1941

May

5

1941

Hitler inspects the Bismarck

Hitler on an inspection tour of the Bismarck, 5th May 1941, with Captain Lindemann on his right  and Admiral Lutjens behind.

He considered it an advantage that in the Bismaick, which was more powerful than the Scharnhorst class, he would no longer be forced to avoid well protected convoys. This, however, did not solve his most difficult problem: getting his force out into the Atlantic without being spotted by the enemy.

May

4

1941

Starvation on Warsaw’s streets

Starvation meant that the dead and dying were a common sight on the streets of the ghetto by May 1941.

There was scarcely a night when you didn’t hear the groans of people dying on the street. The typhus spread. Doctors made superhuman efforts to control the disease: daily rounds of assigned buildings, lectures maintaining hygiene, attempts to obtain soap rations and disinfectants, and long hard hours in the hospital. But the epidemic grew, owing to the conditions inside the ghetto.

May

3

1941

Liverpool’s ‘May Blitz’

The devastation in Liverpool docks after ammunition ship 'Malakand' blew up on the night 3rd May 1941.

A lot of children were evacuated to the countryside, but my mother would not let me go and decided to move back to Nelson. She went working in the mill weaving. She would work there from early morning until teatime, then rush home and after tea go back to work on munitions until 10 pm.

May

2

1941

War breaks out in Iraq

RAF Fordson Armoured Cars in Iraq, May 1941

On the 2nd May, at 0200 hours, the Royal Air Force Cantonment at Habbaniya was invested by Iraqi troops and hostilities broke out. The aerodrome and emergency landing ground were shelled, and 22 out of 29 serviceable aircraft were damaged. Our casualties were over 40, including four pilots andi two observers. Iraqi aircraft unsuccessfully bombed and machine-gunned the camp.

May

1

1941

Tobruk defences tested

A German Panzer III tank on the move in the desert, April - May 1941

Shells exploding close at hand included the angry buzzing of shrapnel fragments. The mind can hardly grasp the amount of ‘lead’ that has been scattered over the desert by exploding shrapnel; the surface of the ground is positively carpeted with jagged, ugly, twisted fragments; sometimes eight inches long. It says a lot for defensive methods that any troops survive.

Apr

30

1941

Hitler’s Passport faked

The details page of the passport where Hitler's distinguishing feature is described as a 'small moustache'.

This was a demonstration of the skills of the forgery section of the Special Operations Executive who were responsible for running agents in occupied Europe. They were to develop huge expertise in the creation of a wide range of fake documentation used for personal identification.

Apr

29

1941

Plymouth bombed again

A Naval bomb disposal unit deals with an unexploded bomb during the Plymouth blitz.

It is natural that after five such raids the people should be somewhat shaken, but the movement of population from the city is regarded as reasonably well in hand, and the problem is being largely solved by the provision of rail tickets for would-be evacuees, and by the evacuation of children from specified areas.

Apr

28

1941

Last ditch stand at Kalamata

Greek and British prisoners of war are marched off by the Germans, Greece, April 1941.

When order to retreat to cover was given Sergeant Hinton shouted, ‘To Hell with this who will come with me’, and ran to within several yards of the nearest guns. The guns fired, missing him, and he hurled two grenades which completely wiped out the crews. He then came on with bayonet …

Apr

27

1941

Himmler visits Mauthausen

Himmler talking to SS Guards in Mauthausen concentration camp, 27th April 1941

The 12 hour days of hard physical labour on a meagre diet were lethal for many of the inmates. But there were other more direct methods of killing. The Stairs of death involved long lines of prisoners carrying 50kg granite blocks up the stairs. Those who stumbled would fall on the prisoners following them, creating a domino effect that killed or injured dozens.

Apr

26

1941

The last defence line in Greece

German parachute troops relax after the assault on the Corinth Canal.

Then the Germans started dropping the parachutists, and it was quite evident that nothing was going to stop them. Eventually there were left only the Sergeant, Alan Ponsford, and myself (bombardier), and deciding the only course of action was to spike the gun, we threw the breech block as far as we could into a corn field.