1941

Nov

21

November 1941

John Beeley wins the VC at Sidi Rezegh

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.

Nov

20

November 1941

High expectations of Operation Crusader

For the first time British and Empire troops will meet Germans with an ample equipment in modern weapons of all kinds. The battle itself will affect the whole course of the War. Now is the time to strike the hardest blow yet for final Victory, Home and Freedom. The Desert Army may add a page to history which will rank with Blenheim and with Waterloo. The eyes of all nations are upon you.

Nov

19

November 1941

HMAS Sydney sunk with all hands

At 3.55 pm the look-out reported a sighting fine on the port bow. It was at first thought to be a sail, but was soon identified as a warship. At 4pm Detmers – Kormorans captain – sent his crew to action stations, altered course WSW into the sun, and ordered full speed-about fifteen knots

Nov

18

November 1941

Operation Crusader aims to relieve Tobruk

‘FIRE’ and another shell hurtles into the enemy front line. We have just fifteen seconds to get each shell loaded, the gun correctly aligned and the firing lever pulled. The range is four thousand, five hundred yards. Fifty yards are added to the range, the Gunlayer makes the correction to the elevation and Number One checks ‘FIRE’ and another shell screams away into the darkness.

Nov

17

November 1941

Raiding party attempts to capture Rommel

From the outset Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes deliberately selected for himself the command of the detachment detailed to attack what was undoubtedly the most hazardous of these objectives—the residence and Headquarters of the General Officer Commanding the German forces in North Africa. This attack, even if initially successful, meant almost certain death for those who took part in it.

Nov

16

November 1941

U-433 sunk by HMS Marigold

All of a sudden there was a terrific sound of propellers to starboard. The devil had been lying in wait quite close to us, with engines stopped. We put our nose down to dive again, and she came directly over us. We could hear her propellers inside the boat – we weren’t very deep and she probably saw our wake. She then dropped depth charges. They were terribly close.

Nov

15

November 1941

The attack on Moscow resumes

Four battalions of French volunteers assigned to Fourth Army proved less hardy. Field-Marshal von Kluge addressed them on the field of Borodino and spoke of how, in Napoleon’s Grand Army, Frenchmen and Germans had once before fought shoulder to shoulder against the common enemy.

Nov

14

November 1941

Starvation spreads in Leningrad

People are so weak from hunger that they are completely indifferent to death. They die as if they are falling asleep. Those half-dead people who are still around do not even pay any attention to them. Death has become an everyday phenomenon and people are used to it.

Nov

13

November 1941

HMS Ark Royal sunk

When the torpedo struck most of the ship’s company were below decks, working in the hangars, or on watch in the machinery spaces and other compartments. Men off duty were in their messes having tea. Everything was as it had been hundreds of times before. Without any warning the ship was shaken by a violent convulsion. Decks seemed to whip like springboards.

Nov

12

November 1941

A short rest during the Moscow advance

We sleep all over the place. Is there anyone who still asks for a blanket? A wooden bench, the floor, a large table – ultimate bliss is straw! Our sleep is deep and dreamless, but at the same time light, alert for any danger, which holds back the nightmares.