February 1944

Feb

18

February 1944

Operation Jericho: RAF breach Amiens prison walls

Intention: To break the outer wall in at least two places.
Method: Leading three aircraft to attack eastern wall using main road as lead in. Second section of three aircraft when ten miles from target will break away to the right at sufficient height to allow them to watch leading three aircraft and then attack northern wall on a North-South run, immediately following the explosion of the bombs of the leading section.

Feb

17

February 1944

The London Irish try to find the ‘Ox and Bucks’

As the leading troops emerged from the protection of the wadis they came under savage artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire, and were unable to make further progress. Casualties among officers and non-commissioned officers were heavy, and that led to some disorganisation. Since January there had been an eighty per cent. change in the personnel of the battalion owing to the need to replace losses among officers and men.

Feb

16

February 1944

Hitler calls for “iron will” and permits no retreats

Hitler had pointed out many times that Nikopol manganese was particularly important in the making of stainless steel. That was why sources of raw materials had to be retained at all com. For that reason the Nikopol area had to be turned into a fortress that could not be taken by the Russians.

Feb

15

February 1944

7th Ox and Bucks wiped out holding the line at Anzio

Inside a wired enclosure nearby, new positions were adopted and after further bitter fighting all during that day and night, the Germans launched yet another heavy attack at dawn. The field telephone rang at Battalion HQ and Captain Closebrooks heard the signaller say; “We’re in our sangers. The Boche is pelting us with grenades!” Subsequently, the sadly significant message was received; “We are turning it in now”.

Feb

14

February 1944

The gruesome remains left on a jungle battlefield

The bones and skulls and equipment of the Jap dead lie about in great quantities, and even these last traces will not survive much longer. It gave me a strange feeling to probe among and walk over these bones of what had once been fanatical Jap soldiers, bent on the destruction of our boys for some strange reason which they probably never understood

Feb

13

February 1944

Italians suffer as the battles continue

It is odd how used one can become to uncertainty for the future, to a complete planlessness, even in one’s most private mind. What we shall do and be, and whether we shall, in a few months’ time, have any home or possessions, or indeed our lives, is so clearly dependent on events outside our own control as to be almost restful. For of course everyone else is in the same boat. Refugees from southern Italy bring tragic tales of the results of the ‘scorched earth’ policy, carried out by the Germans in their leisurely retreat.

Feb

12

February 1944

Troopship Khedive Ismail sunk with 1,296 souls lost

Survivors and crew went about the ship throwing everything moveable over the side to lighten her. I dumped loads of 4 inch shells from ready use lockers. Both sets of quadruple torpedo tubes were turned outboard by hand and fired to lighten ship. On board Petard, six torpedoes were fired at the Japanese submarine, but they all missed, the seventh was fired by local control and did the trick. It blew the submarine in half; I watched the two halves upend and sink with no survivors.

Feb

11

February 1944

The weakened 36th Division go on the attack yet again

The Germans seemed to have plenty of ammunition. They delivered harassing mortar, artillery and rocket fire as though they had enough to last forever. They did not hesitate to throw in a serenade of these weapons at any time. They also had an ample supply of small arms and grenades and were not reluctant to use them. The Germans continued their strong aggressive patrolling.

Feb

10

February 1944

A successful ‘Rodeo’ raid to France

We reformed and set course on 010 degrees. Approaching another ‘drome’ Bretigny, I attacked a large e/a which had landed on its belly, a Do217 I think. The e/a was being worked on by a working party, a vehicle of sorts was standing next to this e/a. My first shells fell a little short but eventually I got strikes on the e/a, scattering the working party left and right and probably killing a few.

Feb

9

February 1944

Captain Walker RN closes in for third kill of the day

Walker wrote: ‘I was highly tickled by this hedge-hoggery. Complicated instruments are normally deemed essential to score even occasional hits with this weapon; to get two bull’s eyes first shot with someone else’s Hedgehog 1000 yards away was of course a ghastly fluke.’