On Sunday, 17th September, His Majesty's Ship "Courageous" was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine. The submarine was immediately attacked by one of the screening vessels and there is every reason to believe that she was destroyed. His Majesty's Ship "Courageous" had on board 1,202 officers and men; this was somewhat less than her full complement, as she had embarked a reduced number of aircraft. A large number of survivors have been picked up by destroyers and merchant ships, amounting in all to 687 officers and men. The Commanding Officer, Captain Makeig-Jones, went down with his ship. The names of the survivors are being issued through the Ministry of Information as soon as they become available.
The public have already learnt from survivors the graphic story of the gallantry of the ship's company. I should like to express on behalf of His Majesty's Government and the Board of Admiralty their profound sympathy with those who have been bereaved.
This evening, the broadcaster announced the President to be on his way to the radio station. Half an hour later, we heard the President praising our steadfast and spirited defence, the will of resistance, and the righteousness of our cause.
What he was saying could not lessen the difficulties to come. But, as always, it gave us the strength to survive another day of the siege. The war on our sleep, the harassment of gunfire and night explosions do not ease off.
I approached Lord Halifax explaining our project of having England make use of over 700 trained Polish air soldiers (pilots, observers, engineers, technicians, etc.) who were forced to leave Poland and whom we would like to post in England. I said that as far as and technicians are concerned, our military attaché hopes to place them in factories here without much difficulty.
However, making use of the air force could turn out to be difficult. In France, our pilots would risk being dispersed in various French squadrons (for technical reasons). However, in England, we would like to create separate Polish combat units. At the same time, I handed Lord Halifax copies of two letters addressed by General Neugebauer to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Ironside, and to the Marshal of Aviation, Sir Cyril Newall.
Lord Halifax was interested in the matter. On this occasion, he mentioned that Mr. Benes visited him yesterday to propose setting up Czechoslovak troops in London, and this project was very well received, said Lord Halifax.
We arrive to Grabowiec, where we indeed see troops from the Polish army. At the same time, locals say that a fierce battle is taking place between Zamość and the German division posted nearby. We hear artillery fire. A moment of reflection. Our demobilized soldiers leave by cart. We stay in Grabowiec. We feel joy in our hearts . Maybe all is not lost, since the battle continues. We go to a local restaurant, where excellent tea with sugar is still to be had.
It is interesting that in the midst of all the turmoil and haste, the Polish government did not forget to take the national treasury to Romania, and from there to England. The masses say that the ministers will divide the treasury amongst themselves, and that this is a good thing since in this way the money will remain in Polish hands. In any event, we, the citizens of the country, are left to die and starve and suffer all the other horrors of war with freshly printed, valueless bills. As long as the government was still in existence, prices remained fairly stable, but now there is no fixed price for anything, and very little food is available at any price.
Minister Beck says that the behaviour of the Romanians is completely inappropriate, politically speaking. They made sure we had tolerable living conditions, then cut us off from the outside world. The freedom of movement of ministers and deputy ministers is being deliberated. Financial counselor Sadkowski was not allowed to drive away. We cannot contact our embassy. We receive neither news nor newspapers. We don't have a radio.
Order for all military personnel to report to the headquarters. Explanation follows that this only applies to the conscripts... The city looks empty, the army left... As if it's the end...
We undress for the first time since the beginning of the war and sleep. The end of the battle of Kutno. Remnants of our troops were taken captive. Combat near Modlin and Warsaw. Germany mans the areas in the demarcation line established in agreement with Soviet Russia. The battle of Gdynia ended with the war port occupied...
On Monday and Tuesday morning, more and more troops of the Polish army began to flow towards the demarcation line. The scenes were dramatic. Some troops crossed the border and disarmed, individual officers cursed the government and the Polish military command, there were a few who killed themselves, some entire squads turned back, not wanting to lay down their arms, and went to fight, then returned again... Each time the border barrier opened, groups of refugees burst into Lithuania. Finally, the Lithuanians let everyone in. The disarmed troops of the Polish army were directed to Kaunas to suburban resorts.
Two bomb explosions in Berlin last Sunday night, one in front of the Air Ministry, the other in the entryway of secret-police headquarters in the Alexanderplatz. No mention of them, of course, in the press or on the radio. The perpetrators got away in the black-out.
If the war goes on, it is still a question in my mind whether the mass of the people won't swing behind the regime.
I have still to find a German, even among those who don't like the regime, who sees anything wrong in the German destruction of Poland. All the moral attitudes of the outside world regarding the aggression against Poland find little echo among the people here. See more
People of all classes, women as well as men, have gathered in front of the windows in Berlin for a fortnight and approvingly gazed at the maps in which little red pins showed the victorious advance of the German troops in Poland. As long as the Germans are successful and do not have to pull in their belts too much, this will not be an unpopular war.
In the Saar village of Ottweiler yesterday the Germans buried with full military honours Lieutenant Louis Paul Dechanel of the French army. His father had been President of France. He was killed leading a detachment against the Westwall. At his burial a German military band played the Marseillaise. The Germans took a news-reel of the ceremony and will use it in their propaganda to show the French they haven't anything against France.
Our situation grows daily more catastrophic. Order yesterday: restricted access to the bank account, surrender of all ready cash; today police inquiry as to our suppliers; it, therefore, looks as if we are to be more strictly rationed than the general populace. I was in Pirna in the morning.
We have already had our third company commander in this short period. Now it is a young lieutenant, he is tall with a round face and a smart smile with thin, red lips. We grew close quickly. He is quite well read, knows a little bit about history and likes academic conversations. He is straightforward, simple and smart, he is immediately noticeable against the greyness of the others like him.
Discussed with Salmuth directives for the 4th Army which are to prepare a more rapid withdrawal across the demarcation line and avoid collisions with the Russians.
In the meantime the order arrives that Praga is not to be attacked! No more German blood is to flow east of the Vistula! How do they think that? The Poles are making forays and counterattacks from Praga! Are we supposed to withdraw? I had Stuka dive-bombers attack Warsaw's main waterworks. 3rd Army [Küchler] was instructed to intensify its artillery fire.
Continued back and forth with emissaries and now also with the departure of the neutral diplomats from Warsaw. Salmuth attempted to talk the Army Command into a slower evacuation, because the one previously ordered is scarcely feasible, and inevitably the booty as well as much of our own supplies will have to be left behind in this hasty withdrawal.