May 1942

May

20

1942

Evading enemy aircraft in the desert

A posed close-up view of a Chevrolet truck and its three man crew in the Western Desert. The gunner beside the driver is manning an Italian Breda machine gun, while the soldier in the back is ready with the Lewis gun.

I had gone about fifty miles inland before I was spotted by an enemy fighter. The method of foiling aircraft attack in the open desert is quite simple. The plane, or planes, would generally attack from behind. What you had to do then was a complete 180-degree turn to face the oncoming attacker. This put the plane at a distinct disadvantage: he couldn’t dive towards you as he would finish up diving into the ground.

May

19

1942

The final stages of the Burma retreat

An example of the road conditions in Burma during the monsoon season, a tarpaulin has been spread across the hillside in an attempt to stop into sliding down onto the road.

Ploughing their way up slopes, over a track inches deep in slippery mud, soaked to the skin, rotten with fever, ill-fed and shivering as the air grew cooler, the troops went on, hour after hour, day after day. Their only rest at night was to lie on the sodden ground under the dripping trees, without even a blanket to cover them.

May

18

1942

The last flight of ‘MacRoberts Reply’

The first aircraft named 'MacRoberts Reply' - on the N aircraft - had received considerable wartime publicity, it was badly damaged in a crash in February 1942.

At the crash site, a big part of the forrest was cut, it almost looked like a huge razor had cut through the trees. It look like there had been a huge explosion, since there were only small parts left from the bomber and there was a big hole in the ground. Since there were only small parts left, I could not recognise the bomber.

May

17

1942

Heavy losses as Coastal Command attacks Prinz Eugen

Two Bristol Beauforts (N1173/`MW-E' and AW242/`MW-B') of 217 Squadron, Royal Air Force patrolling the British coast near St Eval, Cornwall.

The first force was unable to locate the cruiser, but part of the second force, which consisted of 52 aircraft, including 27 torpedo-carrying Beauforts, carried out an attack. Two possible hits with torpedoes are claimed. Considerable enemy fighter opposition was encountered and nine of our aircraft failed to return.

May

16

1942

SS discuss the use of mobile gassing vans

A destroyed Magirus-Deutz van found in 1945 in Kolno, Poland, not far from the Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination camp. Very similar to the type used by the Nazis this van proved not to have been modified.

I ordered the vans of group D to be camouflaged as house trailers by putting one set of window shutters on each side of the small van and two on each side of the large vans, such as one often sees on farm houses in the country. The vans became so well known, that not only the authorities but also the civilian population called the van “death van”, as soon as one of these vehicles appeared.

May

15

1942

The sinking of HMS Trinidad

The British Fiji class cruiser HMS TRINIDAD stationary in Hvalfjörður, Iceland., February  1942  before she departed for her final voyage, escorting an arctic convoy.

At one time when we were bomb-dodging I spotted torpedo bombers dropping torpedos a couple of miles away. I kept a good eye in that direction and duly reported “TORPEDO TRACKS”. Leaving the torpedoes to look after themselves, the skipper calmly assessed the situation, turned to port and the menaces passed us on either side.

May

14

1942

The LRDG experiment with bombing vehicles

Three Long Range Desert Group 30-cwt Chevrolet trucks, surrounded by desert.

The patrol carried 45 gallon drums for blocking the road; and in the hope of creating the impression of a stretch of road under repair two long poles were to be put across the drums, and two red lamps were hung on them with the notice “Achtung! Strassenbau”. The truck was left 150 yards from the road with the driver and two machine-gunners. Two other ranks armed with a Tommy gun, a rifle and some hand grenades were in position 50 yards from the road. These two parties were to give covering fire.

May

13

1942

Night patrol across the desert in No Mans Land

Rhodesian troops of the 60th King's Royal Rifles in a Bedford MWD 15cwt truck in the Western Desert, 12 May 1942.

Suddenly the officer kneels and holds up his hand. Everyone stops dead, kneels and listens intently A star shell bursts, burning whitely in the darkness. The light flickers and dies. Breathing more heavily the patrol rises and continues. Almost immediately a machine gun opens fire, chattering noisily, tracer bullets spitting in short bursts.

May

12

1942

Pasadena Japanese take taxi to internment

The internment of Americans of Japanese ethnic origin was organised and supervised by the military authorities but little compassion was needed in practice.

Since yesterday we Pasadena Japanese have ceased to be human beings – we are now simply numbers or things. We are no longer ‘Egamis’ but the number 23324. A tag with that number is on every suit- case and bag. Even on our breasts are tied large tags with this same number – 23324! Again, a sad and tragic feeling grips my heart!

May

11

1942

On the cattle wagon to Sobibor

The notorious SS Police Chief for the Lublin District Odilo Globocnik at the Sobibor site.

We had to stand and the sea of filth grew bigger at our feet, and we went on and on like this for the whole day, locked inside the wagons, as if we were real beasts, in a stifling nauseating place, filled with dead bodies and putrid air. To add the finishing touch to the gruesome picture once in a while we would hear shots fired by the German soldiers who were on the outside of the convoy.