1942

Jan

12

1942

‘Conspicious gallantry’ in desperate battles on Bataan

Enemy snipers in trees and foxholes had stopped a counterattack to regain part of position. In hand-to-hand fighting which followed, 2d Lt. Nininger repeatedly forced his way to and into the hostile position. Though exposed to heavy enemy fire, he continued to attack with rifle and hand grenades and succeeded in destroying several enemy groups in foxholes and enemy snipers.

Jan

11

1942

Long range U Boat hunters over the Atlantic

Fg. Off Peter Cundy the Liberator took off at 04.10 hours for a lengthy patrol over the Bay of Biscay. At 15.20 hours, when about 100 miles off the north-west tip of Spain, the crew saw a Heinkel Hel 15 floatplane below and beneath them. Cundy banked to allow his rear and side gunners to open fire, at a distance of 200-600 yd. They scored numerous hits but the enemy aircraft disappeared in a rain squall.

Jan

10

1942

Rommel remains confident despite retreat

Operations going as planned so far. Our mines and Luftwaffe are making things difficult for the enemy pursuit. To think that we’ve got our force back 300 miles to a good line, without suffering serious harm, and in spite of the fact that the bulk of it is non-motorised! That our “ unemployed ” generals are grousing all the time doesn’t surprise me. Criticism doesn’t cost much.

Jan

9

1942

Life on a troopship bound for overseas training

This is the first time that I have known real discomfort without any escape which money or influence or friends can provide. There is nothing to be done but to accept the situation and I really feel quite cheerful, considerably more so than most of my companions. But I never expected to experience worse than Padgate; and Padgate was luxury in comparison. We had lunch at 12.00 hours. It was edible, if not particularly appetising: a tasteless soup drunk out of our mess tins, boiled beef with potatoes and multi-coloured, bullet-like peas, and sago pudding.

Jan

8

1942

A German counter attack on the Eastern front

At 5.30 a.m. we penetrate Strelezkaja. The surprise of the sleeping Russians is one hundred percent successful. Most of them do not even get the chance to get up. Without mercy everything and everybody is gunned down or clubbed to death on their sleeping cots. The whole nightmare lasts about a half hour. Strelezkaja burns down to the ground, in every hut there are 20 to 30 dead Russians …

Jan

7

1942

Japanese break through at the battle of the Slim river

The battalion was dead tired; most of all, the commanders whose responsibilities prevented them from snatching even a little fitful sleep . The battalion had withdrawn 176 miles in three weeks and had only three days’ rest. It had suffered 250 casualties of which a high proportion had been killed. The spirit of the men was low and the battalion had lost 50 per cent of its fighting efficiency .

Jan

6

1942

Nazi atrocities uncovered by Soviet advance

Unquestionable facts prove that the regimes of robbery and of bloody terror inflicted on the peaceful population of the occupied villages and cities did not consist of certain excesses of individual undisciplined military units, or individual German officers and soldiers. Rather does it point to a definite system, planned far in advance and encouraged by the German Government and the German Army Command, a system which intentionally unleashed within their army the lowest animal instincts among the officers and men.

Jan

5

1942

The RAF continues the attack on Brest

On the night of the 5th, 140 aircraft dropped 203 tons of H.E. bombs and 7,200 incendiaries on the dock area at Brest, and, on four other nights, a total of 126 aircraft dropped a further 186 tons of H.E. bombs and 12,680 incendiaries on the same objective. Visibility was generally poor, but, during the heaviest raid, occasional gaps in the cloud enabled the crews to observe bomb bursts in the dock and dry-dock areas and along the torpedo boat quay. They also saw large fires followed by explosions in the town and Port Militaire.

Jan

4

1942

Russian counter-attack finds the Germans

Germans, frozen to death, lie on the roads of our advance. Their bodies are absolutely intact. We didn’t kill them, it was the cold. Practical jokers put the frozen Germans on their feet, or on their hands and knees, making intricate, fanciful sculpture groups. Frozen Germans stand with their fists raised, or with their fingers spread wide. Some of them look as if they are running, their heads pulled into the shoulders.

Jan

3

1942

Overcoming bayonet wounds to win the VC

This was only the beginning of an extraordinary night for Cumming. Taken back to battalion HQ, where a field dressing was put on his bayonet wounds, he began to inspire his men like a man possessed, though at times he was obviously in some pain. When the japanese renewed their attack on the HQ position and its defenders started to run low on ammunition, Cumming remembered there were five boxes of .303 in his Bren gun carrier and, accompanied by his driver, Sepoy Albel Singh, went and collected them.