King's Own Royal Regiment Museum

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Second World War  On This Day

January 1940

 

1 January 1940
In Finland the Battle of Raate Road began in the Winter War with the Soviet Union.
In Great Britain the age of conscription was raised to 27 years.
2 January 1940
Townspeople of Bangor in Northern Ireland got a shock when gunners on board the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tank 'Serbol' fired off several rounds at houses in the town during gunnery training in heavy fog.  There were no casualties in the accidental shooting.
3 January 1940
British socialite Unity Mitford, returned to England from Germany.  She was known for her relationship with Adolf Hitler, and a prominent support of Nazism.  After war between Germany and Britain was declared she attempted suicide with a pearl handled pistol give to her by Adolf Hitler for her own protection.  She was hospitalised in Munich and was then allowed home to England, still with the bullet lodged in her head.  She died in May 1948 at the age of 33 never fully recovering from her injury.
4 January 1940
The Polish Government in exile reached an agreement with the French to establish Polish Military Units in France.
5 January 1940
Oliver Stanley became the Secretary of State for War.
6 January 1940
In Lancaster the Chief Constable reported that 1290 babies protective helmets and 630 small children's respirators had been received, in addition to the 1053 babies protective helmets which had already been distributed by the lady air wardens.
7 January 1940
The submarine HMS Seahorse was depth charged and sunk north west of Heligoland with the loss of all 39 crew.  The submarine HMS Undine was depth charged south west of Heligoland and all crew were rescued by German ships.
In Finland the Battle of Raate Road ended with Finnish victory.
8 January 1940
In Britain rationing of bacon, butter and sugar was introduced.
In Finland the Battle of Suomussalmin ended in Finnish victory.
9 January 1940
The submarine HMS Starfish was depth charged and damaged in the Heligoland Bight and all crew were taken prisoner of war.
10 January 1940
A German aircraft with an officer on board carrying the secret plans for the invasion of the Low Countries crash landed in neutral Belgium, and the plans fell into the hands of Belgian Intelligence.
11 January 1940
In London the Victoria and Albert Museum reopened after closure at the start of the war as they expected aerial bombardment, which did not happen.
12 January 1940
BBC Radio broadcast the play "Aladdin and his wonderful lamp" and there was a programme 'Men of the Hour' which featured Soviet leader Stalin.
13 January 1940
In Belgium and the Netherlands partial mobilisation was ordered in response to the German invasion plans.
14 January 1940
In Germany Adolf Hitler ordered that no one would be allowed to know more than he did about any secret matter.
15 January 1940
The British government took control of the meat industry.
16 January 1940
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made it clear about reports of executions of Poles in German occupied Poland could be confirmed from the evidence available.
17 January 1940
Cold weather across Europe saw the River Thames freeze for the first time since 1888.
It was reported in the House of Commons that 39 Members of Parliament were serving in the Army.
18 January 1940
In the House of Commons the attempted escape of 17 Germans from an internment camp in the south of England was reported.  A tunnel was made from below the floor of one of the huts, progress was about 6 feet each night, and there was still a long way to go when the tunnel was discovered.
19 January 1940
The destroyer HMS Grenville was sunk by a mine in the Thames estuary with the loss of 77 of the 175 crew.
20 January 1940
In the Winter War the Soviets bomb Oulu and the Finns respond by bombing Kronstadt.
21 January 1940
The destroyer HMS Exmouth was torpedoed and sunk in the Moray Firth, off Inverness, with the loss of all 175 crew.
22 January 1940
After heavy snow fall in North West England, many railway lines were closed by deep snow drifts.  Soldiers of the Regimental Depot at Lancaster were sent to clear the railway line between Lancaster and Preston of snow.  The scale of the snow fall and the line closures was kept secret at the time.
23 January 1940
In Britain the speed limit in populated areas was reduced to 20 miles per hour due to the number of accidents in the blackout.  In the last four months of 1939 4123 people had been killed in road accidents, despite the reduced amount of traffic.  Most accidents occurred during the blackout.
24 January 1940
The German government ordered the registration of all Jewish owned property in Poland.
In the House of Commons the Prime Minister stated that 74 British subjects and 268 Palestinians were in Poland, either in parts occupied by the Germans or the Soviet Union. Attempts were being made to evacuate those in the Soviet part.
25 January 1940
It was reported in the House of Commons that due to shortages, Army recruits would only be issued with one set of uniform and boots until sufficient supplies became available.
The Prime Minister reported in the House of Commons of the execution of 136 students, some said to be as young as 12 or 13, in German occupied Poland.
26 January 1940
The former passenger ship, RMS Durham Castle, struck a mine off Cromarty in Scotland and sank.  Used as a store ship, it was under tow bound of Scarpa Flow as base accommodation ship.
In Germany the Nazis warned that listening to foreign radio was punishable by death.
27 January 1940
The German government demanded at least one million industrial and agricultural workers be provided from Nazi-occupied Poland to work for the Reich.
28 January 1940
In Lancaster the City of Lancaster Soldiers Welfare Committee used the Ashton Hall in the Town Hall for a religious service.
29 January 1940
In Lancaster 1140 armlets for the various Air Raid Precautions service had been purchased at 9d each.
30 January 1940
The German submarine U-55 was depth charged, shelled and sunk off the Shetland Islands by two French destroyers, a Royal Navy destroyer and a sloop, with assistance from a Short Sunderland aircraft.
It was stated in the House of Commons that corrugated asbestos sheets would be used as roofing for army hutments, as they do not ignite readily and in now way contribute to the spread of fire.
31 January 1940
In the House of Commons it was stated that where troops occupy huts a single wireless licence would cover all the wireless sets in use.

February 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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