artillery

Jul

6

1943

A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk


6th July 1943: A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk

The last plane dove directly upon our battery and released its bomb load. One of the bombs flew directly at my dugout. I saw my own unavoidable death approaching, but I could do nothing to save myself: there was not enough time. It would take me five to six seconds to reach a different shelter, but the bomb had been released close to the ground, and needed only one or two seconds to reach the earth – and me.

Jul

5

1943

The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel


5th July 1943: The last German offensive in the East: Operation Citadel

Having ordered the gunlayer to keep one of the tanks, which had come to the fore and was moving towards our vehicle, in his gunsight, I quickly checked the other guys in my crew: Valeriy Korolev was seemingly composed and had his right hand on the gun’s trigger; Plaksin and Emelyan Ivanovich kept their eyes glued to the enemy tanks through their vision slits and were noticeably anxious; the driver-mechanic Vitya Oleinik was agitated, and his hands were idly grabbing and releasing the clutch levers, but at such a tense moment this was natural.

May

22

1943

A surprise from the US 7th Division artillery

22 May 1943: A surprise from the US 7th Division artillery

A great flash ripped out of the very center of the tiny group, followed almost instantly by three other flashes, totally engulfing the five figures in a heaving mass of flying hunks of muck and smoke and rocks. The smoke hung in a big puff over the ripped area of our base point, and we could see five little piles of fabric lighter than the black holes over which they were scattered before the boom! baroomboom! of the explosions reached our ears.

Apr

8

1943

Gunner Milligan survives a German artillery ‘stonk’

8th April 1943: Gunner Milligan survives a German artillery ‘stonk’

Behind him a stiff, bitter-faced Afrika Korp Oberlieutenant marched with all the military dignity he could muster, none of his men looked like the master-race. As they passed, our lads stood up in their fox-holes farting, and giving Nazi salutes; recalling the ritual of ancient conquerors riding on a palanquin and parading their prisoners of war behind them. Here there were shouts of ‘you square-head bastards’ and ‘I bet we could beat you at fucking football as well.’

Mar

21

1943

The Tunisian ‘Left Hook’ goes in

21st March 1943: The Tunisian ‘Left Hook’ goes in

We would cut them up for dog`s meat, All around, our anti-aircraft guns and automatic fire opened up. One plane crashed immediately. I had time to watch only one other lumbering towards us on fire. A parachute blossomed, then another appeared but tangled on opening. As the poor devil, apparently on fire, hurtled earthwards and thumped into the ground to burst near us, we all cheered, and cheered again as the bomber with the rest of the crew inside also hit the ground, exploded into flame and in a single ‘whoosh’ incinerated the crew.

Mar

16

1943

Under shellfire during attack on the Mareth Line

16th March 1943:Under shellfire during attack on the Mareth Line

I don`t know what time it was when we crossed the Wadi Zeuss and got into the gap in the enemy minefield. Time lost its ordinary values, even tho’ I did check it frequently on the luminous face of my watch. The minefield gap lay just the other side of a marsh and was a thin lane marked by white tapes and lighted by tiny lights which seemed to shine like beacons.

Feb

26

1943

155th Battery R.A. hold German attack at Sidi Nsir

26th February 1943: 155th Battery RA and Hampshires hold 10th Panzer at Sidi Nsir

Lieutenant Taylor and Sergeant Henderson (both of F Troop) in particular stood out by reason of their undaunted offensive spirit and the inspiring example they set. Sergeant Henderson was the No 1 of No 1 gun, specially placed on the top of the slope to deal with enemy tanks trying to use the Mateur-Sidi Nsir road. Taylor was the only officer on F Troop position, and he fought there until he was killed.

Jan

19

1943

Welcome to the British Army in North Africa

19th January 1943: Welcome to the British Army in North Africa

It was a vast concrete arena. We queued for an hour. When that had passed we queued for blankets. Next, find somewhere to sleep, like a football stadium in North Africa. We dossed down on the terraces. After ship`s hammocks it was murder. If only, if only I had a grand piano. I could have slept in that.

Jan

16

1943

Royal Artillery open up for another attack

16th January 1943: Royal Artillery open up for another attack

The Jocks (ours are Gordons and Black Watch) are I suppose forming up, and somewhere a few thousand yards ahead, Germans and Italians know something is in the wind but not that an hour from now a curtain of steel and an armoured wall will move in to destroy them. The enemy guns are nervously banging away all the time. We are completely silent.

Dec

24

1942

A grim ‘Heilig Abend’ in Stalingrad

24th December 1942: A grim ‘Heilige Abend’ in Stalingrad

A little later, the crackly loudspeaker transmitted a Christmas message from the Forces’ radio station in Germany. It was being broadcast everywhere from the North Pole to Africa. At that time an enormous part ofthe world belonged to us.
When Stalingrad was called we began to tremble though we were indoors in the warm that evening.