Thursday, 3 September 2009


It had been a good summer. Sunday 3rd September 1939 was just as warm. Life should have been going on as normal but there were tensions in Europe.
At 11 am the Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, spoke to the nation on the BBC Radio.

"I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."

During the course of the day France, India, Australia and New Zealand also declared war on Germany.

Hardly had any time passed from that declaration of war when Oberleutant Fritz-Julius Lemp in command of the U-Boat U30 sank the SS Athenia in the mistaken belief that the passenger ship was an armed merchant vessel.


  1. i also blogged about the start of wwII on my Holocaust memorial blog:

  2. As a historian, I've always known that 1 Sept 1939 was the start of WWII. It's fascinating to know that it really took two additional days for Britain to officially declare war. My mom was born in Sept 1939. She's as old as the war. Joy for her. But, then again, I was born in 1968, another horrid year.