Dec

11

1944

US Surgeon describes American and German casualties

US Army Surgeons operating under canvas in a Field Hospital.

It is constantly amazing the terrific tenacity to life that these boys manifest. It is impossible to exaggerate what wonderful patients American boys are. They are brave and patient, seldom complaining, always cooperative. They accept pain without moans. They seldom become demanding of attention, no fussing for little things, nor claiming petty comforts as their due.

Dec

10

1944

Terror of the Kempeitai in Kanchanaburi

Prisoners of war, in their quarters in an open-sided attap hut in the POW camp (commonly called Kanburi by the Australians). All seem aware that their photograph is being taken secretly, at risk to themselves and the photographer if film or camera were discovered by the Japanese. Many prisoners were brought here from Burma after the Burma-Thailand railway was completed.

The Kempeitai were horrible little bastards. My most vivid memory of them is being lined up outside a hut as they beat a bloke to death who’d been caught with a radio hidden in a tin of peanuts. We had to stand to attention and listen to his screaming. The beating lasted a long time. I can’t say how long but the bastards knew how to prolong this torture and didn’t want him to die too quickly.

Dec

9

1944

Action in Italy – Captain John Brunt VC

A 25pdr of 266 Battery, 67th Field Regiment in use as a mortar near San Clemente, 2 December 1944.

Wherever the fighting was heaviest, Captain Brunt was always to be found, moving from one post to another, encouraging the men and firing any weapon he found at any target he could see. The magnificent action fought by this Officer, his coolness, bravery, devotion to duty and complete disregard of his own personal safety under the most intense and concentrated fire was beyond praise. His personal example and individual action were responsible to a very great extent for the successful repulse of these fierce enemy counter-attacks.

Dec

8

1944

General George S. Patton on the importance of Prayer

A Sherman tank crewman finds the mud heavy going in Germany, 24 November 1944.

He rubbed his face in his hands, was silent for a moment, then rose and walked over to the high window, and stood there with his back toward me as he looked out on the falling rain. As usual, he was dressed stunningly, and his six-foot-two powerfully built physique made an unforgettable silhouette against the great window. The General Patton I saw there was the Army Commander to whom the welfare of the men under him was a matter of personal responsibility.

Dec

7

1944

377th Infantry – Street Fighting: Schiller Strasse Style

Impressions of the bitter fighting on first battalion's front in the vicinity of the hotel in a Fraulautern suburb.

The Jerries tossed out concussion grenades as the Gis appeared in the driveway. Lt Hardy and Pfc. Ernest L. Goolsby tried to dig a hole through this wall with the pick. Two grenades tossed at them failed to go off. A third was tossed, did go off, but caused no damaage out in the open, except for Goolsby’s face when he smacked the solid wall as he suddenly struck out for cover. Lt. Hardy called back for a charge to blow a hole in the building. By this time it was late afternoon, and engineers with a beehive charge did not arrive until after dark. The charge was set, and the hole blown, setting the house on fire.

Dec

6

1944

British troops begin to intervene in Greece

The ELAS communist group of Greek resistance fighters had been the best organised during the occupation - but were now being asked to disarm.

One didn’t know at all what to do, we really had no rules of engagement or anything like that. I determined the only way to deal with it was by a show of strength. So I fell in my platoon, very conspicuously in the street, went into open order and ordered them to fix bayonets. Then we marched briskly down the street to where this mob was and of course everybody just melted into the side lines. Then there were people there weeping and wailing over a man who’d been shot through the head — it was obviously an assassination of some sort.

Dec

5

1944

Sonderkommando of Auschwitz face up to their deaths

An Allied reconnaissance photograph of Auschwitz-Birkenau taken on 29 November 1944, annotated by the CIA in 1978.

Even if we could, by some chance, save our lives, what use would that be to us now? In vain we would search for our murdered relatives. We should be alone, without a family, without relatives, without friends, without a place we might call our own, condemned to roam the world aimlessly. For us there would be neither rest nor peace of mind until one day we would die in some corner, lonely and forsaken. Therefore, brothers, let us now go to meet death bravely and with dignity!’

Dec

4

1944

Nightmare in a Mosquito 30,000 feet above Aachen

A De Havilland Mosquito PR Mark XVI of No. 140 Squadron RAF, warms up its engines in a dispersal at B58/Melsbroek, Belgium, before taking off on a night photographic-reconnaissance sortie.

I tilt my head so that it will hit the ground at the same instant as the aircraft, and I will feel nothing. I’m calm. I’m going to die. But I can’t do anything about it. It’ll be quick. And it won’t hurt. I feel so calm. There’s a yellow—red glow in the aircraft. The engines must be on fire! Please God I don’t feel the pain of burning before I die. I begin to hum — just a constant, quiet, surprising hum. Then my legs slam to the floor, and the aircraft is no longer spinning — diving steeply but no longer spinning.

Dec

3

1944

Britain: the Home Guard are stood down

Home Guard soldiers (foreground) battle 'enemy paratroopers' during an exercise in the streets of a mining town in Northern Command, 3 August 1941.

I suppose we did do a job of work. We were ready if needed for active service and in a negative sort of way we did it when, around invasion time, we did those pickets and guards. They released a great many full-time soldiers who would have had to do the job in our place and enabled the Army to concentrate wholly on their part of the war.

Dec

2

1944

Disaster over Germany for the 392nd Bomb Group

The ned of a Mission as a B-24 Liberator is given the signal to turn off engines.

The three of us (2 waists and tail) leave through the rear hatch near the tail in case of an emergency while the rest of the crew leave from the forward nosewheel hatch or the forward bomb bay doors. These exits, at that time, we in the waist could not see. So we did not know what was going on up forward. I jumped and that was the last I saw of anybody until I met Harold in a German interrogation center. I did not see or meet any other crew member since.