May

24

1943

Donitz withdraws his U boats from the Atlantic

24th May 1943: Donitz withdraws his U boats from the Atlantic

Now, however, the situation had changed. Radar, and particularly radar location by aircraft, had to all practical purposes robbed the U-boats of their power to fight on the surface. Wolf-pack operations against convoys in the North Atlantic, the main theatre of operations and at the same time the theatre in which air cover was strongest, were no longer possible.

May

23

1943

Dortmund: heaviest tonnage of bombs yet dropped

23rd May 1943: Dortmund: heaviest tonnage of bombs yet dropped

It was not often that I had a virgin target to aim at with no other bombing except the Oboe marker, but of course this also meant that we were way out front, an ideal target for the gunners below and, moreover, making life easy for them with the prolonged straight and level photo run. We had been getting a bumpy ride as the flak intensified almost to the point of realisation of the old line shoot, ‘The flak was so heavy you could get out and walk on it.’

May

22

1943

A surprise from the US 7th Division artillery

22 May 1943: A surprise from the US 7th Division artillery

A great flash ripped out of the very center of the tiny group, followed almost instantly by three other flashes, totally engulfing the five figures in a heaving mass of flying hunks of muck and smoke and rocks. The smoke hung in a big puff over the ripped area of our base point, and we could see five little piles of fabric lighter than the black holes over which they were scattered before the boom! baroomboom! of the explosions reached our ears.

May

21

1943

A short spell in the ‘Cooler’

21st May 1943: A short spell in the ‘Cooler’

I hated the solitude — I cannot begin to describe how much — with nothing to read, nothing to look at, nobody to talk to. Even the food was punitive: a thin round of black bread for breakfast, thin ‘soup’ and a few potatoes for lunch, and another piece of bread in the evening. One lunchtime I had a bit of extra protein in the shape of grubs in the soup. Although very hungry, I passed that one up.

May

20

1943

Eisenhower takes salute in Tunis victory parade

20 May 1943: Eisenhower takes salute in Tunis victory parade

The Americans and French also looked grand, the French particularly so in their many different uniforms – the Foreign Legion; Chasseurs d’Afrique ; Tirailleurs; Zouaves; the Goums in their long, camel-hair robes and slapping sandals. The parade had been timed to last an hour and a half. Actually it took twice as long as the French had crowded in many more units than their proper allowance. They naturally wished to impress the Tunisian inhabitants, particularly the Arabs.

May

19

1943

Japanese troops get ‘confused’ on Attu

19th May 1943: Japanese troops get ‘confused’ on Attu

As he came closer we saw that he was all gassed up, practically drunk, and he was carrying a bag of dried fish and rice balls right up to our front door. This little character kept coming until he was ten feet from us. Then he stopped. He stared at us, sort of dazed, like he had suddenly remembered he forgot to turn the water heater off, and he began backing up. We raised up out of the hole without rifles, and in good English he said, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!”

May

18

1943

SS inspectors assess the efficiency of Auschwitz

18 May 1943: SS inspectors assess the efficiency of Auschwitz

Everything proceeds in a perfectly orderly fashion. Then they pass through a small corridor and enter a large cellar room which resembles a shower bath. In this room are three large pillars, into which certain materials can be lowered from outside the cellar room. When three- to four-hundred people have been herded into this room, the doors are shut, and containers filled with the substances are dropped down into the pillars.

May

17

1943

Speer assesses the damage done by the Dambusters

17th May 1943: Speer assesses the damage done by the Dambusters

At the largest of the reservoirs, the Sorpe Valley reservoir, they did achieve a direct hit on the center of the dam. I inspected it that same day. Fortunately the bomb hole was slightly higher than the water level. Just a few inches 1ower — and a small brook would have been transformed into a raging river which would have swept away the stone and earthen dam.‘

May

16

1943

No. 617 Squadron become ‘Dambusters’

16th May 1943: No. 617 Squadron become ‘Dambusters’

I thought to myself; ‘In another minute we shall all be dead – so what? I thought again, ‘This is terrible – this feeling of fear – if it is fear.’ By now we were a few hundred yards away, and I said quickly to Pulford, under my breath, ‘Better leave the throttles open now and stand by to pull me out of the seat if I get hit.’ As I glanced at him I thought he looked a little glum on hearing this.

May

15

1943

The score reaches 1000 at Biggin Hill

15th May 1943: The score reaches 1000 at Biggin Hill


Hardly had I begun to turn to starboard when a nice little job slid under my starboard wing. I turned on my back without even trying to identify it. I went at terric speed, giving the plane all it had. As I dived after my National Socialist, for I could see his black crosses shining now, I gave rapid orders over the radio so that my faithful troops would cover my attack.