July 1942

Jul

10

1942

Australians return to battle at Tel el Eisa

A Quad artillery tractor and 25-pdr field gun of 9th Australian Division, 9 July 1942.

Next morning, the 10th July, we were awakened at about 05.00 hours by the dull thunder of artillery fire from the north. I at once had an inkling that it boded no good. Presently came the alarming news that the enemy had attacked from the Alamein position and overrun the Sabratha Division, which had been holding a line on either side of the coast road.

Jul

9

1942

U boat U-701 survivors rescued by US Navy airship

Coast Guard PH-2 seaplane lands to rescue U-701 survivors - Navy K-type airship overhead had earlier located survivors and dropped raft and supplies to the survivors.

At dawn my strength began to leave me too. I seem to recollect vaguely that I talked nonsense and that KUNERT kept on quieting me. As the sea was still like a pond, I kept up the practice of discarding my life preserver, saying that I would swim to shore. I assumed that with a few strokes I would feel bottom under my feet and would be able to stand up, but every time I tried this I went under. That would bring me to again and I would swim back to the life preserver.

Jul

8

1942

Shipped out of Tobruk as a PoW

A German picture of British prisoners of war captured at Tobruk

One of the guards lounging above the hatch shouted. We looked up and saw an Italian army padre peering down at us. He had a poor command of English and not a lot of tact. “Englishmans,” he called, “You have been conquered,” and got no further. From somewhere in the hold a tightly knotted tarry rag rose and caught him fairly in the face. Exit padre. We never saw him again.

Jul

7

1942

Disaster strikes Convoy PQ17

The USS Wichitat was the other US Navy heavy cruiser accompanying the convoy.

Struck heavily on head by something and stunned, my one thought being to get to other side of ship before the second torpedo struck her — great presence of mind, this. Crawled through wheelhouse which was deserted and washing with water, and got on other side just as second torpedo exploded. This time my feet left the deck clear and I landed flat on my back.

Jul

6

1942

One day in the desert war

A 25-pdr field gun of 11th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, in action during the First Battle of El Alamein, July 1942.

0650. Woke after peaceful night and instantly remembered that John Gray, Brian Bassett, and Dick Chesterman had been killed yesterday. All good friends and true soldiers. Joe brought a cup of tea. Slept on valise on ground by car.
0700. Tank fire in NE. surprisingly close. Went on to ridge but could see nothing in morning haze. No reports from Battalions. Our guns shooting quietly, harassing fire.

Jul

5

1942

British remain confident despite setbacks

Members of 2nd Platoon, 'C' Company of the Doncaster Home Guard swim across a river during an assault exercise, 20 July 1942. Two of them are wearing camouflage net veils over their faces.

In the present ordeal, civilians have had to listen to the monotonous falling of British arms and strongholds abroad while being harassed at home by rising prices, dwindling business, increasing curtailment of liberty and comfort, and anxiety about their menfolk overseas. It’s good, and to the Axis it should be profoundly discouraging, that the public has refused to become defeatist even under the impact of defeats that in a more excitable country might have resulted in governments and heads being broken.

Jul

4

1942

Message to PQ17 “Convoy to Scatter”

HM Trawler NORTHERN GEM leaving harbour at Hvalfjord, Iceland.

One or two merchant ships seemed to be slowing down, and the two small rescue ships, the Rathlin and the Zamelac were manoeuvering around. One merchant ship that I had in sight just vanished as I was looking at her; one second she was there and the next all there was left was a huge pall of smoke, reaching up towards the blue sky. I had not the time to see if she was a tanker or not. The crew would not have known what hit them. It was an unbelievable thing to see happen, and quite unforgettable.

Jul

3

1942

Falling back to the El Alamein line

4.5-inch field gun firing at night against enemy armoured concentrations at El Alamein, July 1942.

We increased speed, and at length found that we were passintg south of the defended box at El Alamein station. With difficulty we managed to persuade the South African who were manning it, that we were not enemy, but only after some of our lorries had been hit, the flames of which acted as beacons, attracting part of an enemy attack which had already been launched against the western face of the box.

Jul

2

1942

Churchill wins Vote of Confidence in the Commons

A South African sapper laying a mine, Egypt, 2 July 1942.

At the same time, in spite of our losses in Asia, in spite of our defeats in Libya, in spite of the increased sinkings off the American coast, I affirm with confidence that the general strength and prospects of the United Nations have greatly improved since the turn of the year, when I last visited the President in the United States.

Jul

1

1942

Australian tragedy – Montevideo Maru torpedoed

A close up view of the USS Sturgeon whilst undergoing a refit in 1943.

At 0225 fired four torpedo spread, range 4,000 yards, from after tubes. At 0229 heard and observed explosion about 75-100 ft. abaft stack. At 0240 observed ship sink stern first. 0250 surfaced, proceeded to eastward, completing battery charge. Ship believed to be Rio de Janeiro Maru, or very similar type, although it is possible it was a larger ship, he was a big one.