Jun

19

1941

Roden Cutler wins the Victoria Cross

British armoured cars advancing into Syria, June 1941.

He had been ordered to establish an outpost from which he could register the only road by which the enemy transport could enter the town. With a small party of volunteers he pressed on until finally with one other he succeeded in establishing an outpost right in the town, which was occupied by the Foreign Legion, despite enemy machine gun fire which prevented our infantry from advancing.

Jun

18

1941

The sinking of U boat ‘U-138’

Admiral Doenitz, commander of the U-Boat fleet watches the U-94 return from patrol at the French port of St Nazaire, June 1941. He was about to award the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross to her commander Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch.

According to prisoners the U-Boat sank on two occasions to a depth of about 210 m. (689 ft.). The presence of chlorine became increasingly oppressive. There were still 50 kg. of compressed air available. “U 138” rose to a depth of about 30 m. (98.4 ft.) and would have attempted to torpedo the “cruiser,” but for the fact that everything in the U-Boat was flooded, and the pumps could not be made to work …

Jun

17

1941

Rommel counter-attacks in the desert

Crusader tanks moving to forward positions in the Western Desert, 26 November 1941. The Mk I only had a two pounder gun and was unreliable.

Next morning, the 17th June, the 5th Light Division set off at the appointed time [4.30am] and after a headlong advance reached the neighbourhood of Sidi Suleiman at 06.00 hours. The 15th Panzer Division had become involved in heavy fighting against an armoured force which the British had sent to parry the danger menacing their army. But it soon reached is objective. Great numbers of destroyed British tanks littered the country through which the two divisions had passed.

Jun

16

1941

Churchill addresses the U.S.A.

The moment before a Blenheim bomber from No 21. Squadron crashes into the sea, having clipped its wing on the mast of the ship it was attacking.

Strong tides of emotion, fierce surges of passion, sweep the broad expanses of the Union in this year of fate. In that prodigious travail there arc many elemental forces, there is much heart-searching and self-questioning; some pangs, some sorrow, some conflict of voices, but no fear. The world is witnessing the birth throes of a sublime resolve. I shall presume to confess to you that I have no doubts what that resolve will be.

Jun

15

1941

Operation Battleaxe – tank versus tank

The German 88mm anti-aircraft gun became notorious when used as an anti tank gun. In prepared positions when it was well dug in it was very difficult to hit.

The shot had penetrated the front of the turret just in front of King, the loader. It had twisted the machine-gun out of its mounting. It, or a jagged piece of the torn turret, had then hit the round that King had been holding ready – had set it on fire. The explosion had wrecked the wireless, torn King’s head and shoulders from the rest of his body and started a fire among the machine-gun boxes stowed on the floor.

Jun

14

1941

Mass deportations in Estonia

A drawing made by Hilda Ord, who was 17 when she was deported with her family. Her father an engineer died that winter. She and her mother were not allowed to leave the 'settlement' until 1956.

It was usually one of the quietest streets in the town of Tartu. But today people were moving about in small groups and talking furtively and looking very scared. And there, just before me, a lorry passed on the street. There were three uniformed men in it. An N.K.V.D. man, a soldier with a rifle and a militia man together with some ten or twelve civilians…men, women and children. They looked desperate. They had bundles with them. Everybody on the street could not help but glance in their direction.

Jun

13

1941

The Lutzow torpedoed by Coastal Command

Flight Sergeant Ray Loveitt, second from left, flew the only aircraft to locate the Lutzow and torpedo her. This subsequent publicity shot shows his crew - from left Flight Sergeants C.T. Downing, A.H. Morris and P. Wallace-Pannell.

Twenty aircraft of the Command were despatched to attack this force, which consisted of one pocket battleship (possibly the Lutzow) and five destroyers with air escort. One aircraft scored a hit with a torpedo amidships on the battleship, and a second aircraft claimed a hit, though the result of its attack was not seen owing to the smoke which surrounded the target.

Jun

12

1941

Death rate worsens in the Warsaw ghetto

People were utterly destitute and dying on the streets of Warsaw.

On average, some four thousand people died each month. As the poverty and hunger worsened, tuberculosis also became epidemic and wrought horrible devasta- tion up to the very end of the ghetto’s existence. It was impossible to fight. Thousands of adults and children died because they were getting no fat, no milk, no sugar.

Jun

11

1941

The French fight to defend Syria

A Bren gun carrier passes through Roman ruins during the advance through Syria.

They were fighting for something that was almost as fundamental as self-preservation – for human dignity, for the right of walking among others as an equal. And since we brought against them forces much inferior in numbers to their own, the French could not out of sense of pride surrender at once.

Jun

10

1941

Flies, fleas and bombs in Tobruk

A Bren gun used for anti-aircraft defence in besieged port of Tobruk.

Oil bombs and thermos bombs were dropped amongst other things, but all, as far as I could see, with no effect at all. When ‘A’ site were heavily bombed by Stukas recently about sixty bombs were dropped on them, and very few went off. A large 250 pound bomb fell in a small L.A. A. pit and did not go off – one member of the crew got hurt when they all made a rapid bolt for it – that was all! There must be some good fifth column work in some of these bomb factories!