October 1942

Oct

21

1942

A Russian sniper starts work in Stalingrad

A Soviet machine gun crew in the ruins of Stalingrad.

It always intrigues me to look through good optics at an enemy hundreds of metres away. Beforehand, you could only see him as a small and indistinct shape, then suddenly you can see the details of his uniform, and whether he is short or tall, skinny or fat. You can tell whether or not he has shaved that morning. You know if he is young or old, and if he in an officer or a soldier. You can see the expression on his face, and sometimes your target will be talking to another soldier, or even singing to himself.

Oct

20

1942

Work begins on the Burma-Siam railway

Robert hardie's drawing of the view from Kenburi camp, it was through this terrain that the Burma-Siam railway was built.

I spend a great amount of time trying to get medical supplies out of the japanese – as difficult as wringing blood from stones. Nobusawa professes to have almost no supplies for us and we have practically no dressings for our skin cases. A tin or two of quinine tablets, half a bottle of spirit, one or two bandages, three washing bowls, a couple of buckets and a bar of soap constitute the ‘hospital equipment’ in a camp of nearly a thousand men.

Oct

19

1942

Parachute Training in Britain

Half length portrait of a paratrooper carrying a Sten gun, having loaded it ready for immediate action.

We sat on either side of the fuselage which had a large aperture cut away in its underside to enable us to jump from the aircraft but this method proved not too satisfactory as often the trainee would fail to push himself forward enough to allow the pack of his folded parachute to clear the edge of the aperture. Consequently he would be tilted forward with the danger of knocking his face on the opposite side which could easily result in a broken nose.

Oct

18

1942

Hitler’s Order – Summary death for Commandos

Portrait of a soldier from No. 3 Commando armed with a 'Tommy gun' and wearing a balaclava, at Largs in Scotland, 2 May 1942.

I therefore order: From now on all enemies on so-called commando missions in Europe or Africa, challenged by German troops, even if they are to all appearances soldiers in uniform or demolition troops, whether armed or unarmed, in battle or in flight, are to be slaughtered to the last man.

Oct

17

1942

Operation Robinson hits Le Creusot works

Part of the special force of 94 Avro Lancasters of No. 5 Group, flying at low level over Montrichard on the River Cher, France, en route to attack the Schneider engineering works at Le Creusot.

Soon the sight was re-aligned. Gerry opened the bomb-doors and the bombing run was on. I looked out of the starboard blister. Opposition from the ground was negligible certainly nothing came our way. Gerry held the Lancaster level and steady at the indicated airspeed required. ‘Bombs gonel’ came confidently from the nose of the aircraft.

Oct

16

1942

The Eighth Army prepares for battle

A jeep and Sherman tanks of HQ 2nd Armoured Brigade, 10 October 1942. "The white line on the tank was being used as a guideline by the Camouflage Unit who were called away before completing the painting of the Brigade's tanks."

For three consecutive nights the Regiment rehearsed finding its way through our own minefields and those of the enemy. During these long, carefully planned exercises the guns and vehicles were guided through narrow lanes marked with white tape and lit by storm lanterns burning inside masked, empty four gallon petrol cans.

Oct

15

1942

The unrelenting battle for Stalingrad continues

German troops pause before another attack close to the remains of the Tractor Factory, Stalingrad, October 1942.

1220 hours: A radio message from a unit of the 416th Regiment from the hexagonal housing block: “Have been encircled, ammunition and water available, death before surrender!”
1230 hours: Dive-bombers attack the command post of General Scholudov, who is without radio communications in a neighboring bunker that has collapsed. Take over the communications to the units of this division.

Oct

14

1942

Spitfire Ace shot down over Malta

Supermarine Spitfire Mark VB(T), EP257, being operated by No. 126 Squadron RAF, taxies along the dusty perimeter track at Luqa, Malta, for a sortie. A member of the groundcrew runs alongside to warn the pilot of obstacles ahead. There was considerable interchange of aircraft between squadrons on Malta at this time, and EP257 shows evidence of hastily painted-out identification letters.

Just as I shot Willie’s pal down, another Me nailed me from behind. He got me right in the belly of the Spit. A chunk of cannon shell smashed into my right heel. Another went between my left arm and body, nicking me in the elbow and ribs. Shrapnel spattered into my left leg. The controls were blasted to bits. The throttle was jammed wide open and there I was in a full-power spin, on my way down from somewhere around 18,000 feet.

Oct

13

1942

British War Cabinet monitors German morale

Annotated vertical photograph taken over Hamburg, Germany by a specially-equipped aircraft to show the feasibility of damage plotting during a night raid. This exposure, taken without the use of a photoflash, shows areas of the city identified by the pattern of fires resulting from the bombing. The locations, all in the Wandsbek district are: 'A' - Horner Weg; 'B' - Washingtonallee; 'C' - Kamp Jenfelder; 'D' - the north end of Stengelestrasse; 'E' - fires burning among barracks; and 'F' - fires in the grandstand of the racecourse.

” Hamburg is unrecognisable. It looks as if an earthquake has taken place.” ” Very soon there won’t be even ruins in our Duisburg.” ” If the Tommies keep on bombing us like this Western Germany will soon cease to exist.” ” I cannot understand what you are doing at the front that we should be bombed four nights in succession.”

Oct

12

1942

Brutal treatment in Japanese PoW camp

My personal worst moments came when I had to appear before the Japanese Commandant and an assortment of interpreters, to try and explain away, to humourless Japanese officers a book of political cartoons I had drawn. I had lent the book to a careless person who allowed it to fall into the hands of Japanese guards. This was at a time when the war was going badly for Germany and Japan and this was reflected in the cartoons. I was extremely lucky to get away with a whole skin. The Japanese did not approve. I never saw the book again.

There are few images available to illustrate the Japanese POW camps.  Here is a drawing from Changi Prison on Singapore by Des Bettany by kind permission of Keith Bettany.

When he was on the warpath he was very frightening. I have seen five or six hundred British sailors including myself standing stiff at attention, not daring to move an eyelid. A flood of Japanese would pour forth from his tongue; and the sound of this shouting was always the prelude to a scene. At night it was quite eerie and not unlike a mad dog. I doubt that anyone who lived in that camp could ever forget it.