Apr

9

1944

Victoria Cross as the Siege of Kohima begins

British infantrymen use a dismounted tank machine gun at Kohima.

Sergeant Tacon shouted out ‘Hang on,Taffy, I’m coming’, but as he crawled towards him he [Tacon] was hit in the arm and leg, fracturing it. He just managed to roll out of the danger area.Although we cou1dn’t help Taffy we did start talking to him because he was only about 2 yards from us down in a dip. He told us that he was paralysed. He was soon delirious and for eight hours he was screaming, shouting and calling for his Mum and Dad and praying, until he died.

Apr

8

1944

Seconds to get out of a burning B-24

In skies thick with flak a stricken B-24 struggles to maintain flight.

I grabbed my parachute and was the first to get to the escape hatch, which was also known as the camera hatch or main entrance hatch on the B-24. I made an attempt to open the hatch alone and had planned to jump holding my chute as I figured the plane would probably blow up in a few seconds. It would be better to try to hold onto the chute and put it on as I was on the way down, rather than face certain death in an exploding aircraft.

Apr

7

1944

Escape from Auschwitz – to warn the World

A sketch from the  Vrba-Wetzler report. 
The gassing takes place as follows: the unfortunate victims are brought into hall (B) where they are told to undress. To complete the fiction that they are going to bathe, each person receives a towel and a small piece of soap issued by two men clad in white coats. They are then crowded into the gas chamber (C) in such numbers there is, of course, only standing room. To compress this crowd into the narrow space, shots are often fired to induce those already at the far end to huddle still closer together.

This was it. For a moment we both hesitated, for we knew that, once we were covered up, there was no going back. Then together we skipped quickly up on top of the wood and slid into the hole. The planks moved into place over our heads, blotting out the light; and there was silence. Our eyes soon got used to the gloom and we could see each other in the light that filtered through the cracks. We hardly dare to breath, let alone to talk.

Apr

6

1944

Islamic warrior earns VC leading counter-attack

Portrait of Abdul Hafiz, awarded the Victoria Cross: Burma, 6 April 1944.

Jemadar Abdul Hafiz then took a Bren gun from a wounded man and advanced against the enemy, firing as he advanced, and killing several of the enemy. So fierce was the attack, and all his men so inspired by the determination of Jemadar Abdul Hafiz to kill all enemy in sight at whatever cost, that the enemy, who were still in considerable numbers on the position, ran away down the opposite slope of the hill.

Apr

5

1944

USAAF return to bomb the oil refinery at Ploesti

Smoke rises from the Astra Romana refinery in Ploesti Romania following low level bombing attack by B-24 Liberators, Aug 1 1943.

One hour and ten minutes before target time 2 FW 190′s were seen flying in from the south and they stayed with our formation until the first attack was made acting as observers and, without doubt, radioing information as to strength and heading to attacking units. The first attack come 25 minutes from the target by 10/12 ME 109′s who, using cloud cover, made a surprise attack from 12 o’clock high.

Apr

4

1944

The First Allied Aerial Reconnaissance Over Auschwitz

The first picture of Auschwitz taken by the Allies.

After the ‘disinfecting operators’ had poured the lethal gas crystals into the gas chambers one of them took the empty tins back to their Red Cross ambulance while, as a rule, the other walked over to the changing rooms to see if there was any organizing to be done. Although on several occasions I was quite close to the ambulance, I never managed to grab hold of one of the tins. I was despairing as it looked as though I would never be able to. And then I had an idea.

Apr

3

1944

Operation Tungsten: Navy dive bombers hit the Tirpitz

Fleet Air Arm personnel fusing bombs for Fairey Barracudas on the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS, before Operation 'Tungsten', the attack on the German battleship TIRPITZ in Alten Fjord, Norway, April 1944.

Fleet Air Arm personnel fusing bombs for Fairey Barracudas on the flight deck of HMS VICTORIOUS, before Operation ‘Tungsten’, the attack on the German battleship TIRPITZ in Alten Fjord, Norway, April 1944.

Apr

2

1944

SS ‘Hitlerjugend’ massacre French civilians at Ascq

After the boys had been trained it was decided that they could form a Panzer division and they began training with tanks.

That’s when I raised a violent protest at their actions – the population had nothing to do with what had happened and that they were innocent. I was extremely angry at this point. But the interpreter was hitting me on the shoulder and said that the officer had ordered: “You too, Mr. Mayor, you will be shot.” And then I received a tremendous kick in the kidneys and they pushed me into the group of civilians who were awaiting execution.

Apr

1

1944

The Red Army chases the Germans out of the Ukraine

A Soviet 122mm Howitzer on the move in the spring of 1944.

A command to the battery followed, and a shell swept away the fleeing Fritzes. The soldiers kicked up an even louder row, and now each man was trying to point out to me the group of fleeing Germans to shell next. The joy of revenge quickly restored their energy, freed them from the fear that they had experienced in the attacks, and softened their sorrow over the comrades they had lost in the fighting. Watching the enemy die in front of them was like balm for their rattled nerves.

Mar

31

1944

Heavy losses as RAF Bomber Command targets Nuremberg

Halifax B Mark III, LV857, in flight shortly after completion by the Handley Page Ltd works at Radlett, Hertfordshire. In its brief service life, this aircraft served with Nos. 35, 10 and 51 Squadrons RAF before crashing at Schwarzbad while returning from a raid on Nuremberg on 31 May 1944.

Pilot Officer Barton faced a situation of dire peril. His aircraft was damaged, his navigational team had gone and he could not communicate with the remainder of the crew. If he continued his mission, he would be at the mercy of hostile fighters when silhouetted against the fires in the target area, and if he survived he would have to make a 4 1/2 hours journey home on three engines across heavily-defended territory.