July 1944

Aug

20

1944

Polish armour holds SS counter-attack at Mont-Ormel

German units destroyed by Polish division near Chambois - somewhere along the road Chambois - Vimoutiers, near "Maczuga" ("Mace") - in the area called "Psie Pole" ("Dog's Field"):

Nevertheless the attack was soon renewed. Our losses mounted constantly…. but now I could not believe my eyes: the Boches were advancing towards us singing, “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”! We let them come to within 50 yards, then we mowed down their ranks…. More waves followed…. When the fifth came we were out of ammunition. The Poles charged them with the bayonet!

Aug

19

1944

Falaise – fighter bombers attack the German retreat

A knocked-out German PzKpfw IV tank with the burnt bodies of two of its crew in the Falaise pocket, 24 August 1944.

My own pilots had amassed a total of slightly more than 200 destroyed or damaged vehicles, plus a few tanks attacked with doubtful results. For once the weather was in our favour, and the forecast for the morrow was fine and sunny. The pilots turned in immediately after dinner, for they would require all their energy for the new day. As they settled down to sleep, they heard the continuous drone of our light bombers making their flight across the beach-head to harry the enemy columns throughout the short night.

Aug

18

1944

Currie leads epic Canadian attack at Lambert sur Dive

German troops surrendering at lambert sur Dive.

Since all the officers under his command were either killed or wounded during the action, Major Currie had virtually no respite from his duties and in fact obtained only one hour’s sleep during the entire period. Nevertheless he did not permit his fatigue to become apparent to his troops and throughout the action took every opportunity to visit weapon pits and other defensive posts to talk to his men, to advise them as to the best use of their weapons and to cheer them with words of encouragement.

Aug

16

1944

Tasker Watkins – First Welsh VC of the war

Major Tasker Watkins VC

Lieutenant Watkin’s company now had only some 30 men left and was counterattacked by 50 enemy infantry. Lieutenant Watkins directed the fire of his men and then led a bayonet charge, which resulted in the almost complete destruction of the enemy. It was now dusk and orders were given for the battalion to withdraw. These orders were not received by Lieutenant Watkin’s company as the wireless set had been destroyed.

Jul

31

1944

USS Parche’s surface attack on Japanese convoy

"Come and get it! "Red" Ramage, the first C.O. of the Parche (SS-384) serving it up hot to the Japanese. In this night surface attack on a heavily guarded convoy off Formosa, the lone sub played havoc with the enemy. "Commanding Officer courageously remained at his station on the bridge to maneuver his ship more effectively."

In the mounting fury of fire from the damaged and sinking tanker, he calmly ordered his men below, remaining on the bridge to fight it out with an enemy now disorganized and confused. Swift to act as a fast transport closed in to ram, Comdr. Ramage daringly swung the stern of the speeding Parche as she crossed the bow of the onrushing ship, clearing by less than 50 feet but placing his submarine in a deadly crossfire from escorts on all sides and with the transport dead ahead.

Jul

30

1944

Operation Bluecoat – the final push in Normandy begins

Cromwell tanks of 7th Armoured Division silhouetted against the morning sky, as they move up at the start of Operation 'Bluecoat', the British offensive south-east of Caumont, 30 July 1944.

I wondered what the pilot thinks of the infantryman. Several bomber pilots have told me subsequently that their most interesting missions were in direct support of land fighting and usually on those occasions they came away with light losses. One pilot has told me that from the sky the explosion of bombs looks the least terrible part of a battle. ‘Your artillery,’ he said, ‘looks as if it is creating great havoc. It gives a continuous line of flashes and it looks to us as if nothing could live down below.’

Jul

29

1944

B-17 Bomber encounters Nazi rocket fighter Me 163

A B-17 Flying Fortress encounters heavy flak bursts over the target area.

I soon realized the situation was hopeless and told John to exit the top hatch. As I climbed out the top hatch, Bernie, half covered with water, called out my name. What a feeling! From the top hatch I could see that the B-17 was at about a forty-five degree angle to the sea and the wings were half covered with water. As I dove into the sea and started swimming towards the two dinghies, something touched my feet. Looking back I saw it had been the tip of the B-17’s rudder that had touched my feet and the aircraft disappeared from sight. Eight of us survived the ditching and Bernie went down with the B-17.

Jul

27

1944

RAF pilot lies low with the French

A French family returns to their village, Buron, near Caen, which was completely wrecked during the fighting, Normandy, 18 July 1944.

To my great satisfaction, they got their wish. Four miles down the road, this two wagon convoy was strafed by Spitfires and the vehicles were turned into wizard flamers. The two drivers, however, escaped since they abandoned their lorries at the first sign of the Spitfires. This incident was seen by several Frenchmen, who expressed their pleasure later that evening.

Jul

26

1944

Marines fight off Japanese ‘Banzai’ charge on Guam

Marines dig in after hitting the beach. Taking cover from Jap snipers until they can eliminate them.

A moment later another band of Japs appeared. Again, several paused at the gun and tried to swing the heavy weapon around. They had almost succeeded, when from the darkness a lone, drunken Jap raced headlong at them, tripped several feet away over a body, and flew through the air. There was a blinding flash as he literally blew apart. He had been a human bomb, carrying a land mine and a blast charge on his waist.

Jul

25

1944

French Resistance hunted down by the Germans

A parachute drop of arms and munitions in the Vercors region.

Realising the futility of sitting where we were, getting nowhere and gradually growing weaker besides the fact no one had contacted us which was the primary object, we decided to move across the valley. Desmond, Boise, who said he’d like to come, and I. We realised the risks entailed, but saw in it the only hope of making contact with Andre, possibly Cmdt H, who, by now, must have sought hiding on the opposite side of the valley. At 3.30pm we said “good-bye” to the rest, who didn’t appear to take our leaving them particularly well, took a few rations and left.