infantry

Jan

19

1944

Captured by a German raiding party


19 January 1944: Captured by a German raiding party

The section leaders who had not been wounded were crawling back from the tent towards their trenches; my sergeant and I had a small slit trench outside the tent which was where we were to go in an emergency. My wounded sergeant had slithered to this and was lying at the bottom so that there was no room for me to get under cover except by kneeling on top of him.

Jan

17

1944

Canadian infantry assault behind artillery barrage


17 January 1944: Canadian infantry assault behind artillery barrage

This time, we were directly under the flight paths of the shells at the point in the trajectory where they were on their downward journey. It was ten minutes of listening with awe and fearful doubts as they whirred over our heads and plunged into the target area with a drumbeat roll. And then we were on our way for what we thought would be the decisive thrust that would end the agony our regiment was going through.

Jan

16

1944

Arctic cold freezes men on the Eastern front battlefield


16 January 1944: Arctic cold freezes men on the Eastern front battlefield

Some men fainted as the cold struck them, paralysed before they even had a chance to scream. Survival seemed almost impossible. Our hands and faces were coated with engine grease, and when our worn gloves were pulled over this gluey mixture, every gesture became extremely difficult.

Jan

12

1944

A German soldier on the Eastern front reflects on life


12 January 1944: A German soldier on the Eastern front reflects on life

There was no end in sight. Yearning plunged into the distance; frost caught in my hair. Rushing passage, as on a sleigh in space. An intoxicating feeling came over me: a burgeoning sense of life, the limitless, exuberant pleasure of being in the world. The freedom of an hour in the Russian winterland. I loved life.

Jan

10

1944

Shot in the neck during dawn raid


10 January 1944: Shot in the neck during dawn raid

I’d gone only 50 yards when the machine gun hit me. I realised from the wound I received that I’d made a mistake and it was on the right down on the lower ground. I was hit in the neck and because of my crouching position the bullet went through the right of my neck and out through my left shoulder taking a lot of my shoulder blade with it.

Jan

8

1944

Living conditions in the Eastern Front trenches


8 January 1944: Living conditions in the Eastern Front trenches

what didn’t the Germans have in their knapsacks! Portable stoves and dry spirit tablets to warm up food, small lamps with paraffin and wicks, a combination fork and spoon, a knife, preserves, Portuguese sardines, French wines, crackers, articial honey, chocolate, cheese, smoked sausage, and personal hygiene items. Letters and photos were always present. Quite often they also carried a harmonica.

Jan

6

1944

Flushing out ‘the Japs’ in the jungle of New Britain


6 January 1944: Flushing out the Japs in the jungle of New Britain

After I put the cup back on top of the water can and ducked back, Jim went over for a drink. He was just reaching for that cup when there was a shot and the cup flew off into the brush. I felt something hit my sock just in front of my ankle. I looked down and there was a fragment of bullet stuck there, still hot.

Dec

22

1943

Canadians confront Fallschirmjager in Ortona


22nd December 1943: Canadians confront Fallschirmjager in Ortona

It is no wonder that they are the ’picked troops’ and sent to whichever sector of the front needs strengthening. It is also interesting to note the condescending way in which the parachutists talk about the inf, ’they always mess things up, and we, the parachutists have to straighten them out again.’ This, then, is the better type and the type which does not talk – irrespective of their knowledge. And they too are the troops which have been put into the line to stem the adv of our Div.

Dec

19

1943

Eastern Front – Panzergrenadier counter-attack


19th December 1943: Eastern Front – Panzergrenadier counter-attack

Some of them start to jump out of the trenches and run towards their rear without their ries. Two of them are still standing behind a heavy machine gun and firing. Still at full pelt, I empty my magazine at the pair of them and hit them. Then I slip on the ice on the rim of the trench and dive headlong into it.

Dec

18

1943

The 82nd Airborne in the Italian Hills

An S mine, when activated, would bounce up about head high, explode, and send pellets about the size of marbles scattering in all directions. Several pellets had penetrated Scannell’s helmet, killing him instantly. I remember the date, 18 December 1943, and the place where he died, Hill 610, which we called the “pimple” because of its shape.