March 2014

Mar

21

1944

Cremer’s U-333 survives attack by Walkers’ Group

The days of U-boats expecting to return for propaganda medal ceremonies were long since gone. The number of U-boats lost had gone up dramatically since mid 1943.

It was best to play possum and let nothing be heard of us – come what might. So I laid the boat on the bottom where it bedded itself softly in sand and mud. I ordered the crew to rest and as far as possible not to think of depth charges, though it was impossible not to hear them. I thought: whoever throws so many will soon have none left. Meanwhile the hands of our clock kept moving, the search dragged on and lasted into the night.

Mar

20

1944

Joyce Grenfell sees the casualties of war up close

Medical Transport: Interior of a C 47 air ambulance flying between Catania, Italy to the General Hospital in Tunis, Tunisia. US Army nurse, Miss Mary Smith, is taking particulars from the patient during the flight. These men had started their journey at a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) at Forgia.

The first ward (it was at 65) was a huge surgical [ward] full of casts, pulleys, and very sick men. All the time we were playing there were sisters doing dressings, patients feeding from tubes, orderlies bringing people in from the theatres and newly arrived from the line. About half the room was too ill to listen or care; the others lay and took it in with their eyes. It was no fun to see the suffering going on in there.

Mar

19

1944

Chaos as the Germans begin to depart eastern Poland

Vinnytsia residents welcome Soviet soldiers-liberators. Vinnitsa city was under German occupation from July 21, 1941. Was released on March 20, 1944 the troops of the 38th Army of the 1st Ukrainian Front during Proskurovo-Chernovtsy operation.

Some Poles are fearful of the time between the German pullout and the arrival of Russian troops or the Home Army because they think the Ukrainians will start a massacre. Overall there is a happy feeling here. The days of our slavery are now numbered. We see Germans escaping. This is the day we have been waiting for years to see.

Mar

18

1944

Friedrichshafen – disaster for the 392nd Group

Consolidated B-24 'Liberators' in the close formation that was intended to give them mutual protection from the Luftwaffe.

The navigator, being dazed from the exploded 20mm shell and his wounds, which cost him his eye, wanted to bail out. The bombardier was struggling to restrain him, and Stupski misinterpreted the action. The navigator soon quieted down and was given a shot of morphine to ease his pain.” Time “whizzed” by and there they were again at three o’clock and climbing. Their sleek-nosed silhouettes identified them as Messerschmitt 109s or Folke-Wulf 190s. All we could do was to sit there and wait. Then – here they came again!

Mar

17

1944

Officer’s VC after arm hacked off by Jap’s sword

Major General O C Wingate (1903 - 1944): One of the last pictures of Wingate, with his rifle, on board a Dakota of 1 Air Commando, during the second 'Chindit' expedition.

Some shots had come down at us but not as many as I had expected, which probably meant we had regained the initiative by then and taken them unawares. Then, to my surprise, the Japs leapt up as we went at them and charged into us. Two sides charging at each other was certainly not going according to the military rule books.

Mar

16

1944

Montgomery speaks to the D-Day invasion troops

General Sir Bernard Montgomery standing on the bonnet of a jeep speaking to troops of 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles, after carrying out an inspection of the battalion near Portsmouth in the run-up to D-Day. The battalion had previously served in his division earlier in the war.

‘I wanted to come here today so that we could get to know one another: so that I could have a look at you and you could have a look at me – if you think that’s worth doing. We have got to go off and do a job together very soon now, you and I, and we must have confidence in one another. And now that I have seen you I have complete confidence… complete confidence… absolutely complete confidence. And you must have confidence in me.’

Mar

15

1944

Officer’s sacrifice as Japanese march towards India

The Campaign in North and Central Burma February 1944 - August 1945: A well armed patrol of American led Burmese guerillas crossing a river in central Burma.

The Japanese then arrested 270 Karens and tortured and killed many of them but still they continued to support Major Seagrim. To end further suffering to the Karens, Seagrim surrendered himself to the Japanese on 15th March 1944. He was taken to Rangoon and together with eight others he was sentenced to death. He pleaded that the others were following his orders and as such they should be spared, but they were determined to die with him and were all executed.

Mar

14

1944

Italian civilians suffer as the struggle continues

Naples, September - October 1943: The twisted metal of a wrecked gantry crane destroyed by Germans, lying in Naples harbour.

He was chained up in the usual way, weeping desperately, clearly knowing what was coming. It took the judge minutes to find him guilty and sentence him to ten years. ‘What’s going to happen no my poor family?’ he shrieked. He was led away sobbing loudly. A sickening experience.

Mar

13

1944

U-boat commander massacres survivors in the water

The defendants in the U-852 trial. From left to right: Eck, August Hoffmann, Walter Weisspfennig, Hans Lenz, Wolfgang Schwender. The leftmost three were executed.

He decided to destroy all pieces of wreckage and rafts and gave the order to open fire; on the floating rafts. He thought that the rafts were a danger to him, first because they would show aeroplanes the exact spot ofthe sinking, and secondly because rafts at that time of the war, as was well-known, could be provided with modern signalling communication. When he opened fire there were no human beings to be seen on the rafts.

Mar

12

1944

U-boat murder leads to last mass execution in U.S.

Werner Drechsler, recovering from a bullet wound to his right knee, disembarks USS Osmond Ingram assisted by Hermann Polowzyk

The investigation in that case indicated that Drechsler had been used as an informant by G-2 or ONI to assist in the interrogation and processing of prisoners at Meade or some other installation in this vicinity. After his usefulness had been exhausted Drechsler was shipped to Papago Park for imprisonment. He was a submarine man, and Papago Park detains numerous Navy prisoners. Drechsler was recognized as a traitor to Germany and was murdered. This result could or should have been foreseen, to put it mildly.