World War II As It Happened
A MaritimeQuest Daily Event Special Presentation
Wednesday, March 20, 1940
Day 202

March 20, 1940: Front page of The Midland Daily Telegraph, Coventry, England.
(Click on the image for a readable version.)


March 20, 1940: Front page of The Daily Mail, Hull, England.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of the Manchester Evening News, Manchester, England.
(Click on the image for a readable version.)
 
Note the report in column 1: "Hindenburg Dam and Hangers Hit"
This is now the fourth time the British have claimed to have damaged the Hindenburg Dam, which was again, not true. This report is a very good example of propaganda. It was designed to bolster the moral of the people of England and, if it found its way to the eyes or ears of the enemy, was designed to demoralize them. The reporters could not be held responsible for the inaccuracy of the report, because this was what government officials had told them.

Official documents from both sides tell a different story of the epic raid on Sylt.

What the official British documents say is that Sylt was raided by 30 Whitley and 20 Hampden bombers. The largest air raid made by either side so far in the war. They dropped forty 500 lb., eighty-four 250 lb. and 1,260 incendiary bombs on the target. One Whitley bomber was missing, presumed shot down.

The damage assessment was; hits on hangers and close to light railways, oil tanks and seaplane jetty. Two hangers set on fire. This was what the pilots reported to their commanders. The Royal Air Force was unable to get confirmation from photo reconnaissance aircraft because of cloud cover the next few days.

The German documents state the following; “...no serious damage apart from a direct hit on the infirmary." There is no mention of any damage to the Dam. The documents further state; "This R.A.F. attack, which was intended as a reprisal for the German raid on Scapa Flow, can be described as a complete failure.”

They go on to say "…the failure of the attack must be ascribed less to German anti-aircraft and fighter defense than to extremely good fortune.”

For the next several days the British press was replete with stories of the Raid on Sylt, three R.A.F. officers were even decorated for the raid, not for the damage they inflicted, but for the bravery and daring they displayed in the raid.

On Mar. 22 a report was published in the western press which is in line with the German assessment of the damage. So now the general population must have been quite confused about what really happened.


March 20, 1940: Front page of the Derby Evening Telegraph, Derby, England.
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Note the report at bottom left: "This German General Is Not So Sure"
(This was not the only member of the German High Command who did not underestimate the fighting spirit of the British. Großdmiral Erich Raeder in his auto-biography made similar statements.)


March 20, 1940: Front page of the Press and Journal, Aberdeen, Scotland.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of The Examiner, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
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Note the report in column 3: "Sausage Mystery Solved"


March 20, 1940: Front page of The Lethbridge Herald, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
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Note the report in column 6: "Hitler Names Munitions Minister"
(Dr. Fritz Todt was named, he was the man who oversaw the construction of the Reichsautobahnen (the Autobahn.) Todt was killed in an airplane crash on Feb. 8, 1942 and was succeeded by Albert Speer.)


March 20, 1940: Front page of The Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of Haarlem's Dagblad, Haarlem, Netherlands.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of the El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso, Texas.
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Note the report at bottom right: "A Girl, Her Cat, Her Dog, Rat and Aunt--It's Chaos"


March 20, 1940: Front page of The Brainerd Daily Dispatch, Brainerd, Minnesota.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of The Helena Independent, Helena, Montana.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of the San Mateo Times, San Mateo, California.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of The Evening Gazette, Xenia, Ohio.
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March 20, 1940: Installment #15 of "The Story of Democracy" by Hendrik Willem van Loon as published in The Evening Gazette, Xenia, Ohio.
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March 20, 1940: Front page of the Teltower Kriesblatt, Teltow, Germany.
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1. England gesteht: Schweden sollte besetzt werden.
(England confesses: Sweden should be occupied.)


March 20, 1940: Front page of the Hamburger Neueste Zeitung, Altona, Hamburg, Germany.
(Click on the image for a readable version.)
1. Jugendschutz in Kriegszeiten - Luftangriff auf Sylt abgewiesen.
(Protection of the young in wartime - Air raid on Sylt dismissed.)
2. Englische Bomben auf dänisches Gebiet.
(English bombs on Danish territory.)
3. Kabinett Daladier zurückgetreten.
(Daladier's cabinet resigns.)



   
Page published March 20, 2021