April 1942

Apr

30

1942

HMS Edinburgh torpedoed off Murmansk

HMS Edinburgh, sister ship to HMS Belfast, seen in calmer waters before she joined the arctic convoys.

As we chatted, the torpedo exploded in the oil tank below us. The whole messdeck split in two and as the lights went out Harrington and I and at least another 50 men fell straight through into the storage tank. The emergency lighting failed to come on and we were down there in complete darkness, floundering around in oil and water.

Apr

29

1942

Gurkha’s fighting retreat in Burma

Men of the 2/9th Gurkha Rifles training in the Malayan jungle, October 1941.

At dawn on the 30th April, tanks and Gurkhas sallied out and cleared a burnt-out village in front of our lines. Many Japanese in it were killed and several mortars and light automatics captured. The Gurkhas were particularly pleased at trapping thirty-eight of the enemy who had taken refuge in a culvert under the road.

Apr

28

1942

Hitler seizes even greater powers

A  portrait of Adolf Hitler from 1942. He had already seized direct personal command of he armed forces, now he took unlimited personal  dictatorial power.

The concentration of hate has this time turned into utter madness. Not England or the USA or Russia – only in everything nothing but the Jew. Pay attention to the hide-and-seek and open threat. 11:59, but shall we live to see the end of the day?

Apr

27

1942

City of Norwich next on Baedeker list

An Anderson shelter standing intact amid a scene of debris in Norwich. A demonstration of the effectiveness of the Anderson shelter which people built in their gardens, a dug out covered with a sheet of corrugated metal  which was covered in earth. People were able to survive almost anything but a direct hit in them if they were built properly.

Then amidst a turmoil of noise, doors and everything else reasonably moveable became wrenched by an invisible force to go flying out into the garden. Pieces of ceiling rained down and by now, more than likely, the blow on my head was taking effect. I may have run instinctively beside my mother to the underground shelter in our garden, but the next thing I knew was the family huddled together in our small, damp, underground dungeon.

Apr

26

1942

End of the Bataan death march

Now believed to be an image of a burial party at Camp McDonnel, rather than during the march itself. The very basic huts can be seen in the background.

The camp was large, dotted by hundreds of grass and bamboo shacks, which were merely poles of bamboo with a grass roof. The ground flowed and undulated through the camp in tiny hills. Beside each of the shacks were stacks of bodies pullled there by the living , for they had nowhere else to put them. In the hot tropical sun the bodies swelled and bloated until they were no longer recognizable as the bodies of men.

Apr

25

1942

‘Baedeker raiders’ hit historic city of Bath

The famous Royal Crescent was amongst the historic buildings hit but the damage was not not extensive here.

There were rumours that Churchill himself and high ranking marine planners from the Navy were in Bath. It was not just the Dornier DO.217 bombers from Kampfgeschwader II, that were ordered to attack, but also at least two other squadrons with Junkers Ju88 and Heinkel He111 were involved in the raids. My target was the city centre. I was not informed how Bath was protected.

Apr

24

1942

Promotion for a Desert Rat

Troops examining captured German MG34 machine guns, 22 April 1942.

Certainly it’s nice to drink tea out of cups and eat off china plates and be served by a waiter instead of having to queue up for food. However – I don’t know – I was quite happy as a bombardier! This afternoon I moved out of my homely sub-section tent and into the sergeant’s tent, which, I notice is situated cunningly convenient for parades, mess, and early morning tea issues!

Apr

23

1942

The propaganda war goes on

' I feel so fresh - Spring is coming' - Allied propaganda leaflet used in 1942.

One special leaflet explained to the French people why it had been necessary to bomb the Renault works, and contained excellent reproductions of air photographs showing the damage inflicted on the works. Over 2 million of these were distributed over Paris and the industrial areas of France.

Apr

21

1942

Spitfire versus Me 109s over Malta

Ground crew refuel a Supermarine Spitfire Mark VC of No. 601 Squadron RAF, using four-gallon petrol tins, in a sandbagged revettment at Luqa, Malta, while two armourers service the Spitfire's cannon. In the cockpit, conferring with other squadron personnel, is Flight Lieutenant Dennis Barnham.

Ahhhhh! A huge part of a Ju 88, nose and engines, flashes out from under my left wing: must have been right on top of him! Gone now. Easing gently out of my dive, watching my graceful target flying backwards towards me, larger and larger in my gun-sight. Quick search in all directions: lots of 88s but no enemy fighters.

Apr

20

1942

Spitfires for Malta are flown off USS Wasp

USS Wasp (CV-7). British Royal Air Force Spitfire V fighter takes off from the carrier, after a 200-foot run, May 1942. Probably taken during Wasp's second Malta aircraft ferry mission.

The deck ofiicer began rotating his chequered flag and I pushed forward my throttle until I had maximum rpm. His flag then fell and I released the brakes and I pushed the throttle to emergency override to get the last ounce of power out of my Merlin. The Spitfire picked up speed rapidly in its headlong charge down the deck but not rapidly enough. The ship’s bows got closer and closer and still I had insufficient airspeed …