Generals

Jun

17

June 1941

Rommel counter-attacks in the desert

Next morning, the 17th June, the 5th Light Division set off at the appointed time [4.30am] and after a headlong advance reached the neighbourhood of Sidi Suleiman at 06.00 hours. The 15th Panzer Division had become involved in heavy fighting against an armoured force which the British had sent to parry the danger menacing their army. But it soon reached is objective. Great numbers of destroyed British tanks littered the country through which the two divisions had passed.

Jun

18

June 1945

U.S. military chiefs consider next move on Japan

From 3:30 to 5:00 PM. the President conferred with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy; and Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, in regard to the necessity and the practicability of an invasion of Japan. General Marshall and Admiral King both strongly advocated an invasion of Kyushu at the earliest practicable date.

General Marshall is of the opinion that such an effort will not cost us in casualties more than 63,000 of the 190,000 combatant troops estimated as necessary for the operation.

May

3

May 1945

RAF outnumbered in last dogfight over Germany

My speed had swept me far on — straight on to the torpedo boat which was spitting away with all her guns. I passed within ten yards of her narrow bows, just above the water and the thousand spouts raised by the flak. I caught a glimpse of white shapes rushing about on deck and of tongues of fire from her guns. The entire camouflaged superstructure seemed to be alive with them. Tracer shells ricocheted on the water and exploded all round over a radius of 500 yards. Some shrapnel mowed down a flock of seagulls which fell in the sea on all sides, panic-stricken and bleeding. Phew! Out of range at last!

Apr

4

April 1945

The Germans fall back in increasing disarray

We were advancing down a road in convoy when a German tank drove out of a grove of trees, fired point-blank, killed two of our men, and then retreated from sight again. The convoy halted and two of our rifle companies went forward and surrounded the little grove that contained, they discovered, a platoon of German soldiers in deep foxholes. The German tank kept swivelling and firing, and after a while four of our own tanks came up. Each from a different direction sprayed the tiny stretch of woods with long streams of flaming gasoline.

Mar

2

March 1945

The Army commander visits the front line in Burma

Suddenly six Japanese, led by two officers wielding swords, rushed from the house. The Bren gunner shot one officer and a Japanese other rank but by then had expended the magazine of the gun. He was almost simultaneously attacked by the second Japanese officer who killed him with his sword. Naik Fazal Din went to the Bren gunner’s assistance immediately but, in doing so, was run through the chest by the officer, the sword point appearing through his back. On the Japanese officer withdrawing his sword, Naik Fazal Din, despite his terrible wound, tore the sword from the officer and killed him with it. He then attacked a Japanese other rank and also killed him.

Dec

29

1944

A German commander’s view of the Ardennes

My experiences in Russia stood me in good stead; I knew all about the problems of moving through snow and ice – a subject in which the Americans still had much to learn. By day our armoured group resisted in chosen positions; all movements were carried out at night to evade the fighter-bombers, but even so concentric artillery fire on our flanks inflicted considerable casualties.

Dec

23

1944

Eisenhower closely guarded against Nazi infiltrators

Some units might have with them in their vehicle a German officer in uniform and, if questioned, would tell a false story that they were taking an important German prisoner to higher headquarters in the rear. They carry capsules of acid to be thrown in the faces of MPs or others to facilitate escape. Skorzeny’s group may be in staff cars, civilian cars, command and reconnaissance cars, as well as jeeps.

Dec

8

1944

General George S. Patton on the importance of Prayer

He rubbed his face in his hands, was silent for a moment, then rose and walked over to the high window, and stood there with his back toward me as he looked out on the falling rain. As usual, he was dressed stunningly, and his six-foot-two powerfully built physique made an unforgettable silhouette against the great window. The General Patton I saw there was the Army Commander to whom the welfare of the men under him was a matter of personal responsibility.

Aug

6

August 1944

US breakout continues, British locked in combat

Three times in the last few days, in as many tents and wooded fields, the same dialogue with minor variations: Division commander: ‘But my flanks, General?’ The General: ‘You have nothing to worry about. If anything develops – and it won’t – our tactical Air will know before you do, and will clobber it. That will give me plenty of time to pull something out of the hat.’

Jul

14

July 1944

Bradley faces criticisms of ‘slow’ Allied advance

Those who had awaited Monty’s assault on Caen as the signal for an Allied breakthrough trooped back disheartened to their gloomy press camps when the British went no farther. Weeks of intermittent rain had shrouded the beachhead with a dismal gray cloud cover, pinning the air forces to the ground while the enemy dragged up reinforcements.