infantry

Jul

8

1944

Charnwood: British launch another attack on Caen

Sherman tanks of 33rd Armoured Brigade, supporting 3rd Infantry Division, moving forward near Lebisey Wood for Operation CHARNWOOD, the assault on Caen, 8 July 1944.

It was some time in the afternoon that we emerged from the Wood, and pressed on over the open ground to a small hill marked on the map as Point 64. As we advanced to the hill we came under intense ground and air-burst shelling. There was no cover to escape the deadly effects of the air-bursts, and as I was urging my platoon forward toward CAEN now only a mile or two away, I felt a dull thud in my left arm just below the elbow. I looked down and saw blood oozing through battle-dress tunic. There was a knocked-out tank on the side of the road, so I crawled underneath it to assess the damage to my arm.

Jul

1

1944

Normandy – Canadian night patrol to snatch a prisoner

The crew of a Sherman tank named 'Akilla' of 1st Nottinghamshire Yeomanry, 8th Armoured Brigade, after having destroyed five German tanks in a day, Rauray, 30 June 1944. Left to right: Sgt J Dring; Tpr Hodkin, Tpr A Denton; Tpr E Bennett; L/Cpl S Gould.

So the actual practice requires that number two moves silently and quickly, knife in hand, on the soldier leaving the trench. The slightest sound will mean death to the patrol. A knife to the man’s kidney instantly paralyzes his vocal cords; number two’s other hand will catch soundlessly the falling rifle. Then a quick slash across the throat. Number three man, in the same moment, is in the trench guaranteeing a prisoner who will live by the quick use of the garrotte. The enemy soldier loses consciousness with- out a gasp. Then a fireman’s lift and back to the start point. Prisoner delivered; objective achieved

Jun

26

1944

‘Epsom’ – Scottish troops v 12th SS Panzer ‘Hitlerjugend’

Troops of 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, 15th (Scottish) Division, fire from their positions in a sunken lane during Operation 'Epsom', 26 June 1944.

We stared after them: trying to comprehend the actuality of our enemies. A Regimental Provost corporal, taking charge of one, flicked him contemptuously across the shoulders with his driving-gauntlets, rearwards. And morale soared. Prisoners already! Things must be going well. The sight did a world of good to the younger ones among us, upon whom the strain of composure had been beginning to tell.

Jun

21

1944

Mortar Platoon in the the front line in Normandy

Men of the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders occupy a defensive position in a hedgerow, Normandy, 17 June 1944.

1015 Polish boots (yes, I swear that’s correct), pick up Sten gun, and report with map to command- ing officer for conference. Nine times out of ten the Germans would mortar the area while the conference was taking place. We would all rush for the few available slit trenches. Howie would usually lose the race and be the last man under cover. While everybody else grabbed steel helmets Frank Waters, seemingly carefree, would content himself with placing a thin wooden mapboard over his head muttering: ‘Bastards!’

Jun

1

1944

Anzio battlefield after the breakout

Men of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry eat a meal before going into action at Anzio.

We found a lot of our own boys, killed earlier on, lying where they had fallen, unburied, in corn that is waist-high. The odd German grave with ‘UNBEK. SOLDAT’ on the cross. A ruined house, smashed to rubble, with a child’s pram, painted white, spick and span in the middle of it. A dug-out that had been scooped out under a knocked out tank. All most entertaining and instructive.

May

22

1944

Chindit jungle strongpoint faces third Japanese attack

Chindits at rest in their jungle bivouac.

With a heavy heart I sent a Most Immediate signal to Joe asking for permission to abandon the block at my discretion. The direction of the new Japanese attack would prevent night supply drops on the airfield, and, with the A.A. guns, only night drops were now possible. Night drops on the block, or on the jungle to the west, could never keep us supplied with ammunition in heavy battle. It would take too many men, too long, to find and bring in the boxes.

May

18

1944

Polish troops capture Monte Cassino

A low aerial view of the Monastery showing its complete destruction

But when the infantry probed the outskirts they found little opposition, and many Germans gave themselves up. There was some sniping and some machine gunning, but this was soon overcome, and in due course the place was mopped up. Some casualties were caused by time bombs left by the Hun. Later we learnt that the Polish flag was flying over the Monastery. It was very fitting that this should be so, for the Poles have suffered dearly.

May

15

1944

Back into the front line after 40% casualties

View of the Garrison Hill battlefield with the British and Japanese positions shown. Garrison Hill was the key to the British defences at Kohima.

The desolation was augmented by millions of flies as they tried to do justice to the feast that ‘civilised’ man had delivered to them, moving from corpses to latrines, then to our food and pricking and sucking the naked parts of our bodies, such as hands and faces, which might then absorb some disease.

May

14

1944

Attack continues after 100 casualties in 2 minutes

German prisoners being searched during the attack across the River Gari on the Gustav Line, 13 May 1944.

Captain Wakeford, keeping his Company under perfect control, crossed the start line and although wounded in the face and in both arms, led his men up the hill. Half way up the hill his Company came under heavy spandau fire; in spite of his wounds, he organized and led a force to deal with this opposition so that his Company could get on.

May

11

1944

The last battle for Monte Cassino begins

Third Phase 11 - 18 May 1944: Allied 4.2 inch mortars in action at the start of the final offensive on Cassino.

Large mortar bombs started to explode all around us followed, almost immediately, by heavy artillery fire. The enemy infantry opened up with his machine guns and tracer bullets whipped and whanged their way a few feet over our heads. I prepared to return the fire but found that, as our troops were now in my line of fire, I was unable to do so. I could see them reasonably clearly moving forward just across the river and all we could do was to watch as the machine gun bullets arched and swathed across the crossing point.