1940

May

16

1942

SS discuss the use of mobile gassing vans

16th May 1942: SS discuss the use of mobile gassing vans

I ordered the vans of group D to be camouflaged as house trailers by putting one set of window shutters on each side of the small van and two on each side of the large vans, such as one often sees on farm houses in the country. The vans became so well known, that not only the authorities but also the civilian population called the van “death van”, as soon as one of these vehicles appeared.

May

15

1942

The sinking of HMS Trinidad

15th May 1942: The sinking of HMS Trinidad

At one time when we were bomb-dodging I spotted torpedo bombers dropping torpedos a couple of miles away. I kept a good eye in that direction and duly reported “TORPEDO TRACKS”. Leaving the torpedoes to look after themselves, the skipper calmly assessed the situation, turned to port and the menaces passed us on either side.

May

14

1942

The LRDG experiment with bombing vehicles

14th May 1942: Long Range Desert Group experiment with bombing vehicles

The patrol carried 45 gallon drums for blocking the road; and in the hope of creating the impression of a stretch of road under repair two long poles were to be put across the drums, and two red lamps were hung on them with the notice “Achtung! Strassenbau”. The truck was left 150 yards from the road with the driver and two machine-gunners. Two other ranks armed with a Tommy gun, a rifle and some hand grenades were in position 50 yards from the road. These two parties were to give covering fire.

May

13

1942

Night patrol across the desert in No Mans Land

13th May 1942: Night patrol in No Mans Land

Suddenly the officer kneels and holds up his hand. Everyone stops dead, kneels and listens intently A star shell bursts, burning whitely in the darkness. The light flickers and dies. Breathing more heavily the patrol rises and continues. Almost immediately a machine gun opens fire, chattering noisily, tracer bullets spitting in short bursts.

May

12

1942

Pasadena Japanese take taxi to internment

12th May 1942: Pasadena Japanese take taxi to internment

Since yesterday we Pasadena Japanese have ceased to be human beings – we are now simply numbers or things. We are no longer ‘Egamis’ but the number 23324. A tag with that number is on every suit- case and bag. Even on our breasts are tied large tags with this same number – 23324! Again, a sad and tragic feeling grips my heart!

May

11

1942

On the cattle wagon to Sobibor

11th May 1942: On the cattle wagon to Sobibor

We had to stand and the sea of filth grew bigger at our feet, and we went on and on like this for the whole day, locked inside the wagons, as if we were real beasts, in a stifling nauseating place, filled with dead bodies and putrid air. To add the finishing touch to the gruesome picture once in a while we would hear shots fired by the German soldiers who were on the outside of the convoy.

May

10

1942

The reality of Home Guard life in Britain

10th May 1942: The reality of Home Guard life in Britain

A few soldiers had got out of the ruins only slightly hurt. The first to be brought out was young John Nicholls, 19, a young Home Guard in Trice’s old section. He had only just received his papers for joining the Army, and was not on parade. He died soon after. The next was young Dray, brother of a Home Guard, very badly hurt. Then Old Hardinge, ex-soldier and Home Guard over 65. He could walk supported, but was very badly scalded.

Dec

31

1940

Celebrations on “The Mighty Hood”

We all drank a toast to 1941 – Peace and Victory. One of the midshipmen from the gunroom came in with a bagpipe and played Scotch tunes. Everyone started to dance the various Scotch dances from the Admiral down to the lowest midshipman. The Wardroom tables were cleared away and a regular party was in full swing. It was a very unusual sight to see the Admiral, Captain, staff, Wardroom, gunroom, and Warrant officers dancing.

Dec

30

1940

Back to work in the bombed out City

Londoner walk through smoking rubble after the bombing

In a night the branch had moved back to working conditions worse than those of a century earlier. All entries were made by hand in candlelight, the branch counter with flickering wicks reflected in the pools of water scattered over the banking hall presenting a sorry spectacle.

Dec

29

1940

St Paul’s survives London firestorm

On the night 29th/30th December when a very large number of incendiary bombs were dropped, and serious and extensive fires—numbering in all nearly 1,500—were started in the City and the Docks area. In the City the fire at one period extended over half a square mile and in the Minories area over quarter of a square mile.