1942

Nov

4

1942

El Alamein – the chase is on

crusader tank at speed

4th November 1942: El Alamein – the chase is on…

Gradually the objects in the turret became visible: the crew of the tank – for, I believe, these tanks did not hold more than two – were, so to speak, distributed round the turret. At first it was diflicult to work out how the limbs were arranged. They lay in a clumsy embrace, their white faces whiter, as those of dead men in the desert always were, for the light powdering of dust on them.

Nov

3

1942

El Alamein – the tide turns against Rommel

3rd November 1942: El Alamein – the tide turns against Rommel

The battle is going very heavily against us. We’re simply being crushed by the enemy weight. I’ve made an attempt to salvage part of the army. I wonder if it will succeed. At night I lie open-eyed, racking my brains for a way out of this plight for my poor troops. We are facing very difficult days, perhaps the most difficult that a man can undergo. The dead are lucky, it’s all over for them.

Nov

2

1942

El Alamein – the Eighth Army launches ‘Supercharge’

2nd November 1942: El Alamein – The British launch ‘Supercharge’…

A couple of Messerschmitw had dropped a few bombs behind us and about a dozen Sherman tanks, rolling on chattering tracks had just made their noisy and dusty way through our guns to support the attack. There was a certain roused air of confidence as it was predicted that this could be the day of the break out from the bridgehead. A few shells in the ritual of the dawn chorus were coming our way canvassing for death, but nothing much to worry about.

Nov

1

1942

Bloody fight for Guadalcanal continues

1st November 1942: Bloody fight for Guadalcanal continues…

During the course of this engagement, all members of his section were either killed or severely wounded and he himself suffered multiple, grievous wounds. Nonetheless, Corporal Casamento continued to provide critical supporting fire for the attack and in defense of his position. Following the loss of all effective personnel, he set up, loaded, and manned his unit’s machine gun, tenaciously holding the enemy forces at bay.

Oct

31

1942

El Alamein – Australians begin to break through

31st October 1942: El Alamein – Australians begin to break through

But with a scream and a crash another shell arrived. Something glanced along the side of my boot and two or three more pieces hit on the tank with a clang. Evan rolled sideways off the back of the tank and fell to the ground. ‘Are you all right?’ I asked him. ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Well get back in the turret, I’m not going to muck about digging in this stuff.”

Oct

30

1942

German reaction to the bombing of Munich

30th October 1942: German reaction to the bombing of Munich

Presumably, after some young Canadian turns the Frauenkirche into a pile of rubble, he will assign Herr Speer to help us reconcile ourselves to the loss of this and other cathedrals. I would assume that he is secretly delighted over the loss of our Gothic masterpieces, since he has always wanted to become one of the immortals of architecture …

Oct

29

1942

The hell of a Japanese prison ship

29th October 1942: The hell of a Japanese prison ship

With his backside on a latrine bucket he was vomiting from his other end into a container, and quite often missing it. With the next roll of the ship he pitched forward, spilling the contents of both containers, and went crashing down on the deck. I put down my rice, wiped up the spillage as best as I could, helped him back onto the bucket and returned to my meal. My sensibilities had been brought to a point of complete numbness.

Oct

28

1942

El Alamein – Montgomery regroups his troops

28th October 1942: El Alamein – Montgomery regroups his troops

The tank was filled with a thousand buzzing flies and smelt vaguely of death. Occasionally a shot pinged against the armour. My peace of mind was not helped by a tactless signaller who informed me, between grips for breath after running and dodging, that a shell had come through the forward observation port of the tank the day before.

Oct

27

1942

Rifle Brigade fight off the tank attack on Kidney Ridge

27th October 1942: Rifle Brigade fight off the tank attack on Kidney Ridge

The whole area of the bridgehead was jam-packed with lorries, tanks and guns. It resembled a badly organised lorry and ordnance park. The congestion was horrendous. Our two troops of guns were only twenty yards apart and there must have been fifty guns within an area the size of a twenty acre field. It was any man’s country and it seemed as if every gun in the desert was in the bridgehead.

Oct

26

1942

Rommel returns to the El Alamein battlefield

26th October 1942: Rommel returns to the El Alamein battlefield

Unfortunately, the attack gained ground very slowly. The British resisted desperately. Rivers of blood were poured out over miserable strips of land which, in normal times, not even the poorest Arab would have bothered his head about. Tremendous British artillery fire pounded the area of the attack. In the evening part of the Bersaglieri Battalion succeeded in occupying the eastern and western edges of the hill. The hill itself remained in British hands and later became the base for many enemy operations.