infantry

Apr

24

1944

Jungle firefight as Chindits ambush Japanese

Chindits making tea at their jungle bivouac.

We kept ourselves flat on the ground as the bullets scythed through the thick jungle undergrowth a couple of feet above our heads. The unfortunate mules carrying our wireless sets could not get down far enough. I watched fascinated as bullet holes appeared in rows along their bodies, little spurts of blood in line, before they crashed to the ground.

Apr

18

1944

The relief of Kohima begins

The Battle of Imphal-Kohima March - July 1944: The mined tennis court and terraces of the District Commissioner's bungalow in Kohima.

At 09.30 hours Corporal Judges and his section consisting of Privates Johnson,Thrussel and myself, as well as Corporal Veal’s section, went onto the road to help evacuate the wounded Indians, BORs, walking and stretcher cases. It was my job to look at the stretcher cases. If they were dead I had to send the Indian stretcher bearers round the back of the feature where they put the bodies in a heap to be buried later.

Apr

14

1944

Surprise as the Norfolks arrive at Kohima

An infantry section on patrol in Burma, 1944.

I thought to myself, “Crumbs! Now what have I done wrong!” I went over to him and he said, “Where the bloody hell have you been?” I said, “Well we ran into a little bit of trouble…” He said, “I know, I’ve had it all, chapter and verse, on the telephone!”

Mar

28

1944

‘Fight to the last man’ as Japanese enter India

View of the Burmese landscape from the Dimapur-Kohima road near Imphal.

In Dimapur I had asked the brigadier commanding the base what his ration strength was. ‘Forty-five thousand, near enough,’ he replied. ‘And how many soldiers can you scrape up out of that lot?’ I inquired. He smiled wryly. ‘I might get five hundred who know how to fire a rifle!’ . But, as at Kohima, everything that could be done to put the sprawling base into a state of defence was being done.

Mar

23

1944

Japanese held at the Battle of Sangshak

The Battle of Imphal-Kohima March - July 1944: British 3-inch mortar detachments support the 19th Indian Division's advance along the Mawchi Road, east of Toungoo, Burma. The mortar proved the most effective weapon in jungle warfare.

In the late afternoon, I had to visit company commanders to convey orders for the coming night attack. I went by way of a communication trench and saw five soldiers crouching in it. On the battlefield soldiers feel forlorn and tend to stick together. Just as I told them to disperse, a shell exploded between me and them and all five were killed. I was facing the enemy so my face was injured. I could not see…

Mar

16

1944

Montgomery speaks to the D-Day invasion troops

General Sir Bernard Montgomery standing on the bonnet of a jeep speaking to troops of 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles, after carrying out an inspection of the battalion near Portsmouth in the run-up to D-Day. The battalion had previously served in his division earlier in the war.

‘I wanted to come here today so that we could get to know one another: so that I could have a look at you and you could have a look at me – if you think that’s worth doing. We have got to go off and do a job together very soon now, you and I, and we must have confidence in one another. And now that I have seen you I have complete confidence… complete confidence… absolutely complete confidence. And you must have confidence in me.’

Mar

10

1944

Bougainville – the desperate battle for Hill 260

With the Japanese firmly entrenched on the South Knob of Hill 260, several artillery pieces were hauled into the jungle and set up on nearby Hill 309. They blasted away point blank, pounding the Japanese at the base of the remains of the Observation Post in the banyan tree.

A new plan of attack was devised, a double envelopment, and Lt. Willard was ordered, at 14O5, to take his platoon inside the West wire, establish contact with Lt. Stone(Fox) and make his attack from the West, (see over- lay) azimuth 90°. Lt. Karl with his platoon was ordered to move East and envelop the enemy from the East. He moved out at 142O to envelop the enemy and cut their line of supply.

Mar

8

1944

Cassino – into the front line in the mountain snow

Porters of an Indian Mule Company transporting supplies to troops in the mountains.

Anything within 20 yards of a grenade exploding will be hit, and I was closer than that. ‘What a pathetic way to go’, was what went through my mind as I shivered in shock. Then I heard voices coming near. Lieutenant W. A. Dunn, one of A Company’s platoon commanders, appeared out of the gloom and peered at me closely through a swirl of snowflakes.

Mar

1

1944

The Red Army marches across Ukraine

Every year the climate brought the fighting to a virtual standstill.

In some cases I had to act severely and took tough measures on the villagers in order to feed five or seven soldiers. I had a German hand-grenade with a long handle without a fuse; if the house owners refused to feed the soldiers, I would say something like this: ‘The Germans (Schwabs) destroyed our field kitchen, if you do not boil potatoes, the grenade explodes in an hour (or half an hour).’ This argument helped a lot!

Feb

17

1944

The London Irish try to find the ‘Ox and Bucks’

Men of the 2/7th Middlesex Regiment carry out maintenance on a Vickers machine gun at Anzio, 21 February 1944.

As the leading troops emerged from the protection of the wadis they came under savage artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire, and were unable to make further progress. Casualties among officers and non-commissioned officers were heavy, and that led to some disorganisation. Since January there had been an eighty per cent. change in the personnel of the battalion owing to the need to replace losses among officers and men.