September 22 - Wartime shortages become usual as rationings begin

In Great Britain, gas begins to be rationed. Three days later, Germany will start the same with bread and flour. Food and other basic products rationing will be a constant in almost all involved countries and in others affected by the reduced international trade. Also many parks and small spots are tranformed into victory gardens to provide additional food to local families.

In Poland, Lvov surrenders to the Soviets and, in Brest-Litovsk, German and Russian troops parade together as the town is handed to the soviet forces.


September 21 - Romanian Prime Minister is assassinated

As a result of a tolerant and sympathetic attitude towards the Polish refugees and government officials, the Romanian Prime Minister, Armand Calinescu, is murdered by the Iron Guard, a fascist organization. The perpetrators are overpowered but the Premier will not survive.

Warsaw continues to be pounded by the Germans as utilities and basic services are shut down. Life in the besieged city is now almost impossible to bear but the atrocities on civilians will not stop. In the Polish occupied areas the deportation of minorities, mostly Jews, to the Ghettos begin…

President Roosevelt urges the Congress to allow United States to sell arms to belligerents nations as a way to “keep America out of the War”.


September 20 - Lublin falls at last

Lublin, one of the last Polish free cities outside Warsaw falls into German hands. Poland’s capital continues to be bombed by the Luftwaffe and bombarded by the Nazi artillery.

In the Western front, Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe clash for the first time. In the border between Germany and France, Messerschmitt Me109s attack a squadron of Fairey Battle bombers. The score comes to 2 British planes down against 1German.

At sea, as the convoy system begins in the North Atlantic merchant routes, Allied navies become more aware of the submarine menace. On this day, the second U-Boot, the U-27, is sunk by depth charges from the HMS Fortune and HMS Forester.


September 19 - Massive Polish troops surrenders...

Without more conditions to keep fighting and with no contact left with the remnant Polish forces, the brave armies of Poznan and Pomorze surrender. Almost 170000 men give up fighting and bear down their weapons.

Many Polish soldiers and pilots flee to neighbour countris such as Hungary and Roumania.

Hitler makes his triunphant entrance in Dantzig.

Soviet and German invaders meet uo at Brest-Litovsk.


September 18 - Warsaw under heavy fire

Intense air raids and artillery bombardments mean that almost all resistance in Poland has ended and that the Germans are now concentrating on the Polish capital.


September 17 - Poland is stabbed in the back...

As the resistance to the German advance becomes impossible and Warsaw is besieged, a new threat arrives… Two soviet army groups cross the border and move to West. As stipulated in the Secret Clauses of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement, Poland was to be divided between Germany and USSR. Watching the Nazis move too fast, the Russians don’t want to fall behind and move towards West.

Caught between two fronts, what was left of the resistance crumbles into the ground. The Government flees into Roumania and forced internment. What was left of the Air Force follows the same path. Only Warsaw continues to resist...

A few days latter German and Russian troops will meet along the new Border, at Lvov and Brest-Litovsk, celebrating their recent friendship... Soon they will be fighting the worst battles of the whole war but for now, Germany and USSR are friends at the cost of Poland


September 16 - The border conflict between USSR and Japan ends

The Battle of Khalkhin Gol, over the border between Mongolia (USSR's ally) and Manchukuo (Japan's puppet) comes to a sudden end. Stalin wants all his attention turned to West and although in military advantage, accepts the cease fire without any additional advantages.


September 15 - Warsaw siege begins

The German Fourteenth Army speeds towards the Roumania to cut a possible retreat of Polish forces and leadership into this coutries.

As more German units arrive to the outskirts of Warsaw, the siege of Poland's capital begins. However the Poles refuse to surrender!


September 14 - The last Polish offensive takes place

In a surprising movement the Army of Pomorze takes the initiative and counter attacks the advancing forces of von Rundstedt. The Germans, not expecting that there were still possibilities of any Polish force be able to attack are caught red handed… Forces have to be pulled out of Warsaw and Kielce in order to face this attack in the Lowicz area. General Kutrzeba keeps the Germans occupied for five days, inflicting unexpected casualties and diverging forces that were needed to end the siege of Warsaw and the advance to East.

All over the rest of Poland, the Germans manage to maintain a steady rhythm of advance as the Polish defense and frontline forces have no way to contact the High Command.

At sea, in a daring move the submarine U-39 attempts to attack the Aircraft Carrier HMS Ark Royal but is sunk by depth charges of the escorting destroyers.


September 13 - The First French naval loss and the end of the Polish Air Force

The mine layer Platon becomes the first French vessel to go down, victim of his own mines.

In Poland, the Polish Air Force ceases to exist as the last meaningful flights take place. After this, aerial activity will be almost inexistent. However many pilots manage to escape to France and Great Britain, playing an exceptional part in further chapters of the war.


September 11 - British mines in the North Sea

British ships and aircrafts begin the operation of mine laying the North Sea and the English Channel to reduce German surface raiders in those areas. The main idea is to close the Kriegsmarine in the German harbors allowing the British and French bombers to hunt them there. In reality, German Naval units will play their part and their major adversaries will not be the laid mines.

In Poland tens of thousands of soldiers are captured as the last efforts of the Poznan Army are destroyed by German reinforcements. Soon the OKW, the German High Command, will be able to end these pockets of resistance and concentrate in the siege of Warsaw.

French and British High Commands gather in the first Supreme War Council.

September 10 - Canada joins the Fight!!!

On this day, Canada declares war on Germany. From day one Canadian ships and aircrafts will take an important role in patrolling the North Atlantic waters and providing support to the convoys to Great Britain. Providing a direct safe heaven to Britain, the war effort and support from Canada were extremely important until the entrance of other world players in the fight against the Axis Powers.

Lord Gort, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, takes the first major forces into France.

Some successes of the Poznan and Lodz armies only adjourn the unavoidable: Poland is lost, the Air Force is in shambles and the ground forces are mostly surrounded or in retreat. The High Command, still hoping for an intervention in the West, now puts all bets in defending Warsaw.


September 9 - Poland Resists…and the average citizen falls in!

The Polish Army of Poznan, although in severe conditions, manages to put an offensive into the left flank of General Blaskowitz' 8th Army. This movement, in a rare occasion where the Polish Air Force was able to support ground troops, stall’s further movement of this army into Warsaw.

In the West, apart from intense movement and naval units deployment all over the North Sea and North Atlantic, there are few movements. Full mobilization and organization to the coming was continues but the feared intense bombings and attacks from day one are slowly being replaced by a resolute calm and resignation to the need to move on.

More than any other conflict before, this war will demand from the average citizen courage, determination, endurance and capacity to overachieve. And this will happen on both sides. Soldiers and civilians will endure more than ever before and will see and suffer more than it would be expected, much more than the limits dreamed before.

In the end, the victory goes to the women and men that placed all they had to place, many times giving “the last full measure of devotion”: LIFE


September 8 - What if Gernany had to face a second front in 1939?

What would happen if the Allies had attacked Germany in September 1939?
We've seen that all the operational capacity of the Wermacht was used in Poland. This is explained because, on one hand, the German Army was still small to endure 2 fronts at the same time. No general mobilization had been called so there was no way Hitler could hold a quick war in Poland and, at the same time, leave a good portion of high level divisions in the West. One of the great fears of the German High Command in the first days of war was that France and Britain would attack in the West. The few divisions behind the defensive lines (the famous Siegfried Line) in the German-French border were poorly armed and trained. Most had not yet achieved full operational status and had been stripped of equipment to be used in Poland. More, there were no reserves to face any additional movement or breach in the frontline.

So an offensive in the first days of war probably would have forced Germany to move some forces from Poland, easing the pressure and enduring operations for a few more weeks…

However, on the other side of the border an offensive in September or October would have been almost impossible. France had armies, tanks and operational potential to move into Germany. Great Britain still had no armies in France (the first units of the BEF - British Expeditionary Force would arrive on the 10th of September).

The problem was that the whole philosophy of the French Army was defensive! After the huge losses of lives in the First World War and predicting that the next war would be conducted on the same way, the French built The Maginot Line. This formidable system of defensive lines, bunkers, anti-tank barriers, underground installations was almost inexpugnable. It stretched from Switzerland to the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, covering the entire direct border between France and Germany. Nevertheless, the construction had stopped midway to the sea so it could be avoided.

And more important it completely influenced the French military thinking. The whole army was built around the myth of The Maginot Line, so the capacity to attack and to have mobility was absent. Even if they wanted to attack, the French would not know how or would be very afraid to leave behind their defensive barriers.

That’s why it would be very improbable that an offensive in the West could be launched in 1939 and, once again, Hitler won the bluff over the Allies. In the coming months, after Poland was conquered, a massive army would be gathered in the West. Protected by the pact with Stalin and leaving nothing but a few divisions in the East, Germany was able to, once more, concentrate all her potential against the enemies of the West…


September 8 - German troops in the outskirts of Warsaw

Several German units arrive to the outskirts of Warsaw, especially Panzer units. However the fortified city poses a different kind of struggle and the advance is stalled. At the same time the several pockets of resistance along the frontline delay the advance of the Infantry. Facing this, the German High Command orders those forces to hold the attack and wait for the slower Infantry and Artillery. The general idea is to overrun all Polish forces encircled in the rear, surround Warsaw and demand the surrender before any advance is made into the city.

Okecie’s airfield, outside Warsaw, is captured by the Germans and the Westerplatte garrison, the first unit attacked in the war, finally surrenders after days of intense bombardment.

In the West, no significant movement is made after the previous days’ operations. Slowly the understanding that Poland is lost spreads among the Allied leaders.


September 7 - Poland withdrawal extends but resistance endures

The Army Head-Quarters in Warsaw withdraws to Brest-Litovsk. Most frontlines troops are either isolated and cut from the rear or on the run, searching for more defensable positions.

The Polish plan now is to fortify Warsaw and stand there the most and, at the same time, create additional fortified positions close to the Romenian and USSR's borders. In general they still hope that a move in the West by the Allies will remove German forces from the East and ease the pressure over the Poles...

Some units, like the Poznan Army, manage to counter-attack and create problems to the fast advancing German mobile units. Most of the Panzers and Mobile Division now have to stop in order to allow the foot and horse moving Infantry and Artillery to catch up with them.


September 6 - Situation in Poland deteriorates

The Polish Government abandons Warsaw as the frontline between Czestochowa and the capital is completly broken. French troops make some moves on the Siegfried Line and the Saarbruken but nothing really significant.

Neither Great Britain nor France will ever do anything to help the doomed Poles.

South Africa declares war on Germany.


September 5 - Winston Churchill Returns!!!

After being appointed to office, Winston Churchill becomes First Lord of the Admiralty returning to a position that was quite familiar to him (he had been there in the First World War). At the same time, he also participates in the newly formed War Council.

He immediatly begins to organize the Royal Navy for the hard times ahead. Altough the German Navy is no match to her counterparts, Great Britain was unprepared for war and a lot has to be done.

All ships in the fleet receive the message: “Winston has returned!”
On this day a British Anson reconnaissance airplane mistakes 2 Royal Navy’s submarines for U-Boats and attacks, causing the first “friendly fire” casualties of the war.

Also, the first two Allied freighters are sunk by German submarines. The Bosnia is lost to the U-47 and the Royal Sceptre is torpedoed by the U-48.


September 5 - Germans reach the Narew and Bug rivers

Maintaining the pressure on the Polish lines, German forces from Group Army North press on into Warsaw, reaching the Narew River. After conquering Krakow, Army Group South concentrates into moving East in the direction of Lodz and Warsaw. Some forces reach the Bug River.

The most of the Polish Armies gets isolated along the previous positions on the German border. Most units will fight to get back but cut from their rear and without capacity to move as fast as the Wermacht will make most of them prisioners of the advancing Germans.


September 5 - The United States will remain neutral

Franklin Delano Roosevelt declares the neutrality of the United States in the European conflict. He also invites all parties envolved to abstain from bombarding and attacking civilian populations and targets.


September 4 – Japan declares Neutrality as the Polish frontline deteriorates...

Japan declares neutrality state in the European conflict but always with an eye on what may happen.

In Poland, every opposition mounted to the German advance is consistently overrun. Krakow has fallen, Lodz and Kielce almost conquered. The speed of advance continues steady and the Polish army, stretched over all borders and without significant reserves, has difficulties to reorganize flexible frontlines against the Germans.

On this day, Nepal also declares war on Germany!


September 4 - The beginning of Air Raids over Germany

On the previous day, reconnaissance flights had already taken place over German territory.

But on the 4th of September 12 airplanes (2 Vickers Wellington and 10 Bristol Blenheim) drop their bombs over Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuttel naval bases, despite heavy anti-aircraft fire and poor weather. No major damages are reported.

Though no serious bombing takes place in the first months of war, the British will fly a large number of missions and most of them have the objective of launch millions of leaflets explaining the risks for the German people in going to war against the Allies. The success of these measures is highly dubious.


September 4 – The first prey of the U-Boot - SS Athenia

The Battle of the Atlantic begins.

From prepositioned locations several dozens of submarines begin their hunt for allied flagged merchant ships. France and, most important, Great Britain totally rely on maritime routes to import all kinds of products and raw materials for the industrial production and day-by-day living. Although the Kriegsmarine is no match for her Allied counterparts, has one weapon that from day one, can impact on those trade routes: the U-Boat!

On this day 40 submarines are at sea on operational missions! And from day one they will be hunting for all merchant ships that carry an allied flag.

On the night of September 3, the U-30, commanded by Oberleutnant Fritz Julius Lemp spotted the SS Sthenia, a cruise liner and passenger ship 400 Km north of Ireland. Taking her for a troop ship or a Q-ship (armed merchantman) and after a 3h pursuit, decision is made to attack with 2 torpedoes. After one hit, SS Athenia goes down and became the first victim of the feared German U-boot. 117 fatalities were counted and many doubts still remain on the legality of the action.


September 3 - The World at War

Hitler ignores the British ultimatum and at 11:15 Prime Minister Chamberlain, admitting the failure of his “Appeasement Policy” declares over the radio waves of the BBC that a state of war now exists between both countries. France will do the same that afternoon as well New Zealand, Australia and India. The world is now, again, at War...

Listen here the speech of Neville Chamberlain in which he declares war to Germany.

A War Cabinet is formed and Winston Churchill is appointed First Lord of the Admiralty

In Poland, Krakow falls and government decides to move on to prepare the defense of Warsaw. The German advance is so unbelievable that many panzer and motorized units have to halt due to lack of infantry support. Several mobile artillery batteries also fire no shots due to constant need to move to another location.


September 2 - The Reactions to War

There is an intense activity in London and Paris’ cabinets in order to establish a joint response to the aggression against Poland. The French, more reluctant, still believe that war because of Poland can be averted. But the patience in “Old Albion” has run out. In a heated debate in the Parliament, Chamberlain is criticized for the somehow soft reaction to Hitler. More is demanded and an ultimatum is sent to the embassy in Berlin: Germany has to show proof that will withdraw entirely until the next day, at 11:00. Otherwise, a state of war will begin.

After the debate, a War Cabinet is discussed to include as many parties as possible although severe differences separate them. The Dominions (New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa) show full support to all decisions to be made by Great Britain.

In France general mobilization is declared but reactions are still shaken and fear of move into a state of war exists. The Foreign Minister George Bonnet still believes that an international conference can avoid full war with Germany.

Spain and Ireland declare their neutrality in the conflict.

As far as the war goes, the military news couldn’t be better for Hitler. The Polish army fights but is completely surprised by the speed and movement of the Germans, combined with intense aerial bombardment of communications, ground forces, roads, etc. In the North forces reach the outskirts of Mlawa on the road to Warsaw. In the corridor to the Baltic Sea, the forces coming from Germany and from East Prussia unite in isolating Danzig. Von Rundstedt armies move 80Km in 36 hours, reaching the Warta River. In the South, alpine troops press Jablunka gorges and approach Krakow.


September 1 - The First Day of War

There is no formal declaration of war and, at 04:45 the First World War battleship Schleswig-Holstein opens fire over the Westerplatte, a strip of land over the Vistula estuary that contains Polish military installations. This initiates the war.

Luftwaffe will begin air operations by bombing the main airfields along the border but most Polish aircrafts have been moved to more remote airstrips thus being able to continue operating. Ju-87 dive bombers “Stuka” start their (very) successful operations against frontline troops, surprising the enemy and providing interesting results. They will prove very effective in routing defensive positions along the line.

Army Group North starts the operations by moving south against specific points in the front (the called Schwerpunkt or focal points) where all force available is used. The Slovak Army also begun support operations in the South. However the main attack comes from von Rundstedt’ Army Group from west to east. All actions take the direction of Warsaw. The objectives are:
- Minimize the action of the Polish Airforce
- Cut the Polish access to Danzig
- Encircle the most of the Polish forces in the border in order to put them out of action
- Access Warsaw as soon as possible

The Poles ended the first day in a positive mood as the results come in and the German advance was smaller than expected. However this will prove as a result of lack of information to the Polish command because, indeed, the Germans had moved faster and more deep than expected.

Great Britain and France, respecting the agreements and guarantees given to Poland, demand the immediate end of hostilities and total withdrawal of the German Forces. Children are evacuated from main cities in Britain.

Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway declare their neutrality in the War.


September 1 - The Polish Battle Orders

The Polish expected a positions war like the one in 1914-18. So they have their forces positioned along the extended borders with Germany. They expected to hold the front long enough for the general mobilization (declared on the 30 of August) to enlarge the forces and for France and Britain to begin operations in the West. After the first German successes and encirclement of large forces, the plans were changed to create pockets of resistance in Warsaw and over the Romanian border. However, with the invasion from the East of the Soviet forces and with the absence of action from France and Great Britain, little hope was left for the remaining polish soldiers.

There were 39 divisions created or being created in the theater of operations. However some of these never saw action as the mobilization and training process took too long to allow their active duty.

The poles also had tanks but in fewer number than the Germans, lower quality and with a role of infantry support only.

The Polish Air Force had some good models like the PZL P.11 or the PZL.37 Lós but in a very small number. They put up a good fight and were in action until the end of the second week of war inflicting some damage to the German planes and ground forces. Many pilots then flee to the Allied nations and kept on fighting, especially in the Battle of Britain.

The Polish Navy was small and completely outnumbered by the Kriegsmarine. It had a few destroyers, submarines and minelayers. Almost all were destroyed or captured except a small force of 3 destroyers that fled to join the Royal Navy.

September 1 - The German Battle Orders

Army Group North, gathering the 3rd Army and the 4th Army, commanded by General Von Bock has the following objectives:
- Conquer the corridor between Germany and East Prussia
- Drive south towards Warsaw

It’s composed by the following forces:
- 3 Panzer Divisions
- 3 Motorized Infantry Divisions
- 16 Infantry Divisions
- Several assorted brigades and support units

Army Group South, composed by the 8th, 10th and 14th armies and commanded by General von Rundstedt has the objective of move towards Warsaw in a pincer movement and destroy enemy forces around Krakow. It’s formed by the following forces:
- 4 Panzer Divisions
- 4 Motorized Infantry Divisions
- 28 Infantry Divisions
- Several assorted brigades and support units

Slovak Army was present to support the right flank of the Army Group South.

The Luftwaffe was divided into the 1st Air Fleet (supporting Army Group North) and the 4th Air Fleet (supporting Army Group South). Around 2300 airplanes were present through the operations in the following weeks

The Kriegsmarine was present with several ships providing shore bombardment and support in the Danzig harbor invasion. The first shots of the war came from the Schleswig-Holstein battleship.


August 31 - Achtung, Achtung

Hitler orders D-Day for Poland the first day of September, at 04:45.

The final diplomatic efforts came to a halt when Polish and British refuse to accept the German proposals concerning Danzig and the rights of passage between Germany and East Prussia.

The last attempts for an international summit on Poland are taken by the Italians who, warned by Hitler of the coming attack, panicked when faced with the possibility of war so soon after the signing of the Pact of Steel. But the idea is denied by Germany that feels that the time has come for confrontations (although Hitler believed that France and Britain would not go to war because of Poland)

In order to make the operation on Poland more acceptable, on this day, there is a staged attacked by supposed Polish soldiers on German military installations over the border. Obviously few believed it but it gave a "self-defense" right for Germany to declare war.

On September 1, 1939, at 04:45 the battleship Schleswig-Holstein, a survivor from World War One, will open fire on a Polish Depot in Danzig.

The World War Two has begun...
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