Apr

7

1945

US planes sink Yamato – world’s largest battleship

Yamato under attack. A large fire burns aft of her superstructure and she is low in the water from torpedo damage.

The captain is out in the open in the antiaircraft command post overlooking the whole ship. Two ensigns attend him and plot on the maneuver board the torpedoes coming from all directions, indicating them to him with pointers. The navigation officer sits in the captain’s seat on the bridge; acting as one, the two men operate the ship. Coming over the voice tube, the captain’s orders deafen me. His is a terrible and angry voice, biting off the ends of words. Bombs, bullets focus on the bridge.

Apr

6

1945

As the Allies move east, the refugees move west

Three Russian girls still wearing their slave labour uniforms photographed soon after their arrival at No.17 Displaced Persons Assembly Centre, Hamburg Zoological Gardens.

The Germans were terrified of the Russians. Again and again women ran out to us to cry: ‘Can’t you leave a guard with us? The Russians have taken everything. The next lot will smash up the place if they find nothing.’ More than that the German women feared for themselves. Cases of rape increased. The looting increased. And still that vast moving human frieze kept pouring down the roads, constantly augmenting its numbers with every new town that was captured.

Apr

5

1945

Wounded captive to conqueror in a day

Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade in Osnabruck, 4 April 1945.

I made a dash for a house by the road, but the door was locked. I hammered on the door with my stick, and a woman opened it. She looked alarmed, but I limped in and my driver joined me. The Jerries must have been rotten shots, or we should have been cut to pieces. While my wound was being attended to, ten or fifteen Germans walked into the basement. They let my driver finish dressing the wound, then told us to get outside. It was then I noticed a row of the German field grey hats poking up behind a hedge.

Apr

4

1945

The Germans fall back in increasing disarray

'No Way Out'. Sgt J D Eilbeck uses a portrait of Adolf Hitler to make a 'no exit' sign at 156th Brigade HQ, 3 - 4 April 1945.

We were advancing down a road in convoy when a German tank drove out of a grove of trees, fired point-blank, killed two of our men, and then retreated from sight again. The convoy halted and two of our rifle companies went forward and surrounded the little grove that contained, they discovered, a platoon of German soldiers in deep foxholes. The German tank kept swivelling and firing, and after a while four of our own tanks came up. Each from a different direction sprayed the tiny stretch of woods with long streams of flaming gasoline.

Apr

3

1945

Okinawa – grim reality in Japanese underground hospital

MOVING UP – Marine riflemen moving up behind flame-throwing tank on Okinawa.

Outside was a rain of bullets from morning to night. In the evening, it quieted down a little. It was then that we carried out limbs and corpses. There were so many shell craters — it sounds funny to say it, but we considered that fortunate: holes already dug for us. “One, two, three!” we’d chant, and all together we’d heave the dead body into a hole, before crawling back to the cave. There was no time for sobbing or lamentation.

Apr

2

1945

Individual attacks make the difference on two fronts

Corporal Edward Chapman VC

The Troop dashing up behind Corporal Hunter now became the target for all the Spandaus on the North of the canal. Again, offering himself as a target, he lay in full view of the enemy on a heap of rubble and fired at the concrete pillboxes on the other side. He again drew most of the fire, but by now the greater part of the Troop had made for the safety of the houses. During this period he shouted encouragement to the remainder, and called only for more Bren magazines with which he could engage the Spandaus. Firing with great accuracy up to the last, Corporal Hunter was finally hit in the head by a burst of Spandau fire and killed instantly.

Apr

1

1945

The last amphibious assault in the Pacific – Okinawa

USS Idaho (BB-42), a New Mexico-class battleship shells Okinawa on 1 April 1945, easily distinguished by her tower foremast & 5”-38 Mk 30 single turrets (visible between the barrels of the forward main turrets). Idaho was the only battleship with this configuration.

The island sloped up gently from the beach, and the many small garden and fami plots of the Okinawans gave it the appearance of a patchwork quilt. It was beautiful, except where the ground cover and vegetation had been blasted by shells. I was overcome with the contrast to D day on Peleliu. When our wave was about fifty yards from the beach, I saw two enemy mortar shells explode a considerable distance to our left. They spewed up small geysers of water but caused no damage to the amtracs in that area. That was the only enemy fire I saw during the landing on Okinawa.

Mar

31

1945

German Me 262 jets ambush Allied bombers

Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwable, the world's first jet fighter. Messerschmitt Me 262 Werk-Nr. 111711, seen here post-war during a test flight in the USA. It was the first intact Me 262 to fall into Allied hands on March 31st 1945.(U.S. Air Force photo)

At the same moment someone from our unit cried, ‘To the right of us, nothing but bombers, to the right of us!’ Schall, as well as the rest of us, saw the bombers, flying north in a fomiation that was new to us. They flew staggered, about 1,000 metres deep and 2,000 metres wide. They were not US bombers, however, but Tommys in night-flight formation, doing a daytime attack on Hamburg. Schall ordered us to take up attack formation, already having long forgotten the order ‘assume 180’. We were lucky to reach the band without fighter protection and Schall, a fighter with real heart, was not going to pass up a chance like this.

Mar

30

1945

The last V2, and the end of enemy action on British soil

Ruined flats in Limehouse, East London. Hughes Mansions, Vallance Road, following the explosion of the last German V2 rocket to fall on London, 27 March 1945.

Another rocket, and worst of the lot, landed at the top of Uppingham Avenue. I remember some time ago cycling down Weston Drive into Uppingham and thinking that if a rocket landed there it would make a right mess. And it had, if only because the damned thing had landed plumb on all three mains — water, gas, electricity. Water and gas had become mixed with the result that far down the hill in Kenton householders were being warned by loud-hailers from police-vans not to make use of any of the services.

Mar

29

1945

Two very different Germans consider the future

Two old members of the Volksturm seem relieved to have surrendered to British troops in Bocholt, 28 March 1945.

We go outside to the courtyard entrance and see the advance guard drive by: tanks, armored cars, trucks, and jeeps. For the first time we behold Americans. The soldiers are outstandingly equipped. Their appearance is remarkably good, well-fed. There is no comparison between the Germans’ material and the Americans’. Anyhow, the American army makes an impression of excellent, disciplined troops. I want to hope that this good impression will continue to remain in the future.