1944

Jul

13

1944

Starving Wehrmacht flees west across the steppe

Abandoned vehicles of the german 9th army at a road near Titowka/Bobruisk (Belarus).

Men died for very little — for the possibility of a day’s food. When everything had been eaten, down to the last sprout in the meagre gardens, twelve thousand soldiers stared at the village, which had been abandoned by its terrified inhabitants. Living corpses wandered here and there, staring at the tragic shreds of existence which remained to them.

Jul

12

1944

Sherman tanks move up to the line in Italy

Sherman tank of 26th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, Arezzo, 16 July 1944.

I reported back to our RHQ and it was arranged that I should take a half-Squadron, i.e. two Troops of tanks, my own and a support tank, making a total force of eight, and move up forward and to go and deal with this. We moved up to about 800-1,000 yards behind the infantry positions and I moved further forward still and got Lance-Corporal Shapcott, my gunner, to range on the target. He was a damn good gunner and, after having bracketed it, his fourth or fifth shot appeared to be a direct hit and when he repeated his aim I said, “that’s it.” (The Sherman 75mm was extraordinarily accurate and one could put a round through the window or down through the door of a ’casa’ at a good range – something the 25-pdrs couldn’t do).

Jul

11

1944

A desperate Japanese breakout on New Guinea

Bill Garbo with his dog Teddy on New Guinea in 1944.

The dense jungle terrain greatly restricted vision and movement, and he endeavored to penetrate down the trail toward an open clearing of Kunai grass. As he advanced, he detected the enemy, supported by at least 6 light and 2 heavy machineguns, attempting an enveloping movement around both flanks. His commanding officer sent a second platoon to move up on the left flank of the position, but the enemy closed in rapidly, placing our force in imminent danger of being isolated and annihilated.

Jul

10

1944

9th Royal Tank Regiment – Death at Maltot

Churchill tanks of A and B Squadrons, 43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment, 33rd Brigade in line abreast wait to move off as squadron leaders and tank commanders discuss operations in the foreground.

My face became swollen and very tight making it difficult to see and the skin of my left hand hung down in black strips from an arm which was bloodless and white. Lieutenant Shep Douglas, my troop leader, crawled along the field. “Who are you” he said, not recognising one of his own troop to whom he had given orders earlier that morning. I followed him across the field of rape, crouched low because we could hear gunfire, to a gap in the hedgerow where infantry were in position.

Jul

9

1944

The ‘Culin hedge cutter’ on the Normandy battlefield

Our tanks could help but little. Each, attempting to penetrate a hedgerow, was forced to climb almost vertically, thus exposing the unprotected belly of the tank and rendering it easy prey to any type of armour-piercing bullet. Equally exasperating was the fact that, with the tank snout thrust skyward, it was impossible to bring guns to bear upon the enemy; crews were helpless to defend themselves or to destroy the German.

Jul

8

1944

Charnwood: British launch another attack on Caen

Sherman tanks of 33rd Armoured Brigade, supporting 3rd Infantry Division, moving forward near Lebisey Wood for Operation CHARNWOOD, the assault on Caen, 8 July 1944.

It was some time in the afternoon that we emerged from the Wood, and pressed on over the open ground to a small hill marked on the map as Point 64. As we advanced to the hill we came under intense ground and air-burst shelling. There was no cover to escape the deadly effects of the air-bursts, and as I was urging my platoon forward toward CAEN now only a mile or two away, I felt a dull thud in my left arm just below the elbow. I looked down and saw blood oozing through battle-dress tunic. There was a knocked-out tank on the side of the road, so I crawled underneath it to assess the damage to my arm.

Jul

7

1944

T-34s attack Panzers cornered in the Russian forest

Soviet infantry advance alongside T-34 tanks in the summer of 1944.

Shells were either striking sparks from the steel hulls of the armoured vehicles, or they were ploughing up the earth near the tracks. Enemy machine guns were spraying the battlefield with a multi—layered deluge of lead, so intense that our foot soldiers couldn’t even move forward in a belly—crawl, and were forced to advance exclusively within the tracks of the tanks and self-propelled guns, sheltered by their hulls.

Jul

6

1944

Typhoon tank busters over Normandy

Wing Commander R E P Brooker, the No. 123 Wing Leader, takes off from Thorney Island, Hampshire, in his Hawker Typhoon Mark IB, MN570 'B', with seven more Typhoons of No. 198 Squadron RAF, on a sortie over the Normandy beachhead. They attacked and destroyed several German armoured vehicles on the Caen-Falaise road.

An armed recce led by S.L. [Squadron Leader] Arhens brought very little joy, indeed it brought one of our most popular pilots to grief. F.S.[Flight Sergeant] Bob Blair flying as the C.O’s N°2 followed his N°1 down to bomb some suspected M.T. on a road. They both bombed but F.S. Blair must have dived too low and the blast and rubble from his own or the C.O’s 8 bomb damaged his aircraft and started a glycol leak.

Jul

5

1944

Japanese Americans hammer Germans in Italy

Americans of Japanese ancestry of the 100th Infantry Battalion, rest on a street in Leghorn, Italy, after a gruelling Fifth Army advance, which terminated with the fall of this important seaport. (19 July 1944)

In the ordinary projectile, you would fire, and it hit the ground, impacting on the ground, and bursting. So you almost have to have a direct hit on the person. People can get hurt with shrapnels and all that, but by that time, the Germans are all in foxholes. So as long as they’re in the foxhole, unless you have a direct hit above, in the foxhole, there’s no casualty by the Germans.

Jul

4

1944

The pitiful Japanese retreat from Imphal

The Battle of Imphal-Kohima March - July 1944: The remains of Japanese dead, equipment and caved-in bunkers on 'Scraggy Hill' which was captured by 10th Gurkha rifles in fierce fighting in the Shenam area.

Icy rain fell mercilessly on us and we lived day and night drenched to the skin and pierced with cold. I remember how we longed for a place, any place at all, where we could take shelter and rest. Once we found a tent in the jungle; inside it were the bodies of six nurses. We had never imagined there would be female victims, especially so far over the Arakan Mountains. Why, we asked one another, had the army not taken the nurses to a place of safety?