Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 167 February 14, 1940

Finland. Finnish troops start pulling out of the Lähde sector of the Mannerheim line, withdrawing to rearguard positions and leaving a gap in the Line 2-3 km wide and 6 km deep. Kirvesmäki stronghold on the Taipale River changes hands for the fourth time in 3 days. Soviets attack with artillery, aircraft and tanks; they retake the Kirvesmäki stronghold. Finns are out of reserves and cannot mount a counterattack.

Graf Spee’s supply ship Altmark, after waiting in the South Atlantic for several weeks, reaches Norwegian territorial waters off Trondheim. Altmark's Captain Heinrich Dau intends to remain in Norwegian neutral waters and avoid attack by the British.

Battle of the Atlantic. German U-boats exact a heavy toll on merchant ships carrying food and fuel in British waters, sinking 4 steam merchant for a total of 29,000 tons.

1.35 AM, U-57 hits British tanker SS Gretafield (13000 tons of fuel oil) with 1 torpedo (10 dead) 20 miles east of Wick, Scotland. Gretafield drifts ashore burning. 31 survivors are picked up by armed trawlers HMS Peggy Nutten & Strathalladale.

5 AM, U-53 sinks Danish SS Martin Goldschmidt west of Ireland (15 dead, 5 survivors picked up by Norwegian SS Berto).

8 AM, U-26 sinks British steamer Langleeford (6800 tons of wheat) 70 miles northwest of Fastnet, Ireland (4 lives lost). The Germans question the survivors, give them food & dressings and set them on course to Ireland. 30 survivors make landfall at Ross, Co. Clare.

5 PM, U-48 sinks British merchant SS Sultan Star (9000 tons of food) 200 miles west of Land’s End (1 dead). Destroyers HMS Whitshed, Vesper and Acasta drop 22 depth charges but U-48 escapes undamaged. 72 survivors in lifeboats and picked up by HMS Whitshed and landed at Plymouth the next day.

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