9 Jan 1940

Atlantic Ocean
  • German bombers sank three Allied merchantmen in the North Sea. ww2dbase [North Sea | CPC]
  • The British submarine HMS Starfish (N19) attacked a German minesweeper off the German North Sea coast in the Heligoland Bight. However this attack failed because, due to drill error, the torpedoes remained stuck in the tubes. She returned for second attack but the hydroplanes jammed and the commanding officer Lieutenant Thomas Turner decided to remain under water at the depth of about 27 metres for the remainder of day to carry out repairs. The German minesweeper M-7 located her and dropped 2 depth charges which did no damage. At 1050 hours one of the electricians asked for permission to restart one of the Sperry motors to prevent the gyro from wandering, and the request was granted. No sooner the motor started, 4 depth charges rained on top of the boat, fairly close aboard, causing widespread damage. At 1440 hours another depth charge attack was carried out, 20 of these falling fairly close to the hull, shearing rivets and starting plates which began leaking. By 1800 hrs the situation inside was serious, the engine room crankcases and starboard main motor bearings were flooded, the torpedo trenches and bilges were full, water was pouring through the starboard engine clutch and lapping the starboard main motor casing. HMS Starfish laid on the bottom until Lieutenant Turner, having formed the opinion the enemy was not likely to leave the vicinity in the near future, gave the order to surface at 1820 hours. In order to accomplish this, the submarine was forced to drop the ballast keel, barely making it due to loss of high pressure air and water in the hull, coming up at a 45-degree angle. She sank very shortly after with no loss among the crew, which was picked up by the waiting ships and taken as prisoners of war. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | North Sea | HM]
  • Carrying a cargo of coal from West Hartlepool on the eastern coast of England, United Kingdom to Drammen, Buskerud in Norway, the Norwegian 1,334-ton steam merchant Manx was torpedoed at 0221 hours as she cleared Kinnaird Head in north Scotland by U-19 (Joachim Schepke). Eight of the crew managed to get to an upturned lifeboat but four died of exposure in the cold water. Four men endured eight hours on the boat until rescued by the Norwegian freighter Leka, the other 2 who had got on a raft were seen by Isis, another Norwegian ship. Originally it was thought that the Manx had hit a mine however, records show that U-19 had indeed claimed a merchant ship on this date, Schepke made no mention of the ship being Norwegian therefore neutral. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | North Sea | CPC, HM]
United Kingdom
  • British liner SS Dunbar Castle hit a naval mine and sank off Ramsgate in southeastern England, United Kingdom. 9 were killed immediately, including the captain. Chief Officer Herbert Robinson of Dunbar Castle was later awarded the Order of the British Empire for evacuating 189 survivors. ww2dbase [Ramsgate, England | CPC]
  • HMS Hermes began a period of refitting in Britain. ww2dbase [Hermes | CPC]

9 Jan 1940 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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