November 2012

Nov

20

1942

The British enter Benghazi

Local children are given a ride on a Bren gun carrier in Benghazi, November 1942.

In doing so we came to a wadi and as we got to the lip we spotted an enemy machine-gun nest. The corporal alongside me popped a hand grenade into the nest, getting rid of that one. We tumed to our left flank and carried along the lip of the wadi and wiped out four more machine-gun positions and captured four prisoners before returning to our lines.The chap who was wounded died on the way back.

Nov

19

1942

Operation Uranus – shock attack outside Stalingrad

A T-34 carrying Soviet troops in the snow during the offensive outside Stalingrad.

The next thing I knew was that all hell had broken loose. The vibrating air blew out the candle and we were trying to sort ourselves out in utter darkness. The whole place trembled, bits of earth fell on to us and the noise was deafening. We were sleep drunk, and kept bumping into each other, mixing up our uniforms, our boots and other equipment, and shouting out loudly to relieve our tension.

Nov

18

1942

British insight into the German military machine

German troops on a captured British Matilda tank earlier in 1942.

Recently 80 new Italian tanks had been left standing near the port of unloading for want of fuel. The tragedy was not as great as it seemed, inasmuch as the tanks were badly designed and constructed and practically worthless for modern war. He had told the Italians that 80 tins of sardines would have suited him better. Were it not for the fuel and supplies obtained in Tobruk, the position of the German and Italian armies in the desert would have become acute some months ago.

Nov

17

1942

Crew of U-331 suffer for half hearted ‘surrender’

Bombing up a Fairey Albacore on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE.

What survivors described as a biplane then approached them from starboard and fired a torpedo. The torpedo-track was clearly evident and Tiesenhausen ordered hard-a-starboard, but it was too late. (N.I.D. Note. This was an Albacore aircraft from H.M.S. “Formidable,” which later reported that one 18 in. Torpedo Mark XII*, Duplex pistol , set to 12 ft., speed 40 knots, was released 700 yards from the U-Boat. The U-Boat disappeared after the explosion of the torpedo and a second explosion was observed under water and wreckage was seen.)

Nov

16

1942

British celebrate the ‘end of the beginning’

Milk girls leave the diary in their horse-drawn carts, working the rounds of the milkmen who have joined the services. The carts are piled high with crates, full of bottles of milk.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Henceforth Hitler’s Nazis will meet equally well armed, and perhaps better armed troops. Hence forth they will have to face in many theatres of war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against others, of which they boasted all round the world, and which they intended to use as an instrument for convincing all other peoples that all resistance to them was hopeless….

Nov

15

1942

Surviving an aircraft crash in the desert

A Stuart tank being refuelled from an RAF fuel bowser outside Sidi Barrani, 15 November 1942.

I was out of there very quickly. We all got out alive, but some of the passengers were injured. The ones who weren’t hurt soon had some tea brewed, by puncturing one of the wing tanks to get petrol, and brewing with usual half tins. The skipper ordered me to get back in the aircraft and send out an SOS on the radio. This was a bit dicey because there was petrol everywhere, and the generators for the radio gave off sparks.

Nov

14

1942

Naval Battle of Guadalcanal continues

Photo taken during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 14-15 November 1942, showing the U.S. battleship USS Washington (BB-56) firing upon the Japanese battleship Kirishima. The low elevation of the barrels shows how the close range of the adversaries; only 8,400 yards, point blank range for the 16"/45 caliber main armament of Washington.

Volunteering to pilot a fighter plane in defense of our positions on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Lieutenant Colonel Bauer participated in two air battles against enemy bombers and fighters outnumbering our force more than two-to-one, boldly engaged the enemy and destroyed one Japanese bomber in the engagement of September 28 and shot down four enemy fighter planes in flames on October 3 leaving a fifth smoking badly.

Nov

13

1942

U.S. and Japanese clash off Guadalcanal

Sullivan brothers on USS Juneau (Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George Sullivan (from left to right)) pictured on the 14 February 1942.

In the midst of a violent night engagement, the fire of a determined and desperate enemy seriously wounded Lt. Comdr. McCandless and rendered him unconscious, killed or wounded the admiral in command, his staff, the captain of the ship, the navigator, and all other personnel on the navigating and signal bridges. Faced with the lack of superior command upon his recovery, and displaying superb initiative, he promptly assumed command of the ship and ordered her course and gunfire against an overwhelmingly powerful force.

Nov

12

1942

Battle school in Britain

Universal carrier of 52nd Reconnaissance Regiment moving at speed over rough ground, Scotland, 10 November 1942.

Then they fought their way inland across streams and through hedgerows and farmyards. I can hardly say I enjoyed that day. Once I went down to my thighs in icy mud. Once I was covered with muck from a nearby grenade-burst. When the troops wanted to go through a ten-foot hawthorn hedge they did not hunt for gaps, they walked straight through the thorns. All day until dusk they were at it without food, without rest. They ran and shot and climbed walls with their full equipment until they were tired into speechlessness.

Nov

11

1942

Germans try to take the last pockets of Stalingrad

Panzergrenadiers of 16 Wehrmacht Panzer Division, preparing to attack towards the banks of the Volga at Stalingrad

During the battle in the city, new characteristics developed within us. What we did not yet need in France we manage now: we hit the dirt at exactly the right moment, not too soon and not too late. We can look at the corner of a wall and see whether something is hiding behind it.
New guys don’t last long…