America declared neutrality in the European War.
6 September 1939
The first death of an Royal Air Force pilot took place when a radar fault led to unidentified planes seen approaching from the East.  Planes were scrambled and opened fire on the planes, until it was realised they were British and the order was given to stop firing.
7 September 1939
Fighting continued in Poland.
The French Army moved in to the Saarland against light German defences.
8 September 1939
The siege of Warsaw begins.
9 September 1939
Adolf Hitler issued Directive Number 3, which was the transfer of forces from Poland to the West.
A Communication from the Swiss Legation conveyed the German's assurance that poison gas or chemical warfare would not be used.
10 September 1939
Off the coast of Norway the British submarine HMS Oxley was mistaken for an enemy by HMS Tirton and sunk.  There were only two survivors.
11 September 1939
On the BBC Home Service was "Looking after yourself" a programme which offered advice to listeners on various aspects of personal safety under war conditions.
12 September 1939
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor returned from England following self-imposed exile in France.
The Anglo-French Supreme War Council met for the first time.
13 September 1939
With a claim that Polish civilians are attacking their troops, German military leadership vows to target Polish non-combatants.
14 September 1939
German submarine U-39 attacked HMS Ark Royal off Rockall Bank, but the torpedoes fell short and the submarine was depth charged by three destroyers and became the first U-boat to be sunk in the war.
15 September 1939
Issues of profiteering were raised in the House of Commons, including items such as torches, sand bags and bicycles.
16 September 1939
The Saar Offensive ended with a French withdrawal when the action failed to relocate any German troops from Poland.
17 September 1939
The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East.  Poland's leaders fled to Romania.
The aircraft carrier HMS Courageous was torpedoed and sunk, south west of Ireland, by German submarine U-29 with the loss of 518 of its 1938 crew.  This was the first British warship to be sunk by the Germans.
18 September 1939
William Joyce began making his English language propaganda broadcasts over German radio to Britain.  He would earn the nick name 'Lord Haw-Haw'.
19 September 1939
Battles continued in Poland.  Hitler visited the former free city of Danzig.
20 September 1939
The German submarine, U-27 was sun by the British destroyers HMS Faulkner, Forester and Fortune, off the west of Scotland.
21 September 1939
Germany's Jews and Romany were ordered to be transferred to Poland using railway freight wagons.
22 September 1939
A German-Soviet parade in Brest-Litovsk was held.
23 September 1939
Radios owned by Jews in Nazi Germany were confiscated.
24 September 1939
The Luftwaffe bombed Warsaw reducing entire streets to rubble and causing widespread fires.
25 September 1939
Adolf Hitler issued Directive Number 4, finishing the war in Poland.
The British Royal Navy began laying anti-submarine mines in the Straits of Dover.
26 September 1939
A Luftwaffe aircraft was shot down by the Royal Air Force for the first time north of Fisher Bank in the North Sea.
In France the Communist Party was banned.
27 September 1939
In Britain an emergency war budget raised taxes and duties in order to pay for the war.
28 September 1939
The Siege of Warsaw ended after 20 days when the Polish Garrison capitulated to the Germans
29 September 1939
The 5th Battalion, King's Own moved to Northumberland.
30 September 1939
The Polish Government in Exile was established in Paris.
Adolf Hitler issued Directive Number 5 - the partition of Poland.

October 1939


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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