1942

Apr

13

1942

Preparing to sail to Malta

13th April 1942: Preparing to sail to Malta

It is impossible to cross the deck without ducking under wings and tails, all tucked into one another. The Spitiires’ wheels are steadied by wooden blocks, their wing tips lashed to the deck by ropes and cables, but more Spitfires are suspended from the roof girders, slung there by canvas loops – they sway gently as our carrier rolls. Staring at these planes I coulld not help wondering how many of them and, indeed, how many of our pilots will be left in a week’s time.

Apr

12

1942

Nazi lie ensures Jewish co-operation

12th April 1942: Nazi lie about death camp ensures Jewish co-operation

On April 12, a high officer of the secret police [Gestapol], who is serving as the commander of the camp where the people deported from this ghetto are now located, was briefly at Balut Market. This is the first definite source of information concerning the deportees; for the record, it is worth adding that the story of their whereabouts that circulated with the most persistence has, this time, been confirmed.

Apr

11

1942

Horror of the Bataan Death March

11th March 1942: Horror of the Bataan Death March

On the roadside, we saw a lot of dead bodies, unlucky fellows who died just a few days before the end. There was an awful smell. Some corpses showed signs of torture before death. The wrists and ankles were bound, and the mouth gagged. Others had ugly wounds in their bellies, which proved they had hand-to-hand fighting. Most of the bodies were rotting, and there was no one to even give them a decent grave. The sun was scorchingly hot by now, and I was getting dizzy with the heat. Tony Nieva was trying hard to walk… despite his malaria. Godo Reyes was still going strong… but I noticed that Ernie was weakening.

Apr

10

1942

A fighter sweep across the Channel

10th April 1942: A fighter sweep across the Channel to provoke ‘the Boche’

Twelve of us took off three at a time; we gained altitude slowly, here and there picking up other squadrons, punctual at the meeting points, progressively coming in to join us, taking up position on either side, above and below so that we formed the point of an enormous arrow of about 250 fighters. All 2 Group had sent their squadrons – Northolt, Hornchurch, Kenley, Hawkinge, the Poles, the Czechs, the famous American Eagle Squadron, etc.

Apr

9

1942

The horror of Japanese victory on Bataan

9th April 1942: The horror of Japanese victory on Bataan

The private, a little squirt, was going through the captain’s pockets. All at once he stopped and sucked in his breath with .a hissing sound. He had found some Jap yen. He held these out, ducking his head and sucking in his breath to attract notice. The big Jap looked at the money. Without a word he grabbed the captain by the shoulder and shoved him down to his knees. He pulled the sword out of the scabbard and raised it high over his head, holding it with both hands. The private skipped to one side.

Apr

8

1942

Attacks on Malta intensify

8th April 1942: Attacks on Malta intensify

Attacks were concentrated on Grand Harbour and Valetta, on the aerodromes at Hal Far, Luqa and Takali, and on the seaplane base at Kalafrana. The damage was extensive and included considerable destruction of civilian property. Seven aircraft were destroyed on the ground and eleven others damaged. It was noticeable, however, that there was a marked decrease in the accuracy of the enemy bombing.

Apr

7

1942

Suffering and defiance as prisoners of the Japanese

7th April 1942: Suffering and defiance as prisoners of the Japanese

When the other had been beaten unconscious by 15 blows of a hawser and was repeatedly kicked by 3 soldiers to a point beyond which he could not survive, Comdr. Antrim gallantly stepped forward and indicated to the perplexed guards that he would take the remainder of the punishment, throwing the Japanese completely off balance in their amazement and eliciting a roar of acclaim from the suddenly inspired Allied prisoners. By his fearless leadership and valiant concern for the welfare of another, he not only saved the life of a fellow officer and stunned the Japanese into sparing his own life but also brought about a new respect for American officers and men and a great improvement in camp living conditions.

Apr

6

1942

The end nears on Bataan

6th April 1942: The end nears on Bataan

More men retreating, more stragglers, the rear area has become the front. Japs keep on following their gains, bombing, shelling, blasting, burning, shooting, bayoneting. They have been waiting for this hour. Blood is flowing freely… Evacuee area is a most pitiful sight. Saw women and children gathered around the cinders of their former dwellings, begging for food, bewildered by the terrific advance of the Japanese.

Apr

5

1942

HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall sunk

5th April 1942: HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Corwall sunk

At ll a.m. Sunday 5“‘ April, a single Japanese plane was spotted astem and at 1.40 p.m. Cornwall and we were attacked by some 80 planes. In less than ten minutes Dorsetshire was sunk and within five minutes more Cornwall went down too. Two shipmates went down in the mess and refused to leave the ship – they were non-swimmers. At a time like that it is every man for himself.

Apr

4

1942

Squadron Leader Birchall – ‘The saviour of Ceylon’

4th April 1942: Squadron Leader Leonard J. Birchall – ‘The saviour of Ceylon’

As the squadron was returning to the British naval base in Ceylon, Squadron Leader Birchall sighted a small dot on the southern horizon. Birchall changed course, while the rest of his squadron turned for home. As his plane approached the target, he was able to identify it as a Japanese task force. Japanese aircraft spotted the RCAF Catalina as it approached the fleet. Despite heavy enemy fire from anti-aircraft guns and Japanese fighter planes, Birchall conducted a low-level flight to identify the Japanese ships in the task force.