1942

Dec

21

1942

Struggle to survive on the Railway of Death

H Force leaving for the Burma-Thailand Railway.
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. See more of Des Bettany's work at his online exhibition.

At first he did not question that they were diphtheria cases; but he said that he had no antitoxin and that as Thailand was so backward he could not get any. This is obviously nonsense – there is a famous Pasteur Institute in Bangkok not far away. But Nobusawa was clearly not going to bother himself about it.

Dec

20

1942

Battle training in the far north of Britain

3-inch mortars of the Essex Regiment in action, Orford battle area, December 1942.

As the smoke cleared the brigadier drew himself up to his full height. He rocked backwards and forwards for a few moments ‘Urrgumph,’ he said, and again ‘Urrgumph Good show, Forman. Good – urrgumph – show.’ As he hobbled to his staff car, his GSO II drew me aside. ‘Don’t … do … that … again,’ he said.

Dec

19

1942

Soviet Army successes give Russians confidence

“Destroyed Stalingrad does not give up”.

Russia’s mind was focused on Stalingrad. When the offensive got into its stride, a deep feeling of gratitude and relief swept the country. This expressed itself in all kinds of ways: in extra hours worked in factories “for Stalingrad,” and also in that curious movement the origin of which is obscure, and which took the form of large money gifts to the Defence Fund.

Dec

18

1942

Paulus refuses to make a breakout from Stalingrad

Attempting to warm up the engines of a Ju 52 transport plane at one of the airfield within Stalingrad.

While the army commander was probably a better-trained tactician and a clearer thinker, it looked as if his Chief-of-Staff was the stronger personality of the two! And so the upshot of the talks was that General Paulus himself ended by pronouncing the break-out a sheer impossibility and pointing out that the surrender of Stalingrad was forbidden ‘by order of the Fuhrer’!

Dec

17

1942

United Nations Declaration on ‘German Barbarities’

'Lama Sabachthani' was painted at a time when news of the Nazi concentration and death camps was starting to filter through to British society. Although geographically distant, the impact was keenly felt in many quarters. 

The title is taken from the opening verse of Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest."


The artist Morris Kestelman was the son of European Jewish immigrants. He studied at the Royal College of Art and lived and worked in London.

From all the occupied countries Jews are being transported, in conditions of appalling horror and brutality, to Eastern Europe. In Poland, which has been made the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, the ghettoes established by the German invaders are being systematically emptied of all Jews except a few highly skilled workers required for war industries. None of those taken away are ever heard of again. The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labour camps.

Dec

16

1942

New Russian tactics delay ‘Winter Storm’

Russian soldiers lie dead in their positions.

Over and over again it became necessary for the tanks to wait or even turn back and assist, as the panzergrenadiers had to deploy to locate and identify an invisible enemy in combat on foot. The various enemy nests proved so well hidden in the steppe grass (which was brown like Red Army uniforms) that the only way to find them was actually to stumble across them. Usually some unlucky German soldier had been killed by a bullet before a nest was identified.

Dec

15

1942

Freezing on the Russian steppe hoping for a ‘Heimatschuss’

Soviet soldiers fire 45-mm anti-tank gun model 1937 53-K at the German positions on the Volga at Stalingrad.

I know what he means. He is trying to tell me that unfortunately it does not qualify me for a Heimatschuss [literally a ‘Home Shot’ – a wound bad enough to get you sent home] I feel the disappointment – a hope has been dashed. And then I think how quickly human feelings and attitudes can change. It is only a matter of weeks since I was dreaming of glory and heroism and was so full of élan that I was almost bursting.

Dec

14

1942

Operation Winter Storm pushes on towards Stalingrad

A 'Sturmgeschütz' and a Panzer III tank in Russian winter.

Suddenly, there is movement there! Three – no, four,five, six Russian tanks, probably T-34s, slowly advance on our position echeloned to the rear. I sound the alarm for the two self-propelled guns. The crews huddle behind the thinly armored gunshield, the barrels turn toward the enemy. Apart from this, there is no movement on our side. Over there the slowly advancing tanks are followed by several waves of Russian infantry that can be clearly made out against the snow cover with their thick brown greatcoats and well-known hats.

Dec

13

1942

Conditions deteriorate inside the Stalingrad cauldron

Russian PoWs who had been trapped inside Staingrad along with the Germans, found starved to death after the Red Army broke through in 1943.

he shelling gradually flattened our positions, which had to be improved. Where could we get building timber? For us and many others, the wooden houses in the suburbs were the only supply of wood, and only daily hunts, which also brought in many other useful things, gave relief; a packet of long nails, wire, and white flare rounds, which I traded for my cigarettes, ensured friendly faces in the position at evening.

Dec

12

1942

Operation Frankton survivors reach their target

The Royal Marines 'Special Boom Detachment' during training off Portsmouth. Ostensibly their job was to patrol the six mile harbour boom, in fact they were training for a secret operation. Only two of the ten men who set pout came back.

We were lucky. We could have arrived to discover that the harbour was empty; there had been no way to knowing how many ships we would find until this moment, and we were satisfied. We chose four targets. We turned back towards the cargo ship and pulled up alongside. Her hull shrouded us in darkness. We could hear the crew singing. I wondered what they’d be singing in a few hours’ time. It proved an easy target. I attached my magnet-holder to the hull to prevent the tide from carrying us away.