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.

Jan

15

1942

Australians take on Japanese in Malaya

Under this hell of fire we at once dived flat on the ground, as it didn’t seem possible for any human being to escape the blazing fury. A barbed wire fence near us was ringing backwards and forwards from the bullets. But our skipper sang out, “On you feet men; we must take their position.” I, like all the others, expected a bullet at any period, but I had only one thing in mind – to reach the trees and kill every Jap I saw.

Jan

14

1942

“Five aircraft failed to return”

She heard a loud popping sound of a throttled back aero engine at low altitude and rushed outside to see the plane pass low to the south, with flames apparently coming from the rear. Seconds later the plane hit the ground and there was a flash and explosion. The source of the fire is unknown, but possibly an uncontrollable fire in the port Vulture engine would have given the same appearance to a ground observer.

Jan

13

1942

Daylight raid on Lowestoft kills 63

One of the worst raids on Lowestoft took place on the afternoon of 13 January 1942 the day before we were to return to school after the Christmas holiday. Some of our pupils were having tea in a café when four explosive bombs were dropped on the main shopping centre. Three of our pupils were killed including a friend from my class. It was a sad beginning to the term.

Jan

12

1942

‘Conspicious gallantry’ in desperate battles on Bataan

Enemy snipers in trees and foxholes had stopped a counterattack to regain part of position. In hand-to-hand fighting which followed, 2d Lt. Nininger repeatedly forced his way to and into the hostile position. Though exposed to heavy enemy fire, he continued to attack with rifle and hand grenades and succeeded in destroying several enemy groups in foxholes and enemy snipers.

Jan

11

1942

Long range U Boat hunters over the Atlantic

Fg. Off Peter Cundy the Liberator took off at 04.10 hours for a lengthy patrol over the Bay of Biscay. At 15.20 hours, when about 100 miles off the north-west tip of Spain, the crew saw a Heinkel Hel 15 floatplane below and beneath them. Cundy banked to allow his rear and side gunners to open fire, at a distance of 200-600 yd. They scored numerous hits but the enemy aircraft disappeared in a rain squall.

Jan

10

1942

Rommel remains confident despite retreat

Operations going as planned so far. Our mines and Luftwaffe are making things difficult for the enemy pursuit. To think that we’ve got our force back 300 miles to a good line, without suffering serious harm, and in spite of the fact that the bulk of it is non-motorised! That our “ unemployed ” generals are grousing all the time doesn’t surprise me. Criticism doesn’t cost much.

Jan

9

1942

Life on a troopship bound for overseas training

This is the first time that I have known real discomfort without any escape which money or influence or friends can provide. There is nothing to be done but to accept the situation and I really feel quite cheerful, considerably more so than most of my companions. But I never expected to experience worse than Padgate; and Padgate was luxury in comparison. We had lunch at 12.00 hours. It was edible, if not particularly appetising: a tasteless soup drunk out of our mess tins, boiled beef with potatoes and multi-coloured, bullet-like peas, and sago pudding.