infantry

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.

May

19

1943

Japanese troops get ‘confused’ on Attu

19th May 1943: Japanese troops get ‘confused’ on Attu

As he came closer we saw that he was all gassed up, practically drunk, and he was carrying a bag of dried fish and rice balls right up to our front door. This little character kept coming until he was ten feet from us. Then he stopped. He stared at us, sort of dazed, like he had suddenly remembered he forgot to turn the water heater off, and he began backing up. We raised up out of the hole without rifles, and in good English he said, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!”

May

12

1943

The Germans surrender in North Africa

12th May 1943: The Germans surrender in North Africa

At the end the battlefield fell to pieces and lost all pattern and design, and those who had fought hardest on both sides found they had nothing to say, nothing to feel beyond an enveloping sense of gratitude and rest. The anger subsided at the surrender, and for the first time the German and Allied soldiers stood together looking at one another with listless and passionless curiosity.

May

1

1943

The US 34th ‘Red Bull’ Division takes Hill 609

1st May 1943: The US 34th Division takes Hill 609

Toward morning one platoon succeeded in forcing its way up the goat trail, which the Germans had believed was not a feasible means of approaching their positions, and took the stubborn men of the “Barenthin” Regiment by surprise from the rear. Temporarily stunned, the enemy was quickly overcome and Hill 609 was ours. Immediately a battalion was placed in occupation of it and our artillery forward observers accompanying the foremost infantry elements soon were directing fire upon the rapidly retreating enemy causing great havoc.

Apr

30

1943

John Keneally’s second attack from the ‘Bou’

30th April 1943: John Keneally’s second attack from the ‘Bou’

The air was full of the chatter of machine and the ground we lay on trembled with the explosions of grenades. There was no time for fear; a strange ‘don’t-give-a-damn’ feeling took a grip — something every infantryman feels when he is constantly exposed to death in brutal and violent forms. Two German figures loomed over us and I cut one of them in half with the Bren. Pollock shot the other in the face

Apr

28

1943

John Kenneally’s one man attack on German positions

28th April 1943: John Kenneally’s one man attack on German positions

I achieved complete surprise. I hose-piped them from the top of the gully. They were being bowled over like nine-pins and were diving in all directions. I had time to clip on another magazine and I gave them that too. Enough was enough, and I fled back to the boulders and safety. The remaining Germans had scattered and were firing everywhere, even at each other. Bullets were shattering off the boulder in front of me.