September 1st, 1939UNITED KINGDOM:7.28 a.m. the Foreign Office learns of the German invasion of Poland.
Chamberlain addresses the house.
Young children from London and other urban areas are evacuated due to the fear from air attacks.
All BBC studios and transmitters are converted in the early hours to wartime conditions; this includes arranging two synchronised groups of radio transmitters to prevent radio direction finding, and creation of the "Home Service" on radio (at 0815 hours local). BBC Television Service, with continuity links from the Radio Exhibition at Olympia, closes at 1210 hours, ending unceremoniously with a Mickey Mouse cartoon, "Mickey’s Gala Première," in which the last words are a Greta Garbo caricature saying "Ah tink ah go home." (The order to close the service had not been received at Alexandra Palace at noon.) In the eight months of the year to date television transmitters have operated for an aggregate of 2,403 hours and had an audience of around 20,000-25,000 households. (Jack McKillop)
EIRE: The status of the Irish military is:
1. The Irish Army consisted of 19,000 men out of an authorized strength of 37,560 men with every unit understrength. None of the eight infantry battalions were organized. The Army had TWO (2) "serviceable" tanks and 21 armoured cars, most dating from the 1920s.
2. The air defence of Eire was entrusted to three Gloster Gladiator Mk I biplane fighters that most German aircraft could outrun. The first modern fighter aircraft "obtained" was an RAF Hawker Hurricane Mk I that crashed in Eire on September 29, 1940, was rebuilt, and entered service with the Irish Air Corps in July 1942. So for almost three years, Irish skies were defended by three biplanes.
3. As far as antiaircraft was concerned, there was no radar in the country and the antiaircraft defence of the capital, Dublin, consisted of ten 3.7-inch (9,4 centimetre) guns, four 3-inch (7,62 centimetre) guns and a small number of 40 millimetre guns.
4. The Irish Navy consisted of two 70-foot (21,3 meter) motor torpedo boats.
5:40 a.m. Berlin radio broadcasts Hitler's proclamation to his army; the invasion of Poland has been launched 'in order to put an end to this lunacy'.
10 a.m. Hitler is driven through an abnormally silent Berlin to the Reichstag, from where he broadcasts the news to the world.
Hermann Göring is officially designated as Hitler's successor. (Gene Hanson)
On the western front Army Group C (Ritter von Leeb) holds the front between Basle and Aix-La-Chapelle with 34 divisions, plus 2/3 of the 22nd Airborne division. (Eddy Bauer and Michael Alexander)
POLAND: German tanks thundered across the Polish border at precisely 0445 hours today. Supported by Junkers JU87 ("Stuka") dive-bombers, which are being used as airborne artillery, they are making rapid progress in penetrating Poland's forward defences. The assault is fast and violent, with units racing ahead to envelop and destroy the Polish defenders.
Warsaw has been bombed. Heinkel 111 and Dornier 17 bombers are pounding Polish airfields and strategic targets while Bf109 fighters hunt down those Polish planes which have managed to get airborne. First reports speak of the German Army Group South striking north-east from Silesia while the Fourth Army is advancing from Pomerania to link up with the Third Army pushing south-west from East Prussia.
The pattern that is emerging is of the Germans using their traditional technique of the double pincer movement against the Polish forces which are largely concentrated near the frontier to protect the industrial areas. It seems that the Polish commander-in-chief, Marshal Smigly-Rydz, hopes to hold the line until Britain and France come to his rescue. The force of the attack mounted by General Walter von Brauchitsch must cast doubts upon the Poles ability to resist until their allies attack in the west.
The Jablunka Pass is forced against fierce resistance of Polish mountain troops. Army Group South units move as much as 15 miles on this first day.
Danzig: The visiting battleship Schleswig-Holstein shells the Polish fortress of Westerplatte; the SS take over Danzig.
Warsaw: 14.00 Colonel Beck formally breaks relations with Germany.
ITALY: 3.00 p.m. in Rome Mussolini addresses the Council of Ministers and announces non-intervention.
EUROPE: Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland declare their neutrality, while Italy affirms its "non-belligerency". (Mikko Härmeinen)
Strength of Armed forces of the combatants.
CHINA: The light cruiser USS Marblehead (CL-12) transports US Marines from Chinwangtao to Shanghai to bring the 4th Marine Regiment to full strength in the event that the Japanese try to take advantage of the war in Europe. (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: The War Measures Act is invoked, and the Defence of Canada Regulations are invoked under the Act. Canadians of German descent and Canadian Communist Party members are detained under the Act. Later this will be extended to Canadians of Italian and Japanese descent. Up to 250 Communists, left-wingers and other perceived opponents of the war effort are detained. Communists are targeted ostensibly because of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. (Dave Hornford)
The 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions are authorized as the Canadian Active Service Force. The Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy Reserve and Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve are placed on active service. (Jack McKillop)
Patrol craft (ex fishing vessels) hired for Canadian West Coast: HMCS Algie, Santa Maria, San Tomas, Marauder, West Coast, Mitchell Bay, Cape Beale and Takla.
Schooner HMCS Venture paid off to
become tender to RN 3rd Battle Squadron in
Halifax. (Dave Shirlaw)
NEWFOUNDLAND: The Act for the Defence of Newfoundland is instituted to grant The Commission of Government broad powers over economic and social life as necessary to defend the country. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Admiral William D. Leahy, who has recently retired as Chief of Naval Operations, as Work Projects Administrator for the Territory of Puerto Rico. (Jack McKillop)
George Catlett Marshall sworn in as Chief of Staff.
Marine garrison withdrawn from
Chinwangtao to Shanghai to consolidate Fourth Marines.
Transport is on USS
Two motion pictures are released today:
* The mystery "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," based on a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, is directed by Alfred L. Werker and stars Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Ida Lupino. The plot has Holmes trying to outwit Professor Moriarty who is planning to steal the Crown Jewels.
* The comedy "The Women," based on a play by Clare Boothe Luce, is directed by George Cukor and stars an all female cast, i.e., Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Marjorie Main, Virginia Grey, Ruth Hussey, Hedda Hopper and Mary Beth Hughes; Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen appear in uncredited bit parts. The plot involves divorce, cattiness and competition in a group of female "friends." (Jack McKillop)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: German ship Admiral Graf Spee refuels from the tanker Altmark southwest of the Canary Islands. Altmark obtained the fuel oil in Port Arthur, Texas, USA in August. Meanwhile, the German raider Deutschland is in the North Atlantic ready to commence operations. (Jack McKillop)
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