January 1944

Jan

31

January 1944

Operation Overlord is put back by a month

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

January 1944

London tense as the bombing starts again

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

January 1944

Hitler’s plans for a post war breeding programme

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

January 1944

General Mark Clark survives ‘friendly fire’

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

January 1944

Luftwaffe night fighter scores four RAF Lancasters

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

January 1944

Surviving a Red Army gun barrage

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

January 1944

The Germans begin to contain the Anzio beach head

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

January 1944

Death march begins as Japanese retreat on New Guinea

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

January 1944

Repeated bayonet attacks earn George Mitchell the VC

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

January 1944

Operation Shingle: the US Rangers land at 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.