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.

Week 14: 4th April – 10th April 1943


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

  • Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested at the headquarters of the German military intelligence by the Nazi secret police along with lawyer Hans von Dohnanyi, and both were found to have incriminating materials in their possession, showing cooperation with the enemy in Britain. Adolf Hitler would order the execution of Bonhoeffer, Dohnanyi, and the Abwehr director, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, on April 9, 1945, less than a month before the conquest of Germany.
  • Five members of the U.S. Army Air Forces were rescued after having been marooned on an icecap in Greenland for almost five months. The men had been on a B-17 bomber that made a crash landing while searching for another lost plane, but were kept alive with supplies dropped by Colonel Bernt Balchen, an Arctic explorer and aviator.
  • Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini began a four-day meeting at Schloss Klessheim near Salzburg. Mussolini was in poor health and would spend most of the conference listening silently to Hitler’s long rambling monologues; an attempt by Mussolini to bring up the possibility of making peace with the Soviets was swiftly rebuffed.
  • The British government published a plan drawn up by John Maynard Keynes for a postwar economy. The plan proposed an international monetary fund which could help any nation out of temporary financial difficulties. In return, that country would have to adopt policies aimed at restoring stability.
  • The Tunisian port of Sfax was captured from the Axis powers by the British Army, led by General Bernard Montgomery. Sfax would then become the base for the Allied invasion of Sicily as the first stage of the Italian Campaign.

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

Sunday 4th April 1943
Didn’t do much. Pick a lot of primroses. No Church Parade. Got a Baufors (Bofors) gun! In Naafi with Bdr. Matthews! On duty. No. 1 – D/S. No S/P. Lovely evening.

Monday 5th April 1943
In bed – but I got up early. Grand day. Had five letters and a photo from Jim Millar. Went to flicks. Saw ‘Happy Go Lucky’ & ‘Pacific Rendezvous’. Jolly good. Came home with sailor – Les.

Tuesday 6th April 1943
On duty – Saw Sos – but nothing doing. All off I guess! Nice day. Colonel Beig came. Have lost Bdr. M. as his girlfriend is back. Went in Naafi in evening.

Wednesday 7th April 1943
Didn’t do much. Joan is back. Three cheers. Poor old Bussy is being posted! Much to her horror. Had a crazy film show in afternoon. Very rough. Blowing everywhere.

Thursday 8th April 1943
I can’t do much – again!! Went to flicks. ‘Orchestra Wives’ & ‘?? in the Pacific’ – very good. Back to Titchfield – met Tom Matthews – came home and stayed with him until 2400hrs. Very nice too.

Friday 9th April 1943
Inoculated today. TAB&TT So 48hr off duty. Didn’t have much trouble with the arm. Renee played piano in Naafi. Bed lovely! Slept quite well considering.

Saturday 10th April 1943
Got up about 1200hrs. Picked a lot of flowers in the wood. Heard from Joan S. Saw Sos – embarrassing moment for him. No more news of Reg. feeling very depressed.

Week 13: 28th March – 3rd April 1943


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

  • The munitions ship Caterina Costa exploded in Naples harbour. Initial reports were that 72 people were killed and 1,179 injured, while later sources set the death toll at 600 or more. The fire on the ship had burned for hours, but no action was taken on fighting the blaze or towing the ship away from the harbor, because government approval could not be obtained.
  • Food rationing began in the United States following the announcement of limits on beef, pork, lamb and mutton, as well as butter, cheese and canned fish. 
  • UK Prime Minister John Major, Monty Python comedian, Eric Idle, and Vangelis (Evangelos Papathanassiou), Greek musician best known for his Chariots of Fire, were born on the same day – 29th March.
  • Oklahoma!, the musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened on Broadway. The show went on to become Broadway’s longest-running musical up to that time, closing in 1948.
  • The X System vocoder went into operation to secure phone conversations between U.S. President Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Churchill. The system electronically encrypted speech that could be decrypted at the other end, permitting the two leaders to talk to each other in secret. The terminals for transatlantic calls were at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and in the basement of Selfridges department store in London.
  • A riot in Wellington, New Zealand between American servicemen and New Zealand servicemen and civilians, known as the Battle of Manners Street, occurred when some of the Americans refused to allow Māori soldiers from entering the Allied Services Club. Dozens of people were injured but news of the riot was censored at the time.
  • Shipwrecked sailor Poon Lim was rescued by Brazilian fishermen after being adrift for 131 days as the sole survivor of a British merchant ship, the Ben Lomond, which had been torpedoed on November 29, 1942.

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

Sunday 28th March 1943
Have changed on rota to 24hrs as we’re short. So – not on duty today – but out again tonight. Picked some primroses. Went along the beach to Stubb. Very tiring. Quite nice.

Monday 29th March 1943
On duty till 0800 tomorrow. Pretty bloody. Capt. Vessly came but we were O/A. Wrote to Jim. Very busy all day. S/P at night. One call out.

Tuesday 30th March 1943
Terribly tired today. Went to bed. Slept like a log. Got up at 13.45 for a lecture & missed it. Did a lot of washing. Concert in Naafi at night.

Wednesday 31st March 1943
Heard from Reg! He’s marrying someone else. So I’m finis?? Very hurt & sad about it all. Words can’t describe how I really feel – B-y awful day. O/a in afternoon.

Thursday 1st April 1943
Had a half day to celebrate Battery Birthday. Smashing Party in the evening Sgt. Morgan took my shirt off & gave it to Capt. Nicholls in one game! On duty at 22hrs.

Friday 2nd April 1943
In bed up at 1345 to go to C/P for CP. duth! Capt. Vessly came to test us. Sos BACK! Went out to drown my sorrows in the evening. Grand time came home with Bdr. Matthews!

Saturday 3rd April 1943
Not feeling very well this morning! Not eating! On duty. Joan O. came over. Had a walk with Sos. Supposed to see him on Monday.

Week 12: 21st March – 27th March 1943


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

  • The second attempt on Hitler’s life in the space of eight days was made. Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff had been given the opportunity to escort Hitler through an exhibition of captured Soviet war equipment. Gersdorff expected Hitler to spend at least thirty minutes by his side and set a ten-minute fuse on a bomb, planning to kill both himself and Hitler. Instead, Hitler rushed through the viewing and left after two minutes. Gersdorff went into a restroom and defused the explosive.
  • Deportation began of 4,000 Jews in the Nazi-occupied France. All but 15 were sent to gas chambers upon their arrival at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, and only five of the 4,000 survived World War II. On the same day, deportation began of the Jews of the Yugoslavian (now Macedonian) city of Skopje, as 2,338 people were loaded onto freight cars for the week-long train trip to the Treblinka death camp. The first executions of Gypsies by the Nazi SS were carried out at the Auschwitz concentration camp, with 1,700 being sent to gas chambers after being diagnosed with typhus.
  • The entire population of the Belarusian village of Khatyn was attacked by German soldiers of the 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS in retaliation for the killing of four Nazi officers. Only three children and one man survived.
  • U.S. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, submitted a proposed charter for a “world security association” to be set up by the world’s nations after the end of World War II. The proposal anticipated the United Nations that would be created in 1945.
  • The British escort carrier Dasher was destroyed by an accidental explosion in the Firth of Clyde, killing 379 of the crew of 528 An investigation concluded that the cause had been a carelessly dropped cigarette that had ignited fuel from a leaking valve.

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

Sunday 21st March 1943
In bed. Very cold. Didn’t get up  until 16.00 hrs. Went down to Titchfield ?? of International Commandos about.  Nothing exciting!

Monday 22nd March 1943
On duty. No 1 today. Out of action for fitting of new modification. Lovely day. Mum heard from Jim. Rob going on okay. Feel on top of the world.

Tuesday 23rd March 1943
Jolly good, in fact, smashing  concert by “Stars in Battledress”  Don Carlos, Alan Clare – got all their autographs after the show. ?? colder today. On night duty with Sgt E.


Wednesday 24th March 1943
Cold. Picked primroses in the afternoon.  Went to the Savoy. Saw Whispering Ghosts and a Wallace Beery. Quite good. Went on to a dance at Stubbington. Met Marine – Vic. Came home with him. Quite nice.

Thursday 25th March 1943
On duty. No. 1 again.  In the square. Gave Mr Palmer tuition. In the afternoon and evening Capt. Nicholls. Dance at night. Had a lovely time. Mac was here.

Friday 26th March 1943
Wonderful. Went up to see Capt. Vessey. Coming back down a truck pulled up and there was Sos! Lovely surprise.  Hoping to see him tomorrow.  On duty. D/S

Saturday 27th March 1943
In bed until 17.20 hrs. Laziness. Went to dance – big disappointment Smudger said Sos was only down for a day. Been posted. Had a good time at dance. Came home in car with ?? (end of Saturday appears on the following diary page)

Week 11: 14th March – 20th March 1943


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

  • The British submarine HMS Thunderbolt was sunk off Sicily by the Italian corvette Cicogna, killing all on board. On June 1, 1939, as the Thetis, the submarine had been lost during sea trials with all 99 people on board before being salvaged and relaunched as the Thunderbolt.
  • Joseph Stalin sent a letter to President Roosevelt urging that a second front be opened in Europe. Stalin wrote, “The Soviet troops have fought strenuously all winter and are continuing to do so, while Hitler is taking important measures to rehabilitate and reinforce his Army for the spring and summer operations against the USSR; it is therefore particularly essential for us that the blow from the West no longer be delayed, that it be delivered this spring or early summer.”
  • Bulgaria, an Axis power allied with Germany, refused to comply with a German demand that Bulgarian Jews be deported to Nazi concentration camps. The Parliament voted unanimously to revoke plans that had been made by government minister Alexander Belev to arrest Bulgaria’s Jewish citizens (although deportations had taken place in the conquered territories of Macedonia and Thrace). As a result of the vote no Bulgarian Jews were deported to the gas chambers from Bulgaria itself.
  • The Japanese Navy ordered its submarine forces to leave no survivors on the sinking of any merchant vessels, “Do not stop at the sinking of enemy ships and cargoes. At the same time, carry out the complete destruction of the crews of the enemy’s ships.”
  • The first of 19 transports of 46,000 Greek Jews to Nazi death camps began, as a train left Salonika for the Auschwitz extermination camp. By August 18, the removal of the Jews would be complete.

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

Sunday 14th March 1943
Nice day. Went in the wood and picked primroses. Quite a lot too. On duty at night. D.S. Did a lot of washing. Nothing happened.

Monday 15th March 1943
In bed. Badly squashed my finger when Watty’s bed collapsed on it. M.O. sent for. Was in a bad way. Nearly conked out. Ensa at night. Bed early.

Tuesday 16th March 1943
On duty. No. 1. Finger very painful! Saw M.O. have to go again on Friday. Forgot we fired yesterday. Did a lot of work on new diesel.

Wednesday 17th March 1943
Didn’t do much work on account of finger which was rather painful. Went for a walk down to beach after tea. Picked flowers. Went on duty. S/P 23-0300.

Thursday 18th March 1943
In bed, glorious bed! Up for pay at quarter to three. Had a pretty good sleep. Nice bath – going to dance tonight. Joan S. back. Dance quite good fun.

Friday 19th March 1943
On duty. Very busy cleaning up for Sat. Inspect. SawM.O. with finger. Had F.F.I. S/P 13-19. Letter from Jim Millar. Played Housie in Naafi and lost!

Saturday 20th March 1943
Fatigue day. Didn’t do much cause of finger. Went primrose picking. Our Diesel won competition. On duty.