Background Events - September 1939-March 1940
of Atlantic starts,
'Phoney War' on land, Battle of River Plate
Thursday, 3 August
- British “convoy”
"HERON" departed Bombay
and Karachi. On the 6 August, the two
sections rendezvoused. The convoy was then composed of
KARANJA (9891grt, Cdre),
KHOSROU (4043grt), ROHNA (8602grt), QUILOA (7765grt,
VCdre), TALAMBA (8018grt),
VARELA (4651grt). On 10 August, the ships were met by
light cruisers GLOUCESTER,
and sloops EGRET, FLEETWOOD,
all of which had departed Aden
the same day.
Saturday, 5 August
- ships of the Reserve Fleet
under the command of Vice Adm Sir Max K Horton, Vice Adm
Reserve Fleet, on
light cruiser EFFINGHAM,
began to assemble at Weymouth Bay
for review by King George VI.
– completed. Following working
up, JANUS (Lt Cdr J A W Tothill) joined the 7th Destroyer
with the Humber Force.
Sunday, 6 August
a five day good will visit to Turkey, battleship
destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, NUBIAN, ZULU departed the
Bosphorus. This force had
on 30 July for Istanbul and conferences with the
Turkish military in regards to the coming hostilities with
Germany and Italy. After departing the
Bosphorus, they exercised off Rhodes before returning to Alexandria
on the 15th.
Monday, 7 August
- a landing party from
destroyer TENEDOS was landed at Swatow, China,
to protect British subjects
during Chinese rioting. The action brought strong protests
from the Japanese.
Wednesday, 9 August
of the British Reserve Fleet
- and other units, totalling 133 ships, took
place in Weymouth Bay.
King George VI arrived in the
yacht VICTORIA and ALBERT on the 8th.
participating in this Review were battleships
training ship IRON
loaned from the Home Fleet, aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS,
light cruisers CALEDON,
minelaying cruiser ADVENTURE
(above - NavyPhotos), destroyers ACASTA, ACHATES,
ACHERON, AMAZON, ANTELOPE, ARDENT, ARROW, BASILISK,
BRILLIANT, BROKE, ECLIPSE, ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, ESCAPADE,
ESK, EXMOUTH, EXPRESS,
KEITH, KEMPENFELT, KEPPEL, MALCOLM, SCIMITAR, SKATE,
VANQUISHER, VANSITTART, VELOX, VENETIA, VENOMOUS, VERITY,
VIDETTE, VIMY, VIVACIOUS, VOLUNTEER, VORTIGERN, WAKEFUL,
WANDERER, WARWICK, WATCHMAN, WESSEX, WHIRLWIND, WHITEHALL,
WITCH, WITHERINGTON, WIVERN, WOLVERINE, WREN, submarines
H.31, H.32, H.33,
H.44, H.49, L 27, OBERON, OSIRIS, OTWAY, SPEARFISH,
STURGEON, SWORDFISH, UNITY,
URSULA, sloop BITTERN, patrol sloops KINGFISHER,
SALTBURN, SELKIRK, SPHINX,
motor torpedo boats MTB.22,
boats MA/SB.3, MA/SB.4, MA/SB.5, trawlers ALDER, BASSET,
CORNELIAN, HORNBEAM, LARCH, MYRTLE, OAK, PEARL, RUBY,
TOPAZE, TOURMALINE, drifters HORIZON, INDIAN SUMMER, MIST,
submarine tenders ELFIN, TITANIA, seaplane tender
cable ship LASSO,
tug ST FAGAN and boom defence vessel CORONET.
and B class destroyers ACASTA, ACHATES, ACHERON, AMAZON,
ARDENT, ARROW, BASILISK, BEAGLE, BRAZEN were attached to
the Reserve Fleet for
the Review. All but ACHATES, which was attached to the 6th
and arrived at Portland
on the 5th, arrived at Weymouth Bay
on the 8th.
function of this Review was to introduce King George VI to
commanding officers on board light cruiser EFFINGHAM and
to inspect the
warships prior to re-commissioning.
VI went aboard CARDIFF
and EFFINGHAM, inspected 1500
Reservists drawn by ballot on the flight deck of
workings of a submarine aboard OTWAY, and went aboard
destroyer EXMOUTH and
of the Reserve Fleet began to disperse to their war
stations that night.
Friday, 11 August
Mediterranean - destroyers
HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE arrived at Malta to return to the
Fleet. They had been refitting since the end of May; HARDY
at Devonport, HASTY
at Devonport, HEREWARD at Portsmouth,
HERO at Portsmouth and HOSTILE at Chatham. HOSTILE
departed Chatham on the 3rd and the rest on the
4th. The five destroyers arrived at Gibraltar
on the 7th and departed the
next day for Malta.
allowed destroyers HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, HUNTER, HYPERION to
proceed to England
for refitting. The destroyers
on the 5th arrived at Gibraltar on the 9th, and
departed on the 10th. HOSTPUR and HAVOCK
arrived at Sheerness on the 13th and went on to Chatham
arriving on the 14th. HYPERION
proceeded to Portsmouth
and HUNTER to Plymouth, both arriving on the 13th.
Their refits were cut short and they were forced to return
at the end of the month.
Tuesday, 15 August
Fleet - exercises began from Scapa
Flow. Battleships NELSON,
with attendant destroyer BOREAS, light cruiser AURORA and
destroyers FAME, FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FIREDRAKE, FORESTER,
FORTUNE, FOXHOUND, FURY, JACKAL, JERSEY, JERVIS and
Tribals ASHANTI, BEDOUIN,
ESKIMO, MASHONA, MATABELE, PUNJABI, SOMALI, TARTAR
departed Scapa Flow.
arrived back at Scapa Flow on the 18th for refuelling and left
and ROYAL OAK arrived back on the 20th. The Tribal
destroyers returned on the
and J-class destroyers arrived at Invergordon on the 21st.
returned to Scapa on the 22nd,
HOOD, REPULSE, ARK ROYAL, heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND,
light cruisers BELFAST,
arrived back on the 24th.
with FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FORESTER,
FOXHOUND, FURY returned on the 25th, and
FAME, FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE on the 27th.
Wednesday, 16 August
- recommissioned after refitting. She departed
on the 28th and arrived at Gibraltar on the 31st, Malta on
2 September and Alexandria
on the 5th.
Saturday, 19 August
– U.12, U.14, U.16, U.18,
U.20, U.22, U.24 (Type IIB), 3rd
Submarine Flotilla suspended training operations in
preparation for war
U.33, U.34 (Type VIIA), 2nd Submarine Flotilla departed
for stations west of the British Isles.
U.39, U.40, U.41 (Type IXA), 6th Submarine Flotilla
Wilhelmshaven, U.37 and U.38 for stations west of the
Iberian Peninsula and
U.39, U.40, U.41 west of Gibraltar.
U.47, U.48, U.52 (all Type VIIB), 7th Submarine Flotilla
for patrol stations in the Atlantic: U.45 and U.46
to the WSW of Ireland, U.47,
U.48, and U.52 west of the Bay of Biscay.
Monday, 21 August
- ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE sortied from Wilhelmshaven to
raid in the South Atlantic. To support her operations,
three German ships were designated as supply ships: fleet
(10,850grt) departed Port Arthur, Texas
on the 19th after loading 9400
tons of diesel oil, DRESDEN
(5522grt) left Coquimbo, Chile on 19 October, and EMMY
FRIEDRICH (4372grt) departed Tampico, Mexico
on 20 October.
Tuesday, 22 August
destroyers, Home waters
and Gibralar -
Tribal-class SOMALI, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO,
MATABELE, PUNJABI, TARTAR departed Scapa Flow
on exercises. They called at Stornoway and departed
Caslon assumed command of the 18th Destroyer Flotilla in
F S W de Winton), VELOX, VIDETTE,
VORTIGERN, WATCHMAN departed
for Gibraltar where they arrived on the
25th. They joined destroyers ACTIVE,
DOUGLAS, WISHART, WRESTLER as the 13th
Destroyer Flotilla operating from Gibraltar.
movement - U.30
(Type VIIA), 2nd Submarine Flotilla departed
Wilhelmshaven for station west of the British Isles and
Wednesday, 23 August
KELLY – commanded
by Capt Lord Louis
Mountbatten D.5, completed and following working up,
joined the 5th Destroyer
Flotilla on 21 October to operate with Home Fleet.
- U.12, U.16, U.20, U.24, U.56, U.58, U.5
(all Type II), employed on reconnaissance duty in the
Baltic, were sent to the
North Sea after the Non-Aggression Pact was signed by
Germany and Russia on the
IIB) departed Memel to operate off the Polish coast.
VIIA), 2nd Submarine Flotilla departed
to operate off the west coast
of the British
IIC) departed Kiel
to operate off Memel.
Thursday, 24 August
- destroyers JERVIS, JACKAL, JUPITER, ECHO of the 7th
departed Immingham for Dover.
JUNO – commanded by
Cdr W E Wilson completed.
Following working up, she joined the 7th Destroyer
with the Humber Force.
- DEUTSCHLAND sortied from Wilhelmshaven to raid in
the North Atlantic. Fleet tanker WESTERWALD
(10,845grt) had put to sea on the 22nd and was to
rendezvous with DEUTSCHLAND
south of Greenland.
- U.5, U.6, U.7 (Type IIA)
departed for patrol in the Kattegat. They remained on patrol until 8
Friday, 25 August
- Rear Adm L E Holland vacated
the post of Commanding Officer, 2nd Battle Squadron, Home
Fleet and was named
Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battle Squadron, Channel
Force. Rear Adm H E C
Blagrove was appointed to the command of 2nd Battle
Squadron on this date.
- aircraft carrier FURIOUS
departed Portland escorted by destroyers BROKE, WANDERER, WHITEHALL,
WITCH, and arrived at Rosyth on the 28th.
and EMERALD arrived at Scapa
from the Reserve Fleet.
JACKAL, JUPITER, ECHO arrived at Dover
movements - U.9
and U.19 departed Wilhelmshaven for operations off the
coast of Scotland
east of 00-00E arriving on
station by the 29th.
Wilhelmshaven for minelaying operations in the North
Type IIB) arrived at Wilhelmshaven
for operations in the North Sea.
She departed the same day,
but returned to base on the 31st for minelaying
U.58 (Type IIC) departed Wilhelmshaven
for patrol in the Kattegat and off Denmark south of Norway,
arriving on stations by the
and Mediterranean - heavy cruiser EXETER
departed Devonport for the
South America Station via Freetown
and Rio de Janiero.
Cdre 2/c, 9th Cruiser
Squadron) and anti-aircraft ship COVENTRY
departed Portsmouth at 1120 for Gibraltar. DANAE and
COVENTRY arrived on the 28th. DANAE
continued on to Freetown.
COVENTRY headed for Malta, arriving on the 31st
following several days of drills, departed the same day
and reached Alexandria on 3 September. DAUNTLESS and
DESPATCH reached Gibraltar on the 29th, and on the 2
September, in company with light cruiser DURBAN
proceeded to Freetown.
COLOMBO (Cdre, 11th Cruiser Squadron) departed Plymouth
and arrived at Gibraltar
on the 29th.
Saturday, 26 August
cruisers and destroyers, Home waters and
- light cruisers DIOMEDE,
arrived at Scapa Flow from the Reserve Fleet. Light
cruiser DUNEDIN, also from the Reserve Fleet, arrived on
and the 18th Destroyer Flotilla, less ACHERON and
at Portland for duty with the Channel Force.
CUMBERLAND departed Scapa
Flow for Plymouth in preparation for proceeding
to the South
arriving at Plymouth
on the 28th.
and HOTSPUR departed Sheerness after an abbreviated
joined HUNTER and HYPERION at sea, after they had departed
and Portsmouth respectively on the 27th.
Returning to the Mediterranean Fleet, the four destroyers
arrived at Gibraltar on the 29th, but were then
diverted to the Freetown
cruiser NÜRNBERG and destroyers GEORG THIELE, MAX SCHULTZ,
RICHARD BEITZEN, were
on patrol at the western end of the Baltic. Early on the
27th, torpedo boat TIGER was lost in an accidental
collision with the MAX SCHULTZ northeast of Bornholm
Island off Christianso in the Baltic.
Two crewmen on the torpedo boat were killed and six
seriously injured. SCHULTZ
was taken in tow by THIELE which was later relieved by
tugs JOMSBERG and
TAIFUN. Tugs STORM and NORDER also joined and SCHULTZ
arrived at Stettin
where she was under repair
until the end of September.
- the U-Boat Training Flotilla
(U.1-U.8, U.10, U.11, U.25, U.36) suspended training
duties in preparation for
- heavy cruiser EXETER
joined light cruisers COLOMBO
British liner DUNERA (11,162grt). Off Cape St Vincent
on the 28th, EXETER was detached to proceed to Rio
de Janiero, via Cape Verde
Sunday, 27 August
- light cruisers CARADOC,
and destroyer ANTELOPE arrived at Portland
for duty with the Channel
- battleships RESOLUTION
with destroyers KEMPENFELT, ACASTA, ACHATES, ARDENT,
ARROW departed Portland at 0815 to carry out a
reconnaissance in the Western Approaches. By 2005 they had
6°W and turned back. Before entering harbour, RESOLUTION
carried out 15in and
6in throw off practice. They arrived back at Portland
at 1130 on the 28th.
Monday, 28 August
- light cruisers CAPETOWN
sailed from Plymouth
from Portsmouth for Gibraltar
where they arrived on 1
- liner NEW YORK (22,337grt) departed New York for
where she arrived safely on 7
Tuesday, 29 August
- destroyer JERSEY encountered German steamer BREMERHAVEN
(5355grt), which had departed El Ferrol on the 27th, near
Goodwins Lightship. Nothing came of the encounter and
BREMERHAVEN arrived in the Weser
the next day.
- U.26 (Type IA) departed Wilhelmshaven and U.53 (Type
VIIB) departed Kiel for minelaying missions off Portland.
Flotilla Commander KKpt Ernst
Sobe was aboard U.53 in tactical command.
- New Zealand light cruiser ACHILLES
departed Auckland for the West Indies
and her war station at Balboa.
TACOMA (8268grt) departed Libertad, San
Salvador, flying the Swedish flag. She
arrived at Talcuhuana, the commercial seaport of
on 10 September.
Wednesday, 30 August
- German liner BREMEN (51,656grt) departed New York
Harbour and evaded heavy cruiser BERWICK
and Australian light cruiser PERTH
which were patrolling off the US
east coast outside territorial
departed Newport, Rhode Island
on the 29th and was calling at
Maine, but failed to make contact
with BREMEN. This was in spite of efforts to delay
the German ship
in harbour until she could be in a position to intercept.
- battlecruisers HOOD
departed Rosyth, via Invergordon for Scapa Flow
where they arrived later that
JERVIS, JAVELIN, JUPITER,
departed Dover for Grimsby,
where they arrived on the
destroyers sail for
- BLYSKAWICA, BURZA, GROM
departed Gdynia in Operation "Pekin."
It had been decided to get them away from Poland
rather than have them
destroyed without any opportunity to do damage in return.
They were ordered
that should German ships be encountered while en route,
BURZA, the oldest of
the three, would fight a delaying action and allow the
other two to escape.
Shortly after leaving port, they were sighted by U.31
north of Hela.
the 30th, the destroyers first encountered destroyers
BRUNO HEINEMANN, ERICH
STEINBRINCK, FRIEDRICH ECKHOLDT, FRIEDRICH IHN on patrol
and the Bay of Danzig and then, on the 31st, light
cruiser KÖNIGSBERG near Falsterbo Light Vessel. Although
the Polish and German
ships trained their guns on each other, neither opened
fire. The last sighting
was by U.6 on Kattegat patrol later on the morning of the 31st, but contact was
Otherwise, the passage was uneventful!
ships were joined by destroyers WALLACE and WANDERER 30
miles off May
Island, and they all arrived safely
at Leith in the Firth of Forth at 1730
on 1 September. From there, the Polish destroyers departed
Rosyth on 6
September and arrived at Plymouth
on the 9th.
- Following her contact with
the Polish destroyers, KÖNIGSBERG proceeded to
Wilhelmshaven via the Kiel Canal for operations in the
– U.1, U.3, U.4 (Type IIA )and
U.36 (Type VIIA) of the U-Boat Training Flotilla departed
Kiel and arrived at Wilhelmshaven the next day for
IIA) departed Kiel
for operations in the Baltic.
IIB) departed Memel for operations off the Polish coast.
departed Plymouth for Gibraltar.
HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, HUNTER departed
for duty at Freetown,
arriving on 3 September.
- light cruiser LEANDER
departed Auckland to land troops at Fanning
Island, the site of the Trans-Pacific
submarine telegraph cable station. The
troops were landed on 13 September and LEANDER returned to
Thursday, 31 August
- departed Scapa Flow at 1800
with battleships NELSON,
light cruisers CALYPSO,
of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, EFFINGHAM,
of the 12th Cruiser Squadron, AURORA,
of the 18th Cruiser
Squadron, and destroyers FAULKNOR, FAME, FEARLESS,
FORESTER, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND, FURY of the 8th Destroyer
Flotilla. The Fleet
deployed in the North Sea between the Orkneys and Norway.
and Tribal-class destroyers
ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO, MASHONA,
MATABELE, PUNJABI, TARTAR of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla
departed Scapa Flow for patrol off the Skagerrak. BEDOUIN
had mechanical defects
and returned to Scapa Flow for repairs. Home Fleet returned to Scapa
on 6 September.
- light cruiser EDINBURGH
departed Glasgow after docking and arrived at Scapa
on 1 September.
– Three Type IIB boats sailed
from Wilhelmshaven - U.15 for minelaying operations in the North
Sea off Flamborough, U.17 for
minelaying in Dover Strait
off the Downs, and U.20 to patrol between
Utsire and Kristiansand.
IIC) departed Heligoland to operate in the
Mediterranean - French
R.3 departed Marseilles
with CYRNOS, EL D'JEZAIR,
GENERAL BONAPARTE, ÎLE DE BEAUTÉ, PASCAL
PAOLI, SAMPIERO CORSO, VILLE D'AJACCIO for Oran.
Squadron of battleships PROVENCE, BRETAGNE, LORRAINE with
PALME, LE MARS, TEMPÊTE of the 1st Destroyer Division, LA
FORTUNE, SIMOUN of the 3rd Destroyer Division, and
TORNADE, TRAMONTANE, TYPHON
of the 7th Destroyer Division departed Toulon to escort
Squadron of heavy cruisers ALGÉRIE, COLBERT, DUQUESNE,
FOCH with large
destroyers CHEVALIER PAUL,
VAUQUELIN of the 5th Large
Destroyer Division and GERFAUT, VAUTOUR of the 7th Large
departed Toulon to cover the convoy from surface
Squadron arrived at Oran
with the convoy on 2 September
and then carried on for Gibraltar, arriving on the 3rd. The 3rd Squadron arrived
back at Toulon on the 2nd.
- destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA,
MOHAWK, SIKH departed Port Said
and arrived at Suez for operations in the Red Sea.
- heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND
en route to the South America