infantry

Dec

15

1942

Freezing on the Russian steppe hoping for a ‘Heimatschuss’

15th December 1942: Freezing on the Russian steppe hoping for a ‘Heimatschuss’

I know what he means. He is trying to tell me that unfortunately it does not qualify me for a Heimatschuss [literally a ‘Home Shot’ – a wound bad enough to get you sent home] I feel the disappointment – a hope has been dashed. And then I think how quickly human feelings and attitudes can change. It is only a matter of weeks since I was dreaming of glory and heroism and was so full of élan that I was almost bursting.

Nov

24

1942

Facing a Red Army infantry attack

24th November 1942: Facing a Red Army infantry attack

We are firing with four machine guns and at least eighty carbines from secure, covered positions into the advancing horde. Our machine gun bursts rip openings in their ranks. Dead and wounded are hitting the ground all the time. But more of them are coming through the haze, and we can’t see them clearly. The first ones are now so close to our positions that we can readily make out the plump, bent figures with rifles and Russian Kalashnikovs.

Nov

23

1942

Navajo code talkers join the Guadalcanal battlefield

23 November 1942: Navajo code talkers join the Guadalcanal battlefield

There was no room for error in a maneuver like that. The old Shackle communications system took so long to encode and decode, and it was so frequently inaccurate, that using it for the transmission of on-the-fly target coordinates was a perilous proposition. Frequently, in the midst of battle, instead of using the Shackle code, the Marines had transmitted in English. They knew the transmissions were probably being monitored by the japanese, so they salted the messages liberally with profanity, hoping to confuse the enemy.

Nov

20

1942

The British enter Benghazi

20th November 1942: The British enter Benghazi

In doing so we came to a wadi and as we got to the lip we spotted an enemy machine-gun nest. The corporal alongside me popped a hand grenade into the nest, getting rid of that one. We tumed to our left flank and carried along the lip of the wadi and wiped out four more machine-gun positions and captured four prisoners before returning to our lines.The chap who was wounded died on the way back.

Nov

19

1942

Operation Uranus – Soviets attack outside Stalingrad

19th November 1942: Operation Uranus – shock Soviet attack outside Stalingrad

The next thing I knew was that all hell had broken loose. The vibrating air blew out the candle and we were trying to sort ourselves out in utter darkness. The whole place trembled, bits of earth fell on to us and the noise was deafening. We were sleep drunk, and kept bumping into each other, mixing up our uniforms, our boots and other equipment, and shouting out loudly to relieve our tension.

Nov

1

1942

Bloody fight for Guadalcanal continues

1st November 1942: Bloody fight for Guadalcanal continues…

During the course of this engagement, all members of his section were either killed or severely wounded and he himself suffered multiple, grievous wounds. Nonetheless, Corporal Casamento continued to provide critical supporting fire for the attack and in defense of his position. Following the loss of all effective personnel, he set up, loaded, and manned his unit’s machine gun, tenaciously holding the enemy forces at bay.

Oct

31

1942

El Alamein – Australians begin to break through

31st October 1942: El Alamein – Australians begin to break through

But with a scream and a crash another shell arrived. Something glanced along the side of my boot and two or three more pieces hit on the tank with a clang. Evan rolled sideways off the back of the tank and fell to the ground. ‘Are you all right?’ I asked him. ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Well get back in the turret, I’m not going to muck about digging in this stuff.”

Oct

28

1942

El Alamein – Montgomery regroups his troops

28th October 1942: El Alamein – Montgomery regroups his troops

The tank was filled with a thousand buzzing flies and smelt vaguely of death. Occasionally a shot pinged against the armour. My peace of mind was not helped by a tactless signaller who informed me, between grips for breath after running and dodging, that a shell had come through the forward observation port of the tank the day before.

Oct

27

1942

Rifle Brigade fight off the tank attack on Kidney Ridge

27th October 1942: Rifle Brigade fight off the tank attack on Kidney Ridge

The whole area of the bridgehead was jam-packed with lorries, tanks and guns. It resembled a badly organised lorry and ordnance park. The congestion was horrendous. Our two troops of guns were only twenty yards apart and there must have been fifty guns within an area the size of a twenty acre field. It was any man’s country and it seemed as if every gun in the desert was in the bridgehead.

Oct

24

1942

El Alamein – the infantry go forward

24th October 1942: El Alamein – the infantry go forward …

One of the paratroopers decided to make a break, and with head down, he dashed to my left front. I shouted to him to halt, but he still continued. My Bren gun was set on single shot, and I fired from the hip well ahead of him. I was amazed to see him drop like a log, hit in the head by a single bullet. This action appeared to put paid to any further attempts at escaping.