November 1943

Nov

30

November 1943

Germans turn against Italian civilians

As our jeep bounced over mountain trails, cratered, blown and generally savaged by the demolition experts of First Paratroop Division, we encountered what for me was a new and singularly ugly aspect of war… refugees making their painful way southward. Not before or since have I seen human beings who seemed so pitiable.

Nov

29

November 1943

Stalin to Churchill – ‘Let’s shoot top 50,000 Germans’

Presently Elliott Roosevelt, who had own out to join his father, appeared at the door, and somebody beckoned him to come in. He therefore took his seat at the table. He even intervened in the conversation, and has since given a highly coloured and extremely misleading account of what he heard. Stalin, as Hopkins recounts, indulged in a great deal of “teasing” of me, which I did not at all resent until the Marshal entered in a genial manner upon a serious and even deadly aspect of the punishment to be inflicted upon the Germans.

Nov

28

November 1943

New Zealand gunners in attack across Sangro

This was New Zealand at war! Give them hell, the bastards! Give them hell! One sometimes felt like that when all revved up. We were a small but intensely proud nation and we knew the country was right behind us; every man, woman, child and dog. We were its spearhead, and although we moaned, cursed and got drunk occasionally, we wore its shoulder tabs with honour, a little like our All Black rugby teams, proud to be its representatives.

Nov

27

November 1943

War artist Edward Ardizzone, alone on the battlefield

At the beginning I met a Bren gun carrier and anti-tank gun and two M.P.s who asked me to take a message to the other side that their telephones were dead and the track was being badly torn up. After this a solitary walk over the wire and matting across ploughed fields and by patches of young bamboo. Within a quarter of a mile of the river the whole area came under considerable mortar and shellfire.

Nov

26

November 1943

Troopship Rohna sunk – over 1000 US troops lost

What with the swells pushing me around, and doing the same to the others nearby, it wasn’t long before we were becoming separated. The calls for help were faint and shouts for assistance were becoming fainter as the distances widened. My attention was focused on that ship I was trying to get to, and as the darkness became deeper, I was beginning to wonder if I would make it before she moved away.

Nov

25

November 1943

Goebbels alarmed as Berlin struggles to recover

The English therefore got away pretty cheaply with this attack. Conditions in the city are pretty hopeless. The air is filled with smoke and the smell of fires. The Wilhelmplatz and the Wilhelmstrasse present a gruesome picture. There was nothing to be done except to press everybody available into service and wait for rain, which came later in the day.

Nov

24

November 1943

Sergeant Derrick’s grenade attacks earns V.C.

Moving ahead of his forward section he personally destroyed, with grenades, an enemy post which had been holding up this section. He then ordered his second section around on the right flank. This section came under heavy fire from light machine-guns and grenades from, six enemy posts. Without regard for personal safety he clambered forward well ahead of the leading men of the section and hurled grenade after grenade, so completely demoralising the enemy that they fled leaving weapons and grenades.

Nov

23

November 1943

Terror of devastating air raid on Berlin

We had hardly got there when we heard the first approaching planes. They flew very low and the barking of the flak was suddenly drowned by a very different sound – that of exploding bombs, first far away and then closer and closer, until it seemed as if they were falling literally on top of us. At every crash the house shook. The air pressure was dreadful and the noise deafening. For the first time I understood what the expression Bombenteppich [‘bomb carpet’] means – the Allies call it ‘saturation’ bombing.

Nov

22

November 1943

Tarawa – the fight for ‘Bonnyman’s Hill’

Withdrawing only to replenish his ammunition, he led his men in a renewed assault, fearlessly exposing himself to the merciless slash of hostile fire as he stormed the formidable bastion, directed the placement of demolition charges in both entrances and seized the top of the bombproof position, flushing more than 100 of the enemy who were instantly cut down, and effecting the annihilation of approximately 150 troops inside the emplacement.

Nov

21

November 1943

The second desperate day on Tarawa

0600: One of the fresh battalions is coming in. Its Higgins boats are being hit before they pass the old hulk of a freighter seven hundred yards from shore. One boat blows up, then another. The survivors start swimming for shore, but machine-gun bullets dot the water all around them. Back of us the Marines have started an offensive to clean out the jap machine guns which are now firing at our men in the water.They evidently do not have much success, because there is no diminution of the fire that rips into the two dozen or more Higgins boats.