Posts Categorized: Caithness at War Blog

Caithness at War Blog

Caithness at War: Week 19

In Finland, the Soviet 44th Division broke off its attack on the Finnish defenses, having reportedly lost some 22,000 men in the campaign to the Finns’ 2,700. On 10 January a German plane carrying Hitler’s plans for an invasion of Belgium and the Low Countries (scheduled to take place the following week) crash-landed at Mechelen… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 18

The New Year began much as the old one ended, with the only actual fighting on land being the “Winter War”, as the heavily outnumbered Finnish forces strove to hold back the invading Soviet armies. So far they had been spectacularly successful, winning a number of victories on the frozen Karelian Isthmus; but for how… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 17

And so the third month of the war came to an end, and with it the year 1939. In Finland, in the only actual ground fighting taking place, Russian forces were still being held at bay by the Finns. In Caithness, it must have been an uneasy time. Three months of constant air activity, with… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 16

Britain suffered a heavy defeat on 18 December in the “Battle of the Heligoland Bight” when 22 Wellington bombers which had been sent to attack German ships in a naval base and harbour were themselves attacked by German fighters: 10 Wellingtons were shot down and another 5 were ditched or crashed on landing, for the… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 15

On 13 December the Battle of the River Plate took place off the coast of Uruguay, when a British naval squadron attacked the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. The Graf Spee was damaged and retreated to Montevideo harbour, but on Sunday 17 December it was forced to put to sea; the captain ordered the… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 14

As Russian forces invaded Finland and the “Winter War” began, Finnish forces fell back to the Mannerheim Line, a defensive fortification line running across the Karelian Isthmus which the Russian troops now attacked in force. In her diary of wartime life on Orkney Hetty Munro noted gloomily: “I think everyone has lost interest in this… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 13

On 30 November the Soviet Union invaded Finland with some 450,000 men, the start of what would become known as the ‘Winter War’. Hetty Munro over on Orkney recorded in her diary on 27 November, “Yesterday there was such a gale of wind and rain that there was absolutely no danger at all of any… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 12

Mounting tension between Russia and Finland escalated when the Russian village of Mainila on the border was shelled on 26 November and several people were killed; the Russians claimed it was an act of aggression by Finland, although it may have been orchestrated by Russia to provide an excuse for going to war. Meanwhile, German… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 11

Russia, anxious about her security in the Baltic, had already coerced three states – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – to accept Soviet military control. Now international tension rose on Monday 13 November when negotiations between Finland and Russia broke down. On 16 November the first British civilian casualty of the war happened in a German… Read more »Read more

Caithness at War: Week 10

On Wednesday 8 November Hitler escaped an assassination attempt when he gave a speech to his supporters in the celebrated Bürgerbräukeller, the beer hall in Munich where he had staged his failed “Beer Hall Putsch” on this day in 1923. A time bomb had been planted but Hitler cut short his speech and left early;… Read more »Read more