December 1942

Dec

31

1942

Arctic convoy ambushed by German cruisers

Some of the gun's crew of the HMS SHEFFIELD which took part in the battle off the North Cape, 31 December 1942.

Each time the enemy gave ground he closed in, forcing him outside gun-range of the convoy and towards our own cruiser covering force. After 40 minutes ONSLOW was hit forward and Captain Sherbrooke was severely wounded in the face by shrapnel, losing the sight of one eye.

Dec

30

1942

‘Nuisance bombing’ ends the holiday week in Britain

Two members of a heavy rescue party help a casualty pick his way over rubble out of a bomb-damaged building, with a third member holding a rope as a handrail. More rescuers guide a stretchered casualty down a ladder from a second storey window, as part of a large-scale Civil Defence training exercise in Fulham. This photograph was taken on Edith Villas.

We once made a low-level attack near EASTBOURNE. When we got there, we saw a large mansion where they seemed to be having a ball or something; in any case we saw a lot of women in fancy-dress, and an orchestra. There were two of us doing long distance reconnaissance. We turned round and flew towards it. The first time we flew past, and then we approached again and machine-gunned them. It was great fun!

Dec

28

1942

Gloom and despair over Stalingrad in Hitler’s bunker

German bombers Heinkel He-177A-5 from the I. / KG 50 at the airport in Kiev. These bombers were used to supply German forces encircled in Stalingrad.

This evening Jodl spoke very seriously and one could see that even he was counting on Paulus acting independently. (Same view) definitely Chief of the General Staff and the Army Group. Nobody knows what should be done next at Stalingrad. F. [Fuhrer] very quiet and is almost never seen except at daily situation conference and to receive reports.

Dec

27

1942

The life of an ATS ‘Ack Ack’ Girl

A battery of 4.5 inch anti-aircraft guns in action at night. In the foreground is an ATS section operating the height finder.

Fortunately I passed as a Predictor operator No.3 – which involved looking through a telescope, keeping the target on the horizon line. This demanded steady nerves under gunfire and we needed a lot of practice. At the end of the day, we were mentally and physically exhausted. We lost our voices as all orders were shouted as loudly as possible.

Dec

26

1942

Listening to the battle from a tank

Posed photograph of infantry 'rushing towards enemy positions through a smoke screen' near Nufilia, 26 December 1942.

‘King, have you anything to report? Over.’ ‘George, one of your children came up in the middle of my transmission then, when I was trying to talk to King. It’s most difiicult and annoying, and I won’t have it… Tell him to bloody well keep off the air when I’m trying to fight a battle. Off . . . er, to you. King, King, have you anything to report? Over.’

Dec

25

1942

Another Christmas for a war weary World

Christmas dinner and celebrations in the wardroom of HMS MALAYA. The ship is based at Scapa Flow.

There was some carol singing last night and this moming. One can’t but feel a certain melancholy at spending Christmas in this depressing camp. An almost intolerable sense of oppression and futility overcomes one at times, as month after wasted month passes. At this time, of course, one thinks much of home, and one realises they must be going through a period of anxiety. And there are many at home who have yet to learn that their relatives out here are already dead.

Dec

24

1942

A grim ‘Heilig Abend’ in Stalingrad

The Stalingrad Madonna

A little later, the crackly loudspeaker transmitted a Christmas message from the Forces’ radio station in Germany. It was being broadcast everywhere from the North Pole to Africa. At that time an enormous part ofthe world belonged to us.
When Stalingrad was called we began to tremble though we were indoors in the warm that evening.

Dec

23

1942

Life in tired, drab, shabby Britain

Troops check up on their pigs, being fattened up for Christmas, Eastern Command, 9 December 1942.

More people were getting higher wages than they had ever had before, but there was little of any real value you could buy for it. Everyone had work, but it was high-pressure work that went on in endless drudgery, nine, ten or twelve hours a day, six days a week, with fire-watching and other wartime duties on top of it

Dec

22

1942

The 1st Marines leave Guadalcanal

Jim Goodin on Guadalcanal during WWII. He was with the 1st Marine Division. Originally he was a high altitude parachutist. He got malaria 36 times.

I was able to reach the top of the net, but could go no farther. I could not muster the strength to swing over the gunwale, and I hung there, breathing heavily, the ship’s hot side swaying away from me in the swells, very perdition lapping beneath me – until two sailors grabbed me under the armpits, and pulled me over.

Dec

21

1942

Struggle to survive on the Railway of Death

H Force leaving for the Burma-Thailand Railway.
There are few images available to illustrate the Japanese POW camps.  Here is a drawing from Changi Prison on Singapore by Des Bettany by kind permission of Keith Bettany. See more of Des Bettany's work at his online exhibition.

At first he did not question that they were diphtheria cases; but he said that he had no antitoxin and that as Thailand was so backward he could not get any. This is obviously nonsense – there is a famous Pasteur Institute in Bangkok not far away. But Nobusawa was clearly not going to bother himself about it.