September 1943

Sep

10

1943

Germans turn against former Allies and Italian civilians

A Sherman tank loaded with infantry is cheered by local people as it passes through Salerno, 10 September 1943.

So they stayed in shelters while the Germans stripped their homes of silver, linen, food, wine, and anything else of value they could find. The people cheered the troops as their liberators and they were bitter toward their former Allies. Unarmed Italian soldiers wandered about the streets or gathered to talk with British Tommies and exchange souvenirs.

Sep

9

1943

The Italian front opens at Salerno

(Operation Avalanche): A landing craft ablaze offshore after receiving a direct hit. In the foreground on the beach are troops and casualties from the boat.

But owing to sound basic training and countless instances of personal bravery the assault forces not only held on, but slowly advanced inland. Men squirmed through barbed wire, round mines, and behind enemy machine—guns and the tanks that soon made their appearance, working their way inland and knocking our German strongpoints wherever possible as they headed for their assembly-point on a railway that ran roughly parallel to the beach about two miles away.

Sep

8

1943

Italy surrenders as the Allies prepare to invade

(Operation Avalanche): The Convoy of Allied ships carrying the United States 5th Army at sea en route to Salerno.

The cheering died and I again put up the megaphone. ‘Well, that’s that. Now I am going to ask you to do a little thinking. What does Italy’s surrender mean to you and me? It means just this. It means that, instead of a reception committee of a few half-hearted Italians on the beach at Salerno, we shall find a first-class German armoured corps with its back well up. We shall beat it, but to-morrow’s battle will be a trifle tougher than it might have been.

Sep

7

1943

A narrow escape on the Eastern Front

German anti tank gun on the Eastern front 1943.

The Russians had broken through all of a sudden.The operations of our division towards the south had to be called off. Panzergrenadier-Regiment 12 had to move as rapidly as possible, swinging out wide to the north, to be committed on the west bank of the Dessna, so as to prevent the Russian forces that had raced forward from taking the Dessna bridge in a coup de main. It was directed that all of the crossing points were to be blown up and the approach routes mined. Minutes before they wanted to set the charges, they saw us racing towards them like crazy men, directly towards the minef1eld.

Sep

6

1943

Churchill on the unity of the ‘English speaking peoples’

Winston Churchill receives an honorary degree from Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA, 6 Setember 1943.

We do not war primarily with races as such. Tyranny is our foe. Whatever trapping or disguise it wears, whatever language it speaks, be it external or internal, we must for ever be on our guard, ever mobilised, ever vigilant, always ready to spring at its throat.

Sep

5

1943

US 503rd PIR in the Big Fire Fight of Gabsohnkie

Allied Parachute jump in the Markham Valley under the cover of a smoke screen on 5 September 1943. General MacArthur accompanied the raid in a high flying B-17.

There was another incident that further convinced me that the Japs were all around us trying to infiltrate and this one was about 15 to 20 feet to my immediate left oblique. I guess it was about 2:00 or 3:00 AM 6 Sept 1943 when I heard a loud thud as if something or someone had (thrown) a heavy object to the ground and this was followed by some loud grunts and cussing. Man this is it! Japs done got into one of my buddies’ fox holes. I waited and continued to count Japs as they crossed in front of me and sporadic fire continued from the direction of the 2nd Bn C.P.

Sep

4

1943

Night Action in the Strait of Dover

Gun-boats off Le Tréport, 4th September 1943. 
War Artists Advisory Committee commission: Peter Scott 1945

All round it was as bright as day, or brighter, and it was an extraordinarily beautiful spectacle. The sea was a brilliant unreal green under the starshells; some of them burned through their parachute strings and fell into the water, where they went on burning as they sank, with a wonderful luminous greenish glow. Above, the sky was full of curling question-marks of smoke left by the flares as they floated down. I thought one flare was going to land on the fo’c’sle, but it fell just clear ahead. There were still torrents of tracer trickling and streaming away from the enemy ships, and our boats were occasionally hit.

Sep

3

1943

Operation Baytown: the invasion of Italy

The forward 15 inch guns of HMS WARSPITE hurling shells at Reggio

All this turned out to be a complete waste of ammo. When we hit the beach at 0615, four kilometres north of Reggio di Calabria, our landing was unopposed. We were slightly dazed by the silence after the profligate bombardment. If someone had bothered to recce the beaches, I thought, or checked aerial reconnaissance photos, the shelling of an undefended coastline should surely have been avoided. But Monty had the firepower and there was an inevitability in its use.

Sep

2

1943

Shot down off Spain and ‘In the drink’

Catalina Mark I, Z2147 ‘AX-L’, of No. 202 Squadron RAF based at Gibraltar, in flight approaching Europa Point on returning from an anti-submarine patrol. While serving with the Squadron, Z2147 was credited with nine successful attacks on enemy submarines.

When we finally got to the surface, all except the skipper and Pat, I suddenly saw daylight and took a deep breath of air. We were appalled to see only one dinghy: the rest had gone down with the aircraft. It wasn’t easy getting seven of us into the two-man dinghy. Our Mae Wests had been riddled and didn’t keep us up. Some could not swim and their wounds made it dicult to hoist them aboard. The sea was rough and we were sick over the side, from swallowing so much salt water. We hadn’t beenin the dinghy more than an hour when we sighted smoke on the horizon. Somebody said, “Surely we’re not saved already,” and started to wave the telescopic flag. The smoke came nearer and we saw the shape of a vessel altering course towards us. We all started talking and cheering like wildfire as we thought we were going to be picked up and saved.

Sep

1

1943

Last notes of a Prisoner of the Japanese

A Ward in the Chungkai Hospital, as pictured by former prisoner Jack Bridger Chalker.

Mud is everywhere. On the second day we get soup. After three days we start work on the drome. What a sight – two hills of solid coral that we have to level. We work in two shifts – 750 men – 6 a.m. until 12 p.m., and 750 men – 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Diarrhoea increases. Dysentery starts. Men going down right and left. After ten days, work at the drome is abandoned. Deaths several each day. The camp is split into two. One half a hospital, all men with dysentery and diarrhoea are taken in.