Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 169 February 16, 1940

A Lockheed Hudson of No.233 Squadron locates Graf Spee’s support ship the Altmark (suspected of carrying prisoners captured by Graf Spee) in Josing Fjord, Norway. Captain Vian commanding destroyer HNS Cossack intercepts Altmark, which is escorted by Norwegian torpedoboats. Nonetheless, Churchill personally orders Vian to stop Altmark and board her to free the prisoners. 4 German sailors are killed and 5 wounded as 299 prisoners are released. Hitler is convinced the Allied will not respect Norwegian neutrality to send aid to Finland, despite Norway’s repeated protests, and steps up his plans for a Scandinavian invasion.

Finland. Following Mannerheim’s order yesterday to abandon the main defensive line, Finnish troops receive the order to withdraw to intermediate V-line positions at 3.45 PM. Near village of Kuhmo, Finnish 9th division wipes out the remnants of Soviet “Dolin” ski brigade capturing numerous automatic weapons. Of 1,800 Soviets that skied into Finland, there are only 70 survivors.

U-14 sinks 4 neutral ships carrying coal from Britain to Denmark and Sweden.

Around midnight, Danish SS Rhone is hit first (9 dead) then Danish SS Sleipner (13 dead), which stops to help. Sleipner launches her lifeboats with 30 survivors picking up 11 more from Rhone. After 9-12 hours afloat, all 41 survivors are rescued by Swedish trawler Standard and British destroyer HMS Kipling.

At 9.25 PM, U-14 sinks two Swedish coal ships. SS Osmed sinks after being hit with 1 torpedo 20 miles north of Kinnaird Head, (13 dead). 7 survivors were picked up by the British trawler Loch Hope. 10 minutes later, SS Liana is also sunk with 1 torpedo (10 lives lost). 2 survivors are also picked up trawler Loch Hope. 8 others are rescued by Swedish steamer SS Santos. It is a brief reprise for these Jonahs, as Santos will be sunk on 24 February with the loss of six men from SS Liana.

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