Week 21: 23rd May – 29th May 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • The heaviest air raid in history, up to that time, took place as the Royal Air Force dropped 2,000 tons of bombs on Dortmund, topping the record of 1,500 tons dropped on Duisburg on May 12.
  • After Allied forces in the North Atlantic sank 22 of the 60 German U-boats in the first two weeks of May, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz ordered the remaining submarines to halt their attacks on Allied convoys, and to make “a temporary shift of operation to areas less endangered by aircraft”.
  • At the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, a group of 1,035 Gypsies (507 men and 528 women) were killed in a single day. SS personnel, armed with lists of the persons to be exterminated, went around to each of the barracks, and took the condemned to the gas chambers.
  • Edwin Barclay, the President of Liberia, was welcomed by U.S. President Roosevelt to the White House, along with President-elect William Tubman. The African leaders then became the first black guests to stay overnight at the Executive Mansion. In the following 45 years, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I (in 1954 and 1963), Haitian President Paul Magloire (1955), and entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. (1973), along with their families, would be the only other black overnight dignitaries at the White House.
  • The U.S. War Production Board issued an order that all contractors engaged in war production were barred from practicing racial discrimination.
  • At the Polish city of Tluste, now part of the Ukraine, liquidation of the Jewish population was carried out by the German SS, with 3,000 people killed in a single day. The people were gathered in the town square, then led in groups of 100 to 200 to the town’s Jewish cemetery, where they were shot.
  • RAF Bomber Command sent 719 aircraft to bomb Wuppertal overnight. 3,500 people died in the raid.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 23rd May 1943
779. in the morning – cleared out of billets by 09.00. Hung around all day – eating! Left at 23.30. Not a bad journey. Packed like sardines!! Had a bit o’ sleep.

Monday 24th May1943
What a dump. Pouring with rain when we arrived. Having to sleep in an old Nissen until 486 go. Good food. 24 1/2m from London. 6m from Grays. Lots of our Bty (battery) gone on 24hr.

Tuesday 25th May 1943
C.S.M. (company sergeant major) got me for Cookhouse again. She loves me so! Very tired, took over the ?G.L. (gun laying) not a bad set. On duty til 20.00hrs! Went in Naafi & so to bed.

Wednesday 26th May 1943
486 moved out. Moved into the huts. Lecture by Capt. A on Barrack room damages! Went out – What a place this is! No thing in the the village at all – in at 2000.

Thursday 27th May 1943
Very hot. Relief manning. Did a lot of maintenance. On duty from 14.00 REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) came at night. Got to bed eventually about 0000. Up again at 0030 for Bulls eye.

Friday 28th May 1943
Very tired. On fatigues in the afternoon – also P.T. Terribly hot still. REME came again. Played and lost a game of ping pong with Staff Sgt. Bed pretty early.

Saturday 29th May 1943
On fatigues all morning. Lot of talk about G.L. doing Guards etc! Went to Grays. Very nice and to dance. Had a good time.

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Week 20: 16th May – 22nd May 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • The Royal Air Force Operation Chastise “Dam Busters” raid was carried out by nineteen bombers using “bouncing” bombs on dams in the Ruhr valley industrial region, causing massive flooding and loss of life. German radio reported that 711 people were killed and claimed that 341 of them had been Allied prisoners of war. “That night”, the German Armaments Minister would write later, “employing just a few bombers, the British came close to a success which would have been greater than anything they had achieved hitherto with thousands of bombers.”
  • The end of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was complete as SS Polizeifuhrer Jürgen Stroop sent his triumphant dispatch to Berlin, announcing that, “The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence”.
  • Following years of experimentation to test the safety of the first antibiotic drug, the United States Army Medical Corps cleared the release of penicillin for use in all military hospitals. Two days later, the first patient to receive the drug would be an unidentified U.S. Army soldier. Although the bacteria-killing properties of the mold Penicillium chrysogenum had been discovered by Alexander Fleming 15 years earlier, production was limited until 1942, when a potent strain of the mold was discovered on a melon that had been discarded from a market in Peoria, Illinois, where research was being performed on the drug. Mary Hunt, a technician of the lab, is usually given credit for discovering the cantaloupe that contained the mold although the laboratory’s supervisor, Kenneth B. Raper, would tell a reporter in 1976 that, “A housewife in town knew we were looking for moldy food, and she brought in the canteloupe, and handed it over to a guard, then departed without ever leaving her name”.
  • German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels declared that, after 60 days of work, Berlin was now Judenfrei – free of Jews.
  • The government of Bulgaria, under pressure from its Axis partner, Germany, agreed to surrender the 25,000 Jewish residents of Sofia for deportation to concentration camps. Within three days however massive protests were organized and the plan was foiled. The city’s Jews were resettled in labour camps within Bulgaria, with the men used for public works and no further attempts at extermination were made.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 16th May 1943
Fire Picket (?) in morning. Sgt. Hopps sent me on Cookhouse fats. for 2 hrs – but it was quite fun. Met Nobby Dennis (KRR) in the evening.

Monday 17th May1943
Fuel today. I.F.C. said our ops. was excellent. Had lectures on P.V. – not bad. Stayed in all evening – meaning to go to bed early – but didn’t.

Tuesday 18th May 1943
Lectures all morning. Had letter from Jim Millar Quite a nice surprise. On maintenance at night – so unable to keep date. Didn’t go out. Bed early.

Wednesday 19th May 1943
Got a rocket for missing Parade. Up on sets – fired. Had several good shots – spot on Still very warm here. Went out at night met Dennis not bad.

Thursday 20th May 1943
Went up GP until 1100. Canadians arrived with their MKiii hoping to get a look in! Pay Parade in the afternoon. Went out with Dennis. Bit Bored.

Friday 21st May 1943
Raining – not up at G.P. Got caught for ruddy cookhouse fatigues! Greasy tins. Had tea out – went out at night. Spent a lot of money.

Saturday 22nd May 1943
Up at GP all morning – packing & scrubbing billet in the afternoon. Went to flicks. Saw Beyond the Blue Horizon. Good.

Week 19: 9th May – 15th May 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain, which remained neutral during World War II, spoke in favor of world peace, “declaring that neither the Axis nor the Allies could destroy the other”. 
  • A German Junkers Ju 88 fitted with the new Lichtenstein radar set was secretly flown from Norway to Scotland by a crew of defectors (possibly led by a British intelligence agent). 
  • U.S. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox inadvertently gave a clue that Allied forces intended to use Sicily for an invasion of Europe, potentially undermining the British disinformation campaign of Operation Mincemeat to convince the Germans that the attack would on Greece and Sardinia. Ironically, Knox’s comment that “Possession of Sicily by the Allies would obviously be a tremendous asset” was interpreted as an clumsy attempt at deception.
  • The first wartime conference between U.S. President Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Churchill, began in Washington, D.C., and continued for 16 days. Churchill and his entourage had arrived in Washington from New York the night before after being secretly transported across the North Atlantic Ocean on the RMS Queen Mary.
  • The North African Campaign came to an end after nearly three years, as the 164th Infantry Division of Germany’s Afrika Korps laid down its weapons and its commander, Major General Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein became the last of the Axis officers to surrender in Africa. 
  • At an airbase at Carlsbad, New Mexico, Dr. Louis Fieser, the chemist who had developed napalm, conducted the first test of the experimental “bat bomb”, with a timed 0.6 ounce explosive attached to a Mexican free-tailed bat. After a demonstration with dummy bombs showed that the bats would, as planned, seek shelter in buildings, Dr. Fieser attached live explosives to six dormant bats for a demonstration in front of cameras. The bats woke up before detonation, then flew towards the wooden control tower, barracks, and other buildings and set a fire that destroyed much of the base.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 9th May 1943
Went to dance at Nursling – NBG. Quite nice – but nothing exceptional. On duty – S/P all morning – maintenance – getting ready to move tomorrow.

Monday 10th May1943
All packed and ready to go at 0930. Didn’t go until 22.15 – convoy to Totton. Travelled overnight and day arrived Whitby 11.20. Tired out. Poured with rain all day.

The Angel Hotel, Whitby. Now a Wetherspoons!

Tuesday 11th May 1943
Got here 11.20. Not a bad dump nice billets – in house, everyone else at Angel Hotel. Meals there. Hear reveille at 0500!! Looks like plenty hard work.

Wednesday 12th May 1943
Blimey – 199 steps up to Gun Park. ??een times times a day. My poor feet! Had an exam with IFC 28/30. On sets after dinner. Went out evening. Met some K.R.R. (Kings Royal Rifle corps?) on dodge ‘cas?

Thursday 13th May 1943
On fatigues in billet. Nice cup of tea in the middle of the morning. Got the fire going – Maintenance 6-7. Paid quarter to eight. Went out – just to eat! Very tired.

Friday 14th May 1943
Big inspection by Major etc. Up Gun Park at 09.00. Oh these steps. Very warm and tiring. Finished for morning at 11.00. Did some shopping. Went out at night – but didn’t do much.

Saturday 15th May 1943
Very warm. My poor feet are so sore! Up at Gun Park all morning. Went out in the evening and met some KRR’s. Had a good time.

Week 18: 2nd May – 8th May 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • The top secret project of deception code-named Operation Mincemeat continued at the Spanish town of Huelva, where a funeral was held for Major William Martin of Britain’s Royal Marines, whose body was brought ashore by Spanish fishermen on April 30. Major Martin was, in reality, a homeless Welshman named Glyndwr Michael, who had died on January 28 and whose body was used to deceive German intelligence regarding the starting point for an Allied invasion.
  • Twenty Japanese bombers and fighters carried out a significant raid on Darwin, Australia,
  • A bill to eliminate federal income tax for all Americans for an entire year failed to pass by four votes, 202–206. The legislation, based on ideas of proposed by New York Federal Reserve Bank chairman Beardsley Ruml, was replaced by the “pay as you go” Robertson-Forand bill that virtually eliminated 1942 income tax for 90% of Americans.
  • The Vatican Secretary of State sent a request to the government of the Nazi-controlled Slovak Republic, requesting the exclusion of Jews “who have entered the Catholic religion” from the list of persons to be deported to Nazi concentration camps.
  • Tunis and Bizerte were liberated by Allied troops, with Bizerte falling to the Americans at 4:15 pm local time, and the Tunisian capital being conquered five minutes later by the British First Army.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 2nd May 1943
Getting ready for moving. Had a lovely time riding in the afternoon. Good gallop. Went to Titchfield after tea. Got a new officer (Pip) here. Mr Brown In at 2245.

Monday 3rd May1943
On duty – very rough- windy- balloon Party here. But not Ringwood O.o.a. all day. Fault in Rx. Mr. Dunkerly here. Did a lot of sorting out and packing. Don’t know where I’m going to put everything.

Tuesday 4th May 1943
Still packing! Didn’t get up til 0750. Very nice too. Quite a nice day. Letter from home. Mick’s left school. Rumour has it that there is a dance tonight. Hope so. Had a hell of a time with Mike Watson! Didn’t go on duty.

Wednesday 5th May 1943
Up to the neck – moving. Came by lorry to Nursling. Some dump. Came through S’hampton. No maning hut mat (?) My bed was very hard.

Thursday 6th May 1943
On duty. Did a lot of maintenance. Very cold in the evening. Got paid late at night. Reports of S’hampton not so hot. No letters yet. No firing around here.

Friday 7th May 1943
Mucked about doing fatigues & generally dodging. Nothing doing around here. Had a bit of a raid but didn’t fire. Very tired.

Saturday 8th May 1943
Stayed in bed until 1030. Got up & had a kit inspection with Miss Meausland Fussy b— Went to S’hampton & Totton

Week 17: 25th April – 1st May 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • Because of German labor needs occasioned by the war, Heinrich Himmler directed concentration camps to avoid killing those persons who were able to work, but to make it a priority to put to death “the mentally ill who could not work”.
  • SS Kamakura Maru, a Japanese troop ship that had been converted from the ocean liner Chichibu Maru, was torpedoed and sunk in the Pacific Ocean by the American submarine USS Gudgeon, with the loss of 2,035 of the 2,500 people on board.
  • The American freighter SS McKeesport was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine, leading to a sea battle that continued over the next several weeks. 47 German submarines were sunk during the battle .
  • The British submarine HMS Seraph surfaced off of the coast of Spain, near Huelva, and dumped the body of “Major Martin” into the Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation Mincemeat, to deceive German intelligence on plans for an Allied invasion of the continent.
  • More than 480,000 American coal miners walked off of the job a minute after midnight on May 1st, when the United Mine Workers’ contract with the nation’s mining companies expired.
  • The Ford Motor Company fired 141 employees, mostly African-American, from its aluminum and steel plants in River Rouge, Michigan, because of labor disputes.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 25th April 1943
Raid on – fired again in the night. Went to Holy Communion. Picked some flowers in wood. Played hockey in the afternoon. They won 3-2! Good game though. Had my thumb knocked badly.

Monday 26th April 1943
In bed. Up early – met Les at Titchfield at 1500hrs. Went to Pompey. To theatre. Had a great time – had tea etc in P.- Back to Fareham all shops shut etc. so back to Titchfield.

Tuesday 27th April 1943
In at 22.45. Very tired. Had a field check ?? Shaw & Sgt ?? Very busy. Air **** in the afternoon . . Nothing much happened. Went to bed early.

Wednesday 28th April 1943
Tried to paint out the ?ckers field in the afternoon Not very successful! Played a good game of hockey. Won 3-2. On duty. Raid on. We fired 33 rds. Could have fired more but Guns etc weren’t up. On set? for 1-2hrs. Suspect brought one down. One more alert during night.

Thursday 29th April 1943
In bed. Went riding. Quite good fun! ?** to Titchfield. Back to dance at camp. Rained. Sos was here. Met another Commando

Friday 30th April 1943
named Hugh. Should be seeing him Sunday but rumour has it that ?** for a move. Heard that we’re going for a week to a “No instrument site” then to Firing Camp. Did a lot of clearing up.

Saturday 1st May 1943
Eggs for breakfast. Got up at 0800!! Joan S. came to see us in ?*** she’s on leave. S/P ? night. Up at 08?

Week 16: 18th April – 24th April 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Navy and the architect of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, was killed when the plane that he was on was shot down by U.S. Army fighter pilot Rex T. Barber. American naval intelligence had intercepted and decoded a Japanese message that included the itinerary for an inspection tour that Yamamoto was making of the Solomon Islands.
  • Winston Churchill announced in the House of Commons that restrictions on the ringing of church bells throughout Britain would be lifted now that the threat of German invasion had passed.
  • The bombing of Aberdeen killed 98 civilians and 27 servicemen. The attack was the worst of 34 separate German air raids on the Scottish city.
  • The RAF marked Hitler’s 54th birthday by bombing Berlin and three other cities. 
  • The Fire Department of New York responded to a fire on the munitions ship El Estero that threatened to destroy the port. The ship had been loading torpedoes at a pier used by the U.S. Army, caught fire, and began drifting after burning through the lines that tied it to the dock. The fireboat, Fire Fighter spent seven hours towing the ship away and then inundating it with enough water to sink it. An explosion of the ship could have set off a chain reaction that would have blown up other ammunition ships, tanks of natural gas, petrol and oil on the shore, and “the largest ammunition dump in the U.S.”, located on the New Jersey shore.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 18th April 1943
On duty. Marvellous day. Rested in the afternoon. I got very sunburned. Did a lot of ironing at night.

Monday 19th April 1943
On fatigues. Decorated the Naafi for dance. Marvellous time on duty til 21.30. Les Came – lots of people. Played hockey against Sgts & Bdr. Terrible defeat 18-4!!

Tuesday 20th April 1943
Very tired this morning. Had letter from Reg yesterday. Went to flicks – saw “Nine Men” J.G. Had a lift to Fareham on the Open Commando lorry with Mac etc. Quiet.

Wednesday 21st April 1943
On duty. Should have played hockey against Navy – but rain stopped play. Very disappointed. Ensa show in Naafi tonight. Quite a good show too.

Thursday 22nd April 1943
Very cold and wet. I’m so tired I feel I could sleep for a week. Slept all afternoon. On Search at night – shaken to the very depths – Commandos made a surprise attack – took site. I was in Rx alone. Thought it was Jerry!

Friday 23rd April 1943
In bed – had a marvellous time riding – all afternoon! Horse nearly shot me over when guns fired!! Les on duty – dance at night. Lots of Jerries about – we fired.

Saturday 24th April 1943
On duty – very busy. Plane with distress signal. Letter from Joan yesterday. Bit stiff about the legs today.

Week 15: 11th April – 17th April 1943

 

Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • Frank Piasecki made the first flight of his Piasecki PV-2, the second successful American helicopter. The PV-2 featured the first dynamically balanced rotor blades.
  • Martin Bormann was appointed as Secretary to the Führer, the second highest office in Nazi Germany.
  • On Budget Day in the United Kingdom, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Kingsley Wood announced that the war had cost Britain a total of £13 billion to date and was costing £15 million per day. Excess expenditure for the year was estimated at £2,848,614,000.
  • Radio Berlin announced the discovery of the mass graves of 10,000 Poles killed by the Soviets in the Katyn massacre.
  • U.S. Senator Harry S. Truman spoke in Chicago at the “United Rally to Demand the Rescue of Doomed Jews”, calling for the United States to respond directly to the Holocaust.
  • At the Sandoz laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, biochemist Albert Hofmann accidentally ingested the drug LSD for the first time in history, and recorded the details of his experience.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 11th April 1943
Had Eggs and Sausages for breakfast. Went back to bed. On NAAFI fatigues !!!! Did GL notes in Naafi – cleaned away cups etc. Bed.

Monday 12th April 1943
On duty – feeling very very miserable and unhappy. No letter from Reg. Several Hostiles during day – but none came in close enough – ?crafty

Tuesday 13th April 1943
On fatigues. Played hockey in evening against Bdr. Had a grand game they won 9-7. Had Bulls eye till 0000 – S/P 0307. Pretty bloody. On CB.

Wednesday 14th April 1943
Still CB. Went to bed but not to sleep. Had lecture from ?th. A! Very sad because Tommy has been posted. Went out rag collecting with Joan – on the buses – nice time.

Thursday 15th April 1943
On duty. Very busy with Gin? Co-op & in the evening an Alpine? for 2 solid hours! It was quite good though. Dance in Naafi – not bad at all.

Friday 16th April 1943
Heard from Joan – she’s been on 48hrs lucky thing. Picked loads of bluebells in the wood. Came on duty – very nice evening. Two letters from Eric.

Saturday 17th April 1943
Picked flowers in the wood. Went out about 16.00 hrs to dance at Titchfield. had a great time – came home with Bdr. from ?** named ?Les. Very nice too.