31Dec/13

Polish resistance turns against the ‘German’ occupiers

From the very earliest days of their invasion of Poland, and then Russia, the Germans had adopted the most ruthless methods of dealing with anyone suspected of aiding the resistance.

We were in for a surprise: these German soldiers weren’t German. They had Asian features and black, silky hair. They were Russian—speaking Muslims, former Red Army soldiers who, after being captured on the Russian front, had volunteered to fight with the Germans rather than remain in POW camps. When we searched them, We found maps of our area and evidence that, the day before, they had carried out a raid on partisans not far from where we were.

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30Dec/13

Monte Cassino appears in view

Men of 9 Commando enjoy a 'cuppa' on the morning after a night raid on enemy positions on the River Garigliano, 30 December 1943.

That night we were introduced to our mules, one per post. What staunch friends these gallant hybrids have turned out to be, never flinching come what may, and never hesitating in any weather. ‘Heads, he bites you; tails, he kicks you!’ was a libel invented by field artillery drivers. In the same class of faithfulness we must put the muleteers, too. They all came from North Italy and were of the best type. If they were afraid of anything on this earth, they never mentioned it to anybody.

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29Dec/13

The smell of death in the paradise of Bougainville

ROUTE STEP…MUD – Marines moving up to the Bougainville front lines ran afoul of General Mud.  Here some of the Marines demonstrate carious forms of footwork for muddy going.  The leader (right) is recovering his balance after a misstep, the third Marine from the end lifts his feet high, while the other Leathernecks just plow right through.

I always hated the feeling that we were destroying something really beautiful. Sometimes, when I was resting, I’d see monkeys come down from the trees. We men would feed them. During quiet periods, I often thought about those wonderful animals and flowers and wondered how they were going to survive the war. As a Navajo, I’d been taught to respect the earth, and the devastation made me feel sick.

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26Dec/13

The Scharnhorst is sunk in ‘Battle of the North Cape’

The Sinking of the 'Scharnhorst', 26 December 1943
by Charles David Cobb

We were thus able to watch as Duke of York came up, reducing speed and at 1901 fired a broadside at an easy target. It was an awe-inspiring sight. At five miles, the trajectory was comparatively flat and the 14 inch ‘tracer’ shells leaped across the sea and all of them appeared to smash into her in a colossal explosion. Some of them may have gone over and hit the sea some miles further on, but they were not visible.

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25Dec/13

A war barely interrupted by Christmas

Men of the 2/6th Queen's Regiment celebrate Christmas, 25 December 1943.

Next, we were moved into a long low building which contained individual cells. I now saw the truth behind the news about each officer having his own room! No explanation was given as to why or for how long one was being given such personal attention, but by now, since capture, we were becoming used to the devious methods of the “detaining power”. It dawned on me that I was in solitary confinement and that this was a novel way to celebrate Christmas.

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24Dec/13

Irish Guards celebrate Christmas Eve in a brothel

Portrait of Sergeant J P Kenneally, VC, by Henry Carr, 1943.

The bastards opened up on us — .45 slugs slammed into the rear doors they even fired at us from the upstairs windows of the brothel. Monty rounded the corner and we were away with no harm done; there were bullet holes in the roof but no one was hit so we proceeded on our merry way back to Canosa. We parked the wagon about half a mile from the granaries and walked back just in time to join midnight mass in the chapel attached to the farm house. It had been a good night out.

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22Dec/13

Canadians confront Fallschirmjager in Ortona

Italy! 'I lived here.' An Italian man stands amid the wreckage of what once was his home in a war-ruined region of San Pietro. Retreating Germans dynamited houses to create street blocks.  Signal Corps Photo .

It is no wonder that they are the ’picked troops’ and sent to whichever sector of the front needs strengthening. It is also interesting to note the condescending way in which the parachutists talk about the inf, ’they always mess things up, and we, the parachutists have to straighten them out again.’ This, then, is the better type and the type which does not talk – irrespective of their knowledge. And they too are the troops which have been put into the line to stem the adv of our Div.

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