Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
In honor of WWII and the courageous vets of the time, this is my reporting and take of the news, 75 years ago today
March 19, 1940
As trouble continues on land and sea throughout the world, your Roving Reporter brings you the news as it happens to give you folks at home the stories of the day…
‘Blame And Criticism Over Finland’s Loss’
Speaking at the Canadian Empire Club in Toronto, US Ambassador to Canada James Cromwell spoke out against Germany’s tactics, and strongly criticized Washington’s isolationism and its position on staying neutral. He stressed that Hitler’s aim is to “destroy the institutions, and social and economic order on which the United States Government was founded.” He continued his speech by stating, “It is only too apparent that the life, liberty, livelihood, and very safety of all neutral democracies may be dependent on the outcome of the war.” Marking the first official condemnation of the Nazi party by a US Government representative, Isolationists in Washington demanded his immediate recall and criticized his outspoken views on the war.
In England, the British House of Commons argued and criticized Prime Minister Chamberlain over the lack of action and poor handling to prevent Finland’s outcome during the Winter War. Chamberlain fired back stating that large amounts of military supplies were delivered to Finland as promised, but due to Norway’s and Sweden’s refusal of entry, and never having received Finland’s official request, the 100,000-strong expeditionary force could not be sent.
And in France, facing strong criticism of his own from the French Parliament over several matters, including the handling of Finland’s Winter War, French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier resigned his position today after a vote of no confidence.
‘Britain’s Scapa Flow Revenge Fails’
Retaliating for the Scapa Flow bombing, England conducted the first air attack over Germany. With a force of 40 to 50 Whitley and Hampden bombers, the night attack was made on Germany’s Sylt Island and Hornum seaplane base. After their return it was discovered the attack had little effect, and were to rethink their night navigation and bombing techniques.
I managed to track down one of the Whitley boys, Larry Donnelly, and asked for his take of their flight over Germany. “The flight over the North Sea went smoothly, but the excitement mounted when ‘Nipper’ announced over the intercom that we would soon be near the island and the target. He went to the bomb-aiming position in the nose of the aircraft to prepare for the bomb-run from 4,000 feet. The adrenalin flow increased when he reported that he had identified the target and called “Bomb doors open!”
We started the bomb-run and the litany commenced: “Left, left, steady… right, steady” as we ran the gauntlet of the flak and searchlight defences. The Whitley lurched as the bombs dropped away. We were now receiving the attentions of the defences, but the skipper kept the aircraft straight and level to enable ‘Nipper’ to plot the bursts. Some of the flak got uncomfortably close to the tail and I was blinded by the searchlights, so I opened fire down the beams.” <excerpt taken from the 1998 book ‘The Whitley Boys: 4 Group Bomber Operations 1939 to 1940’, by Distinguished Flying Medal recipient Larry Donnelly>
‘North Sea Becomes Perilous’
Over the Atlantic, Germany’s U-19 strikes twice in the North Sea in one day. Bound for Denmark, the first torpedoed victim was the Danish merchant Minsk, killing 11 of a crew of 20 -9 were rescued by British destroyer HMS Esk. The second victim, also Danish and bound for Denmark, was the merchant Charkow with all 20 crew members killed.
That’s it for now. Your Roving Reporter, Aki Solomos, signing off.