May 2014

May

21

1944

Tension in Britain during wait for ‘Second Front’

Churchill Mk IV tanks in storage on the Winchester by-pass in Hampshire, in readiness for the invasion of Europe, 16 May 1944.

There is a curious new something in their expressions which recalls the way people looked when the blitz was on. It’s an air of responsibility, as though they had shouldered the job of being back in the civilian front line once again. It’s evident in the faces of women looking up thoughtfully from their gardens at the gliders passing overhead, in the unguarded faces of businessmen wearily catnapping on trains on their way home to all-night Home Guard duty, in the faces of everybody except the young fighting men themselves.

May

20

1944

US Navy “practice gunnery” targets Jap strongpoints

Empty 6" shell casings on the deck of the USS Montpelier CL-57 after battle action of Task Force #39 in the South Pacific on the 23 Dec 1943.

Our ship knocked out the Jap radio tower and some anti-aircraft guns, we also helped knock out some of the big shore batteries. The cruiser Cleveland fired over a thousand rounds of six inch shells not to mention what the rest of us fired. The Japs must have thought they were at a shooting gallery firing these big 8 inch guns at us and shell and shrapnel falling all around us. Those Japs have plenty of guts, they are not afraid of anything.

May

19

1944

British 6th Airborne are ready for Normandy

The Queen and Princess Elizabeth talk to paratroopers in front of a Halifax aircraft during a tour of airborne forces preparing for D-Day, 19 May 1944.

Then they cast off: you could see the tug aircraft rising and flying away, the drone of their great engines lessening, whilst round in enormous spirals sail the gliders. The sky seems thick with them. Then you hear the swish as, engineless, they come in to land. First one then another, then half a dozen at a time, and the sky still full of them. How are they all going to get in? They touch down at between seventy and eighty miles an hour. Swish they roar across the ground. How is it that they do not crash into one another?

May

18

1944

Polish troops capture Monte Cassino

A low aerial view of the Monastery showing its complete destruction

But when the infantry probed the outskirts they found little opposition, and many Germans gave themselves up. There was some sniping and some machine gunning, but this was soon overcome, and in due course the place was mopped up. Some casualties were caused by time bombs left by the Hun. Later we learnt that the Polish flag was flying over the Monastery. It was very fitting that this should be so, for the Poles have suffered dearly.

May

17

1944

Merrill’s Marauders capture Jap Airfield in Burma

American troops of Merrill's Marauders and the Chinese march side by side down the Ledo Road. February 1944

By now my dysentery was so violent I was draining blood. Every one of the men was sick from one cause or another. My shoulders were worn raw from the pack straps, and I left the pack behind… The boys with me weren’t in much better shape… A scout moving ahead suddenly held his rifle high in the air.

May

16

1944

First Hungarian Jews arrive in Auschwitz

Part of a sequence of pictures taken by Nazis at Auschwitz, documenting the process of 'selection' on the 'ramps'. Taken in late May or early June 1944.

Almost daily several trains consisting, on average, of forty to fifty cattle trucks, arrived on the newly built ramp at Birkenau. The trucks into which up to 100 people had been crammed were bolted; they were unlocked only when the train had reached its destination. The people were parched with thirst since, during their journey lasting several days, they had been given not a drop of water. Many died en route from the rigours of the journey.

May

15

1944

Back into the front line after 40% casualties

View of the Garrison Hill battlefield with the British and Japanese positions shown. Garrison Hill was the key to the British defences at Kohima.

The desolation was augmented by millions of flies as they tried to do justice to the feast that ‘civilised’ man had delivered to them, moving from corpses to latrines, then to our food and pricking and sucking the naked parts of our bodies, such as hands and faces, which might then absorb some disease.

May

14

1944

Attack continues after 100 casualties in 2 minutes

German prisoners being searched during the attack across the River Gari on the Gustav Line, 13 May 1944.

Captain Wakeford, keeping his Company under perfect control, crossed the start line and although wounded in the face and in both arms, led his men up the hill. Half way up the hill his Company came under heavy spandau fire; in spite of his wounds, he organized and led a force to deal with this opposition so that his Company could get on.

May

13

1944

Germans seek more from their agent in Britain

German Military Intelligence had built up a remarkably detailed picture of British army units preparing for the Invasion of Europe.

General impression gained by the VM on the basis of what he ascertained during the exercises and former information about this division is that it is intended for action in Norway as the division is continually receiving training in mountain warfare and all its equipment points to the probability of its going into action in northern regions. Have taken all measures to continue to watch every movement of transport fleet and troops.

May

12

1944

Single handed attack overcomes German position

The fame of the old Indian Cavalry Regiments is known throughout the world. They have always been splendid horsemen, and fine fighting soldiers. These regiments still exist bearing their famous names and traditions, but newly equipped for modern warfare they have become the Indian Armoured Corps. Formations of this Corps have fought with distinction in the campaigns in the Middle East, and the Far East, and are now engaged in fighting in Italy. An Indian Armoured Formation somewhere in the Middle East. Picture shows:- The fighting Indian soldier. A fine study of Naik Gulab Nhan, in full cry, charging towards the camera, with fixed bayonets. He comes from the village of Amer Jaipur State.

Volunteering at once and crawling forward through the wire to a flank, Sepoy Kamal Ram attacked the post single handed and shot the first machine-gunner; a second German tried to seize his weapon but Sepoy Kamal Ram killed him with the bayonet, and then shot a German officer who, appearing from the trench with his pistol, was about to fire.