Apr

26

1940

British suffer further setbacks in central Norway

An experimental German Panzer with three turrets, used in Norway

British forces in central Norway found themselves under increasing pressure. Complete German air superiority meant that they could bomb and strafe at will, supporting not just their front line forces but interrupting the British lines of communication and supply bases.

Apr

25

1945

The Royal Scots Fusiliers enter Bremen

A Sherman tank and infantry advance into a heavily-bombed area of Bremen, 26 April 1945.

Bremen is a fine testimonial of the accuracy of the RAF. Those areas that have been military targets are well and truly flattened in to bricks and rubble. After the barrage we sent over it was quite impossible to decide, as leading troops, which was the street and which the buildings. Everything was burning merrily that could burn and what couldn’t was just another dump of rubble and mortar. It was equally easy to walk over what was once a factory in error for what one thought might be a main street or what one thought might be a square. And yet in purely residential quarters most of the windows were not even cracked let alone the houses damaged.

Apr

25

1940

S class submarines return to base

Seal-crewmember

Of the 12 ‘S’ class submarines in service in 1939, only 3 were to survive the war, HMS Sealion, HMS Seawolf, and HMS Sturgeon. As the losses accumulated the S class became the subject of a defiantly morbid verse in submariners circles, based on a popular nursery rhyme:

Apr

24

1945

Germans v Nazis as the US Army approaches

12th AD soldier with German prisoners of war, April 1945.

I have just been outside. A clear, starry sky. What extra-ordinary people the Germans are, to go on killing one another up to the very last minute and to destroy their country with their own hands.

We were told that the SS man had accused the mayor of cowardice because he had hoisted a white flag. He told him to get up against a wall and was going to shoot him, but then he changed his mind and took him, the Ortsgruppenleiter, the policeman and the parson off to another village. When they got there somebody suddenly shouted, ‘Here come the tanks!’ and they let all four of them go. They came back white as sheets.

Apr

24

1940

263 Squadron land at Lake Lesjaskog

Glster Gladiator landed on surface of snow covered frozen lake

A runway measuring about 800 by 75 yards had been prepared with local labour, which had also swept the snow from a track between the main road and the lake edge. Unfortunately, only one inadequate route had been swept from the edge to the runway; this was half a mile long and a foot deep in snow, and the stores had to be conveyed over it on three horse-drawn sledges, intermittently available. The village of Lesjaskog was two miles away, so that even the provision of forage for the horses involved difficulties.

Apr

23

1945

Seventeen year olds hold defences in burning Berlin

T-34-85 tanks of the 7th Guards Tank Corps in the suburbs of Berlin. In the foreground is the burning skeleton of a German car.

The roaring resumes and we throw ourselves down, pressing tight against the brick wall and wait, wait as we have already done so often. Then come the bangs and splintering as the bombs strike the stone colossus next to us. Splinters and masonry shower down around us, falling on our steel helmets and our bodies. The explosions in the street go on and on. The lights in the stairwell of the building across the street suddenly come on. We shout, and it goes dark again, except for the fires burning everywhere, lighting up the street.

Apr

22

1945

Allied breakout and pursuit by tanks in Italy

The 'Tankman'. Sergeant A G Williams of 17/21 Lancers in the turret of his Sherman tank at the main Headquarters of the Eighth Army in the San Angelo area of Italy, April 1944. Sergeant Williams from Woodford Bridge, Essex left England in November 1943, landed in North Africa, and from there was sent to Italy.

Now there was not time to think, for the Germans, having recovered somewhat, began to shell and mortar the place. A bunch of German prisoners who were making their way to a hastily prepared P.O.W. compound, hands above their heads, suddenly disappeared in a wave of smoke and dust as their own shells crashed down among them. When the air cleared, few got up: those who did, moved more swiftly still, their faces a mask of petrified fear. This was war also. There was no doubt about it, this sudden swoop by a British crack cavalry regiment had taken the enemy completely by surprise!

Apr

21

1945

Irish Guardsman takes on battalion of Panzer Grenadiers

Surrendering German civilians pass a Churchill tank of 6th Guards Tank Brigade in Uelzen, 18 April 1945.

Daylight came, the sections “stood down” and began to think seriously of breakfast. Out of the wood rolled two self-propelled guns; their first shots hit the tank posted as a sentry on the road. Behind the self-propelled guns came a company of infantry. The tank went on fire as soon as it was hit, and the crew baled out. Guardsman E. Charlton, the driver, stopped to look at the German infantry running down the road. He climbed on to the burning tank, unhooked the Browning machine gun from the turret and jumped back into the road to meet the Germans. He faced them four-square, firing steadily.

Apr

20

1945

Hitler’s birthday as Red Army guns hit Berlin

Probably the last public appearance of Adolf Hitler, on the 20th March he awards medals to  Hitler Youth members of the "Volkssturm".

Slowly, heavily stooping, he takes a few shuffling steps in my direction. He extends his right hand and looks at me with a queerly penetrating look. His handshake is weak and soft without any strength. His head is slightly wobbling. (This struck me later on even more, when I had the leisure to observe him.) His left arm hangs slackly and his hand trembles a good deal. There is an indescribable flickering glow in his eyes, creating a fearsome and totally unnatural effect. His face and the parts round his eyes give the impression of total exhaustion. All his movements are those of a senile man.

Apr

19

1945

Allies come to terms with Germans and Germany

In the crematorium courtyard, U.S. soldiers confront the citizens of Weimar with the corpses found there. This was the first photo of Buchenwald to be published; it appeared in the London Times on April 18, 1945.

And so Germany lies a beautiful, apparently innocent, whore; outside, appealing and disarming; inside, disease-ridden, deceitful, and vicious. In the success of our armies and the prospect of a termination of hostilities in the near future, we have perhaps lost sight of our enemy. But here he is still, – sly, beguiling, arrogant, ambitious, and inhumanly cruel. Let some think that this war is over. It is just beginning!