Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 108 December 17, 1939

Hitler cables Captain Langsdorff to fight his way out of Montevideo or scuttle Graf Spee instead of internment in Uruguay. As he can only leave port between 5 - 8 PM and cannot outrun the superior British forces, he decides to save his crew and scuttle Graf Spee. Most of the crew transfer to German merchant vessel Tacoma. At 6.15 PM Graf Spee sails 4 miles out and is blown up at sunset in 7 meters of water, her topside protruding above the water for many years. Langsdorff and his crew are taken to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Finland. Red Army has made little progress on the Karelian Isthmus since the Finns fell back to the Mannerheim Line on Dec 6. Soviets assault the village of Summa, which provides road and rail access North to the centre of Finland (“gateway to Viipuri”). Despite heavy artillery bombardment, the Finns are ready and mow down the advancing Soviet troops. Some Soviet tanks penetrate Finnish defenses but are isolated and destroyed.

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