October 1942

Oct

7

1942

Selected to live – in Treblinka

7th October 1942: Selected to live – in Treblinka

From the suitcases we remove lotions, cosmetics, soaps, matches, medicines. It seems that there is nothing that we do not remove here in quantities – all sorts, from the most expensive tins to the few potatoes that the poor Jews brought with them. The sorted articles are brought non-stop to the edge of the yard, where they are piled up and up. The suitcases with valuables have a special place; into them are put things made of gold, watches, rings, diamond’s. Wedding rings make up the greatest quantity of valuable articles.

Oct

6

1942

U-333 makes narrow escape from HMS Crocus

6th October 1942: U-333 makes narrow escape from HMS Crocus

The first watch officer and I at once got to our feet again. I had several splinters in the arm and the officer had one through the throat. The explosion threw us both down the conning-tower hatch, but we managed to climb back onto the bridge. When my companion was hit several more times in the arm and leg, I ordered him to leave me alone on the bridge. With my one sound arm I helped the wounded lying on the bridge to get back down into the conning tower. One man, a bosun’s mate, had apparently slipped overboard and disappeared without trace.

Oct

5

1942

‘Coned’ and shot down over Cologne

5th October 1942: ‘Coned’ and shot down over Cologne

The eerie purple light of the radio-controlled searchlight, the master search-light of the Cologne air defence system locked onto us and having seen this happen to other bombers I knew there would be no escaping it. No manoeuvring, no ’jinking’, no diving nor turning nor any amount of speed would shake off that relentless finger. With the range signalled to them from this automatic light the entire search-light complex now locked onto us and we were ‘coned’, the most dreaded thing that could happen to any bomber crew.

Oct

4

1942

Soviet troops in the trenches of the Eastern Front

4th October 1942: Soviet troops in the trenches of the Eastern Front

In order to capture the knoll, the regiment commander had swept the rear area in order to create a reinforced platoon of forty men. Barbers, cobblers, orderlies and other men from the rear, ranging in age from teenagers to forty years old, had been gathered in that platoon. It was twice as frightening for these men to creep towards that hillock; it was frightening for any man to rise from the ground under fire, but these men also lacked any front-line experience.

Oct

3

1942

German troops endure Eastern Front trench warfare

3rd October 1942: German troops endure Eastern Front trench warfare

Days were an alternation of weapons cleaning and trench work, and at night we went out on sentry duty every two or three hours, to stare into no-man’s-land, in case an enemy patrol appeared, and to wait whether a bullet hit us or a direct hit from a mortar spattered our blood and brains against the trench walls. Then the guts would freeze to the clay, scraps of cloth and flesh would lie around, and someone would come across vestiges of a comrade many days later and not recognize them.

Oct

2

1942

Troopship liner Queen Mary sinks HMS Curacoa

2nd October 1942: Troopship liner Queen Mary sinks HMS Curacoa

I said to my mate “You know she’s zig-zigging all over the place in front of us, I’m sure we’re going to hit her.” And sure enough, the Queen Mary sliced the cruiser in two like a piece of butter, straight through the six inch armoured plating. The Queen Mary just carried on going (we were doing about 25 knots). It was the policy not to stop and pick up survivors even if they were waving at you. It was too dangerous as the threat of U-Boats was always present.

Oct

1

1942

Hitler promotes Rommel to Field Marshal

1st October 1942: Hitler promotes Rommel to Field Marshal

Afterwards both went into the Chancellery gardens, where an impressive display of new weapons, including assault guns and a Tiger tank, was on show. Rommel requested them for the front as soon as possible, which Hitler promised to see to. I had the impression that he was beginning to deceive himself. He was underestimating the fighting strength of the Russians and also had the wrong idea about the British.