infantry

Aug

31

1943

Wehrmacht troops adjust to Eastern front realities


31st August 1943: Wehrmacht troops adjust to Eastern front realities

The chances of surviving if taken prisoner were, therefore, slim. Even if you weren`t finished off right away with a bullet to the back of the skull – because you were unable to march due to a wound, or the Russians had just received an order to that effect from above, or they just wanted to have a little fun – you at least faced years of existence as a slave and the hardest form of drudgery with the underlying thought that could not be suppressed: Who knew whether you would be able to hold out?

Aug

13

1943

US Army Engineers build a ‘Bridge in the Sky’


13th August 1943: US Army Engineers build a ‘Bridge in the Sky’

The bridges of Sicily were graceful and beautiful old arches of stone or of brick-faced rubble ll, and shattering them so completely was something like chopping down a shade tree or defacing a church. They’ll all have to be rebuilt after the war and it’s going to take a lot more money to replace all those hundreds of spans than was really necessary. But I suppose the Germans and Italians figured dear old Uncle Sam would pay for it all, anyhow, so they might as well have their fun.

Aug

10

1943

General George S. Patton slaps another soldier


10th August 1943: General George S. Patton slaps another soldier

Just as I was leaving the hospital, I saw a soldier sitting on a box near the dressing station. I stopped and said to him, ‘What is the matter with you, boy?’He said, ‘Nothing; I just can’t take it.’ I asked what he meant. He said, ‘I just can’t take being shot at.’ I said, ‘You mean that you are malingering here?’ He burst into tears and I immediately saw that he was an hysterical case.

Aug

3

1943

A Japanese soldier faces up to a lost campaign


3rd August 1943: A Japanese soldier faces up to a lost campaign

Everybody picked coconuts. The enemy was hurriedly constructing an aireld opposite us. We could see them so clearly that it seemed we could have touched them. It only meant that more air attacks were in store for us. Our lives were worthless, for there was no order for withdrawal after all. I have come to hate the men who cause wars. The withdrawal order didn’t come through tonight either.

Jul

26

1943

A short sharp engagement with a Tiger in Sicily


26th July 1943: A short sharp engagement with a Tiger in Sicily

We could hear the rustling and moving of men not very far away, but there remained this sense of suspension in time, of living outside the army, outside the real war, of being in a dream-like village where people fired rifles into fields. Our only support was a three-inch mortar. It was brought up and from behind one of the houses it lobbed shells into the field. But its range was too great and we could not get the shells to fall close enough. The two-inch mortar was with us and it would have done the job, but the ammunition carriers were lost.

Jul

6

1943

A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk


6th July 1943: A Soviet artilleryman blown up at Kursk

The last plane dove directly upon our battery and released its bomb load. One of the bombs flew directly at my dugout. I saw my own unavoidable death approaching, but I could do nothing to save myself: there was not enough time. It would take me five to six seconds to reach a different shelter, but the bomb had been released close to the ground, and needed only one or two seconds to reach the earth – and me.

Jun

18

1943

A prisoner snatch on the Eastern front


18th June 1943: A prisoner snatch on the Eastern front

We heard cries of alarm from above us. Firing on the move, Germans were already running through the forest in our direction. Our man responsible for the boat couldn’t find the end of the cable in the water, panicked, and swam across the river to our side, although later he told us that he had gone to get the boat. We made so many mistakes due to our lack of professional training!

May

29

1943

The dead man’s guard after ‘Banzai’ suicide charge

29th May 1943: The dead man’s guard after ‘Banzai’ suicide charge

He just glanced at the dead man’s head and withdrew, satifised that the destruction inside had been complete. He will never be cited for valor, but the mutilated, dead soldier held his position against the door of the tent more valiantly and more effectively than he could have in life, and to the twelve live men in the tent he was a hero. Five times during the morning Japs pulled back the tent flap and looked in and each time they were driven back. The sight of the dead boy convinced them.

May

28

1943

Last desperate hours of Japanese on Attu

28th May 1943: Last desperate hours of Japanese on Attu

The 303rd Brigade has been defeated. Yenagawa is still holding Ananous. There are many cases of suicide. Half the Sector Unit Headquarters has been blown away. I gave 400 shots of morphine to the severely wounded to kill them. Ate half fried thistle. It is the first time I have eaten anything fresh in six months. It is a delicacy.

May

27

1943

Gurkha NCO wins VC in Burma jungle battle

27th May 1943: Gurkha NCO wins VC in Burma jungle battle

Havildar Gaje Ghale dominated the fight by his outstanding example of dauntless courage and superb leadership. Hurling hand grenades, covered in own blood from his own neglected wounds, he led assault after assault encouraging his platoon by shouting the Gurkha’s battle-cry. Spurred on by the irresistible will of their leader to win, the platoon stormed and carried the hill by a magnificent all out effort and inflicted very heavy casualties on the Japanese.