artillery

Nov

1

1943

Moving forward to the front line in Italy


1st November 1943: Moving forward to the front line in Italy

Our convoy, all equipped with skid chains, was held up several times while vehicles were pulled out of ditches and off embankments. At the spot mentioned by Squithy our driver kept insanely hugging the edge of the cliff, and I and Spiers, peering anxiously out of the back, suddenly saw a void under our right-hand wheel as the truck leaped a culvert.

Oct

22

1943

Spike Milligan returns to the front line


22nd October 1943: Spike Milligan returns to the front line

0430: the Artillery opened up and fired non-stop until 0624, then a silence. From the distant hill we hear the dreadful sound of Spandaus and Schmeisers that are spraying the early morning with bullets, and I can’t but wonder at the courage of these lads in the Guards Brigade forward into it. What a terrible, unexplainable lunacy. There must have been a lot of casualties as there was talk of us having to send gravedigging parties.

Oct

11

1943

Butchery of trench warfare on the Eastern front


11th October 1943: Butchery of trench warfare on the Eastern front

Flamethrowers failed. Nothing could save us from the enemy numbers. One company withdrew from the trench, and two of our guns were lost. The Russians drove their wedge farther into our hinterland. Our reserves were being bled dry, even before any counterattack could be mounted. There was no help to come. We wrote farewell letters and waited to die.

Sep

17

1943

Red Army attack on the retreating German army


17th September 1943: Red Army attack on the retreating German army

Then the mortar men kicked into action and laid down a sheaf of fire, up to three shells per tube. The field of battle began to darken. After the mortar attack, five to seven minutes passed, and then the Germans once again rushed forward, although their numbers were now fewer. One German constantly kept turning back to the advancing line, waving his pistol and shouting something. Nishchakov took careful aim, and the leader fell. The others dropped to the ground again.

Sep

3

1943

Operation Baytown: the invasion of Italy

The forward 15 inch guns of HMS WARSPITE hurling shells at Reggio


3rd September 1943: Operation Baytown: the invasion of Italy

All this turned out to be a complete waste of ammo. When we hit the beach at 0615, four kilometres north of Reggio di Calabria, our landing was unopposed. We were slightly dazed by the silence after the profligate bombardment. If someone had bothered to recce the beaches, I thought, or checked aerial reconnaissance photos, the shelling of an undefended coastline should surely have been avoided. But Monty had the firepower and there was an inevitability in its use.

Aug

24

1943

Facing a Japanese night attack on New Guinea


24th August 1943: Facing a Japanese night attack on New Guinea

At the same time Jack Parker, who was wounded in the leg early in the piece by a bullet before he had time to get out of bed, and Lt. Bryant, were in the command post unarmed when three or four Japs came in. Jack was still in bed and Bryant hid in a corner while the Japs rummaged around looking for documents. They knocked all the command post equipment about, knocking the wireless set to the ground but not damaging it.

Aug

18

1943

Leningrad – the siege continues as Soviets fight back


18th August 1943: Leningrad – the siege continues as Soviets fight back

Despite efforts to black-out everything on the ground, there was bound to be someone who would light a cigarette or use a flashlight that the enemy could spot. Once locating a potential target, the Soviet pilots often cut their engines in order to glide silently over the spot before dropping their bombs on the unsuspecting targets below.

Aug

10

1943

General George S. Patton slaps another soldier


10th August 1943: General George S. Patton slaps another soldier

Just as I was leaving the hospital, I saw a soldier sitting on a box near the dressing station. I stopped and said to him, ‘What is the matter with you, boy?’He said, ‘Nothing; I just can’t take it.’ I asked what he meant. He said, ‘I just can’t take being shot at.’ I said, ‘You mean that you are malingering here?’ He burst into tears and I immediately saw that he was an hysterical case.

Jul

22

1943

The Red Army goes on to the offensive after Kursk


22nd July 1943: The Red Army goes on to the offensive after Kursk

A grayish yellow cloud arose in front of us, as if created by a hurricane. Heavy rounds whistled overhead and crashed into the artillery positions behind us. It sounded like a frog concert, except with a lot of horrible tones. Shrapnel, tree limbs and clumps of earth hissed through our fruit orchard. Wounded cried out in a way that went to the marrow of your bones: “Meddicccc!” During all of this, we were only on the outskirts, better said, we were between two storms of iron and gunpowder.

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.