August 2013

Aug

21

August 1943

HMS Storm becomes a submarine

At the next lift of the almost imperceptible swell, the whole of the fore part of the submarine was abruptly under water, the dark shape of her swaying and dissolving into the sea’s amorphous grey, the bow wave dying and only the taut jumping-wire still cutting through the water, but slipping down until it, too, was out of sight. As the surface came gliding steadily up towards me I felt a ridiculous impulse to hold my breath like a man caught on a rock with the rising tide up to his nose.

Aug

20

August 1943

Das Reich panzers rush to the defence of Kharkov

Under continuous heavy artillery, mortar, rocket, and tank fire, and due to the incessant day and night bombardment of the main line of resistance by enemy aircraft and the bitter defense against enemy attack, the regiments, which have been in continuous combat for the past six weeks, especially those of the 198th, 168th, and 3rd Panzer Divisions, have been bled dry. Not many more enemy attacks can be withstood in the present positions.

Aug

19

August 1943

Lord Mountbatten demonstrates bullet proof ice

Dickie then proceeded to explain that the cube on the left was ordinary pure ice, whereas that an the right contained many ingredients which made it far more resilient, less liable to splinter, and consequently a far more suitable material for the construction of aircraft carriers. He then informed us that in order to prove his statements he had brought a revolver with him and intended to fire shots at the cubes to prove their properties.

Aug

18

August 1943

Leningrad – the siege continues as Soviets fight back

Despite efforts to black-out everything on the ground, there was bound to be someone who would light a cigarette or use a flashlight that the enemy could spot. Once locating a potential target, the Soviet pilots often cut their engines in order to glide silently over the spot before dropping their bombs on the unsuspecting targets below.

Aug

17

August 1943

Bomber Command smashes secret Nazi weapons site

I stared at the German pilot. You’re no good, I thought. You’re a damned poor shot and a bloody awful pilot. Why the hell doesn’t the mid-upper fire? I snapped the mike switch on. ‘For Christ’s sake, George, shoot that bastard down!’ At once, the guns chattered, and a stream of orange sparks curved slowly down and through the fighter’s nose. He rolled over on his back, and dived straight down, disappearing into a sheet of stratus thousands of feet below.

Aug

16

August 1943

Dropping into occupied France by moonlight

The light opposite me flashed to red and I swung my legs into the hole. In a few seconds I should have jumped again down into that prison of Europe and the Halifax would be turning home for England. One will never forget the tension of that moment as the parachutist listens to the slowing down of the engines to stalling speed and then the light flashes to green and one is through the hole and into the rush of the slipstream, then drifting high over the earth in the peace of the moonlight.

Aug

15

August 1943

Time to relax as bombers are heard overhead

As I lay in bed the other night I heard the Deep Purr of our bombers winging their way to Hamburg… This is a comfortable feeling. I turned lazily in bed and glowed at the thought, going back in my mind to those awful months when to hear that noise overhead was to know the Germans were going to pour death and destruction on us. It meant in those days a readjustment of the mind to the fact that this might be one’s last night on earth — or that by the morning one might be homeless and possessionless.

Aug

14

August 1943

HMS Scylla survives a glider bomb attack

“Missed us!” I exulted. “Missed us!” We laughed like idiots, and then slowly began to realise what must have happened. Coming in from the port side the bombs had overshot us, dropping into the sea on our starboard side, ploughing through the sea away from us, to burst in the water. Had the three thousand-pound bombs hit us directly, or fallen slightly short on the port side, it would have been a different story and the ship would have been a shambles.

Aug

13

August 1943

US Army Engineers build a ‘Bridge in the Sky’

The bridges of Sicily were graceful and beautiful old arches of stone or of brick-faced rubble ll, and shattering them so completely was something like chopping down a shade tree or defacing a church. They’ll all have to be rebuilt after the war and it’s going to take a lot more money to replace all those hundreds of spans than was really necessary. But I suppose the Germans and Italians figured dear old Uncle Sam would pay for it all, anyhow, so they might as well have their fun.

Aug

12

August 1943

Flight Sergeant Aaron dies saving his crew

A bullet struck Flight Sergeant Aaron in the face, breaking his jaw and tearing away part of his face. He was also wounded in the lung and his right arm was rendered useless. As he fell forward over the control column, the aircraft dived several thousand feet. Control was regained by the flight engineer at 3,000 feet. Unable to speak, Flight Sergeant Aaron urged the bomb aimer by signs to take over the controls. Course was then set southwards in an endeavour to fly the crippled bomber, with one engine out of action, to Sicily or North Africa.