1943

Mar

11

1943

‘Tip and run’ raiders hit Hastings

11th March 1943: ‘Tip and run’ raiders hit Hastings

Hearing the noise of low flying aircraft, I assumed it was the usual patrol and opened the front door to look across the valley towards Hastings. Flying towards me along the line of the Ridge, just above rooftop height, there were indeed two aircraft, but I realised instantly that instead of RAF roundels, these planes had black crosses on their sides,…

Mar

10

1943

Fresh Wehrmacht troops encounter the ‘rasputitsa’

10th March 1943: Fresh Wehrmacht troops encounter the ‘rasputitsa’

The wonderful thing is that they were marching in rows of three and were singing! We step out of the heavily shelled huts and bunkers which have been our home and are unable to comprehend such a miracle. We stand there silently in our camouflage, caked with dirt, and we touch our stubbly faces in disbelief. They march along a series of small grave mounds with crosses on top and I get the impression that their voices tremble for a moment.

Mar

9

1943

Exercise Spartan tests D-Day forces in Britain

9th March 1943: Exercise Spartan tests D-Day forces in Britain

The armoured divisions’ progress, however, was disappointingly slow; there were bad traffic jams and petrol shortages; and for a time there was a complete breakdown in communications between Corps and Army Headquarters. This last was not surprising, since 2nd Canadian Corps Signals was neither fully equipped nor fully trained. It should moreover be remembered that this was the first occasion on which the whole of the 5th Division was actually exercised together as a formation.

Mar

8

1943

Germans fall back on the Eastern Front

8th March 1943: Germans fall back on the Eastern Front

The Germans were retreating quickly, and whenever leaving an area, they left behind a barren wasteland. Whenever they had time to manage it, they blew up, destroyed, torched, or mined everything: “Here you go, Ivan, take your prizes!” The detours – and you couldn’t avoid them-were all mined; the roads were also mined, and people occasionally triggered them. Between Gzhatsk and Viaz’ma alone, the Germans blew up fourteen bridges.

Mar

7

1943

The Chindits march into the Burmese jungle

7th March 1943: The Chindits march into the Burmese jungle

It was also assumed that supplies would be dropped regularly, which turned out, after the first two drops, to be a false hope, not because of any shortage of aircraft, just that the enemy’s presence often made it impossible to pick and choose time and place. As a result, for most of the expedition, one day`s rations had to last at the very least for three, and too often much longer.

Mar

6

1943

Medenine – a desperate attempt to halt the Eighth Army

6th March 1943: Medenine – a desperate attempt to halt the Eighth Army

It was definite policy, moreover, for the anti-tank guns to open at short range, and not to dispel a tank attack by using medium or field artillery at long range. The 5th Field Regiment, for instance, withheld fire until enemy tanks had run up against the forward six-pounders, and then fired on the infantry and the soft-skinned vehicles following the tanks, with the result that the tanks were isolated and received no support from the ground troops.

Mar

5

1943

The ‘Battle of the Ruhr’ begins with Essen

5th March 1943: The ‘Battle of the Ruhr’ begins with Essen

The subject of morale had been dropped, and I was now required to proceed with the general “ disorganisation” of German industry, giving priority to certain aspects of it such as U-boat building, aircraft production, oil production, transportation and so forth, which gave me a very wide range of choice and allowed me to attack pretty well any German industrial city of 100,000 inhabitants and above.

Mar

4

1943

Japanese force destroyed in the Bismarck Sea

4th March 1943: Japanese force destroyed in the Bismarck Sea

Both tactically and strategically, this was an outstanding operation. Besides the ships sunk, from 59 to 83 planes had been shot down and at least 9 others damaged. The Army Air Forces lost 1 B-17 and 3 P-38’s in combat, and a B-25 and a Beaufighter through other causes. Total Army Air Forces personnel losses came to 13 while the Japanese lost approximately 12,700 officers and men.

Mar

3

1943

Disaster at Bethnal Green Underground station

3rd March 1943: Disaster at Bethnal Green Underground station

There were nearly 2000 in the shelter, including several hundred who had arrived after the Alert, when a middle-aged woman, burdened with a bundle and a baby, tripped near the foot of a flight of 19 steps which leads down from the street. This flight of steps terminates on a landing. Her fall tripped an elderly man behind her and he fell similarly. Their bodies again tripped up those behind them, and within a few seconds a large number were lying on the lower steps and the landing, completely blocking the stairway.

Mar

2

1943

The Rose Street protest in central Berlin

2nd March 1943: The Rose Street protest in central Berlin

When the officials said that the people could not yet be released, the women suggested that they wanted to stay with their husbands in jail. The officials answered that it was not allowed because the men are under arrest. The women replied that Rose Street was not a prison, and they had the right to enter the building. The Fuhrer would certainly not approve of such an unlawful practice …