tanks

Dec

14

1942

Operation Winter Storm pushes on towards Stalingrad

14th December 1942: Operation Winter Storm pushes on towards Stalingrad

Suddenly, there is movement there! Three – no, four,five, six Russian tanks, probably T-34s, slowly advance on our position echeloned to the rear. I sound the alarm for the two self-propelled guns. The crews huddle behind the thinly armored gunshield, the barrels turn toward the enemy. Apart from this, there is no movement on our side. Over there the slowly advancing tanks are followed by several waves of Russian infantry that can be clearly made out against the snow cover with their thick brown greatcoats and well-known hats.

Dec

11

1942

The Eighth Army advance reaches Agheila

11th December 1942: The Eighth Army advance reaches Agheila

They fought very bravely, and the crew of one gun allowed Tom’s tank to get within fifty yards of them before firing. Unfortunately for them, they missed him, only carrying away the ration boxes on one side of the tank, and he overran the gun, actually crushing one of the crew under the tank. In this action, the M.O. was badly wounded, and for a long time was in danger of losing an arm and a leg. But later we heard that he had managed to keep both, although they would never be 100 per cent useful again. His driver was killed outright.

Nov

9

1942

The pursuit through Egypt continues

9th November 1942: The pursuit through Egypt continues

1630 – The enemy were seen to be withdrawing from their strongpoint and M Battery 3rd RHA laid a concentration on the road. At the same time A Sqn, together with D Coy KRRC, advanced. Between them 150 PoW were taken, all from the 90th Lt Div. A Sqn continued their advance until they met considerable A/Tk fire in the area of the aerodrome at Kilo 126.

Nov

4

1942

El Alamein – the chase is on

crusader tank at speed

4th November 1942: El Alamein – the chase is on…

Gradually the objects in the turret became visible: the crew of the tank – for, I believe, these tanks did not hold more than two – were, so to speak, distributed round the turret. At first it was diflicult to work out how the limbs were arranged. They lay in a clumsy embrace, their white faces whiter, as those of dead men in the desert always were, for the light powdering of dust on them.

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

22

1942

The last 24 hours before battle

22nd October 1942: The last 24 hours before battle

I awakened next morning, cramped and sore, to find, seeping through the little spaces where the corrugated iron did not meet flush with the sand, faint rays of light. Dawn was breaking. In a few hours the vicious heat would start and the agony of our confinement would really begin. We had our meals with us — in tins. Cold bacon, bully beef and biscuits were on the menu, and these things had to satisfy us until darkness fell.

Sep

26

1942

A day in the life of a Tank soldier in the desert

26th September 1942: A day in the life of a Tank soldier in the desert

Then out with the fire tin, in with the petrol, brew tin filled with water, and we stood round shivering slightly in the cool air waiting for the sun to come up over the horizon, watching the reddening sky, waiting for the full flood of light before we could light up. The air was crystal clear and cold, our wadi etched with a dark-rimmed silhouette. Other tanks stood out stark in the morning light; other figures stood around their tins. Then over the horizon flooded a warm yellow glow, eating up the shadows, swallowing the tight-drawn outlines.

Sep

16

1942

The Battle for Voronezh continues

16th September 1942: The Battle for Voronezh continues

The one thing that we are unable to get used to though, is the nasty flies. They are drawn to all the dying corpses under the rubble, and have multiplied to form large swarms too countless to grasp. Birds are also circling over the battlefield; thou- sands of crows screech above the ruins and fields of death. Again and again, they dive into the depths of the rubble when they see the horrific harvest of death.

Sep

9

1942

Montgomery prepares for the big assault

9th September 42: Montgomery prepares for the big assault

I had told Alexander privately that, in view of my promise to the soldiers, I refused to attack before October; if a September attack was ordered by Whitehall, they would have to get someone else to do it. My stock was rather high after Alam Halfa! We heard no more about a September attack.

Sep

1

1942

Rommel gets bogged down

1st September 1942: Rommel gets bogged down

What most of us weren’t aware of, was that false maps of the area had been allowed to fall into enemy hands which indicated certain routes between the Qattara Depression and the two ridges as being ‘safe’, whilst others were dangerous, meaning soft and treacherous sandy going.