1943

Apr

9

1943

Welcome to Gros Rosen – “ARBEIT MACHT FREI”

9th April 1943: Welcome to Gros Rosen – ARBEIT MACHT FREI

My work assignment was in the stone quarry. My first job was to load stones into carts. We had to work in the open air, whatever the weather, from dawn to dusk. We worked without a break, under the watchful eyes and the brutal clubs of the “Kapos.” The Kapos were the concentration camp’s gang foremen. They were usually German, and had criminal records and sadistic inclinations. They held absolute power of life and death over their gangs. It seemed that the more cruelty they exhibited, and the greater the pain they inflicted, the greater they were esteemed by the camp administration.

Apr

8

1943

Gunner Milligan survives a German artillery ‘stonk’

8th April 1943: Gunner Milligan survives a German artillery ‘stonk’

Behind him a stiff, bitter-faced Afrika Korp Oberlieutenant marched with all the military dignity he could muster, none of his men looked like the master-race. As they passed, our lads stood up in their fox-holes farting, and giving Nazi salutes; recalling the ritual of ancient conquerors riding on a palanquin and parading their prisoners of war behind them. Here there were shouts of ‘you square-head bastards’ and ‘I bet we could beat you at fucking football as well.’

Apr

7

1943

Hitler’s HQ staff refuse to consider evacuating Africa

7th April 1943: Hitler’s HQ senior staff refuse to consider evacuating Africa

Things look very bad, Colonel-General,” I began, “we’re no longer equal to the pressure of the British and the Americans. The RAF, in particular, hinders almost all our movements, except when it’s raining. ‘The long front from Gabes to Tunis cannot anywhere near be covered by us. To prevent a disaster as many men as possible should be evacuated at once, to be available on fronts where the Western Allies are sure to land.

Apr

6

1943

Two VCs following fierce battle at Wadi Akarit

6th April 1943: Two VCs following fierce battle at Wadi Akarit

Knowing that more men were lying wounded in the open he again went out to the bullet swept slope, located a second wounded man and carried him to safety. Private Anderson went forward once again and safely evacuated a third casualty. Without any hesitation or consideration for himself he went out for a fourth time but by now he was the only target the enemy had to shoot at and when he reached the fourth wounded man, and was administering such first aid as he could to prepare for the return journey, he was himself hit and mortally wounded.

Apr

5

1943

Belgium tragedy in USAAF daylight bombing raid

5th April 1943: Belgium tragedy in Mortsel as USAAF daylight bombing raid hits

Seventeen aircraft bombed the primary target from 24,000 feet with 51 tons of 1,000-lb. H.E. M44 bombs. Slight, inaccurate, black flak was reported over Ostend, Ghent, Bruges, and Schouwen Island. Enemy air opposition was moderate with 30 to 50 aircraft reported. They attacked from the Belgian coast to mid-channel enroute back. FW-190s, ME-109s, ME-110s, and JU-88s were seen in twelve encounters.

Apr

4

1943

B-24 bomber ‘Lady Be Good’ takes off on first operation

4th April 1943: B-24 Bomber ‘Lady Be Good’ takes off on first operation

At 2:50 PM on April 4,1943, 25 B-24’s of the 376th Bomb Group took off from their base at Soluch, Libya for a high altitude bombing mission against harbor facilities at Naples,Italy. All planes but one returned safely to Allied territory that night – the one missing plane was the “Lady Be Good”, on the crews first mission.

Apr

3

1943

Nightmare of Deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto

3rd April 1943: Nightmare of Deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto

Someone pried up a board and a few people tried to jump from the train, but unfortunately no one managed to escape. The murderers kept the entire route lit with spotlights, so they’d be sure not to miss anyone who attempted to get away. A friend of mine who was in the car asked me to hold his coat while he jumped and then throw the coat after him. I watched him: No sooner had he jumped than he was hit. His coat was riddled by bullets as well.

Apr

2

1943

U-Boat ace of U-124 sunk by HMS Black Swan

2nd April 1943: U-Boat ace and crew of U-124 sunk by HMS Black Swan

There were ships that had seen scores of long-drawn out actions, and still came back cheerfully for more; there were men – British and Allied sailors – who dared all, not as a job for money but simply as a chosen habit, who returned to the same task and the same run after two or even three hideous ordeals as survivors, who stuck to oil-tankers as other people stick to one brand of bottled beer.

Apr

1

1943

Death railway bridge built like ‘a pack of cards’

1st April 1943: Death railway bridge built like ‘a pack of cards’

As we sang these numbers, we’d pull on the rope. This huge great lump of steel would rise up. On the last ’nisio’ we would all let go. Down would come the pile-driver and the pole would sink another inch. All day seven days a week, for weeks on end, with not a single day off, we drove these bloody things into the ground.

Mar

31

1943

A first anti U-boat patrol out over the Bay of Biscay

31st March 1943: A first anti U-boat patrol out over the Bay of Biscay

The routine check ofthe aircraft began while the duty hand, still in his underwear, tried to drag on his trousers and rub the sleep out of his eyes.You wandered round watching every body move through the orderly procession of duty; inspecting the bilges and the guns and the ammunition, adjusting the moorings for casting off, unlocking the flying controls, arranging the signal colours, checking the cockpit and the wireless and testing the engine controls, setting up the charts, blacking out the portholes, and clambering up top out onto the wing to examine the mainplane.