Skip to comments.AIR FLEETS FIGHT OFF HELGOLAND; GERMAN CRUISER SUNK IN THE ELBE (12/19/39)
Posted on 12/19/2009 4:44:36 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm
US cruiser brings about German scuttling
Tuesday, December 19, 1939 www.onwar.com
In the North Atlantic... The German liner Columbus, closely trailed by the US cruiser Tuscaloosa, is scuttled some 300 miles from the American coast, to avoid capture by the approaching British destroyer HMS Hyperion. The American warship has been trailing the German liner since its departure from Vera Cruz, Mexico and has been constantly reporting the position of the Columbus by radio for any and all ships to hear. The actions taken by the USS Tuscaloosa make the official US position of neutrality highly suspect, but Berlin never protests the incident.
In Britain... Admiralty scientists led by Dr. C. F. Goodeve and Dr. E. C. Bullard develop a means for canceling the magnetic field of a ship and eliminating the threat of German magnetic mines. Known as “degaussing,” the system creates a magnetic field exactly opposite to that of the ship. It involves fitting electric cable around the hull of a ship, connected to a generator.
In Paris... The fourth meeting of the Allied Supreme War Council takes place.
In Germany... The surface raider Atlantis is launched.
In the Winter War... The main Soviet attacks against the Mannerheim Line, around Summa, continues
December 19th, 1939
UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: ‘Security Patrols’ Hornum - Borkum. 10 Sqn. four aircraft opposition light. Two enemy aircraft seen but these did not attack.
Admiralty scientists led by Dr. C F Goodeve and Dr. E C Bullard have found a way to defeat the magnetic mine threat. Since the mines are detonated by a ship’s magnetic field, a system of cancelling this out has been developed. Ships will be fitted with electric cables passed round the hulls and connected to the generators. Known as “degaussing,” this will create a magnetic field exactly opposite to the ships.
Methods have also been found for sweeping for these mines. Experiments using wooden trawlers towing sweeps made up of energised electrical cables have proved successful in detonating them. A Vickers Wellington IA (P2518), was taken off the production line at Weybridge and fitted with a large magnetic coil 48 feet in diameter attached to the underside of the nose, tail and outer planes. Fed with electrical power from a 35kW Maudesley generator driven by a Ford V8 engine the aircraft still had to fly as low as 60 feet above the water to ensure detonation.
Destroyer HMS Havant commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: Paris: The fourth meeting of the Allied Supreme War Council discusses the possibility of military help to Finland for the first time. (Mikko Härmeinen)
GERMANY: The surface raider ‘Atlantis’ is re-launched, after conversion from the freighter ‘Goldenfels’. (Alex Gordon)
U-70 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
FINLAND: After the Soviet attack to Finland, Soviet battleship Marat tried to destroy Fort Saarenpää. However, the defenders claimed at least one artillery hit on Marat and the ship was forced to retreat with damages. (Dave Shirlaw)
CANADA: Liner SS Prince David purchased from Canadian National Steamship Lines for conversion to AMC HMCS Prince David, commissioning 28 Dec 1940. Armed merchant cruisers were used to supplement the escort of convoys against large enemy surface warships. The RN was unable to provide either battleships or cruisers to act as escort for all convoys and resorted to using converted liners instead. AMCs suffered heavy losses to submarines because of their size made them obvious targets. The AMCs were eventually removed from service and converted to troop transports as the threat from German surface raiders was reduced. In the early spring of 1941, while steaming alone in the North Atlantic, Prince David sighted the masts and upper superstructure of a large enemy warship. Believing the ship to be a battleship and knowing no allied vessels were in vicinity, Prince David reversed course and increased to her full speed of 22 knots. The German also turned away, assuming that his adversary was a cruiser. Neutral US patrol planes later reported the German warship as a Deutschland-class armored ship or pocket battleship. The enemy ship was likely Admiral Scheer, which was returning home in Mar 41 from its successful cruise in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Prince Davids WWI-vintage 6-inch and 3-inch guns, all of which were locally controlled, would have been no match for the German 11-inch and 5.9-inch guns, which were controlled by a modern direction and fire control system. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: British destroyer HMS Hyperion intercepts the German passenger liner SS Columbus 450 miles (724 kilometres) east of Cape May, New Jersey; the latter is scuttled to prevent capture. Two crewmen perish in the abandonment. The USN heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37) rescues Columbus’s survivors (567 men and 9 women stewardesses) and sets course for New York City, the only U.S. port that can handle such a large and sudden influx of aliens.
Meanwhile the British light cruiser HMS Orion intercepts the German freighter SS Arauca off Miami, Florida; the latter puts in to Port Everglades to avoid capture. Destroyer USS Truxtun (DD-229) has trailed the merchantman at one point; destroyer USS Philip (DD-76) is present when Arauca reaches sanctuary. A USAAC B-18 Bolo of the 21st Reconnaissance Squadron (Long Range) based at Miami Municipal Airport, however, witnesses the shot that HMS Orion fires over Arauca’s bow (in the attempt to force the latter to heave-to) splashing inside U.S. territorial waters off Hialeah, Florida. Learning of this incident, Secretary of State Cordell Hull instructs U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James Joseph P. Kennedy to remind the British Foreign Office that, as neutrals, the American republics are entitled to have their waters “free from the commission of any hostile act by any non-American belligerent nation.” SS Arauca is interned by the U.S. government and is acquired by the U.S. Navy from the Maritime Commission on 20 April 1942 and commissioned as the refrigerated storeship USS Saturn (AF-40) the same day. (Jack McKillop)
U-60 sank SS City of Kobe. (Dave Shirlaw)
Leipzig was an improved version of the earlier K-Class cruiser, being laid down in 1928 and completed in October 1931. Her propulsion system was also a modified and a much more efficient variant of the K-types steam/diesel propulsion system (in todays terms, COSAD or combination of steam and diesel). It comprised three shafts, the two outer being driven by admiralty-pattern steam turbines, while eight M.A.N. diesels were coupled via a common gearbox to drive the central shaft. The diesels drove the ship at cruising speed, the outer shafts at this point being turned over by small electric motors. To achieve maximum speed both steam and diesel were coupled. The inner propeller had variable pitch blades, which could be set to the most efficient angle according to the speed of the engines. After commissioning these engines were trialed in the Baltic. Leipzig’s secondary armament was altered between 1931 and 1934, with a further six 3.5in guns being added and her torpedo tubes being enlarged to more the favorable 21in. In early 1936 she conducted radar trials with the Koln and her new half sister Nurnberg (and accompanying aircraft) in the North Atlantic. Later in the year she carried out her first Operation in Spain, before refitting. She then returned to Spain twice in 1937 before carrying out fleet Operations in coastal waters. She spent the next year on extensive training exercises with other ships from the Kriegsmarine, followed by a refit. At the out break of war she was stationed in the Baltic, colliding with the gunnery training ship Bremse on the 7th Nov 1939, but causing no major damage to herself. On the 12/13th December 1939 Leipzig along with the Nurnberg, Koln and five Destroyers embarked on a mining mission in the North Sea. The Leipzig and Nurnberg were both hit from torpedoes from HM Submarine Salmon (Leipzig was hit amidships, killing 15). She went to Blohm & Voss yards at Hamburg for initial repairs followed by a move and further repairs/modifications (the destroyed boiler rooms were turned into cadet rooms) at Kiel, being de-activated in February 1940. In September she was re-commissioned and used as a training ship for the gunnery and torpedo schools from Danzig. In September 1941 Leipzig and the cruiser Emden bombarded Russian shore batteries and sank the MTB 83. After some brief repairs in Kiel she became a training ship, mostly operating from the Baltic until becoming de-activated in late 1943 on Hitlers orders. She later returned to sea with a reduced crew. On the evening of 15th October 1944, Leipzig left Gotenhafen for Swinemunde with a cargo of mines in poor visibility. During the complex diesel to steam turbine engine change over, she was rammed by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen (rammed amidships between the bridge structure and the funnel). The ship was so badly damaged it was feared she might break in two. She was taken back to Gotenhafen for temporary repairs. With the land battle now encroaching her on 24th March 1945, Leipzig expends 896 rounds during the battle for Gotenhafen before moving onto Apenrade (Denmark) with 500 refugees aboard. This is where she remained until the German surrender. She was then moved to Swinemunde and on the 16 December 1946 she was scuttled in the North Sea (there is some question to believe that she was scuttled with gas shells aboard?)
Note the very last item in the thread. The first sailing of the U.S.S. Wasp. I guess that’s what you would call it. She was launched last April and will be commissioned next April.
Thought I’d try to cover for Cougar on this update. Can’t post the picture though.
Day 20 of the Winter War, December 19, 1939
Soviet aircraft hit Turku, Hanko, Helsinki, Viipuri, Jänisjärvi and other targets.
First bombs hit Turku
Karelian Isthmus: the main thrust of the continuing Soviet offensive on the Isthmus is at Summa in the central Isthmus. The enemy can manage only temporary breakthroughs. By evening the Soviet infantry has been repulsed and around 20 of the 100 tanks used in the offensive have been destroyed. However, the Finnish troops are unable to retake the village of Oinala.
Koivisto: Saarenpää Fortress and a Russian naval detachment led by the battleship Marat begin an artillery exchange at 12.15. Combat is broken off at 13.04.
Ladoga Karelia: Finnish troops in the Tolvajärvi sector launch a new offensive to retake Ägläjärvi.
Northern Finland: troops from Detachment Roininen attack the flank of the Soviet 122nd Division from the south at Joutsijärvi and inflict considerable losses in men and materials. Our own losses are 22 dead and 29 wounded.
Turku: the enemy bombs the city for the first time. Soviet aircraft also hit Hanko, Helsinki, Viipuri, Jänisjärvi and other targets.
Abroad: the renowned Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ appeal to the American people is published in a number of daily newspapers in the USA. Sibelius emphasizes that the fate of the Finnish people lies primarily in their own hands, although it will also depend to some extent on the actions of other freedom-loving peoples.
© The Finnish Defence Forces 1999.
Pretty interesting commentary here.
Thanks Homer. I’m back on top of it. Just a real hecktic week.