1944

Dec

31

1944

Oslo tragedy as RAF Mosquitos attack Gestapo HQ

Mosquito bombers during the successful attack on Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen on 31st October.

I was doing a left-hand turn to head back when I saw a valley to our right. I slid down into the valley and kept at a low level. We passed over the coast and I began the climb back to our operational altitude of 28,000 feet. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and no enemy aircraft were in the vicinity. I didn’t know until years later that the second phase did not drop their bombs. All they saw was smoke and dust at the target site.

Dec

30

1944

The Pacific war continues – next landing Luzon

November 1944: U.S. landing ship tanks are seen from above as they pour military equipment onto the shores of Leyte island, to support invading forces in the Philippines.

The Jap fell a long way, burning brightly and viciously all the way down. I could hear the whine of the motor as he fell earthward in ever-increasing speed. The pilot didn’t have a chance; he burned like tinder. It was the clearest sight I’ve had of a hit Jap plane. While he fell, all the men aboard were silent and fascinated by the orange streak that marked the end of a life and enemy. No guns fired. As soon as he hit the water, a tremendous yell split the air, and we continued cheering, me included.

Dec

29

1944

A German commander’s view of the Ardennes

A German Sturmgeschütz assault gun during the Ardenne offensive.

My experiences in Russia stood me in good stead; I knew all about the problems of moving through snow and ice – a subject in which the Americans still had much to learn. By day our armoured group resisted in chosen positions; all movements were carried out at night to evade the fighter-bombers, but even so concentric artillery fire on our flanks inflicted considerable casualties.

Dec

28

1944

The aftermath of war in Christmas card country

A shattered German tank, its turret torn off by anti-tank fire, symbolising the ferocity of the American defence of their positions at Bastogne, the key town in the Ardennes.

All around these lacerated or flattened objects of steel there was the usual riffraff: papers, tin cans, cartridge belts, helmets, an odd shoe, clothing. There were also, ignored and completely inhuman, the hard-frozen corpses of Germans. Then there was a clump of houses, burned and gutted, with only a few walls standing, and around them the enormous bloated bodies of cattle.

Dec

27

1944

101st Airborne morale high as Bastogne is ‘relieved’

Typical conditions for the troops travelling up to Bastogne to break through.

t didn’t occur to us, until it was all over, that the eyes of the world were on the 101st Airborne Division and the attached armour during the defence of Bastogne. The first thing we heard was that we’d been ‘rescued’ by the 4th Armoured Division. Now I, and everyone else in the 101st, resent the implication that we were rescued or that we needed to be rescued.

Dec

26

1944

Churchill arrives in Athens to broker peace

A paratrooper from 5th (Scots) Parachute Battalion, 2nd Parachute Brigade, takes cover on a street corner in Athens during operations against members of ELAS, 18 December 1944.

This afternoon’s events were the purest melodrama. Just before we left the ship we were straddled by shells and another fell quite close as we landed. The meeting with the Greeks was preceded by long sessions at the Embassy, in which the Archbishop figured prominently.

Dec

25

1944

A frozen Christmas Day in the Battle of the Bulge

Sergeant John Opanowski of the 10th Armoured Division, emerges from a dug-out built under snow in the Bastogne area. The 10th Armoured Division and the 101st Airborne Division were pinned down in the Bastogne area by General von Manteuffel's crack Panzer Divisions - the 2nd and the 116th.

I sat there and he went back in to chew down some more turkey, and then he came back in and looked and kind of frowned — he got some more equipment, started testing and pretty soon he told the guys, “You get a stretcher for this guy.” They got one and I had to lay on there and they pinned a tag on my jacket: “Bronchitis, Pleurisy, and Pneumonia.”

Dec

24

1944

V1 carrying Heinkel IIIs ambushed over North Sea

German propaganda leaflets aimed at British troops, portrayed intense attacks by numerous V1 flying bombs. This was a huge exaggeration.

We started to close. It was still dark and there was a lot of cloud. You knew perfectly well that on our straight and level course behind him we would get a tremendous wash from his engines. I felt it. Then for some reason, he started to turn away slightly, as if he had an indication that we were behind him. It foxed us a bit.

Dec

23

1944

Eisenhower closely guarded against Nazi infiltrators

Germans who were tried and convicted as spies during the Battle of the Bulge, are bound to stakes by MPs before their execution, December 23, 1944]

Some units might have with them in their vehicle a German officer in uniform and, if questioned, would tell a false story that they were taking an important German prisoner to higher headquarters in the rear. They carry capsules of acid to be thrown in the faces of MPs or others to facilitate escape. Skorzeny’s group may be in staff cars, civilian cars, command and reconnaissance cars, as well as jeeps.

Dec

22

1944

US Commander in Bastogne : “NUTS” to Surrender

Refugees evacuate the Belgian town of Bastogne while American troops hold the town against the German assaults.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. Troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note. If this proposal should be rejected the German Artillery Corps and six heavy A.A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the USA troops in and near Bastogne.