March 1942

Mar

31

1942

A gloomy view from the top in Britain

31st March 1942: A gloomy view from the top in Britain

During the last fortnight I have had for the first time since the war started a growing conviction that we are going to lose this war unless we control it very differently and light it with more determination. But to begin with a democracy is at a great disadvantage against a dictatorship when it comes to war. Secondly a govemment with only one big man in it, and that one man a grave danger in many respects, is in a powerless way.

Mar

30

1942

Another raid on the Tirpitz

30th March 1942: Another raid on the Tirpitz

The difficulty of locating the Tirpitz was to pose a challenge for almost the rest of the war. The moonlight assisted the Halifax aircraft from No.’s 76, 35 and 10 Squadrons RAF on the night of the 30th when they flew the 1300 mile round trip from Scottish airfields. Unfortunately it was all in vain, when they reached the Trondheim area sea fog and low cloud made locating the target impossible. Some aircraft bombed the flak searchlights that could be seen – but the weather made it equally impossible to assess their impact.

Mar

29

1942

RAF bomb the medieval city of Lubeck

29th March 1942: RAF bomb the medieval city of Lubeck

The main object of the attack was to learn to what extent a first wave of aircraft could guide a second wave to the aiming point by starting a conflagration: I ordered a half an hour interval between the two waves in order to allow the fires to get a good hold before the second wave arrived. In all, 234 aircraft were dispatched and dropped 144 tons of incendiaries and 160 tons of high explosives.

Mar

28

1942

The Commando raid on St. Nazaire

28th March 1942: The Commando raid on St. Nazaire

After about three or four minutes of this brisk action there was a perceptible slackening in the enemy’s fire. This was a triumph for the many gun-layers in the coastal craft and in the Campbeltown. It was, at this stage, a straight fight between the carefully sited enemy flak emplacements ashore, enjoying all the protection which concrete could afford, and the gun-layers, handling the short-range weapons on the exposed decks of their small and lively craft.

Mar

27

1942

Fighters clash over the Desert

27th March 1942: Fighters clash over the Desert

The enemy escort drew off some of our fighters, but other Hurricanes which had by now climbed to a dizzy height, dived like thunderbolts on the Stukas quickly followed by the top-cover Messerschmitt escort who were still higher. The first Hurricane to dive came streaking down the coast followed by a Messerschmitt, firing its cannons in furious bursts, peppering the air with black smoke puffs.

Mar

26

1942

The end of Burma’s air defence – the retreat continues

26th March 1942: The end of Burma’s air defence – and the retreat continues

The main weight of the enemy attack was concentrated on the aerodromes at Magwe and Akyab. At the former, which was subjected to five raids, almost all aircraft of the two and a half squadrons located there were either destroyed or damaged. Akyab aerodrome was attacked three times by a total of 80 bombers with fighter escort, and nine of our aircraft were destroyed and a further six were damaged on the ground. In addition, an ammunition dump was hit and a hangar demolished.

Mar

25

1942

Merchant ship supply lines stretched on all fronts

25th March 1942: Merchant ship supply lines stretched on all fronts

During the week ending the 25th March 897 ships, including 245 Allied and 22 neutral, were convoyed. Seven cruisers and anti-aircraft ships, two armed merchant cruisers, 68 destroyers (including 17 American and two Russian destroyers) and 114 sloops and corvettes were employed on escort duties.

Mar

24

1942

Hardegan on U-123 strikes again

24th March 1942: Hardegan on U-123 strikes again

There – after 61 seconds – hit ahead of the foremost mast.  High, dark explosion plume and shortly thereafter the whole tanker seems to blow up.  He had a load of gasoline in the forepart.  Several explosions followed and we saw a sea of flames, which one observes rarely.  Just when we believed that he sank he used the radio.  Oops! 

Mar

23

1942

Hitler warns of danger on European Coast

23rd March 1942: Fuhrer Directive No. 40 Hitler warns of danger on European Coast

The time and place of the landing operations will not be dictated to the enemy by operational considerations alone. Failure in other theatres of war, obligations to allies, and political considerations may persuade him to take decisions which appear unlikely from a purely military point of view.

Mar

22

1942

Italian battle fleet attacks Malta convoy

22nd March 1942: Italian battle fleet attacks Malta convoy in Sirte Battle

A series of flashes in the smoke followed by a dull, rumbling boom announced the opening of the surface engagement. As if this was a signal, a formation of torpedo bombers flew into sight, skimming just above the sea. Simultaneously an even larger group of high level bombers were briefly glimpsed through the smoke and clouds on the opposite side of the convoy.