1944

Apr

16

1944

‘Black Sunday’ as tropical storm hits US 5th Air Force

B-25 Mitchells from the 42d Bombardment fly over Bougainville from their base at Stirling Airfield, Stirling Island, Solomon Islands, 1944

The whole area was full of planes-B-24s, B-25s, A-20s and P-38s. We got down to 50 feet above the coast and followed it towards Saidor. I directed Polecat (Pilot Ed P. Poltrack) to the right and left along the coast. He and Jack were both flying, dodging planes. Once our airspeed went down to 120 – looked like we would have to ditch any minute. Now and then we would lose sight of the coast and weave back and forth along our course to pick it up again.

Apr

15

1944

HMS Storm torpedoes a Japanese destroyer

The First Lieutenant, Lieutenant R Bulkeley at the periscope of HMS TRIBUNE.

Two muffled depth-charges were heard shortly after the first two explosions, but the hit on the destroyer seemed to have demoralised the screen, as no further attempt at a counter-attack was made. I was able to watch the whole affair quite happily from a range of two miles or so, and Petty Officer E. R. Evans, the T.G.M., was able to have a look at his victim burning furiously.

Apr

14

1944

Surprise as the Norfolks arrive at Kohima

An infantry section on patrol in Burma, 1944.

I thought to myself, “Crumbs! Now what have I done wrong!” I went over to him and he said, “Where the bloody hell have you been?” I said, “Well we ran into a little bit of trouble…” He said, “I know, I’ve had it all, chapter and verse, on the telephone!”

Apr

13

1944

A day in the life of a 8th Air Force radio operator

B-17s en route to another target in Germany.

British and American pursuit ships are always buzzing our field, sometimes within 15 feet of the runways, I guess it’s to help us along in our aircraft recognition. Today my pilot took some us and returned the compliment. He did a good job too. I wish you could have seen us. The Limey’s seldom see such a big ship out buzzing them and they were all eyes, we could see them from where we were.

Apr

12

1944

Avoiding Japanese ‘doctors’ in Shinagawa Camp, Tokyo

Shinagawa POW camp. An aerial shot taken towards the end of the war.

If they got worse, they were operated on at night while he was out of camp. This was done in the face of his direct orders forbidding any surgery being done other than by Dr. Tokuda. Black with anger the next morning, he cussed and howled when he found out that a victim – had escaped his tender ministration. We told him blandly that it was an emergency and we were unable to reach him.

Apr

11

1944

Easter – a ‘macabre idyll’ in a ‘grotesque’ Berlin

Charred corpses are removed from the cellars of bombed out buildings in Berlin. 8th April 1944

Children play on the lake, although they are forbidden to do so, and have made themselves rafts out of charred planks. A child was almost drowned the other day and was only saved at the last minute by an attaché from the Swiss legation. Flowers grow in the rubble, rank and yellow, but the air is clean and the weeds are green and fish have already settled down in the lake. It is a kind of macabre idyll.

Apr

10

1944

USS Task Group 22.3 gets 2 U-boats in 2 days

The final moments of U-515

Suddenly, the siren was sounded for a crash dive. The survivor helped secure the 37 mm. gun and then noticed that one of the gunners had been wounded. He struggled forward with the wounded man,attempting to bring him into the boat. As they approached the conning tower hatch, it was slammed shut and the U-boat began to submerge. In a moment, the 2 men were in the water, pulled under by the suction, but clear of the boat.

Apr

9

1944

Victoria Cross as the Siege of Kohima begins

British infantrymen use a dismounted tank machine gun at Kohima.

Sergeant Tacon shouted out ‘Hang on,Taffy, I’m coming’, but as he crawled towards him he [Tacon] was hit in the arm and leg, fracturing it. He just managed to roll out of the danger area.Although we cou1dn’t help Taffy we did start talking to him because he was only about 2 yards from us down in a dip. He told us that he was paralysed. He was soon delirious and for eight hours he was screaming, shouting and calling for his Mum and Dad and praying, until he died.

Apr

8

1944

Seconds to get out of a burning B-24

In skies thick with flak a stricken B-24 struggles to maintain flight.

I grabbed my parachute and was the first to get to the escape hatch, which was also known as the camera hatch or main entrance hatch on the B-24. I made an attempt to open the hatch alone and had planned to jump holding my chute as I figured the plane would probably blow up in a few seconds. It would be better to try to hold onto the chute and put it on as I was on the way down, rather than face certain death in an exploding aircraft.

Apr

7

1944

Escape from Auschwitz – to warn the World

A sketch from the  Vrba-Wetzler report. 
The gassing takes place as follows: the unfortunate victims are brought into hall (B) where they are told to undress. To complete the fiction that they are going to bathe, each person receives a towel and a small piece of soap issued by two men clad in white coats. They are then crowded into the gas chamber (C) in such numbers there is, of course, only standing room. To compress this crowd into the narrow space, shots are often fired to induce those already at the far end to huddle still closer together.

This was it. For a moment we both hesitated, for we knew that, once we were covered up, there was no going back. Then together we skipped quickly up on top of the wood and slid into the hole. The planks moved into place over our heads, blotting out the light; and there was silence. Our eyes soon got used to the gloom and we could see each other in the light that filtered through the cracks. We hardly dare to breath, let alone to talk.