1943

Feb

20

1943

The other casualties of 8th Air Force bomber operations

20th February 1943: The other casualties of bomber operations

On investigation of the accident it was found that the whole tail assembly had fallen off from Bill’s plane while it was three or four thousand feet up and so it was impossible for even Bill to land her safely. Immediately on losing its tail the plane went into a flat spin and dove into the ground at a very high speed killing everyone on impact. After hitting the ground it burst into flames and so was completely demolished. This accident brought our total losses for the week up to six.

Feb

19

1943

Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

19th February 1943: Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

As we very soon discovered, the Americans had first-class tanks and antitank guns. Behind the front, large supply dumps could quickly replace any deficiency. The fact that they had no combat experience and were at a disadvantage against our “desert foxes,” could not be held against them. In one respect, they seemed to have the edge over their British allies: they were extraordinarily flexible; they adapted immediately to a changed situation and fought with great doggedness.

Feb

18

1943

Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels calls for ‘Total War’

18th February 1943: Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels calls for ‘Total War’

We promise you, we promise the front, we promise the Führer, that we will mold together the homeland into a force on which the Führer and his fighting soldiers can rely on absolutely and blindly. We pledge to do all in our life and work that is necessary for victory. We will fill our hearts with the political passion, with the ever-burning fire that blazed during the great struggles of the party and the state.

Feb

17

1943

American 168th Infantry’s last stand at Kasserine Pass

17th February 1943: American 168th Infantry’s last stand at Kasserine Pass

The Germans brought up several, tanks, all of them with yellow tigers painted on their sides and opened fire. They also set up machine gun positions and supplemented that with rifle fire. While they were doing this their infantry completely encircled the small American force. After three and one-half hours of fighting the American fire power diminished and then practically ceased as the men were out of ammunition or had become casualties. Finally an armored car bearing a white flag came dashing into the American circle.

Feb

16

1943

German retreat continues on Eastern Front

16th February 1943: German retreat continues on Eastern Front

It is -40° C; the snow level is as high as our bodies. The steaming, agitated and exhausted horses can’t even pull the empty sleds anymore. Our small group becomes smaller and smaller, only half of them are still able to fight. Injured soldiers, many with frostbite, load their carbines and shoot. They lumber through the snow; their faces are contorted with pain. In the midst of the blizzard, some fall behind and lose their group, which was supposed to support them.

Feb

15

1943

Bombed by own aircraft as RAF attack Milan

15th February 1943: Bombed by own aircraft as RAF attack Milan

At that point my job was to stand on the step ahead of the main spar and put my head up into the astro hatch to assist the gunners in keeping a look out for fighters. For some inexplicable reason, I did something I had never done before; I looked directly above and got the shock of my life. In the glow from the searchlights and target I saw another Lancaster 30 feet above us on exactly the same heading and, like us, his bomb doors were open! The 4,000lb bomb looked enormous and I knew it could be released at any second.

Feb

14

1943

U.S. Forces confront Germans at Kasserine Pass

14th February 1943: U.S. Forces confront Germans at Kasserine Pass

In their northern thrust the Germans met with initial success. By 0715 hours, 20 of their tanks had reached a point five miles north-east of Sidi Bouzid while the village itself was subjected to dive-bombing. By noon 50 enemy tanks with infantry and artillery had, in spite of a small U.S. counter-attack, reached the north-west slopes of Djebel Lessouda and were advancing south-west to the Faid-Sbeitla road.

Feb

13

1943

Working on the Railway of Death – Hellfire Pass

13th February 1943: Working on the Railway of Death – Hellfire Pass

It was the beginning for us of what would become the most notorious railway construction that the world had ever seen. The japanese engineer came over to inspect our work. He studied the clearing from several angles, using various surveying instruments, before declaring, ‘No gooda! Do again! Deeper!’

Feb

12

1943

A Soviet officer cadet endures training in Siberia

12th February 1943: A Soviet officer cadet endures training in Siberia

We fell down on this soft soil and rested for fifteen minutes. But within this short time, the soil began to freeze, and we had to take up our pick-axes again. We repeated this operation several times before the depth of the dugout reached about 2 metres. Then we sawed logs, planned the location of the observation post, built a roof for it and placed a field artillery periscope inside. At dawn we covered the roof with soil, fir branches, and snow. Exhausted but satisfied with the work we had done, we dropped to the floor of the post and fell asleep.

Feb

11

1943

Following Stalingrad, doubt begins to grow in Germany

11th February 1943: Following Stalingrad, doubt begins to grow in Germany

While I was searching desperately for the right words, Edith spoke again. ‘There is one thing that haunts me. I have heard a rumour that they could have escaped, but that Hitler forbade it!’ I was frightened. I had not heard that rumour myself at the time. ‘No! Impossible!’ I said. ‘It would be plain murder. Hitler would never do such a thing. You know that, surely ?’