May

24

1942

Public wants a Second Front to help Russia

24th May 1942: Public wants a Second Front to help Russia

It’s apparently useless for them to point out that the R.A.F. is regularly battering Germany’s production bases, that the steady stream of British war material to Russia continues at considerable sacrifice to this country, and that Britain is already fighting on three fronts – the Pacific, the Middle East, and the Atlantic.

May

23

1942

Blind-flying duel over southern England

23rd May 1942: A blind-flying duel over southern England

The Heinkel banked steeply over to the left and came running back at us, the gunners firing broadsides as they flashed past only a hundred yards away on the beam. John had the Beaufighter already staggering around after them, the force of the turn pressing me down outrageously into my seat.

May

22

1942

British and Soviets argue over ‘Second Front’

22 May 1942: British and Soviet governments argue over ‘Second Front’

if any further effort could be made or plan devised, provided it was sound and sensible, for drawing the weight off Russia this year, we should not hesitate to put it into effect. Clearly, it would not further either the Russian cause or that of the Allies as a whole if, for the sake of action at any price, we embarked on some operation which ended in disaster and gave the enemy an opportunity for glorification at our discomfiture.

May

21

1942

Spitfire vs Messerschmitt 109 over Malta

21st May 1942: Spitfire vs Messerschmitt 109 over Malta

The 109’s scatter like spray. Twisting in my seat; my companions can’t have heard my order – I’m alone. Enemy fighters every-where. Two race low overliead; four more on my right. As three more 109s dive head-on under my nose I watch the fourth turning towards me; in a few seconds he will pass below to my left. There’s plenty of time to shoot him down.

May

20

1942

Evading enemy aircraft in the desert

20th May 1942: Evading enemy aircraft in the desert

I had gone about fifty miles inland before I was spotted by an enemy fighter. The method of foiling aircraft attack in the open desert is quite simple. The plane, or planes, would generally attack from behind. What you had to do then was a complete 180-degree turn to face the oncoming attacker. This put the plane at a distinct disadvantage: he couldn’t dive towards you as he would finish up diving into the ground.

May

19

1942

The final stages of the Burma retreat

19th May 1942: The final stages of the Burma retreat

Ploughing their way up slopes, over a track inches deep in slippery mud, soaked to the skin, rotten with fever, ill-fed and shivering as the air grew cooler, the troops went on, hour after hour, day after day. Their only rest at night was to lie on the sodden ground under the dripping trees, without even a blanket to cover them.

May

18

1942

The last flight of ‘MacRoberts Reply’

18th May 1942: The last flight of ‘MacRoberts Reply’

At the crash site, a big part of the forrest was cut, it almost looked like a huge razor had cut through the trees. It look like there had been a huge explosion, since there were only small parts left from the bomber and there was a big hole in the ground. Since there were only small parts left, I could not recognise the bomber.

May

17

1942

Heavy losses as Coastal Command attacks Prinz Eugen

17th May1942: Heavy losses as Coastal Command attacks Prinz Eugen

The first force was unable to locate the cruiser, but part of the second force, which consisted of 52 aircraft, including 27 torpedo-carrying Beauforts, carried out an attack. Two possible hits with torpedoes are claimed. Considerable enemy fighter opposition was encountered and nine of our aircraft failed to return.

May

16

1942

SS discuss the use of mobile gassing vans

16th May 1942: SS discuss the use of mobile gassing vans

I ordered the vans of group D to be camouflaged as house trailers by putting one set of window shutters on each side of the small van and two on each side of the large vans, such as one often sees on farm houses in the country. The vans became so well known, that not only the authorities but also the civilian population called the van “death van”, as soon as one of these vehicles appeared.

May

15

1942

The sinking of HMS Trinidad

15th May 1942: The sinking of HMS Trinidad

At one time when we were bomb-dodging I spotted torpedo bombers dropping torpedos a couple of miles away. I kept a good eye in that direction and duly reported “TORPEDO TRACKS”. Leaving the torpedoes to look after themselves, the skipper calmly assessed the situation, turned to port and the menaces passed us on either side.