January 1944

Jan

31

1944

Operation Overlord is put back by a month

A fleet of Landing Craft Assault passing a landing ship during exercises prior to the invasion of Normandy.

This promise of a month’s delay came as good news to the airmen, for the additional weeks would enable us to soften the enemy still more by bombing. Even the far-off Russians welcomed the change in plan. By June, spring thaws on the Eastern front would have dried sufficiently to permit resumption of the Red Army offensive.

Jan

30

1944

London tense as the bombing starts again

The Home Guard: Photograph contrasting a 1940 Local Defence volunteer with a 1944 Home Guard. Both were members of 32 Surrey Battalion.

The recent night in which London underwent two air raids was certainly the noisiest in months. Plenty of citizens, as their beds quaked, must have wondered if this was the answer to everyone’s question whether heavy raiding is to be expected again. The damage turned out to be nothing much, but the racket from the ground defenses was quite up to standard.

Jan

29

1944

Hitler’s plans for a post war breeding programme

German troops on the Eastern front, January 1944. The Nazis expected many more of them would soon make their final sacrifice.

We cannot now call on the women whose husbands will probably still get killed and we cannot begin the education campaign out of consideration for our soldiers because, beforehand, we would have to get our men who are now soldiers used to these ideas: not every soldier will necessarily want his wife or fiancée to have children by another man after he has been killed.

Jan

28

1944

General Mark Clark survives ‘friendly fire’

New Allied landings in Italy! Lt. Gen. Mark Clark, C/G Fifth Army, looks toward the shore from the P.T. boat enroute to the new beachhead established by Allied troops on West coast of Italy south of Rome, Italy. 25 January 1944

Until that moment I had managed to get out of the wind by sitting on a stool beside the skipper, where the bridge of the boat gave me some protection. However, just before the AM I20 challenged us I got up and moved slightly to one side. The captain of the minesweeper apparently misread our signal, or perhaps it was just that everybody along the coast that dark and windy morning was trigger-happy.

Jan

27

1944

Luftwaffe night fighter scores four RAF Lancasters

Avro Lancaster B Mark I, R5729 'KM-A', of No 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force runs up its engines in a dispersal at Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire, before setting out on a night raid to Berlin. This veteran aircraft had taken part in more than 70 operations with the Squadron since joining it in 1942. It was finally shot down with the loss of its entire crew during a raid on Brunswick on the night of 14-15 January 1944.

But there still remained the darkness and the impenetrable cloud bank around us. The altimeter showed 6,000 feet, but not until 12,000 did we catch a glimpse of the stars. God be praised – we had won through. Now, above us, was a cloudless sky with bright stars such as one only sees on clear winter nights. I skimmed the clouds, heading for the Baltic coast and waited for further orders.

Jan

26

1944

Surviving a Red Army gun barrage

A burning village somewhere on the Eastern front. The Germans shad adopted a 'scorched earth' policy as they retreated.

We had only seconds to grab our weapons and clothes andto dive into a deep, narrow ditch which, as a precaution, we had dug out behind our house and covered with wood beams, dirt, and a thick layer of straw. A few minutes later, our cottage was already broken into pathetic pieces. From now on we could do nothing but crouch in our trench and hope.

Jan

25

1944

The Germans begin to contain the Anzio beach head

Men of the Middlesex Regiment dig in at Anzio, with Private H Carpocciama in the foreground.

My Colonel returned with the tale that he had stood at the front surveying the terrain; all was quiet and the Alban Hills beckoned and it seemed he could have taken his walking stick and strolled towards them. It seemed that nothing in the world could stop a quick advance to seize the Alban Hills at a small price and that our objective would be achieved and consolidated. Everyone was geared up for the big race.

Jan

24

1944

Death march begins as Japanese retreat on New Guinea

An image from the same sequence released by the USAAF>

By the track dead bodies were scattered, reeking a horrible putrid smell. Maggots were wriggling in their eyes, ears and mouths although some soldiers were still breathing. This area literally looked like hell. Those who had perished on this climb must have exhausted their last strength in their already skinny and bony bodies.

Jan

23

1944

Repeated bayonet attacks earn George Mitchell the VC

A German soldier with an MG 34 machine gun at Nettuno in Italy.

He reached the enemy machine gun unscathed, jumped into the weapon pit, shot one and bayonetted the other member of the crew, thus silencing the gun. As a result, the advance of the platoon continued, but shortly afterwards the leading section was again held up by the fire of approximately two German sections who were strongly entrenched.

Jan

22

1944

Operation Shingle: the US Rangers land at Anzio

New landings by 5th Army! Yanks wade ashore from L.C.I.’s [two LCI’s and an LSM] as 5th Army establishes a new beach-head near Anzio,

There were flashes on the horizon, and the deep rumble of distant bombing came to our ears. The sea was calm and the big assault ship almost motionless. ‘ The night was cold. We shivered while we waited for touch-down. Against the skyline, heavily top coated figures of Rangers exchanged parting remarks with jersied figures of British naval ratings.