infantry

Nov

27

1941

The Russian winter arrives on the Eastern Front

The German Army Group Centre had been able to resume their advance in winter conditions but much worse was to come.

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

The soldiers of the Wehrmacht often lived off the land and took shelter in whatever was available.

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

German troops with the MG 34 heavy machine gun in Russia during september 1941.

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

The last image in the sequence shows the Soviet officials as prisoners under armed guard.

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

Greek Army soldiers advancing against the Italians 1940-1941.

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

Spitfire Mk I in flight, May 1940.

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.

May

27

1940

Massacre as situation worsens for the BEF

Propaganda leaflet with map of encircled Dunkirk

In my ditch were remains of original 10 Pl., Sgts Turner and Watson, Ptes Leidlar, Gillespie, Nicholson, Buchanan, Elvin. Opened fire on tank with Bren and unfortunately A/T Rifle jammed and striker broke. Turner and Nicholson there hit. Ditch very uncomfortable with about one foot of water in it. We stayed there from 2 p.m. till nightfall.

May

26

1940

Calais surrenders to Germans

British dead immediately after the battle in Calais.

Things livened up towards midday. French seem to have gone on right. Am told Worcesters have taken their place but continually failed to get in touch with them. Enemy through on our right, 1 sec of Worcesters back on our rt hand platoon Enemy in view out of wood, but withdrew under French M.G. fire. Very pleasant Fr officer in charge of M.G.s but he is rather worried about the situation, so am I.

May

25

1940

Norfolks fight on as bombing fails to halt Germans

Pontoon bridge over La Bassee Canal. German PzKpfw 38(t) crossing. probably on 27th May, from Rommel's personal collection, later captured by the British.

‘Great enemy air activity today. Had orders to move back to Festubert. Sent Cameron on billeting, then arrived self with 1 Pl. Got settled in and was going to look for Camerons in War Cemetery when we were called back to Estaires. Lot of enemy air bombing along roads. Then had orders to move back to Violaines. Later in afternoon Coy Comdrs went on to meet Queens Regt, who we were to relieve in L.B. and recce area there. The usual defences of a canal in a town. Mortar shelling. ‘