January 1941

Jan

8

1941

Australians herd their Italian prisoners

A few guards escort the masses of Italian prisoners of war from Bardia into captivity.

These men from the dockside of Sydney and the sheep stations of the Riverina presented such a picture of downright toughness with their gaunt dirty faces, huge boots, revolvers stuffed in their pockets, gripping their rifles with huge shapeless hands, shouting and grinning — always grinning — that the mere sight of them must have disheartened the enemy troops.

Jan

7

1941

Daylight raids around Britain

A Heinkel He III navigator locates the target site during a daylight raid, early 1941.

On the 7th January, during the most extensive daylight raiding that we have known for some weeks, London was raided intermittently for three and a half hours, and bombs were dropped in fifteen districts. On the same day many incidents were reported from East Anglia and the Home Counties, and one from Coventry.

Jan

6

1941

Roosevelt declares the Four Freedoms

A pre war portrait of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

Jan

5

1941

Bardia Captured

The cold light of day - a few of the 40,000 Italians that surrendered to the 6th Australian Division at Bardia

The ‘suicidal’ major repeated his gesture of honour several times until an Australian sentry approached with a bayonet levelled at the seat of his pants and said: ‘Get back, you mug, before I shoot you’. The terrorized Fascist major skipped back into line at the double.

Jan

4

1941

Battle rages at Bardia

An official photograph taken 4 January 1941, demonstrating how cold it was in the desert. General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief, Middle East, with Lieutenant General Richard O'Connor, Commander Western Desert Forces, during the assault on Bardia.

The Battle for Bardia was was still being fought on the fourth of January. Although it was progressing well the 6th Australian Division still sustained over 500 casualties in the assault. While the Italians were poorly led and lacked a coherent strategy, the front line troops were still capable of putting up fierce resistance.

Jan

3

1941

Australian’s dawn attack on Bardia

British artillery gun firing in the desert

In the last run that we made, one of the light tanks got a little too close to an anti-tank gun and received several direct hits which penetrated the armour. Of the crew of three the driver was killed by the first shot, and the commander, our newest young officer, had one of his hands shattered. The driver’s foot still rested on the accelerator and the tank continued to motor in towards the enemy. All this the young commander told us over the air, and we were powerless to help him.

Jan

2

1941

Cardiff Blitzed

A rescue party at work in the aftermath of the Cardiff Blitz

We were in the Anderson Shelter which my father had built half submerged in the back garden, with several feet of soil over the top. He had also built bunks in the shelter and fitted a sand-bag shielded door to the front of the shelter. It was a bitterly cold January night that my mother, father, brother and I huddled together in the shelter. Just thinking of that night brings back the whistle of the bombs falling and the terrible explosions that followed.

Jan

1

1941

Hitler’s New Year Message

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring in formal dress in 1940

The year 1941 will see the German army, the German navy and Luftwaffe step up enormously reinforced and with improved equipment. The last of the war criminals will collapse under its blows, and thus the prerequisites for a true understanding among nations will be created.