Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 110 December 19, 1939

Finland. Soviet tanks exploit a swampy gap near Summa to get behind the Mannerheim Line. Without infantry support, they are quickly destroyed with satchel charges & Molotov cocktails. As Soviet 44th division advances slowly up the Raate Road to rescue the 163rd division trapped in Suomussalmi, the Finns build a hidden ice road parallel on the lake. Another Soviet division starts to disintegrate as Finns surround 75th div. at Ägläjärvi.

Using the mine recovered by Ouvry & Lewis on Nov 23, British scientists Goodeve & Bullard devise a method demagnetize ships to prevent from detonating magnetic mines (“degaussing”).

Captain Hans Langsdorff shoots himself in Buenos Aires. He symbolically goes down with the Graf Spee (writing in his final letter “for a captain with a sense of honor …. his personal fate cannot be separated from that of his ship”), an honorable death for a man who sunk 9 ships with no lives lost and spared the lives of his crew. History will brand him incompetent for taking on Harwood's cruiser squadron and a coward for failing to fight out of Montevideo.

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