Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 194 March 12, 1940

At 9 AM, Finnish President Kyösti Kallio gives his delegates in Moscow full powers to negotiate peace terms, effectively conceding to Soviet demands. Finland loses 35,000 square kiometers (about 10% of the country), giving up Salla in Lapland plus the entire Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga Karelia (the area surrounding Lake Ladoga). As this includes the city of Viipuri & the towns of Sortavala and Käkisalmi, over 430,000 Karelian Finns are displaced (about 12 % of the population). In addition, Soviets lease Hanko peninsula as a naval base for 30 years. Kallio notes "This is the most awful document I have ever had to sign. May the hand wither which is forced to sign such a paper."

Finnish military collapse around Viipuri continues. A little late to help, Sweden offers to begin talks on a defensive alliance with Finland.

The British embark about 20,000 troops on transport ships to land in Norway. The main force of 5 brigades boards troop transports at Rosyth in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, to land at Tronheim, Bergen and Stavanger. At Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, the landing force intended for Narvik is a single brigade, which is at odds with the strategic aims of pushing through Narvik to the Swedish iron ore mines at Gällivare. The troops are an incoherent force pulled from various units held in reserve in England (10 divisions of the main British army are in France with the BEF) and many are poorly trained reservists. In addition the whole force is wildly under-equipped with little or no artillery or anti-aircraft guns.

The ships do not depart, however, awaiting orders to begin the operation, while the British War Cabinet debates operational plans (especially how to deal with Norwegian or Swedish armed opposition to the landings and subsequent troop movements through their countries). British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is still against the whole operation, particularly armed conflict with the neutral Scandinavian countries should they not welcome the British and French intervention.

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