June 1944

Jun

20

1944

The ‘Great Marianas Turkey Shoot’

I kept telling them to turn on the lights because too many people were going in the water. Finally they did turn on the lights. Authorities claim that Admiral Mitscher was responsible for this, but I claim I was the one they could hear bitching and asking them to do it. They not only turned on the lights but they turned On vertical searchlight beams. So it was like a carnival out there. I circled my home carrier and finally got aboard. The first question we all asked that night was. “What ship is this?” because you could not tell one ship from the other.

Jun

19

1944

The ‘Great Gale’ wrecks the Mulberry harbours

Landing craft out of control pounded against us. Our anchors dragged, and we lost one. We, too, were drifting, and before we could tackle the situation the ship was flung heavily on a sandy bottom and pounded by a terrifying surf. In another second we would have been rolled over, a plaything of the storm, but just in time we managed to get our engines going and headed for deeper water. The appalling sight of the beach in the dreary grey of the morning told its own tale of craft that had piled together and been ground to matchwood.

Jun

18

1944

Coming to terms with the ‘bumble bomb’

I sprang out of bed to find out what on earth it was but it had passed out of sight by the time I had reached the window. I said: ‘A plane out of control, I should think’, but Jean, sitting up in bed and leaning on one arm, said after awhile: ‘Georgie, you don’t think it’s something new, do you?’ Since then we have heard two or three of the damned things, in the distance.

Jun

17

1944

The French Resistance hit back against the occupation

The train entered the tunnel and after it had fully disappeared into it, we waited another minute before setting off the charge. Boulders collapsed and cascaded in a thunderous burst; a huge mass completely covered the entrance. Right after that, we heard one, then two huge explosions. The train has been taken prisoner. The 500 “feldgraus” inside weren’t about to leave, and the railway was blocked for a long, long time.

Jun

16

1944

The V1 ‘doodlebugs’ begin hitting London

It came rapidly closer until almost directly overhead, then the engine stopped. By this time we all had learnt from the terrible experiences of the night, what to expect, but instead of doing the logical thing and dropping to the ground and making the best use of what cover there was, we just gapped open mouthed eyes transfixed on the clouds were the silence had come.

Jun

15

1944

D-Day in the Pacific – the invasion of Saipan

On the top deck in the moonlight, the eye could pick out an occasional flash showing silhouettes of battleships firing salvo after salvo into the coastline ahead. For two days prior to the invasion, some 2,400 16-inch shells had ‘softened-up’ the enemy. These salvos gave an awesome sound. Something like a boxcar swishing around overhead. Possible mining of the area limited the firing line to six miles offshore, and because of this distance, spotters had difficulty in pinpointing dug-in gun pits.

Jun

14

1944

US infantry v Fallschirmjäger in the ‘bocage’

Picking myself up to brush off my uniform, I saw a strange and shocking sight. On the edge of the ditch lay a German forearm. Part of the uniform sleeve was there, with the elbow, arm, hand, and all fingers intact. I wondered what had happened to the rest of that poor bastard. I never did find out.

Jun

13

1944

Lancaster gunner’s heroic attempt to save friend

Pilot Officer Mynarski left his turret and went towards the escape hatch. He then saw that the rear gunner was still in his turret and apparently unable to leave it. The turret was, in fact, immovable, since the hydraulic gear had been put out of action when the port engines failed, and the manual gear had been broken by the gunner in his attempts to escape.

Jun

12

1944

Churchill makes a day trip to Normandy

Then we returned to our destroyer and went right back to the east end of the beach where several ships were bombarding the Germans. Winston wanted to take part in the war, and was longing to draw some retaliation. However the Boche refused to take any notice of any of the rounds we fired. We therefore started back about 6.15 and by 9.15 were back at Portsmouth after having spent a wonderfully interesting day.

Jun

11

1944

British officer’s kukrie attack earns VC

The Japanese who were dug in along the banks of the road and in the jungle with machine guns and small arms, were putting up the most desperate resistance. As the platoon come within twenty yards of the Bridge, the enemy opened heavy and accurate fire, inflicting severe casualties and forcing the men to seek cover. Captain Allmand, however, with the utmost gallantry charged on by himself, hurling grenades into the enemy gun positions and killing three Japanese himself with his kukrie.