Jan

16

1945

Norwegian Resistance sinks troopship with timed mines

British deception plans had forced Hitler to keep many troops in Norway, waiting for an invasion that never came.

Eleven limpet mines were care fully loaded in to the dingy along with two Sten guns, ammunition and grenades in case they had to fight their way out of any trouble. The two men removed their boiler suits and stepped into the dingy in preparation to pushing off. However, a German patrol boat pulled up alongside the wharf and began a searching amongst the timbers. Manus and Nielsen laid low in their boat daring not to breathe, but the Germans were not the most observant and soon left. After a suitable period waiting for the all clear the intrepid duo pushed off.

Jan

15

1945

The beginning of the POWs 1000 mile march west

The destroyed city of Warsaw, January 1945.

We marched nearly all of the first night, eventually stopping at a barn, where we lit fires and melted snow in our dixies, adding milk (klim) to provide a hot drink (no rations were provided by the Germans). The next day we marched on again, with the sound of Russian artillery in the background. As the packs on our backs were too heavy, most of us used makeshift sledges to pull our possessions along. As the days went by we got weaker; the built-up stock of food reserves had gone, we were plagued with lice and dysentery, and frostbitten limbs turned gangrenous. We were sometimes bundled into barns at night, but on at least one occasion we spent the night in an open field with no food at all.

Jan

14

1945

Joy as Germans begin to fall back again in Poland

Soviets soldiers advance on a village - the officer in the foreground is armed with captured German submachine gun MP-40.

Impression? Who knows how it feels to be condemned to death and placed in front of the firing squad when suddenly a messenger comes racing up at the last moment carrying a pardon? Truly the Germans words were like a pardon for those of us who had been condemned to die. Now I no longer cared about him. I understood what the wagons loaded with suitcases meant: They were running away, they had been beaten. For us this meant the first spark of freedom.

Jan

13

1945

Battle of the Bulge – Germans attempt to escape

"We were getting our second wind now and started flattening out that bulge. 
We took 50,000 prisoners in December alone."

Corporal Wachter’s head was smashed and there were lots of holes in his coat. The man had a foreboding about his fate On the night before, he had said: ‘I will not see my family again, nor my Saxon home.’ ‘Why should you not survive the war? We all still have this hope at least,’ Paul interposed. ‘No, I can feel it.’ ‘It will turn out all right,’ said another soldier. ‘No, not for me,’ was his point of view. He survived this discussion by a few hours.

Jan

12

1945

Battle of the Bulge: Infantry attack on coldest night

Men of 1st Glasgow Highlanders, 52nd (Lowland) Division wearing winter camouflage on a patrol near Gangelt in Germany, 10 January 1945.

An attack was mounted, but the odds were uneven – it was ‘A’ Company against enemy armour – and the attack was unsuccessful. Later that night a further attack on the farm was made, but it was found abandoned by the enemy. We heard the enemy tanks pulling out. The temperature had dropped well below zero, in fact it was one of the coldest nights during the coldest winter for 40 years. We did not wear our great coats in the attack, but had only our oil-skin gas capes, which kept us dry but not warm. Additionally we had had no rest for over 20 hours, and our exhaustion made us feel colder.

Jan

11

1945

A war artist in the mountains of Italy

A Soldier Shaving in the Snow, Tuscany 1945

Shells drop nearby in the evening and an officer is wounded. Luckily not too seriously, but when he was brought into the Mess and laid on the sofa he was grey, speechless and sweating with shock. Touching concern of his batman. Later the M.O. arrives with ambulance and after a first aid dressing to leg and back he is taken away. Sit next to the Brigadier at dinner, which was really wonderful, the best I have had in Italy, the Brigade H.Q. having discovered a wonderful woman cook. Sleep well and am warm for the first time for four nights.

Jan

10

1945

Lucky escape for B-24 Liberator bomber crew

"Don't Cry Baby" (EE Q-)
Consolidated B-24J-130-CO Liberator
Serial number 42-110084
565th Bomb Squadron, 389th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.
Pictured after crash landing at Charing,Kent,England on July 17,1944. Mission to Belfort,France.
Note that both inboard engines have the props feathered.

Jack and I could not see through the iced-up windshields and windows. We had to continue our descent to keep air speed above stalling. Through a small clear place on my side window I saw men running at full speed, and I also saw that we were about to touch down. I assumed those men were running from a building of some sort and we were lined up to hit it. Without any thought and perhaps with instinct, I pushed full left rudder that caused the airplane to slew around to the left and we touched down in a sideways attitude. The landing gear snapped off, the two outside engine propellers broke off and went cartwheeling across the airfield.

Jan

9

1945

A Platoon watches and waits in the snow

Vickers machine gun crew of 'A' Company, 2nd Middlesex Regiment, 3rd Division at Grubbenvorst, Holland, 13 January 1945.

To move in the Platoon forward areas was a very tricky job and a real nightmare after dark as the ground between the trees in a 40 yard deep belt was criss-crossed with numerous thin steel wires attached to hand grenades and magnesium flares bound to the trees. If any person was careless or unfamiliar with the traps a touch on a wire set off a glare of light or an explosion, sometimes both, by means of pull-igniters.

Jan

8

1945

Battle of the Bulge – three Medal of Honor heroes

American Infantrymen pause to rest, just past Amonines, Belgium. This snow makes the fighting very rough in this area.

As he jumped to his feet 10 yards from the gun and charged forward, machine gun fire tore through his camouflage robe and a rifle bullet seared a 10-inch gash across his back sending him spinning 15 yards down hill into the snow. When the indomitable sergeant sprang to his feet to renew his 1-man assault, a German egg grenade landed beside him. He kicked it aside, and as it exploded 5 yards away, shot and killed the German machine gunner and assistant gunner. His carbine empty, he jumped into the emplacement and hauled out the third member of the gun crew by the collar.

Jan

7

1945

Battle of the Bulge – the 82nd Airborne attacks

A patrol, growing when Lt. Thomas of a Cavalry reconnaissance squadron started across the snow with rifle grenades, attacks German snipers discovered on the outskirts of the newly captured town of Beffe, Belgium. Lt. Thomas was followed by volunteers consisting of the members of his squadron, an infantry headquarters company and an infantry company. The attack was launched with rifle fire, fragmentation rifle grenades, hand grenades, riflers, BARs and bazooka company armed with machine guns and light mortars. Twelve Germans were killed in the engagement. (A Co., 1st Bn,, 290th inf., 75th div., B troop. 1/7/45)

Technical Sergeant Eddie C. Heibert, H Company, was a rieman in Murphy’s platoon. The following is his account of that action: “One of our two supporting TDs struck a Teller mine and was knocked out about 800 yards from the town. Six of our men were killed or wounded. At this point, enemy machine guns opened up on us and we were pinned to the ground. I saw Lieutenant Murphy crawl forward for about 50 yards under a curtain of murderous machine gun fire and call for the remaining TD to come up to him. The TD silenced two of the enemy machine guns.”