Dec

29

December 1941

A grim journey to the Russian front

A transport train carrying wounded men stops nearby. It’s a wretched sight which makes it clear to us how bitterly this war is being fought. It consists of ordinary goods wagons with straw in them for the wounded to lie on. Filthy and louse-ridden, with inadequate dressings and hardly any medical orderlies, no heating – that’s how the boys are brought home.

Dec

28

December 1941

Brief respite from a global war

We first slipped into the dining room for a cup of tea – ah! sublime luxuries of town! – and chain smoked many excellent cigarettes. Sometimes we’ve thought “Wog” Woodbines a luxury, but now we had lots of Players, Gold Flake and Craven “A”, with no danger of the supply becoming exhausted.

Dec

27

December 1941

Commando raid on Vaasgo, Norway

About a hundred yards from our landing place, I fired ten red Very light signals. This told the ships to stop firing and the aircraft to come in with their smoke bombs. As I leaped from the leading landing craft three Hampden bombers passed over me at zero feet with a roar. As they did so they loosed their bombs, which seemed to flash and then mushroom like miniature atom explosions. Some of the phosphorus came back in a great flaming sheet.

Dec

26

December 1941

The death toll mounts in a cold starving Leningrad

Each day, eight to ten bodies are brought there on sleighs. And they just lie on the snow. Fewer and fewer collins are available, and less and less material to make them. So the bodies are Wrapped in sheets, in blankets, in tablecloths, sometimes even in curtains. Once I saw a small bundle Wrapped in paper and tied with string. It was very small, the body of a child.

Dec

25

December 1941

Christmas Day in a war torn world

At 5:00 P.M. on the 25th, our boys got together for one last crack at the little brown devils. The morale was very high, being backed up by hatred, contempt and disgust for those wanton, raping, sadistic, cold blooded murderers from Japan. A Hong Kong volunteer defence corps captain, a vet. of WW1, later told me it was the finest bayonet charge he had ever witnessed.

Dec

24

December 1941

Christmas messages from Goebbels and Churchill

In thinking of the Führer, who on this evening too is everywhere where Germans gather, we are reminded of the Fatherland. It will be larger, more beautiful, more prosperous after the war is over. It will be a proud and free homeland for us all. We want to thank the Führer for that. He can depend on his people at the front, at home, and in the wide world. He leads us, and we follow him.

Dec

23

December 1941

Flying Tigers confront the first raid on Rangoon

Found a bomber away from the formation, made about three passes, and on the last one went in to about 50 yds., firing all guns and he blew up right in front of me + down in flames. Went after another and McMillan and I together put out his right engine and smoke trailed out. He was losing alt. last time I looked, but about that time I was jumped by three Jap fighters.

Dec

22

December 1941

Winston Churchill arrives at the White House

I formed a very strong affection, which grew with our years of comradeship, for this formidable politician who had imposed his will for nearly ten years upon the American scene, and whose heart seemed to respond to many of the impulses that stirred my own. As we both, by need or habit, were forced to do much of our work in bed, he visited me in my room whenever he felt inclined, and encouraged me to do the same to him. Hopkins was just across the passage from my bedroom, and next door to him my travelling map room was soon installed.

Dec

21

December 1941

South Africans under night air attack in the Desert

Wise in the way of bombers we listened but offered no insult, but others, less wise, opened fire and the tracers went streaming and coiling up. ‘I’m off,’ shouted Blackie, and now we heard one bomber coming in lower and the sudden brilliance of his flare lit the plain as if it was under floodlights. There seemed a million trucks in the hot light, every detail sharp but no shadows.

Dec

20

December 1941

Hitler appeals for warm clothing for Eastern Front

While the German homeland is not directly threatened by the enemy, with the exception of air raids, millions of our soldiers, after a year of the most difficult fighting, confront a numerically and materially far superior enemy at the front. Victories, as never before witnessed in world history, have been secured in battle thanks to the conduct and bravery of officers and men.