May 1942

May

21

1942

Spitfire vs Messerschmitt 109 over Malta

21st May 1942: Spitfire vs Messerschmitt 109 over Malta

The 109’s scatter like spray. Twisting in my seat; my companions can’t have heard my order – I’m alone. Enemy fighters every-where. Two race low overliead; four more on my right. As three more 109s dive head-on under my nose I watch the fourth turning towards me; in a few seconds he will pass below to my left. There’s plenty of time to shoot him down.

May

20

1942

Evading enemy aircraft in the desert

20th May 1942: Evading enemy aircraft in the desert

I had gone about fifty miles inland before I was spotted by an enemy fighter. The method of foiling aircraft attack in the open desert is quite simple. The plane, or planes, would generally attack from behind. What you had to do then was a complete 180-degree turn to face the oncoming attacker. This put the plane at a distinct disadvantage: he couldn’t dive towards you as he would finish up diving into the ground.

May

19

1942

The final stages of the Burma retreat

19th May 1942: The final stages of the Burma retreat

Ploughing their way up slopes, over a track inches deep in slippery mud, soaked to the skin, rotten with fever, ill-fed and shivering as the air grew cooler, the troops went on, hour after hour, day after day. Their only rest at night was to lie on the sodden ground under the dripping trees, without even a blanket to cover them.

May

18

1942

The last flight of ‘MacRoberts Reply’

18th May 1942: The last flight of ‘MacRoberts Reply’

At the crash site, a big part of the forrest was cut, it almost looked like a huge razor had cut through the trees. It look like there had been a huge explosion, since there were only small parts left from the bomber and there was a big hole in the ground. Since there were only small parts left, I could not recognise the bomber.

May

17

1942

Heavy losses as Coastal Command attacks Prinz Eugen

17th May1942: Heavy losses as Coastal Command attacks Prinz Eugen

The first force was unable to locate the cruiser, but part of the second force, which consisted of 52 aircraft, including 27 torpedo-carrying Beauforts, carried out an attack. Two possible hits with torpedoes are claimed. Considerable enemy fighter opposition was encountered and nine of our aircraft failed to return.

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!