March 1942

Apr

3

1942

Adrift in the Barents Sea with the burnt man

A merchant ship in an arctic convoy bound for Russia.

The boat was lowered into the sea and as we rowed away another torpedo smashed into the ship, which then sank with all the men who were still aboard. We were in the lifeboat for four days in terrible weather, after all it was winter in the arctic and we were in the Barents Sea.

Apr

2

1942

The heroic defence of Malta’s airfields

The remains of a Gloster Sea Gladiator, which formerly flew with the Malta Fighter Flight and No. 261 Squadron RAF, lies by the side of the airfield at Ta Kali, Malta. In the background is a parked Hawker Hurricane Mark I, W9133, of No. 261 Squadron.

During a period of fierce enemy air attacks on Malta, Leading Aircraftman Osborne has displayed unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty. In circumstances of the greatest danger he was always first at hand to deal with emergencies, whether in fire fighting operations or in rescue work.

Mar

30

1942

Another raid on the Tirpitz

The German battleship Tirpitz was on the top of the RAF's target list, seen here at Fættenfjord, where she was in March 1942.

On the evening of the 30th of March, just after 1800hrs BST, twelve Halifax aircraft from 76 Squadron took off from Tain to commence the first phase of the attack. Ten Halifax aircraft from 10 Squadron took off from Lossiemouth and twelve from 35 Squadron took off from Kinloss for the second phase of the attack. The aircraft would be flying a total distance of approximately 1,300 miles with a total flight time, including time over target, estimated at being around eight to eight and a half hours.

Mar

29

1942

RAF bomb the medieval city of Lubeck

Vertical aerial photograph taken during the major raid on Lubeck on the night of 28/29 March 1942, showing the glare of incendiary fires in the Altstadt (upper left), illuminating the Klughafen on which a number of barges can be seen moored.

The main object of the attack was to learn to what extent a first wave of aircraft could guide a second wave to the aiming point by starting a conflagration: I ordered a half an hour interval between the two waves in order to allow the fires to get a good hold before the second wave arrived. In all, 234 aircraft were dispatched and dropped 144 tons of incendiaries and 160 tons of high explosives.

Mar

28

1942

The Commando raid on St. Nazaire

The Campbeltown wedged into the dock gates, showing signs of the damage sustained in the battle."

After about three or four minutes of this brisk action there was a perceptible slackening in the enemy’s fire. This was a triumph for the many gun-layers in the coastal craft and in the Campbeltown. It was, at this stage, a straight fight between the carefully sited enemy flak emplacements ashore, enjoying all the protection which concrete could afford, and the gun-layers, handling the short-range weapons on the exposed decks of their small and lively craft.

Mar

27

1942

Fighters clash over the Desert

A lorry passes by a sign that warns of the danger of low-flying enemy aircraft in the Western Desert, 22 March 1942.

The enemy escort drew off some of our fighters, but other Hurricanes which had by now climbed to a dizzy height, dived like thunderbolts on the Stukas quickly followed by the top-cover Messerschmitt escort who were still higher. The first Hurricane to dive came streaking down the coast followed by a Messerschmitt, firing its cannons in furious bursts, peppering the air with black smoke puffs.

Mar

26

1942

The end of Burma’s air defence – the retreat continues

The Retreat into India: Electrical equipment at the Yenangyaung oilfields being destroyed as part of the 'scorched earth' policy pursued by the British in the face of the Japanese advance.

The main weight of the enemy attack was concentrated on the aerodromes at Magwe and Akyab. At the former, which was subjected to five raids, almost all aircraft of the two and a half squadrons located there were either destroyed or damaged. Akyab aerodrome was attacked three times by a total of 80 bombers with fighter escort, and nine of our aircraft were destroyed and a further six were damaged on the ground. In addition, an ammunition dump was hit and a hangar demolished.

Mar

25

1942

Merchant ship supply lines stretched on all fronts

The battleship HMS DUKE OF YORK in heavy seas on a convoy escort operation to Russia, March 1942.

During the week ending the 25th March 897 ships, including 245 Allied and 22 neutral, were convoyed. Seven cruisers and anti-aircraft ships, two armed merchant cruisers, 68 destroyers (including 17 American and two Russian destroyers) and 114 sloops and corvettes were employed on escort duties.

Mar

24

1942

Hardegan on U-123 strikes again

U Boats U-123 and U-201 in their home port of Lorient, France in 1941.

There – after 61 seconds – hit ahead of the foremost mast.  High, dark explosion plume and shortly thereafter the whole tanker seems to blow up.  He had a load of gasoline in the forepart.  Several explosions followed and we saw a sea of flames, which one observes rarely.  Just when we believed that he sank he used the radio.  Oops! 

Mar

23

1942

Hitler warns of danger on European Coast

In the early stages of the building of the Atlantic Wall the Germans favoured building on a grand scale.

The time and place of the landing operations will not be dictated to the enemy by operational considerations alone. Failure in other theatres of war, obligations to allies, and political considerations may persuade him to take decisions which appear unlikely from a purely military point of view.