1942

Feb

15

1942

The Fall of Singapore

It later transpired that the Japanese had brought up their veteran troops. As we had defended our ground so well, they thought we were a crack regiment under the direct command of General Wavell. These enemy companies acted more or less independently, and had few lines of communication. Their leaders had therefore not been able to inform them of the cease-fire, and as a result this was our worst period, as, without weapons, we were picked off one by one.

Feb

14

1942

The last gallant battle of HMS Li Wo

14th February 1942: The last gallant battle of HMS Li Wo – Lieutenant T. Wilkinson, R.N.R. wins Victoria Cross

H.M.S. Li Wo hoisted her battle ensign and made straight for the enemy. In the action which followed, the machine guns were used with effect upon the crews of all ships in range, and a volunteer gun’s crew manned the 4-inch gun, which they fought with such purpose that a Japanese transport was badly hit and set on fire.

Feb

13

1942

Desperate last hours in Singapore

13th February 1942: Japanese invasion – Desperate last hours in Singapore

Down below I found an air raid shelter built entirely of large tins of corned beef, and as I dived in, it was explained that the bomb splinters could slice through the sides of a ship, but could not penetrate the corned beef. Good old Admiralty ham. As the bombs exploded all around us I thought of those children standing on Clifford Pier unprotected.

Feb

12

1942

Heroic attempt to halt the ‘Channel Dash’

12th February 1942:German warships breakout – Heroic attempt to halt the ‘Channel Dash’

After ten minutes flight his small force was heavily attacked by Messerschmitts and F.W. 190’s; despite these attacks, which had inflicted some damage on all his aircraft and separated him from his fighter escort, he flew on undeterred. He them encountered a withering anti-aircraft fire, which shot saw most of his port wing, but was observed to regain control of his aircraft , straighten up and fly on steadily towards the battle cruisers. In this manner he led the whole of his formation over the enemy destroyer screen into a position where they could launch their torpedoes.

Feb

11

1942

The Japanese view of a ‘serene death’

11th February 1942: Invasion of Burma – the Japanese view of a ‘serene death’

The rest of the company, armed with rifles and bayonets, advanced in high spirits, bypassed the west of the hill where the enemy might be positioned, and kept moving south along the River Salween in the early morning light. Unexpectedly we found several tents. We advanced and stabbed a few men who were outside.

Feb

10

1942

British troops final stand begins on Singapore

10th February 1942: British troops final stand begins on Singapore

In these circumstances the defenders must greatly outnumber Japanese forces who have crossed the straits, and in a well-contested battle they should destroy them. There must at this stage be no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population. The battle must be fought to the bitter end at all costs .

Feb

9

1942

The attack on Singapore begins

9th February 1942: The attack on Singapore begins – the Plymouth Argylls at Bukit Timah

One of the boy-buglers from the Prince of Wales. He was then “nearly fifteen.” “On the night the Japs invaded the island everything went haywire,” he said. “During the fighting a Jap sniper who had been hiding up a tree jumped down on me and wounded me in the wrist with his bayonet. I couldn’t stick him myself, so I called the sergeant, who finished him off.

Feb

8

1942

Red Army boys attack on the Eastern Front

8th February 1942: Red Army boys attack German lines on the Eastern Front

I struggle to describe in detail the horror of the hand-to-hand fighting with these children. Anyone who has not been here will never be able to understand what unfolds here. Grown men, many of whom have sons who are the same age, have had to engage in brutal, bloody fights with the children! I will not be able to forget these horrible scenes for a long time.

Feb

7

1942

Rommel’s advance stops at Gazala Line

Rommel's Command vehicle

7th February 1942: Rommel’s advance stops at the Gazala Line

The enemy is apparently trying to establish a series of strong points extending for some 17 miles southwards from the coastal road between Gazala and Tmimi. His object appears to be to prevent observation of his movements west of that line. No doubt General Rommel is concentrating upon the re-disposition of his forces and the development of his lines of communication, which must by now be extended to their limit.

Feb

6

1942

Torpedo attack on a convoy in mid-Atlantic

6th February 1942: U-boat wolf pack makes torpedo attack on a convoy in mid-Atlantic

Another explosion and the tanker on the starboard stern received hers. The Lieutenant had remained on the stern gun to personally take charge in the event the sub might appear. Among the faces of the crew were some puzzling looks as we all watched with eagerness to fight if we had to. Five minutes later all was quiet, until another ship – which happened to be a Liberty – was hit as the flares pierced the sky once more.