May 1942

May

31

1942

Rommel renews his attack on the Gazala line

Always close to the front line - Erwin Rommel in his command vehicle 'Greif'

German-Italian units fought their way forward yard by yard against the toughest British resistance imaginable. The defence was conducted with considerable skill and, as usual, the British fought to the last round. They also brought a new 57-mm. anti-tank gun [the 6 pounder] into use in this action.

May

30

1942

RAF launch the first 1000 bomber raid

Vertical aerial photograph taken during Operation MILLENNIUM, the 'Thousand-bomber' raid on Cologne, Germany 30/31 May 1942. The tracks of a mass of concentrated searchlights and tracer bullets from anti-aircraft fire cover the larger area of the picture as the first bombs explode on the city (lower left).

I was convinced that a force of 250-300 aircraft was wholly inadequate to saturate the then existing defences of a major industrial town of half a million or more inhabitants. But if we attacked with a larger force, supposing that we could get one, should we be able to organise it in such a way as to get a really high concentration over the target?

May

29

1942

New British Grant tanks attack in the desert

The driver of a Grant tank takes a closer look at a gouge in the armour plate made by a 50mm anti-tank round, Libya, June 1942.

As we approached the crest of the rise, the order was given to speed up and the tanks on either side of us followed suit. But we were the first to reach the skyline, at least of those in our immediate vicinity, and as we came into full view of the enemy so the shells arrived.

May

28

1942

A guessing game U-boat hunt in the Mediterranean

The 'Hunt' class destroyer - all of ten were named after  fox hunting associations located in different parts of Britain - seen under way in 1941.

The searchlight was immediately illuminated showing the U-Boat wallowing gently in the slight swell which was pouring off her hull and sparkling in the moonlight. Speed was increased to fifteen knots to counter a surface escape and the guns ordered to open fire. But use of the main armament was an error because the vivid flash of the four-inch guns temporarily blinded everyone on the upper deck.

May

27

1942

Returning to duty on the Eastern Front

German infantry advancing on a Panzer IV during fighting for the Kerch Peninsula, May 1942.

Behind our truck hung a long cloud of dust in great whorls, and in no time there was a thin grey coating on uniform, hair and face. The dust clogged your nostrils, got into your mouth, parched your throat. Rushing through the air made our eyes water and the tears which trickled cut furrows into that dust down our cheeks. Everything was shimmering with the heat.

May

26

1942

Rommel attacks the Gazala Line

Rommle had mad a name for himself in France by driving his troops on with lightening fast advances, a tactic he once again employed to try to turn the British line.

Half an hour later, the first of the enemy tanks rolled into view – eighty of them all advancing together, firing indiscriminately as they came, the squeaking of their tracks adding to the fearful cacophony now surrounding Bir Hakeim. They were immediately followed by an impressive number of trucks carrying infantry and artillery.

May

25

1942

Convoy PQ16 comes under air attack

The Hawker Sea Hurricane being catapulted from the catapult armed merchant (CAM) ship at Greenock. Note the long flame from the rocket assistors.

The tracer-bullets from our Oerlikons were rushing at the yellow belly of the Junker 88 as he swooped over us. A loud squeal, growing louder and louder, and then the explosion, as a stick of bombs landed between us and the destroyer, on the port side. Three pillars of water went high up in the air, and the ship shook.

May

24

1942

Public wants a Second Front to help Russia

Troops from 7th Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers charge ashore during invasion exercises at Greencastle in Northern Ireland, 8 May 1942.

It’s apparently useless for them to point out that the R.A.F. is regularly battering Germany’s production bases, that the steady stream of British war material to Russia continues at considerable sacrifice to this country, and that Britain is already fighting on three fronts – the Pacific, the Middle East, and the Atlantic.

May

22

1942

British and Soviets argue over ‘Second Front’

Despite the propaganda images the Soviet Army was once again suffering serious reverses against the German Army. An overconfident offensive launched at Stalin's insistence was now being pushed back.

if any further effort could be made or plan devised, provided it was sound and sensible, for drawing the weight off Russia this year, we should not hesitate to put it into effect. Clearly, it would not further either the Russian cause or that of the Allies as a whole if, for the sake of action at any price, we embarked on some operation which ended in disaster and gave the enemy an opportunity for glorification at our discomfiture.

May

21

1942

Spitfire vs Messerschmitt 109 over Malta

The Junkers Ju 88A-1. The original bomber version of the highly adaptable Junkers 88 aircraft.

The 109′s scatter like spray. Twisting in my seat; my companions can’t have heard my order – I’m alone. Enemy fighters every-where. Two race low overliead; four more on my right. As three more 109s dive head-on under my nose I watch the fourth turning towards me; in a few seconds he will pass below to my left. There’s plenty of time to shoot him down.