Jul

6

1943

A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk


6th July 1943: A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk

The last plane dove directly upon our battery and released its bomb load. One of the bombs flew directly at my dugout. I saw my own unavoidable death approaching, but I could do nothing to save myself: there was not enough time. It would take me five to six seconds to reach a different shelter, but the bomb had been released close to the ground, and needed only one or two seconds to reach the earth – and me.

Jul

5

1943

The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel


5th July 1943: The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel

Having ordered the gunlayer to keep one of the tanks, which had come to the fore and was moving towards our vehicle, in his gunsight, I quickly checked the other guys in my crew: Valeriy Korolev was seemingly composed and had his right hand on the gun’s trigger; Plaksin and Emelyan Ivanovich kept their eyes glued to the enemy tanks through their vision slits and were noticeably anxious; the driver-mechanic Vitya Oleinik was agitated, and his hands were idly grabbing and releasing the clutch levers, but at such a tense moment this was natural.

Jul

4

1943

A great invasion armada prepares for battle


4th July 1943: A great invasion armada prepares for battle

That evening, after two weeks at sea, we were told our destination was Sicily, and our landing beach in the south-east corner near Pachino. Soon after hearing this there was an almighty explosion close to hand and rushing on deck we saw the ‘Dervis’, the Commodore’s ship just ahead of us, had been torpedoed. Four more destroyers had joined our existing four the previous day, along with the old monitor ‘Roberts’ with its twin massive 16inch guns. After fourteen minutes the ‘Dervis’ sank.

Jul

3

1943

A new bomber pilot encounters the skies over Germany

Lancaster engines


3rd July 1943: A new bomber pilot encounters the skies over Germany

The bombs dropped. McLaughlin swung the wheel to port as the bomb-doors closed. Gradually the searchlights and the barrage fell behind us. A sense of relief pervaded me; elated phrases bubbled in my thoughts, and I put my hand to the microphone switch on my mask to utter them. I turned to McLaughlin. His posture was unchanged, his eyes looked back serenely, pale blue, slightly bloodshot. I left the mike switch off, the thoughts unspoken, and bent to take the readings on the fuel gauges.

Jul

2

1943

The Germans crack down on ordinary Poles


2nd July 1943: The Germans crack down on ordinary Poles

A large group of women stood on both sides of the street, cursing the Germans and crying. Seeing this I was reminded of the Jews marching prior to their liquidation. Everything looked the same, except for one thing: the big difference was attitude. The Jews marched in complete resignation, guarded only by a few gendarmes. Here these marching men showed hatred toward Germans and were being guarded by hundreds of soldiers carrying machine guns.

Jul

1

1943

Hitler sets out objectives for ‘Citadel’


1st July 1943: Hitler sets out objectives for ‘Citadel’


What’s at stake ?  Germany needs the conquered territory, or she will not exist for long.  She must win hegemony over Europe.  Where we are — we stay.  Soldiers must see this, otherwise they’ll regard their sacrifices as in vain.  Balkans must not be lost whatever happens ;  our most vital raw materials for war are there.  The Italians have pulled out of Greece and been replaced by Germans.  Feel safer since then.  Crete is firmly in our hands ;  thus we prevent enemy from getting air bases. 

Jun

30

1943

The SS report that Galicia, Poland is judenfrei


30th June 1943: The SS report that Galicia, Poland is judenfrei

There were also other immense difficulties during the Aktionen as the Jews tried to avoid evacuation by all possible means. They not only tried to escape, and concealed themselves in the most improbable places, drainage canals, chimneys, even in sewage pits, etc. They barricaded themselves in catacombs of passages, in cellars made into bunkers, in holes in the earth, in cunningly contrived hiding places, in attics and sheds, inside furniture, etc. As the number of Jews still remaining decreased their resistance became the greater. They used weapons of all types for their defense, and in particular those of Italian origin.

Jun

29

1943

A hot day for the SS sadists in Treblinka


29th June 1943: A hot day for the SS sadists in Treblinka

Ivan is about twenty years old and looks like a giant healthy horse. He is pleased when he has an opportunity to let off his energy on the workers. From time to time he feels the urge to take a sharp knife, detain a worker who is running past and cut off his ear. The blood spurts, the worker screams, but he must keep running with his litter. Ivan waits calmly until the worker runs back and orders him to put the litter down. He then tells him to strip and go over to the pit, where he shoots him.

Jun

28

1943

A USAAF bomber crew waits for an Op.


28th June 1943: A USAAF bomber crew waits for an Op.

They sip the at, tasteless beer. One of them says, “I saw a paper from home at the Red Cross in London.” It is quiet. The others look at him across their glasses. A mixed group of pilots and ATS girls at the other end of the pub have started a song. It is astonishing how many of the songs are American. “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to,” they sing. And the beat of the song is subtly changed. It has become an English song. The waist gunner raises his voice to be heard over the singing. “It seems to me that we are afraid to announce our losses. It seems almost as if the War Department was afraid that the country couldn’t take it. I never saw anything the country couldn’t take.”

Jun

27

1943

The Commandos receive their battle orders


27th June 1943: The Commandos receive their battle orders

The announcement gave a keener edge to our sensibility. We knew the worst at last. This expedition was not the gigantic hoax which we had been almost tempted to believe it; it was not a fantasy but a reality, that rose upright through the spume of fear and expectation like a gaunt rock from the ocean bed.