May

15

1944

Back into the front line after 40% casualties


15 May 1944: Back into the front line after 40% casualties

The desolation was augmented by millions of flies as they tried to do justice to the feast that ‘civilised’ man had delivered to them, moving from corpses to latrines, then to our food and pricking and sucking the naked parts of our bodies, such as hands and faces, which might then absorb some disease.

May

14

1944

Attack continues after 100 casualties in 2 minutes


14 May 1944: Attack continues after 100 casualties in 2 minutes

Captain Wakeford, keeping his Company under perfect control, crossed the start line and although wounded in the face and in both arms, led his men up the hill. Half way up the hill his Company came under heavy spandau fire; in spite of his wounds, he organized and led a force to deal with this opposition so that his Company could get on.

May

13

1944

Germans seek more from their agent in Britain


13 May 1944: Germans seek more from their agent in Britain

General impression gained by the VM on the basis of what he ascertained during the exercises and former information about this division is that it is intended for action in Norway as the division is continually receiving training in mountain warfare and all its equipment points to the probability of its going into action in northern regions. Have taken all measures to continue to watch every movement of transport fleet and troops.

May

12

1944

Single handed attack overcomes German position


12 May 1944: Single handed attack overcomes German position

Volunteering at once and crawling forward through the wire to a flank, Sepoy Kamal Ram attacked the post single handed and shot the first machine-gunner; a second German tried to seize his weapon but Sepoy Kamal Ram killed him with the bayonet, and then shot a German officer who, appearing from the trench with his pistol, was about to fire.

May

11

1944

The last battle for Monte Cassino begins


11 May 1944: The last battle for Monte Cassino begins

Large mortar bombs started to explode all around us followed, almost immediately, by heavy artillery fire. The enemy infantry opened up with his machine guns and tracer bullets whipped and whanged their way a few feet over our heads. I prepared to return the fire but found that, as our troops were now in my line of fire, I was unable to do so. I could see them reasonably clearly moving forward just across the river and all we could do was to watch as the machine gun bullets arched and swathed across the crossing point.

May

10

1944

Building a jungle airstrip for the Chindits


10 May 1944: Building a jungle airstrip for the Chindits

British troops rushed out of the jungle to give us a hand – landing gear washed out, wing collapsed, we had overrun the field knocking out a few bunds. No casualties – all ropes held, the dozer never moved an inch. The next gliders landed in adjoining paddy fields – washing out their landing gear – and never touching the “strip”!

May

9

1944

The Black Market flourishes in Italy


9 May 1944: The Black Market flourishes in Italy

For months now official sources have assured us that the equivalent of the cargo of one Allied ship in three unloaded in the Port of Naples is stolen.
The latest story going the rounds is that when a really big-scale coup is planned and it is necessary to clear the port to handle bulky goods, someone arranges for the air-raid sirens to sound and for the mobile smoke-screens to provide their fog, under the cover of which the shock-troops of the black market move in to do their work.

May

8

1944

21st Panzer Division prepares for war in Normandy


8 May 1944: 21st Panzer Division prepares for war in Normandy

In addition, minefields were laid wherever airborne landings might be expected. We were somewhat concerned that the civilian population could move about freely. We even had to leave passages open in the minefields, so that the peasants could go about their business. Evacuation was not considered. Why should it be? We didn’t know, after all, where a landing might take place.

May

7

1944

Attacks on French airfields are stepped up


7 May 1944: Attacks on French airfields are stepped up

Mack told us that we were about 50 miles from the French coast. This also reminded us of the briefing before the operation when we were told of the heavy coastal defences, in particular the light anti-aircraft batteries. After injecting pain—killing drugs into Bill’s arms, I acted as another pair of eyes from the astrodome. By now Ron had decided to take the aircraft down as close to the ground as possible, and we literally hedge-hopped across France with the three engines giving us some l80mph

May

6

1944

US Low Level Photo Recon surprises Germans


6 May 1944: US Low Level Photo Recon surprises Germans

At the same time Allied photo reconnaissance was daily keeping track of all this work. On the 6th May 1944 one US pilot got in for a really low level look. The reconnaissance programme covered the entire coast, so that by itself it did not suggest where the Allies had a particular interest or where the invasion might come.