Mar

10

1944

Bougainville – the desperate battle for Hill 260

With the Japanese firmly entrenched on the South Knob of Hill 260, several artillery pieces were hauled into the jungle and set up on nearby Hill 309. They blasted away point blank, pounding the Japanese at the base of the remains of the Observation Post in the banyan tree.

A new plan of attack was devised, a double envelopment, and Lt. Willard was ordered, at 14O5, to take his platoon inside the West wire, establish contact with Lt. Stone(Fox) and make his attack from the West, (see over- lay) azimuth 90°. Lt. Karl with his platoon was ordered to move East and envelop the enemy from the East. He moved out at 142O to envelop the enemy and cut their line of supply.

Mar

9

1944

Leo Rawlings – War artist on the death railway

Dysentery: a naked and emaciated prisoner-of-war sits on the edge of a bamboo bed with a metal bowl covered with a rectangular lid by his feet.

L. RAWLINGS

Men still working in the jungle camps and the railway sidings were drafted out to operate on the track laying gangs. Up to eighteen hours per day, and in some cases even more, was expected and demanded of these unfortunates, the sick along with the half-fit — for now no fit men remained. All were either physically or mentally sick.

Mar

8

1944

Cassino – into the front line in the mountain snow

Porters of an Indian Mule Company transporting supplies to troops in the mountains.

Anything within 20 yards of a grenade exploding will be hit, and I was closer than that. ‘What a pathetic way to go’, was what went through my mind as I shivered in shock. Then I heard voices coming near. Lieutenant W. A. Dunn, one of A Company’s platoon commanders, appeared out of the gloom and peered at me closely through a swirl of snowflakes.

Mar

7

1944

Deep into France for a low level Mosquito ambush

A De Havilland Mosquito IIF DD739/RX-X of No 456 Squadron, flying from Middle Wallop, in flight. The censor has scratched out the wing-tip antennae of the Airborne-Interceptor radar.

I tightened the turn a little to set the dot of my electric gunsight ahead of the bomber to allow for the correct deection, and pressed the button. A stream of 20-mm and 303 bullets poured from the nose of the Mossie as I tightened the turn a little more to keep my sights on the now rapidly-closing target. I had started firing at about 4-00 yards and now at 100 yards with the He177 looking as big as a house, a stream of ame and smoke appeared below the nose of the aircraft.

Mar

6

1944

Black Monday as the 8th goes to Berlin in strength

The B-17 heavy bomber at bomb release.

We put up 812 heavy bombers (504 B-17s and 226 B-24s) and 474 B-17s and 198 B-24s made it to their targets, but the bombing results were not too good. Photo’s indicate that no bombs hit their assigned targets. And the losses were staggering – at least 80 aircraft (53 B-17s, 16 B-24s and 11 fighters), a new 8th Air Force record for any one mission – even greater than Schweinfurt.

Mar

5

1944

A young P-51 pilot shot down over France

The arrival of the long range escorts transformed the bomber campaign against occupied Europe. The welcome sight of P-51 escorts seen from an air gunners perspective , probably a B-29 in the Pacific theatre.

Three FW 190s came in from the rear and cut my elevator cables. I snap-rolled with the rudder and jumped at 18,000 feet. I took off my dinghy-pack, oxygen mask, and helmet in the air; and then, as I was whirling on my back and began to feel dizzy, I pulled the ripcord at 8,000 feet. An FW 190 dove at me, but when he was about 2,000 yards from me a P-51 came in on his tail and blew him to pieces.

Mar

4

1944

Preparing for the second Chindit raid deep into Burma

A Chindit column crossing a river in Burma, 1943.

And now — how, actually, do you get three large Missouri mules into a C-47, at night, to a tight schedule? How do you keep them there, so that they do not injure themselves and cannot kick their handlers or the sides of the plane? What do you do if one breaks loose in the air? Shoot him? The bullet will go on through the sides of the plane. From what angles is it safe to engage in gun-play inside a loaded aircraft?

Mar

3

1944

USAAF raid all the way to Berlin – escort ambushed

Lt Moncur chose the name Thunderbird for his plane  and the nose art incorporated "an Indian symbol for luck and we sure will need it."

In a practically vertical dive we hurtle into the midst of the Yanks, and almost simultaneously we open fire. We take them completely by surprise. In great spirals the Mustangs attempt to get away. Several of them are in flames before they can reach the clouds. One literally disintegrates under fire from my guns. Yells of triumph echo over our radio.

Mar

2

1944

German propaganda seeks to divide the Allies

A variation on the theme of " over-sexed, over-paid, and over-here" that was sometimes used to characterise US troops in Britain.

The ‘accomplishments’ of this American leadership are indeed typically American: operations were insufficiently prepared and led to the most dreadful reverses for your troops. Your picked units were carelessly thrown into the battle. CERTAINLY, THE YANKS PLAYED YOU A NASTY TURN.

Mar

1

1944

The Red Army marches across Ukraine

Every year the climate brought the fighting to a virtual standstill.

In some cases I had to act severely and took tough measures on the villagers in order to feed five or seven soldiers. I had a German hand-grenade with a long handle without a fuse; if the house owners refused to feed the soldiers, I would say something like this: ‘The Germans (Schwabs) destroyed our field kitchen, if you do not boil potatoes, the grenade explodes in an hour (or half an hour).’ This argument helped a lot!