November 1943

Nov

10

November 1943

With the U.S. Artillery in the hills of Italy

Those lovely valleys and mountains were filled throughout the day and night with the roar of heavy shooting. Sometimes there were uncanny silent spells of an hour or more. Then it would start up again across the country with violent fury. On my first night at the front I slept only fitfully – never very wide awake, never deeply asleep. All night long the valley beside us and the mountains and the valleys over the hill were dotted and punctured with the great blasts of the guns.

Nov

9

November 1943

U.S. Marine Henry Gurke’s self sacrifice on Bougainville

When a Japanese grenade dropped squarely into the foxhole, Private First Class Gurke, mindful that his companion manned an automatic weapon of superior fire power and therefore could provide more effective resistance, thrust him roughly aside and flushing his own body over the missile to smother the explosion.

Nov

8

November 1943

Hitler defiant in last Beer Hall speech to Nazis

And I would like to add a third item: the opinion of our adversaries that their air terror can decrease the intensity of the German military resolve is based on a fallacy. After all, whoever has already lost all his belongings can only have one desire: that the war will never be lost, since only a victorious war can help him get his things back. And so the hundreds of thousands of the bombedout are the vanguard of revenge.

Nov

7

November 1943

Soviet command post saved by the artillery

However, having drawn up to the command post, they poured shell after shell into it. We hid in the bunker, relying upon its strong cover. However,“The Hut,” as Gruzdev had named the bunker with some irony, couldn’t take the punishment and collapsed. The fatal blow tossed us in every direction and crushed us under the ruins – a few men fatally, a few more were badly hurt, and others received a concussion.

Nov

6

November 1943

Below decks on a troopship under torpedo attack

Sitting on or standing by our bunks listening to the hammering of guns outside didn’t make things any easier for us. If there was anybody in that compartment that hadn’t prayed in earnest before, like myself, for one, they prayed now. It was the most helpless feeling I’d ever experienced, and as it turned out, the only time I felt this way throughout the campaign.

Nov

5

November 1943

USS Saratoga planes attack Japanese ships in Rabaul

It was the longest launching way from the target the Navy had ever done at the time. After the launch, the SARATOGA was supposed to turn and run for her life. If we got out of Rabaul, we were supposed to try to land in the water at Empress August Bay, where the Marines were just making a landing and there was no airstrip yet. So we went [behind a weather front which helped to surprise the Japanese], into Rabaul to the [Japanese] fleet. That was our first strike on Rabaul. I got … a heavy cruiser.

Nov

4

November 1943

Italy – U.S. infantry advances behind artillery barrage

A column of Germans was climbing the hill toward the town. Obviously they were going to reinforce the town’s defenders. “Get some fire on them fast,” the colonel ordered. Within three minutes mortars and high explosive 37—millimeter shells began bursting along the slope. Then the Germans came running down the hillside in wild disorder. Shell bursts followed them. “Those gunners,” said the colonel, “get the gilded bird cage with the stuffed canary as first prize.”

Nov

3

November 1943

William Reid wins VC in raid on Dusseldorf

During the fight with the Messerschmitt, Flight Lieutenant Reid was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. The elevator trimming tabs of the aircraft were damaged and it became difficult to control. The rear turret, too, was badly damaged and the communications system and compasses were put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid ascertained that his crew were unscathed and, saying nothing about his own injuries, he continued his mission.

Nov

2

November 1943

USAAF “Bloody Tuesday” attack on Rabaul harbour

The morning briefing conducted prior to takeoff was a very somber affair. Hearing the latest word on the extent of the Japanese defenses was pretty much a prediction that all of us would not be coming home. The twelve crews that were assigned to fly the mission sat grey faced and quiet during the briefing.

Nov

1

November 1943

Moving forward to the front line in Italy

Our convoy, all equipped with skid chains, was held up several times while vehicles were pulled out of ditches and off embankments. At the spot mentioned by Squithy our driver kept insanely hugging the edge of the cliff, and I and Spiers, peering anxiously out of the back, suddenly saw a void under our right-hand wheel as the truck leaped a culvert.