Week 5: 31st January – 6th February 1943


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

  • German Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus surrendered 90,000 German troops to Soviet Army Lt. Fyodor Ilchenko. Of the 250,000 German troops that had invaded the Soviet Union, less than 5,000 would return home.
  • The 442nd Infantry Regiment, whose soldiers were the Nisei, American citizens of Japanese descent, was created by order of U.S. President Roosevelt. Most of the Nisei in the mainland United States were still kept in internment camps at the time.
  • The U.S. troop transport Dorchester, with 904 men on board, was torpedoed 150 miles off of the coast of Greenland by the German submarine U-233. 605 died.
  • The remaining German forces in modern-day Libya, along with their commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, withdrew across the border into French Tunisia, where they would be defeated in May.
  • At a meeting between shoe manufacturers and U.S. Army generals, Lt. Col. Georges Doriot persuaded General George Marshall to approve the acquisition of a more durable type of combat boot for American soldiers. At the time, the average lifespan of a U.S. Army boot was only 13 days.
  • 600 students were arrested on campuses across the Netherlands by the occupying German forces after a fatally wounded Nazi officer said that he had been shot by students. The 600 were deported to the Herzogenbusch concentration camp. Another 1,200 were arrested and deported a few days later.

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

Sunday 31st January 1943
Caught train, 8.30pm to Waterloo! Arrived 24.00hrs Got to Padd. in taxi – very very tired! Eventually got train at 05.30. Couldn’t sleep Two changes arrived in Link. at 1100hr Raining.

Waterloo Station in 1943 © National Railway Museum

Monday 1st February 1943
Find I’m a day in front! Didn’t do anything but sleep! Met Harry for about half an hour. Got to bed early. Perfect heaven.

Tuesday 2nd February 1943
Stayed in bed until 11.45. What bliss! Took Rob to Worcester Infirmary with broken arm. Too late to go out anywhere so went to bed early again.

Wednesday 3rd February 1943
Breakfast in bed! Got up 10.30. Took Rob down the Link had coffee. Went up town and out to Hanley. Went to Ships dance at W.G. Not bad. Home with Medic 1200.

Thursday 4th February 1943
Breakfast in bed – up at 10.15. Went on Pat’s bike to Welland Dancing Not bad – but nothing to write home about! Slept the night at Hanley.

Friday 5th February 1943
Rode home early. Did some shopping! Went to the pictures in the evening. Saw Bud and Lou in “Pardon my Sarong” Not bad – home early.

Saturday 6th February 1943
Went up town – met a lot of people!! Two REME Segs! Had tea up town. Came home – went to dance at Drill Hall. Smashing came home with P.O. – Bill.


Week 4: 24th January – 30th January 1943


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

  • For the first time since World War Two began, German newspapers began printing pessimistic reports, apparently preparing people for news of a disastrous defeat on the Eastern Front.
  • The destroyer USS Radford became the first ship to shoot down a plane without ever seeing it, relying solely on radar to identify and target an approaching hostile aircraft.
  • Occupying Nazi German forces in the Netherlands rounded up 1,200 Jews in the city of Apeldoorn and deported them to concentration camps.
  • After months of asking consumers voluntarily to limit their consumption, the U.S. Office of Price Administration announced that “all edible meats” would be rationed.
  • Ninety-one bombers from the U.S. Eighth Air Force, a combination of B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators, mounted the first American airstrike inside Germany.
  • Welsh homeless man Glyndwr Michael died aged 34. His body was subsequently used for Britain’s Operation Mincemeat to deceive German intelligence into expecting an attack on Italy to start from Sardinia rather than Sicily. On April 30, with papers identifying him as Major William Martin, and a set of “top secret” invasion plans, Michael’s body was left floating off the Spanish coast in a successful disinformation campaign. Michael’s true identity would not be revealed until 55 years later.
  • British radio DJ, Tony Blackburn was borne.
  • RAF Bomber Command made daylight raids on Berlin to disrupt commemorative rallies marking the 10th Anniversary of Hitler’s assumption of power in Germany.

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

Sunday 24th January 1943
On duty. Helped send balloon up! Very busy making Paths. Still in change of team. Rather tired after last night!!!!! Kingwell in here! New R/O!

Monday 25th January 1943
Not much happened from letters!! Had my name taken for leave! So am keeping my fingers well crossed. On duty at night.

Tuesday 26th January 1943
Didn’t do a thing all morning. Big Naafi opened. Went to see the Road to Morocco – Bing. Very good show! Called at the O??s arrived home 22.15.

Wednesday 27th January 1943
On duty again. B.P. here. Saw Sos – so he’s back OK. Heard that Gill is trying for her leave so mine is doubtful now. Went to Naafi. quite nice in there.

Thursday 28th January 1943
On fatigues – haven’t heard any more about leave. Had a letter from Harry – dating me for Monday night. Paid for leave! Went down to dance – smashing. Was out with Sos until half past one!

Friday 29th January 1943
0150 – very wet and windy – & me very tired – much too rough to search. Slept till 14.50! Joan & I had a very merry time with Sos and Stan. Went to Wheatsheaf. Got home 22.30 – Merry.

Saturday 30th January 1943
On duty Terrific gale blowing. Lines blown down , goodness knows what – Gun Pits flooded. Joan and I went out at 19.30! Sunday. Caught in mud, goodness knows what.

Week 3 : 17th January – 23rd January 1943


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

  • The Luftwaffe conducted the first night raid on London since May 1941.
  • The first Warsaw Uprising began on the day that Nazi German soldiers began their second deportation from Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. At 7:00 am, SS troops and auxiliaries arrived at the ghetto and began a roundup of people to be taken to the Treblinka concentration camp. Members of the Jewish resistance organisation armed with pistols, worked their way into the crowd of about 1,000 deportees, and, at a pre-arranged signal, emerged and began fighting the Germans.
  • The Battle off Zuwarah was fought on the night of January 19–20 between British and Italian forces in Libyan waters. The result was a victory for the Royal Navy as an Italian flotilla of small minesweepers and auxiliary vessels was wiped out.
  • An air attack on Sandhurst Road School in Catford, London, killed 41 schoolchildren and six teachers. 
  • Documentary photographer Margaret Bourke-White became the first woman to ever fly on a United States Army Air Force bombing mission, when she flew on a B-17 bomber, the Little Bill, during an attack on a German held airfield in Tunis.
  • The British 8th Army, under the command of General Montgomery captured Tripoli from Italy.
  • Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was released nationwide in the United States, after a successful opening in New York on Thanksgiving Day, 1942.
  • Duke Ellington played at New York City’s Carnegie Hall for the first time, and premiered his jazz symphony, “Black, Brown and Beige”.

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

Sunday 17th January 1943
Glorious morning – in bed. Got up 14.20hrs Out at 15.00hrs. Went to Pompey – had a good time. Got last bus back 20.16hrs. Met two Coastal Defence boys. Came home with ’em.

Monday 18th January 1943
Very bad cold – went to M.O. feeling very sorry for myself !! On duty – Sgt. Eden for No 1 – not too bad. Went to Naafi for a few minutes – Back to bed – early!

Tuesday 19th January 1943
Cold about the same. Did a bit of spud bashing in the morning. Wound some telephone wires. Watty came from hospital. Did a lot of washing etc. On duty.

Wednesday 20th January 1943
Stayed in bed until 14.45. Went to Fareham – by bus. Stayed in YW & YM. Got 2 bars milk choc! Back to Titchfield on 7.25. Had a drink. Played table tennis in canteen.

Thursday 21st January 1943
My Birthday – lots of cards. In charge of team field check. Very good indeed. Cold getting better – still dosing! Nothing happened. Paid cigs & choc at night in Naafi.

Friday 22nd January 1943
Had some more birthday cards. Got round Sgt. Creighton for a L. P. (late pass?) tomorrow! Had a lecture about Gd. defence also one on Poland. Came on duty. Had a fuse in middle of Hostile. Shook me!

Saturday 23rd January 1943
Hope to get out sometime! Rumour that we have to stay in till hockey team comes back. Rumour true! Got out at 18.30! Had a good time at dance. Came home with Bdr. Mathews.

Week 2 : 10th January – 16 January 1943


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

  • The final Soviet assault on the German Sixth Army occupying Stalingrad began.
  • British intelligence decrypted a telegram report sent by SS Major Hermann Höfle to his superior, Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann, regarding the the extermination of Polish Jews. The report concluded that, in 1942, 1,274,166 had been killed.
  • Operation Iskra began at 9:30 am, as the Soviet 67th Army began its final assault on the German occupation of Leningrad.
  • Pierre Laval, the Chief of Government in Nazi-occupied Vichy France, concluded a deal to cede the Departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais to Germany. 400,000 skilled French workers were also pledged for German use.
  • Winston Churchill visited Morocco to meet with with US President Roosevelt.
  • Adolf Hitler issued the “Führer decree on the full employment of men and women in the defense of the Reich”. The decree brought another 500,000 men into the armed forces as male factory workers were replaced by women. 
  • The Pentagon, now headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, was dedicated in Arlington, Virginia, only 16 months after construction had started.
  • Berlin was bombed for the first time in 14 months, as the Royal Air Force bombers began the heaviest raid ever on the German capital.

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

Sunday 10th January 1943
Church Parade. Q came. 90/- a new blanket! Collected a lot of wood for fire as there is no coal or coke! Went on duty Diesel Swinging (we’ve no idea what “Diesel Swinging” refers to. Anybody?).

Monday 11th January 1943
Went to bed in morning. Couldn’t get out until 17.30 as we had an exam. Not too hard – some tricky questions. Got a lift – to Fareham. Came back to Titchfield – met some nice men.

Tuesday 12th January 1943
Very tired, browned off – on duty. Had Gas lecture by Bom (Bombardier?). Wilson. Saw Sos. Thought there was a dance – but there were no men Commandos arrived – late & tight.

Wednesday 13th January 1943
Lovely day. Heard from Watty. Sos came down to M.O. so saw him for quite a while. No news from Reg or Jim. Heard that Sos came here last night. On duty night.

Thursday 14th January 1943
Had a lift to Titchfield with Peter (Commando). Caught the 15.15 bus. Went to Cosham. Saw Wattty. Met Sailor from West Malvern. Back to Titchfield. Had a drink. Home 22.30.

Friday 15th January 1943
Letter from Reg – in hospital with Measles!!! Bags of work. Colonel expected but didn’t come. Sir *op (?) v Bulls eye. Very tired. Had bath, straight to bed – so nice.

Saturday 16th January 1943
Got up 08.05!! Capt. A. Inspected. Results of exam. Was top with Bussy, Tommy and Jean Slater. Heard from Reg. also Marine I used to see at Stubb (Stubbington – previous posting). on duty at 20.30 S/P 23 – 03.00