May 2014

May

31

1944

‘No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country’

US Engineers are briefed on their objectives for the forthcoming invasion, May 1944. Left to right: Private Albert V Ottolino; PFC (Private First Class) Howard D Kraut; Private J H James.

Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers … Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.

May

30

1944

US Medic taken prisoner on the advance to Rome

Suspecting German snipers may be concealed in the ruins of this house in Velletri, a patrol party advances cautiously, rifles ready for instant use. Velletri, Italy. 29 May 1944

The first thing I heard was “Hands Ho!” and this freckle-faced kid who looked to be 14 or 15 years old shoved this Burp Gun in my face and demanded “Pistola! Pistola!” I said, “no Pistola! no Pistola!” and then there were a dozen hands all over me. They took everything except some of my medical equipment and my clothes. I always carried two canteens and extra rations, cigarettes, etc. Boy, they really cleaned me out.

May

29

1944

Civilians in Britain anticipate the ‘Second Front’

Princess Elizabeth inspecting an honour guard during a Royal visit to 2nd (Armoured) Battalion Grenadier Guards, 5th Guards Armoured Brigade, Guards Armoured Division, at Hove, 17 May 1944.

Although dead secret, much seeps through, how the Americans have been pouring tanks, guns, and equipment into this country, how the respective armies have been given different objectives — the Yanks here, the Canadians there, the British somewhere else, and how the invasion will be preceded both by a massive air-bombardment and an attack by air-borne gliders.

May

28

1944

Portland air raid threatens invasion fleet

Landing Craft Infantry (Large) massed at Bizerte, Tunisia, 6 July 1943 while loading troops for the invasion of Sicily. Similar scenes were now common on the south coast of England.

A net was immediately thrown over the locality and a search made. The missing men were found in a beer house, which was immediately closed, and customers, proprietors, and deserters were thrown into jail, likewise a woman talking through the wire to her husband.

May

27

1944

Biak – “a shitty little malaria and typhus infested atoll”

The Campaign in the Dutch East Indies, April - September 1944: American infantry advance behind a Sherman tank on the island of Biak. On Biak the Americans encounted stiff opposition and the island was not taken until August 1944

Our shoulder patch was a representation of a setting sun; we were the sunset to the Jap flag’s rising sun motif. But recently Tokyo Rose had given us a new nickname: the “Butchers of Biak”. In her nightly radio broadcasts she would berate our alleged brutality, and try to destroy morale by predicting our impending doom. A captured Jap order directed the beheading of all American prisoners.

May

26

1944

George Orwell on Anglo-American relations

GI Brides: Scrawled across the tent left by one of the United States soldiers who took part in the first Allied landings in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944, was the message "Sorry Jean, had to go, Johnny." Many couples did not have a chance to say goodbye because of the secrecy surrounding preparations for D-Day.

Some of these girls are being educated for their life in a new country at the ‘Schools for Brides of U.S. Servicemen’ organized by the American Red Cross. Here they are taught practical details about American manners, customs and traditions — and also, perhaps, cured of the widespread illusion that every American owns a motor car and every American house contains a bathroom, a refrigerator and an electric washing-machine.

May

25

1944

Chindits: British forced to shoot their wounded

Chindit Operations - General: A railway bridge behind Japanese lines is blown up by Chindits

The doctor said, ‘l’ve got another thirty on ahead, who can be saved, if we can carry them.’ The rain clattered so loud on the bamboo that I could hardly hear what he said. ‘These men have no chance. They’re full of morphia. Most of them have bullet and splinter wounds beside what you can see. Not one chance at all, sir, I give you my word of honour. Look, this man’s died already, and that one. None can last another two hours, at the outside.

May

24

1944

Canadian infantry hold bridgehead against Panzers

Major John Keefer Mahony VC

Early in the action, Major Mahony was wounded in the head and twice in the leg, but he refused medical aid and continued to direct the defence of the bridgehead, despite the fact that movement of any kind caused him extreme pain. It was only when the remaining Companies of the Regiment had crossed the river to support him that he allowed his wounds to be dressed and even then refused to be evacuated, staying instead with his Company.

May

23

1944

Breakout from Anzio

British soldiers take cover from German shelling in a shallow trench during the breakout. The trench is similar to many which were dug along the opposing front lines during the lifetime of the bridgehead.

The timing of the attack from Anzio again caught the enemy off-guard. As the artillery fire suddenly ended our tanks drove through the smoke, followed by swarms of infantry that caught the enemy outposts unprepared. Some of the Germans in dugouts had to be dragged out with only part of their clothes on, completely unready for battle.

May

22

1944

Chindit jungle strongpoint faces third Japanese attack

Chindits at rest in their jungle bivouac.

With a heavy heart I sent a Most Immediate signal to Joe asking for permission to abandon the block at my discretion. The direction of the new Japanese attack would prevent night supply drops on the airfield, and, with the A.A. guns, only night drops were now possible. Night drops on the block, or on the jungle to the west, could never keep us supplied with ammunition in heavy battle. It would take too many men, too long, to find and bring in the boxes.