January 1942

Jan

11

1942

Long range U Boat hunters over the Atlantic

A German merchant vessel under attack by RAF Coastal Command on the 11th January 1942.

Fg. Off Peter Cundy the Liberator took off at 04.10 hours for a lengthy patrol over the Bay of Biscay. At 15.20 hours, when about 100 miles off the north-west tip of Spain, the crew saw a Heinkel Hel 15 floatplane below and beneath them. Cundy banked to allow his rear and side gunners to open fire, at a distance of 200-600 yd. They scored numerous hits but the enemy aircraft disappeared in a rain squall.

Jan

10

1942

Rommel remains confident despite retreat

Rommel in conversation with Major General Boettcher, North Africa, January 1942.

Operations going as planned so far. Our mines and Luftwaffe are making things difficult for the enemy pursuit. To think that we’ve got our force back 300 miles to a good line, without suffering serious harm, and in spite of the fact that the bulk of it is non-motorised! That our “ unemployed ” generals are grousing all the time doesn’t surprise me. Criticism doesn’t cost much.

Jan

9

1942

Life on a troopship bound for overseas training

The destruction around St Paul's Cathedral caused by an air raid on London is softened by a heavy dusting of snow. A mobile crane and truck can be seen at work to clear up some of the debris, January 1942

This is the first time that I have known real discomfort without any escape which money or influence or friends can provide. There is nothing to be done but to accept the situation and I really feel quite cheerful, considerably more so than most of my companions. But I never expected to experience worse than Padgate; and Padgate was luxury in comparison. We had lunch at 12.00 hours. It was edible, if not particularly appetising: a tasteless soup drunk out of our mess tins, boiled beef with potatoes and multi-coloured, bullet-like peas, and sago pudding.

Jan

8

1942

A German counter attack on the Eastern front

A German soldier at a front line observation post near the city of Chelm/Kholm, Russia, January 1942.

At 5.30 a.m. we penetrate Strelezkaja. The surprise of the sleeping Russians is one hundred percent successful. Most of them do not even get the chance to get up. Without mercy everything and everybody is gunned down or clubbed to death on their sleeping cots. The whole nightmare lasts about a half hour. Strelezkaja burns down to the ground, in every hut there are 20 to 30 dead Russians …

Jan

7

1942

Japanese break through at the battle of the Slim river

Stocks of rubber, held by a factory on a rubber plantation in Malaya, are burnt during the British retreat to Singapore.

The battalion was dead tired; most of all, the commanders whose responsibilities prevented them from snatching even a little fitful sleep . The battalion had withdrawn 176 miles in three weeks and had only three days’ rest. It had suffered 250 casualties of which a high proportion had been killed. The spirit of the men was low and the battalion had lost 50 per cent of its fighting efficiency .

Jan

6

1942

Nazi atrocities uncovered by Soviet advance

The Nazi's viewed all 'Slavs' as 'sub human' and quite apart from their genocide against the Jews readily killed anyone connected with any form of 'partisan activity', real or imagined.

Unquestionable facts prove that the regimes of robbery and of bloody terror inflicted on the peaceful population of the occupied villages and cities did not consist of certain excesses of individual undisciplined military units, or individual German officers and soldiers. Rather does it point to a definite system, planned far in advance and encouraged by the German Government and the German Army Command, a system which intentionally unleashed within their army the lowest animal instincts among the officers and men.

Jan

4

1942

Russian counter-attack finds the Germans

Soviet troops, fully prepared for arctic warfare conditions, advance during an attack on the Kalinin front, January 1942.

Germans, frozen to death, lie on the roads of our advance. Their bodies are absolutely intact. We didn’t kill them, it was the cold. Practical jokers put the frozen Germans on their feet, or on their hands and knees, making intricate, fanciful sculpture groups. Frozen Germans stand with their fists raised, or with their fingers spread wide. Some of them look as if they are running, their heads pulled into the shoulders.

Jan

3

1942

Overcoming bayonet wounds to win the VC

Royal Engineers prepare to blow up a bridge in Malaya during the British retreat to Singapore. In the background Chinese rickshaws loaded with rice from abandoned government stocks are crossing the bridge.

This was only the beginning of an extraordinary night for Cumming. Taken back to battalion HQ, where a field dressing was put on his bayonet wounds, he began to inspire his men like a man possessed, though at times he was obviously in some pain. When the japanese renewed their attack on the HQ position and its defenders started to run low on ammunition, Cumming remembered there were five boxes of .303 in his Bren gun carrier and, accompanied by his driver, Sepoy Albel Singh, went and collected them.

Jan

2

1942

A U-boat commander hunts for his first kill

The forward gun crew of U-123 prepare to engage a surface vessel sometime in January 1942.

Slowly the outline of a tanker revealed itself still too far away to get in a shot. Behind me the sky was black and overcast, but the air was cold and clear, and by chance the moon came out of the clouds. I turned at maximum speed towards the tanker, offering her a slim silhouette – and then I had her about 400 metres in front of me.

Jan

1

1942

New Year celebrations in the Desert

German transport column on the Agheila-Agedabia road, south of Benghazi, under cannon attack from Bristol Blenheim of No. 113 Squadron RAF. The first two lorries are running off the road. No. 113 Squadron were transferred to the Far East early in 1942.

Last night, Old Year’s Eve, there was an outburst of firing. It began at the stroke of midnight with a few isolated Very lights. Then a burst of tracers went up in a few minutes like a kind of fever men were firing weapons all over the brigade. Wherever you looked grinning men were sending up this incredible fireworks display. No one protested.