Hitler issues his fourth “Directive for the Conduct of the War.” It calls for the quick destruction of Polish resistance, that only refugees of German stock be admitted from the areas being seized by the Russians, and to continue the holding campaign in the West. It also calls for unrestricted submarine and raider warfare against the British, but only against French ships operating in convoy and all troopships.
The Germans launch “Operation Coast” against Warsaw, an air attack on the city consisting of 400 bombers, mostly He 111s and Do 17s, dive-bombers, and ground-attack units, supported by 30 Ju 52s in the bombing role, dropping incendiary bombs. The latter drop 72 tons of incendiary bombs on Warsaw, spreading fires, havoc, and destruction. A Polish officer’s wife, Jadwiga Sosnkowska, who later escapes to the West, remembers a year later, “that dreadful night,” when she was assisting at one of the city’s hospitals.
“On the table at which I was assisting,” she says later, “tragedy following tragedy. At one time the victim was a girl of 16. She had a glorious mop of golden hair, her face was delicate as a flower, and her lovely sapphire-blue eyes were full of tears. Both her legs, up to the knees, were a mass of bleeding pulp, in which it was impossible to distinguish bone from flesh; both had to be amputated above the knee. Before the surgeon began I bent over this innocent child to kiss her pallid brow, to lay my helpless hand on her golden head. She died quietly in the course of the morning, like a flower plucked by a merciless hand.”
That same night, she also recalls, “on the same deal table, there died under the knife of the surgeon a young expectant mother, whose intestines were torn by the blast of a bomb. She was only a few days before childbirth. We never knew who her husband and her family were, and she was buried, a woman unknown, in the common grave with the fallen soldiers.”
“The merciless bombardment continues,” writes a Polish officer in Warsaw in his diary. “So far German threats have not materialized. The people of Warsaw are proud that they did not allow themselves to be frightened.” They are also on the edge of starvation. The officer writes, “I saw a characteristic scene in the street today. A horse was struck by a shell and collapsed. When I returned an hour later only the skeleton was left. The meat had been carved off by the people living nearby.”
The Luftwaffe hurls 240 Ju 87 Stukas at Warsaw, but none of them can deliver incendiary bombs. So General Wolfram von Richtofen turns to his Ju 52 transports to do so. They slowly fly over Warsaw, making them easy targets for Polish flak, and two of them crash in flames. Some of the incendiary bombs are shoved by a strong east wind and land amid German troops. The irritated German 8th Army command requests that the bombing cease – the smoke and fire is also masking German targets. Richtofen flies to 8th Army’s headquarters to resolve the situation, and finds Gen. Johannes Blaskowitz (8th Army’s boss) joined by General von Brauchitsch, the C-in-C. The generals have a rousing argument that is ended when Hitler himself emerges from the map room, and gives a two-word order to Richtofen: “Carry on!” Hitler, who loves destruction, wants to see more of it.
By late morning, the smoke created by Luftwaffe bombing of Warsaw has risen to 10,000 feet and begun to slowly drift up the Vistula. The bombers are having trouble finding their targets, and simply bomb the smoke.
Warsaw itself is a wreck…it has gone a week without food, gas, water, or electricity. 25,000 lie dead in the streets, but the 800,000 citizens and 100,000 troops defending the city fight on. Many of the dead will remain undiscovered in the rubble until the following spring.
Merciless German attacks also continue on Warsaw. The German 10th Infantry Division hits the 25th Polish Infantry Division, trying to hold the 19th-century Russian-built Fort Mokotow. The Poles fight off the German assaults, but the casualties are telling: 25,000 Warsaw residents dead at the hands of German aerial firepower.
The Germans introduce bread and flour rationing.
No. 11 Squadron of the RAAF, with only two Short ‘C’ type flying-boats (originally QANTAS Empire Airways’ Centaurus and Calypso) arrive at Port Moresby in New Guinea.
Mussolini analyzes the Soviet invasion of Poland thusly: “It’s good to use a small person to kill a large one, but it is a mistake to use of a large one to get rid of a small one.” Ciano writes that Mussolini “is more than ever convinced that Hitler will rue the day he brought the Russians into the heart of Europe once again.”
Sir Alexander Cadogan meets with General Adrian Carton de Wiart, who is returning from Poland as head of the British Military Mission there. The mission hasn’t done much good, but Carton de Wiart has a report on the campaign, Cadogan writes, “The German of 1939 is not the German of 1914. On equal terms, he scarcely held his own with the Pole. But of course he had such an overwhelming might of material. And Poles had not prepared any defensive positions. On the last day, two German mechanized divisions had run ahead of their petrol, were stranded, and could have been wiped out by an Air Force.”