July 1943

Jul

11

1943

General George S. Patton arrives on Sicily

Men of the 6th Durham Light Infantry chat with an American paratrooper in Avola, 11 July 1943.

While we were on the beach at Gela, waiting for a boat to take us out to the Monrovia, I saw the most stupid thing I have ever seen soldiers do. There were about three hundred 500-pound bombs and seven tons of 20 mm. high-explosive shell piled on the sand, and, in between the bombs and boxes of ammunition, these soldiers were digging foxholes. I told them that if they wanted to save the Graves Registration burials that was a fine thing to do, but otherwise, they’d better dig somewhere else.

Jul

10

1943

The Commandos seaborne assault on Sicily

Instructions being signalled to waiting landing craft by semaphore at dawn of the opening day of the invasion of Sicily. One is LCI (L) 124 the other is an unidentified LCT.

Something will happen at any moment now, I thought, and I strained to see land through the dimness, but there was only the rhythmical repetition of the retreating waves against the skyline. I was soon cold and stiff with standing in the bows and crept into the little space that had been saved for me under the gunwales; but the stench of vomit and the retching made it impossible to stay there for long and I preferred to shiver in the spray than to be sick.

Jul

9

1943

Operation Husky – the invasion of Sicily approaches

The Sicily Landings 9-10 July 1943: A late evening picture as the fast convoy of big ships, carrying the men who made the initial assault, approached Sicily. Photograph taken from the destroyer NUBIAN.

Crime is highly organised in all grades of society; ‘gangsterism’ in the USA had its origins in Sicilian immigration. Morals are supercially very rigid, being based on the Catholic religion and Spanish etiquette of Bourbon times; they are, in fact, of a very low standard, particularly in agricultural areas. The Sicilian is still, however, well known for his extreme jealousy in so far as his womenfolk are concerned, and in a crisis still resorts to the dagger.

Jul

8

1943

A German view of a Panzer attack at Kursk

Soviet Union - "Operation Citadel" - fighting in the area Belgorod-Orel - Waffen SS Division "Das Reich", crew during a stop in front of her Panzer III.

Oberfeldwebel Allgaier identified a dug-in KV-1, one of many. With typical Swabian composure and calmness, he took up a sight picture. But the distance was still too great; the 7.5-centimeter rounds ricocheted. He then fired with high-explosive rounds in front of them, so that the churned-up dust and dirt would rob the enemy of his visibility. He then used the time to get closer. He repeated the same game several times. Then he was at the spot he needed to be. With an anti-tank round in the breech, he waited in ambush. The dust blew away and revealed the target. Round on the way! Direct hit! lt was masterful.

Jul

7

1943

Hitler gives the go ahead for the V-2 programme

Launch of a V2 in Peenemünde; photo taken four seconds after taking off from test stand, Summer 1943

The A-4 is a measure that can decide the war. And what encouragement to the home front when we attack the English with it! This is the decisive weapon of the war, and what is more it can be produced with relatively small resources. Speer, you must push the A-4 as hard as you can! Whatever labor and materials they need must be supplied instantly. You know I was going to sign the decree for the tank program. But my conclusion now is: Change it around and phrase it so that A-4 is put on a par with tank production.

Jul

6

1943

A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk

A familiar sight on the Kursk battlefield, both sides took enormous losses in tanks.

The last plane dove directly upon our battery and released its bomb load. One of the bombs flew directly at my dugout. I saw my own unavoidable death approaching, but I could do nothing to save myself: there was not enough time. It would take me five to six seconds to reach a different shelter, but the bomb had been released close to the ground, and needed only one or two seconds to reach the earth – and me.

Jul

5

1943

The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel

SS Panzergrenadiers with a Tiger I of the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich during the Battle of Kursk

Having ordered the gunlayer to keep one of the tanks, which had come to the fore and was moving towards our vehicle, in his gunsight, I quickly checked the other guys in my crew: Valeriy Korolev was seemingly composed and had his right hand on the gun’s trigger; Plaksin and Emelyan Ivanovich kept their eyes glued to the enemy tanks through their vision slits and were noticeably anxious; the driver-mechanic Vitya Oleinik was agitated, and his hands were idly grabbing and releasing the clutch levers, but at such a tense moment this was natural.

Jul

4

1943

A great invasion armada prepares for battle

A British soldier reads up on Sicily, the target for the next Allied invasion, July 1943.

That evening, after two weeks at sea, we were told our destination was Sicily, and our landing beach in the south-east corner near Pachino. Soon after hearing this there was an almighty explosion close to hand and rushing on deck we saw the ‘Dervis’, the Commodore’s ship just ahead of us, had been torpedoed. Four more destroyers had joined our existing four the previous day, along with the old monitor ‘Roberts’ with its twin massive 16inch guns. After fourteen minutes the ‘Dervis’ sank.

Jul

3

1943

A new bomber pilot encounters the skies over Germany

Lancaster engines

The bombs dropped. McLaughlin swung the wheel to port as the bomb-doors closed. Gradually the searchlights and the barrage fell behind us. A sense of relief pervaded me; elated phrases bubbled in my thoughts, and I put my hand to the microphone switch on my mask to utter them. I turned to McLaughlin. His posture was unchanged, his eyes looked back serenely, pale blue, slightly bloodshot. I left the mike switch off, the thoughts unspoken, and bent to take the readings on the fuel gauges.

Jul

2

1943

The Germans crack down on ordinary Poles

Heinrich Himmler greets a German 'settler' who is to be given new accommodation in German occupied Poland. 1940.

A large group of women stood on both sides of the street, cursing the Germans and crying. Seeing this I was reminded of the Jews marching prior to their liquidation. Everything looked the same, except for one thing: the big difference was attitude. The Jews marched in complete resignation, guarded only by a few gendarmes. Here these marching men showed hatred toward Germans and were being guarded by hundreds of soldiers carrying machine guns.