Generals

May

3

1945

RAF outnumbered in last dogfight over Germany

Tempest Mark V, EJ743, on a test flight following completion at Langley, Buckinghamshire. This aircraft served with No. 3 Squadron RAF.

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

1945

The Germans fall back in increasing disarray

'No Way Out'. Sgt J D Eilbeck uses a portrait of Adolf Hitler to make a 'no exit' sign at 156th Brigade HQ, 3 - 4 April 1945.

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

1945

The Army commander visits the front line in Burma

British mortars in action during the fighting for Meiktila in Burma, 28 February 1945

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

A German Sturmgeschütz assault gun during the Ardenne offensive.

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

Germans who were tried and convicted as spies during the Battle of the Bulge, are bound to stakes by MPs before their execution, December 23, 1944]

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

A Sherman tank crewman finds the mud heavy going in Germany, 24 November 1944.

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

1944

US breakout continues, British locked in combat

Personalities: Lieutenant General George S Patton, commander of the US 3rd Army which became operational in Normandy in July 1944, part of the 12th Army Group.

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

1944

Bradley faces criticisms of ‘slow’ Allied advance

US Soldiers in the 'bocage' hedgerow country , armed with a 'Grease Gun' automatic and a Browning water cooled machine gun.

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.

May

31

1944

‘No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country’

US Engineers are briefed on their objectives for the forthcoming invasion, May 1944. Left to right: Private Albert V Ottolino; PFC (Private First Class) Howard D Kraut; Private J H James.

Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers … Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.

May

23

1944

Breakout from Anzio

British soldiers take cover from German shelling in a shallow trench during the breakout. The trench is similar to many which were dug along the opposing front lines during the lifetime of the bridgehead.

The timing of the attack from Anzio again caught the enemy off-guard. As the artillery fire suddenly ended our tanks drove through the smoke, followed by swarms of infantry that caught the enemy outposts unprepared. Some of the Germans in dugouts had to be dragged out with only part of their clothes on, completely unready for battle.