Week 47: 21st November – 27th November 1943

 

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

  • Lebanon became independent when French High Commissioner Helleu, under pressure from the United Kingdom, ordered the release of the President, Prime Minister and cabinet members who had been jailed ten days earlier at Rashaya. This brought an end to the French Mandate and the date (November 21st) is now celebrated as Lebanon’s Independence Day.
  • Germany’s national opera house, the Deutsche Opernhaus in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg was destroyed in an air raid. The Berlin Zoo, and most of its 4,000 animals, was also destroyed. Other casualties during the week of British bombings were the German National Theatre, the National Gallery, the Invalidenstrasse Museum, the Hotel Bristol, the Charite Hospital, the City Hospital, the Schulstrasse Maternity Hospital, the Lichterfelde-East Rail Station, and the embassies of France, Sweden, Turkey, Iran and Slovakia.
  • The escort carrier USS Liscome Bay, with 916 crewmen on board, was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-175. The torpedo made a direct hit on the aircraft bomb stowage compartment on the ship’s starboard side, causing a massive explosion. The ship sank within 23 minutes with the loss of 644 men.
  • HMT Rohna, a British ocean liner that had been converted into a carrier for Allied troops, was sunk 30 minutes after a German airplane struck it with a guided missile. The missile penetrated the ship and exploded below decks. The blast killed 481 officers and men, and another 534 drowned as the ship sank off of the coast of North Africa. For security reasons, the disaster was not disclosed to news media, and few details were released even after World War II had ended.
  • The musical film Girl Crazy starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, with music by George Gershwin, was released.
  • Billie Jean King, American professional tennis champion, six time Wimbledon singles champion and four time U.S. Open champion was borne, Billie Jean Moffatt, in Long Beach, California.

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

Sunday 21st November July 1943
In bed. Major came – the stooge. Met Lionel in afternoon with Joan. Went to L’pool – met Jack (friend of L’s) & saw ‘Lily Mars’. Good. Tea at ?Forum afterward Met Barbara Hinds & three French men at the ‘Hanover’ – Nice time – then to Chinese Restaurant for a meal. Back to Red Shield.

Monday 22nd November 1943
Up at 0830 Went shopping Got some Coty Valiant (perfume) – also Henna Shampoo! Back at 1400.

Tuesday 23rd November 1943
Manning – nothing much doing. On Guard in the afternoon. Letters from Joan & Mum. Nothing exciting. Not very early going to bed. Sat knitting my gloves.

Wednesday 24th November 1943
Played hockey against 562 and won – 6-1 – all A.T.S. feeling very stiff from early morning runs! Had my name taken for leave as they are sending extra.

Thursday 25th November August 1943
Manning. Pouring with rain & very windy. Not on Guard so had a lazy afternoon. Finished my gloves! Wonders will never cease. No letters.

Friday 26th November 1943
Had a grand party – loads of eats & a very nice band. Met a couple of nice men from Rootes! Heard I’m not going home till 30th! Bed about 0100.

Saturday 27th November 1943
Did some shopping in L’pool. Not very successful. Went to 21st party at Mrs Macdonalds. Smashing time! Got there at 1700 hrs – loads to eat. Lots of nice men – & the band from the Adelphi came about midnight! They were very nice!! Party didn’t break up til 06.30! Slept for 3hrs on sofa! (The few sentences appear in the following week’s diary page).

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Week 46: 14th November – 20th November 1943

 

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

  • The U.S. Navy destroyer USS William D. Porter inadvertently fired an armed torpedo at the battleship USS Iowa. More unfortunately the Iowa was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Torpedo-man Lawton Dawson had failed to remove the explosive primer from torpedo tube three. The radio-man on board the W. D. Porter was able to signal the Iowa to turn right to evade the approaching torpedo and it detonated harmlessly. The entire crew of the W. D. Porter was subsequently placed under arrest and held at Bermuda, and although Dawson would be sentenced to 14 years of hard labor, Roosevelt intervened and asked that he not be punished for the accident.
  • Leonard Bernstein, age 25, was the little-known assistant director of the New York Philharmonic charged with arranging rehearsals for conductor Artur Rodziński and guest conductors. The orchestra’s concert was going to be broadcast live on the CBS radio network, but guest conductor Bruno Walter became ill, and Rodziński was too far away from Carnegie Hall to arrive in time. Bernstein was called to fill in and became the youngest person to ever conduct the New York Philharmonic.
  • All residents of the English village of Tyneham in Dorset were given notice that they were to be evicted. Signs posted in the village that day put everyone on notice that they had to leave by December 19. None of them had any right to contest the eviction because they were all tenants of the Bond family who owned Tyneham House and the surrounding area. The British War Department had acquired the area as a training ground in preparation for D-Day.
  • The Ebensee concentration camp opened, receiving its first 1,000 prisoners. They were put to work excavating tunnels in the Salzkammergut Mountains near Ebensee in the Ostmark, German-annexed Austria for the purpose of establishing a missile development facility. At the peak of its operations, the camp had 18,000 slave workers engaged in the mining operations. 11,000 of the inmates would die from starvation and disease.

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

Sunday 14t November July 1943
Very cold. Manning in morning on Guard afternoon. Browned off with it. Wrote some letters. Didn’t do anything much. Too tired.

Monday 15th November 1943
On Guard again as the Bty. (Battery) is firing! Only a few of us left – very nice too! No officers here! Didn’t do anything at night. Bed early.

Tuesday 16th November 1943
Went firing. By lorry to Seaforth terribly cold. In Rx all day Very fed up – Nick in a hell of a mood. Letters from Jack & Ted. Also gloves from home.

Wednesday 17th November 1943
All leave (local) still cancelled Heard I’m going on P.L Dec 8th. In bed D.S. but didn’t sleep. Manning in afternoon. Just having supper – called out for Bulls Eye.

Thursday 18th November August 1943
Terribly cold. On Guard this morning. Manning in afternoon Nothing exciting No letters Bed quite early. Trying to fix a concert for Xmas.

Friday 19th November 1943
Manning I.F.C. came quite nice. (crossed out sentence) Nothing happened.

Saturday 20th November 1943
On Guard again. Dance at night. Not very exciting. Lionel came up. D.S. Joan & I very cold in night

Week 45: 7th November – 13th November 1943

 

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

  • Radio Moscow broadcast news from the newly liberated capital of the Ukraine, and reported that only one Jewish person had been left alive in Kiev. Before the German invasion, the city’s Jewish population had been 140,000.
  • The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was created by an agreement signed by representatives of 44 Allied nations, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The UNRRA was the first agency to become a component of the UN, with the initial goal of providing relief to refugees and homeless persons.
  • U.S. Senate Resolution 203 was introduced, calling for the first time for a federal plan “to save the surviving Jewish people of Europe from extinction at the hands of Nazi Germany.” Resolution 203 was a bipartisan measure penned by Senators Guy Gillette of Iowa, Elbert Thomas of Utah, and Edwin Johnson of Colorado. On the same day, U.S. House of Representatives Resolutions 350 and 352 were introduced, calling for a new agency to resettle the surviving Jewish refugees in neutral nations.
  • The four Lübeck martyrs were executed after being convicted of treason in show-trials by Nazi Germany’s “People’s Court”. Three Roman Catholic priests (Johannes Prassek, Eduard Müller and Hermann Lange) and an Evangelical Lutheran pastor, Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, were taken to the guillotine at Holstenglacis Prison in Hamburg.
  • The final aerial bombardment of the Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, took place. Starting on February 19, 1942, Darwin had been bombed on 63 different occasions by Japan before the tide had turned during World War II.
  • Construction was completed on the XP-80, the prototype for the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, the first successful American jet fighter, 140 days after the work had started. An earlier attempt, the Bell P-59 Airacomet, had been tested but not put into service.

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

Sunday 7th November July 1943
Up at 0830 Went walking & eating! Down to the Docks, quite interesting Saw a lot of Diggers disembarking & quite a nice time.

Monday 8th November 1943
On Guard. Very cold & very tired No letters – No news of any description, feeling pretty browned off with everything in general.

Tuesday 9th November 1943
Letter from Mum & Dad. On duty very busy. Morning and afternoon. Went to bed quite early. Diesel Swinging. Very cold.

Wednesday 10th November 1943
In bed & slept for a change. Letter from Tony in Italy. Played 550 at their ground. After a very good game beat them 1 – nil. Stayed to tea. Bed at 9.10

Thursday 11th November August 1943
Guard again Doris, Molly, Doreen, Margaret all in BRS! Colds ATS Band here for service at Rootes. Invitation to a party 21st (division?) on 28th! V.Cold. Bed early.

Friday 12th November 1943
Should have had 24hrs today but Nick stopped it owing to shortage of girls. Looked everywhere for a ? present for Mum. No luck. Met two airmen Had a nice tea. Back on 2100 bus.

Saturday 13th November 1943
Pouring with rain and terribly cold. In bed as I was D.S. (Diesel Swinging?) Dance. Quite good. Had a young HG. named Ted. Bit boring!

Week 44: 31st October – 6th November 1943

 

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

  • In California, thousands of Japanese-American internees at the Tule Lake Segregation Center surrounded the administration building during a visit to the internment camp by War Location Director Dillon S. Myer. Leaders of the inmates who spoke for their fellow prisoners called upon families to assemble for a peaceful protest. By 1:30 p.m., the camp headquarters was surrounded by thousands of evacuees and Myer was virtually imprisoned in the administration building. He consented to see the Negotiating Committee about the internees’ grievances and pledged to make improvements. The protesters subsequently returned to their barracks.
  • More than 18,000 Jewish prisoners were shot in a single day at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland. The Erntefestwas the traditional German “Harvest Festival”, and dance music was played over loudspeakers “to drown out the sounds of the killing and the dying”. The extermination of the estimated 18,400 members of the camp was carried out by order of the new camp commandant, German Lt. Colonel Martin Weiss, as part of Operation Reinhard.
  • Adolf Hitler issued Führer Directive Number 51, anticipating an invasion of Nazi-occupied France by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, in what Hitler described as “an Anglo-Saxon landing”. Troops and reinforcements were transferred to Western Europe.
  • Despite its neutral status in World War II, Vatican City had four bombs dropped upon it from an unidentified airplane at 8:10 pm . Windows and glass were broken at St. Peter’s Basilica and at the Palace of the Governorate, and there was damage to the Vatican aqueduct, but nobody was injured. A British Royal Air Force bomber near Rome had been given clearance to unload its bombs after developing engine trouble, and released them “without quite knowing where it was”.

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

Sunday 31st October July 1943
Major inspected. Changed stockings. Went to Wooseys Lift to L’pool Very nice people Marvellous Ra. White Bread & ?. chicken and all sorts. Wonderful time. Slept at Red Shield. Pouring with rain.

Monday 1st November 1943
Sent Joan & Geoff a Xmas A/G. Went round the shops. Got back about 1320 & went on duty. No letters. Nothing much doing. Went into canteen feeling pretty bored.

Tuesday 2nd November 1943
On Guard. Messed myself up painting Guard room. Letters from Mum, Geoff & Fred. Was a picture show but didn’t go. Was in bed before 2030!!

Wednesday 3rd November 1943
Shaken today. Mrs. P. sent for me. wanted to know if I would take a commission!!! Informed me I was up for promotion. Told her I couldn’t afford a comm! Played hockey.

Thursday 4th November August 1943
Diesel Swinging so stayed in bed. Thank goodness. On duty Thursday afternoon did a lot of maintenance ready for Inspection. Good concert at night from Rootes.

Friday 5th November 1943
On Guard but had to come off for lectures by T.I. Went to bed quite early – letters from home. Pat in Paratroops.

Saturday 6th November 1943
Out today. T.G. On duty. Had lectures from T.I. Went to L’pool. Saw Hit The Ice with two Yanks. Got in about 2245.

Week 43: 24th October – 30th October 1943

 

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

  • Four years after being introduced as a superhero in Detective Comics issue #27 (May, 1939), Batman reached a larger audience with the debut of the newspaper comic strip “Batman and Robin”, authored by Bob Kane.
  • In the “Philadelphia Experiment”, a story widely believed to be a hoax, the destroyer escort USS Eldridge (DE-173) was supposedly rendered invisible to human observers for a brief period, and (in some versions of the story) even teleported from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to the U.S. Navy shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia and back, with the result that several of the people on board were seriously injured, went insane, or killed. The story would be popularized by the bestselling 1974 book The Bermuda Triangle, by Charles Berlitz, and the U.S. Navy began receiving regular inquiries.
  • Robert Dorsay, German character actor and comedian, was executed in Germany after being convicted of “ongoing activity hostile to the Reich and serious undermining of the German defence effort”. In March, Dorsay had been overheard by a Gestapo informer, while joking about the government. When his mail and home was searched, an unsent letter was found in which Dorsay made fun of the Nazi Party, and described the continued German war effort as “idiotic”.
  • U.S. President Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 2597, extending draft registration beyond the 48 states. Thereafter, all American men aged 18–44, living in the territories of Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, were required to register before the end of the year.
  • In Argentina, Colonel Juan Perón advanced his career by agreeing to direct the nation’s Department of Labour. Over the next three years, he would push through social reforms and form an alliance with the nation’s labour unions. He was elected President of Argentina in 1946.

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

Sunday 24th October July 1943
Grand sleep and up at 0715. Major & retinue inspected. Very cold. Good time in L/pool. Slept at Red S. Had a fine tea at some Canteen. Went over on the dial. Very nice change.

Monday 25th October 1943
Lovely sleep in a lovely bed. Went around the shops. didn’t have much money though. ?Put 5/- in P.O!! No letters from home yet. Washed my hair and went to bed early.

Tuesday 26th October 1943
On guard. Nice morning. Letters from Mum and Mur. & Pat. Nothing exciting. Same old routine. Very tired when I eventually came off G. at 1900. Bed early.

Wednesday 27th October 1943
On duty. Did some S & F. ? Chaplin in cabin. Played hockey against 650 Bty – and lost 10-5 – crushing defeat but a good game! Bed early D.S.

Thursday 28th October August 1943
Stayed in bed until 1000. Went to Rootes No5- and gave show Had lunch there – and very nice time going over factory. Went again at night. Major SC JC & all there – very good.

Friday 29th October 1943
Got back at 0210! Stayed in bed until 0800 – up for Guard. No letters Got an invite to Mr. ?Wooseys Party. So going out Sunday instead of tomorrow.

Saturday 30th October 1943
Manning! On Guard again in afternoon. Nothing much doing. Letter from Joan. Went to bed early – Ensa but didn’t go.

Week 42: 17th October – 23rd October 1943

 

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

  • After five years of construction, the city of Chicago began regular service on its first subway, a 4.9 mile stretch of underground track that ran from State Street and Clybourn Avenue. 
  • The 415 km Burma Railway was completed by Japan using the forced labour of Asian civilians and Allied prisoners of war between Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon, Burma (modern-day Myanmar) to support Japanese forces in the Burma campaign.
  • The antibiotic Streptomycin was first isolated in a laboratory, by Albert Schatz, a 23-year-old student at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Streptomycin was able to kill bacteria that could not be treated with penicillin.
  • The first exchange of prisoners of war, between the United Kingdom and Germany, began in Sweden at the port of Gothenburg. A group of 4,340 POWs from Allied nations, released because of illness and injuries, arrived by trains and on hospital ships from Germany; most had been imprisoned for more than three years. Later in the day, 835 German prisoners arrived on two British liners, with more due to arrive later in the week. The exchange was supervised by the Swedish Red Cross.
  • The German city of Kassel was leveled as 569 RAF planes dropped 416,000 incendiary bombs on the older section of town during extremely dry weather. Fires swept the city centre within 15 minutes, and became a firestorm that peaked after 45 minutes. Ten thousand residents, mostly civilians, were killed.
  • The Provisional Government of Azad Hind (literally, “Free India”) was proclaimed in territories of British India that had been captured by Japan, with Subhas Chandra Bose as President. The Japanese government also provided the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the new state. At the same time, Bose announced that Azad Hind was joining Japan in the war against the U.S. and the U.K.
  • German forces, retreating from the Byelorussian SSR, began the liquidation of the Minsk Ghetto. Over a period of 12 days, more than 2,000 Jewish residents were deported to the Maly Trostenets extermination camp outside of the city.
  • The Swedish government decided that, for the fourth straight year, Nobel Prizes would not be awarded.

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

Sunday 17th October July 1943
Up at 0600 – terrible! Pouring with rain. Didn’t go on C.P. as I was on Guard. Very tired at the end of Guard. Fred played piano in naafi Nissen.

Monday 18th October 1943
Out today. On duty. Went to L’pool. Shopping. ?? at Lewis’s. Very tired. I’m not struck on the city at all  – too big and too many people! Back at 2030 to Speke canteen. Very nice!

Tuesday 19th October 1943
Didn’t go out this morning – being broke. Fred gone on Course. Went to Rootes for a rehearsal Classical concert – but I went early to bed! Pouring with rain.

Wednesday 20th October 1943
Not feeling very grand. Letters from Joan and Les. On Guard. Final rehearsal at Rootes. Looking forward to show tomorrow.

Thursday 21st October August 1943
Had a great reception at Rootes. Smashing lunch there with Officers and Works Managers. Came back about 1515. Kit lay out. Wonderful time at night!! The night shift were thrilled! Nick too.

Friday 22nd October 1943
Stayed in bed until 0800! Didn’t do much. On P.T. No letter from home yet. Went to bed early & had a good sleep.

Saturday 23rd October 1943
On fats.-also did P.T. smashing time at dance. Rootes Band. Met H.G. named Tommy. Also had fun with lots of ’em. Very tired.

Week 41: 10th October – 16th October 1943

 

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

  • The German city of Münster was heavily bombed in the first daytime raid by the United States Eighth Air Force, with the entire force of 236 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers attacking the historic city. With 216 P-47 Thunderbolt fighters flying cover, the formation flew in a line 15 miles long. Germany’s Luftwaffe sent up 350 fighters to engage the American force, while antiaircraft guns fired at the armada. Nearly 700 civilians were killed in Munster, while thirty American bombers were shot down, and 105 badly damaged, with a loss of 308 American airmen and officers missing.
  • Portugal, still neutral in World War II, granted the United Kingdom use of naval and air bases on the Azores Islands, under an agreement made 570 years before. The use of the bases was justified under a treaty that had been made in 1373.
  • Thirty-five days after it had been fighting as a member of the Axis powers against the Allies, Italy declared war on Germany, with a broadcast by Prime Minister Badoglio at 3:00 pm local time.
  • Jewish prisoners at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland launched an uprising against their German captors. The attack, co-ordinated by Leon Feldhendler and Captain Alexander Pechersky (a Soviet prisoner of war), was partially successful. Eleven German SS men and several Ukrainian guards were killed, and about 300 of the 700 inmates were able to escape. Many of the escapees died when they fled through the minefields that surrounded the death camp, and others were recaptured and killed, but about 50 were able to survive. Those prisoners who had elected not to escape were killed and the camp was closed.
  • The Swedish “repatriation liner” MS Gripsholm, sent from the United States, docked alongside the Japanese liner Teia Maru, in the Portuguese Indian port of Mormugao. The Gripsholm was carrying 1,500 Japanese nationals, while the Teia Maru had 1,503 citizens from the United States, United Kingdom and France.

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

Sunday 10th October July 1943
Nothing but parades for this that & the other! Afternoon off rehearsed for concert at Routs. We’re singing the “Aston” Went to bed early. Very tired.

Monday 11th October 1943
Cold. On fatigues. Letter from home. Brooch from Les. V. Nice. Lecture from ?Mr Y. about exercise Blitz tomorrow. Local & 24hrs. cancelled. Played billiards in canteen.

Tuesday 12th October 1943
On duty. Waiting for exercise! Nothing happened. Heard about 1430 we could go out! Went to L’pool. Had a good feed at Lewis’s. Walked around – to ?O??? League – home on 1930 to ?speke canteen. Quite nice.

Wednesday 13th October 1943
Played billiards in cant. again! Raining this morning Wrote letters. Film Show – “The Strawberry Blonde”. Very boring! Bed about 22.30!

Thursday 14th October August 1943
Gosh its cold. up at 0600 for Guard!! Very foggy. Went for a look at Rootes Stage! Very big place. We’re sure sure to get Stage fright! Had a treasure hunt!

Friday 15th October 1943
On duty. T.I. here and we did a lot of drills! Another rehearsal. Sing Song in canteen crowded! Lots of fun. Cdr. G came over. Came in about midnight w/ D.S.

Saturday 16th October 1943
In bed. but not asleep! Grand time at dance. Met some ?HG’s. Had some ?Bar. danced most of the time with Freddie (R/M).