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.

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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).

Week 40: 3rd October – 9th October 1943

 

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

  • SS General Dr. Werner Best declared Denmark to be judenfrei, although most of the nation’s Jews had learned of the impending mass arrests and were in hiding, awaiting the chance to flee to Sweden.
  • The Battle of Kos ended when the German Army conquered the Greek island of Kos, took the 4,423 Italian and British troops there prisoner, then carried out Adolf Hitler’s order to execute any Italian officers who had switched allegiance from the Axis to the Allies. Colonel Felice Leggio, and 100 of his fellow officers, were shot in groups of ten, then buried.
  • In an attack by 406 bombers of the Royal Air Force on the city center of Frankfurt, a children’s hospital on Gagernstrasse suffered a direct hit on its air-raid shelter. There were 529 civilian deaths, including 90 children, 14 nurses and a doctor.
  • Theodore Morde of Reader’s Digest met with Franz von Papen, the German ambassador to Turkey, in what would be described later as, “a crazy attempt at personal diplomacy”. Without the knowledge of President Roosevelt, Morde attempted to persuade Papen to lead a coup to overthrow Adolf Hitler, with Papen to be the new leader of Germany. Papen declined.
  • The children’s film Lassie Come Home, the first in a series of seven MGM movies starring the fictional Rough Collie dog Lassie, was released. A young Roddy McDowall played Lassie’s companion.
  • Heinrich Himmler gave the second of his two Posen Speeches, outlining the carrying out of the Holocaust to the assembled SS officers. The text of the speech would not be published until 1974. In his address, Himmler said, “The question will be asked: ‘What about women and children?’ I did not consider myself entitled to exterminate the men, to kill them or have them killed, and then allow their children to grow up to revenge themselves on our own sons and grandsons. The painful decision has to be taken, to remove this people from the face of the earth…”
  • Three days after sending a request to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to allow the 8,000 Jews of occupied Rome to be used in construction projects rather than being deported to Germany, SS representative Herbert Kappler was told that their removal was being ordered directly on instructions from Adolf Hitler. The arrests would be made one week later, although all but 1,259 of the 8,000 would actually be caught in that night’s roundup.

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

Sunday 3rd October July 1943
Went to Norton with Mum & Dad & saw Pat. Went to pictures saw Charles Boyer in “Back Street” Very sad. Went to canteen saw ?Monacle! Should meet him tomorrow.

Monday 4th October 1943
Had a b-letter. Got to be back by 1200 Weds. Am I mad! Shall have to go Tuesday night. Tried to ring Geoff but couldn’t. Saw “Life of Colonel Blimp. V. G.

Tuesday 5th October 1943
Heard from Joan. We’re moving to Liverpool!! Caught the 1725. Got to London about 0000. Nowhere to sleep. Spent most of night drinking tea in waterloo. Met Cdn. soldier named Maurice Quinlan. Very nice.

Wednesday 6th October 1943
Caught 0830 to Totton. Got there about eleven. Camp all in turmoil. New Battery in. Marched to T at 1915hr. Jack and lots of the HGs saw us off, very touching.

Thursday 7th October August 1943
Didn’t sleep much on way up! Rather crowded. Got here about 0900 – marched here. Very nice site – nice huts – seems too good to be true! Lovely sleep!

Friday 8th October 1943
On fatigues! Had a talk from Nick. Heard all about the people around here. Seem quite good!

Saturday 9th October 1943
On duty. Lot of maintenance. Went to L’pool. Good caf at Lewis’s. Huge place – all races and colours! Came back to dance. Not bad.

Week 39: 26th September – ? October 1943

 

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

  • Major Herbert Kappler, the German SS chief assigned to German-occupied Rome, delivered a 36-hour ultimatum to the city’s Jewish community, requiring payment of fifty kilograms of gold and 100 million Italian lire to SS headquarters to avoid the mass arrest and deportation of Rome’s Jews to concentration camps. Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, appealed to the offices of Pope Pius XII for assistance. The Pope ordered the Vatican City treasury to provide the gold.
  • The Drysdale River Mission at Kalumburu, Western Australia, a community of Aboriginal and European Benedictine Roman Catholics, was attacked by 40 Japanese bombers and fighters, with the destruction of four of its buildings and the deaths of five people, including its leader.
  • Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, a German diplomat in Nazi-occupied Denmark, secretly warned leaders of the Danish resistance of an order from Berlin for the arrest and deportation of Denmark’s Jewish citizens, to begin on October 1. Over the next two weeks, Danish residents helped most of the nation’s 8,000 Jews elude capture; Denmark’s fishermen used their boats to ferry 7,200 people to neutral Sweden.
  • The 292 Jewish inmates of the Syrets concentration camp, located in Ukrain, rose up against their German captors as their work assignment was drawing to a close. For six weeks, the prisoners had been directed to destroy the evidence of the massacre at Babi Yar, when the Germans murdered nearly 34,000 people over two days in September 1941. The group had laboured at excavating and burning the bodies of the victims, then grinding and scattering the remains. As it became clear that they, too, would be executed when the work was finished, the inmates, led by Vladimir Davydov, staged a mass race to the prison walls at dawn. The German guards, who delayed firing their machine guns until they realized what was happening, killed 280 of 292, but Davydov and eleven other men were able to escape, and would later reveal what had happened.
  • The U.S. Fifth Army captured Naples. Before retreating, the German Army laid waste to the city, damaging or destroying the cultural landmarks, including the University of Naples and the Teatro di San Carlo. More than 200,000 books, many of them priceless, were soaked in petrol and burned.

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

Sunday 26th September July 1943
Fun. Farewell to ?rh Avery – going to Africa. On Big Parade at S’hampton -RAF went to BHQ. & by lorry to S’h. Not bad. Huge Parade. Packed for leave.

Monday 27th September 1943
Up at 05.15! Very cold. Caught H.G. lorry, train at Totton. Missed the 9.45 at W’loo. Caught 1120 – didn’t get home until 18.15! Terrible journey. Very tired.

Tuesday 28th September 1943
Lovely sleep! Went up town in afternoon. To dance at night. Rang Geoff. Smashing time at dance. Loads of yanks. Came home with one named Rawley!

Wednesday 29th September 1943
Up early. Caught 7.29. to B’ham & met Geoff. Had quite a nice time. Went to Gaumont – saw “The Man in Grey” Very Good film.

Thursday 30th September August 1943
Joan came. Met her at Shrub Mill. Went up town in evening. Met four American Sgts – stayed with them and came home with two of ’em.

Friday 1st October 1943
Byked out to Hanley. Very tired so Joan and I went to bed in afternoon. Dance at W.G. – not so good as Tuesday but quite good fun.

Saturday 2nd October 1943
Lovely day . Took Rob and Ted as far as Worcester with Joan. Went up town. Bought Ted a B present. Met Mum at night.

Week 38: 19th September – 25th September 1943

 

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

  • The British de Havilland Vampire jet fighter airplane made its first flight, taking off from and landing at an airfield at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, with designer Geoffrey de Havilland piloting.
  • The mass German deportation purging of Belgium’s Jewish population began, as a transport train departed for the Auschwitz concentration camp with about 1,000 prisoners. Five more such operations would take place in 1943, and four in 1944.
  • With Rome under control of German occupation forces, a representative of Germany’s Reichsbank arrived at the headquarters of the Banca d’Italia, Italy’s central bank, and ordered that 119 tons, nearly all of Italy’s gold reserves, be placed in German custody in Milan.
  • American singer Kate Smith appeared for 18 hours on the CBS Radio Network, starting at 8:00 a.m. in New York and continuing until 2:00 a.m. the next morning, appealing to her listeners to invest in U.S. war bonds. Her performance, which reached an estimated 85 million listeners, raised $39,000,000.
  • Repairs were finished on the Möhne river dam, which had been heavily damaged in a British bombing raid on May 16; the Edersee Dam, which had been bombed in the same raid, was restored to full operation six days later.
  • Wilhelm Kube, the Nazi Governor of German-occupied Belarus, was assassinated at his office in Minsk, by his maid, a woman who had secretly been a member of the Russian partisans. The maid, Elena Mazanik, had planted a time bomb in Kube’s bedroom. 

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

Sunday 19th September July 1943
Played hockey as ?? BHO & won 6 – nil. In bed as I was Diesel Swinging (we’ve no idea what “diesel swinging” is. Anybody?). Got a cold. & my leg is pretty painful. hurt it playing hockey I think. In bed early feeling rotten. Sgt. Dene? here.

Monday 20th September 1943
Still feeling pretty sick. Stayed in bed all day. Letter from George. He and Dan going on leave on Monday. Wrote to Reg after much thought.

Tuesday 21st September 1943
Feeling better. Got up after breakfast & got to work. Getting excited about my leave!! Nothing much doing! Bulls Eye.

Wednesday 22nd September 1943
Did a lot of maintenance. Dene still here! Not bad though. Calibrating and generally cleaning up site. Senior Commander & Major came over.

Thursday 23rd September August 1943
Working all morning. Went to S’hampton – met Les. Saw Bing in “Sing You Sinner” & “Undercover” V.G. Went eating, had a drink & caught 2133 Very ?nice.

Friday 24th September 1943
Got up about 0800hrs!! Went shopping to S’hampton. Lovely time. Did loads of shopping spent bags of money. Very nice dance at night! Was with Jack (H.G.)

Saturday 25th September 1943
In bed as I was Diesel Swinging. Didn’t sleep at all. Washed and had my hair set. Exercise Eric. ? Community at night. Good.

Week 37: 12th September – 18th September 1943

 

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

  • The German SS led a rescue of Benito Mussolini, the recently deposed Italian dictator, who had been imprisoned at the Campo Imperiale Hotel in the Abruzzi Mountains. Eight gliders landed silently at the resort, bringing a team of SS commandos. They were followed by 70 paratroopers, who secured the hotel grounds while the SS team overpowered the Italian Army guards. Twenty minutes after the attack began, a German plane departed Gran Sasso with Mussolini on board.
  • The first group of Japanese-American citizens was removed from the Tule Lake Relocation Center in California, to be dispersed among other United States internment camps. Over a period of 17 days, there were 6,250 Issei (immigrants to the U.S.) and Nisei (American natives) who were shipped out, after being deemed to be loyal citizens who still needed to be incarcerated.
  • Adolf Hitler told his aide, Karl Wolff, that he wanted Pope Pius XII deported to Germany, which Wolff would testify to after the end of World War II. At the same time, Ernst von Weiszacker, the German emissary to Vatican City, delivered Hitler’s personal assurances to the Vatican that its sovereignty as an independent nation would be protected, and that its area within Rome would be exempt from attack.
  • Three days after being freed from imprisonment by Germany, and seven weeks after his ovethrow in July, Benito Mussolini was restored to leadership of Italy by the Nazi occupiers. German paratroopers also landed in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City in Rome, despite the Vatican’s neutrality in the war. Mussolini made his announcement of a return to power from Adolf Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg.
  • The Salerno Mutiny occurred when 700 soldiers of the British Army’s X Corps refused postings to new units fighting in the Italian Campaign at Salerno. The majority reconsidered after British Lt. General Richard McCreery talked to them, but 192 British forces (mostly from the 50th Northumbrian Division and the 51st Highland Division) refused, and were later court-martialed.

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

Sunday 12th September July 1943
Stayed in bed until 07.55 up for breakfast. Slept in field most of morning – again in afternoon. Major came inspecting but I was off Parade B/P here.

Monday 13th September 1943
Very hot. On duty in afternoon. Our troop on manoeuvres. RO. & Capt. H. here – also C??? – so not much we could do. Played Brag? No letters.

Tuesday 14th September 1943
On duty in the morning. Not out but local leave started! Dodged around all afternoon. Three cheers – ban lifted – leave started – no more censoring of mail. No letters.

Wednesday 15th September 1943
Nice day. Big gas scheme on – carrying respirator etc. all day. Didn’t last long. Helped Jack clean ?ga?m. Picture show in camp- On duty. Bullseye & on water.

Thursday 16th September August 1943
Very tired. Slept in morning. Letters from Bert Les & Mum. Jim in hospital again. Doreen in bed sick. Helped Jack in Tx in afternoon. Mod. party here.

Friday 17th September 1943
Great day! Went out to flicks saw “We dive at dawn” & “Next time we live” – very sloppy. Stayed at Miss Walkers. Quite a nice change. Went with Doreen – Jack came too.

Saturday 18th September 1943
Lovely sleep. Had breakfast went out shopping- coffee at the ?Tudor. Went Putting. Had quite good fun. Lunch at Lyons.

Week 36: 5th September – 11th September 1943

 

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

  • U.S. Army Air Forces Lieutenant Alex Doster became the first person to test a paratrooper pick-up system that had been designed by All American Aviation Company. Designed to rescue downed fliers who were stranded in terrain that could not be reached from the air, the system used a principle that had been applied to the picking up of mail sacks. Lt. Doster wore a special harness that minimized the g-force that resulted from being picked up from the ground at a speed of 125mph. the test was successful
  • At 7:30 pm local time, residents of Italy were stunned to hear their Prime Minister, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, read the statement that “The Italian Government, recognizing the impossibility of continuing the unequal struggle against the overwhelming power of the enemy, and with the object of avoiding further and more grievous arm to the nation, has requested an armistice from General Eisenhower … This request has been granted. The Italian forces will, therefore, cease all acts of hostility against the Anglo-American forces wherever they may be met …”
  • Half of the 70,000 Allied prisoners of war in Italy were able to escape in a single day, walking out of the camps when their prison guards deserted.
  • The Italian battleship Roma was attacked by German Nazi bombers and sunk by the new guided bomb, the Fritz X. The ship went down between Corsica and Sardinia and took with it 1,253 of its crew of 1,849 including the Commander of the Italian Navy, Admiral Carlo Bergamini.
  • Two days after the government of Italy agreed to surrender, German troops invaded Rome, Naples and the rest of northern Italy. Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio and King Victor Emanuel III were able to flee through German lines, escape to Allied-controlled territory, and relocate the Italian government to the city of Brindisi.
  • Twenty-two of the Italian Navy’s warships arrived at the British naval base at Malta, after fleeing La Spezia and Taranto. The number had four battleships, seven cruisers and 11 destroyers.

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

Sunday 5th September July 1943
Raining like fury. Church Parade – but no site Commander Inspection. Went to flicks – saw Algiers & ‘flight for freedom’ Very good. Met Bert, Reg, Bill & Basil in Southampton so came back with them.

Monday 6th September 1943
Went out this morning Nice time. Did some shopping. Got back about 1200hrs. Made a nice change. Came on duty.

Tuesday 7th September 1943
Nothing much doing. Me and that whole camp has to stay in for 14 days. Very bloody. Went to bed early – tired – I very miserable.

Wednesday 8th September 1943
Letter from Joan she’s having a good time. Concert at night but was on night duty & unable to go. Feeling very browned off & homesick.

Thursday 9th September August 1943
5th anniversary of A.T.S. Cup of tea in bed brought by Sgts. No fatigues. Duty at night. Very gay! Matty absolutely tight! I had a drop too much for my own good! Eventually slept about 0100hr.

Friday 10th September 1943
Dead to the Wide! What a head! Never again. Jack just the same! Played the men at hockey and won 6-5. Electric lights are in. On 24.

 

Saturday 11th September 1943
Standing In.