July 2012

Jul

21

1942

Churchill: “severe, ruthless bombing of Germany” needed

A bomber crew of No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF study a map, while sitting on 250-lb GP bombs which are about to be loaded into their Vickers Wellington Mark IC at East Wretham, Norfolk.

We must regard the Bomber offensive against Germany at least as a feature in breaking her war-will, second only to the largest military operations which can be conducted on the Continent until that war-will is broken. Renewed, intense efforts should be made by the Allies to develop during the winter and onwards ever-growing, ever more accurate and ever more far-ranging Bomber attacks on Germany.

Jul

20

1942

British and American military argue over strategy

General George C Marshall, Chief of Staff US Army.

At 12.30 we went round to 12 Downing Street to meet American Chiefs of Staff with PM! We had originally intended to meet them at 10 am ‘off the record’ for a private but PM very suspicious and had informed me at Chequers that Marshall trying to assume powers of C-in-C of American troops which was (constitutionally) President’s prerogative!

Jul

19

1942

Scots Guards take the El Taqa Plateau, El Alamein

A 4.5-inch field gun of 64th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, in action in the Western Desert, 28 July 1942

On reaching the top, I had a very careful, sly peep over. There was a loud bang and a thud on my helmet and when I looked at it, there was a long scar along the top! They must have fired an anti-tank weapon at me. I thought, ‘Well, we can’t go over the top – we’ll all be killed.’

Jul

18

1942

HMS Unbroken navigates a minefield

HMS GRAPH (ex U-Boat U 570) at Holy Loch on the completion of a trial trip, passing by a depot ship. In the foreground are the conning towers of HMS STURGEON (left) and HMS TIGRIS whilst submarine P 42 (later renamed HMS UNBROKEN) can be seen in the background.

Inside the minefield I had the mine-detecting unit – a refinement of the Asdic – switched on in an effort to plot the pattern of the mines and sail between them. A regrettable action. We plotted mines right enough-ahead, to starboard, to port, above, below – everywhere! Cryer’s eyes popped from his head as he reported each new echo, and a few wild expressions and quivering lips were to be seen in the control-room.

Jul

17

1942

Auschwitz – the sudden death of Yankel Meisel

The railway entrance to Auschwitz in January1945.

Out of sight, they acted like men who have been shamed and betrayed will act. They beat and kicked the life out of him. They pummelled him swiftly, frantically, trying to blot him out, to sponge him from the scene and from their minds; and Yankel, who had forgotten to sew his buttons on, had not even the good grace to die quickly and quietly.

Jul

16

1942

Hitler arrives at Werwolf – Eastern Front HQ

Adolf Hitler at the headquarters of Army Group South in Poltava. From left to right: Lieutenant General  Ernst, General of Infantry Sodenstern, Colonel Max von Weichs, Adolf Hitler, General of Panzer Troops Friedrich Paulus, General Eberhard von Mackensen and General Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. June 1942

Hitler gave an approving nod and asked, ‘Who built the camp?’ Thomas answered, ‘Mostly Russians prisoners from the camps.’ Hitler‘s face darkened. He told Thomas, ‘They must all be shot. There is not a moment to lose. They know too much about my HQ.’ Thomas clicked his heels and answered, ‘At your command, my Fuhrer’ He turned on his heels and went.

Jul

15

1942

Two New Zealand V.C.s in one day

Official portrait of Keith Elliot VC, after he had recovered from his wounds in October 1942.

Captain Upham, during the engagement, himself destroyed a German tank and several guns and vehicles with grenades and although he was shot through the elbow by a machine gun bullet and had his arm broken, he went on again to a forward position and brought back some of his men who had become isolated. He continued to dominate the situation until his men had beaten off a violent enemy counter-attack and consolidated the vital position which they had won under his inspiring leadership.

Jul

14

1942

Morale in the base area of Egypt

A Crusader Mk II, 14 July 1942.

Discipline is cracking in small ways – for instance, men are sometimes sullen and hostile towards their officers; and many times in the past six months I’ve heard senior ranks, such as sergeants and even warrant officers, discussing their grievances with privates, and gunners. In general, the MEF (Army at any rate) is cynical, critical, bitter and irritable – but not resigned. Men are restless and fed up.

Jul

13

1942

Horror of the ‘liquidation’ of the Rovno ghetto

Executions of Kiev Jews by German army mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) near Ivangorod Ukraine. The photo was mailed from the Eastern Front to Germany and intercepted at a Warsaw post office by a member of the Polish resistance collecting documentation on Nazi war crimes. The original print was owned by Tadeusz Mazur and Jerzy Tomaszewski and now resides in Historical Archives in Warsaw. The original German inscription on the back of the photograph reads, "Ukraine 1942, Jewish Action [operation], Ivangorod."

In the street women cried out for their children and children for their parents. That did not prevent the SS from driving the people along the road, at running pace, and hitting them, until they reached a waiting freight train. Car after car was filled, and the screaming of women and children and the cracking of whips and rifle shots resounded unceasingly.

Jul

12

1942

Russian resistance stiffens on the Eastern front

The remains Russian of transport that was destroyed during a withdrawal near the Don river.

There was a sudden yell. Franzl looked wildly at me. ‘Know anything about tanks? he asked We leapt up and stared over towards the Russian lines. A curse on them! There they were, moving towards us, tanks, on a wide front, a whole phalanx of monsters of steel, T34s, and our terror paralysed us… My God! groaned Franzl ‘There must be forty of them. Now we can write our wills’ !