October 1943

Oct

11

October 1943

Butchery of trench warfare on the Eastern front

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

October 1943

Londoners enjoy spectacle of air raid

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

October 1943

The Marienburg Focke-Wulf plant raid

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

October 1943

On a damaged bomber with nowhere to land

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

October 1943

The holocaust is uncovered in 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

October 1943

Japanese destroyers prevail at Battle of Vella Lavella

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

October 1943

USS Ranger planes attack German ships in Norway

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

October 1943

SAS and Commandos surprise Germans at Termoli

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

October 1943

Nazis order murderous crackdown on all Poles

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

October 1943

The Allies welcomed as they enter Naples

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.