1941

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

The Cardiff Blitz

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.

Dec

31

1941

No pity for the Germans suffering in the cold

German pictures of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern front gave little indication of the the terrible state many of their troops were in.

We watch as military ambulances and trains go west, loaded with wounded and frostbitten soldiers. Most frostbite occurs on hands, feet, ears, noses, and genitals. You can judge the desperation of the German military situation by the fact that Hitler has taken direct responsibility for all military action in Russia.

Dec

30

1941

Churchill’s ‘Chicken speech’ to the Canadian Parliament

A Canadian Official portrait of Churchill addressing the Canadian Parliament on 30th December 1941.

t was their duty and it was also their interest to go to North Africa, where they would have been at the head of the French Empire. In Africa, with our aid, they would have had overwhelming sea power. They would have had the recognition of the United States, and the use of all the gold they had lodged beyond the seas. If they had done this Italy might have been driven out of the war before the end of 1940, and France would have held her place as a nation in the counsels of the Allies and at the conference table of the victors.

Dec

29

1941

A grim journey to the Russian front

German troops unloading frozen supplies on the Eastern front during the winter of 1941-2

A transport train carrying wounded men stops nearby. It’s a wretched sight which makes it clear to us how bitterly this war is being fought. It consists of ordinary goods wagons with straw in them for the wounded to lie on. Filthy and louse-ridden, with inadequate dressings and hardly any medical orderlies, no heating – that’s how the boys are brought home.

Dec

28

1941

Brief respite from a global war

Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, KCB, DSO, broadcasting the Fleets Greetings from the cabin of his flagship HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH off Alexandria. He stated that "The Navy in the Mediterranean in the past year has fought and won against some pretty long odds and has kept the sea."  This Admiralty photograph released to the press was all part of a cover up following the recent  disabling of the Queen Elizabeth.

We first slipped into the dining room for a cup of tea – ah! sublime luxuries of town! – and chain smoked many excellent cigarettes. Sometimes we’ve thought “Wog” Woodbines a luxury, but now we had lots of Players, Gold Flake and Craven “A”, with no danger of the supply becoming exhausted.

Dec

27

1941

Commando raid on Vaasgo, Norway

An Me 109 fighter attempts to take off as the Norwegian airfield of Herdla comes under low level attack, bombs can be seen exploding. Blenheim bombers from No.114 Squadron made this diversionary raid 80 miles south of Vaasgo.

About a hundred yards from our landing place, I fired ten red Very light signals. This told the ships to stop firing and the aircraft to come in with their smoke bombs. As I leaped from the leading landing craft three Hampden bombers passed over me at zero feet with a roar. As they did so they loosed their bombs, which seemed to flash and then mushroom like miniature atom explosions. Some of the phosphorus came back in a great flaming sheet.