September 2012

Sep

30

1942

Britain celebrates Bomber Offensive against Germany

Three Avro Lancaster B Mark Is of No 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force based at Waddington, Lincolnshire, flying above the clouds on 29 September 1942. Left to right: W4125, `KM-W', being flown by Sergeant Colin Watt, Royal Australian Air Force; W4162,`KM-Y', flown by Pilot Officer T G Hackney, (later killed while serving with No 83 Squadron); and W4187, `KM-S', flown by Pilot Officer J D V S Stephens DFM, who was killed with his crew two nights later during a raid on Wismar.

The ‘Second Front’ looked a long way off. The disasters of early 1942 in the Far East had been a humiliation for the British Empire. In the North Africa it still looked very much as if British Forces were on the back foot. Whatever plans were afoot for the future there was little to celebrate. The Ministry of Information did the best it could.

Sep

29

1942

Lone bomber hits Petworth School – 32 dead

The mass grave that contains most of the 32 victims, which included 28 boys and four school staff including the Headmaster.

There has been no damage of national importance. The more outstanding incidents were at Hastings on the 24th, when 19 people were killed and 17 seriously injured, and at Petworth (Sussex) on the 29th, where a boys’ school was completely wrecked; casualties are reported to be 23 killed, of whom 20 are children, and 30 seriously injured, of whom 24 are children. It is feared that 7 children are still missing and must be presumed dead.

Sep

28

1942

USS Sculpin survives a depth charging

USS Sculpin (SS-191) off San Francisco, California, on 1 May 1943, following an overhaul.

It was incredible how much water could come in through a quarter-inch tube at a depth of 275 feet. Baldwin arrived with plugs, turnbuckles, and other equipment to plug the leak. With him and a helper working on that job, I went to the after end of the compartment to help remove the water. A bucket brigade was hurriedly formed. Jack trimmed the boat with a ten-degree up angle so the water would accumulate at the after end of the deck, in the officers’ country. He had to maintain two-thirds speed to keep Sculpin from going deeper. Sculpin was tons too heavy having taken on water from a number of leaks throughout the boat.

Sep

27

1942

The Home Front in Britain

42nd Armoured Division Exercise, Near Malton In Yorkshire, 29 September 1942. The Commander in Chief Home Forces, General Sir Bernard Paget, with the Division Commander, Major General M C Dempsey, DSO, MC, watching the exercise from a Crusader tank.

He gets a constant flow of information from Norway. They have wireless sets in their forests, which they move every night. They ask that, though they will be glad to have law and order re-established in the world, they want 48 hours to themselves – to settle some accounts, before the United Nations get busy. The Quislings are ours, they say. After the war Norway would enter under the protection of the two great English-speaking powers.

Sep

26

1942

A day in the life of a Tank soldier in the desert

A Stuart tank is silhouetted against the setting sun as its commander scans the horizon, 6 September 1942.

Then out with the fire tin, in with the petrol, brew tin filled with water, and we stood round shivering slightly in the cool air waiting for the sun to come up over the horizon, watching the reddening sky, waiting for the full flood of light before we could light up. The air was crystal clear and cold, our wadi etched with a dark-rimmed silhouette. Other tanks stood out stark in the morning light; other figures stood around their tins. Then over the horizon flooded a warm yellow glow, eating up the shadows, swallowing the tight-drawn outlines.

Sep

25

1942

RAF bomb Gestapo HQ in Oslo

Mosquito on a test flight with De Havilland in September 1942. Mosquito B Mark IV Series 2, DK338, in flight after completion. DK338 served with No. 105 Squadron RAF as 'GB-O'.

An observer regretfully remarks that if the bomb had been only three metres lower it would have hit the centre of the front facade. He adds : ” German airmen and flak officers are impressed by the precision bombing, which was fantastically cleverly carried out; there are not so many German flags on the houses any longer.”

Sep

24

1942

Hitler sacks his Chief of Staff Franz Halder

As  Chief of the Army General Staff Franz Halder, far right, had been at the side of Hitler during the planning of all the Wehrmacht operations until 1942.

After situation conference, farewell by the Fuehrer: My nerves are worn out, also his nerves are no longer fresh. We must part. “Necessity for educating the General Staffs in fanatical faith in the Idea.” He is determined to enforce his will also in the Army.

Sep

23

1942

Japanese treatment of attempted escapees

American POW of Japs giving his buddy a drink at Cabanatuan prison camp on the Philippines.

The amazing thing was the ability of the three men to stay alive, if indeed they were still alive at the end of the second day of this treatment — they were battered beyond recognition, with the ear of one prisoner hanging down to his shoulder. I think we all prayed for the men during this ordeal. I know I did. And I am sure all of us said a prayer of relief when the Japanese finally cut the men down and took them away for execution. Two of the men were shot. The third was beheaded.

Sep

22

1942

A Romanian officer arrives in Russia

Romanian troops on the Eastern front, where they held positions on the approaches to Stalingrad.

In the station there was another German train of a Caucasian battalion. We were astonished to see these men in German uniform and we could not understand them because of their Kirghizian dialect. All officers were Caucasians but battalion’s commander who was German. These were volunteers previously captured by the Germans and that offered to fight against the Bolsheviks. After a training session of several months they were sent to front.

Sep

21

1942

A work party leaves Auschwitz for Buna

The IG Farben rubber and synthetic oil plant at Buna, or Auschwitz III. By the end of the war 80,000 slave labourers were employed here.

The summer sun scorched the back of my neck. The alsatian trotting beside me was panting. A man reeled from the ranks, fell and had the top of his head blown off by an S.S. man who did not even bother to stop as he fired. Farther up the line a man ran wildly into the road and was bowled over by a burst of machine gun fire. The S.S. were kicking the kapos now and all the time they were shouting: “Faster, you bastards! We’re late! We’re late!”