July 2012

Jul

21

July 1942

Churchill: “severe, ruthless bombing of Germany” needed

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

July 1942

British and American military argue over strategy

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

July 1942

Scots Guards take the El Taqa Plateau, El Alamein

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

July 1942

HMS Unbroken navigates a minefield

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

July 1942

Auschwitz – the sudden death of Yankel Meisel

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

July 1942

Hitler arrives at Werwolf – Eastern Front HQ

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

July 1942

Two New Zealand V.C.s in one day

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

July 1942

Morale in the base area of Egypt

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

July 1942

Horror of the ‘liquidation’ of the Rovno ghetto

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

July 1942

Russian resistance stiffens on the Eastern front

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’ !