January 1942

Jan

31

1942

Singapore struggles to cope with Air Raid victims

Malay women mourn the loss of a child during the one of the frequent Japanese air raids on Singapore during which thousands died.

I began to work in the resuscitation ward. This was filled with Malays, Chinese and Indians all brought in direct from the streets. Many were already dead, others were dying. To these hopeless cases we gave large doses of morphia and wrote the amount given on a strip of plaster which we stuck on their foreheads. Those with a chance of recovery we sent up to the wards when a bed could be found for them.

Jan

30

1942

Hitler repeats his threat to kill the Jews

A portrait of Adolf Hitler taken in 1942

He repeated this announcement of his intentions on 30th January 1942, in a speech I also know of: The war would not end, as the Jews imagined, by the extinction of European-Aryan peoples, but it would result in the annihilation of the Jews. This repetition of his words of 30th January 1939 was not unique. He would often remind his entourage of the importance of this dictum.

Jan

29

1942

Winston Churchill wins vote of ‘Confidence’

Winston Churchill, pictured later in 1942, makes a radio address from his desk at 10 Downing Street wearing his 'siren suit'.

On behalf of His Majesty’s Government, I make no complaint of the Debate, I offer no apologies, I offer no excuses, I make no promises. In no way have I mitigated the sense of danger and impending misfortunes of a minor character and of a severe character which still hang over us, but at the same time I avow my confidence, never stronger than at this moment, that we shall bring this conflict to and end in a manner agreeable to the interests of our country, and in a manner agreeable to the future of the world.

Jan

28

1942

RAF ace Stanford Tuck shot down over France

A British publicity shot of Stanford-Tuck in his Spitfire, with his current tall of kills displayed.

RAF Fighter Command continued with a policy of taking the fight to the enemy with a series of ‘sweeps’ over northern Europe known as ‘Rhubarb raids’. This was designed to force the Luftwaffe to maintain a significant number of aircraft in the west, helping to relieve the pressure on Russia. The military value of attacking ground targets in France and the Low countries was limited and it proved to be costly in terms of aircraft and pilots. Many experienced pilots, veterans of the Battle of Britain, were lost in this way.

Jan

27

1942

British face up to more bad war news

Ground staff prepare a No 233 Squadron Hudson for flight in freezing conditions at Thorney Island, 19 January 1942. The 'hot air van' has been brought in to warm up the engines and de-ice the cockpit windscreen.

It seems we were not sure that Japan would attack. Personally, I think the people of Malaya could have done more. They have everything to lose. If they had got together an efficient Home Guard, they might have given the japs a little more trouble. Hong Kong fell sooner than expected. We have had bad luck over the loss of the Battleships, and it looks as if we shall lose Singapore, and many of the islands. But Mr Churchill doubted if they would attack Australia. Equipment is being sent there, and the boys can go back and fight for their homes.

Jan

26

1942

RAF cover British retreat in the desert

Flying Officer E M "Imshi" Mason of No. 274 Squadron RAF Detachment relaxes on his parachute after hitchhiking by air and road back to the Detachment's base at Gazala, Libya, following an aerial combat 10 miles west of Martuba in which he shot down three Italian Fiat CR 42s, and then had to force-land near his victims. Mason was at this time the most successful fighter pilot in the Western Desert, having shot down 13 enemy aircraft during the First Libyan campaign, all with 274 Squadron. He added a further two victories in Malta and Iran, flying with No. 261 Squadron RAF. He was posted back to the Western Desert in January 1942 to take command of No. 94 Squadron RAF and was shot down and killed on 15 February while leading this unit on its first operation flying the new Curtiss Kittyhawk. Mason was noted for being the only bearded pilot in the RAF.

A particularly successful attack was made on the 26th, when our fighters, in spite of severe sand-storms, continuously machine-gunned M.T. and tanks moving between Antelat, Saunnu, Msus and Charruba. At least 120 vehicles were destroyed or damaged and many enemy troops were killed or wounded. Our bombers had already helped to disorganise enemy movement towards Msus by dropping 40 tons of bombs in continuous attacks throughout the previous night.

Jan

25

1942

U-boat versus merchantman in mid Atlantic gun duel

A close up view of the deck gun on U-123 taken from the same sequence. Gunfire from the Culebra passed between the conning tower and the gun -  the Royal Navy gun crew were were unlucky not to have caused more damage.

Deck gun ready and opened fire. The first shots hit the stern, then one each under the bridge and in the engine room. Steamer mans the gun and fires. The firing pin of our MG C30 is broken, so we fired with the deck gun at his gun. Several hits underneath, but he continues to fire until a direct hit struck the pivot. Gun crew out of action, the barrel can’t be moved anymore. We received 5 hits, which did not penetrate the pressure hull. Because they hit very low, I assume that they fell short, burst on the surface and only the splinters hit our hull. Some shots passed between conning tower and deck gun, one could hear them whistling past.

Jan

24

1942

Psychological warfare in the Bataan jungle

Japanese tanks and infantry advance through Bataan jungle.

Out of the night came a woman’s voice, sweet and persuasive. In sentimental words it announced the dedication of a programme to ‘the brave and gallant defenders of Bataan’. Songs followed, quavering through the forest. They were selected to arouse nostalgia to breaking-point in a boy facing death and longing for home. Home, Sweet Home, Old Folks at Home-this was the kind of song the Japanese broadcast in the dead of night, alternating heartbreak with horror.

Jan

23

1942

The Germans retreat amidst arctic storms

The Germans still relied heavily on horse drawn transport for transporting supplies but their horses  suffered badly in the Russian winter, less well adapted than the Russian ponies.

The village was on a hill, and we were about half-way up when we received a warning from a despatch rider of the battalion in front, told to take defensive positions at once as Russian tanks in large numbers were coming our way. That was the bad news. The good news was that several of our tanks of our armoured division were also approaching, though from what direction was not very clear. One always got this panicky feeling when one was dog-tired.

Jan

22

1942

Australian wounded massacred at Parit Sulong

Appeals for water and medical attention were ignored, and a move to another building was made under compulsion of more brutality. Japanese guns, tanks and troops streamed by throughout the rest of the afternoon. Whenever they stopped, troops ran to see the prisoners and add to their sufferings . One of the dead was placed in an upright position on a table top propped against a truck. There the body “seemed to create enormous amusement to the Japanese concerned, and was an object of ridicule to many Japanese afterwards “.