Jan

25

1942

U-boat versus merchantman in mid Atlantic gun duel

25th January 1942: U-boat versus merchantman in the Atlantic – Hardegen’s U-123 sinks British ship CULEBRA with deck gun

Deck gun ready and opened fire. The first shots hit the stern, then one each under the bridge and in the engine room. Steamer mans the gun and fires. The firing pin of our MG C30 is broken, so we fired with the deck gun at his gun. Several hits underneath, but he continues to fire until a direct hit struck the pivot. Gun crew out of action, the barrel can’t be moved anymore. We received 5 hits, which did not penetrate the pressure hull. Because they hit very low, I assume that they fell short, burst on the surface and only the splinters hit our hull. Some shots passed between conning tower and deck gun, one could hear them whistling past.

Jan

24

1942

Psychological warfare in the Bataan jungle

24th January 1942: Psychological warfare in the Bataan jungle – Japanese attempts to demoralise the U.S. defence forces on the Philippines

Out of the night came a woman’s voice, sweet and persuasive. In sentimental words it announced the dedication of a programme to ‘the brave and gallant defenders of Bataan’. Songs followed, quavering through the forest. They were selected to arouse nostalgia to breaking-point in a boy facing death and longing for home. Home, Sweet Home, – Old Folks at Home – this was the kind of song the Japanese broadcast in the dead of night, alternating heartbreak with horror.

Jan

23

1942

The Germans retreat amidst arctic storms

23rd January 1942: Eastern Front – the Germans retreat amidst arctic storms

The village was on a hill, and we were about half-way up when we received a warning from a despatch rider of the battalion in front, told to take defensive positions at once as Russian tanks in large numbers were coming our way. That was the bad news. The good news was that several of our tanks of our armoured division were also approaching, though from what direction was not very clear. One always got this panicky feeling when one was dog-tired.

Jan

22

1942

Australian wounded massacred at Parit Sulong

22nd January 1942: Wounded Australian and Indian troops were massacred by the Japanese at Parit Sulong, Malaya

Appeals for water and medical attention were ignored, and a move to another building was made under compulsion of more brutality. Japanese guns, tanks and troops streamed by throughout the rest of the afternoon. Whenever they stopped, troops ran to see the prisoners and add to their sufferings . One of the dead was placed in an upright position on a table top propped against a truck. There the body “seemed to create enormous amusement to the Japanese concerned, and was an object of ridicule to many Japanese afterwards “.

Jan

21

1942

Rommel’s surprise attack in the Desert

21st January 1942: Rommel’s surprise attack in the Desert

We had now developed a new method of attack. With our twelve anti-tank guns we leap-frogged from one vantage-point to another, while our Panzers, stationary and hull-down, if possible, provided protective fire. Then we would establish ourselves to give them protective fire while they swept on again. The tactics worked well and, despite the liveliness of the fire, the enemy’s tanks were not able to hold up our advance.

Jan

20

1942

Nazis meet to organise ‘Final Solution’

20th January 1942: Nazis meet to organise ‘Final Solution’ at Wannsee Conference organised by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich

In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east. Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities.The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so-called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to the East.

Jan

19

1942

The final journey from ghetto to death camp

19th January 1942: The final journey from ghetto to death camp – Jews from the Lodz Ghetto begin to be sent to Chelmno death ‘camp’

It was said: they were to go to Polish villages to work the land. But this was only rumor. The only thing the ghetto knew and saw was the expulsion every day of 700 to 800 Jews from their huts and holes and rooms. The police entered the apartments of those who were being deported. Not infrequently they found starved children, old people frozen to death. Fear had seized the ghetto.

Jan

18

1942

Australians ambush Japanese at the Muar River

18th January 1942: Resistance to the Japanese invasion of Malaya – Australian ambush Japanese at the Muar River

The leading tank was level with the foremost anti-tank gun when the gun sergeant (Thornton) gave a notable exhibition of courage and coolness. Turning his back on the other tanks, he fired high-explosive shells into the first three as they went down the road. When the other tanks entered the battalion perimeter they came under fire of the rear gun also. All were disabled. Although he was wounded in the engagement, Thornton prepared his gun for further action, and soon three more tanks approached the position.

Jan

17

1942

U-Boats move to the U.S. east coast

Fired stern torpedo. Target angle 90°, distance 750 meters. Running time 57 seconds. A very heavy detonation, strong, dark black smoke plume. Hit bridge. The steamer sinks immediately. As the smoke from the detonation cleared, only the masts were still visible above the water, and shortly thereafter sank. Water depth of 45 meters. I depart at maximum speed eastwards because the day is dawning and I need some more water under our keel during the day.

Jan

16

1942

Churchill returns to Britain by air

I thought perhaps I had done a rash thing that there were too many eggs in one basket. I had always regarded an Atlantic flight with awe. But the die was cast. Still, I must admit that if at breakfast, or even before luncheon, they had come to me to report that the weather had changed and we must go by sea, I should have easily reconciled myself to a voyage in the splendid ship which had come all this way to fetch us.