1942

Dec

1

1942

The Red Army noose tightens around Stalingrad

Soviet artillery located in the German military cemetery, firing at German positions in Stalingrad from 76-mm divisional gun model 1942 ZIS-3.

Our mortarmen saw to it that the enemy did not sleep at night. By day, we would zero in on a ravine, where various Nazi service units were concentrated, and make a detailed plan of their positions. Then, as soon as darkness fell, we would begin firing at regular five-minute intervals. This was called ‘wearing out the enemy.’ The Germans were shelled all night long, but we managed to get some sleep at least: each crew worked for an hour, firing some 100 bombs, before scurrying back to burrows, kept warm by sleeping comrades.

Nov

30

1942

The Battle of Tassafaronga, off Guadalcanal

The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA-32) camouflaged at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, some days after she was torpedoed during the Battle of Tassafaronga on 30 November 1942. Note that her stern is riding high, and that her forward end is low in the water. The torpedo and subsequent explosion had severed her bow between No.1 and No.2 eight-inch gun turrets.

I walked alongside the silent turret two and was stopped by a lifeline stretched from the outboard port lifeline to the side of the turret. Thank God it was there, for one more step and I would have pitched head first into the dark water thirty feet below. The bow was gone. One hundred and twenty five feet of ship and number one main battery turret with three 8 inch guns were gone. Eighteen hundred tons of ship were gone.

Nov

29

1942

Ron Middleton dies saving his crew after Turin raid

Portrait of Rawdon Hume Middleton RAF, awarded the Victoria Cross: Italy, 29 November 1942.

The possibilities of abandoning the aircraft or landing in northern France were discussed but Flight Sergeant Middleton stated his intention to attempt to reach the English coast. After crossing the Channel there was only sufficient fuel for five minutes flying. Flight Sergeant Middleton flew the aircraft parallel with the coast and ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Five of the crew left the aircraft and two remained to assist him. The aircraft crashed into the sea and all remaining onboard were killed.

Nov

28

1942

Romanian prisoners are escorted off the battlefield

Romanian prisoners of war, they faced a bleak and uncertain future.

On the roads lie helmets decorated with the Romanian royal coat of arms, thousands of cartridges, grenades, rifles. A Romanian strongpoint. A mountain of empty, sooty cartridges by the machine-gun nest. White sheets of writing paper are lying in the communication trench. The brown winter steppe has turned brick red from blood. There are rifles with butts splintered by Russian bullets. And crowds of prisoners are moving towards us all the time.

Nov

27

1942

The French Navy scuttle their Fleet at Toulon

The French battleship Marseillaise sunk and burning at Toulon

- Oppose, without spilling of blood, the entry of foreign troops in any of the establishments, airbases and buildings of the Navy;
- Similarly oppose entry of foreign troops aboard ships of the Fleet; find settlements by means of local negotiation; and
- If the former proved impossible, to scuttle the ships.

Nov

26

1942

General Paulus asks for ‘Freedom of action’

The Soviets kept the pressure up on the Stalingrad pocket where the street fighting continued.

I still believe, however, that the army can hold out for a time. On the other hand – even if anything like a corridor is cut through to me – it is still not possible to tell whether the daily increasing weakness of the army, combined with the lack of accommodation and wood for constructional and heating purposes, will allow the area around Stalingrad to be held for any length of time.

Nov

25

1942

Hitler trusts Goering to supply Stalingrad by air

In the winter of 1941-1942 the Luftwaffe had managed to maintain supplies to the Demjansk pocket despite treacherous flying conditions. Now Goering was promising that they could do it all again - but this time for the whole of the 6th Army trapped in Stalingrad.

Reichsmarschall was enormously strong, said he would fly in any weather condihons. Demyansk and other cases had proved it possible. We were horrified at his optimism, which is not shared even by Luftwaffe General Staff. F. [Fuhrer] was enthusiastic about the Reichsmarschall, who would deliver the goods as he had done in the past. There was no chicken-heartedness with him as there was in many Army circles.

Nov

24

1942

Facing a Red Army infantry attack

A column of Soviet troops outside Stalingrad with Katushya rocket launchers and T-34 tanks.

We are firing with four machine guns and at least eighty carbines from secure, covered positions into the advancing horde. Our machine gun bursts rip openings in their ranks. Dead and wounded are hitting the ground all the time. But more of them are coming through the haze, and we can’t see them clearly. The first ones are now so close to our positions that we can readily make out the plump, bent figures with rifles and Russian Kalashnikovs.

Nov

23

1942

Navajo code talkers join the Guadalcanal battlefield

Cpl. Henry Bahe Jr. (left) and Pfc. George H. Kirk, Navajo code talkers,  operating a portable radio on the island Bougainville, in December 1943

There was no room for error in a maneuver like that. The old Shackle communications system took so long to encode and decode, and it was so frequently inaccurate, that using it for the transmission of on-the-fly target coordinates was a perilous proposition. Frequently, in the midst of battle, instead of using the Shackle code, the Marines had transmitted in English. They knew the transmissions were probably being monitored by the japanese, so they salted the messages liberally with profanity, hoping to confuse the enemy.

Nov

22

1942

6th Panzer Division faces Partisan attacks across Russia

An armoured train with artillery and anti aircraft guns - operated by the Germans in the occupied territories of the East during 1942.

The men in each car had been placed in the brakeman’s boxes; at night searchlights went into action whenever necessary. Their cones of light, shining out of both sides of the train as soon as the first shot was fired, dazzled the partisans and made it possible for our men to see every movement and discern their intentions. Thereupon they were defeated with rapid fire and hand grenades. The brakes were applied and the train came to a sudden halt.