Posts Tagged ‘1944’

B-17 Flying Fortress in flight

Indeed they had. In the next instant we felt the accuracy of the Leuna gunners, taking one direct hit and another close-by explosion. John Stockham was hit in the knee by a piece of flak; no one else was wounded, but when I felt a thump on my thigh, I looked down to find a still warm piece of shrapnel on my lap, which I still retain as a Merseburg souvenir. John’s wound was to heal well over the following weeks and it earned him a well-deserved Purple Heart.

Saving lives at the Italian front!. An infantryman has fallen and a medic is right there to help him. Working swiftly, under the enemy fire, the medic applies an emergency dressing on the soldier wounded in the head.

By 8:00pm I am in a barn on a mountain ridge. There is no defilade, but at least I have a roof over my head. I wouldn’t stay here if the weather were clear. Visibility today is only about two hundred yards, and if the Krauts want to shoot us up, they must do so by map. I am directly behind our troops, which are once again having a rough time.

US Army mortar team in action.

But the Germans are full of surprises. Before night, my company is pinned to a hillside. The krauts, who usually choose elevations for defensive stands, have fooled us in this instance. They have dug in by a dry stream bed at the base of the slope. Trees, cut and arranged in haphazard crisscross patterns, completely conceal their positions. They let us move over the hilltop, and then tear into our ranks with rifle and machine-gun fire. Mist gathers in the lowland, further hindering visibility. Crawling over the slope on our bellies, we try to pry out the enemy locations. But the camouflage is perfect. There is but one thing to do. I borrow a walkie-talkie radio and start maneuvering a patrol down the hill.

Cheering crowds great Allied troops as they enter Naples, 1 October 1943. A year later conditions in the city were actually worse for many people.

Here a row of ladies sat at intervals of about a yard with their backs to the wall. These women were dressed in their street clothes, and had the ordinary well-washed respectable shopping and gossiping faces of working-class housewives. By the side of each woman stood a small pile of tins, and it soon became clear that it was possible to make love to any one of them in this very public place by adding another tin to the pile. The women kept absolutely still, they said nothing, and their faces were as empty of expression as graven images.

German citizens prepare the defences in the Vosges region, overseen by the Wehrmacht.

Shortly before complete darkness, I ordered to pull back and only kept outposts on the clear hills outside the woods, facing north and northwest. A patrol confirmed our concerns from late afternoon. The opponent had practically encircled us; Some houses were in flames in Ramonchamp, situated some five hundred to one thousand meters south of us in the valley. One could clearly hear the bustle of vehicles and voices in the clear night. We were surrounded.

Even if they had not been wounded most surviving members of the home Army were in a bad way.

We arrived at a transit camp, where we were taken on stretchers into a large barracks and laid with other wounded men in rows on the floor. It was there that we learned for the first time that both the northern suburb of Zoliborz and the city centre had surrendered, and the Uprising was over. I don’t think any of us expected it to end like this, and I remember none of us wanted to talk about it. I think we were quite numbed by the news: all that effort, all that sacrifice.

The 82nd had arrived in Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. Men and supplies drop from transport 'planes above Nijmegen.

I didn’t think my German was that bad, so other more persuasive means had to be used to make him talk. This was not a time for German arrogance. In the heat of battle I was locked in mortal combat and in a struggle for my life. I would just as soon have slit his throat except for the fact that I needed information, and division wanted him for the same purpose. I knocked him to the ground and, lying next to him, began choking him. Then I repeated my question. I got the same response.

Polish POWs on Opaczewska Street at the intersection with Grójecka Street. Judging by the uniforms the prisoners are likely to be from one of the units of General Berling Army which crossed the Vistula river and joined the Uprising.

I took a position in the ruins opposite a large Tiger tank, and my first missile hit the right tread of the tank, immobilizing it. I saw the huge gun slowly turning, finally pointing straight at me. I knew I had to get him this time. The second shell blew a large hole in the center, and flames shot from the tank. The hatch opened, and a black-uniformed crew started to jump out. The first man was cut down by our machine-gun fire. The second was killed as he was at-tempting to leave through the hatch. As he fell back, he grabbed the open hatch door, closing it. Nobody else left the steel trap.

A Vickers machine-gun team of 7th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, 59th (Staffordshire) Division in position in a field of corn at Someren in Holland, 21 September 1944.

Still completely ignoring the heavy spandau and mortar fire which was sweeping the area, once again he crossed the wall alone to find out whether it was possible for his platoon to wade the dyke which lay beyond. He found the dyke too deep and wide to cross, and once again he came back across the wall, and received orders to try and establish his platoon on the enemy side of it. All this time the area was subject to intense cross machine-gun fire and mortaring.

Sherman tanks of 26th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, lined up on the road north of San Benedetto, in preparation for the final push to Forli, 27 September 1944.

In Italy the assault on the Gothic Line continued. It was a process familiar to most involved in this campaign – attacks on prepared German positions on higher ground. Sometimes the terrain offered the chance to bring up tanks in support but often it did not. On 28th September A Company, 16th Durham Light Infantry […]

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