Week 25: 20th June – 26th June 1943


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

  • A fistfight at the crowded Belle Island park in Detroit, Michigan, erupted into a riot between white and black residents of the fourth largest city in the United States. Over three days, 34 people were killed and 760 injured, before federal troops were sent in to restore the peace.
  • Heinrich Himmler issued the order to transfer the remaining Jews from the Nazi-occupied Baltic states to small slave-labor camps in order to meet Germany’s military needs. The Reichskommissariat Ostland consisted of Latvia (Lettland), Lithuania (Litauen), Estonia (Estland), and Belarus (Weissruthenian).
  • Andrée Borrel, Francis Suttill, Gilbert Norman and several other agents in the Prosper network of British Special Operations, were arrested by the Gestapo after being betrayed by an informer. Borrel was one of seven women in the British spy network, and on July 6, 1944, the group would be rendered unconscious with an injection of phenol, then burned alive.
  • In order to investigate the medical effects of an emergency bailout at high altitude, Colonel W. Randolph Lovelace, a physician in the U.S. Army, jumped out of a B-17 bomber at an altitude of 40,200 feet. Part of his self-experimentation was to show that bottled oxygen should be provided to bomber crews. Colonel Lovelace was rendered temporarily unconscious from the 32 G shock from opening his chute during his faster descent in the thin atmosphere, and suffered severe frostbite when the deceleration ripped off his left glove, but landed safely after 24 minutes. As a result of Lovelace’s experience, flight crews learned to delay opening their chutes until they reached a lower altitude. Lovelace would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.
  • More than 200 crewmen, from six different German U-boats based in Nazi-occupied Norway, mutinied. The men refused to obey orders to go out to sea, where Allied ships and been destroying the submarines at a greatly increased rate since May. The mutineers were arrested and lodged in the Akershus Prison in Oslo.

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

Sunday 20th June 1943
On duty. Nothing doing. Cleaned windows in afternoon ready for General who is coming tomorrow. (Blast him) Very busy. had a good sleep. No call outs!

Monday 21st june 1943
Fatigues in the morning. Gen. Paton came but we were out! Had a lovely time, played tennis all afternoon. Flicks ‘Wake Island’ Propaganda. Ate afterwards – went to ‘Railway’, saw Nick.

Tuesday 22nd June 1943
Very hot. Lazed about all day. J & D on 24 hrs. No letter. Had F.F.I. Was off Guard so nothing to do. Got sunburnt. Letter from Joan no news from home.

Wednesday 23rd June 1943
Manning. Only one hostile during the night & it only lasted a few minutes. Heard from Mum – she’s a little better, also A/G. from Jim. Wrote back to him ?twice.

Thursday 24th June 1943
On fatigues – off because of finger squashed in door. On 24hrs Grand time in London. Stayed at Gordon? went to Palais dancing. Met a couple of Grenadier Guards – saw Buckingham! etc

Friday 25th June 1943
Had a good night in a lovely bed. Went round shops in Victoria. Caught tube to Barking & train to S-hall and ended a very pleasant 24 hrs. Paid. dance tonight dance quite good fun – ended 0030.

Saturday 26th June 1943
Very tired! On duty. Worked hard. recording in afternoon by Cpt. Fox. Search ?Period at night. Wrote to Joan. Doreen back.


Week 24: 13th June – 19th June 1943


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

  • Subhas Chandra Bose, the Indian nationalist who had recently been in Nazi Germany seeking aid for independence from the United Kingdom, arrived in Japan on an Axis submarine.
  • Earl Browder, the General Secretary of the Communist Party USA, began a correspondence with U.S. President Roosevelt, when he sent a cable to the President asking for White House intervention to protect leftist Victorio Codovilla from being deported from Argentina to Spain. Roosevelt responded on June 23, pledging to ask the U.S. Ambassador at Buenos Aires to monitor the proceedings, and on June 26 sent Browder a second letter to advise that Cordovilla would not be deported. The last reply was on July 12, when Browder thanked the President.
  • In Beaumont, Texas, a mob of about 4,000 white men, half of them employees of the Pennsylvania Shipyards Company, began burning and looting homes, businesses and automobiles in the city’s African-American neighborhoods. Texas State Guardsmen and Texas Rangers were called out to assist Beaumont police in keeping order. Martial law was declared in the city, lasting until June 20.
  • Charlie Chaplin married Oona O’Neill, the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, who then disowned her. The Chaplins would raise eight children together and settle in Switzerland.
  • Ayoub Tabet, the President of Lebanon, precipitated a crisis in the Middle Eastern nation populated by Muslims and Christians. Tabet changed the makeup of the 64 seat Chamber of Deputies, which had 33 Christians and 21 Muslims. The new arrangement was for a 54-seat body, with 32 seats for Christians and only 22 for Muslims. The decision provoked rioting throughout Lebanon, and Tabet would be deposed a month later.
  • The African-American Tuskegee Airmen had their first encounter with the enemy, as six pilots of P-40 Warhawks were attacked over the island of Pantelleria by 12 German Focke-Wulf 190 fighters. According to the U.S. Army Air Corps, “The American Negro fliers, led by First Lieut. Charles W. Dryden … parried the Nazi thrust, damaged two German fighters, and forced the remainder to retire. The Americans all came home safely.”

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

Sunday 13th June 1943
Didn’t get up till eleven. did some cooking. Took Ted & the dog for a walk. Went to theatre at night with E – after to ?canteen “The Amazing Mr. Williams”. Quite good.

Monday 14th june 1943
Up at 0830 – did some washing heard Joan O. coming tomorrow. ?Sharp showers. went to Flicks and on the fair. not so hot. home quite early.

Tuesday 15th June 1943
Mum to stay in bed. Doc’s orders. got up – saw Dad & Pat off to work – did the housework – went to meet Joan at Worcester. ?ates went today at Winter Gdns. Quite good fun.

Wednesday 16th June 1943
Got off early saw men folk off. Feeling browned off. Mum in bed. Did some shopping up town. Caught the 14.58 train. Paddington 20.05 Met Watty. caught 21.55 to Stanford.

Thursday 17th June 1943
Very very browned off with letter from Les R. didn’t do much to cheer me up. I/C ?? until Doreen comes back from leave. Ensa in afternoon. didn’t go(?) One of our ac. missing – film in Naafi – Good.

Friday 18th June 1943
Raining all day. On duty. One hostile in night but didn’t pick it up. Wrote to Jim & Fanny(?). Didn’t bother to go out. Washed my hair. Got ?parade in the afternoon.

Saturday 19th June 1943
Letter from Eric. Quite a nice day. On guard. Nothing exciting happened our boys played ‘A’ troop – footer & lost ? 1. What a downfall. Very tired.

Week 23: 6th June – 12th June 1943


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

  • Ohio University student Paul Newman, who had enlisted in the U.S. Navy four days before his 18th birthday, was called up for active duty. The future Oscar-winning film actor, nicknamed “Gus” Newman, enrolled in the pilot training program but was soon kicked out because it was discovered that he was color blind.
  • Ammunition in the magazine on the Japanese battleship Mutsu, exploded during extremely hot weather, while the ship was anchored in the harbor at Hashirajima, killing 1,222 people including 1,121 of the 1,474 member crew.
  • Germany and Italy gave diplomatic recognition to the new government of Argentina, the only nation in the Western Hemisphere that still maintained relations with the Axis powers. That night, however, the new regime of General Pedro Ramírez decreed that the German, Italian and Japanese would no longer have permission to transmit up to 100 words in code to their capitals, a privilege that had been extended back in December. The U.S. and the U.K. gave recognition to the Ramírez government the next day.
  • Britain’s Royal Air Force bombed Düsseldorf and Münster in its heaviest attack up to that time, while the U.S. 8th Air Force made a daylight raid on Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven. The U.S. raid involved 225 airplanes, and an unprecedented 85 of them were shot down or crashed. The 462 tons of bombs dropped was a new high for U.S. bombing.
  • Düsseldorf suffered its heaviest air raid of the war when 693 bombers dropped 2,000 tons of bombs in the space of 45 minutes.

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

Sunday 6th June 1943
Joan and I stayed off Majors parade. Did some maintenance. Packing in the afternoon – didn’t bother to go out. Rather tired. Quite a nice day. Very excited.

Monday 7th june 1943
Got up 0415. caught 05.50 to London. Caught 0945 & arriving home at 1345 Raining. Saw Joan – we went to the flicks saw Berlin Correspondent – not bad.

Tuesday 8th June 1943
Stayed late in bed. Went to tea at Auntie G. Uncle Walt. Had a grand time at dance at Winter Gds. Got home about elevenish.

Wednesday 9th June 1943
Went out shopping. Didn’t buy much though. Went to dance at Drill Hall. Very few there. but had some good dances though – home 2345.

Thursday 10th June 1943
Up about 0930. Went up town & down the Link. Went to Field Ambulance dance at Trinity. Marvellous. Met a Cdn. Sgt. (RAF) also pestered all evening by R.A.S.C. (Royal Army Service Corps) Capt. (Bill).

Friday 11th June 1943
Picked some tomatoes in the morning. Went to dance at Winter Gardens. Very good time. Saw R.A.F. again. Stayed with him – name Arnold Berthot(?) He came home with me but went back to York Sat. Very tired.

Saturday 12th June 1943
Helped(?) with housework. Went to 146 F.A. Sports in afternoon. Stayed there for tea and a show – afterwards also dancing. Met Cpt. – George walked home with him.

Week 22: 30th May – 5th June 1943


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

  • After 19 days of fighting, the United States recaptured Alaska’s Attu Island from the Japanese Army. The Japanese soldiers who weren’t killed in battle committed mass suicide and a search of the island found no survivors. Of the 2,500 Japanese who originally tried to hold the Alaskan island, only 28 prisoners were alive at the battle’s end. American losses were 600 dead.
  • Dr. Josef Mengele began his service as a medical officer in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and spent the next 19 months conducting bizarre surgical experiments on the captive patients.
  • The American ship SS John Morgan set out from Baltimore on its maiden voyage with a cargo of explosives, and accidentally rammed the tanker SS Montana. Sixty-five of the 68 men on the Morgan were killed in the blast, while 18 of the 82 men on the Montana died in the subsequent blaze. The U.S. Navy waited five days before releasing the news.
  • British Overseas Airways Corporation Flight 777, a DC-3 airplane on a scheduled passenger flight, was shot down over the Bay of Biscay during an encounter with eight German Junkers Ju 88s. All 17 persons aboard died, including the film actor Leslie Howard, who had starred as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.
  • The “Zoot Suit Riots” began when 11 U.S. servicemen, on shore leave in Los Angeles, got into a fight with a group of Mexican-American youths. The next day, about 200 servicemen, mostly U.S. Navy sailors, rode in taxis to the Hispanic neighbourhoods of East L.A. and began attacking non-white residents. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Army subsequently banned military personnel from venturing into downtown L.A.
  • Pierre Laval, the puppet chief of government for Nazi occupied France, announced in a radio broadcast that an additional 200,000 of his countrymen were to be sent to Germany to assist in war production.

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

Sunday 30th May 1943
Service dress church Parade, to Stanford church. Quite decent Mr. P read lesson. Poured with rain & hail just before we left. On duty. Slept all afternoon.

Monday 31st May1943
Heard from home. Mum been ill but getting better. Joan gone ?? today. tried to get my leave but major won’t let. Worked all evening scrubbing ?Bd? hat etc – didn’t go out.

Tuesday 1st June 1943
On fatigues. Heard definitely no leave for me until next Monday. Am I mad!! On Guard in the afternoon. Not bad at all. Finish at 2000hr Dance in camp tonight.

Wednesday 2nd June 1943
On Guard again until 1400hr Very nice too. Manning in the afternoon. Ken Thornily (Staff. Sgt. Reme) came. Played ping pong in the Naafi with him. He’s crazy!! Get paid for leave ?f.

Thursday 3rd June 1943
Paid today. Thank goodness – hadn’t got a cent. didn’t go out several storms during the day Did some ironing and sewing.

Friday 4th June 1943
Very browned off. Marching drill – fatigues. One bright spot – Joan doesn’t go back from leave until Weds so shall see her after all. Shaken up a bit – Raid at night.

Saturday 5th June 1943
The others went on Guard but I was ‘off’. Report from Whitby – very good. Getting ready for leave. Grand time at dance at night!

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.

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.