February 1941

Feb

18

1941

The Swansea Blitz

Another official image of people stoically getting on with it after being made homeless.

I called up to him to ask where she was. He pointed down to the rubble and said “down there, under that lot”. We started to pull away the bricks and shattered wood with our bare hand and soon the rescue unit came and we then stood back for them to dig. After about an hour we found her under a very strong table, not a mark on her, and her first words were “Is my husband alive!?”

Feb

17

1941

Moving west to defend Benghazi

An official portrait of the triumphant British soldier: few kept anywhere near this degree of smartness whilst in the desert.

The war on land in Libya must be over for we met convoy after convoy of guns going back – sixty pounders, twenty-five pounders, 4.5 inch howitzers – nearly fifty guns in all and there could not be many more than 150 in the whole campaign on our side – an incredible thought in view of the hundreds of captured guns which we had seen ourselves alone!

Feb

16

1941

Oppression in Zichenau, Poland

Jews in Zichenau, Poland are informed by Public Notice that their homes are to be demolished.

At that time the Jews were ordered to restrict their area of residence. With us it was a ghetto, but it was the only ghetto that was not closed although it was a defined area which Jews were forbidden to leave. Anyone found outside this restricted area was shot. At that time they destroyed many of the old houses in the centre of the town; they were mainly Jewish houses and the people whose good homes were taken away had to enter the restricted area.

Feb

15

1941

British housing destroyed or damaged

The original caption for this official image was entitled 'The Sun Still Shines' - images of wartime damage were carefully controlled and every effort was made to present a story of cheerful defiance.

People were out and so did not stand a chance. It destroyed five streets of houses and spread damage for three miles – so the lady said. Many killed and injured and made homeless. It was a working class district of Hendon. The three young people on the roof found themselves tied in knots, and did not know if they were dead or alive.

Feb

14

1941

Random savagery in the Warsaw ghetto

Conditions for those left on the streets of the Warsaw ghetto were very grim.

The very physical weakness of his victim inflamed the soldier. As soon as the peddler fell, he began stamping on him and beating him mercilesslv with his whip. He beat him in various ways, cruelly and sadistically – sometimes on the head, sometimes on the face, sometimes a kick, sometimes a jab. He didn’t leave a single part of him unharmed. From a distance it looked as though he was beating a corpse.

Feb

13

1941

The Indian Ocean fleet in action

The aircraft carrier HMS Formidable, pictured later in the war.

It is probable that one hit was made with a torpedo on a ship lying at a jetty in the Northern Harbour, where a submarine and a supply ship had been reported by reconnaissance, and one merchant ship was sunk outside, also by torpedo. A second merchant ship was also sunk either by torpedo or bomb. In the bombing attack on the main harbour one probable hit was made on a large destroyer.

Feb

12

1941

Rommel takes command in North Africa

The German General Erwin Rommel, soon to earn the nickname 'the Desert Fox' arrived in Tripoli on 12th February 1941.

Hitler had no particular strategic interest in North Africa but he could not see Mussolini totally humiliated. Erwin Rommel had demonstrated his zeal for aggressive independent leadership during the invasion of France and was regarded as the ideal man to lead the relatively small Panzer force that would become known as the Afrika Corps.

Feb

11

1941

Bombers lost in fog over Britain

The first British four engined bomber, the Stirling, made its first operational flight on 10th/11th February 1941.

As we had be airborne for over 10 hours and it would seem had only a few minutes petrol left I gave instructions to abandon aircraft when flying at about 10,000ft. After the crew had all baled out I trimmed the aircraft and as we were over hilly open landscape I left by the forward escape floor hatch.
According to the previous ground instructions we had received, one waited 10 seconds before pulling the rip cord of the parachute. Whether I did or not I don’t know but I was wearing a breast type chute and expected to feel a rush of silk pass my face and when this did not happen my immediate thought was ‘it’s not opening’ only to be pulled up with a sudden jerk as the chute opened and left me swinging without any sense of falling.

Feb

10

1941

First British Airborne Raid

Early British parachute training from a converted Whitley bomber.

Plans for the men to be evacuated by submarine had to be abandoned when the rendezvous site was compromised, and the plan had made no provision for an alternative rendezvous point. In any event the the escaping men, who travelled in four groups, found it extremely difficult to travel covertly across country in a landscape packed with small farms. They were all soon captured.

Feb

9

1941

‘Give us the tools to finish the job’

The Battlship HMS Barham which operated in the Mediterranean in 1941.

With every month that passes the many proud and once happy countries he is now holding down by brute force and vile intrigue are learning to hate the Prussian yoke and the Nazi name, as nothing has ever been hated so fiercely and so widely among men before. And all the time, masters of the sea and air, the British Empire – nay, in a certain sense, the whole English-speaking world will be on his track bearing with them the swords of Justice.