June 1944

Jun

30

June 1944

RAF heavy bombers support Royal Tank Regiment

Must have been hundreds of planes, but all over in about 10 minutes. Seemed to be very little Jerry AA and didn’t see a single plane destroyed. Shortly afterwards, a huge black cloud ascended and gradually spread towardsus. Within an hour, we were literally in a fog: air became noticeably cooler and daylight partially obliterated, visibility about 200 yards.

Jun

29

June 1944

Auschwitz ‘should be bombed to save the Jews’

Presumably, a large number of Jews in these camps may be killed in the course of such bombings (though some of them may escape in the confusion). But such Jews are doomed to death anyhow.The destruction of the camps would not change their fate, but it would serve as visible retribution on their murderers and it might save the lives of future victims. It will be noted that the inevitable fate of Jews herded in ghettos near the industrial and railroad installations in Hungary has not caused the United Nations to stop bombing these installations.

Jun

28

June 1944

Another day in the destruction of Army Group Centre

As it approached the highway, the column deployed into a human wave and rushed forward. From our position, the left flank of the German line of advancing men was about 1,200 meters away. We opened fire on the Germans, not permitting them to turn in our direction. The Germans were packed so tightly together, and in such a mass, that it was simply impossible to miss.When our command found out that a German column was attempting to break out here, they rushed an antitank battery to our support. Twelve cannons unlimbered before the column and began to fire at it over open sights.

Jun

27

June 1944

Why the other nations fought for Hitler

That was the outward scene in the prisoners’ cage, and it made no sense at all. A dozen different nationalities. All of them reacting in different ways, pulling in different directions, speaking different languages. And yet an hour or two since they had all been fighting with a suicidal ferocity. Pillboxes were being held long after their eventual destruction was a certainty. The Russians had been firing right up to the last few yards before they threw up their hands.

Jun

26

June 1944

‘Epsom’ – Scottish troops v 12th SS Panzer ‘Hitlerjugend’

We stared after them: trying to comprehend the actuality of our enemies. A Regimental Provost corporal, taking charge of one, flicked him contemptuously across the shoulders with his driving-gauntlets, rearwards. And morale soared. Prisoners already! Things must be going well. The sight did a world of good to the younger ones among us, upon whom the strain of composure had been beginning to tell.

Jun

25

June 1944

Tank attack into Fontenay-le-Pesnel

We made ourselves ready. Doug Footitt and Arthur Reddish put extra tracer bullets into the machine-gun belts: at night the inside of a tank was pitch-dark and the gunner’s sights were useless, but the tracer would help the main gun find its targets. We would have to be careful of our own infantry straying into our line of fire, and Arthur kept some grenades handy in case we were attacked.

Jun

24

June 1944

The Americans advance into Cherbourg

A haze began to drift over Cherbourg towards the evening when the Americans advanced for their last run down to the sea. It had been as balanced and as decisive a break-through as any I have seen in this war – the power of the offensive machine against fixed positions. Coming up the the Regiment Command post one could feel the sense of expectancy and eagerness among the staff officers. The colonel said, “I think we are going to have better luck today”.

Jun

23

June 1944

Two VCs in one day for ‘British’ soldiers

Despite these overwhelming odds, he reached the Red House and closed with the Japanese occupants. He killed three and put five more to flight and captured two light machine guns and much ammunition. He then gave accurate supporting fire from the bunker to the remainder of his platoon which enabled them to reach their objective.

Jun

22

June 1944

Operation Bagration – the Red Army begins its revenge

Visiting our main line of resistance, Hauptmann Muller and I found an 8.8cm Army anti-tank gun, commanding the road to Lowsha from a clearing in the woods, on which the Russians were bringing up tanks. A T-54 passed by; one shot, and it was in flames. The second followed straight behind it. The next shot hit it, it stopped and from the turret an oil-smeared figure twisted itself out. A third tank came up and drove slowly past its comrades. The number one gunner of our anti-tank gun watched with a tense expression and once again pressed the firing button. Once again the shot scored a direct hit and from the tank the whole turret blew into the air.

Jun

21

June 1944

Mortar Platoon in the the front line in Normandy

1015 Polish boots (yes, I swear that’s correct), pick up Sten gun, and report with map to command- ing officer for conference. Nine times out of ten the Germans would mortar the area while the conference was taking place. We would all rush for the few available slit trenches. Howie would usually lose the race and be the last man under cover. While everybody else grabbed steel helmets Frank Waters, seemingly carefree, would content himself with placing a thin wooden mapboard over his head muttering: ‘Bastards!’