October 1942

Oct

24

1942

El Alamein – the infantry go forward

24th October 1942: El Alamein – the infantry go forward

One of the paratroopers decided to make a break, and with head down, he dashed to my left front. I shouted to him to halt, but he still continued. My Bren gun was set on single shot, and I fired from the hip well ahead of him. I was amazed to see him drop like a log, hit in the head by a single bullet. This action appeared to put paid to any further attempts at escaping.

Oct

23

1942

The British Guns open up at El Alamein

23rd October 1942: The British Guns open up at El Alamein

At the gun positions final checks had been made. Some of the men took off their coats, others took off their shirts for they knew before the night was over they would be wet with sweat as they were to be part of a large battery of 882 field guns which were to lay down a barrage of shells, the like of which hadn’t been seen since WWI and those guns still firing as daylight came, would have fired more than 600 rounds each.

Oct

22

1942

The last 24 hours before battle

22nd October 1942: The last 24 hours before battle

I awakened next morning, cramped and sore, to find, seeping through the little spaces where the corrugated iron did not meet flush with the sand, faint rays of light. Dawn was breaking. In a few hours the vicious heat would start and the agony of our confinement would really begin. We had our meals with us — in tins. Cold bacon, bully beef and biscuits were on the menu, and these things had to satisfy us until darkness fell.

Oct

21

1942

A Russian sniper starts work in Stalingrad

21st October 1942: A Russian sniper starts work in Stalingrad

It always intrigues me to look through good optics at an enemy hundreds of metres away. Beforehand, you could only see him as a small and indistinct shape, then suddenly you can see the details of his uniform, and whether he is short or tall, skinny or fat. You can tell whether or not he has shaved that morning. You know if he is young or old, and if he in an officer or a soldier. You can see the expression on his face, and sometimes your target will be talking to another soldier, or even singing to himself.

Oct

20

1942

Work begins on the Burma-Siam railway

20th October 1942: Work begins on the Burma-Siam railway

I spend a great amount of time trying to get medical supplies out of the japanese – as difficult as wringing blood from stones. Nobusawa professes to have almost no supplies for us and we have practically no dressings for our skin cases. A tin or two of quinine tablets, half a bottle of spirit, one or two bandages, three washing bowls, a couple of buckets and a bar of soap constitute the ‘hospital equipment’ in a camp of nearly a thousand men.

Oct

19

1942

Parachute Training in Britain

19th October 1942: Parachute Training in Britain

We sat on either side of the fuselage which had a large aperture cut away in its underside to enable us to jump from the aircraft but this method proved not too satisfactory as often the trainee would fail to push himself forward enough to allow the pack of his folded parachute to clear the edge of the aperture. Consequently he would be tilted forward with the danger of knocking his face on the opposite side which could easily result in a broken nose.

Oct

18

1942

Hitler’s Order – Summary death for Commandos

18th October 1942: Hitler’s Order – Summary death for Commandos

I therefore order: From now on all enemies on so-called commando missions in Europe or Africa, challenged by German troops, even if they are to all appearances soldiers in uniform or demolition troops, whether armed or unarmed, in battle or in flight, are to be slaughtered to the last man.

Oct

17

1942

Operation Robinson hits Le Creusot works

17th October 1942: Operation Robinson hits Le Creusot works

Soon the sight was re-aligned. Gerry opened the bomb-doors and the bombing run was on. I looked out of the starboard blister. Opposition from the ground was negligible certainly nothing came our way. Gerry held the Lancaster level and steady at the indicated airspeed required. ‘Bombs gonel’ came confidently from the nose of the aircraft.

Oct

16

1942

The Eighth Army prepares for battle

16th October 1942: The Eighth Army prepares for battle

For three consecutive nights the Regiment rehearsed finding its way through our own minefields and those of the enemy. During these long, carefully planned exercises the guns and vehicles were guided through narrow lanes marked with white tape and lit by storm lanterns burning inside masked, empty four gallon petrol cans.

Oct

15

1942

The unrelenting battle for Stalingrad continues

15th October 1942: The unrelenting battle for Stalingrad continues

1220 hours: A radio message from a unit of the 416th Regiment from the hexagonal housing block: “Have been encircled, ammunition and water available, death before surrender!”
1230 hours: Dive-bombers attack the command post of General Scholudov, who is without radio communications in a neighboring bunker that has collapsed. Take over the communications to the units of this division.