March 1941

Mar

10

1941

Bombs ‘a normal condition of life’

The Civil Defence organisation was now well developed and helping thousands of homeless people

War is being accepted as a normal condition of life. By midwinter most of the Anderson shelters had been abandoned because they were too wet and cold to sleep in. The comfort of the home seems to be preferred to the somewhat doubtful protection they afford.

Mar

9

1941

Firefighting in the Docks

Fireboats on the Thames - sometimes the only way to gain access to the burning wharves and warehouses. River barges are burning in the background.

Fireman Fisher, who was in charge of the appliance on the quay lay down beside Frappell and held Korn’s other hand. Together, both men tried to pull him from the water but were unsuccessful. A rope was then lowered and Korn held on to this. Once agtain an attempt was made to pull him from the water but without success. By this time Korn was becoming exhausted and told the others that he could hold on no longer.

Mar

8

1941

The Café de Paris bomb

Bomb damage to London's Railway system caused massive disruption.

This was the worst air raid since early January, but was not on the scale of many last year. London was at alert from 1948 to 0003. All groups and 55 local authorities were affected, but the main weight of attack fell on the centre of London. HE’s were mixed with IB’s from the beginning of the raid, and although many IB’s (some stated to be of a new type – see below)* were dropped, fire raising did not appear to be the first object of the raid. IB’s were put out very quickly and only two fires required more than 10 pumps. All were under control by midnight.

Mar

7

1941

Depth Charge attack on U-70

Gunther Prien, commander of U-47 was believed lost on 7th March 1941, his death was not announced until May.

She sank deeper and deeper, the indicator hand of the depth gauge showed an increasing depth down to 200 metres (656 ft.), the deepest limit marked, and then went on until stopped by the check. Ominous cracking sounds were heard, the paint flaked off the sides, and the crew thought that the hull would be crushed by the tremendous pressure of water. The supply of compressed air was by that time reduced to 25 kilograms; this was used in a last attempt to rise; the U-boat had gone down by the stern, and was now at an angle of 45 degrees.

Mar

6

1941

The ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ begins

A depth charge attack under way in the Atlantic, as seen from one of the destroyers supplied to Britain by the USA.

We must take the offensive against the U-boat and the Focke-Wulf wherever we can and whenever we can. The U-boat at sea must be hunted, the U-boat in the building yard or in dock must be bombed. The Focke-Wulf and other bombers employed against our shipping must be attacked in the air and in their nests.

Mar

5

1941

Hitler – Japan must be encouraged to attack

Hitler with Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, head of the German Armed Forces, March 1941.

The common aim of strategy must be represented as the swift conquest of England in order to keep America out of the war. Apart from this, Germany has no political, military, or economic interests in the Far East which need in any way inhibit Japanese intentions.

Mar

4

1941

Commando Raid on the Lofoten Islands

A British destroyer leaves the Lofoten Islands after destroying fish oil factories used by the Germans.

In the far north of Norway the Commando’s made one of their first raids on continental Europe. Brigadier Durnford-Slater was leading the raid, accompanied by Norwegian interpreter Captain Linge: The craft I was in snuggled up to a fish jetty. I jumped eagerly ashore, followed by my men. Perhaps I was too eager: I fell […]

Mar

3

1941

Churchill – ‘Don’t feed the French’

A posting to France was popular with German troops where the living was easy, although it was increasingly difficult for the occupied population.

Neither the Vichy Government nor its agents in North Africa show any spark of nobility or courage or any active will to resist. They may hope for our victory but will do nothing to help, since if we lose they may thus, they trust, have acquired merit in German eyes, while if we win they assume we shall in any event restore France. Meanwhile, they expect us to allow them to be amply supplied from overseas.

Mar

2

1941

Under aircraft attack in Libya

The Luftwaffe was making its presence felt after much of the Italian Air Force had been destroyed on the ground - an Italian G.50 with a German Me 110.

It was a case of ‘Heads down and on the stomach’, as they both machine gunned and bombed us. We were nearly ‘gonners’, as the bullets and shrapnel screamed by us very, very close. We picked up shrapnel pieces as big as our fists and some bigger, lousy, jagged stuff. There were about 20 planes in the attack and we had only 2 guns to engage; nevertheless we put in a claim for one plane…

Mar

1

1941

Coastal Convoy under attack

British merchant ships in convoy as seen from the Depth Charge deck of a Corvette.

He sat astride it as on a horse, whilst contemplating what to do next. Just then Peter de Neumann, who was directing the guns, left the bridge immediately following the terrifying crash as the bomb hit the ship, and rushed to see where the bomb had gone. He entered the engine room, and saw Turner, far below, mounting the bomb. De Neumann immediately went to Turner’s assistance, and between them, using Turner’s trousers’ belt, secured the bomb temporarily to a stanchion.