A Platoon watches and waits in the snow

Vickers machine gun crew of 'A' Company, 2nd Middlesex Regiment, 3rd Division at Grubbenvorst, Holland, 13 January 1945.

To move in the Platoon forward areas was a very tricky job and a real nightmare after dark as the ground between the trees in a 40 yard deep belt was criss-crossed with numerous thin steel wires attached to hand grenades and magnesium flares bound to the trees. If any person was careless or unfamiliar with the traps a touch on a wire set off a glare of light or an explosion, sometimes both, by means of pull-igniters.




Battle of the Bulge – three Medal of Honor heroes

American Infantrymen pause to rest, just past Amonines, Belgium. This snow makes the fighting very rough in this area.

As he jumped to his feet 10 yards from the gun and charged forward, machine gun fire tore through his camouflage robe and a rifle bullet seared a 10-inch gash across his back sending him spinning 15 yards down hill into the snow. When the indomitable sergeant sprang to his feet to renew his 1-man assault, a German egg grenade landed beside him. He kicked it aside, and as it exploded 5 yards away, shot and killed the German machine gunner and assistant gunner. His carbine empty, he jumped into the emplacement and hauled out the third member of the gun crew by the collar.




Battle of the Bulge – the 82nd Airborne attacks

A patrol, growing when Lt. Thomas of a Cavalry reconnaissance squadron started across the snow with rifle grenades, attacks German snipers discovered on the outskirts of the newly captured town of Beffe, Belgium. Lt. Thomas was followed by volunteers consisting of the members of his squadron, an infantry headquarters company and an infantry company. The attack was launched with rifle fire, fragmentation rifle grenades, hand grenades, riflers, BARs and bazooka company armed with machine guns and light mortars. Twelve Germans were killed in the engagement. (A Co., 1st Bn,, 290th inf., 75th div., B troop. 1/7/45)

Technical Sergeant Eddie C. Heibert, H Company, was a rieman in Murphy’s platoon. The following is his account of that action: “One of our two supporting TDs struck a Teller mine and was knocked out about 800 yards from the town. Six of our men were killed or wounded. At this point, enemy machine guns opened up on us and we were pinned to the ground. I saw Lieutenant Murphy crawl forward for about 50 yards under a curtain of murderous machine gun fire and call for the remaining TD to come up to him. The TD silenced two of the enemy machine guns.”




USS Louisville’s second Kamikaze attack in two days

The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945

As the men poured out of the turret behind me they just stood there in shock. Explosions were still coming from the ammunition lockers at the scene of the crash. We could see fire there too. Injured men were screaming for help on the Communications Deck above us. I ordered two men to put out the fire on the starboard side by leaning over the side with a hose. That fire was coming from a ruptured aviation fuel pipe that runs the full length of the forecastle on the outside of the ship’s hull. That fuel pipe was probably hit by machine gun bullets from the Kamikaze just before he slammed into us.




The Red Army prepares for the final offensive

Soviet T-34 tank with troops cross the highway Zhitomir-Berdichev, past a burning tank Pz.Kpfw. VI "Tiger". 1st Ukrainian Front, 5th January 1945

When the Germans had retreated, they had left behind piles of these rockets — it seemed, as many as had been delivered to the position. Our soldiers had found them and thought to give them a try. They would take a rocket, lay it on the breastwork of the trench, and then fire at this percussion cap at the base of the rocket with their avtomat [automatic rifle]. The rocket would explode, and the shell would fly off in the general direction of the German lines.




V2 rockets bring sudden death to London

The mobile launchers for the V2 were extremely hard to track down - and would continue firing to the end of the war.

I suppose the incident that really topped the lot was 4 January 1945 when the Lambeth Baths received a direct hit from a V2 rocket; 37 people were killed. Amazingly enough our little back room was not damaged at all but the white tiled wall adjoining it in the square of the flats was leaning at a very peculiar angle. I’d been in bed, was awoken by my Aunt Kit and Mum lifting me out very gingerly because once again the windows had blown in and my bed was full of broken glass! I was cut on the face etc and got taken to relatives along the Kennington Road for the rest of the night.




Battle of Bure – Paratroopers v Tiger Tanks

A 6th Airborne Division sniper on patrol in the Ardennes, wearing a snow camouflage suit, 14 January 1945.

Our numbers were getting very depleted as we moved forward from house to house. I eventually got to the village crossroads by the old church. In the meantime I had informed my C.O. exactly what was going on, and he decided to send in “C” Company, who were in reserve, to support me. By that time their 60 ton Tiger tanks started to come in on us. It was the first time I had seen Tigers, and now here they were taking potshots, demolishing the houses. I moved from one side of the road to the other deliberately drawing fire. A tank fired at me and the next thing I knew the wall behind me was collapsing. But, a PIAT team came running out, got within 50 yards of the tank, opened fire and smashed the tank’s tracks. They were very brave.




Nuremberg – ‘a near-perfect example of area bombing’

RAF reconnaissance picture for post raid evaluation.

The drama that happened during the air raid was explained to me by a surviving POW: A petroleum incendiary bomb fell on the center of the trench badly burning some POWs. A number of them ran towards one end of the shelter, the others towards the other end. This is where the most unexpected happened. It does not occur once in a million times, two explosive bombs falling so close to one another and in a straight line. One bomb fell on one end of the shelter, the second bomb falling on the other end of the trench, leaving an horrible carnage of mangled bodies. The following day the valid and the wounded were forced to come to work escorted by their guards pushing them along. It was a vision of hell: Men walking with self-made crutches, some of them had their wounds covered with filthy rags soaked with blood, the valid helping the wounded.




Operation Bodenplatte – disaster for the Luftwaffe

The moment a FW 190A explodes under the guns of an Allied fighter - 1944-45.

Then followed the details of the take-off, flying order, targets and return flights. Brussels was the target of III/JG 54. The whole mission was to be carried out at less than 600 feet until we reached the targets so that the enemy ground stations could not pick us up. To this end, radio silence was the order until we reached the target. We were given a magnificent breakfast, cutlets, roast beef and a glass of wine. For sweets there were patries and several cups of fragrant coffee.




Oslo tragedy as RAF Mosquitos attack Gestapo HQ

Mosquito bombers during the successful attack on Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen on 31st October.

I was doing a left-hand turn to head back when I saw a valley to our right. I slid down into the valley and kept at a low level. We passed over the coast and I began the climb back to our operational altitude of 28,000 feet. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and no enemy aircraft were in the vicinity. I didn’t know until years later that the second phase did not drop their bombs. All they saw was smoke and dust at the target site.