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August 31st, 1939 (THURSDAY)

London children are evacuated from the capital.

Ciano calls Halifax to confirm that Italy will not fight either Britain or France.

The Royal Navy is mobilised and put on war readiness. The British Army and Airforce reserves are also called up. (Alex Gordon)

BELGIUM: A railway bridge over the River Meuse near Ličge in Belgium which had been prepared for demolition in the event of war, is struck by lightning just as the Köln express and a local train are crossing. The lightning ignites the demolition charges and destroys the bridge, both loco crews and 6 soldiers travelling as passengers are killed; two other bridges nearby are also brought down. (Alex Gordon)

Göring  reads Hitler's new demands to Dahlerus who telephones Ogilvie-Forbes at the British Embassy. Ambassador Henderson passes the information to Josef Lipski, the Polish Ambassador and breakfasts with Ulrich von Hassell, an ex-diplomat and now a prominent anti-Nazi, before seeing Attolico.

Berlin: 0.30 a.m. the Reich Chancellery issues the code word to carry out "case white", the attack against Poland.

Berlin: 6.30 a.m. Captain Hauser, Cavalry, aide to General Halder, Chief of the Army General Staff, transmits orders from the Reich Chancellery: Y-day will be September 1; H-hour, 0445. Germany has now mobilised 2,600,000 men (including 155,000 militarised labourers working on the West Wall fortifications). Just over 1,000,000 men in 34 divisions (mostly reserve formations) are deployed in the west, more than 50 divisions with 1,500,000 men (including 6 Panzer divisions) are poised against Poland.

Berlin: 12.30 p.m. Hitler orders the SS as agents-provocateurs to attack a German radio transmitter near the Polish border, and issues 'Directive No 1 for the Conduct of War.'

6.15 p.m. Lipski seeks out Ribbentrop under orders from Warsaw which in turn is under pressure from London. Lipski says his government is favourably considering the British proposal for direct negotiations, but that he himself has no authority to negotiate. Ribbentrop dismisses him; back at the embassy, Lipski finds his communications to Warsaw have been cut. 
SS Sturmbannführer Alfred Helmut Naujocks receives the code words 'Grandmama dead', thus ending his 14 day wait at the German radio station at Gleiwitz. He and Gestapo head Heinrich Mueller are to carry out the mock attack. The canned goods are ready; a dozen 'condemned criminals' dressed in Polish military uniform are administered with fatal injections and then shot.

At 9 p.m. all radio stations in Germany interrupt their schedules to broadcast Hitler's 16 point plan for Poland.

Large crowds gather to admire and gawk at the pre-Dreadnought battleship Schleswig-Holstein in port for a visit.

Three Polish destroyers stand out of the narrow straits between the Baltic and the North Sea and shape course towards the British Isles.


Khalkin-Gol: Japanese are cleared from the Remizov Heights after tank forces cross the Khailastyn-Gol which has had the riverbed strengthened at night by Soviet engineers. Thus all Japanese have been cleared from the territory of the Mongolian People's Republic.
By the end of the campaign
Soviet losses: 10000 killed and wounded.
Japanese losses: 52000 to 55000 killed and wounded.

The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union ratifies the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact.  

Rome 11.00 a.m. Palazzo Venezia. Ciano and Mussolini agree "Italy can intervene with Hitler only if [Mussolini] brings a fat prize: Danzig." 
Ciano tells this to Halifax.

8.20 p.m. Ciano is informed by the telephone central office that London has cut its communications with Italy.

: RCN destroyers HMCS Fraser and HMCS St. Laurent leave Vancouver, British Columbia, for Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take up war stations in the North Atlantic Ocean. 


New York 1.00 p.m. The 7th Cavalry Brigade, Mechanised - the only armoured unit of the United States Army - parades in through the city streets to a camp site in the "World of Tomorrow" - the New York World's Fair. Its 110 tanks and armoured cars are virtually the entire armoured might of the United States Army.

Wall Street had seen rosier days than the summer of 1939. The markets are still struggling to shrug off the effects of the Depression, and the financial community is still adjusting to the more closely monitored world of post-crash trading. On this day, the rule book threatened to grow thicker, as the Public Examining Board, which had been formed to "study customer protection," released a set of solutions to this problem. The Board's fourteen recommendations ranged from fuller disclosure of brokerage firms' financials to beefing up the minimum capital requirements for commodity accounts. 

That I have seen colour, smelled dawn, heard music, tasted
Touched bodies-and learned that none, not one, of these things
was mine,
But all of them precious lendings from Thee, and all therefore
I thank Thee, Lord.

That I have misused and squandered this Thy trust, have taken
Where I should wholly give, have let my mind be shaken
By anger, sorrow, hatred, fear, have believed myself forsaken:
Pardon me, Lord.

For laughter and courage, for beauty and kindness, for joy,
for the boon of friends,
For the power of thought, for silence, for all the wealth which Thy
bounty spends,
For the love in my heart, for the slow sure knowledge that Truth
not ends--
For the knowledge of Thee in all men and me, in all that be,
I thank Thee, Lord

Maurice Brown, 'Prayer Before Battle' (August 31st, 1939)

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