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November 24th, 1939

UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: reconnaissance of north-west Germany by night and day; and the naval bases at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven, Heligoland, and Brunsbuttel. These continue for the next four days. Aircraft are from 10 and 77 Sqn.

Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd merge to form The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). BOAC is the exclusive British state airline until 1946. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: Berlin: Fritz Thyssen, the multi-millionaire steel magnate who fled from Germany at the beginning of the war, has had all his property seized by the Nazis because he refuses to return. Thyssen, who gave millions of marks to the Nazis to help then win power, says that he fears for his life because he opposes the war and the persecution of the Jews.

Along with other Ruhr industrialists Thyssen believed the Nazis would discipline labour and allow businesses to prosper; instead they got state control and forced levies. "What a fool I was," says Thyssen, in hiding in Locarno.



In the coming offensive against Finland the mission of Soviet 9th Army is to attack along a roughly 400 km (250 mile)-wide front between Lake Segozero (south) and city of Kandalaksha (north). The ultimate aim is to reach the city of Oulu on Finland's western coast, thus cutting Finland in half at her narrow 'waist'. Today the army HQ, located at Kem on White Sea, issues orders for its 47th Rifle Corps. Army commander, komkor [1] Mikhail Pavlovich Duhanov, orders the corps -- commanded by kombrig Ivan Fedorovich Dashichev -- to support the right flank of the Army's main offensive. Corps's 122th Rifle Division (Col. Petr Semenovich Shevchenko) is to attack on Army's northern flank through Salla towards Kemijärvi, and 163rd Rifle Division (kombrig Andrei Ivanovich Zelentsov) at the middle of 9th Army front through Suomussalmi towards Puolanka. The main attack is carried out by Special Rifle Corps on the Army's southern flank through Kuhmo and Kajaani towards Oulu.

Finns are not expecting any major attacks on this sector. Roads in the region are few and generally in poor condition, and any major motorized force would face great difficulties, especially in the middle of northern winter. Consequently the sector where two Soviet rifle corps are about to attack is screened by only four detached infantry battalions, some detached companies and small border guard groups.

Finnish forces are under the overall command of Major General Wiljo Tuompo's North Finland Group, which HQ is located at Kajaani. Gen. Tuompo had commanded the Border Guard during the peace time, and is well acquainted with the problems Finland's long border, running through mostly uninhabited regions, presents to military operations.

The Finnish forces have no artillery, but the rank-and-file are mostly native to northern Finland and know the conditions quite well -- some are literally defending their homes. Good example is Detached Battalion 15 (Lt. Col. Leo Kyander) which has been mobilized in Suomussalmi, and is now responsible for its defense. Additionally around Suomussalmi there are Detached Company Kontula (Capt. Eero Kontula) and the 58-man-strong Border Guard Detachment II (2Lt. M. Elo). These men are about to face the 163rd Rifle Division. But, as the Finns are not yet aware of the forces arrayed against them, all the Finnish forces have been given offensive missions in event of war. For example, Detached Battalion 15 has orders to advance to Vuokkiniemi, some 30 km (c. 20 miles) beyond the Fenno-Soviet border.

[1] Before June 1940 the Red Army did not use general's ranks, but titles derived from their nominal command competence:

kombrig (komandir brigady) - brigade commander komdiv (komandir diviziyi) - division commander komkor (komandir korpusa) - corps commander komandarm (komandir armii) vtorogo ranga - army commander 2nd rank komandarm pervogo ranga - army commander 1st rank

During the Winter War most Soviet commanders commanded a formation a step or two above their titular formation sizes. (Mikko Härmeinen)

ROMANIA: Gheorghe Tatarescu became the new Romanian prime minister. (Jack McKillop)

GIBRALTAR: U.S. freighter SS Nishmaha, her master having signed an agreement yesterday under protest to proceed to Marseille, France, via Barcelona, Spain, clears Gibraltar. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: Nanning, South CHINA: The Japanese claimed today to have occupied the strategically important city of Nanning, despite fierce resistance by 100,000 Chinese Nationalist troops.

The capture of Nanning would be Japan's first major victory since its forces advanced west into Kwangsi province in a bid to deprive the Chinese of their last remaining links with Indochina.

The loss of Nanning has effectively diverted the Chinese from their winter offensive, which the Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek had declared would drive the Japanese back to the lower Yangtse River and the pre-1937 borders. Instead, the Chinese have now lost a key supply route and face a new threat on their southern flank. The Japanese claim that they now control the road which hitherto had been the route for 70% of China's supplied from Indochina.

Last night Chiang Kai-shek ordered his remaining reservists into Kweichow and Yunnan to reinforce security on the Yunnan-Hanoi railway - now China's only link with Indochina.

The Japanese High Command, however, is now intent on continuing its advance, aiming to sever China's connection not only with Indochina but also with Burma. This would leave Soviet Russia as the only source from which the Chinese could obtain war materials.

The Japanese occupation of Nanning was preceded by a heavy aerial bombardment. Civilian casualties were slight.

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