March 1942

Mar

22

1942

Italian battle fleet attacks Malta convoy

HMS CLEOPATRA throws out smoke to shield the convoy as HMS EURYALUS elevates her forward 5.25 inch guns to shell the Italian Fleet.

A series of flashes in the smoke followed by a dull, rumbling boom announced the opening of the surface engagement. As if this was a signal, a formation of torpedo bombers flew into sight, skimming just above the sea. Simultaneously an even larger group of high level bombers were briefly glimpsed through the smoke and clouds on the opposite side of the convoy.

Mar

21

1942

Heaviest bombing raid on Malta yet

Bomb damage to the motor transport depot of 32nd Company, Royal Army Service Corps at Floriana, 20 March 1942.

The heaviest attack which has yet been delivered against Malta was made on the 21st March, when Takali aerodrome was the main objective. A mixed force of nearly 220 enemy aircraft participated in this raid, and great devastation was caused among buildings, and a reservoir was destroyed. During the day small reinforcements of Spitfires and Blenheims reached the island.

Mar

20

1942

A Soviet army is trapped in the northern pine forests

SS troops patrolling in the snow of the Eastern front during the winter of 1941-42.

As soon as our howitzers fired the first ranging shot, it was apparent that the many tall trees in this virgin forest would pose problems beyond just obscuring my observation of enemy movement. If one of our shells prematurely collided with a tree on its ascent, its impact would cause the tree to fall or shower splinters that might injure or kill any friendly troops around it.

Mar

19

1942

‘Typical Examples of Performance of His Majesty’s Ships’

A heavy sea breaking over the bows of the battleship HMS RENOWN.

In an annex to the weekly Naval Military and Air Reports on the progress of the war, there was was a brief summary of the huge serviceability issues that arose from from warships being at sea for extended periods of time:

Mar

18

1942

U.S. government confronts ‘suspect’ Japanese within

Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store, at 13th and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war.

If this country doesn’t want me they can throw me out. What do they know about loyalty? I’m as loyal as anyone in this country. Maybe I’m as loyal as President Roosevelt. What business did they have asking me a question like that? I was born in Hawaii. I worked most of my life on the West Coast. I have never been to Japan. We would have done anything to show our loyalty.

Mar

17

1942

Belzec opens for business – Mass Murder

A small proportion of the victims at Belzec were Gypsies - here a group of Romany boys and men, having been separated from the women, wait patiently to be sent 'the baths'. The was relatively low level security - none of the electrified fences found at  concentration camps - and this probably contributed to the sense that this was 'just' a transit camp.

Wirth had stationed me there because he thought me capable of having a calming effect on the Jews. After the Jews left the undressing hut I had to direct them to the gas chamber. I believe that I eased the way there for the Jews because they must have been convinced by my words or gestures that they really were going to be bathed.

Mar

16

1942

Fear and despair in the Lodz ghetto

Propaganda pictures taken by the Germans in 1941 showed relatively benign conditions  in the workshops.

How tragic is our life, how humiliating. We are treated worse than pigs. We Jews of the ghetto, we work so hard, we help them in the war, making beautiful things from rags – military uniforms, rugs, everything a person needs. They treat us worse than slaves. And this is life. Isn’t death better?

Mar

15

1942

Hitler remembers German war dead

Hitler in relaxed mood with Spee, left and Field Marshal Keitel, right. February or March 1942.

It was becoming vitally important for him again to influence opinion with his speeches. in this discourse he described the fierceness of the Russian winter and the enormous difiiculties which our soldiers had had to overcome. But he praised the German fighting men, who, despite the violence of the enemy and the severe weather, had helped to keep the front solid.

Mar

14

1942

Australia looks to United States in Pacific war

The challenge of war led to new perspectives on Britain for the countries within the Commonwealth.

There is no belittling of the Old Country in this outlook. Britain has fought and won in the air the tremendous battle of Britain. Britain has fought, and with your strong help, has won, the equally vital battle of the Atlantic. She has a paramount obligation to supply all possible help to Russia. She cannot, at the same time, go all out in the Pacific.

Mar

13

1942

Desperate conditions on the Eastern Front

March saw the beginning of the thaw on the southern parts of the Eastern Front - but as it ran over a thousand miles long conditions varied enormously.

The next day he found a Red Army corpse frozen stiff He tugged at his legs, but in vain. He grabbed an ax and took the man off at the thighs. Fragments of fleshflew everywhere. He bundled the two stumps under his arm and set them down in the oven, next to our lunch. By the time the potatoes were done, the legs were thawed out, and he pulled on the bloody felt boots. Having the dead meat next to our food bothered us as little as if someone had wrapped his frostbite between meals or cracked lice.