February 19, 1940 – A busy day in the North Atlantic with British attacks on German ships countering German attacks on British ships. From Berlin came reports of the aftermath of what came to be known as The Altmark Incident, where a German tanker, The Altmark, suspected of carrying captured British sailors to Germany was eventually itself captured, despite being in Norwegian neutral waters. The skirmish, which was largely considered to be the last major boarding action fought by The Royal Navy, freed the prisoners, left some 7 German sailors dead and numerous wounded and created a major uproar in Norway, who had insisted on neutrality, but were now facing involvement in the War in Europe. And the day was spent evaluating the situation in Berlin, and celebrating a sea victory in London.
Meanwhile, from London – word that a British Destroyer had been torpedoed and sunk and a protest had been sent from 10 Downing Street to Norway over the Altmark incident. Two German ships had also been captured and brought to British port and the British press were scoffing at the latest German claims over the Altmark incident.
The British destroyer was the 6th to be lost since the beginning of the war. Of the survivors, only one officer and six crew members were rescued – with nine officers and 148 crew members still missing. It wasn’t disclosed where or when the attack occurred.
From Capitol Hill – a 30,000 word report from the Republican National Committee was released. The gist of the report advised the freeing of business from too many shackles of government regulations and recommended a 20% cut in government spending and urgently begged for neutrality in this European War. The report also advised less taxation on people, and more taxation of Federal, State and City Bonds. The report was collaborated over by some 200 people and took two years to produce. It brought about some speculation over whether the report would have much influence over the upcoming GOP Presidential Convention or not. 1940 was, after all, an election year.
And that’s just a small portion of what went on, this February 19th in 1940 as reported by NBC Blue Network’s News of The World.