Eighty years on. 14th December 1939

The German battleship Graf Spee retreated, damaged, into Montevideo Harbour, Uruguay (see yesterday’s report).  The German liner Columbus sailed from Vera Cruz, Mexico, in an attempt to get back to Germany.    In Germany, Adolf Hitler ordered plans to be drawn up for the invasion of Norway, named Unternehmen Weseruebung.

The USSR was expelled from the League of Nations in response to the Soviet invasion of Finland on November 30th.  The League also called upon its members to give aid to the Finns.  France promised military aid and Great Britain promised thirty fighter aircraft.

Chinese Nationalist forces occupied the town of Ningxian after a battle with the Communists.  The two sides in the Chinese Civil war had technically suspended hostilities to combine against the Japanese invaders, but incidents continued to occur.

Game day 105. Japan

The last remaining battalion of the Armoured Corps occupied Peking.  A fresh Infantry Corps moved westwards from the Munchurian coast in support.  The retreating Chinese battalion was attacked from the air and was eliminated, but the Japanese lost a squadron in the attack. 

The newly-raised infantry corps marched from Tokyo towards Kyoto and the transports sailed back to Kyoto to embark them.

Missing: the icon depicting Peking itself.

Eighty years on. 13th December 1939


The British submarine HMS Salmon attacked and damaged two German cruisers, the Leipzig and Nuernberg off Cuxhaven.  Another naval engagement took place in the South Atlantic: the Battle of the River Plate.

The German heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee (header photo’) had sailed into the South Atlantic a fortnight before the war began, and had been commerce raiding.  One of the hunting groups sent by the British Admiralty to search for the Graf Spee, comprising three Royal Navy cruisers, HMS Exeter, Ajax and Achilles engaged her off the River Plate estuary close to the coast of Uruguay.  Exeter was severely damaged and forced to retire; Ajax and Achilles suffered moderate damage. The slight damage to Admiral Graf Spee was critical, with her fuel system crippled. 

In London the House of Commons sat for over seven hours in private debate discussing “the Organisation of Supplies for the Prosecution of the War”.

Game day 104.  Great Britain

The convoy carrying Industrial Raw Materials from the USA sailed north-east into the Bay of Biscay, escorted by four battleships.  The empty convoy sailing south neared the Straits of Gibraltar.

Eighty years on. 12th December 1939


The Soviet Union rejected yesterday’s demand by the League of Nations for a cessation of hostilities with Finland.

The German liner Bremen arrived in Bremerhaven, beating the British naval blockade.  Hitler ordered production of sea mines and ammunition to be almost doubled.

The destroyer HMS Duchess (see header photo) collided with the battleship HMS Barham off the Mull of Kintyre in heavy fog. The destroyer capsized and her depth charges exploded, killing 124 of her crew.

Game day 103. Germany

Six German Submarines attempted to break out of the Baltic, encountering three British submarines off Denmark guarding the exit.  The British were all sunk for the loss of one German ship.

Two battleships in the Irish Sea sailed back into the North Atlantic, while those in the South Atlantic steamed back towards Africa.

Eighty years on. 11th December 1939


The Russians met with several tactical defeats by the Finnish army. At Suomissalmi the Russian 163rd Division was cut off by a Finnish counterattack.  In Geneva the League of Nations demanded that Russia withdraw from Finland.  This was ignored.

Adolf Hitler met with Vidkun Quisling, head of the Norwegian National Unity Party.

In German occupied Western Poland all Jews were subject to a forced labour programme.

Game day 102. Neutral countries

The Dutch raised an infantry Corps in New Guinea.

Italy despatched a merchant convoy towards Tripoli.  A shipment of 3 Industrial resource points was sent into Germany destined for Finland.

Delivery services!

Sometimes I despair.

On 30th November, while we were out shopping, the Post Office, or Royal Mail Parcelforce or whatever they are called nowadays did not deliver two parcels. They did leave a card.

Rather than get myself to the Basingstoke Parcels Office, where there is no parking provided, I arranged on-line a re-delivery for Tuesday 3rd December. Sure enough, nothing arrived. I tried again, and managed to reschedule for delivery today.

One parcel has now been delivered. My expected drugs from Pharmacy2U, a very efficient service – if the Post Office is doing its job. I have been waiting for some of these new pills for over a fortnight.

The other “signed for” package, which I am guessing is a couple of gaming cloths for wargaming, was on the postman’s list but apparently not on his van. He was as surprised as I was.

Meanwhile, last Sunday an obliging Amazon delivery agent decided to leave a cardboard package containing two paperback books in full view of the road beneath the drain point for our front porch on a wet afternoon. Amazon have since replaced both ruined books, but one wonders how much revenue they lose due to idiots who can’t even take notice of the pre-registered “safe space” information.

Maybe we should return to the days of physical shopping on the high street. It may not have been convenient, but was at least predictable.

Eighty years on. 10th December 1939


The USA loaned Finland $10,000,000.

In France, the sale of meat was forbidden on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Game day 101. USSR

The Soviets continued to move forces westwards through Ukraine.  In Finland another assault was launched with armour and infantry with fighter support.  The northern Finnish Infantry Corps was wiped out, but the Russians lost two fighter squadrons.  The remaining three returned to Karelia.  On the southern flank the Russian armoured corps was repulsed with the loss of two battalions for no Finnish loss.  Another infantry corps was moved west to support the Russian forces in Finland.

Eighty years on. 9th December 1939


Two hundred Polish Jews, the survivors of 1800 who had set out a week previously from Chelm and Hrubieszow in the German-occupied west of Poland, reached the comparative safety of the Soviet zone.

Bad weather temporarily halted the Russian bombing of the Finnish capital Helsinki.  Moscow discovered that the Italians were sending military supplies to Finland.

King George VI visited British soldiers in the front line trenches in France.  Coincidentally the first British soldier was killed on the western front.  He was Thomas Priday of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

Game day 100

Finland moved fresh infantry to confront the Russian invaders, blocking the route to Helsinki.  They remained in defence.