October 31st, 1939UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command. 4 Group. Reconnaissance - Jade - Weser - Hamburg. 10 Sqn. Two aircraft both successful. Opposition light to moderate in the Hamburg area.
Corvettes HMS Candytuft, Dianthus, Carnation and Delphinium laid down.
Submarine HMS Tigris launched.
Submarine HMS Truant commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: Colonel Gwido Langer, the leader of the brilliant Polish cryptologists who have been working with their French and British counterparts to solve the mysteries of the German 'Enigma' enciphering machine, arrived in France this month with his team and two Enigma machines. The Poles have thus fulfilled the orders of their General Staff that "in the case of a threat of war the Enigma secret must be used as our Polish contribution to the common cause of defence and divulged to our future allies.
It is hoped the Poles, helped on their journey by the British Secret Service, will carry on with their work to enable the Allies to read the German's secret codes.
FINLAND: Beginning today discussions between the Finns and Soviets over the recent Soviet demands. The Finnish government interprets Soviet bargaining as a sign of weakness. Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov has explained the talks is a public speech so their prestige is at stake. Three meetings between now and the 9th of November will occur, but no further discussions will take place. Today the Finnish negotiators Juho Paasikivi and Väinö Tanner return to Moscow. The third and last round of negotiations will begin on 3 November. (Mikko Härmeinen)
ITALY: Mussolini reshuffles his cabinet, replacing pro-Nazi members with neutral members.
U.S.A.: Corvette USS Tenacity laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: The Royal Navy starts a global hunt for the pocket battleships 'Admiral Graf Spee' and 'Deutschland'.
RN is also stepping up its offensive action against German submarines. Since the 'Royal Oak' was sunk at anchor in Scapa Flow a fortnight ago the fleet has stayed at sea. German battleships have seized at least six merchant ships in the last month, but most damage has been effected by the U-boats.
The submarines have been laying mines on all the routes out of the Scottish supply bases and prowling close to shore.
British destroyers, frigates and corvettes are in constant action against U-boats, relying mainly on an echo sounding device from the last war, ASDIC (from its inventors, the Allied Submarine Detection Investigation Committee). Patches of oil can give rise to a "kill" claim, but there are often deceptive. The navy's claim of 18 U-boat sinkings since the war began is almost certainly too high.
U-25 sank SS Baoule. (Dave Shirlaw)
Top of Page