Jun

23

1944

Two VCs in one day for ‘British’ soldiers

The Arakan Campaign January 1943 - May 1945: A Gurkha soldier at a camouflaged position in the Arakan jungle.

Despite these overwhelming odds, he reached the Red House and closed with the Japanese occupants. He killed three and put five more to flight and captured two light machine guns and much ammunition. He then gave accurate supporting fire from the bunker to the remainder of his platoon which enabled them to reach their objective.

Jun

22

1944

Operation Bagration – the Red Army begins its revenge

'Fusilier' infantry  and Panther tank in action somewhere in Russia,1944,

Visiting our main line of resistance, Hauptmann Muller and I found an 8.8cm Army anti-tank gun, commanding the road to Lowsha from a clearing in the woods, on which the Russians were bringing up tanks. A T-54 passed by; one shot, and it was in flames. The second followed straight behind it. The next shot hit it, it stopped and from the turret an oil-smeared figure twisted itself out. A third tank came up and drove slowly past its comrades. The number one gunner of our anti-tank gun watched with a tense expression and once again pressed the firing button. Once again the shot scored a direct hit and from the tank the whole turret blew into the air.

Jun

21

1944

Mortar Platoon in the the front line in Normandy

Men of the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders occupy a defensive position in a hedgerow, Normandy, 17 June 1944.

1015 Polish boots (yes, I swear that’s correct), pick up Sten gun, and report with map to command- ing officer for conference. Nine times out of ten the Germans would mortar the area while the conference was taking place. We would all rush for the few available slit trenches. Howie would usually lose the race and be the last man under cover. While everybody else grabbed steel helmets Frank Waters, seemingly carefree, would content himself with placing a thin wooden mapboard over his head muttering: ‘Bastards!’

Jun

20

1944

The ‘Great Marianas Turkey Shoot’

Japanese aircraft shot down as it attempted to attack escort carrier Kitkun Bay, near Marianas Islands, Jun 1944

I kept telling them to turn on the lights because too many people were going in the water. Finally they did turn on the lights. Authorities claim that Admiral Mitscher was responsible for this, but I claim I was the one they could hear bitching and asking them to do it. They not only turned on the lights but they turned On vertical searchlight beams. So it was like a carnival out there. I circled my home carrier and finally got aboard. The first question we all asked that night was. “What ship is this?” because you could not tell one ship from the other.

Jun

19

1944

The ‘Great Gale’ wrecks the Mulberry harbours

The storm which hit the Channel from 19th -21st June was of unprecedented strength for the time of year.

Landing craft out of control pounded against us. Our anchors dragged, and we lost one. We, too, were drifting, and before we could tackle the situation the ship was flung heavily on a sandy bottom and pounded by a terrifying surf. In another second we would have been rolled over, a plaything of the storm, but just in time we managed to get our engines going and headed for deeper water. The appalling sight of the beach in the dreary grey of the morning told its own tale of craft that had piled together and been ground to matchwood.

Jun

18

1944

Coming to terms with the ‘bumble bomb’

PC Frederick Godwin of Gipsy Hill Police Station supplies tea and sympathy to a now homeless man after a V1 attack that sadly killed his wife and destroyed his home. He returned from taking his dog (also pictured) for a walk to find a scene of devastation. In the background, rescue workers can be seen searching the rubble and debris for any survivors of this attack which destroyed almost an entire street.

I sprang out of bed to find out what on earth it was but it had passed out of sight by the time I had reached the window. I said: ‘A plane out of control, I should think’, but Jean, sitting up in bed and leaning on one arm, said after awhile: ‘Georgie, you don’t think it’s something new, do you?’ Since then we have heard two or three of the damned things, in the distance.

Jun

17

1944

The French Resistance hit back against the occupation

Maquisards gathering supply canisters dropped by an Allied aircraft, Haute Savoie.

The train entered the tunnel and after it had fully disappeared into it, we waited another minute before setting off the charge. Boulders collapsed and cascaded in a thunderous burst; a huge mass completely covered the entrance. Right after that, we heard one, then two huge explosions. The train has been taken prisoner. The 500 “feldgraus” inside weren’t about to leave, and the railway was blocked for a long, long time.

Jun

16

1944

The V1 ‘doodlebugs’ begin hitting London

A German Fiesler Fi 103 flying-bomb (V1) in flight, as seen by the gun camera of an intercepting RAF fighter aircraft, moments before the fighter destroyed the V1 by cannon fire.

It came rapidly closer until almost directly overhead, then the engine stopped. By this time we all had learnt from the terrible experiences of the night, what to expect, but instead of doing the logical thing and dropping to the ground and making the best use of what cover there was, we just gapped open mouthed eyes transfixed on the clouds were the silence had come.

Jun

15

1944

D-Day in the Pacific – the invasion of Saipan

Marines on the beach line during the invasion of Saipan.

On the top deck in the moonlight, the eye could pick out an occasional flash showing silhouettes of battleships firing salvo after salvo into the coastline ahead. For two days prior to the invasion, some 2,400 16-inch shells had ‘softened-up’ the enemy. These salvos gave an awesome sound. Something like a boxcar swishing around overhead. Possible mining of the area limited the firing line to six miles offshore, and because of this distance, spotters had difficulty in pinpointing dug-in gun pits.

Jun

14

1944

US infantry v Fallschirmjäger in the ‘bocage’

Three US soldiers advance beside a typical thickly grown hedge in the bocage.

Picking myself up to brush off my uniform, I saw a strange and shocking sight. On the edge of the ditch lay a German forearm. Part of the uniform sleeve was there, with the elbow, arm, hand, and all fingers intact. I wondered what had happened to the rest of that poor bastard. I never did find out.