October 2013

Oct

31

1943

Soviet infantry destroyed by flamethrower

A 'Schützenpanzer mit Flammenwerfer', an armoured troop carrier with flame-thrower , on the Eastern Front in 1944.

We get our first sight of the attackers when their earth-coloured helmets appear out of the shallow depression.The first waves are mown down by the murderous fire from our two heavy machine guns and those behind now fall back down into the hollow. And then something happens that makes our hair stand on end: we witness, first-hand and close-up, the inhuman treatment meted out to Soviet soldiers by their leaders, and we have real sympathy for the poor devils.

Oct

30

1943

Italian peasants shelter SAS raiding party

SAS volunteers jumping from steel gantries while undergoing parachute training at Kabrit, Egypt.

Staggering forward against the wind and the rain, we retraced our path to the village by following our own footsteps in the mud. I found a tiny one-roomed cottage and knocked on the door. An old peasant gave me a chair by the table while he went out into the rain to find the others. Pointing to the soaked rag of a map, I told him that we wanted a guide and he brought forward his son, who knew the countryside well. We brewed up some tea and dosed McPhail with quinine for he was now seriously ill.

Oct

29

1943

Japanese execute troublesome Hong Kong internees

The Japanese had interned most western civilians after they occupied Hong Kong.

Eventually he was arrested and subjected to prolonged and severe torture by the Japanese who were determined to obtain information from him and to make him implicate the others who were working with him. Under this treatment he steadfastly refused to utter one word that could help the Japanese investigations or bring punishment to others. His fortitude under the most severe torture was such that it was commented upon by the Japanese prison guards.

Oct

28

1943

Kusnezovo villagers murdered in ‘anti-partisan reprisals’

The results of an anti partisan operation earlier in 1943. Such exhibitions were intended to have a deterrent effect.

“Because,” said he, “you harboured partisans in your village.” But his words were untruthful because we had no partisans in the village and nobody took part in any partisan activities, since there was nobody left. Only old people and small children were left in the village, the village had never seen any partisans and did not know who these partisans were.

Oct

27

1943

Invasion of Treasury Islands – USS Cony hit

Interior view of bomb damage to USS Cony.

Then at 3:15PM, they came at us. So many of them. We started to fire everything we had. Bombs dropping all around us. 17 of them missed us. Then at 3:25PM we got 2 direct hits on port and starboard. Shrapnel flew everywhere. Lots of men were hit. 3-4-5 guns went out. Fire broke out on engines, they went out of order. We started to leave Treasury at 4:00PM. Worked on fires. Was up all night taking care of wounded.

Oct

26

1943

The Irish Brigade in the trenches in Italy

An Achilles 17pdr tank destroyer of 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment crossing the River Savio on a Churchill ARK which was driven into the river, 24 October 1944.

I slept for about 6 hours – my batman waking me once with a cup of tea. I awoke at 3, feeling a new man. A merciful providence saved my life for 5 minutes later a shell burst 5 yards from where I had been sleeping, and the blanket was covered with large bits of shrapnel. I would not have stood an earthly, if I had been there.

Oct

25

1943

Mosquito night fighter over London AA fire

Mosquito PR Mark IX, LR432 ‘L1’,

But we had dived in a very short time from the Arctic cold of twenty-five thousand feet, and the moisture from the warmer air below began to cake in solid ice on our windscreen. In a few moments it was opaque, and although by the time we had pulled out of our dive the range had closed to two thousand feet we could see nothing through that sheet of ice.

Oct

24

1943

Japanese execute Australian commando Leonard Siffleet

On 24th October 1943, Australian World War II commando Leonard Siffleet was beheaded on Aitape Beach in Papua New Guinea, along with two Ambonese, H. Pattiwal and M. Reharing.

This photograph,  of  Japanese soldier Yasuno Chikao just before he struck, was taken from the body of a Japanese casualty later in the war.

The Major has drawn his favourite sword. It is the famous masamune sword which he had shown us at the observation station. It glitters in the light and sends a cold shiver down my spine. He taps the prisoner’s neck lightly with the back of the blade, then raises it above his head with both arms and brings it clown with a powerful sweep. I had been standing with muscles tensed, but in that moment I closed my eyes.

Oct

23

1943

Over 400 dead as HMS Charybdis is ambushed

HMS Charybidis, torpedoed by German E boats and sunk in the English Channel on the 23rd October 1943

She was stopped now, broadside on. A Hunt Class, one of ours. But had she seen us? she must be in range of enemy shore batteries, and with the coming light in danger of air attack. Being stopped she was a target for any ‘U’ boat. I tried to tell the others she wouldn’t wait – lets swim for it – but I could only speak with one hand. That was it, I must try and reach her before she got underway again. I let go the lifeline and struck out. Two, three strokes and everything went black.

Oct

22

1943

Spike Milligan returns to the front line

Gunners pick up shells in a flooded 5.5-inch gun position on the Volturno front, October 1943.

0430: the Artillery opened up and fired non-stop until 0624, then a silence. From the distant hill we hear the dreadful sound of Spandaus and Schmeisers that are spraying the early morning with bullets, and I can’t but wonder at the courage of these lads in the Guards Brigade forward into it. What a terrible, unexplainable lunacy. There must have been a lot of casualties as there was talk of us having to send gravedigging parties.