August 1944

Aug

31

August 1944

Warsaw Uprising – women and children suffer

After an hour, we succeeded in digging out a middle-aged woman whose legs were smashed and twisted. Before she lost consciousness, she whispered through pale, blood-covered lips that about ten other people had been with her before the bombs fell. Now we began to notice a head, a leg, or an arm under the debris — a sign that we were coming to more bodies.

Aug

30

August 1944

Heavy casualties as assault on Gothic Line begins

At that time we had to count the cost. I had lost one platoon officer, I didn’t know I’d lost the other one. I got the chaps in some sort of defensive positions. Getting behind these brick walls in the ruins, just to protect ourselves from this machine gun fire. There was certainly more than one machine gun. But they had us in their sights.

Aug

29

August 1944

US reconnaissance patrol holds off Panzer troops

The Germans poured in the barn but didn’t harm the tank driver and didn’t spot me. They didn’t take the wounded man because of his leg wound. Two hours went by before the forward advanced troops of the 3rd Division came into the barn. Paul Blackmer, Louis Weiner and David Pritchet were captured. Koch died of his wounds.

Aug

28

August 1944

Over the Seine and “push on”

The first few yards were not too bad, but then, as the pontoons sagged under the weight of the tanks, water sloshed over the tracks so that the roadway in front temporarily disappeared from view. It was a nightmare drive and it was with huge relief that we found ourselves safely on dry land on the opposite bank of the river at Vernonnet, a small, pleasant riverside settlement, now completely deserted.

Aug

27

August 1944

‘Friendly Fire’ disaster for Royal Navy off Le Havre

The ship lurched over to starboard and rolled back to settle with a ten degree list to port, the officers’ cabins and alleyways having flooded instantly. Luckily in the wardroom we were all sitting either on the bulkhead settees or in low armchairs, not at the table, for at this moment cannon fire raked the wardroom just above table level, smashing right through the ship.

Aug

26

August 1944

No 4 Commando finally rest out of the line

About three miles beyond the town we marched along dusty lanes, the hedges of which were already full of ripe hazel-nuts. On either side were orchards in which rosy apples hung heavy on the trees. Here we halted. Each troop was given an area, an orchard with a barn filled with sweet-smelling straw. It was just like heaven. The date was 26 August.

Aug

25

August 1944

‘Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated!’

Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the French armies, with the support and the help of all France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the real France, of the eternal France!

Aug

24

August 1944

Paris in turmoil as liberation approaches

Tomorrow morning will be the dawn of a new day for the capital. Tomorrow morning, Paris will be liberated, Paris will have finally rediscovered its true face. Four years of struggle, four years that have been, for many people, years of prison, years of pain, of torture and, for many more, a slow death in the Nazi concentration camps, murder; but that’s all over…

Aug

23

August 1944

Normandy: the British breakout begins

This was the real thing. This was the Breakthrough. We saw the remains of a retreating army. Burnt-out vehicles that the RAF had caught, abandoned vehicles that had broken down, derelict vehicles that had run out of petrol, dead horses, broken wagons, scattered kit and equipment.

Aug

22

August 1944

The French rise up in Paris

This morning, a peasant said to me as he watched massive lorries full of ammunition thunder past his door: “I think the liberation of Paris will affect me even more than the liberation of my own village, because France will once again have a capital.