November 1941

Nov

30

1941

Hitler rants and raves over progress in Russia

Hitler continued to urge his Eastern Front commanders to advance even as it became  obvious that that German army was ill prepared for the arctic conditions.

The Fuehrer is in a state of extreme agitation over the situation. … The interview appears to have been more than disagreeable, with the Fuehrer doing all the talking, pouring out reproaches and abuse, and shouting orders as fast as they came into his head. Regrettably, ObdH yielded to the Fuehrer’s insistence and has issued the order not to fall back to the aforementioned line in one move.

Nov

29

1941

The torture and death of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya

The Germans often made a public spectacle of partisans that were executed in an attempt to deter the local population from supporting them.

The threat to Moscow now seemed desperate. Many Soviet citizens were mobilised to build the city’s defences. Many volunteered for more dangerous duties. Eighteen year old Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was still in college in Moscow when she volunteered to join a guerrilla group that would operate behind enemy lines.

Nov

28

1941

USS Enterprise prepares for war

The USS Enterprise, sometime known as the 'Big E', pictured in 1939, put to sea on the 28th November, prepared for war.

The importance of every officer and man being specially alert and vigilant while on watch at his battle station must be fully realized by all hands. The failure of one man to carry out his assigned task promptly, particularly the lookouts, those manning the batteries, and all those on watch on the deck, might result in great loss of life and even loss of the ship.

Nov

27

1941

The Russian winter arrives on the Eastern Front

The German Army Group Centre had been able to resume their advance in winter conditions but much worse was to come.

The snow blew almost horizontally in blizzards that some- times lasted all day long, with the wind piercing our faces with a thousand needles. The cold numbed and deadened the human body from the feet up until the whole body was an aching mass of misery. To keep warm, we had to wear every piece of clothing we owned to achieve a layered effect. Each man fought the cold alone, pitting his determination and will against the bitter winter.

Nov

26

1941

Panzer attack causes confusion in North Africa

A British tank passes a burning German during Operation Crusader, November 1941.

Prisoners became gaolers. Men were captured and escaped three or four times. Half a dozen isolated engagements were going on. Field dressing stations and hospitals were taking in British and German and Italian wounded impartially, and as the battle flowed back and forth the hospitals would sometimes be under British command, sometimes under German.

Nov

25

1941

The sudden loss of HMS Barham

The moment when HMS Barham's magazine exploded after being torpedoed in the Mediterranean.

I saw water pouring into her funnels. There followed a big explosion amidships, from which belched black and brown smoke intermingled with flames. Pieces of wreckage, Hung high into the air, were scattered far and wide, the largest piece being about the size of my writing-desk.

Nov

24

1941

HMS Dunedin sunk in the south Atlantic

Built in 1917 the aged cruiser HMS Dunedin was patrolling between Brazil and Africa when she was sunk on the 24th.

The swell gave the rafts a considerable motion which made it difficult at times to keep on them, but the men got some sleep by huddling together and the night did not seem unduly cold. Many of the men were scantily clad and some were naked. Some were without lifebelts. Most of the badly wounded cases died during the first night…

Nov

23

1941

Captain Philip Gardner wins the VC

Captain Philip Gardner after recovering from sustained wounds whilst rescuing a fellow soldier in the desert.

With the tow-rope now secured, Gardner was signalling the driver to move when a bullet struck him in the leg, fortunately not breaking it. As the tank moved, the tow-rope parted — probably shot away. Despite his own wound, Gardner returned to the armoured car, lifted Beame out and staggered back to his tank, half carrying and half dragging him.

Nov

22

1941

Another VC at Sidi Rezegh

Campbell at his investiture with the Victoria Cross by the Commander in Chief, General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Campbell was awarded the VC for his action at Sidi Rezergh, 21 - 22 November 1941.

During the final enemy attack on the 22nd November he was wounded, but continued most actively in the foremost positions, controlling the fire of batteries which inflicted heavy losses on enemy tanks at point blank range, and finally acted as loader to one of the guns himself. Throughout these two days his magnificent example and his utter disregard of personal danger were an inspiration to his men and to all who saw him.

Nov

21

1941

John Beeley wins the VC at Sidi Rezegh

Comrades of Rifleman John Beeley VC of 1st King's Royal Rifle Corps, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh on 21 November 1941, working on a cross to be placed over his grave, 22 May 1942.

On his own initiative, and when there was no sort of cover, Rifleman Beeley got to his feet carrying a Bren gun and ran forward towards a strong enemy post containing an anti-tank gun. The post was silenced and Rifleman Beeley’s platoon was enabled to advance, but Rifleman Beely fell dead across his gun, hit in at least four places.