1943

Dec

11

1943

Secrets and lies to protect Jews in Nazi Germany

Almost everyone in Germany now faced the threat of the bomber. Dresden, in the east, had been spared so far.  But nearby Leipzig had recently been hit so people were now more fearful.

My friend Mobius also belongs to the SS, but you need have no fears because of that, his thoughts on these matters are even more radical than mine. Only I beg you, you must not say that you are well off with us. On the contrary, you must complain about bad treatment; otherwise we will get into trouble, and it will be to your detriment above all. Schluter essentially failed because he got a reputation for being favorably disposed to Jews…”

Dec

10

1943

Desperate bravery of Australian PoWs on Death Railway

Orderly on his rounds in X Ward, Changi Gaol, Singapore, with POW's suffering from starvation and Beri-Beri.
Leslie Cole, 1945

I have nothing but admiration for these game chaps. One Dutchman I was talking to said neither he or any of his countrymen would even dream of placing their heads on a block, even though such sorties might result in the obtaining of much needed food for the very ill. ‘You Australians beat me’, he said. ‘Only wants one of the guards to change his pattern of patrol, and your friends will die’.

Dec

9

1943

B-17G Flying Fortress 42-31420 fails to arrive

A B-17 silhouetted against the con trails of other planes.

I particularly remember S/Sgt. Moss Mendoza (engineer) on the floor of the radio room in a very awkward position and asking for help. He had what appeared to be a serious head injury. The impact had tossed him from his regular station (starboard side) across the plane to the radio operations post (port side) with a force that resulted in his left leg breaking through the bulkhead. When I tried to help him, I discovered that both of my arms were broken and I was unable to assist.

Dec

8

1943

The trials of a new USAAF Bomber Group in England

The con trails of USAAF  B-17 Flying Fortresses  on their way to bomb Germany.

Vulnerability to German fighters. The early planners had so admired the B-17, which, when first designed, could defend itself quite well, by its speed and altitude, that fighter escort was assumed to be unnecessary. They forgot that fighters could improve too. During the first year of combat, American bomber forces took tragic losses. Available fighters were too “short-legged” to follow the bombers all the way in to far away targets that had to be destroyed.

Dec

7

1943

Shermans versus Panzer IVs in Italy

A Sherman tank of 50th Royal Tank Regiment near Caldari, 17 December 1943

Tug was bloody good, a trifle excited but did not let it affect his judgement. Pleased as a schoolboy. Having disposed of one we were at once fired on by another, and had to scuttle behind a house. Observation bad and we could only see A.P. [Armour Piercing] and Browning [machine gum] flashing back and forth between two invisible opponents. We thought he was behind a haystack so we waited with the gun pointing over the rear of the tank.

Dec

6

1943

A German counter-attack on the Eastern front

'Tiger I' Panzers of the 'Das Reich' SS Division in Northern Russia.

Towards noon the Russian Sixtieth Army went off the air, and soon afterwards our tanks overran the army headquarters.By evening the Russian front had been rolled up for a length of twenty miles. The attack was brilliantly supported by the aircraft of General Seidemann, who had established his H.Q. in close vicinity to that of the 48th Panzer Corps.

Dec

5

1943

Account of infantrymen versus Tiger tanks

British troops and local civilians examine a knocked-out German PzKpfw VI Tiger tank, 19 July 1943.

By belly crawling and short monkey runs I got near to the river bank. I now knew why we could get no support, our radio operator was lying on the bank part of him bobbing up and down in the river, the rest of him lying on the bank with his smashed radio. Now out of the ditch and in the open I could see two Tigers up river stationary and able to fire along the river. To my right about a hundred yards away was a small clump of trees and bushes.

Dec

4

1943

USS Yorktown fights off Japanese ‘Kates’

The Yorktown picture seen around the world, the famous "Flaming Kate", made from aft end of Yorktown's flight deck, late 1943, photographed by Chief Petty Officer Photographer's Mate Alfred N. Cooperman.  Life Magazine featured this picture in full page color.

1247 U.S.S. San Francisco and U.S.S.Yorktown opened fire on low flying planes off port bow. Three planes were shot down, one falling close astern of this vessel. These planes were identified as KATES.
1445 This vessel landed strike number two aboard. The Air Group Commander reported damage inflicted upon enemy installations, aircraft and one enemy cargo ship at Wotje.

Dec

3

1943

‘Orchestrated Hell’ – Murrow reports from over Berlin

Lancaster B Mark III, LM449 ‘PG-H’, of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, in flight.

I looked down, and the white fires had turned red. They were beginning to merge and spread, just like butter does on a hot plate. Jock and Buzz, the bomb-aimer, began to discuss the target. The smoke was getting thick down below. Buzz said he liked the two green flares on the ground almost dead ahead. He began calling his directions. And just then a new bunch of big flares went down on the far side of the sea of flame and flare that seemed to be directly below us. He thought that would be a better aiming point. Jock agreed and we flew on.

Dec

2

1943

Mustard Gas disaster in Bari harbour

Firefighters were not warned that of the toxic smoke which engulfed the area,

We were not left long in doubt. Bombs began to rain down: the chatter of 20mm guns and the louder booming of the 40mm and 4.7’s joined the cacophony. Outside our door a pom-pom opened up and all hell seemed to be let loose. Occasionally the old ship would shudder as a near miss shook the water. Then a bomb fell just off the starboard bow to be followed up by an incredible welter of noise as one landed just off the port quarter. The Cypher Office collapsed on top of us, flames shot up where a second before had been steel plating.