March 2013

Mar

21

1943

The Tunisian ‘Left Hook’ goes in

We would cut them up for dog`s meat, All around, our anti-aircraft guns and automatic fire opened up. One plane crashed immediately. I had time to watch only one other lumbering towards us on fire. A parachute blossomed, then another appeared but tangled on opening. As the poor devil, apparently on fire, hurtled earthwards and thumped into the ground to burst near us, we all cheered, and cheered again as the bomber with the rest of the crew inside also hit the ground, exploded into flame and in a single ‘whoosh’ incinerated the crew.

Mar

20

1943

Victoria Cross for attack on the Mareth Line

He personally helped the team which, was placing the scaling ladder over the anti tank ditch and was himself the first to cross. He led the assault -firing his pistol, throwing grenades and personally assaulting two machine-gun posts which were holding the advance of one of his Companies. It is estimated that in this phase he killed or captured twenty Germans.

Mar

19

1943

George Cross for heroic rescue on burning ship

With great difficulty he climbed into the collapsed accommodation and found one of the deck officers, unconscious and badly burned. Mr. Stronach pulled him clear and dragged him along the deck to the lowered boat. Returning to the accommodation, he began to remove the debris from another officer who was trapped. By almost superhuman efforts he dragged the man through the porthole and along the deck.

Mar

18

1943

The Akikaze Atrocity

Each internee passed beneath the forward bridge on the starboard side and came upon two waiting escorts. Here they were blindfolded with a white cloth and supported by each arm. By this time the interrogation of the second person was begun. Meanwhile, beneath the bridge of the quarter-deck on the starboard side, both wrists of the first person were firmly tied and he was again escorted to the execution platform.

Mar

17

1943

The Irish Guards celebrate St Patricks Day in Tunisia

Most of us headed like excited schoolboys for the port of Bone to see what delights it had to offer. Michael and I palled up with a couple of GIs who knew their way around. Within three hours the town was in uproar. The lads had been drinking the local wine as if it were the ale they were used to. The results were dramatic: fights broke out, windows were smashed and soon the Military Police were dragging soldiers away. It turned out to be quite a night in the best Irish tradition.

Mar

16

1943

Under shellfire during attack on the Mareth Line

I don`t know what time it was when we crossed the Wadi Zeuss and got into the gap in the enemy minefield. Time lost its ordinary values, even tho’ I did check it frequently on the luminous face of my watch. The minefield gap lay just the other side of a marsh and was a thin lane marked by white tapes and lighted by tiny lights which seemed to shine like beacons.

Mar

15

1943

Stalin agitates for a Second Front in Europe

The Soviet troops spent the whole winter in the tense fighting, which continues even now. Hitler is carrying out important measures with a view to replenish and increase his army for the spring and summer operations against the U.S.S.R. In these circumstances it is for us extremely important that the blow from the West should not be put off, that it should be struck in the spring or in the early summer.

Mar

14

1943

Night patrol on the Mareth Line

At 5.30 a.m. there was a stand-to, trying hard to come to terms with an alien scenery of valley, hills and vegetation, the outcrop of rocks in the foothills so perfect for concealing an 88 or a troop carrier. We were on the receiving end of shelling throughout the day, not heavy but enough to get our shovels active and our slit trenches a few inches deeper.

Mar

13

1943

Amon Goeth liquidates the last Jews in Krakow ghetto

We were then marched off, under heavy escort of SS men and Ukrainians, in the direction of the camp. We were beaten with rifle butts all the way. Whoever, had a decent looking suitcase, had it duly taken from them by the Ukrainians. Anyone who was older, or could not keep the pace of the march, was severely beaten. Having arrived at the camp, the next day, I awaited for the arrival of my wife and child, unfortunately without success.

Mar

12

1943

HMS Lightning sunk in E boat attack

The stricken ship quickly lost way and became a sitting target. In a desperate attempt to save her, the skipper gave orders to go astern to relieve pressure on the forward bulkheads that were still holding. But I could only watch as our attacker slowly circled the dead ship and come round to the starboard side. I heard his engines speed up as he turned to run in towards us.