March 1943

Apr

8

1943

Gunner Milligan survives a German artillery ‘stonk’

A soldier escorts captured Germans bringing in a stretcher during 6th Armoured Division's attack on the town of Pichon, 8 April 1943.

Behind him a stiff, bitter-faced Afrika Korp Oberlieutenant marched with all the military dignity he could muster, none of his men looked like the master-race. As they passed, our lads stood up in their fox-holes farting, and giving Nazi salutes; recalling the ritual of ancient conquerors riding on a palanquin and parading their prisoners of war behind them. Here there were shouts of ‘you square-head bastards’ and ‘I bet we could beat you at fucking football as well.’

Apr

7

1943

Hitler’s HQ staff refuse to consider evacuating Africa

A German artillery crew in Tunisia, April 1943.

Things look very bad, Colonel-General,” I began, “we’re no longer equal to the pressure of the British and the Americans. The RAF, in particular, hinders almost all our movements, except when it’s raining. ‘The long front from Gabes to Tunis cannot anywhere near be covered by us. To prevent a disaster as many men as possible should be evacuated at once, to be available on fronts where the Western Allies are sure to land.

Apr

6

1943

Two VCs following fierce battle at Wadi Akarit

Men of the 7th Battalion, The Green Howards, stage a re-enactment of the storming of Point 85 during the Gabes Gap battles, 11 April 1943.

Knowing that more men were lying wounded in the open he again went out to the bullet swept slope, located a second wounded man and carried him to safety. Private Anderson went forward once again and safely evacuated a third casualty. Without any hesitation or consideration for himself he went out for a fourth time but by now he was the only target the enemy had to shoot at and when he reached the fourth wounded man, and was administering such first aid as he could to prepare for the return journey, he was himself hit and mortally wounded.

Apr

3

1943

Nightmare of Deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto

Jews hurrying to an assembly point for deportation 
Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin.

Someone pried up a board and a few people tried to jump from the train, but unfortunately no one managed to escape. The murderers kept the entire route lit with spotlights, so they’d be sure not to miss anyone who attempted to get away. A friend of mine who was in the car asked me to hold his coat while he jumped and then throw the coat after him. I watched him: No sooner had he jumped than he was hit. His coat was riddled by bullets as well.

Mar

31

1943

A first anti U-boat patrol out over the Bay of Biscay

Allied Aircraft: A Short Sunderland Mk II flying boat of 10 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, used for reconnaissance and anti-U-boat duties

The routine check ofthe aircraft began while the duty hand, still in his underwear, tried to drag on his trousers and rub the sleep out of his eyes.You wandered round watching every body move through the orderly procession of duty; inspecting the bilges and the guns and the ammunition, adjusting the moorings for casting off, unlocking the flying controls, arranging the signal colours, checking the cockpit and the wireless and testing the engine controls, setting up the charts, blacking out the portholes, and clambering up top out onto the wing to examine the mainplane.

Mar

30

1943

Irish Guards suffer heavy losses in hilltop battle

A 25-pdr field gun in action at night during the assault on the Mareth line, 30 March 1943.

The mortars covered the withdrawal of 5 wounded men (Sergeant DEAZLEY, Sergeant MEARS, McCAFFERTY, and two gunners) and then were ordered to withdraw. Major GORDON-WATSON had come up to join them. THey came down the track towards No. 3 Company, but found it under heavy shell fire, turned and tried another way. As they came to the railway bridge they noticed, just in time, a wire stretched across the road to which was suspended a mine.

Mar

29

1943

Australian VC hero beheaded by Japanese

RAAF Boston aircraft as flown by No. 22 Squadron.

Flight Lieutenant Newton maintained control and calmly turned his aircraft away and flew along the shore. He saw it as his duty to keep the aircraft in the air as long as he could so as to take his crew as far away as possible from the enemy’s positions. With great skill, he brought his blazing aircraft down on the water.

Mar

28

1943

A precarious sanctuary for Jews in Poland

Warsaw, Poland, 1943, Jews and German soldiers behind a fence.  The numbers remaining  in the Warsaw ghetto were much now diminished , and the people becoming increasingly desperate.

One day, when only the grandmother and my wife were in the house, sitting as quiet as mice, Henrietta heard a conversation through the wall. The neighbour, Mrs. Kaminska, and a relative of hers were talking. Mrs. Kaminska said she had a feeling that a jewess was hiding next door. The relative said she should inform the Germans at once, and they would soon find out if it were true.

Mar

27

1943

British tanks break through German lines overnight

Valentine tanks carrying infantry of the Black Watch, March 1943.

At times the tanks were crunching over occupied enemy trenches, and we could see terrified parties of Germans and Italians running about with their hands up. But we hadn’t time to bother about prisoners. Our progress was desperately slow. That was my chief worry. If we didn’t succeed in getting through in the dark, the situation in the morning didn’t bear thinking about. We should be surrounded by the enemy and dominated by the hills on either side of the valley.

Mar

26

1943

Maori Victoria Cross in battle for Tebaga Gap

Soldiers of the Māori Battalion training in the Western Desert, Egypt. The Māori infantrymen earned a fearsome reputation for their skill with the bayonet.

Under cover of a most intense mortar barrage the enemy counter-attacked, and 2nd Lieutenant Ngarimu ordered his men to stand to and engage the enemy man or man. This they did with such good effect that the attackers were virtually mown down, 2nd Lieutenant Ngarimu personally killing several. He was twice wounded, once by rifle fire in the shoulder and later by shrapnel in the leg, and though urged by both his company and battalion commanders to go out, he refused to do so, saying that he would stay a little while with his men. He stayed until he met his death the following morning.