6 November 1939
King Leopold and Queen Wilhelmina hold talks at The Hague
RAF aircraft carry out reconnaissance over western Germany
Beer Hall Putsch
From November 8 to November 9, 1923, Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) and his followers staged the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, a failed takeover of the government in Bavaria, a state in southern Germany. Since 1921, Hitler had led the Nazi Party, a fledgling political group that promoted German pride and anti-Semitism and was unhappy with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement that ended World War I (1914-18) and required many concessions and reparations from Germany. In the aftermath of the failed “putsch,” or coup d’état, Hitler was convicted of treason and sentenced to five years in prison. He spent less than a year behind bars, during which time he dictated “Mein Kampf,” his political autobiography. The putsch and Hitler’s subsequent trial turned him into a national figure. After prison, he worked to rebuild the Nazi Party and gain power via legal political methods.
Rutgers and Princeton played a college soccer football game, the first ever, November 6. The game used modified London Football Association rules. During the next seven years, rugby gained favor with the major eastern schools over soccer, and modern football began to develop from rugby.
At the Massasoit convention, the first rules for American football were written. Walter Camp, who would become known as the father of American football, first became involved with the game.
In an era in which football was a major attraction of local athletic clubs, an intense competition between two Pittsburgh-area clubs, the Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC), led to the making of the first professional football player. Former Yale All-America guard William (Pudge) Heffelfinger was paid $500 by the AAA to play in a game against the PAC, becoming the first person to be paid to play football , November 12. The AAA won the game 4-0 when Heffelfinger picked up a PAC fumble and ran 35 yards for a touchdown.
The Pittsburgh Athletic Club signed one of its players, probably halfback Grant Dibert, to the first known pro football contract, which covered all of the PAC's games for the year.
John Brallier became the first football player to openly turn pro, accepting $10 and expenses to play for the Latrobe YMCA against the Jeannette Athletic Club.
The Allegheny Athletic Association team fielded the first completely professional team for its abbreviated two-game season.
Latrobe's 1897 football team
The Latrobe Athletic Association football team went entirely professional, becoming the first team to play a full season with only professionals.
A touchdown was changed from four points to five.
Chris O'Brien formed a neighborhood team, which played under the name the Morgan Athletic Club, on the south side of Chicago. The team later became known as the Normals, then the Racine (for a street in Chicago) Cardinals, the Chicago Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals, and, in 1994, the Arizona Cardinals. The team remains the oldest continuing operation in pro football.
William C. Temple took over the team payments for the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club, becoming the first known individual club owner.
Baseball's Philadelphia Athletics, managed by Connie Mack, and the Philadelphia Phillies formed professional football teams, joining the Pittsburgh Stars in the first attempt at a pro football league, named the National Football League. The Athletics won the first night football game ever played, 39-0 over Kanaweola AC at Elmira, New York, November 21.
All three teams claimed the pro championship for the year, but the league president, Dave Berry, named the Stars the champions. Pitcher Rube Waddell was with the Athletics, and pitcher Christy Mathewson a fullback for Pittsburgh.
The complete uniform worn by a player name Harry Mason in the World Series is on exhibit in Canton.
The first World Series of pro football, actually a five-team tournament, was played among a team made up of players from both the Athletics and the Phillies, but simply named New York the New York Knickerbockers the Syracuse AC the Warlow AC and the Orange (New Jersey) AC at New York's original Madison Square Garden. New York and Syracuse played the first indoor football game before 3,000, December 28. Syracuse, with Glen (Pop) Warner at guard, won 6-0 and went on to win the tournament.
The Franklin (Pa.) Athletic Club won the second and last World Series of pro football over the Oreos AC of Asbury Park, New Jersey the Watertown Red and Blacks and the Orange AC.
Pro football was popularized in Ohio when the Massillon Tigers, a strong amateur team, hired four Pittsburgh pros to play in the season-ending game against Akron. At the same time, pro football declined in the Pittsburgh area, and the emphasis on the pro game moved west from Pennsylvania to Ohio.
A field goal was changed from five points to four.
Ohio had at least seven pro teams, with Massillon winning the Ohio Independent Championship, that is, the pro title. Talk surfaced about forming a state-wide league to end spiraling salaries brought about by constant bidding for players and to write universal rules for the game. The feeble attempt to start the league failed.
Halfback Charles Follis signed a contract with the Shelby (Ohio) AC, making him the first known black pro football player.
The Canton AC, later to become known as the Bulldogs, became a professional team. Massillon again won the Ohio League championship.
The forward pass was legalized. The first authenticated pass completion in a pro game came on October 27, when George (Peggy) Parratt of Massillon threw a completion to Dan (Bullet) Riley in a victory over a combined Benwood-Moundsville team.
Arch-rivals Canton and Massillon, the two best pro teams in America, played twice, with Canton winning the first game but Massillon winning the second and the Ohio League championship. A betting scandal and the financial disaster wrought upon the two clubs by paying huge salaries caused a temporary decline in interest in pro football in the two cities and, somewhat, throughout Ohio.
A field goal dropped from four points to three.
A touchdown was increased from five points to six.
Jack Cusack revived a strong pro team in Canton.
Jim Thorpe, a former football and track star at the Carlisle Indian School (Pa.) and a double gold medal winner at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, played for the Pine Village Pros in Indiana.
Massillon again fielded a major team, reviving the old rivalry with Canton. Cusack signed Thorpe to play for Canton for $250 a game.
With Thorpe and former Carlisle teammate Pete Calac starring, Canton went 9-0-1, won the Ohio League championship, and was acclaimed the pro football champion.
Despite an upset by Massillon, Canton again won the Ohio League championship.
Canton again won the Ohio League championship, despite the team having been turned over from Cusack to Ralph Hay. Thorpe and Calac were joined in the backfield by Joe Guyon.
Earl (Curly) Lambeau and George Calhoun organized the Green Bay Packers. Lambeau's employer at the Indian Packing Company provided $500 for equipment and allowed the team to use the company field for practices. The Packers went 10-1.
Pro football was in a state of confusion due to three major problems: dramatically rising salaries players continually jumping from one team to another following the highest offer and the use of college players still enrolled in school. A league in which all the members would follow the same rules seemed the answer. An organizational meeting, at which the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, and Dayton Triangles were represented, was held at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio, August 20. This meeting resulted in the formation of the American Professional Football Conference.
A second organizational meeting was held in Canton, September 17. The teams were from four states-Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and Dayton from Ohio the Hammond Pros and Muncie Flyers from Indiana the Rochester Jeffersons from New York and the Rock Island Independents, Decatur Staleys, and Racine Cardinals from Illinois. The name of the league was changed to the American Professional Football Association. Hoping to capitalize on his fame, the members elected Thorpe president Stanley Cofall of Cleveland was elected vice president. A membership fee of $100 per team was charged to give an appearance of respectability, but no team ever paid it. Scheduling was left up to the teams, and there were wide variations, both in the overall number of games played and in the number played against APFA member teams.
Four other teams-the Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, and Detroit Heralds-joined the league sometime during the year. On September 26, the first game featuring an APFA team was played at Rock Island's Douglas Park. A crowd of 800 watched the Independents defeat the St. Paul Ideals 48-0. A week later, October 3, the first game matching two APFA teams was held. At Triangle Park, Dayton defeated Columbus 14-0, with Lou Partlow of Dayton scoring the first touchdown in a game between Association teams. The same day, Rock Island defeated Muncie 45-0.
By the beginning of December, most of the teams in the APFA had abandoned their hopes for a championship, and some of them, including the Chicago Tigers and the Detroit Heralds, had finished their seasons, disbanded, and had their franchises canceled by the Association. Four teams-Akron, Buffalo, Canton, and Decatur-still had championship as-pirations, but a series of late-season games among them left Akron as the only undefeated team in the Association. At one of these games, Akron sold tackle Bob Nash to Buffalo for $300 and five percent of the gate receipts-the first APFA player deal.
At the league meeting in Akron, April 30, the championship of the 1920 season was awarded to the Akron Pros. The APFA was reorganized, with Joe Carr of the Columbus Panhandles named president and Carl Storck of Dayton secretary-treasurer. Carr moved the Association's headquarters to Columbus, drafted a league constitution and by-laws, gave teams territorial rights, restricted player movements, developed membership criteria for the franchises, and issued standings for the first time, so that the APFA would have a clear champion.
The Association's membership increased to 22 teams, including the Green Bay Packers , who were awarded to John Clair of the Acme Packing Company.
Thorpe moved from Canton to the Cleveland Indians, but he was hurt early in the season and played very little.
A.E. Staley turned the Decatur Staleys over to player-coach George Halas , who moved the team to Cubs Park in Chicago. Staley paid Halas $5,000 to keep the name Staleys for one more year. Halas made halfback Ed (Dutch) Sternaman his partner.
Player-coach Fritz Pollard of the Akron Pros became the first black head coach.
The Staleys claimed the APFA championship with a 9-1-1 record, as did Buffalo at 9-1-2. Carr ruled in favor of the Staleys, giving Halas his first championship.
After admitting the use of players who had college eligibility remaining during the 1921 season, Clair and the Green Bay management withdrew from the APFA, January 28. Curly Lambeau promised to obey league rules and then used $50 of his own money to buy back the franchise. Bad weather and low attendance plagued the Packers, and Lambeau went broke, but local merchants arranged a $2,500 loan for the club. A public nonprofit corporation was set up to operate the team, with Lambeau as head coach and manager.
The American Professional Football Association changed its name to the National Football League, June 24. The Chicago Staleys became the Chicago Bears.
The NFL fielded 18 teams, including the new Oorang Indians of Marion, Ohio, an all-Indian team featuring Thorpe, Joe Guyon , and Pete Calac, and sponsored by the Oorang dog kennels. Canton, led by player-coach Guy Chamberlin and tackles Link Lyman and Wilbur (Pete) Henry , emerged as the league's first true powerhouse, going 10-0-2.
For the first time, all of the franchises considered to be part of the NFL fielded teams. Thorpe played his second and final season for the Oorang Indians. Against the Bears, Thorpe fumbled, and Halas picked up the ball and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown, a record that would last until 1972.
Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
The league had 18 franchises, including new ones in Kansas City, Kenosha, and Frankford, a section of Philadelphia. League champion Canton, successful on the field but not at the box office, was purchased by the owner of the Cleveland franchise, who kept the Canton franchise inactive, while using the best players for his Cleveland team, which he renamed the Bulldogs. Cleveland won the title with a 7-1-1 record.
Five new franchises were admitted to the NFL-the New York Giants , who were awarded to Tim Mara and Billy Gibson for $500 the Detroit Panthers, featuring Jimmy Conzelman as owner, coach, and tailback the Providence Steam Roller a new Canton Bulldogs team and the Pottsville Maroons, who had been perhaps the most successful independent pro team. The NFL established its first player limit, at 16 players.
Late in the season, the NFL made its greatest coup in gaining national recognition. Shortly after the University of Illinois season ended in November, All-America halfback Harold (Red) Grange signed a contract to play with the Chicago Bears . On Thanksgiving Day, a crowd of 36,000-the largest in pro football history-watched Grange and the Bears play the Chicago Cardinals to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. At the beginning of December, the Bears left on a barnstorming tour that saw them play eight games in 12 days, in St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago. A crowd of 73,000 watched the game against the Giants at the Polo Grounds, helping assure the future of the troubled NFL franchise in New York. The Bears then played nine more games in the South and West, including a game in Los Angeles, in which 75,000 fans watched them defeat the Los Angeles Tigers in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Pottsville and the Chicago Cardinals were the top contenders for the league title, with Pottsville winning a late-season meeting 21-7. Pottsville scheduled a game against a team of former Notre Dame players for Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Frankford lodged a protest not only because the game was in Frankford's protected territory, but because it was being played the same day as a Yellow Jackets home game. Carr gave three different notices forbidding Pottsville to play the game, but Pottsville played anyway, December 12. That day, Carr fined the club, suspended it from all rights and privileges (including the right to play for the NFL championship), and re-turned its franchise to the league. The Cardinals, who ended the season with the best record in the league, were named the 1925 champions.
Grange's manager, C.C. Pyle, told the Bears that Grange wouldn't play for them unless he was paid a five-figure salary and given one-third ownership of the team. The Bears refused. Pyle leased Yankee Stadium in New York City, then petitioned for an NFL franchise. After he was refused, he started the first American Football League. It lasted one season and included Grange's New York Yankees and eight other teams. The AFL champion Philadelphia Quakers played a December game against the New York Giants, seventh in the NFL, and the Giants won 31-0. At the end of the season, the AFL folded.
Halas pushed through a rule that prohibited any team from signing a player whose college class had not graduated.
The NFL grew to 22 teams, including the Duluth Eskimos, who signed All-America fullback Ernie Nevers of Stanford, giving the league a gate attraction to rival Grange. The 15-member Eskimos, dubbed the Iron Men of the North, played 29 exhibition and league games, 28 on the road, and Nevers played in all but 29 minutes of them.
Frankford edged the Bears for the championship, despite Halas having obtained John (Paddy) Driscoll from the Cardinals. On December 4, the Yellow Jackets scored in the final two minutes to defeat the Bears 7-6 and move ahead of them in the standings.
At a special meeting in Cleveland, April 23, Carr decided to secure the NFL's future by eliminating the financially weaker teams and consolidating the quality players onto a limited number of more successful teams. The new-look NFL dropped to 12 teams, and the center of gravity of the league left the Midwest, where the NFL had started, and began to emerge in the large cities of the East. One of the new teams was Grange's New York Yankees, but Grange suffered a knee injury and the Yankees finished in the middle of the pack. The NFL championship was won by the cross-town rival New York Giants, who posted 10 shutouts in 13 games.
Grange and Nevers both retired from pro football, and Duluth disbanded, as the NFL was reduced to only 10 teams. The Providence Steam Roller of Jimmy Conzelman and Pearce Johnson won the championship, playing in the Cycledrome, a 10,000-seat oval that had been built for bicycle races.
Chris O'Brien sold the Chicago Cardinals to David Jones, July 27.
The NFL added a fourth official, the field judge, July 28.
Grange and Nevers returned to the NFL. Nevers scored six rushing touchdowns and four extra points as the Cardinals beat Grange's Bears 40-6, November 28. The 40 points set a record that remains the NFL's oldest.
Providence became the first NFL team to host a game at night under floodlights, against the Cardinals, November 3.
The Packers added back Johnny (Blood) McNally , tackle Cal Hubbard , and guard Mike Michalske , and won their first NFL championship, edging the Giants, who featured quarterback Benny Friedman.
Dayton, the last of the NFL's original franchises, was purchased by William B. Dwyer and John C. Depler, moved to Brooklyn, and renamed the Dodgers. The Portsmouth, Ohio, Spartans entered the league.
The Packers edged the Giants for the title, but the most improved team was the Bears. Halas retired as a player and replaced himself as coach of the Bears with Ralph Jones, who refined the T-formation by introducing wide ends and a halfback in motion. Jones also introduced rookie All-America fullback-tackle Bronko Nagurski .
The Giants defeated a team of former Notre Dame players coached by Knute Rockne 22-0 before 55,000 at the Polo Grounds, December 14. The proceeds went to the New York Unemployment Fund to help those suffering because of the Great Depression, and the easy victory helped give the NFL credibility with the press and the public.
The NFL decreased to 10 teams, and halfway through the season the Frankford franchise folded. Carr fined the Bears, Packers, and Portsmouth $1,000 each for using players whose college classes had not graduated.
The Packers won an unprecedented third consecutive title, beating out the Spartans, who were led by rookie backs Earl (Dutch) Clark and Glenn Presnell.
George Preston Marshall , Vincent Bendix, Jay O'Brien, and M. Dorland Doyle were awarded a franchise for Boston , July 9. Despite the presence of two rookies-halfback Cliff Battles and tackle Glen (Turk) Edwards - the new team, named the Braves, lost money and Marshall was left as the sole owner at the end of the year.
The NFL's first playoff game was played indoors at Chicago Stadium in 1932.
NFL membership dropped to eight teams, the lowest in history. Official statistics were kept for the first time. The Bears and the Spartans finished the season in the first-ever tie for first place. After the season finale, the league office arranged for an additional regular-season game to determine the league champion. The game was moved indoors to Chicago Stadium because of bitter cold and heavy snow. The arena allowed only an 80-yard field that came right to the walls. The goal posts were moved from the end lines to the goal lines and, for safety, inbounds lines or hashmarks where the ball would be put in play were drawn 10 yards from the walls that butted against the sidelines. The Bears won 9-0, December 18, scoring the winning touchdown on a two-yard pass from Nagurski to Grange. The Spartans claimed Nagurski's pass was thrown from less than five yards behind the line of scrimmage, violating the existing passing rule, but the play stood.
The NFL, which long had followed the rules of college football, made a number of significant changes from the college game for the first time and began to develop rules serving its needs and the style of play it preferred. The innovations from the 1932 championship game-inbounds line or hashmarks and goal posts on the goal lines-were adopted. Also the forward pass was legalized from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage, February 25.
Marshall and Halas pushed through a proposal that divided the NFL into two divisions, with the winners to meet in an annual championship game, July 8.
Three new franchises joined the league-the Pittsburgh Pirates of Art Rooney , the Philadelphia Eagles of Bert Bell and Lud Wray, and the Cincinnati Reds. The Staten Island Stapletons suspended operations for a year, but never returned to the league.
Halas bought out Sternaman, became sole owner of the Bears, and reinstated himself as head coach. Marshall changed the name of the Boston Braves to the Redskins. David Jones sold the Chicago Cardinals to Charles W. Bidwill.
In the first NFL Championship Game scheduled before the season, the Western Division champion Bears defeated the Eastern Division champion Giants 23-21 at Wrigley Field, December 17.
G.A. (Dick) Richards purchased the Portsmouth Spartans, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions.
Professional football gained new prestige when the Bears were matched against the best college football players in the first Chicago College All-Star Game, August 31. The game ended in a scoreless tie before 79,432 at Soldier Field.
The Cincinnati Reds lost their first eight games, then were suspended from the league for defaulting on payments. The St. Louis Gunners, an independent team, joined the NFL by buying the Cincinnati franchise and went 1-2 the last three weeks.
Rookie Beattie Feathers of the Bears became the NFL's first 1,000-yard rusher, gaining 1,004 on 101 carries. The Thanksgiving Day game between the Bears and the Lions became the first NFL game broadcast nationally, with Graham McNamee the announcer for NBC radio.
In the championship game, on an extremely cold and icy day at the Polo Grounds, the Giants trailed the Bears 13-3 in the third quarter before changing to basketball shoes for better footing. The Giants won 30-13 in what has come to be known as the Sneakers Game, December 9.
The player waiver rule was adopted, December 10.
The NFL adopted Bert Bell's proposal to hold an annual draft of college players, to begin in 1936, with teams selecting in an inverse order of finish, May 19. The inbounds line or hashmarks were moved nearer the center of the field, 15 yards from the sidelines.
All-America end Don Hutson of Alabama joined Green Bay. The Lions defeated the Giants 26-7 in the NFL Championship Game, December 15.
There were no franchise transactions for the first year since the formation of the NFL. It also was the first year in which all member teams played the same number of games.
The Eagles made University of Chicago halfback and Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger the first player ever selected in the NFL draft, February 8. The Eagles traded his rights to the Bears, but Berwanger never played pro football. The first player selected to actually sign was the number-two pick, Riley Smith of Alabama, who was selected by Boston.
A rival league was formed, and it became the second to call itself the American Football League. The Boston Shamrocks were its champions.
Because of poor attendance, Marshall, the owner of the host team, moved the Championship Game from Boston to the Polo Grounds in New York. Green Bay defeated the Redskins 21-6, December 13.
Homer Marshman was granted a Cleveland franchise, named the Rams, February 12. Marshall moved the Redskins to Washington, D.C., February 13. The Redskins signed TCU All-America tailback Sammy Baugh , who led them to a 28-21 victory over the Bears in the NFL Championship Game, December 12.
The Los Angeles Bulldogs had an 8-0 record to win the AFL title, but then the 2-year-old league folded.
At the suggestion of Halas, Hugh (Shorty) Ray became a technical advisor on rules and officiating to the NFL. A new rule called for a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer.
Rookie Byron (Whizzer) White of the Pittsburgh Pirates led the NFL in rushing. The Giants defeated the Packers 23-17 for the NFL title, December 11.
Marshall, Los Angeles Times sports editor Bill Henry, and promoter Tom Gallery established the Pro Bowl game between the NFL champion and a team of pro all-stars.
The New York Giants defeated the Pro All-Stars 13-10 in the first Pro Bowl, at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, January 15.
Carr, NFL president since 1921, died in Columbus, May 20. Carl Storck was named acting president, May 25.
An NFL game was televised for the first time when NBC broadcast the Brooklyn Dodgers-Philadelphia Eagles game from Ebbets Field to the approximately 1,000 sets then in New York.
Green Bay defeated New York 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game, December 10 at Milwaukee. NFL attendance exceeded 1 million in a season for the first time, reaching 1,071,200.
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James Naismith, (born November 6, 1861, Almonte, Ontario, Canada—died November 28, 1939, Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.), Canadian-American physical-education director who, in December 1891, at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School, afterward Springfield (Massachusetts) College, invented the game of basketball.
As a young man, Naismith studied theology and excelled in various sports. In the autumn of 1891 he was appointed an instructor by Luther Halsey Gulick, Jr., head of the Physical Education Department at Springfield. Gulick asked Naismith and other instructors to devise indoor games that could replace the boring or dangerous exercises used at the school during the winter. For his new game Naismith selected features of soccer, American football, field hockey, and other outdoor sports but (in theory) eliminated body contact between players. Because his physical education class at that time was composed of 18 men, basketball originally was played by 9 on each side (eventually reduced to 5).
The first games employed half-bushel peach baskets as targets, so a stepladder was needed to retrieve the ball after infrequent goals. Naismith’s original rules, prohibiting walking or running with the ball and limiting physical contact, are still the basis of a game that spread throughout the world.
You were born on a Saturday
November 11, 1939 was the 45th Saturday of that year. It was also the 315th day and 11th month of 1939 in the Georgian calendar. The next time you can reuse 1939 calendar will be in 2023. Both calendars will be exactly the same.
There are left before your next birthday. Your 82nd birthday will be on a Monday and a birthday after that will be on a Friday. The timer below is a countdown clock to your next birthday. It’s always accurate and is automatically updated.
Your next birthday is on a Monday
1939 : It was the greatest year in Hollywood history: 365 films were released and moviegoers were buying tickets at the rate of 80 million a week! What did they get for their money? A feast of light and shadow: The movies of 50 years ago.
Pick a day in 1939, almost any day, and let the tornado whirl you into a never-never land of Hollywood excellence. Pick a day in the year that was Hollywood’s best and try to imagine the luck of a movie buff with enough dimes to see every great movie released. Pick a day and skip past the portentous international news and go directly to the movie listings.
Pick Aug. 15, for instance, the day that “The Wizard of Oz” premiered at Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
In the news (you had to look, didn’t you?), Adolf Hitler was pushing Poland toward war and Benito Mussolini was urging the Poles not to fight back. The mayor of Waterbury, Conn., and 19 others were being convicted of pocketing $1 million in city funds. And in Philadelphia, a 27-year-old golfer was apologizing for throwing a club the day before and killing his caddy.
If 1939 was a very bad year for peace (and caddies), it was the greatest of them all for movies. If you had been around on Aug. 15 that year and weren’t on MGM’s “Oz” premiere invitation list, you were not to despair.
Among the films then playing in theaters near you: “Gunga Din,” with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. “Wuthering Heights,” with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” with Robert Donat “Dark Victory,” with Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and the dashing newcomer Ronald Reagan “Only Angels Have Wings,” with Cary Grant and Jean Arthur “Love Affair,” a smash box office hit starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer “The Little Princess,” with Shirley Temple in one of only eight Technicolor films on the year’s release schedule “Juarez,” a biographical drama starring Paul Muni and written by young John Huston “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle,” the last in a series of romantic dance movies starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and “Stanley and Livingstone,” with Spencer Tracy.
Don Ameche fans had to choose between the sophisticated comedy “Midnight” (co-written by the promising Billy Wilder), the critically acclaimed biopic “The Story of Alexander Graham Bell” and “Hollywood Cavalcade,” which traced the history of Hollywood right up to 1939.
Five of the movies available that week--"The Wizard of Oz,” “Love Affair,” “Dark Victory,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” and “Wuthering Heights"--would go on to be nominated for the Academy Award for best picture. In those days, the categories weren’t limited to five, and a good thing. The final best picture ballot also included “Stagecoach,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Ninotchka,” and the movie with which the year will always be identified, “Gone With the Wind.”
“Gone With the Wind” was released at Christmas and, incredibly, lived up to its hype.
“We cannot get over the shock of not being disappointed, we had almost been looking forward to that,” wrote New York Times critic Frank Nugent, alluding to the torturous three-year publicity campaign that preceded the opening.
“Gone With the Wind” dominated the box office the following year and, gauged by the numbers of people who have seen it in the five succeeding decades, it is by far the most successful motion picture ever made. But it was just one of dozens from that year that have become library classics, movies that have been perennial favorites at revival houses and retrospectives. Check the “Classics” shelves at your hipper video stores and you’ll find more selections from 1939 than from any other year.
John Ford had a career in ’39 with the release of “Young Mr. Lincoln,” “Drums Along the Mohawk” and “Stagecoach.” Victor Fleming, previously a seasoned but unremarkable veteran of adventure films, gained immortality as the director of record on both “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
Bette Davis, attempting to overcome her rejection for the role of Scarlett O’Hara through sheer volume, adorned marquees everywhere as the star of “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” “Dark Victory,” “The Old Maid” and “Juarez.”
It was the year that Garbo laughed, in Ernst Lubitsch’s “Ninotchka,” and Marlene Dietrich came back in “Destry Rides Again.” The year that James Stewart, Frank Capra’s wise choice as the star of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and his pal Henry Fonda, Ford’s choice for “Young Mr. Lincoln,” became major stars.
David O. Selznick, one of the most powerful producers in the era of the producer, managed to discover Vivien Leigh and Ingrid Bergman in 1939, casting the British Leigh in “Gone With the Wind,” and the Swedish Bergman in an American remake of “Intermezzo.”
When Judy Garland wasn’t dancing with the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz,” she was dancing with Mickey Rooney in “Babes in Arms,” the Busby Berkeley musical that earned Rooney an Oscar nomination as best actor. Rooney, who had just eclipsed Shirley Temple as Hollywood’s leading box-office attraction, also appeared in three Andy Hardy movies and--in the role he seemed born to play--"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
The movie that did the most business that year, however, was Henry King’s “Jesse James,” starring reigning matinee idol Tyrone Power as Jesse and Fonda as his brother, Frank. The only other films to bring in more than $1.5 million at the box office were “Drums Along the Mohawk,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
By the way, the Marx Brothers appeared in “At the Circus,” Laurel and Hardy were in “The Flying Deuces,” William Powell returned from a long illness to star in “Another Thin Man” with Myrna Loy, Boris Karloff played his last monster in “The Son of Frankenstein,” and W. C. Fields did some of his funniest work in “You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man.”
Did we mention “Dodge City,” with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland? Or Garson Kanin’s “Bachelor Mother,” with David Niven and Ginger Rogers? Or Cecil B. De Mille’s “Union Pacific,” with Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck?
“There was an embarrassment of riches in 1939, that’s for sure,” said Ron Haver, director of the film department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “When you look at the number of great films released, there just isn’t another year that comes close to it.”
There were 365 films released in the United States in 1939, an average of one a day and about twice the number that was released in 1988. But the most cursory scan of those films by a knowledgeable film buff will produce 50 or more recognizable titles. We’ve named 37 movies so far in this story, and we haven’t even mentioned “Idiot’s Delight” (Clark Gable dances!), “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Or “Gulliver’s Travels”!
“An awful lot of accidental things came into play that year,” said Haver, who is hosting a 45-picture 1939 retrospective at the museum starting Friday. “Nazism had driven a lot of refugee film makers over here, creating a great confluence of talent. There was a great spirit of nationalism in the country. Americans were reinvigorated after the Depression, and the movie industry was at its absolute peak in its ability to hold its audience.”
The magic does seem more a result of timing than anything else. From 1938-40, America was in a strange buffer zone between a devastating domestic crisis--the Great Depression--and the inevitable involvement in a devastating international crisis--World War II.
In the brief history of commercial film, Americans had developed a herd instinct about “the movies,” stampeding toward theaters in the worst of times. Movie houses offered sanctuaries away from stress where people could become vicariously rich and powerful, or be swept up in fantastic adventures, where they could fall in love with implausibly gorgeous people, or have their spirits raised and their moods altered by extravagant musicals and outrageous comedies.
Hollywood was prepared for the crush, as never before, or since. It had been a decade since talkies took hold, changing the medium from an operatic to a literary form, and the studio system was flush with veteran talent.
The Directors Guild of America had been organized in 1936 and the writers were just getting around to it at the end of the decade. Though Hollywood ended the ‘30s in the grips of studio moguls and powerful producers, the shift of creative power had begun to swing.
Good writers, and sometimes just quick writers, were coveted and paid handsomely for writing under the worst of circumstances (in studio hovels under the watchful eye of the high-strung moguls). Top directors, some of them making enough money to pay cash for the houses they were having built out in the boondocks of Beverly Hills, were turning out films at a pace that would make John Hughes blink. Though they were still told where to be when and how high to jump once they got there, they were getting frisky about standing up for their own ideas.
In 1938, Americans were buying a phenomenal 80 million movie tickets a week. The business was so prosperous that bankers backing up the studios became less concerned with cost consciousness and more concerned with increased production. The result was that producers had more freedom and were inclined to indulge their most creative directors, those they could count on to turn out responsible films.
Certainly, the most creative directors showed off some of their most creative work in that period. Ford, Capra, Howard Hawks, Leo McCarey, Ernst Lubitsch, George Stevens, Garson Kanin, Henry King, Michael Curtiz, Edmund Goulding, Lewis Milestone and George Marshall all had big films in ’39, and Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”), Ford (“The Grapes of Wrath”) and Walt Disney (“Fantasia”) were in production on films that would shake things up the next year.
The output of great films at the turn of the decade was doomed to be an aberration, a ragged peak on the quality-control chart, rather than any sign of permanent maturation. Hollywood was on fast-forward because that was the pace of world events. If the studio bosses had had time to reflect on what they were doing right, they might have hired more marketing people and assured themselves a quick turnaround.
But the storm gathering over Europe was changing the weather here, too, and when war formally broke out in Europe in the fall of 1939, it had a direct effect on Hollywood. Within months, the lucrative Western European market had been been cut off from Hollywood exports.
At the same time, the industry suffered a domestic blow from which it would never fully recover. In 1939, Congress passed a law prohibiting block booking, the system by which the major studios filled theaters with double bills scheduled at their own convenience.
When America did enter the war, the Golden Age was over. Many of Hollywood’s best film makers and top stars joined the war effort, depleting the talent pool at home. During the war, much of the industry’s energy went into propaganda films and jingoistic war pictures. In 1939, Anatole Litvak gave filmgoers a preview of the shrill things to come with “Confessions of a Nazi Spy,” but even that film was so well made that it has emerged as a classic of the genre.
Today’s film buffs can only dream what it must have been like. Pick a few days in 1939, when Americans were trying to ignore the news and enjoy the movies.
In the news: A poll of 50,000 schoolchildren gives Hitler the nod as the world’s most hated man, with Benito Mussolini, the devil, Joe Stalin and General Franco as the other nominees. The most loved were Franklin Roosevelt, God, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Pope Pius XI.
In entertainment: “Melodrama on a magnificent scale,” says the Los Angeles Times of “Gunga Din.”.
April 20. “Wuthering Heights” opens.
In the news: Hitler turned 50, and in Las Vegas, a poker game continued despite the fact that Fred (“Fritz the Rooster”) Martens, while attempting to draw to an inside straight, died of a heart attack.
In entertainment: "('Wuthering Heights’) is Goldwyn at his best, and better still, Emily Bronte at hers."--New York Times.
June 3. “Young Mr. Lincoln” opens.
In the news: Japan Day is celebrated at World’s Fair in N.Y. “Japanese officials joined in expressing confidence in perpetual peace. . . .”
In entertainment: “Henry Fonda’s characterization (of Lincoln) is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon things: a crossroads meeting of nature, art and a smart casting director"--New York Times.
In the news: Hitler misses by 10 minutes being killed in a beer hall bombing. “A man must have luck,” he says.
In entertainment: “Garbo’s ‘Ninotchka’ is one of the sprightliest comedies of the year.”
Dec. 20. “Gone With the Wind” opens.
In the news: Soviets and Germans have rapprochement ball. . . . Japanese optimistic about renewing trade agreement with the United States. . . . Retailers expect a record Christmas season.
In entertainment: “A major event in the history of the industry, but only a minor achievement in motion picture art."--says The Nation critic Franz Hoellering of “Gone With the Wind.”
The Problem of the People’s Militia
From New International, Vol. 5 No.11, November 1939, pp.334-335. (letter)
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
In the editorial notes to Rosa Luxemburg’s Socialist Crisis in France your commentator takes issue with the pre-war social-democratic demand for a people’s militia. In the July New International he writes that it should be remembered that Luxemburg’s defense of this demand was written forty years ago.
“It has long been clear – and, no doubt, became clear enough to Luxemburg herself during the war – that ‘democratization’ of the army means little so long as it is used to defend the bourgeois state, and that the content of ‘national defense’ has evaporated in the period of imperialism.” (p.202.)
A note in the October issue adds:
“The militia system, or the ‘people in arms’, as the social-democrats often phrased it, was regarded by the pre-war socialist movement as the solution of the problem of militarism. Lenin, writing during the World War, exposed the fallacy of this demand.”
Limitations of space do not permit extensive comment on the problem at this time. For the present the following will suffice:
1. The demand for a people’s militia as against the standing army was part of the general minimum democratic program of pre-war social-democracy. It was directed against the semi-feudal and capitalist armies (and militarism) which were independent of the respective national parliamentary bodies and formed the political centers of internal and external reaction, Like every democratic demand advocated by revolutionary socialists the slogan for a people’s militia had reformist, social-patriotic as well as revolutionary implications. That is why Marxists constantly reiterate the limited nature of any democratic demand and emphasise the indispensability of independent working class action for its achievement.
To cite a pertinent example: During the World War the Russian Mensheviks and Bolsheviks both called for the overthrow of the Czarist monarchy and for a democratic republic. Did that mean that Lenin expected to be a defensist when the democratic republic was established? On the contrary, he wrote even before the democratic revolution of February that in such an eventuality he would continue his opposition to the Russian government – though democratic – in the imperialist war – as he later did. The majority of the Mensheviks held the contrary view, and became defensists under Kerensky.
2. I don’t know of any writing of Lenin during the World War – or at any other time – wherein he "exposed the fallacy of this demand.” On the contrary, to mention only one example, Lenin raised this slogan with great force and detail under the Kerensky regime.
3. The Fourth International is for the demand of a people’s militia today. The program of transition demands adopted at the founding conference states:
“Substitution for the standing army of a peoples militia, indissolubly linked up with factories, mines, farms, etc.” (p.34. Emphasis in original).
4. Does this mean that the Fourth International is for “national defense”? The same document gives the reply:
“‘Defense of the Fatherland?’ – but by this abstraction, the bourgeoisie understands the defense of its profits and plunder. We stand ready to defend the fatherland from foreign capitalists, if we first bind our own capitalists hand and foot and hinder them from attacking foreign fatherlands if the workers and the farmers of our country become its real masters if the wealth of the country be transferred from the hands of a tiny minority to the hands of the people if the army becomes a weapon of the exploited instead of the exploiters.” (p.32)
This is the concrete way in which we raise the demand of a people’s militia at the present time.
For the Nation, 1898-1960
October 28, 1901
The Library announces that its printed catalog cards are now available for sale to libraries around the world.
March 9, 1903
President Theodore Roosevelt issues an executive order directing the transfer of the records of the Continental Congress and the personal papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, James Monroe, and Benjamin Franklin from the State Department to the Library.
September 29, 1921
President Warren G. Harding issues an executive order that transfers the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution to the Library for their safekeeping and display. The two documents are sent to their permanent home in the National Archives in 1952.
July 3, 1930
$1.5 million is appropriated for the purchase of the Vollbehr collection of incunabula, which includes the first Gutenberg Bible in the Western Hemisphere.
March 3, 1931
The Pratt-Smoot Act enables the Library to provide books for the use of adult blind readers of the United States and its territories.
January 3, 1939
A new Library of Congress Annex Building opens to the general public.
October 30, 1944
The ballet "Appalachian Spring," commissioned by the Library, premiers in the Coolidge Auditorium, with a performance by the Martha Graham Dance Company to the music of Aaron Copland.
August 2, 1946
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 is approved, giving the Library’s Legislative Reference Service (LRS) permanent status as a separate Library department and providing for the hiring of nationally eminent specialists in 19 broad subject fields.
April 24, 1950
The Library celebrates its sesquicentennial.
September 13, 1954
The Library receives the Brady-Handy photographic collection, containing more than 3,000 negatives made by Civil War photographer Mathew B. Brady and several thousand by his nephew Levin C. Handy.
Librarian of Congress L. Quincy Mumford establishes an interdepartmental Committee on Mechanized Information Retrieval to study the "problem of applying machine methods to the control of the Library’s collections."
September 6, 1958
President Dwight D. Eisenhower approves an amendment to the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954 (popularly known as Public Law 480), which greatly strengthens the overseas acquisition program of the Library of Congress.
A.A. had its beginnings in 1935 at Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics. Prior to that time, Bill and Dr. Bob had each been in contact with the Oxford Group, a mostly nonalcoholic fellowship that emphasized universal spiritual values in daily living. In that period, the Oxford Groups in America were headed by the noted Episcopal clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker. Under this spiritual influence, and with the help of an old-time friend, Ebby T., Bill had gotten sober and had then maintained his recovery by working with other alcoholics, though none of these had actually recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob&rsquos Oxford Group membership at Akron had not helped him enough to achieve sobriety. When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body. This all-important fact he had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York, where Bill had often been a patient. Though a physician, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. Responding to Bill&rsquos convincing ideas, he soon got sober, never to drink again. The founding spark of A.A. had been struck.
Both men immediately set to work with alcoholics at Akron&rsquos City Hospital, where one patient quickly achieved complete sobriety. Though the name Alcoholics Anonymous had not yet been coined, these three men actually made up the nucleus of the first A.A. group. In the fall of 1935, a second group of alcoholics slowly took shape in New York. A third appeared at Cleveland in 1939. It had taken over four years to produce 100 sober alcoholics in the three founding groups.
Early in 1939, the Fellowship published its basic textbook, Alcoholics Anonymous. The text, written by Bill, explained A.A.&rsquos philosophy and methods, the core of which was the now well-known Twelve Steps of recovery.
The book was also reinforced by case histories of some thirty recovered members. From this point, A.A.&rsquos development was rapid.
Also in 1939, the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried a series of articles about A.A., supported by warm editorials. The Cleveland group of only twenty members was deluged by countless pleas for help. Alcoholics sober only a few weeks were set to work on brand-new cases. This was a new departure, and the results were fantastic. A few months later, Cleveland&rsquos membership had expanded to 500. For the first time, it was shown that sobriety could be mass-produced.
Meanwhile, in New York, Dr. Bob and Bill had in 1938 organized an over-all trusteeship for the budding Fellowship. Friends of John D. Rockefeller Jr. became board members alongside a contingent of A.A.s. This board was named The Alcoholic Foundation. However, all efforts to raise large amounts of money failed, because Mr. Rockefeller had wisely concluded that great sums might spoil the infant society. Nevertheless, the foundation managed to open a tiny office in New York to handle inquiries and to distribute the A.A. book &mdash an enterprise which, by the way, had been mostly financed by the A.A.s themselves.
The book and the new office were quickly put to use. An article about A.A. was carried by Liberty magazine in the fall of 1939, resulting in some 800 urgent calls for help. In 1940, Mr. Rockefeller gave a dinner for many of his prominent New York friends to publicize A.A. This brought yet another flood of pleas. Each inquiry received a personal letter and a small pamphlet. Attention was also drawn to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which soon moved into brisk circulation. Aided by mail from New York, and by A.A. travelers from already-established centers, many new groups came alive. At the year&rsquos end, the membership stood at 2,000.
Then, in March 1941, the Saturday Evening Post featured an excellent article about A.A., and the response was enormous. By the close of that year, the membership had jumped to 6,000, and the number of groups multiplied in proportion. Spreading across the U.S. and Canada, the Fellowship mushroomed.
By 1950, 100,000 recovered alcoholics could be found worldwide. Spectacular though this was, the period 1940-1950 was nonetheless one of great uncertainty. The crucial question was whether all those mercurial alcoholics could live and work together in groups. Could they hold together and function effectively? This was the unsolved problem. Corresponding with thousands of groups about their problems became a chief occupation of the New York headquarters.
November 8, 1939, Georg Elser, a German carpenter, almost changed the course of history. But his bomb missed killing Adolf Hitler by 13 minutes.
On November 8, 1939, Georg Elser, a German carpenter, almost changed the course of history. But his bomb missed killing Adolf Hitler by 13 minutes. It would take postwar Germany decades to acknowledge Elser’s actions.
Adolf Hitler reportedly said that he had the “luck of the devil” on his side throughout his years in power in Nazi Germany. Whether there were evil spirits at play during his reign of terror is a matter for speculation.
What’s indisputable is that he managed to survive several assassination attempts against him while countless plots were uncovered before they could be carried out. In most cases a combination of fate, luck, technical failings and ineptitude on the part of the would-be assassins came to Hitler’s rescue.
Arguably the most prominent of the failed attempts on Hitler’s life was carried out by a group led by German army officer Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944. While he and his co-plotters feature prominently in history books and at commemorative events, Georg Elser often falls under the radar.
Five years before Stauffenberg’s assassination plot Elser had tried to kill Hitler with a homemade bomb planted in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, the venue of Hitler’s failed coup — the Beer Hall Putsch of November 9, 1923. Every year, on the eve of the anniversary, Hitler had come to the Bürgerbräukeller to make a speech.
The best-laid plans …
The one on November 8, 1939, was supposed to be his last. Elser’s planning had been meticulous — the timing, the placement of the explosives, right down to his escape route. The one thing he hadn’t anticipated was that Hitler finished his speech earlier than expected and left the Bürgerbräukeller. Elser’s bomb went off just under 15 minutes later, killing eight people but not the intended target. Elser was subsequently arrested by a border patrol as he tried to cross into Switzerland. He was thrown in jail, tortured and executed in April 1945, just days before the end of World War II.
So, why have his actions and bravery not received ample recognition? “On the one hand that’s the result of the defamation by the National Socialists, which lingered for many decades after the war. On the other hand, it’s due to Elser’s image, which was created and cultivated as early as the late 1930s,” says Professor Johannes Tuchel, head of the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin.
“The National Socialists presented Elser as a tool of British intelligence. Critical voices in the opposition said, no, this attack was perpetrated by the Nazis themselves to again demonstrate Hitler’s infallibility.”
A prescient personality
Georg Elser’s homemade explosive device missed killing Hitler by 13 minutes
Those two narratives — skepticism and propaganda — were prevalent as late as the 1960s in a postwar West German society that struggled to recognize and accept the actions of a lone wolf, not least someone with communist leanings.
Elser abhorred National Socialism and everything it stood for: The deterioration of the situation of the working class, the restrictions on personal freedom, on the freedom of belief and education. The real eye-opener came when he worked in an armament factory in 1939 and concluded that Hitler means war and he had to be stopped.
“You have a carpenter from the Swabia region [southwestern Germany] who is an outstanding craftsman. He sees in 1938 what many Germans could have seen and resorts to the most extreme means, namely an assassination attempt — incidentally not only on Hitler but on the entire National Socialist leadership, notably [Hermann] Göring, [Joseph] Goebbels and [Heinrich] Himmler.”
That, says Tuchel, was crucial to Elser’s thinking. “He argued that that would pave the way for others to come to power who weren’t interested in territorial expansion. If you translate that it means others could have already seen the warning signs in 1938 and acted accordingly.”
Not necessarily by carrying out assassination attempts, he adds, but by showing civil disobedience, staging protests or carrying out acts of sabotage. “Elser impressively demonstrated the options and possibilities, and that was difficult, even shameful, for postwar society to grasp and digest.”
Recognition for Elser
It took post-war Germany decades to fully acknowledge Georg Elser’s bravery
Although the road has been long and often arduous, Tuchel says he’s pleased about the progress that’s been made since the mid-90s to recognize and duly appreciate Elser’s motives and actions. Earlier this week, Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, inaugurated a new Georg Elser memorial in southern Hermaringen, where Elser was born.
Nonetheless, Esler is still seen as non-conformist and recalcitrant, and as someone who invites discussion about his actions and his personality. But, as Tuchel says, it’s necessary to have those discussions. “We need to be able to ask frank questions about his motives, goals and actions. And we’re certainly able to do that much better than 20 or 30 years ago.” Watch video 02:43
Royal Berkshire Regiment during WW2
WW2 Battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment
During WW2 a total of 11 Royal Berkshire Battalions were eventually raised of which six - 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 30th saw service in France, North West Europe, Italy, Sicily and Burma. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion nominally remained in existence during the war, but it was never activated.
1939: The Battalion formed part of the BEF and was attached to 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division (MAJOR-GENERAL H. C. LLOYD)
24 September 1939: Landed in Cherbourg, France.
December 1939: By now had taken up their positions on the Belgian border.
10 May 1940: Took up positions along the River Dyle.
13 May 1940: That evening they made their first contact with the German Army whilst on patrol.
15 May 1940: The main attack began and the battalion held their ground. Later were given orders to withdraw and to make their retreat to Dunkirk.
27 May 1940: During the retreat the Battalion HQ was attacked at St Venant where some were captured and taken prisoner.
May-June 1940: Were evacuated and returned to the U.K landing at Margate, ending up in Yorkshire for intense training.
January 1941: By now were based in Gloucestershire getting prepared for the Far East war.
April 1941: They embarked at Liverpool.
(*From here until mid 1942 unsure)
January 1943: Took up a position on the seashore north of Chittagong.
February 1943: They moved to Teknaf
*December 1942 to May 1943: The First Arakan Campaign. (advance on Donbaik)
18 March 1943: Battalion still attached to the 6th Brigade, took part in the advance. They were involved with fierce fighting and became overrun by the enemy and were forced to withdraw.
30 May 1943: Arrived in Ahmednagar, Western India. Reorganised and began training.
November 1943: Went to Bombay.
01 December 1943: Returned to Ahmednagar where they remained and spent Christmas.
March 1944: For further training in jungle warfare they went to Belgaum, shortly after they received the order to move to an operational area.
05 April 1944: The battalion moved towards Assam. They occupied a camp at Dimapur and learned that the Japanese were only 30 miles away. (This was a major offensive by the Japanese to Invade India)
12 April 1944: They started to move towards Kohima that was under siege.
15 April 1944: With the British 6th Brigade, 2nd Division took over 161st Brigade's defensive position (the "Jotsoma Box"), allowing them to be part of an attack towards Kohima.
19 April - 20 April 1944: They replaced the original garrison.
17 May 1944: After five weeks hard fighting they were finally relieved returning to Dimapur.
22 May 1944: Returned to fight locations known as ‘Matthew’ ‘Mark’ and ‘Luke’. They remained in constant action for 7 weeks or so.
December 1944: The Battalions was destination was Sheba via Cheongsam, Singing, Thetkegyin, and Okkan. By now the battalion were at Kailua ready to cross the Chinwin hills.
24 December 1944: Until then everything was going well but when they approached Wainggyo it was garrisoned by Japanese defenders.
25 December 1944: They went into action.
01 January 1945: They moved to Taze.
04/05 January 1945: Went into action at Bugyi.
09 January 1945: They transferred into Brigade reserve at Thayetpinzu, in Burma. Field Marshal Slim congratulated them for their outstanding week.
04 February1945: They took up a position in Natkayaing.
At the end of February they moved to Myittha and took part in the action at Nyaungyin.
April 1945: They were flown back to India.
September 1939: The battalion was based in India on the outbreak of war.
October 1941: They moved to Colaba and helped escorting Italian PoW's up country.
August 1942: Became part of the 19th Indian Infantry Division and stayed with until 1945.
January 1943: Moved fifteen miles from Madras where they occupied Basha huts.
May 1943: Moved close to Bangalore and practiced futher for jungle warfare.
October 1943: Had arrived in the teak forests of Malabar where they stayed for a few weeks.
Begining 1944: Had moved to Bidada and began training for Combined Operations.
November 1943: Concentrated at Milestone 116 on the Kohima-Impal road.
December 1943: They were at Nathanyit and had crossed the river to Naungtaw.
They were ordered into action at Kyaikthin.
03 January 1944: Entered into Kanbalu.
June 1944: The Battalion was at Janori, near Deolali in the Western Ghats, India.
July 1944: Preparing for operations in Burma to start in the autumn.
29 October 1944: The battalion left for Assam.
December 1944: They were at Nathanyit preparing to cross the Chindwin River.
13 December 1944: The first companies of the battalion crossed the Chindwin from Nathanyit to Naungtaw. The went into action at Kyaikthin.
02 January 1945: Entered Kanbalu.
04 January 1945: Assault on Zigon, after moved on towards Kinu.
07 - 08 January 1945: the Battalion was conducting a battalion attack at Kinu.
16 January 1945: Remainder of the battalion merged with soldiers from the 8th Frontier Force (Finch Force.) They then became involved in the Kabwet battle.
A memorial plaque stands at the entrance to a pagoda near the top of Mandalay Hill it was erected in honour of the 2nd Battalion and reads: Erected to commemorate the fierce fighting in the clearance and final capture of Mandalay Hill by the 2nd Bn, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, March 10th to 12th 1945.
17 January 1940: The Battalion set sail for France with the BEF early in the war serving with the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division under Maj-Gen. B. L. Montgomery. They took up positions at Tourmignies.
10 March 1940: Left for Belgium.
13 March 1940: The Battalion were within the confines of the Gementee woods, close to Leuven.
17 March 1940: They withdraw, passing through Brussels were involved in a number of conflicts.
May (late) 1940: The Battalion defending the Albert Canal in Belgium, was overwhelmed by German troops,. Many soldiers of the 4th Battalion were captured and made prisoners of war.
May 1940: Evacuated from the beaches near La Panne., France and returned to the UK.
June 1940: They went onto Frome in Somerset and remained un-allotted to a field formation. They then carried out defensive operations at Avonmouth docks and the Filton aerodrome where they lost a number of men to German bombing.
December 1940: They moved to Northern Ireland becoming attached to the 148th Independent Brigade and went into training.
January 1942: The battalion moved to Bellaghy where they undertook the defence of Londonderry until they were relieved by the Americans and returned to the UK.
April 1942: Moved to the Isle of Thanet, Kent.
July 1942: Became an officers training unit (OCTU).
1943-45: The Battalion moved to Wrotham (still in Kent) and for the next two years carried out its duties as an Officer training unit.
5th (Hackney) Battalion:
1939: The Battalion (formerly the 10th London Regiment Hackney) was stationed in London. Most of the Battalion remained in the UK until the Battle of Normandy commenced.
November 1939: The Battalion had moved to Suffolk and began training.
1940: Early in the year moved up to Northumberland where the Battalion was to became part of the Mobile reserve. Some of the 5th Bn became joined to the 7th Battalion (who at this time were part of 161st Infantry Brigade, 54th (East Anglia) Infantry Division). It became a new Combined Operation Unit and was called No 3 Company. Later 3 Company had moved overseas to Norway.
March 1941: Moved to Burford in Oxfordshire and continued training.
November 1941: Returned to Suffolk where they remained for a couple of years training.
January 1943: On Costal Defence Duties in Suffolk.
August 1943: Moved to Gailes Camp in Scotland for training in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. (No 8 Beach Group)
September 1943: Moved down to Bournemouth for specialized training.
Early 1944: Still training and preparing for their role as a beach Battalion.
June 1944: The Battalion landed with the Canadians 3rd Division at Juno Beach, Normandy and remained there as part of a beach group with the responsibility for the landing ground.
August 1944: The Battalion had been reduced to 16 Officers and 136 men.
December 1944: Still designated as a Beach Group Unit even though were reinforced by 370 or so men not up to physical fitness.
25 December 1944: Moved into Lille.
February 1945: Moved into Waterscheide, eastern Belgium. The battalion was rebuilt and they were re-designated as a ‘Bank Group’ and later moved to Xanten on the Rhine.
24 March 1945: They assisted the 15th Scottish Division across the river. The Battalion remained in Xanten until peace was declared and for the rest of the year carried out garrison duties.
June 1945: Disbanded at Hildesheim, Germany.
6th (Territorial) Battalion:
The Battalion never served overseas. They remained in the UK and Ireland throughout the war and spent their time training, patrol and guarding duties of all kinds including PoWs.
January 1940: Moved to Southampton.
May/June 1940: The build up to and after the evacuation of Dunkirk training intensified due to the fear of German invasion
18 June 1940: Moved to Larne, Northern Ireland, and marched to Kilwaughter castle. Here they lived in tents and the duties were the same as carried out in England.
09 October 1940: Moved to Coleraine where they occupied Gribbons Linen factory.
January 1941: Still in garrison at Kilwaughter. The training was increased to a very high level that carried on for the rest of the year.
January 1942: The battalion moved from Londonderry to Crom Castle. Later the Americans arrived and formed part of a striking force together with the 4th bn of the R. Berkshires.
January 1943: The Battalion left Ireland returning to England and went to Colchester. Later moved to Aylesbury in Wiltshire where they carried out intensive training in anticipating active service overseas
October 1943: Moved down to Dover and where put on costal defence duties d to Dover to take up costal defence duties and on news year day they were on the 01 January 1944: Were on the Romney Marshes.
July 1944: The Battalion had orders to move to the Orkneys. There they were located in Tormiston and Quoyer Camps.
November 1944: Moved to Bexhill in Sussex where they remained for the remainder of the year.
07 May 1945: VE day the battalion, still based in Sussex whilst they were re-training several hundred men of the Royal Artillery. They had orders to prepare for a move to the Far East.
15 August 1945: The Japanese had surrendered so the Battalion had a lucky escape.
October 1945: Moved to Hothfield in Kent and later on to Dover.
7th (Stoke Newington) Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was stationed in London. It became part of 161st Infantry Brigade, 54th (East Anglia) Infantry Division. They remained in the UK throughout the war, apart from serving in Norway. The next few weeks to follow the Battalion was put on guard duties in Enfield, Battersea, Kensington, Hammersmith and shepherds bush.
November 1939: They moved to and trained in Suffolk.
1940: Early in the year moved up to Northumberland where the Battalion was to became part of the Mobile reserve. Some of the 7th Bn became joined to the 5th Battalion. It became a new Combined Operation Unit and was called No 3 Company. Later 3 Company had moved overseas to Norway.
March 1941: They moved to Kingston Bagpuize in Oxfordshire and continued training.
November 1941: Returned to Suffolk for further training.
September 1942: The Battalion disbanded.
8th (Home Defence) Battalion:
November 1939: The Battalion was formed from No 84 Group. They served in the Defence of Britain throughout the war. Initially they were formed from men of a lower medical category and young soldiers. The Battalion grew to 2000 strong.
1940: They spent the year on guard duties throughout the south of England.
September 1940: The young soldiers formed a new unit and became the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion R. Berkshire Regt'.
29 December 1941: The Home Defence title was dropped and they were re-named the 30th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Mid 1940: The Battalion was formed at Reading and served in the UK only. They became under the command of Lt Col L. Tremellen. As part of 213 Infantry Brigade, moved to Hereford.
October 1940: Moved to East Anglia.
December 1940: Training and carrying out guard duties on the Norfolk Coast from Caistor to Somerton.
July 1941: Moved to Wymondham in Norfolk and carried out further training.
August 1941: Returned to the coast.
June 1942: Moved to North Walsham, Norfolk a long with the remainder of the same Brigade, took up position in reserve near Furze Hill. They later held name of "The Farmers Boy's"
Mid December 1943: The Battalion disbanded and many of the men joined their comrades in Italy and Burma.
September 1940: The Battalion was formed. Initially it was the 50th (Holding) Battalion.
February 1941: The Battalion, relieved of its costal defence duties and was sent to join the 56th (London) Division, and had become a fully fledged field unit.
January 1942: Still in Suffolk commenced intensive training
28 August 1942: Set sail from Liverpool.
05 November 1942: Landed at Basra, Iraq. They then moved on to Kirkuk for further training.
March 1943: Left for Egypt where they continued their training.
June 1943: Went to Gaza where they were ordered to waterproof all their vehicles.
July 1943: Set sail for invasion of Sicily - codenamed Operation Husky.
12 July 1943: Landed. Their first action was at Fossa Bottaceto and suffered heavy casualties. Remained for a further five days under fire at a place they named "Berkshire Farm" before being withdrawn into reserve. They were then involved in operations around Primasole
05 August 1943: They took part in the General Advance after the German defences were breached at Etna.
10 October 1943: Moved to Italy and in the same month went on to a position at Pignataro then after took part in the attack on the ridge at Calvi Risorta followed by further actions at Teano, Gloriana and Roccamonfina.
Winter of 1943: In action at the River Garigliano and Monte Camino.
Early December 1943: Battalion was relieved and moved to Casanova.
01 January 1944: Left Casanova and returned to action and played a major part in the crossing of the River Garigliano.
20 January 1944: The Battalion themselves crossed the river.
21 January 1944: The Battalion arrived and occupied Mount Damiano. They were instantly attacked repeatedly by the Germans from dawn onwards.
22 January 1944: That afternoon the Battalion had experienced the heaviest shelling ever. They still managed to hold the hill. Fighting continued for a few more days.
25 January 1944: Were relieved and was able to have a short rest. They became part of an independent brigade group.
02 February 1944: Landed in Anzio, Italy and took up position north of the town.
05 February 1944: Took over part of the line near Carroceto from the divisional reconnaissance regiment.
04 March 1944: The Battalion a long with the Division were sent back to Egypt to re fit.
April 1944: the Battalion disbanded due to the lack of manpower. Most of the men remaining transferred to other units within the 56th (London) division known as the Black cats (Divisional sign).
(Record same as 8th Battalion from 1939 - Dec 1941)
December 1941: The 30th Battalion came from a re-designation of the 8th (Home Service) Battalion and were in the South Midland Area.
1942: They initially acted as a mobile reserve in the Oxfordshire Area. They also provided drafts for other units.
November 1942: Battalion was based at Ridge Camp, Cosham in Wiltshire where they guarded the Box tunnel and provided duty men for the Southern Command Headquarters at Wilton, Wiltshire (not far from Salisbury).
January 1943: They were ordered to provide two platoons as a personal guard for Her Majesty Queen Mary, at Badminton.
April 1943-44: Remainder of the Battalion stayed in Wiltshire, Dorset and Southampton (Hampshire).
27 August 1944: Battalion moved to Devon.
January 1945: Ordered to transform into a field force unit.
13 February 1945: Landed at Ostend in Belgium and joined the 21st Army Group.
19 February 1945: Took up a position at Lottum in the Netherlands and were in contact with the enemy for the first time. They later came under command of the 1st Czech Armoured Brigade area near Loo Plage.
April 1945: Moved to Boulogne and then shortly after ended up in Holland where they became the ‘T’ Force Battalion of Western Holland.
08 May 1945: VE Day, They were the first unit into Rotterdam
15 November 1945: Battalion was disbanded.
50th (Holding) Battalion:
May 1940: The Battalion were formed in Reading. Their purpose was to ‘hold’ men who were temporarily homeless, including the medically unfit, and those returning from abroad, awaiting orders, courses or reposting to other units.
70th (Young Soldier) Battalion:
1940: The Battalion was formed at Thame in Oxfordshire. Initially they were part of the 8th Battalion. The unit consisted of boys who had presented themselves for service. They trained for the remainder of the year.
January 1941: They moved to Cornwall and after a short period of stabilization they were spread all over Cornwall guarding vulnerable points.
October 1941: Left for Northern Ireland and became part of the Belfast Garrison.
December 1941: Moved to Ballykinlar to train. They met up with the 4th and the 6th Bn's.
Spring 1942: Moved to Bangor for further training and to carry out duties at the Belfast docks.
August 1942: By now the battalion was 1000 strong and had moved to a camp at Glenarm.
1943: Spent the early part of the year training.
June 1943: Battalion disbanded. The troops were transferred to other front line units.