The first eight months after Britain declared war on Germany became known as the 'Phoney War', because supposedly, little happened. But in reality, as this book vividly shows, it was not without incident and was far from phoney. A revealing exploration of the diverse experiences of the military and civilians during this time.
It was 11.15 a.m. on 3 September 1939 as the Prime Minister stated that 'this country is at war with Germany'. The next eight months would become known as the 'Phoney War', supposedly because little happened. Britain moved troops into France, while German, British and French troops faced each other over the Maginot Line. But fighting did not immediately break out on the Franco-German frontier. However, this part of the war was not without incident. On the day war was declared, the first merchant navy loss was the SS Athenia, an unarmed liner carrying 1,418 passengers and crew, sunk by the U-boat U-30. While anchored at Scapa Flow HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed by U-47 with a great loss of life. In December 1939, the German battleship Graf Spee led the Royal Navy on a merry dance across the South Atlantic before being cornered in Montevideo and scuttled. The war in the air had also developed from the first air raids of October 1939, against the Forth Bridge, with further attacks on Shetland in November. Mines were dropped or laid along the coasts of Britain by the Germans. Stephen Flower tells the story of this dramatic period, revealing how much went on before the Phoney War came to an end with the invasion of Norway and Denmark. He explores the diverse experiences of both military and civilians and the events, emotions and accounts recorded here will vividly demonstrate why the Phoney War was anything but.