September 1941

Sep

30

1941

An airman’s first and last operational flight

The crew of a Whitley bomber preparing for an operation. The Whitley was the backbone of RAF Bomber Command until more modern four engined bombers acme into service.

During the early morning of the 30th of September 1941 the crew were well into their return leg of the flight and was more or less on course for their home base at Topcliffe. They crossed the Yorkshire coast at around 03.30hrs in the Middlesbrough area and a course was set for base at Topcliffe, at a height of 2000 feet to avoid striking the high ground they would have to cross over. There were no problems up to then in the flight.

Sep

29

1941

Surviving the massacre at Babi Yar

Jews are marched out of Kiev to the ravine at Babi Yar on the 29th or 30th September 1941.  Walking past corpses in the road they would have had no illusions about the German threat to those who did not co-operate but they would not have realised their true fate until the last moments.

After a while, when the shooting stopped, I heard the Germans climbing into the ravine. They started finishing off all those who were not dead yet, those who were moaning, hiccuping, tossing, writhing in agony. They ran their flashlights over the bodies and finished off all who moved. I was lying so still without stirring, terrified of giving myself away.

Sep

28

1941

Einsatzgruppe Operational Report USSR No. 97

A view over the river Dnieper at Kieev. German forces had captured Kiev on the 19th September.  Concealed bombs left  in the buildings most likely to be occupied by the Wehrmacht caused significant casualties when the exploded a few days later.

Verification of these statements has not been possible yet. In the course of the first action, 1,600 arrests, measures being evolved to check the entire Jewish population. Execution of at least 50,000 Jews planned. German Army welcomes measures and demands drastic procedure. Garrison commander advocates public execution of twenty Jews.

Sep

27

1941

Malta convoy under attack

The last moments of a german torpedo bomber as it comes under fierce anti aircraft fire during an attack on Royal Navy  forces in the Mediterranean.

On 27 September at 1340 we were very nearly hit – a torpedo from an aircraft missed us by only 20 yards. Attack by torpedo bombers was frightening. They would single you out and fly straight for you at masthead height before dropping their torpedo at very close range. They presented an impossibly small target and were below the depression of most of our guns.

Sep

26

1941

The Wehrmacht’s endless march East

The soldiers of the Wehrmacht often lived off the land and took shelter in whatever was available.

Underneath it quivered rabbits, pigs, and the vermin that would attack us. Bedbugs bothered us at night, fleas broke our rest, and lice multiplied in pur uniforms. Spiders, flies, wood lice, and cockroaches scuttled over the tables and over our faces and hands. The illumination was provided by an oil lamp.

Sep

25

1941

Enemy Attack on Seaborne Trade

Aircraft from HMS Audacity, the first of the new 'Escort carriers' had brought down the Focke Wolfe that attacked the Walmer Castle. The Escort Carriers were a huge advance on the CAM ships even though they were relatively crude conversions of ordinary merchant ships with hangars and limited facilities.

A rescue vessel, with survivors from the torpedoed ships in the outward bound convoy previously attacked by U-boats, was bombed and set on fire by Focke-Wulf aircraft when 550 miles north-east of the Azores, and was subsequently sunk by our own gunfire; ninety-nine survivors, twenty of whom were seriously wounded, were picked up, but the master and twenty-nine of the crew are missing.

Sep

24

1941

Force H departs Gibraltar with convoy

Loading a 16" shell on board HMS Rodney

On the evening of the 24th Admiral Somerville’s flag was raised on HMS Rodney and the band played on the quayside as if the battleship were departing for home. She then sailed westward with an escort of destroyers. Admiral Somerville had in fact remained on HMS Nelson and would lead the main force into the Mediterranean after dark. Those watching from Spain and Algeciras in North Africa were duped for a time.

Sep

23

1941

Base camp life in Cairo

Polish troops in tropical kit await embarkation for the swift overnight trip down the coast to Tobruk where they would relieve the Australians.

When I got outside, I noticed that everyone complained of the sickening smell from the coffins… Apparently the two revolver kings had been dead three days, which in this climate, is discouraged. I’d been too ill to notice any smell. All I’d observed was that there is something unmistakably peculiar about the movement of the feet of men carrying the body of another man.

Sep

22

1941

‘The last Jew in Vinnitsa’

One of the iconic images of the 20th century let alone the war or the Holocaust. Found in a German's photograph album with the words 'The last jew in Vinnitsa' written on the back.

The people in the first row thus having been killed in the most inhuman manner, those of the second row were now ordered to step forward. The men in this row were ordered to step out and were handed shovels with which to heap chloride of lime upon the still partly moving bodies in the ditch. Thereafter they returned to the tables and undressed.

Sep

21

1941

Rescue ship Walmer Castle bombed in Atlantic

The Walmer Castle was requisitioned by the Admiralty, provided with rudimentary armaments and used on convoys as a rescue ship to collect sailors who had to abandon ship.

Motorboat blown away, no.2 port lifeboat badly holed and foundered. Fire raging throughout midships accommodation and on boat deck, effectively isolating fore end of ship from aft soon after bomb explosion. Bridge searched for survivors, and accommodation above and below decks, as far as possible, fire having taken firm hold of port side and accommodation on starboard completely wrecked.