February 1943

Feb

28

1943

Operation Gunnerside – the Telemark Raid

We said to the man, “You just run around the corner, up the staircase, lie down and keep your mouth open, until you hear the bang. There will be only one bang, so when it is over you can go down and watch the result”. I do not know ifhe did. But I know that he kept his mouth open, because he could hear when I met him two years later. Otherwise, if he had had his mouth closed he would have blown out his eardrums.

Feb

27

1943

The Jews of Berlin are rounded up

Orianienburg Street was ordered to have the community staff come and present themselves with all necessary equipment. They also nominated certain people to be the Jewish commanders of each such camp. It was now known what had happened, but it was yet unclear how it happened.
…I just want to state that this action was executed with terrible cruelty and no human consideration. The people were quickly loaded onto the SS trucks. The women came straight from work, in their work clothes, with no coats, no breakfast. These were all left in the factories’ changing rooms.

Feb

26

1943

155th Battery R.A. hold German attack at Sidi Nsir

Lieutenant Taylor and Sergeant Henderson (both of F Troop) in particular stood out by reason of their undaunted offensive spirit and the inspiring example they set. Sergeant Henderson was the No 1 of No 1 gun, specially placed on the top of the slope to deal with enemy tanks trying to use the Mateur-Sidi Nsir road. Taylor was the only officer on F Troop position, and he fought there until he was killed.

Feb

25

1943

Arctic Convoy JW 53 battered in gales

I remember trying to use an Aldis lamp from our bridge to signal to a Corvette and found it very difficult since one minute she would be in sight, then she would go down the trough of the wave and all I could see would be her top masts; then up she would come and our ship would go down and all that would be seen was water, but eventually we got the message through.

Feb

24

1943

Eighth Army reaches the Mareth Line in Tunisia

As usual the Jocks are perched on the sky-line, indifferent to observation. They sit in the sun stripped to the waist, shaving or cleaning their riiies. My sergeant insists that this has a demoralising effect on the enemy. He is a believer in the divisional Tradition. It is as though the half-clad men were saying to the Germans, “Well, here we are. We’ve caught up with you. We know you’re there in those bloody hills and this is all we care.” It is magnificent folly. It will last till the shells come over.

Feb

23

1943

British intelligence analyses German morale

Generally speaking, German morale is passing through a much more critical stage than in any previous winter of the war. German opinion no longer displays, either at the level of the masses or among the privileged classes, that uniformity which has hitherto characterised it, and which may be regarded as the hallmark of a successful totalitarian state. Large numbers of people have begun to compare 1943 with 1918, to ask whether the war has reached its turning point and to cast about for a third alternative open to the German people between Nazi victory and Russian vengeance.

Feb

22

1943

Sophie Scholl is beheaded in Munich

Between June 1942 and February 1943 the group distributed six different leaflets denouncing Hitler and the Nazi regime. Readers were urged to”Support the resistance movement!” in the struggle for “Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states”. These were the principles that would form “the foundations of the new Europe”. Thousands of leaflets were produced using a hand cranked printing machine and they reached most of the major cities in Germany.

Feb

21

1943

Hitler after Stalingrad

The attacks of nervous irritation increased. One moment Hitler’s collar was too tight and was stopping his circulation; the next his trousers were too long. He complained that his skin itched. He suspected poison everywhere, in the lavatory cistern, on the soap, in the shaving cream or in the toothpaste, and demanded that these be minutely analysed. The water used for cooking his food had to be investigated as well. Hitler chewed his fingernails and scratched his ears and neck until they bled. Because he suffered from insomnia, he took every possible sleeping pill. His bed was warmed with electric blankets and cushions.

Feb

20

1943

The other casualties of 8th Air Force bomber operations

On investigation of the accident it was found that the whole tail assembly had fallen off from Bill’s plane while it was three or four thousand feet up and so it was impossible for even Bill to land her safely. Immediately on losing its tail the plane went into a flat spin and dove into the ground at a very high speed killing everyone on impact. After hitting the ground it burst into flames and so was completely demolished. This accident brought our total losses for the week up to six.

Feb

19

1943

Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

As we very soon discovered, the Americans had first-class tanks and antitank guns. Behind the front, large supply dumps could quickly replace any deficiency. The fact that they had no combat experience and were at a disadvantage against our “desert foxes,” could not be held against them. In one respect, they seemed to have the edge over their British allies: they were extraordinarily flexible; they adapted immediately to a changed situation and fought with great doggedness.