Jun

9

1942

Taken prisoner out in the Desert


9th June 1942: Taken prisoner out in the Desert

We had not gone far before a carrier, closely followed by a fifteen hundredweight, came towards us. ’That’s all right’ I said to the D.C.L.I. [Devon and Cornwall Light Infantry] captain, ‘a patrol to check who we are’. They approached us at about fifteen miles per hour, the carrier with the familiar rocking motion fore and aft. When they were about a hundred yards away I shouted ’Halt, friend’ They did not halt but put on pace.

The carrier swung to my right, the fifteen hundredweight to my left, and then halted forty yards away. The ‘carrier’ was a German half-track with a machine gun in it pointing at us: the fifteen hundredweight was a British vehicle but with a machine gum mounted in front with two visored caps manning it; and previously concealed close behind the fifteen hundredweight was one of those German semi-armoured tracked vehicles with the silhouette of a tank, and mounting a forty-seven millimetre gun which seemed to be pointing straight at my stomach.

As I realised this in a split second, a German non-commissioned officer with a tommy gun jumped out of the half-track shouting ‘Hands up’. ‘B-, they’re Bosch’ I said, and – there was not much time to think – ’it’s no good, pack in’.

It was a neat bit of work just as dark was falling, and, in the state most of us were in I honestly do not think that an attempt at fighting would have been any use. My first reaction was one of intense anger, my next – immediately afterwards – to turn round, tear off my rank badges and medal ribbons, and drop them with my field glasses and revolver in a hole I scuffled in the sand with my foot.

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Jun

8

1942

Malta – ‘you never have time to be scared’

8th June 1942: Malta – ‘you never have time to be scared’

Bombs were liable to come whistling around your ears any minute. If you looked up you’d see Spits and Me’s split-assing all over the sky and every once in a while some poor devil who hadn’t kept his tail clean would come spinning down in flames.

Flak went up in flowerbeds and parachutes came drifting down. From the ground the constant din of ack-ack batteries . . . Up high the clatter of machine-gun and cannon bursts and the roar of full-engined Spitfires, Me’s and Macchis diving … Erks scurrying about the drome, patching bomb craters… Engineers detonating time bombs …. Rescue launches rushing to sea to pick up floating parachutists …

The Maltese population trying to carry on the day’s chores between headlong dives for the shelter and protection of walls, cracked-up houses, or wrinkles in the rocks … Cats and dogs fighting in the streets in keeping with the tempo of the place … Never a dull moment, day or night.

That was Malta in the blitzes. Before you had been there a day you got the idea Jerry had decided to either sink the damned island or blow it away – and you weren’t far wrong.!



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Jun

7

1942

Hope and Despair in the Warsaw ghetto

7th June 1942: Hope and Despair in the Warsaw ghetto



‘Your hope is vain; your trust a broken reed. All of you are already condemned to die, only the date of execution has yet to be set. We are doomed to pass from the World without seeing the Nazi downfall because the physical annihilation of European Jewry is one of Nazism’s cardinal principles. You have eyes and yet you do not see that the fulfilment of this horrible goal has already been started.

What hope do we have that it will not be carried out? Over half a million Jews who used to live in Poland have already been murdered; some by hunger, some by disease, some by the Nazi sword. Jews have been deported from hundreds of small communities, and no one knows their whereabouts, simply because they were killed along the way and never reached a new destination.

7th June 1942: Hope and Despair in the Warsaw ghetto

Optimistic fools! Where is the great community of Lublin, and the hundreds of other smaller communities? Where did their deportees settle? The Nazis created ghettos in order to annihilate us but their plan did not succeed. Now they have decided upon the ‘final solution’, annihilation through murder.

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Jun

6

1942

Japanese cruiser Mikuma sunk, USS Yorktown torpedoed

6th June 1942: Japanese cruiser Mikuma sunk, USS Yorktown torpedoed

He led the second division of his squadron in a coordinated glide-bombing and dive-bombing assault upon a Japanese battleship. Undeterred by a fateful approach glide, during which his ship was struck and set afire, he grimly pressed home his attack to an altitude of five hundred feet, released his bomb to score a near-miss on the stern of his target, then crashed to the sea in flames.

His dauntless perseverance and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.



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Jun

5

1942

The battle for the Gazala Line continues

5th June 1942: The battle for the Gazala Line continues

10th Indian Infantry Brigade was completely destroyed. 16 Platoon being on the extreme left flank of the action, took up position behind a small ridge, we had no trenching tools, picks or shovels, and being under continuous fire from a group of Armoured Cars supporting heavy machine guns, we could not inflict much damage to them, having only Bren Guns and Rifles, and there was no artillery support (there was supposed to be artillery support but none was forthcoming). Communications were bad, West Yorks having no wireless sets and as fast as the Signals Platoon laid telephone cables Tanks in the rear chewed them up so any link up was just non existent.

Shortly after mid-day “D” Companies 16 Platoon were ordered to withdraw as did the rest of the Battalion, leap frogging one platoon after another, tanks and trucks that had been knocked out were given the final treatment by grenade and fire, ensuring that they would be of no use to the enemy forces.

Late in the afternoon we passed through the artillery lines, the enemy in close pursuit, the darkness was closing in now when we reached fairly safe area and here we were served with a hot bully beef stew, once more we were under attack from artillery fire, our artillery was retalliating, we then received orders to dig in and be prepared for a tank attack.



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Jun

4

1942

U.S. and Japanese clash at Battle of Midway

4th June 1942: U.S. and Japanese clash at Battle of Midway

I was right at headquarters when first reports began to come in from our planes. The first message was brief. The Jap carriers had been located, a little belatedly, and they were virtually without air cover. Apparently all their planes had been sent out to make the conquest of Midway quick and easy.

However, the squadron commander of the TBD [Douglas Torpedo Bomber] unit reporting, said that his planes were virtually out of fuel.
‘Request permission,’ he called, ‘to withdraw from action and refuel.
The admiral’s answer was terse. ‘Attack at once.’

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Jun

3

1942

The Eastern front settles down to trench warfare

3rd June 1942: The Eastern front settles down to trench warfare

It’s very difficult to keep your eyes open, for the heat is heavy and our limbs are like lead. is the most The half hour before noon, with its tempting calmness, critical moment of the entire day. We wait for the meal service as we doze off, only a breath away from falling asleep.

Then, all of a sudden, a hissing comes across from the other side, crashing with a thunder beyond our cover. The same thing occurs every day at noon. Regardless, we’re still startled from our dreams every time. The images of home and all our longing thoughts are abruptly torn apart ….

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Jun

2

1942

The restrictions on Jews in Germany

2nd June 1942: The restrictions on Jews in Germany

The choker is being pulled ever tighter; they are wearing us down with ever new tricks. All the things, great and small, that have accumulated in the last few years! And a pinprick is sometimes more agonizing than a blow with a club. I shall list the decrees once and for all;

1) To be home after eight or nine in the evening. Inspection!
2) Expelled from one’s own house.
3) Ban on radio, ban on telephone,
4) Ban on theaters, cinemas, concerts, museums.
5) Ban on subscribing to or purchasing periodicals.
6) Ban on using public transport: three phases:
a) buses banned, only front platform of tram permitted,
b) all use banned, except to work,
c) to work on foot, unless one lives 2 miles away or is sick (but it is a hard fight to get a doctor’s certificate).
Also ban on taxi-cabs, of course.
7) Ban on purchasing “goods in short supply”
8) Ban on purchasing cigars or any kind of smoking materials.
9) Ban on purchasing flowers.
10) Withdrawal of milk ration card.
11) Ban on going to the barber.

28) No special rations such as coffee, chocolate, fruit, condensed milk.
29) The special taxes.
30) The constantly contracting disposable allowance. Mine at first 600, then 320, now 185 marks.
31) Shopping restricted to one hour (three till four, Saturday twelve till one).



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Jun

1

1942

The assault on Bir Hacheim resumes

1st June 1942: The assault on Bir Hacheim resumes

We gave as good as we got, firing back with our 75 mm guns and our anti-aircraft weapons. Even the mighty 40 mm Bofors guns were put to good use, despite the fact that the poor English operators were still waiting for official instructions on how to use them.

I shall never forget the insistent roll of gunfire on the horizon as I dug the general’s car out of the sand with my hands and started it to make sure it still worked after so many days of standing idle. It did and I was hugely relieved. My small role in the daily madness had been fulfilled.

The German and Italian losses were great in those early days, with legionnaires and colonials attacking their tanks with grenades and Molotov cocktails. Men would stumble from their burning vehicles in flames, desperately rolling in the sand. The suffering was appalling, and as all of us had the most enormous respect for those we were fighting we found it very difficult to watch helplessly.

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May

31

1942

Rommel renews his attack on the Gazala line

31st May 1942: Rommel renews his attack on the Gazala line

After the dust had settled a voice was heard calling out for help, this was Gnr Ginger Lee who had been blown several yards in the rear and was laying stretched out on the sand. …With disregard for his own safety, Gnr Canfield dashed across and dragged Lee into the slit trench alongside Bdr Stonard, the wounded man was in a bad state, his shirt was scorched and burning but the worst injury was to his eyes, one socket was empty and the other eye was hanging out on his cheek, the shell had hit the cartridge case he was holding and the explosion had ignited the cordite. He was quite calm, probably in shock, the Bdr bandaged his eyes and gave him the only comfort he could – a cigarette and laid him in the slit trench…

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