August 1942

Aug

19

1942

Operation Jubilee – the raid on Dieppe

19th August 1942: Operation Jubilee – the raid on Dieppe

In the initial assault Major Porteous, working with the smaller of the two detachments, was shot at close range through the hand, the bullet passing through his palm and entering his upper arm. Undaunted, Major Porteous closed with his assailant, succeeded in disarming him and killed him with his own bayonet thereby saving the life of a British Sergeant on whom the German had turned his aim.

Aug

18

1942

SS man spends a day at the Gas Chambers

18th August 1942: An SS man spends a day at the Gas Chambers

In fact the first train arrived after some minutes, from the direction of Lemberg. 45 wagons with 6,700 people of whom 1,450 were already dead on arrival. Behind the barred hatches children as well as men and women looked out, terribly pale and nervous, their eyes full of the fear of death. The train comes in: 200 Ukrainians fling open the doors and whip the people out of the wagons with their leather whips.

Aug

16

1942

British POWs ‘entertained’ by the Germans

16th August 1942: British POWs ‘entertained’ by the Germans

The first film was a short extolling the virtues of the Hitler Youth Organisation. It showed a “troop” in camp in a rock climbing district; a slight story seemed to be woven into the film to give it interest but the effect of the rather good photography was spoiled by “wordiness” of the dialogue and the theatrical scenes of camp life showing much (too much) of the flag and the youths “devotion” to duty, leader and country. What the “big” picture was about only the Lord and the Germans know — it seemed to me to be one long chatter.

Aug

15

1942

Montgomery makes his mark in the desert

15th August 1942: Montgomery makes his mark in the desert

At the same time, Monty made it very clear that all belly-aching was to cease. This was a favourite phrase of his, by which he meant that orders are orders, and not a basis for discussion. Since General Ritchie’s days, the tendency had crept in for subordinates to query their instructions when they thought they knew better; with Monty this was an anathema.

Aug

14

1942

The battle to save the Ohio

14th August 1942: The battle to save the Ohio

The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to Captain Dudley William Mason, Master, SS Ohio. During the passage to Malta of an important convoy Captain Mason’s ship suffered most violent onslaught. She was a focus of attack throughout and was torpedoed early one night. Although gravely damaged, her engines were kept going and the Master made a magnificent passage by hand-steering and without a compass.

Aug

13

1942

Attacks on Pedestal from every quarter

13th August 1942: Attacks on Pedestal from every quarter

We steamed towards one of the crippled ships, the SS Empire Hope and we saw some of her crew struggling in the water and others were in the boats. Lifeless and mutilated objects that had once been men floated past on both sides and our bows struck two corpses as we steamed forward to assist the remaining survivors. Some of our crew shouted to them to hurry up as we all had the jitters by now and we wanted to feel some speed under us.

Aug

12

1942

Pitched battles all around Pedestal convoy

12th August 1942: Pitched battles all around Pedestal convoy

I decide to carry out a second depth-charge attack and the ship is just turning when a roar goes up, ‘There she is.’ It was a successful attack, and the U-boat has come to the surface, but the job is not yet finished. Perhaps she will crash-dive and try to escape. We can take no chances. So, ‘Full ahead both engines; prepare to ram.’ The guns need no orders. They have already opened fire and the U-boat is getting seven bells knocked out of her.

Aug

11

1942

HMS Eagle sunk as Pedestal comes under atttack

11th August 1942: HMS Eagle sunk as Pedestal comes under atttack

Taking a deep breath I blew up my inflatable lifebelt which was a permanent part of our dress when we were afloat. Remembering our survival lectures, I hurriedly kicked off my deck shoes, pushed myself away and before I could think I was upside down 20 feet under the water and frantically holding my breath whist I looked around for a lighter colour in my surroundings that would indicate the surface. The next few seconds seemed like a lifetime and as I broke through to the surface my throat and chest seemed to explode with relief.

Aug

10

1942

Operation Pedestal gets under way

10th August 1942: Operation Pedestal gets under way

Sooner or later the peace would be shattered; jumping at every pipe, at every change in course or revs, screamed out for it to happen and be done with. All morning the ships steamed on in undisturbed calm. Then, suddenly, in the afternoon watch, two Wildcats from Victorious went tearing into the air. We moved nearer the island, hoping for tit-bits of news. The Tannoy crackled. It was the Commander: “Victorious has scrambled two fighters after a suspected shadower. That’s all for the moment.”

Aug

9

1942

Germans reach the first of the Russian oilfields


9th August 1942: Germans reach the first of the Russian oilfields

We had reached the Maikop area, and the village ahead of us was held by the enemy, who hung on tenaciously and would not give way. We made a snap decision and set the thatched roofs alight to burn the enemy out. Within a few moments of opening fire with incendiary rounds, the first houses were on fire. The infantry then began to make good progress. In accordance with my orders, I moved my gun forward to the center ofthe village square to cover the infantry attack against possible surprises from the south. But there was not a single enemy tank to be seen.