September 1941

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.

Sep

20

1941

Escape from occupied Europe

One of the fast launches employed by the RAF for the rescue of pilots who had to ditch in the Channel.

I turned, leading my three comrades. I was surprised to see men on board it. There were five of them, all on their feet, at the risk of upsetting the frail skiff waving everything they had, handkerchieves, coats, etc. One whom I saw distinctly was wearing a mackintosh and waving a soft hat as high as he could.

Sep

19

1941

German pincers meet around Kiev

Among many historic buildings virtually destroyed was the 11th century Cathedral of the Assumption. It was not re-built until 2000.

All around, wherever you look there are German tanks, sub-machine guns or machine gun nests. Our unit has already been defending on all sides by the fourth day, within this circle of fire. At night the surrounding ring is clear to see, illuminated by fires that light up the horizon, which here and there give the sky a wonderful yellow hue.

Sep

18

1941

Siege of Leningrad consolidated

Nurses helping people hit during the first bombardment of Leningrad.

Petersburg — the poisonous nest from which, for so long, Asiatic venom has spewed forth into the Baltic — must vanish from the earth’s surface. The city is already cut off. It only remains for us to bomb and bombard it, destroy its sources of water and power and then deny the population everything it needs to survive.