May 1943

May

11

1943

U.S. forces invade Attu in the Aleutian Islands

Destroyer USS Pruitt and landing craft from USS Heywood moving toward Massacre Bay, Attu, Aleutian Islands, US Territory of Alaska, 11 May 1943

Approximately at the center of Massacre Bay of Attu Island, Alaska, is a large rock formation that is about the size of two conventional automobiles protruding above the water about five or six feet. The fog was extremely dense that day. About eight feet to the left of our craft was another landing craft, which smashed into the rock as we sped on past. In the fog the coxswain released the front ramp of his craft after hitting the rock, while at the same time the boat floated backward; the inertia had forced several of the standing soldiers forward out of the craft—our first casualties of the Battle of Attu.

May

10

1943

British prepare to discuss the War with the Americans

Seated around a conference table aboard the SS QUEEN MARY are, left to right: Air Marshal Sir Charles Portal, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, General Sir Alan Brooke, Mr Winston Churchill. Prime Minister Churchill is presiding over the meeting at the end of the table.

It is all so maddening as it is not difficult in this case to see that unless our united effort is directed to defeat Germany and hold Japan the war may go on indenitely. However it is not sufficient to see something clearly. You have got to try and convince countless people as to where the truth lies when they don’t want to be acquainted with that fact. It is an exhausting process and I am very very tired, and shudder at the useless struggles that lie ahead.

May

9

1943

African success brings cheer to British home front

Civilians walk past a poster warning citizens about the dangers of Venereal Disease (VD) which has been posted on the wall outside the Ministry of Health building in Westminster. Behind them, a bus can be seen and in the background, the Houses of Parliament are just visible.

All this excitement was the climax of a growingly cheerful week. The American success at Mateur had already been enthusiastically played up by the papers and welcomed as warmly by the public, which bought its evening penny worth of good cheer from news vendors who had chalked their boards with such amiabilities as “Go it, Uncle Sam” and “The Yanks are coming and the Jerries are running.” Everyone seemed particularly pleased, too, that the French had been in on the Tunisian triumph.

May

8

1943

Japanese massacre thousands of Chinese at Changjiao

Japanese soldiers bayonet Chinese prisoners in Nanking

My everyday sword was a Showa sword, a new one with the name Sadamitsu. My other sword was called Osamune Sukesada. It was presented to me by my father and dated from the sixteenth century. Sukesada was a sword made for fighting. It cut well, even if you were unskilled. It wasn’t a particularly magnicent sword, but it was the kind the samurai in that time of constant warfare appreciated. It was the best sword for murder.

May

6

1943

Convoy ONS 5 fights back against U-Boat Wolfpack

The Flower class corvette HMS Snowflake, date unknown.

0200 Range had closed to 100 yds. Starboard searchlight switched on revealing a 500 ton U-boat swinging rapidly to starboard. Wheel was put hard-a-starboard in an attempt to ram and all guns that would bear opened fire. Ship turned inside the U-boat’s turning circle and came up alongside her starboard side with only a few feet separating the two. By this time the enemy was being illuminated by port searchlight and 10″ S.P. and was seen to be in a sinking condition.

May

5

1943

Wolfpack Fink closes in on Convoy ONS 5

A Liberty ship, mass produced in US dockyards during the war, at sea in relatively benign conditions.

And it was a bit difficult due to the bad weather because our binoculars were absolutely wet from the overcoming sea and from the over-coming waves, and so we had to give the binoculars into the conning tower (you see, the watch of the submarine was standing on top of the conning tower and we gave the binoculars down and they were cleaned there and they gave them back to us, and so we could see for two or three other minutes, and then we have to do the same because the binoculars were wet again). But after a while I had a good position for attacking and I had the chance to slip through a gap just through two escort vessels and I could close into the portside column, and I had the chance to fire four torpedoes.

May

4

1943

The battle of the Ruhr hots up

An 8,000-lb HC bomb ('super cookie') is brought by tractor to a waiting Avro Lancaster of No. 106 Squadron RAF in its dispersal at Syerston, Nottinghamshire. The target on this particular night was Stuttgart, Germany.

I was lying on the floor with my eye fixed to the telescope-like bombsight. When the critical moment came, after the agonising few minutes of the run—in, I pressed the ’tit’, calling out ‘Bombs gone!’ as the plane lurched upwards after shedding its load. The pilot immediately pushed the nose down to build up speed and we rushed forward out of the target area — an enormous relief to all of us.

May

2

1943

Grosseto bombed: rural Italy starts to feel the war

USAAF Liberators now operated from North Africa and targeted Italy and Sicily.

I have met, of course, individuals who have bitterly felt one or the other of these emotions. But in the great mass of the nation, the keynote still appears to be a dumb, fatalistic apathy – an acceptance of the doom falling upon them from the skies, as men living in the shadow of Vesuvius and Fujiyama accept the torrents of boiling lava. All this, they seem to feel, is merely part of war – of the war which they did not, do not want. But they are not ready to do anything about it – not yet.