February 2014

Feb

28

February 1944

Survival in Auschwitz – understand the system

SS men exist but are few and outside the camp, and are seen relatively infrequently. Our effective masters in practice are the green triangles, who have a free hand over us, as well as those of the other two categories who are ready to help them – and they are not few.

Feb

27

February 1944

Anzio – searching through the pockets of the dead

On the Anzio beachhead everyone was either on the frontline or just behind it, the depth of ground held by the Allies was only a few miles at its greatest extent, and everyone was under threat from shellfire. There were a number of caves and the basements of buildings which provided relatively good sleeping accommodation, […]

Feb

26

February 1944

Beaten to death for teaching children

She held the side of her head as the blood seeped from between her fingers. I don’t think I could ever have imagined that much blood coming from such a wound. It covered her blouse and her skirt and fell in drops onto the dry earth. I couldn’t believe the blow to her head had not killed her, but she stood still and, although she was crying, I could see she was getting stronger by the second.

Feb

25

February 1944

The plans for Overlord come together

On D day alone, First Army was to put ashore the equivalent of more than 200 trainloads of troops. By D plus 14 the U.S. build-up would more than double the strength of the U. S. Army at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Within two weeks after crashing the wall we would have landed enough vehicles to form a double column from Pittsburgh to Chicago.

Feb

24

February 1944

“Big week” – daily USAAF raids on German factories

The Group was faced with the decision to follow the lead units of the Air Division to a questionable target and maintain the integrity of the Division formation or to pursue a separate course that might later prove to be erroneous and which would expose the Group formation to even greater enemy attacks. The Group chose the latter, and maintaining perfect formation, valiantly fought its way through the flak defenses to bomb the target with pin-point accuracy, virtually destroying it.

Feb

23

February 1944

Londoners adjust to a nightly ‘Blitz’

The clouds light up with gun-flashes, flares, and path-finding cascades of light- globules nicknamed candelabras. Sometimes a green or dusky red ball comes floating through the clouds. Fires are started on the horizon while behind it the clouds glow a dusky red. A plane zooms overhead. Shrapnel cracks on the rooftops. And gradually the noise dies down and the lights go out.

Feb

22

February 1944

George Cross following munitions factory explosion

At 8.30 am that morning, one fuze exploded, immediately detonating the whole tray. The girl working on that tray was killed outright and her body disintegrated; two girls standing behind her were partly shielded from the blast by her body, but both were seriously injured, one fatally. The factory was badly damaged: the roof was blown off, electric fittings were dangling precariously; and one of the walls was swaying in the breeze.

Feb

21

February 1944

Fate and shellfire on the Anzio bridgehead

That night I was off duty for a few hours and slept in my personal slit trench which was as narrow as I could bear, about two feet deep but warm enough. I managed a fair night’s sleep disturbed only by some shelling and bombing. However the trouble with sleeping alone was that during the shelling I tended to develop an uncontrollable tremble. This never happened at other times and was no doubt a manifestation of fear.

Feb

20

February 1944

London faces up to the ‘Mini-Blitz’

Finally we decided to go up on the roof. Very cold as we climbed by the fire escape. Firewatchers were like ants below. White frost on all the roofs, and in the direction of Portobello Road there was the sound of a crackling fire. We knew it was near. Other fires round about. We well deserved pneumonia, but could not resist such an amazing sight from the roof.

Feb

19

February 1944

Walker gets another U-Boat – U-264 and crew

“U 264” remained submerged for some time after her contact with the convoy. At about noon on 19th February, she came to a depth of about 20 m. (65 ft.) in order to signal Control. She was then discovered by a group of destroyers which immediately began a prolonged attack. The U-Boat immediately submerged to a greater depth and, taking evasive action, released several S.B.T. charges. She was unable to shake off her pursuers and depth-charges continued to rain down on her.