January 1940 Events of the Battle of the Atlantic  
  Overview  
  3 Allied war vessels was sunk mines or U-boats.  
  1 Allied war vessel was sunk by the Kreigsmarine.  
  1 Allied war vessel was damaged by the Luftwaffe.  
   
  1 U-boat was sunk by Allied war vessels.  
  1 U-boat was sunk in an accident.  
   
  54 Allied and neutral merchant ships were sunk by U-boats or mines totaling 164,281 tons.  
  2 Allied merchant ships were damaged by mines totaling 13,959 tons.  
   
  Naval Action in the Atlantic Ocean  
  Monday, January 1, 1940  
  Assigned to the Home Fleet, the British light cruiser HMS Coventry (D 43), commanded by Captain Richard F. J. Onslow, was damaged in a German air raid on the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland.  
   
  Wednesday, January 3, 1940  
  The U-25 became the first Axis submarine to take advantage of Spain's offer to allow reprovisioning and refueling in its ports. It secretly moored along the German freighter SS Thalia in Cadiz. After four hours of taking supplies off the merchant ship, the U-25 returned to sea.  
   
  Sunday, January 7, 1940  
  The British submarine HMS Undine (N48) sighted what was thought to be three trawlers 20 miles west of Heligoland off the northwest coast of Germany in the North Sea, but were in fact three German auxiliary minesweepers. The Undine unsuccessfully attacked the leading vessel and the minesweepers successfully counterattacked. Lt. Cdr. Alan Spencer Jackson gave the order to abandon the Undine, demolition charges were set, and the submarine scuttled. The crew was picked up by the minesweepers.  
   
  Wednesday, January 17, 1940  
  The British submarine HMS Tribune (N 76) reported firing six torpedoes against an enemy submarine in the Skagerrak Strait northeast of Skagen, Denmark, between the North Sea and the straits of Denmark, and all torpedoes missed. No German submarine reported this attack.  
   
  Thursday, January 18, 1940  
  The destroyer HMS Grenville (H03), commanded by Capt. George E. Creasy, operating as the Flotilla leader of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla was returning with six other ships from an operation off the Dutch coast when the Grenville struck a mine about 23 miles east of Kentish Knock, east of the mouth of the river Thames off the eastern coast of England. Two ships from the Flotilla disregarded their safety and lowered boats to rescue 118 men from the water. 77 officers and crew were lost.  
   
  Sunday, January 21, 1940  
  The destroyer HMS Exmouth (H02), commanded by Captain Richard Stoddart Benson, was escorting the British motor merchant Cyprian Prince when she was torpedoed by the U-22, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Karl-Heinrich Jenisch, off Tarbett Ness in the Moray Firth, east-south-east of Wick, Scotland in the North Sea. The Cyprian Prince had earlier been missed by the U-22. All of the ship’s complement of 189 died.  
   
  Friday, January 26, 1940  
  The 8,240 ton special service vessel HMS Durham Castle struck a mine laid by the U-57 on January 21 northeast of Cromarty off the eastern coast of Scotland in the North Sea. The ship was in tow to Scapa Flow for use as an accommodation ship.  
   
  U-Boat Losses  
  Tuesday, January 30, 1940  
  The U-15, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Peter Frahm, sank in the North Sea at Hoofden after being rammed in error by German torpedo boat Iltis. All of the ship’s complement of 25 died. During its career under a different commander the U-15 sank 3 merchant ships for a total of 4,532 tons.  
   
  The U-55, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Heidel, was sunk southwest of the Isles of Scilly in the English Channel by depth charges from the destroyer HMS Whitshed (D 77), the sloop HMS Fowey (L 15), the French destroyers FS Valmy and FS Guépard, and by depth charges from a British Sunderland aircraft from 228 Squadron. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 41 survived. The U-55 had just sunk two ships earlier that day and came under counterattack. During its career under Kapitänleutnant Heidel the U-55 sank 6 merchant ships for a total of 15,853 tons.  
   
  Attacks on Allied and Neutral Merchant Ships  
  Wednesday, January 3, 1940  
  Sailing with Convoy HN-6, the Swedish steam merchant Svartön was torpedoed and sunk by the U-58, commanded by Herbert Kuppisch, off Kinnaird Head off the east coast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 20 died and the 11 survivors were picked up by the HMS Oak (T 54). The 2,475 ton Svartön was carrying iron ore and was bound for Middlesbrough, England.  
   
  The British steam tanker El Oso struck a mine laid by the U-30 on January 6, 1940 and sank six miles from Liverpool in the Irish Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 3 died and 32 survivors were picked up by the HMS Walker. The 7,267 ton El Oso was carrying crude oil and casinghead gasoline and was bound for Ellesmere Port, England.  
   
  Saturday, January 6, 1940  
  The British steam merchant City of Marseilles was damaged when it struck a mine laid by the U-13 on December 12, 1939 in the River Tay off the east coast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and13 survivors were picked up by local boats. The 8,317 ton City of Marseilles was carrying general cargo and was bound for London, England. The abandoned City of Marseilles was boarded by crew members of the trawlers HMS Cranefly and HMS Sturton and the harbor defense patrol craft HMS Suilven. The next day, the vessels towed the City of Marseilles to Dundee where temporary repairs were made. The ship then continued to the Clyde for repairs and returned to service in April 1940.  
   
  Tuesday, January 9, 1940  
  The Norwegian steam merchant Manx was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, off Kinnaird Head off the east coast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 30 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchants Leka and Isis. The 1,343 ton Manx was carrying coal and was bound for Drammen, Norway.  
   
  Sailing with Convoy OA-69, the passenger ship Dunbar Castle hit a mine 7 miles from Ramsgate off the eastern English coast. Soon after the explosion she began to list making launching the boats difficult, but the crew managed to get all the passengers except one in to them and away. Most of the crew also made it into the boats, but several had been killed by the explosion. In all ten lives were lost. The 10,002 ton Dunbar Castle was bound for Beira, Mozambique.  
   
  Thursday, January 11, 1940  
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Fredville was torpedoed and sank by the U-23, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Otto Kretschmer, about 100 miles east of the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland in the North Sea. The forepart remained afloat and five survivors left their lifeboats several times to go back on board and look for more survivors. Of the ship’s complement, 11 died and 5 survivors were picked up by a Swedish ship and taken to Kopervik, Norway. The 1,150 ton Fredville was carrying ballast and was bound for Methil, Scotland.  
   
  Friday, January 12, 1940  
  The Danish motor tanker Danmark was torpedoed and sunk by the U-23, commanded by Oberleutnant zur SeeOtto Kretschmer, when lying at anchor in Inganess Bay, Kirkwall, Kirkwall , Orkney Islands, north of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 40 survived. The 10,517 ton Danmark was carrying petrol and kerosene and was bound for Nyborg, Denmark.  
   
  Saturday, January 13, 1940  
  The unescorted and neutral Swedish steam merchant Sylvia was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Karl-Heinz Moehle, northeast of Aberdeen, Scotland in the North Sea. The ship was reported missing after leaving Aberdeen and all 20 hands were lost as only the body of a crewman was later recovered from a raft. The 1,524 ton Sylvia was carrying general cargo and coal and was bound for Gothenburg, Sweden.  
   
  Monday, January 15, 1940  
  The unescorted and neutral Dutch motor merchant Arendskerk was torpedoed and sunk by the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, southwest of Quessant in the English Channel. Of the ship’s complement, all 65 survived and were picked up by the Italian steam merchant Fedora. The 7,906 ton Arendskerk was carrying 4000 tons of general cargo, including barb wire, galvanized sheets, nails, iron, brass tubes and mail and was bound for Durban, South Africa.  
   
  The unescorted and neutral Norwegian steam merchant Fagerheim was torpedoed and sunk by the U-44 southwest of Quessant. Of the ship’s complement, 15 died and 5 survivors were rescued and taken to Vigo, Spain. The 1,590 ton Fagerheim was bound for Middlesbrough, England.  
   
  Tuesday, January 16, 1940  
  The unescorted and neutral Greek steam merchant Panachrandros was torpedoed and sunk by the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, west of Brest, northwest France. All of the ship’s complement of 31 died. The 4,661 ton Panachrandros was headed for Key West, Florida.  
   
  The British motor tanker Inverdargle struck a mine laid by the U-33 on November 9, 1939 in the Bristol Channel, southwest England. All of the ship’s complement of 49 died. The 9,456 ton Inverdargle was carrying aviation fuel and was bound for Avonmouth, England.  
   
  The British steam merchant Gracia in convoy OB-72 was damaged when it struck a mine laid by the U-30 on January 6, 1940 southwest of Liverpool. The 5,642 ton Gracia was carrying general cargo and was bound for St. Johns, U.S. Virgin Islands.  
   
  Wednesday, January 17, 1940  
  The British steam merchant Polzella was torpedoed and sunk by the U-25, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Viktor Schütze, north of Muckle Flugga, Shetland Isles, Scotland in the North Sea. The nearby ship, the Enid, attempted to save the crew but was driven off by the U-25. All of the ship’s complement of 36 died. The 4,751 ton Polzella was carrying Iron ore and was bound for Middlesbrough, England.  
   
  The Norwegian steam merchant Enid was sunk by the U-25 north of Muckle Flugga. The U-25 first fired at the Enid and missed and then targeted and hit the Polzella. The Enid tried to rescue the crew from the Polzella but were forced to abandon ship when the U-25 surfaced and began firing at the Enid. One part of the Norwegian crew reached land in their lifeboats, while the rest were rescued by a Danish merchant. The 1,140 ton Enid was carrying wood pulp and was bound for Dublin, Ireland.  
   
  Sailing with convoy OB-74, the British steam merchant Cairnross struck a mine laid by the U-74 on January 6, 1940 west of Liverpool in the Irish Sea. Of the ship’s complement, all 48 survived and were picked up by the destroyer HMS Mackay (D 70). The 5,494 ton Cairnross was carrying general cargo, including coal and earthenware and was bound for St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.  
   
  Thursday, January 18, 1940  
  The neutral Swedish steam merchant motor merchant Pajala was torpedoed and sunk by the U-25, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Viktor Schütze, near the Hebrides, northwest Scotland. The Pajala was being escorted to Kirkwall for contraband inspection by the armed boarding vessel HMS Northern Duke. The HMS Northern Duke picked all of the ship’s complement of 35, forced the U-25 to submerge by gunfire and attacked unsuccessfully with depth charges. The 6,873 ton Pajala was carrying grain and cattle food and was bound for Gothenburg, Sweden.  
   
  The neutral Danish motor merchant Canadian Reefer was stopped by the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, northeast of Cape Villano off the west coast of Spain. The crew was given 30 minutes to abandon ship because she carried cargo for Britain and was then torpedoed. Of the ship’s complement, all 26 survived and were picked up by the Spanish trawler Jose Ignacio de C. The 1,831 ton Canadian Reefer was carrying oranges and grapefruits and was bound for Glasgow, Scotland.  
   
  The neutral Swedish steam merchant Foxen was sunk by an explosion about 85 miles from Pentland Sound in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 17 died and the 2 survivors were picked up by separate Norwegian merchant ships. As there is no corresponding U-boat report on the incident it is believed that the Foxen was sunk by U-55, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Heidel, which did not return from patrol. The 1,304 ton Foxen was carrying pit coal and was bound for Gothenburg, Sweden.  
   
  The neutral Swedish steam merchant Flandria was torpedoed and sunk by the U-9, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang Lüth, north of Ymuiden, Holland. Of the ship’s complement, 17 died and 4 survivors were picked up from a raft by the Norwegian steam merchant Balzac after two days. The 1,179 ton Flandria was carrying general cargo and paper and was bound for Amsterdam, Netherlands.  
   
  Friday, January 19, 1940  
  The neutral Swedish steam merchant Patria was torpedoed and sunk by the U-9, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang Lüth, north of Ymuiden, Holland. Of the ship’s complement, 19 died and 4 survivors were picked up by the Swedish steam merchant Frigg. The 1,188 ton Patria was carrying coal, paper and asphalt and was bound for Gothenburg, Sweden.  
   
  The neutral Norwegian Steam merchant Telnes was torpedoed and sunk by the U-55, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Heidel, northwest of the Orkneys, north of Scotland in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 18 died. The 1,694 ton Telnes was carrying general cargo and was bound for Antwerp, Belgium.  
   
  The unescorted French steam merchant Quiberon was torpedoed and sunk by the U-59, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harald Jürst, off Great Yarmouth off the eastern coast of England. The 1,296 ton Quiberon was bound for Lincolnshire, England.  
   
  Saturday, January 20, 1940  
  The unescorted and neutral Greek steam merchant Ekatontarchos Dracouliswas torpedoed and sunk by the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, west of Portugal. The 5,329 ton Ekatontarchos Dracoulis was carrying wheat and general cargo and was bound for Tyne, England.  
   
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Miranda was torpedoed and sunk by the U-57, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Claus Korth, about 30 miles northwest of Peterhead, east coast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 14 died and 3 survivors were picked up the next day by the British armed boarding vessel HMS Discovery II and taken to Kirkwall. The 1,328 ton Miranda was carrying coal and was bound for Oslo, Norway.  
   
  The British motor tanker Caroni River, carrying ballast, struck a mine laid by the U-34 on January 20, 1940 in Falmouth Bay, southwest English Channel. Of the ship’s complement, all 55 survived and were picked up by local ships. The 7,807 ton Caroni River was carrying ballast and was bound for Falmouth Bay, England.  
   
  Sunday, January 21, 1940  
  The neutral Danish steam merchant Tekla was torpedoed and sunk by the U-22, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Karl-Heinrich Jenisch, approximately 40 miles north-northwest of Kinnaird Head off the east coast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 9 dead and 9 survived. The 1,469 ton Tekla was carrying coal and coke and was bound for Aarhus, Denmark.  
   
  The British steam merchant Ferryhill struck a mine laid by the U-22 on December 20, 1939 near Blyth off the north central English coast in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 9 dead and the 2 survivors were picked up by the British M/S trawler HMS Young Jacob. The 1,086 ton Ferryhill was carrying coal and was bound for Aberdeen, Scotland.  
   
  Monday, January 22, 1940  
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Songa was stopped by the U-25, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Viktor Schütze, 220 miles west of Isles of Scilly, west of England in the Atlantic Ocean. The crew was ordered to abandon ship after it became clear that the ship was carrying contraband and was then torpedoed. The 2,589 ton Songa was carrying empty barrels, sponges, motor tires, copper, beans, coffee, cotton and tin and was bound for Antwerp, Belgium.  
   
  The neutral Swedish motor merchant Gothia was torpedoed and sunk by the U-51, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Knorr, north of St. Kilda off the northwest coast of Scotland. Of the ship’s complement, 12 dead and 11 survived. The 1,640 ton Gothia was carrying paper pulp and sulphate and was bound for Genoa, Italy.  
   
  The neutral Norwegian motor merchant Segovia, with a complement of 23, was reported missing off the west coast of Scotland. As there is no corresponding U-boat report on the incident it is believed that the Segovia was sunk by the U-55, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Heidel, which did not return from patrol. The 1,387 ton Segovia was carrying general cargo, oil, cork, wine, and almonds and was bound for Oslo, Norway.  
   
The unescorted and neutral Norwegian steam merchant Sydfold was torpedoed and sunk by the U-61, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Jürgen Oesten, northeast of Scotland in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 5 died and 19 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchant Rona. The 2,434 ton Sydfold was carrying ballast and was bound for Newcastle, England.
   
  Tuesday, January 23, 1940  
  The unescorted and neutral Norwegian steam merchant Varild was torpedoed and sunk by the U-23, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Kretschmer, northeast of Scotland in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 15 died. The 1,085 ton Varild was carrying ballast and was bound for Sunderland, England.  
   
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Pluto, was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, southeast of the Farne Islands off the southeast Scottish coast in the North Sea. The Pluto had been in convoy HN-8 that arrived at Methil the day before and was travelling unescorted down the coast when it had been spotted. The Pluto was the first vessel sunk by U-19 that day. Of the ship’s complement, all 22 survived and were picked up by a Finnish steamer. The 1,598 ton Pluto was carrying ballast and was bound for Middlesbrough, England.  
   
  The British steam merchant Baltanglia was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, southeast of the Farne Islands off the southeast Scottish coast in the North Sea. The Baltanglia had been in convoy HN-8 that arrived at Methil the day before and was travelling unescorted down the coast when it had been spotted. The Baltanglia was the second vessel sunk by U-19 that day. Of the ship’s complement, all 27 survived and were towed in by local fishing vessels. The 1,523 ton Baltanglia was carrying general cargo and was bound for Rochester, England.  
   
  The Finnish steam merchant Onto struck a mine laid by the U-56 on January 8, 1940 near Smith´s Lightvessel, Cross Sand. Of the ship’s complement, all 18 survived and were rescued by a British destroyer and a Greek steamer. The 1,333 ton Onto was carrying ballast and was bound for Tyne, England.  
   
  Wednesday, January 24, 1940  
  The French steam merchant Alsacien in convoy 56-KS was torpedoed and sunk by the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, west of Lisbon.  Of the ship’s complement, 4 died. The 3,819 ton Alsacien was carrying phosphate and was bound for Rouen, France.  
   
  The neutral and unescorted Norwegian Steam merchant Bisp was torpedoed and sunk by the U-18, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Ernst Mengersen, in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 14 died. The 1,000 ton Bisp was carrying coal and was bound for Åndalsnes, Norway.  
   
  Thursday, January 25, 1940  
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Biarritz was torpedoed and sunk by the U-14, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfarth, northwest of Ymuiden, Holland. Of the ship’s complement, 37 died and 21 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchant Borgholm. The 1,752 ton Biarritz was carrying general cargo and was bound for Oslo, Norway.  
   
  The unescorted neutral Latvian steam merchant Everene was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke, five miles off Longstone Lighthouse, Farne Island off the southeast Scottish coast in the North Sea. Of the ship’s complement, 1 died and 30 survivors were picked up by the British fishing vessels Dole and Evesham. The 4,434 ton Everene was bound for Liepaja, Latvia.  
   
  The neutral Norwegian steam merchant Gudveig was torpedoed and sunk by the U-19 north of Newcastle off the northeast English coast. Of the ship’s complement, 10 died and 8 survivors were rescued and taken to Methil. The 1,300 ton Gudveig was carrying coal and was bound for Bergen, Norway.  
   
  The French steam merchant Tourny was torpedoed and sunk by the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, west of Cape Mondego off the coast of Portugal. Of the ship’s complement, 8 died and 9 survivors were picked up by the Spanish steam merchant Castillo Monforte. The 2,769 ton Tourny was carrying general cargo and was bound for Bordeaux, France.  
   
  Saturday, January 27, 1940  
  The neutral Danish steam merchant Fredensborg was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt, southeast of Copinsay, Orkney Islands, north of Scotland in the North Sea. The Fredensborg was one of four sunk by the U-20 that day. All of the ship’s complement of 20 died. The 2,094 ton Fredensborg was carrying ballast and was bound for Blyth, England.  
   
  The neutral Danish steam merchant England was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20 southeast of Copinsay. The England was one of four sunk by the U-20 that day. Of the ship’s complement, 20 died and 1 survived. The 2,319 ton England was carrying ballast and was bound for Blyth, England.  
   
  The neutral Danish steam merchant Faro was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Harro von Klot-Heydenfeldt southeast of Copinsay. The Faro was one of four sunk by the U-20 that day. Of the ship’s complement, 8 died and 7 survived. The 844 ton Faro was carrying ballast and was bound for Methil, Scotland.  
   
  The neutral and unescorted Norwegian steam merchant Hosanger was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20 15 miles southeast of Copinsay. The Hosanger was one of four sunk by the U-20 that day. Of the ship’s complement, 17 died and 1 was picked up after about 15 hours by the armed boarding vessel HMS Northern Reward. The 1,591 ton Hosanger was carrying ballast and was bound for Leith, Scotland.  
   
  Sunday, January 28, 1940  
  The unescorted neutral Greek steam merchant Eleni Stathatou was torpedoed and sunk by the U-34, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann, about 200 miles west of the Isles of Scilly, east of England in the Atlantic Ocean. 12 of the ship’s complement died. The 5,625 ton Eleni Stathatou was carrying ballast.  
   
  The Greek steam merchant Flora was last seen in The Downs and was reported missing thereafter. On January 28, 1940 the U-44, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes, reported the sinking of a Greek steamer west of Figuera la Foz off the central Portuguese coast. This must have been the Flora. All of the ship’s complement of 25 died. The 2,980 ton Fiona was carrying coal and was bound for Rosario, Portugal.  
   
  A straggler from Convoy FN-81, the British steam merchant Eston struck a mine laid by the U-22 on December 20, 1939 in the Bristol Channel near Blyth off the north central English coast in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 18 died. The 1,487 ton Eston was carrying ballast and was bound for Blyth, England.  
   
  Monday, January 29, 1940  
  The unescorted and neutral Norwegian Steam merchant Eika was torpedoed and sunk by the U-51, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Knorr, south of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean. Knorr reported that the ship carried no neutrality markings. Of the ship’s complement, 14 died and 2 survivors were taken prisoner by the U-51 and landed at Wilhelmshaven, Germany on February 8,1940. The 1,503 ton Eika was carrying salt and was bound for Aalesund, Norway.  
   
  Tuesday, January 30, 1940  
  Traveling with Convoy OA-80G, the British steam tanker Vaclite was the first ship that day to be torpedoed and sunk by the U-55, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Heidel, southwest of the Isles of Scilly, west of England in the Atlantic Ocean. Of the Vaclite’s complement, all 35 survived. The 5,026 ton Vaclite was carrying ballast and was bound for New York, New York.  
   
  Traveling with Convoy OA-80G, the Greek steam merchant Keramiai was the second ship that day to be torpedoed and sunk by the U-55 southwest of the Isles of Scilly. Of the Keramiai’s complement, all 28 survived. The 5,085 ton Keramiai was carrying ballast and was bound for Ciudad Trujillo, Santo Domingo.  
   
  Wednesday, January 31, 1940  
  The Norwegian steam merchant Start was torpedoed and sunk by the U-13, commanded by Max-Martin Schulte, off the eastern Scottish coast in the North Sea. All of the ship’s complement of 16 died. The 1168 ton Start was carrying coal and was bound for Oslo, Norway.  
   
  The unescorted Danish steam merchant Vidar was torpedoed by the U-21, commanded by Wolf-Harro Stiebler, about 100 miles east of the Moray Firth off the northeast Scottish coast in the North Sea. The ship sank the next day. Of the ship’s complement, 16 died and 18 survivors were picked up by Danish steam merchant Disko.  The 1,353 ton Vidar was carrying steel bars and was bound for Esbjerg, Denmark.  
   
  Other Battle of the Atlantic Events  
  Monday, January 1, 1940  
  The Uruguayan government interned the German freighter Tacoma at Montevideo as an auxiliary war vessel. The Tacoma was given this designation because it was used to service the German pocket battleship SMS Admiral Graf Spee.  
   
  The U.S. freighter City of Flint, her odyssey almost at an end, was damaged in collision with British steamship Baron Blytheswood. Repairs to the City of Flint would keep her at Narvik, Norway, for another six days.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Exeter was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Tuesday, January 2, 1940  
  The Department of State released a statement to the press telling of the delivery of a "vigorous protest" (dated December, 27 1939) to the British Foreign Office concerning the British removing and censoring US mail from British, US and neutral ships: "It cannot admit the right of the British authorities to interfere with American mails on American or other neutral ships on the high seas nor can it admit the right of the British Government to censor mail on ships which have involuntarily entered British ports. . . ."  
   
  Wednesday, January 3, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Mormacsun was intercepted by a British naval vessel and diverted to Kirkwall, Scotland, into the zone designated as a combat area. The U.S. freighter Nashaba was detained by British authorities at Gibraltar. The U.S. freighter Executive, detained at Gibraltar since December 20, 1939, was released to proceed on her voyage to Greece, Turkey, and Rumania.  
   
  Thursday, January 4, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter SS Exiria is detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Friday, January 5, 1940  
  The German tanker Nordmeer reached Vigo, Spain, after her voyage from the Netherlands West Indies.  
   
  Saturday, January 6, 1940  
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Sunday, January 7, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter City of Flint departed Narvik for Baltimore, Maryland. For his "skill, fine judgement [sic], and devotion to duty" during the City of Flint's ordeal, Captain Joseph A. Gainard, the freighter's master, would receive the Navy Cross.  
   
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan, detained at Gibraltar by British authorities the previous day, was released.  
   
  The German freighter Konsul Horn escaped from Aruba and, disguised as a Soviet merchantman, managed to deceive U.S. Navy patrol planes from the Neutrality Patrol and the light cruiser HMS Enterprise.  
   
  Monday, January 8, 1940  
  A converted Wellington bomber operating from Manston, Kent, England, and equipped with DWI (Directional Wireless Installation) achieved its first successful detonation of a mine without a problem. In the early weeks of the war mines were dropped from Luftwaffe aircraft in British coastal waters and these magnetic mines sank an increasing amount of ships. The retrieval of an intact mine led to the development of two solutions. One was to degauss the ships, removing their magnetic fields. This would allow the degaussed ships to pass safely over the magnetic mines but left the mines intact. The second was to deliberately generate a magnetic field that would detonate the mine. Attempts to do this from a ship succeeded in detonating the mines but also caused damaged to the ship. The successful solution was DWI and involved attaching an aluminum coil inside a balsa wood ring with a diameter of 51 feet and attached to a Wellington IA bomber. Power was provided by a Ford V8 engine driving an electrical generator. When the power was fed into the coil it generated a magnetic field that could trigger the magnetic mine. The aircraft had to fly slow and low enough to trigger the mine, but not so slow or low that it would be damaged by the explosion. This was a very low level operation – initial tests took place at 60 feet, with 35 feet felt to be the minimum safe altitude. The DWI equipped Wellington was an early example of what Churchill called the “Battle of the Boffins” – the scientific war that saw first one side then the other win a brief technological advantage, before the Allies took an almost unassailable lead later in the war. Along with the development of simple degaussing methods, the DWI Wellingtons ended the threat of one of Germany’s early secret weapons of 1939-40..  
   
  Tuesday, January 9, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Western Queen was detained at Gibraltar for several hours by British authorities.  
   
  Thursday, January 11, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Tripp was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Saturday, January 13, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Narbo, bound for Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece, was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities. The U.S. Freighter Tripp, detained at Gibraltar by the British since January 11, was released, but not before some items of her cargo were seized as contraband.  
   
  Sunday, January 14, 1940  
  The British Minister in Panama, Charles Dodd, transmitted the response of the British government to a note sent by the President of Panama on behalf of the 21 American Republics concerning the violation of American neutrality that occurred in the Battle of the River Plate. The British "reserve their full belligerent rights in order to fight the menace presented by German action and policy and to defend that conception of law and that way of life, which they believe to be as dear to the peoples and Governments of America as they are to the peoples and Governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations."  
   
  The U.S. freighter Narbo detained at Gibraltar by British authorities the previous day, was released to continue her voyage to Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece, but not before some items from her cargo were removed as contraband.  
   
  Wednesday, January 17, 1940  
  The British Foreign Office replied to the U.S. protest on the treatment of mail, concluding that "His Majesty's Government find themselves unable to share the views of the United States government that their [the British] action in examining neutral mail in British or neutral shipping is contrary to their obligations under international law".  
   
  The U.S. passenger liner Manhattan and freighter Excambion were detained at Gibraltar by British authorities. The former was kept there for only a few hours before being allowed to proceed.  
   
  Thursday, January 18, 1940  
  The British Insulated Callendar's Cable Company delivered the first buoyant cable. The cable was to be is towed behind wooden trawlers with a current generated by the ship producing a magnetic field that would detonate the magnetic mines being used by the Germans against the Allies merchant shipping.  
   
  British censors in Bermuda removed through-bound mail for European destinations from the Lisbon-bound Pan American Airways Boeing 314 American Clipper. A written protest was lodged and no assistance in the unloading process was offered.  
   
  Saturday, January 20, 1940  
  U.S. freighter Examelia is detained at Gibraltar by British authorities (see 31 January); passenger liner Washington, bound for Genoa, is detained only a few hours before being allowed to proceed.  
   
  Sunday, January 21, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Nishmaha was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Monday, January 22, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Excellency was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Tuesday, January 23, 1940  
  Great Britain and France announced they would attack any German vessels encountered in Pan-American Safety Zone.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Excambion, detained at Gibraltar by British authorities since January 17, was released to proceed on her voyage to Genoa, Italy, but not before 470 sacks of mail (bound for Germany and Italy) were seized. The U.S. freighter Excellency, detained at Gibraltar the previous day, was released.  
   
  Saturday, January 27, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Cold Harbor, bound for Odessa, Soviet Union was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Sunday, January 28, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Sarcoxic was detained temporarily at Gibraltar for several hours by British authorities. The U.S. freighter Waban, bound for Italy and Greece, was also held there briefly but is allowed to proceed after one item of cargo was seized as contraband and 34 items detained for investigation.  
   
  Monday, January 29, 1940  
  The British Admiralty ordered that no American ships should, under any circumstances, be diverted into the war zone delineated by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the provisions of the Neutrality Act.  
   
  The U.S. freighter Exochorda was detained at Gibraltar by British authorities.  
   
  Tuesday, January 30, 1940  
  The U.S. freighter Cold Harbor, detained at Gibraltar since January 27, was released by British authorities.  
   
  Wednesday, January 31, 1940  
  The U.S. passenger liner Washington was detained for several hours at Gibraltar by British authorities, but was allowed to proceed the same day. The U.S. freighter Jomar was also detained there. The U.S. freighter Examelia, detained since January 20, was released.  
     
   
     
   
 

The objective of WW2Timelines.com is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

 
   
  Copyright 2011
WW2timelines.com
Contact us using our email page