October 1943

Oct

11

1943

Butchery of trench warfare on the Eastern front

German artillery observers in a trench in Russia, 1943

Flamethrowers failed. Nothing could save us from the enemy numbers. One company withdrew from the trench, and two of our guns were lost. The Russians drove their wedge farther into our hinterland. Our reserves were being bled dry, even before any counterattack could be mounted. There was no help to come. We wrote farewell letters and waited to die.

Oct

10

1943

Londoners enjoy spectacle of air raid

Twin 5.25-inch guns of an anti-aircraft battery at Primrose Hill in London, 27 August 1943.

Lots of people watching. Ladbroke Square gun cracking out. Donned my tin hat — courage returned and I joined the sightseers. All London was doing the same. Shells bursting and amazing fireworks filled the air above us. Went in for the News — then came another wave of bombers. Our bombers were on the way out as the Germans came in — sometimes the searchlights caught one of ours, and sometimes the enemy.

Oct

9

1943

The Marienburg Focke-Wulf plant raid

The claimed ability for 'Precision bombing' featured this attack by 100 B-17s on a Focke-Wulf plant at Marienburg on Oct. 9, 1943.

The conditions at the target were perfect for an attack. There was no flak and no fighters were encountered in the target area. The weather was superb with no clouds and unlimited visibility. Bomb results were clearly visible and results were excellent. The lead bombardier, 1Lt. Byron K. Butt reported, “A damn well-planned, well-executed mission by all concerned.” The 303rd BG(H) dropped 27 tons of 1,000-lb. bombs and incendiaries.

Oct

8

1943

On a damaged bomber with nowhere to land

Vertical photograph taken from 19,000 feet during a night raid on Hannover, showing an Avro Lancaster, silhouetted by the many incendiary fires below, flying due south over the Sudstadt district. The main thoroughfare, picked out by incendiaries and running from lower left to upper right, is the northern end of Sallstrasse. 3,932 buildings were totally destroyed, and more than 30,000 damaged in varying degree, by the intense conflagration in the central and south central districts of the city resulting from this attack.

Meanwhile, throttle back and reduce speed one-third flap and to the wireless op, ‘Bud’, who had already sent out distress signals, ‘Let the trailing aerial out.’ I needed his instant warning when the aerial touched the water at 20 feet as the signal to cut the engines, pull back on the control column and stall C—Charlie in tail-first. We were down to 500 feet and Norman was still fumbling around. ‘Norman, strap me in quickly and hold the strap across my chest.’

Oct

7

1943

The holocaust is uncovered in the Ukraine

Villagers greet Soviet soldiers during the liberation of the Ukraine.

This was the murder of a great and ancient professional experience, passed from one generation to another in thousands of families of craftsmen and members of the intelligentsia. This was the murder of everyday traditions that grandfathers had passed to their grandchildren, this was the murder of memories, of a mournful song, folk poetry, of life, happy and bitter, this was the destruction of hearths and cemetries, this was the death of the nation which had been living side by side with Ukrainians over hundreds of years …

Oct

6

1943

Japanese destroyers prevail at Battle of Vella Lavella

A closer view of the damage to the USS O'Bannon.

With the restoration of power comes word there are emergency messages to be sent back to our base. While hurrying to the bridge to pick up these messages, I have a chance to look out across the water. What I see is rather amazing. There are many small lights out in the water, maybe a hundred of them. They turn out to be flashlights being held and waved by sailors from the Chevalier who are jumping from the rapidly sinking ship and are swimming toward the O’Bannon, a distance of about 40 yards.

Oct

4

1943

USS Ranger planes attack German ships in Norway

A Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless of U.S. Navy bombing squadron VB-4 during Operation Leader , on 4 October 1943, flying from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4). The objective of the force was the Norwegian port of Bodø. The task force reached launch position off Vestfjord before dawn 4 October completely undetected. At 0618, Ranger launched 20 Dauntless dive bombers and an escort of eight Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters of VF-4. One division of dive bombers attacked the 8,000-ton freighter LaPlata, while the rest continued north to attack a small German convoy. They severely damaged a 10,000-ton tanker and a smaller troop transport. They also sank two of four small German merchantmen in the Bodø roadstead.

As I got closer and closer to the tanker, all the ship’s gunners stopped firing except one. The tracers that flashed by made a complete circle of the cockpit. Then, just before I pushed the bomb release over the ship, my engine took a direct hit. There was a small explosion with a brief flash of fire and smoke over the cockpit as I pushed the pickle releasing the two remaining bombs. One 500-pounder landed on the deck of the tanker. The ship exploded and ran aground as it burned.

Oct

3

1943

SAS and Commandos surprise Germans at Termoli

Portrait of a soldier from No. 3 Commando holding his fighting knife between his teeth, at Largs in Scotland, 2 May 1942.

Some of them seemed eager to fight until they died. I observed one lying in an olive grove partly behind a tree, about eight hundred yards in front of our position. Although obviously wounded – his actions were stiff and unnatural — he continued to fire at us regularly and accurately. We were unable to move anyone forward to take him prisoner. Instead, we returned his fire. He died where he fought, in the olive grove.

Oct

2

1943

Nazis order murderous crackdown on all Poles

The shooting of Polish 'hostages' had begun four years earlier, now it became a widespread public practice.

They were clad in civilian clothes, and sometimes their hands were tied behind their backs. However, as the victims thus brought to the place of execution usually shouted ‘Down with Hitler’, ‘Long Live Poland’, ‘Down with the Germans’, and similar things, the Germans took steps to prevent the possibility of any such disturbances and began to fill their mouths with cement, or seal their lips with adhesive tape. The victims were brought from the ‘Pavwiac’ clad in shirts, or in clothes made out of paper.

Oct

1

1943

The Allies welcomed as they enter Naples

Daimler scout car of 1st King's Dragoon Guards at the town hall in Naples, 1 October 1943.

They screamed in relief and in pure hysteria. In tens of thousands the dirty ragged children kept crying for biscuits and sweets. When we stopped the jeep we were immediately surrounded and overwhelmed. Thrusting hands plucked at our clothing.