April 1942

Apr

19

1942

Spring thaw delays Russian offensive

The spring thaw in Russia saw a return to the thick muddy conditions which had brought a pause to the fighting in late 1941.

Thaw conditions, which are unusually severe, continue to limit opera­tions. All indications point to mid-May as the earliest date for a German offensive, although a local one in the Crimea might be staged sooner if the Germans can establish air superiority there.

Apr

18

1942

Doolittle raiders bomb Japan

A U.S. Army Air Force B-25B Mitchell medium bomber, one of sixteen involved in the mission, takes off from the flight deck of the USS Hornet for an air raid on the Japanese Home Islands, on April 18, 1942. The attack, later known as the Doolittle Raid, inflicted limited damage, but gave a huge boost to American morale after the attacks on Pearl Harbor months earlier.

Final instructions were to avoid non-military targets, particularly the Temple of Heaven, and even though we were put off so far at sea that it would be impossible to reach the China Coast, not to go to Siberia but to proceed as far West as possible, land on the water, launch the rubber boat and sail in.

Apr

17

1942

Low level Lancaster raid on Augsberg

Lancaster B Mark I, L7578 ‘KM-B’, of No.97 Squadron RAF, piloted by Squadron Leader J D Nettleton of No. 44 Squadron RAF, flying at low-level over the Lincolnshire countryside during a Squadron practice for the low-level attack on the M.A.N. diesel engineering works at Augsburg, which took place on 17 April 1942. 97 Squadron lent L7578 temporarily to 44 Squadron, who repainted the aircraft with Nettleton's unit code-letters. Nettleton actually flew R5508 on the operation, for the leadership of which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. L7578 did not participate in the raid and was returned to 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa.

Soon after crossing into enemy territory his formation was engaged by 25 to 30 fighters. A running fight ensued. His rear guns went out of action. One by one the aircraft of his formation were shot down until in the end only his own and one other remained. The fighters were shaken off but the target was still far distant. There was formidable resistance to be faced.

Apr

16

1942

Wartime Taxes rise again in the UK

RAF Boston bombers in a raid on Le Havre on the Channel coast on 16th April 1942.

Quite apart from the dangers of war, the blackout and rationing, the British were being hit hard in their pocket. The war had to be paid for and that meant almost penal levels of taxation for everyone. Income tax had already been raised to 50 per cent. In addition to rationing on food and clothing there were shortages of many commodities so there was a limited range of things people could buy even if they did have the money.

Apr

15

1942

Malta awarded the George Cross

A heavily bomb-damaged street in Valletta, Malta. This street is Kingsway, the principle street in Valletta. Service personnel and civilians are present clearing up the debris.

An immense amount of damage has been done on the island, and among familiar landmarks which have been destroyed or seriously damaged are both Admiralty Houses (at Valetta and Vittoriosa), St. Angelo, the Customs House, the Castille, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Opera House and the great dome of the church at Musta.

Apr

14

1942

First U-Boat kill by U.S. ship

The U.S. Navy Wickes class destroyer USS Roper (DD-147) escorting a convoy, out of Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA) in 1942. Ships of the convoy are visible on the horizon. Roper is wearing Measure 12 (Modified) camouflage.

A barrage of eleven depth charges was laid by use of racks, Y-guns, and K-guns, based on an eye estimate of the submarine’s location plus an excellent sound contact. The bearing of the submarine remained almost constant and the speed was negligible. Wreckage could not be detected because of the darkness. On two occasions this ship passed near the survivors, but the fact that German submarines frequently work in pairs made the conduct of any rescue work before daylight far too dangerous to risk.

Apr

13

1942

Preparing to sail to Malta

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) entering Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA), on 26 May 1942. The escorting destroyer USS Gleaves (DD-423) is visible in the background.

It is impossible to cross the deck without ducking under wings and tails, all tucked into one another. The Spitiires’ wheels are steadied by wooden blocks, their wing tips lashed to the deck by ropes and cables, but more Spitfires are suspended from the roof girders, slung there by canvas loops – they sway gently as our carrier rolls. Staring at these planes I coulld not help wondering how many of them and, indeed, how many of our pilots will be left in a week’s time.

Apr

12

1942

Nazi lie ensures Jewish co-operation

Jews selected for 'deportation' make their way to the railway station in the Lodz ghetto. They carry  with them all their worldly goods because they have been told that they will be 'resettled' in labour camps or farms. The Nazis have never been specific about the details and nothing has been heard from those who have already left.

On April 12, a high officer of the secret police [Gestapol], who is serving as the commander of the camp where the people deported from this ghetto are now located, was briefly at Balut Market. This is the first definite source of information concerning the deportees; for the record, it is worth adding that the story of their whereabouts that circulated with the most persistence has, this time, been confirmed.

Apr

11

1942

Horror of the Bataan Death March

American troops with their hand sound behind their backs during the notorious Bataan Death March.

On the roadside, we saw a lot of dead bodies, unlucky fellows who died just a few days before the end. There was an awful smell. Some corpses showed signs of torture before death. The wrists and ankles were bound, and the mouth gagged. Others had ugly wounds in their bellies, which proved they had hand-to-hand fighting. Most of the bodies were rotting, and there was no one to even give them a decent grave. The sun was scorchingly hot by now, and I was getting dizzy with the heat. Tony Nieva was trying hard to walk… despite his malaria. Godo Reyes was still going strong… but I noticed that Ernie was weakening.

Apr

10

1942

A fighter sweep across the Channel

Supermarine Spitfire Mk VBs of No. 131 Squadron RAF being prepared for a sweep at Merston, a satellite airfield of Tangmere, Sussex, June 1942.

Twelve of us took off three at a time; we gained altitude slowly, here and there picking up other squadrons, punctual at the meeting points, progressively coming in to join us, taking up position on either side, above and below so that we formed the point of an enormous arrow of about 250 fighters. All 2 Group had sent their squadrons – Northolt, Hornchurch, Kenley, Hawkinge, the Poles, the Czechs, the famous American Eagle Squadron, etc.