July 1942




Home leave in Germany

31st July 1942: Home leave in Germany

Wherever I went, people were anxious to hear from me what was happening at the Eastem Front. Not because I had ever done any heroic deeds, but simply because I had been at a certain time at a certain place, I had received a number of medals, and on that strength alone my reporting of events was accepted as authentic. The last thing I wanted to give was the impression that Gennany could possibly find itself on the losing side.

Though I did not tell any lies, I did not tell the whole truth either, I kept the more negative aspects of my experiences to myself. It struck me that much of the questioning contained a measure of querying doubt as to the outcome of the whole war, – especially amongst those who had experienced the 1914-18 war – and I always ‘jumped’ on the querying questioner and made it clear that, whatever the difficulties, for me the final victory for our Germany could be in no doubt.




German thrust continues on the Eastern Front

30th July 1942: German thrust continues on the Eastern Front

The German offensive has now been in progress for a month and, in its swing south-eastwards, has made progress at an average of 12 to 13 miles a day – a rate only slightly slower than the fastest advances of last year. The Germans have made no claims to large numbers of prisoners and the Russians themselves state that their withdrawal has been orderly.

This withdrawal may have been eastwards towards Stalingrad, for the rapidity of the German advance and, in particular, the speed with which they crossed the Lower Don, suggest that the Russians have been unable to withdraw any large forces to the south of the river and that their powers of resistance have thereby been seriously weakened.




Battle of the Kokoda Track erupts

29th July 1942: Battle of the Kokoda Track erupts

This was a campaign that would be fought out in “a vast , primitive, almost unknown wilderness of towering mountains and steaming coastal jungles, burned by the equatorial sun and drenched by tropical downpours”. It was in these impossible conditions that Australian and American forces would endure some of the bloodiest and most desperate fighting of the whole war.




The USAAF start to arrive in Britain

28th July 1942: The USAAF start to arrive in Britain

I thought I’d seen everything but this place takes the cake. The people are so backward it is pitiful. This seems to have been a wealthy place at one time. The homes and buildings are just like the pictures. The streets are narrow and very crooked. bicycles are the main means of transportation. There are very few cars the and traffic is left-handed.




Canadian Spitfire Ace scores four over Malta

27th July 1942: Canadian Spitfire Ace scores four over Malta

The 27th was my biggest day on Malta. At six A.M. Bryden, Willie, Georgia, Scarlet, Micky Butler, Hogarth, Hether, and I scrambled to intercept a fifty-plus attack from seven Ju 88s and their lighter escort.

We slammed up the hill to 25,000 feet where the fighters were covering the bombers. The Ju’s were just going to work on Takali when we came along and they plastered the joint, leaving the drome pocked with bomb craters.

I was the lucky lad who spotted the sweep and called into the RT: “Enemy aircraft at four o’clock, slightly below!” and led the gang in, with everybody hotfooting after me. I spotted four Machis running in line astern and took Number Four.




SAS raid hits German airfield at Fuka

26th July 1942: SAS raid hits the German desert airfield at Fuka

“Right lads, we haven’t got much time. At the edge of the aerodrome form a line abreast and all guns spray the area. When I advance follow me in your two columns and on my green Very light open fire, outwards at the aircraft – follow exactly in each other’s tracks, 5 yards apart – speed not more than 4 mph. Return to the RV independently moving only by night.”




‘Routine’ mining flight off the French Coast

25th July1942: ‘Routine’ mining flight off the French Coast

We were on the target now and I could hear the Navigator counting the seconds as the Bombardier released the mines. “One, two, three”. As the third mine left the aircraft a load of hell was hurled up at us from another flak ship, which according to the direction of the fire, was directly beneath us.

Before we had chance to avoid this second lot, we were hit all along the fuselage. Flames started to shoot past both sides of my turret. I immediately called up the pilot, but I received no reply.

Then suddenly to my horror, I realized the inter-com was dead, this being the only means of connecting me to the rest of my crew. From now on it meant that I had to work on my own initiative. I tried to rotate my turret but the hydraulics had been shot away. So I tried operating it manually.




Air attack on the Eastern Front trenches

24th July 1942: Air attack on the Eastern Front trenches

The light singing transforms into a rattling howl, which now fills the air for hours. Each night is the same awe-inspiring picture; hundreds of lightning flashes burst into the air. Shades of white, green, and red splatter the sky; long yellow-orange streaks shoot into the air, and are accompanied by the hard knocking of 2cm anti-aircraft artillery.




The ‘Gross Aktion’ begins in the Warsaw Ghetto

23rd July 1942:The ‘Gross Aktion’ begins in the Warsaw Ghetto

Everyone suddenly became eager for work. Everyone is prepared to give up hot meals and a comfortable bed at home to go and live in barracks, if only to stay put. To be deported means to prepare for death, and it is a lingering death which is the hardest kind of all.

The deportees are, to begin with, taken for killing. They are not qualified for work. And as to food, even if a crust of bread were available, would the Nazis give it to them? It has become known that the Nazis flay their corpses, remove the fat, and incinerate the bodies.

This accords with a prestated plan: The strength of the healthy and productive is to be exploited for the needs of the German army; the weak, the crippled, and the aged are to go to eternal rest.

Such a plan could have been invented only by Satan.




A narrow escape in the Desert

22nd July 1942: A narrow escape in the Desert

The Aucklanders and my own H.Q. crew were hard at work, scraping shallow foxholes in the silt of the depression, and the battle looked like pausing until first light. Might as well rest a bit, ready for the day ahead; so I got down on the old bed-roll and “died”, leaving Crowley to dig in the Div. wireless set against possible trouble.

Forty minutes later, Cliff George woke me up, reporting his safe arrival. I told him what the plan would be at first light, and to rest his men until we could see enough to put them at it. The hour was probably about a quarter to five. He disappeared into the dark and I started putting my boots on.

Then hell broke loose. An Auckland carrier came dashing in across the depression, yelling “Stand to! Tanks! Lots of the bastards”. But that was obvious. A deluge of “golden rain” fell on us from the northern edge of the depression about four hundred yards away.