April 1941

Apr

20

1941

German break through in Greece

German infantry on the march in Greece, April 1941

The most decisive German effort seems to have been made on the 20th April. Those forces which had already on the day before reached the plain of Thessaly advanced on Lamia, whilst German motorised forces struck across the Pindus Mountains from Grevena and reached the Yannina area. At the same time, the roads of withdrawal of the Imperial and Greek forces were attacked by dive-bombers with fighter escort, whilst similar attacks were made on the harbour of Piraeus.

Apr

19

1941

Noel Coward sings through the blitz

The Fire Brigade was organised by the Local Authorities until August 1941, when the National Fire Service was created.

On the whole, a strange and very amusing evening. People’s behaviour absolutely magnificent. Much better than gallant. Wish the whole of America could really see and understand it. Thankful to God I came back. Would not have missed this experience for anything.

Apr

18

1941

Coastal Command attack convoy

A low level attack on a convoy off Norway by No. 21 Squadron on 18th April. The German Flak ship in the foreground had a range of anti-aircraft guns, including one mounted in the enlarged 'crows nest'.

As a result of the first patrol a 7,000-ton vessel is believed to have been hit, and a 3,000-ton vessel was hit twice and seen to be rapidly sinking; two of our aircraft were lost. During the second patrol the Blenheims were attacked by five Me. 110, three of our aircraft being shot down, but all were able to drop their bombs and a direct hit is estimated on another ship.

Apr

17

1941

Heavy attack on London

Fire fighting in Southwark on the night of 16th/17th April 1941.

Some sixty-six boroughs were affected, the main bombing being on central and southern London. Damage in the docks area was comparatively light and so far there is little damage to key points to record. In addition to H.E. and incendiary bombs a large number of parachute mines were dropped and great damage was done to private property by fire and blast.

Apr

16

1941

Aftermath of the Belfast Blitz

Clearing up after the Belfast blitz

It looked like photographs of Spain or China or some town in the last war. Houses roofless, windowless, burnt out or burning, familiar landmarks gone and in their place vast craters and mounds of rubble. The desolation is indescribable. Thousands and thousands must be homeless, and as for the death toll, I shuddered to think horrors and ghastly injuries and death which have occured.

Apr

15

1941

Italian convoy destroyed off Sfax

HMS Jervis, a flotilla leader destroyer, sister ship to HMS Kelly, won battle honours throughout the war.

During the action H.M. Destroyer Mohawk was torpedoed and sank, and of her crew seven officers and 160 ratings were rescued. The other destroyers had no casualties and sustained only slight splinter damage. Owing to the approach of daylight it was not possible to wait and pick up enemy survivors

Apr

14

1941

Tank versus tank inside Tobruk

A German Mk IV tank, its turret blown off by a 25-pounder during the battle within Tobruk on the 14th April.

‘Driver advance, turn slightly left.’ My tank moved across to give this man protection. It was a stupid move, because by turning I presented the German tank gunners with a larger target, and they took full advantage of it. As we were turning back head-on to the enemy, the engine cut out, and we were left slightly ‘broadside on’. ‘She’s on fire, sir!’ shouted Adams, but he went on loading shells.

Apr

13

1941

John Edmondson wins the Victoria Cross

Corporal John Edmondson won the Victoria Cross during the defence of Tobruk.

Lieutenant Mackell led six men forward, including Corporal John Edmondson. They came under fire almost as soon as they left their trenches. Edmondson was hit by machine gun fire in the stomach and neck but kept going, bayoneting two Germans in a furious assault that had the Germans fleeing …

Apr

12

1941

Falling back in Greece

German artillery during the invasion of Greece, 1941

One morning three bombs landed not twenty yards from the hole we were crouching in, covering us with filth, my tent was torn in three places by jagged pieces of bomb splinters. Forty yards from my tent a huge bomb tore a hole in the ground twenty feet deep and seventy feet wide. After dropping their bombs they fly low and machine-gun us because we have no planes to chase them-off – the sky is THEIRS.

Apr

11

1941

The siege of Tobruk begins

A Junkers 87 dive bomber brought down near Tobruk.

Then one came, sensationally straight at us, dived to a few feet off the ground and went clean through our position with machine-guns blazing. We filled him up with machine gun bullets and smoke came pouring from him as he staggered and side-slipped, regained control and disappeared over the brow of the hill. This we claimed as ours without dispute.