April 1944

May

3

1944

A dangerous act of defiance in Poland

An Avro Lancaster of No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron RAF flying over the smoke-covered target area during a daylight attack on the oil refinery and storage depot of Deutsche Vacuum AG at Bremen, Germany, by 133 Lancasters of No. 1 Group and 6 De Havilland Mosquitos of No. 8 Group.

he door was closed behind me, and I approached the organist who was just ending one of the melodies specially intended for the May service. While the organ sheltered me from the sight of the congregation, I again showed my pistol and asked the organist in honor of our great day to play the hymn “God, Who Hath Poland Saved,” which had been our national hymn since the Uprising of 1830.

May

2

1944

Hand to hand fighting with the ‘Ivans’

A small rocket launched in the woods.

As soon as we meet Ivan, we charge. Machineguns to fire from the hip. We will take no notice of what happens to the left or right. We go on storming through the wood until we meet our own people. If I should drop out, Zech will take command, and if he falls, Brugmann. In that case, I shall be left lying. This applies to everyone. We can’t worry about the dead or wounded.

May

1

1944

Bombing – Berliners ‘prepared to see it through’

B17 over Berlin

Special rations and fear help things along, there’s grumbling here and there, but on the whole people carry on with self-confident Berlin wit and cockiness. No one is expecting imminent defeat; some say the war will last another two years, others, that the decisive German “retribution” is at hand. (For months there was official talk of “retribution,” then the public scoffed at it, then nothing more was heard of it. And now it pops up again in this account.)

Apr

30

1944

In the trenches with nightingales and a dead German

a 155mm 'Long Tom' gun fires

The noise seemed to roll in on top of us — an awe-inspiring rumpus of cracks, crashes, thumps and then the muffled thuds of the shells exploding out in the distant German lines. Over five hundred guns are now crowded into the Beachhead, and our artillery fire is so perfectly synchronized that, in the central sectors, every single gun can be brought to bear on one selected target and send ve hundred shells smashing down on it in a matter of seconds. Flare after flare went up from the Germans side of the line to the north.

Apr

29

1944

Luftwaffe fighters meet USAAF bomber attack

The P-47 Thunderbolt flew its first combat  mission--a sweep over Western Europe. Used as both a high-altitude escort fighter and a  low-level fighter-bomber, the P-47 quickly gained a reputation for ruggedness.  this aircraft from the 8th Air Force was lost in August 1944.

Evidently my opponents are old hands at the game. I turn and dive and climb and roll and loop and spin. I use the methanol emergency booster, and try to get away in my favourite “corkscrew climb”. In only a few seconds the bastards are right back on my tail. They keep on firing all the time. I do not know how they just miss me, but they do.

Apr

28

1944

Disaster as US ‘D-Day rehearsal’ is ambushed

American troops landing on beach in England during rehearsal for invasion of Nazi occupied France ("Exercise Tiger"). 25 April 1944

As the day closed, I was in Ike’s office when Beetle phoned on the intercommunication system to say that by E-boat action last night, we had two LSTs sunk and one damaged in the exercise. This happened off Lyme Bay—just where we had been. Casualties are estimated at 300 to 400. Beetle said this reduces our reserve of LSTs for the big show to zero.

Apr

27

1944

Fire fighting on a Lancaster bomber’s wing

463 Squadron at Waddington,

Sergeant Jackson was unable to control his descent and landed heavily. He sustained a broken ankle, his right eye was closed through burns and his hands were useless. These injuries, together with the wounds received earlier, reduced him to a pitiable state. At daybreak he crawled to the nearest village, where he was taken prisoner. He bore the intense pain and discomfort of the journey to Dulag Luft with magnificent fortitude. After ten months in hospital he made a good recovery, though his hands require further treatment and are only of limited use.

Apr

26

1944

Death of an innocent man in Italy

Italian woman, like many other civilians, who are to be evacuated from the Nettuno battle area, is issued rations by Allied personnel while awaiting transportation to Naples.

I drive in to Chianciano, to try and make arrangements for the funeral — and find the streets entirely empty, and on the walls a notice stating that, while the German authorities deplore what had occurred, they consider it to be the fault of the local population, owing to their unco-operativeness and general hostility. In consequence, there will be a curfew at eight-thirty p.m., and the population is warned that any further attempt at sabotage will be followed by the arrest of ten hostages.

Apr

25

1944

Delivering harassing shellfire at Cassino

Front view of 240mm (9.4 inch) howitzer of Battery `B', 697th Field Artillery Battalion, just before firing into German held territory. Mignano area, Italy. January 30, 1944

The major got to work soon after breakfast. He was registering Horace on to some new places. His fifth round landed plumb on top of the southern wing of the Monastery. The effect was catastrophic. Stones and debris were cascaded into the air, and dust and rubble poured out of the windows like thick smoke. Both our other O.P.s excitedly came through on the ’phone to give graphic eye-witness accounts of the spectacle.

Apr

23

1944

Slow motion nightmare in a Lancaster over Dusseldorf

Here a B-17 Flying Fortress crew of the 96th Bomb Group, US Eighth Air Force, mingle with Lancaster crews of No 622 Squadron

The bombs were actually dropping from the aircraft when there was a tremendous explosion. For a brief period of time everything seemed to happen in ultra-slow motion. The explosion knocked me on my back; I was aware of falling on to the floor of the aircraft, but it seemed an age before I actually made contact. I distinctly remember ‘bouncing’. Probably lots of flying clothing and Mae Wests broke my fall, but under normal circumstances one would not have been aware of ‘bouncing’.