GERMANY: The German government sends a note to the Belgian government, promising that as long as the Belgians abstain from military action against Germany, the German government will guarantee the inviolability and integrity of Belgium. The Belgian government considers this note a victory for their policy of neutrality. (Jack McKillop)
HUNGARY: Hungary mobilizes stating that ". . . the counter-proposals which were handed to us this morning concerning our new frontiers differ so greatly from our views that the gap between the standpoints of the two delegations regarding the new settlement is so wide that we are convinced there can be no hope of bridging it by these negotiations." (Jack McKillop)
UNITED KINGDOM: Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declares to the House of Commons that "The Munich Agreement does not permit us to diminish our efforts towards the realization of our military program." (Jack McKillop)
October 13th, 1939 (FRIDAY)UNITED KINGDOM: Bletchley: Three people die when two express trains collide in the blackout.
The German submarine U-47 scores a major propaganda victory when she penetrates the defences of the RN fleet base at Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, shortly before midnight, surfaces and attacks. German aerial reconnaissance has revealed a gap in the Scapa Flow defences. The entrance to Kirk Sound is only half blocked by cables and wires, leaving a 50-foot gap, quite big enough for a U-boat. Lieutenant Commander Gunther Prien in U-47 is dispatched to strike before the defences are finished. He spends the whole of the 13th on the seabed, and sufaces at 1900 hours local. There is no moon but the aurora borealis provides enough light for the Germans. There is a strong current against them so the U-boat has to stay on the surface as they sail into the harbour. She fires off three torpedoes, only one of which exploded when it hit an anchor chain, and U-47 remained undisturbed on the surface of the Fleet anchorage to reload its torpedoes. The second salvo fired about an hour after the first sank the aircraft repair vessel HMS PEGASUS and the battleship HMS ROYAL OAK with 833 crew lost. Royal Oak blows up, rolls over and begins to sink, foundering in 18 minutes. Only 375 crewmen survive.
This penetration of the RN Home Fleet base gave Germany a major propaganda victory, and the Home Fleet was temporarily relocated to Loch Ewe on the west coast of Scotland until Scapa's defences were improved. On his return to base, Cmdr. Prien and his entire crew were taken to Berlin, and fêted after Hitler personally presented Günther Prien with the award of the Knight's Cross.
At Scapa Flow, HMS Royal Oak and her 833 dead remain a war grave and a memorial of this incident. (Alex Gordon)
U.S. freighters SS Iberville and SS Oakman are detained by British authorities.
First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill argues in the British Cabinet for the mining of Norwegian coastal waters to interfere with German iron ore traffic.
FRANCE: 3 Div. BEF takes up defensive positions, priority is given to anti-tank obstacles and emplacements, with minefields being laid to 'shepherd enemy tanks into areas covered by AT weapons', and all 'positions, defences, Observation Posts, etc. will be examined from the enemy point of view.'
GERMANY: Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, Commander-In-Chief of the German Navy, mentions to Chancellor Adolf Hitler for the first time, the idea of invading Norway. "The C.-in-C., Navy, points out how important it would be for submarine warfare to obtain bases on the Norwegian coast, e.g. Trondheim, with the help of Russian pressure. The Führer will consider this matter." (Report of the C.-in-C., Navy, to the Führer, 10 October 1939)
POLAND: Warsaw: Diplomats of neutral nations fear that the Germans are committing the most appalling, degrading cruelties against Polish Jewry. In one incident on the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, several thousand were imprisoned in the synagogue at Bydgoszcz and, refused permission to use the lavatories, were forced to use their prayer shawls to clean up the resulting mess.
Hundreds are shot every day with casual brutality, but there are signs that the Gestapo's campaign of terror is becoming more organised. Jews, even farmers, are being herded into ghettos in the cities and allowed no contact with the rest of the city. They are thus under the complete control of the Gestapo and there must be fears for their ultimate fate.
AUSTRALIA: In order to maintain a Militia force of 75,000, the Cabinet authorizes compulsory training for home service effective 1 January 1940. (Jack McKillop)
Major General Thomas A. Blamey is promoted to Lieutenant General and assumes command of the Australian 6th Division, Australian Imperial Force. (Jack McKillop)
The Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (D 63, ex HMS Apollo) sets sail from Sydney, New South Wales, for Singapore, Malaysia. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: President Franklin D. Roosevelt rejects a plea by Adolf Hitler for mediation between Britain, France and Germany.
Harry James and his Orchestra record "On a Little Street in Singapore" for Columbia Records. A 23-year-old singer named Frank Sinatra is the featured vocalist on what was his seventh recording.
Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant commander) Wolfgang Barten is sunk by a mine in the Strait of Dover,
in position 50.41,6N, 00.15,1E.
She sinks in 140 feet of water. 39 crew die but 9 crew survive by self escaping with Drager gear from the forward hatch, no surface rescue is at hand and only 3 survive 9 hours in the water.
After damaging a 4,803 ton British freighter in dispersed Convoy OB-17 (Liverpool to North America) with her deck gun, German submarine U-42 is sunk about 329 nautical miles west-southwest of Cork, County Cork, Éire, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Imogen (D 44) and HMS Ilex (D 61); 20 of the 46 crewmen survive. (Mark Horan)
U-48 sank SS Heronspool and SS Louisiane in Convoy OB-17. (Dave Shirlaw)
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