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September 11th, 1939 (MONDAY)


No. 10 Sqn. RAAF receives its first Sunderland flying boat.

U.S. freighter SS Black Eagle is detained by British authorities at the Downs, the roadstead in the English channel off the coast of Kent. (Jack McKillop)

FRANCE: The first meeting of the Anglo-French Supreme War Council is held today.

Four British army divisions, 158000 men with 25,000 vehicles, have crossed the Channel to France without a hitch. The operation, carried out in great secrecy, brought men from all parts of Britain to ports in the south of England, where transports waited. An escort of destroyers picked them up as they set sail.

Once ashore in France the men were taken to temporary barracks before being deployed at the front alongside their French allies.

The British soldier of today carries a great deal of extra equipment unknown to the men of 1914. regular issue includes gas cape and two pouches each containing 60 rounds of ammunition. When wearing full marching gear, the infantryman carries a large pack on his back holding a greatcoat, a cardigan and a few personal belongings. In all, the equipment, with uniform, steel helmet and ankle-boots, comes to 70 pounds. But the British Expeditionary Force is still seriously short of equipment. A secret report by the British Chiefs of Staff reveals that of the 352 anti-aircraft guns assigned to the BE only 152 have been delivered. The British Advanced Air Striking Force requires a minimum of 48 light anti-aircraft guns, none have so far appeared.

Off the coast of France, U.S. merchant tanker SS R.G. Stewart is stopped by shot fired across her bow by German submarine U-38 about 253 miles (407 km) west of Ushant, France. Soon thereafter, U-38 shells, torpedoes and sinks British motor tanker Inverliffey; SS R.G. Stewart rescues the tanker's crew and later transfers them to U.S. freighter SS City of Joliet for transportation to Antwerp, Belgium. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: Berlin: Germany responds to a threatened British naval blockade by announcing a counter-blockade.

Cipher (B-dienst) experts crack the British merchant ship code, identifying convoy meeting points.


POLAND: Army Group South destroys a Polish force it has encircled at Radom, consisting of the remnants of 5 divisions and a cavalry brigade; 60,000 prisoners are taken.

U.S.S.R.: Soviet submarine S-1 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)

INDIA: Plans for federation are postponed indefinitely.

CANADA: Trawler HMCS Arras commissioned. Patrol craft (ex fishing vessel) HMCS Rayon D'Or commissioned. Postwar served as a commercial trawler until 1954. (Dave Shirlaw)

U.S.A.: The USAAC's 21st Reconnaissance Squadron (Long Range) which transferred to Miami Municipal Airport, Florida, from Langley Field, Virginia, on 9 September with B-18 Bolos, is placed under the operational control of the USN's Commander Atlantic Squadron for duty in connection with the Neutrality Patrol.

Instructions to the Neutrality Patrol are modified to include covering the approaches to the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel and the Straits of Florida. (Jack McKillop)

Bear (AG-29) is commissioned by the US Navy for Antarctic operations under command of RADM Richard Byrd, USN (Ret.).

     The USN charters barkentine Bear of Oakland for operations in the U.S. Antarctic Service and commissions her as a miscellaneous auxiliary USS Bear (AG-29). The USN originally acquires Bear, built in Scotland for the sealing trade, to rescue the survivors of the ill-fated Greeley Arctic Expedition in 1884. The Navy transfers the ship to the U.S. Treasury Department in 1885 for deployment in the Revenue Cutter Service (later U.S. Coast Guard). In 1929, the Coast Guard transfers her to private ownership. Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN (Ret.) acquires Bear in 1932 for use in Antarctic exploration.(The expedition will be under the command of Byrd; he is appointed commanding officer of the expedition on 13 July 1939). Civilian sources provide scientific staff and dog drivers; sailors, marines and soldiers perform the supporting aviation, radio, photography, commissary, carpentry, and mechanical duties, as well as operate tractors and light tanks and the Armour Institute of Technology's Snow Cruiser, the unique vehicle developed for polar exploration. (Dave Shirlaw & Jack McKillop)

PUERTO RICO: Admiral William D. Leahy, USN (Retired), former Chief of Naval Operations (1937-1939), takes office as Governor of Puerto Rico. (Jack McKillop)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-30 sank SS Blairlogie.

     The U.S. merchant tanker SS R.G. Stewart is stopped by a shot fired across her bow by German submarine U-38 about 241 nautical miles (447 kilometers) south-southwest of Cork, County Cork, Éire in position 48.17N, 11.16W. At about 1355 hours GMT, U-38 shells, torpedoes and sinks the 9,456 ton British motor tanker MS Inverliffey about 254 nautical miles (470 kilometers) west-southwest of Cork. SS R.G. Stewart rescues the tanker's crew and later transfers them to U.S. freighter SS City of Joliet for transportation to Antwerp, Belgium. (Jack McKillop)

At 1457 hours Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), a torpedo fired by the German submarine U-48 strikes the 4,869 ton British freighter SS Firby, owned by the Ropner Shipping Company, Limited. The ship sinks about 247 nautical miles (457 kilometers) west-northwest of Stornoway, Outer Hebrides, U.K0N, 13.50W. The master, Captain Prince, has informed the owners that he and the crew of 40 all got away and have landed safely. Four, however, had been injured by shells. The chief officer, Mr. James Woodruff, stated that the crew, after taking to the boats, pulled alongside the German submarine, the commander of which is most considerate. Members of his crew handed nine loaves of black bread to the sunken ships crew and three rolls of bandages for the injured men. Before they moved away the commander sent an S.O.S. to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Admiralty giving the position where the sinking had occurred. After 13 hours in a heavy sea the men are rescued by a destroyer. (Dave Shirlaw)

German armoured ship Admiral Graf Spee provisions from tanker Altmark; security measure of launching the warship's Arado AR 196 seaplane pays dividends, as British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland is spotted closing the area. Admiral Graf Spee and her consort alter course and are thus not sighted. (Jack McKillop)


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