infantry

Apr

29

1942

Gurkha’s fighting retreat in Burma

At dawn on the 30th April, tanks and Gurkhas sallied out and cleared a burnt-out village in front of our lines. Many Japanese in it were killed and several mortars and light automatics captured. The Gurkhas were particularly pleased at trapping thirty-eight of the enemy who had taken refuge in a culvert under the road.

Jan

15

1942

Australians take on Japanese in Malaya

Under this hell of fire we at once dived flat on the ground, as it didn’t seem possible for any human being to escape the blazing fury. A barbed wire fence near us was ringing backwards and forwards from the bullets. But our skipper sang out, “On you feet men; we must take their position.” I, like all the others, expected a bullet at any period, but I had only one thing in mind – to reach the trees and kill every Jap I saw.

Dec

20

1941

Hitler appeals for warm clothing for Eastern Front

While the German homeland is not directly threatened by the enemy, with the exception of air raids, millions of our soldiers, after a year of the most difficult fighting, confront a numerically and materially far superior enemy at the front. Victories, as never before witnessed in world history, have been secured in battle thanks to the conduct and bravery of officers and men.

Nov

27

1941

The Russian winter arrives on the Eastern Front

The snow blew almost horizontally in blizzards that some- times lasted all day long, with the wind piercing our faces with a thousand needles. The cold numbed and deadened the human body from the feet up until the whole body was an aching mass of misery. To keep warm, we had to wear every piece of clothing we owned to achieve a layered effect. Each man fought the cold alone, pitting his determination and will against the bitter winter.

Sep

26

1941

The Wehrmacht’s endless march East

Underneath it quivered rabbits, pigs, and the vermin that would attack us. Bedbugs bothered us at night, fleas broke our rest, and lice multiplied in pur uniforms. Spiders, flies, wood lice, and cockroaches scuttled over the tables and over our faces and hands. The illumination was provided by an oil lamp.

Sep

17

1941

Another suicidal Soviet assault

We allowed the enemy infantry to get within about two hundred meters of us before our machine guns reaped a bloody harvest. The result was horrific. Within minutes countless brown dots covered the sparsely grassed area whilst others staggered toward our positions with arms raised.

Aug

28

1941

Training in the jungles of Malaya

Vickers machine gun in Malaya

In this hodge-podge of nature gone slightly mad, where the British and Japanese will one day fight, it is dank and steaming, all right – nearly asphyxiating. Hardly a whisper of air, and there’s the musty smell of wet places and the piercing scents of decaying matter, animal and vegetable. The sweat pours off our faces and streams down the middle of our backs as though we’re in a downpour.

Jun

26

1941

The Germans arrive in town

Here we see German troops arrive in a small Russian town for the first time. We do not know what town, we do not know the exact date. We can have a pretty good idea of the fate of the Soviet officials who have been arrested, following the Commissar order.

Nov

16

1940

Greek Army push Italian invaders back

We woke up very early and marched for 11 hours; now we are getting ready to move again. My clothes are still damp. It is an exhausting march again; we are climbing 1,000 m to the village of Fourka.

Along the way, for the first time, I saw a dead Italian soldier and my hair stood on end. I thought of his parents, his brothers and sisters, his wife, who were all waiting for him while he lay flung on a mountainside in Epirus, to complete the part of the unknown soldier.

It is possible that we might meet the same fate.

May

28

1940

RAF over Dunkirk beaches – Captain Leah is captured

Floundering about in mud and water and crossing last wire fences. Kilt badly torn. However we covered about 7 1/2 miles and dawn found us on outskirts of Laventie. By this time we were more or less clear of enemy except for odd motor cyclists but very tired and hungry. Here made unfortunate mistake of deciding to lay up for another day until dark. Poured with rain and had to take to houses – for a few hours but got out again about 8 a.m.