1941

Sep

6

1941

Red Army assault on the German lines

A German soldier keeps watch from his trench with a Panzerbüchse - an anti tank rifle - at the ready.

Our observation post is quickly altered into a defensive position. The camouflage tarp is removed and a step is dug into the wall in order to bring the machine gun into place. Hand grenades are lined up, ready to be used. The bayonet is attached to the rifle to prepare for one- on-one battle. The Reds have managed to break through to the right of our position. Quite a few are torn apart by the mines, but the Red devils don’t mind a few hundred casualties.

Sep

4

1941

United States destroyer attacks U Boat

Reports that the US Destroyer US Greer had been attacked by a German U Boat caused alarm in the United States.

The Greer proceeded then to trail the submarine and broadcasted the submarine’s position. This action, taken by the Greer, was in accordance with her orders, that is, to give out information but not to attack.” The British plane continued in the vicinity of the submarine until 1032, but prior to her departure the plane dropped four depth charges in the vicinity of the submarine.

Sep

3

1941

British Home Defences under inspection

Alan Brooke, centre, en route to yet another exercise in Britain. Senior officers still wore cavalry uniform.

Left Hendon 8.45 am, flew to Duxford where I inspected 70 Welsh Young Soldiers’ Battalion. Dirty but not a bad lot of boys. Then flew on to Debden to see A Coy of 70th KRRC [King’s Royal Rifle Corps], quite good and should make a good battalion. By car to Castle Camp aerodrome to see B Coy 70th KRRC. Back to Debden aerodrome where I lunched with Churchill, the aerodrome commander. Left at 2.15 for Martlesham, to see A and B Coys of 70th Suffolks – a good battalion.

Sep

2

1941

Life in wartime Germany

The Nazi party were still celebrating the purity and superiority of the German race, even if life for the average German was taking turn for the worse.

The plebes are feeling the full fury of a German food industry gone chemical-crazy. Sugar is now made out of fir-wood pulp, sausage out of beech-wood pulp, and the beer is a stinking brew made of whey. Yeast is made out of a chemical, and marmalade is coloured to fool people into thinking it is the real thing. The same for butter, except that the colouring matter here also contains a vile and indigestible substance poisonous to the liver and doubtless responsible for the biliousness so common today.

Sep

1

1941

Fighting off a heavy bombing raid on Tobruk

The bombing of Tobruk harbour on the 1st September 1941, the port was littered with sunken ships.

After that they came in thick and fast, bombs landing continuously all round us. Three guns went out of action but the fourth (Sergeant Edwards) went on battling magnificently, fighting them off as they came in. The L.A.A. gun fought gloriously, fighting back with 120 rounds until a bomb landed within three feet of them wounding all of them and putting their gun out of action. All were taken off in an ambulance. One lad was killed and six wounded.

Aug

31

1941

German treatment of Soviet POWs

Many camps were no more than barbed wire enclosures in the open.

But these were not animals, they were men. We made haste out of the way of the foul cloud which surrounded them, then what we saw transfixed us where we stood, and we forgot our nausea. Were these really human beings, these grey-brown figures, these shadows lirching towards us, stumbling and staggering, moving shapes at their last gasp, creatures which only some last flicker of the will to live enabled to obey the order to march ?

Aug

30

1941

Optimism over RAF Bomber Offensive

The RAF had stepped up attacks on the continent. But accurate daylight bombing came at a cost - the attack on Rotterdam on the 28th saw seven out of eighteen Bleinheims shot down.

For the last three months our bombing offensive has been mainly directed against transportation and morale in Western Germany. Some of the most important objectives in the system of communications serving the Ruhr and Rhineland are precision targets which can only be attacked under favourable weather conditions on moonlight nights, and, since the offensive started, the number of suitable nights has been very small indeed.

Aug

29

1941

Dogfight over the Libyan desert

A Messerschmitt Me 109 from JG 27, based in North Africa, receives a new coat of paint .

In the first attack Caldwell suffered bullet wounds to the back, left shoulder, and leg. In the next pass one shot slammed through the canopy, causing splinters which wounded him with perspex in the face and shrapnel in the neck. Two cannon shells also punched their way through the rear fuselage just behind him and the starboard wing was badly damaged. Despite damage to both himself and the aircraft, Caldwell, feeling, as he remembers, “quite hostile” turned on his attackers and sent down one of the Bf 109s in flames.

Aug

28

1941

Training in the jungles of Malaya

Vickers machine gun in Malaya

In this hodge-podge of nature gone slightly mad, where the British and Japanese will one day fight, it is dank and steaming, all right – nearly asphyxiating. Hardly a whisper of air, and there’s the musty smell of wet places and the piercing scents of decaying matter, animal and vegetable. The sweat pours off our faces and streams down the middle of our backs as though we’re in a downpour.

Aug

27

1941

Coastal Command aircraft captures U-Boat

U 570 photographed from one of the circling aircraft as the Anti Submarine Warfare trawler approaches her.

At 1050 the captain decided to surface again and brought the U-Boat up from a depth of approximately 90 ft. What happened next can only be attributed to the lack of training of the Commander. Rahmlow entirely forgot to make any observation for hostile aircraft before exposing his ship. It so happened that a Hudson aircraft “S” belonging to 269 Squadron, and piloted by Squadron-Leader Thompson, was almost immediately overhead. “U 570” perceived her danger too late and, while she was attempting to crash dive, the aircraft dropped a stick of four 250 lb. depth charges, at an angle of 30° to the U-Boat’s track.