Nov

7

1943

Soviet command post saved by the artillery


7th November 1943: Soviet command post saved by the artillery

However, having drawn up to the command post, they poured shell after shell into it. We hid in the bunker, relying upon its strong cover. However,“The Hut,” as Gruzdev had named the bunker with some irony, couldn’t take the punishment and collapsed. The fatal blow tossed us in every direction and crushed us under the ruins – a few men fatally, a few more were badly hurt, and others received a concussion.

Nov

6

1943

Below decks on a troopship under torpedo attack


6th November 1943: Below decks on a troopship under attack

Sitting on or standing by our bunks listening to the hammering of guns outside didn’t make things any easier for us. If there was anybody in that compartment that hadn’t prayed in earnest before, like myself, for one, they prayed now. It was the most helpless feeling I’d ever experienced, and as it turned out, the only time I felt this way throughout the campaign.

Nov

5

1943

USS Saratoga planes attack Japanese ships in Rabaul


5th November 1943: USS Saratoga planes attack Japanese ships in Rabaul

It was the longest launching way from the target the Navy had ever done at the time. After the launch, the SARATOGA was supposed to turn and run for her life. If we got out of Rabaul, we were supposed to try to land in the water at Empress August Bay, where the Marines were just making a landing and there was no airstrip yet. So we went [behind a weather front which helped to surprise the Japanese], into Rabaul to the [Japanese] fleet. That was our first strike on Rabaul. I got … a heavy cruiser.

Nov

4

1943

Italy – U.S. infantry advances behind artillery barrage


4th November 1943: Italy – U.S. infantry advances behind artillery barrage

A column of Germans was climbing the hill toward the town. Obviously they were going to reinforce the town’s defenders. “Get some fire on them fast,” the colonel ordered. Within three minutes mortars and high explosive 37—millimeter shells began bursting along the slope. Then the Germans came running down the hillside in wild disorder. Shell bursts followed them. “Those gunners,” said the colonel, “get the gilded bird cage with the stuffed canary as first prize.”

Nov

3

1943

William Reid wins VC in raid on Dusseldorf


3rd November 1943: William Reid wins VC in raid on Dusseldorf

During the fight with the Messerschmitt, Flight Lieutenant Reid was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. The elevator trimming tabs of the aircraft were damaged and it became difficult to control. The rear turret, too, was badly damaged and the communications system and compasses were put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid ascertained that his crew were unscathed and, saying nothing about his own injuries, he continued his mission.

Nov

2

1943

USAAF “Bloody Tuesday” attack on Rabaul harbour


2nd November 1943: USAAF ‘Bloody Tuesday’ attack on Rabaul harbour

The morning briefing conducted prior to takeoff was a very somber affair. Hearing the latest word on the extent of the Japanese defenses was pretty much a prediction that all of us would not be coming home. The twelve crews that were assigned to fly the mission sat grey faced and quiet during the briefing.

Nov

1

1943

Moving forward to the front line in Italy


1st November 1943: Moving forward to the front line in Italy

Our convoy, all equipped with skid chains, was held up several times while vehicles were pulled out of ditches and off embankments. At the spot mentioned by Squithy our driver kept insanely hugging the edge of the cliff, and I and Spiers, peering anxiously out of the back, suddenly saw a void under our right-hand wheel as the truck leaped a culvert.

Oct

31

1943

Soviet infantry destroyed by flamethrower


31st October 1943: Soviet infantry destroyed by flamethrower

We get our first sight of the attackers when their earth-coloured helmets appear out of the shallow depression.The first waves are mown down by the murderous fire from our two heavy machine guns and those behind now fall back down into the hollow. And then something happens that makes our hair stand on end: we witness, first-hand and close-up, the inhuman treatment meted out to Soviet soldiers by their leaders, and we have real sympathy for the poor devils.

Oct

30

1943

Italian peasants shelter SAS raiding party


30th October 1943: Italian peasants shelter SAS raiding party

Staggering forward against the wind and the rain, we retraced our path to the village by following our own footsteps in the mud. I found a tiny one-roomed cottage and knocked on the door. An old peasant gave me a chair by the table while he went out into the rain to find the others. Pointing to the soaked rag of a map, I told him that we wanted a guide and he brought forward his son, who knew the countryside well. We brewed up some tea and dosed McPhail with quinine for he was now seriously ill.

Oct

29

1943

Japanese execute troublesome Hong Kong internees


29th October 1943: Japanese execute troublesome Hong Kong internees

he was arrested and subjected to prolonged and severe torture by the Japanese who were determined to obtain information from him and to make him implicate the others who were working with him. Under this treatment he steadfastly refused to utter one word that could help the Japanese investigations or bring punishment to others. His fortitude under the most severe torture was such that it was commented upon by the Japanese prison guards.