Week 34: 22nd August – 28th August 1943

 

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

  • The identify of “Gertie from Berlin”, who broadcast Nazi propaganda to English-speaking radio listeners, was revealed by the FBI as Gertrude Hahn, an American citizen and native of Pittsburgh. Miss Hahn, had moved to Berlin in 1938 when her father decided to return the family to Germany.
  • Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union announced that the recapture of Kharkov from German occupiers ended the Battle of Kursk with a serious strategic defeat for the German forces. Kharkov, the fourth largest city in the U.S.S.R., was the last major enemy base on the southern frontier. 
  • Heinrich Himmler, the commander of the Gestapo, was named Reichminister of the Interior in Germany, after Adolf Hitler removed Wilhelm Frick from the post. Frick was reassigned to become the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, replacing Konstantin von Neurath as Germany’s overseer of the “protectorate”.
  • Lord Mountbatten, Royal Navy Vice-Admiral and leader of the British Commandos in the Pacific War, was named by the Allies as the Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia. Mountbatten would conduct the Allied war effort against Japan in coordination with the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific operations, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur.
  • The German rocket Henschel Hs 293 struck, and sank, the British ship HMS Egret, marking the first successful attack by a guided missile.
  • The USS Eldridge, was commissioned for the U.S. Navy. The destroyer escort would become part of American folklore as the subject of the supposed Philadelphia Experiment. According to variations of the legend, the Eldridge was either made temporarily invisible, or even sent by time travel into the future
  • King Boris III of Bulgaria died at the age of 49, two weeks after his August 14 meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and only four days after suddenly becoming ill. His 6-year-old son ascended to the throne as  Simeon II, with power to be executed by a regency made up of council of ministers. Simeon II would be the last King of Bulgaria, forced out of office with the abolition of the monarchy on September 8, 1946, but would return to power in 2001 as Simeon Sakskoburggotski.

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

Sunday 22nd August July 1943
Very tired! On duty so missed O.G. Parade! Thank goodness. Had a game of hockey at night such fun! S/N supposed to be lighting up tonight.

Monday 23rd August 1943
Hot today. Hockey match tonight against R.E.M.E. Match cancelled. Had a knock about with some of the girls and Jack. On night. Bullseye!

Tuesday 24th August 1943
Maintenance in morning. Went to S’hampton in truck. Empire saw “Hangmen also die” very sad. Had supper at Winston. Back to dance. nothing doing. Went to local with Jack and Doreen. Back to dance. Good fun.

Wednesday 25th August 1943
On duty. Searching. J & D gone to dentist at S’hampton. Nothing exciting happened. No letters from home yet.

Thursday 26th August 1943
Fatigue day. Pressed my slacks etc. Slept most of the afternoon – but got caught for a lecture on “Kings Law”. Pretty grim. Searching at night. Out of A (ammunition?) for Bullseye.

Friday 27th August 1943
Slept all morning. Went to flicks at S’hampton. Saw “Lucky Jordan”. Back to Lyndhurst. Missed bus so walked most of the way back. Met Jack at the local. Came back to dance. Raining.

Saturday 28th August 1943
Still on 24 hr. Went to Totton in the morning. Wings for Victory – lots of our girls on the Parade.

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Week 33: 15th August – 21st August 1943

 

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

  • United States and Canadian troops, prepared for heavy resistance, invaded Kiska, an island off Alaska, and were surprised to find it deserted. Japan had taken control of the island shortly after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour. Although there was no resistance, four American soldiers were killed by mines and 24 were killed by friendly fire, shot by mistake by their own comrades in heavy fog.
  • The German SS surrounded the Jewish ghetto in the city of Bialystok, in German-occupied Poland, to begin deportation of the thousands of residents to concentration camps. As the roundup began, the Jewish underground force began fighting back. The battle went on for five days before the Germans were able to suppress the insurrection. Most of the leaders of the underground force committed suicide rather than being captured.
  • The Quadrant Conference between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, continued in Quebec City with the signing of the Quebec Agreement by U.S. President Roosevelt, U.K. Prime Minister Churchill, and Canadian Prime Minister King. The terms of the pact, officially titled Articles of Agreement Governing Collaboration between the Authorities of the USA and the UK in the Matter of Tube Alloys, would remain secret until 1954. “Tube alloys” was a codename for atomic weapons. The nations agreed to combine their atomic physicists and researchers to develop the atomic bomb, and not use the weapon against any other nation without joint consent.
  • Secret negotiations began in Lisbon between General Giuseppe Castellano and the Allies to discuss an Italian surrender.
  • Sylvester McCoy the actor and seventh to play the TV role of Doctor Who (1987-1989) was born, Percy Kent-Smith, in Dunoon, Scotland.

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

Sunday 15th August July 1943
Came on duty with Roddys team, so missed C.O.S. (Chief of Staff) Parade! Dick came. Big Home Guard Inspection by Brig! Didn’t go out. Very hot.

Monday 16th August 1943
On duty. Working very hard. Letter from home. Fired a hell of a lot on Sunday night. Portsmouth Battle zone – no sleep. Five planes brought down. Another plane down today!

Tuesday 17th August 1943
Went to M.O. (Medical Officer) with bad eye. Had a good morning in Lyndhurst. All Privilege leave stopped & ???? leave for big manoeuvre.

Wednesday 18th August 1943
Didn’t do anything at all. Should have been our day out – but it wasn’t!  Jerry keeping pretty well away thank goodness! Forgot – letter from Bert! Yesterday.

Thursday 19th August 1943
Got paid today. On duty all day – bit of Co.op. Heard all letters censored from today Have to take tin hats out with us.

Friday 20th August 1943
Had regrading today. Still A.W.! so no chances of my ticket. Dance in camp – very nice too danced with Jack (our ??) all night. Had some beer – on duty. One call out for 5 mins.

Saturday 21st August 1943
Raining! letter from Eric. Pressed Jack’s and A’s slacks in morning. Went to S’hampton – Shirley – grand time shopping Dance at Guildhall – met Jack had a grand time – bit late getting in.

Week 32: 8th August – 14th August 1943

 

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

  • The United States Army barred the taking of photos at all beach resorts on the Atlantic Ocean, and even painting or sketching beach scenes. Civilian violators could be barred from the going to the coast or tried in a military court.
  • For the second time in a week, U.S. General George Patton struck a U.S. Army soldier after losing his temper. This time, his encounter was with Private Paul G. Bennet at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in San Stefano, Sicily. Patton asked Bennet what he was ill with, and Bennet, replied, “It’s my nerves… I can’t stand the shelling anymore.” According to a medical officer who witnessed the attack, General Patton replied, “Your nerves, hell. You’re just a God-damned coward, you yellow son of a bitch!” and then slapped him.
  • After two weeks of warnings to Italy from the Allies, that “The respite is over. The bombing of military objectives will resume” air raids resumed. The Royal Air Force dropped tons of incendiary bombs on Milan and Turin as well as making the first bombing run on Berlin since May 21. American bombers began an even heavier attack on Rome than the one delivered on July 19. American bombers also struck German Austria for the first time, targeting the Messerschmitt arms plant at Wiener Neustadt south of Vienna.
  • A day after the second bombing of the Italian capital, Rome was declared an open city by the Italian government, which made the announcement in a radio broadcast by Stetani, the official news agency. Marshal Pietro Badoglio, the Italian Prime Minister confirmed the decision later in the day, offering to remove the city’s defenses, under the supervision of the Allies, in exchange for no further bombing.

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

Sunday 8th August July 1943
Manning – so got out of Church Parade. Worked pretty hard. Swotted for exam Had dance. Not very good also S/P 0100-0500

Monday 9th August 1943
In bed. got up for test – then cancelled but tomorrow. Went out to Lyndhurst & Totton saw SBS. Commando in Lynd. Went to flicks San Francisco.

Tuesday 10th August 1943
On duty in afternoon (I was on 24 from yesterday). Did dummy runs all afternoon. Very hot and very tired. nothing much happened.

Wednesday 11th August 1943
Plotting! Hard at work all day – film (?tng) in afternoon-Evening “. The Immortal Sergeant V.G. up at 2300 – 0215 – bulls eye. Hostiles. Fired. up again 0430 – 0800!

Thursday 12th August 1943
Very tired. Bed. Slept soundly til till 1235! Another sleep in the afternoon. Letters from Geoff & Eric. Went to flicks. Arthur Askey in “King Arthur was a Gentleman.” V.G. Dance.

Friday 13th August 1943
On duty. didn’t do much in morning. Kit inspection & Pay Parade in afternoon. Washed my hair. Plotting at night – but no call outs. Thank Goodness.

Saturday 14th August 1943
Letter from Geoff. Coming today. Geoff came in evening. Played Housey Housey, and lost loads of money. Played hockey in afternoon.

Week 31: 1st August – 7th August 1943

 

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

  • Operation Tidal Wave began as a group of 177 American B-24 Liberator bombers, with 1,726 total crew, departed from Libya to make the first bombing of the oil refineries at Ploieşti, Romania, the major supplier of fuel to Germany. The mission temporarily halted fuel production, but 532 airmen and 54 of the planes were lost.
  • The “Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek”, eleven Roman Catholic nuns led by Mother Superior Maria Stella Mardosewicz, were executed by a Nazi firing squad in German-occupied Poland, after volunteering to take the place of local men who had been scheduled for execution.
  • The U.S. Navy patrol torpedo boat PT-109, with a crew of 13 commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, was sunk by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands. Two of the crew were killed but Kennedy and the remaining men swam three miles to a small uninhabited island. Kennedy and Ensign George H. R. Ross then made their way to Nauru and found local inhabitants who delivered a message to the PT base at Rendova Island that Kennedy had carved on a coconut. The PT-109 survivors were subsequently rescued on August 8.
  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his cabinet ministers decided not to ship British wheat to famine stricken Bengal province (now Bangladesh), potentially condemning hundreds of thousands to starvation. 
  • The liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, where the 50,000 Jewish residents of the city of Vilnius, Lithuania had been confined, began. The Nazi occupiers transported 20,000 to Estonia to work as slave labor at the concentration camps in Klooga and Lagedi. The Germans encountered resistance during the first deportation, and after killing those who had taken up arms, sent Estonian Jew Herman Kruk to convince residents that the deportation “meant not extermination but work”. Kruk himself would later die in the Lagedi camp.

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

Sunday 1st August July 1943
Up at Gun Park. Tired . Very busy. down at 1310 – up again at 1330!! Fired again. Down at 1630. Went to canteen. Sat on the beach wall with marines.

Monday 2nd August 1943
Came back at 1000 – arrived here soon after twelve. Not very nice day – showery. On duty with Cptn Burrough didn’t do much R/M miserable as ever!

Tuesday 3rd August 1943
Doreen on course at Horsington. Joan & I went to Lyndhurst – had lift – did a lot of shopping – came back with some man in car. Tea in Totton. Went to a dance was lovely. Letter from Joan Lanse(?) last night.

Wednesday 4th August 1943
On duty and worked like ——- all day. Wrote to Bert. Bed early was going to play rounders but didn’t.

Thursday 5th August 1943
On fatigues. & P.T. Went out in the afternoon to Lyndhurst – lift back with R.A.F. Went for a ride to S’hampton & back in REME truck. Had tea. Couldn’t Get in flicks. Raining. Lift back – ??

Friday 6th August 1943
Saw two of King Wells ?? Party. On duty. Very hot & very tired. No letters. Lots of Air Coop. Bulls eye at night. Good targets but very tired. No extra lie in either.

Saturday 7th August 1943
On fatigues. Not out today. Had a sleep in the afternoon. Flo came back from Comp. Leave. Joan came back.

Week 30: 25th July – 31st July 1943

 

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

  • Benito Mussolini resigned as Prime Minister of Italy, along with the other Fascist Party members of his cabinet, bringing an end to a dictatorship of more than 17 years. After leaving the meeting of the Fascist Grand Council earlier that day, Mussolini reportedly left to award prizes in a farmer’s festival and to conduct business as usual. Count Grandi then reported the Fascist Council decision to King Victor Emmanuel III, who ordered Mussolini to report personally, and then asked the Premier to resign. When Mussolini asked for more time and left the palace, he was arrested and driven away to face imprisonment.
  • Michael Philip Jagger, later known as Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, was born in Dartford, Kent, UK.
  • In the greatest single-day loss of life in wartime, up to then, more than 30,000 residents of the German port city of Hamburg were killed when British bombers carried out Operation Gomorrha during the night of July 27 and 28th. Because of unusually dry conditions, the high combustibility of buildings in the working class neighborhoods of Billwärder-Ausschlag, Borgfelde and Hamm, and the use more than 1,000 tons of incendiary bombs, a firestorm was created, bringing powerful winds to spread the destruction. Most of the victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning inside basement shelters, and it took two days for the streets to cool down enough for rescue teams to look for survivors.
  • Igor Kurchatov, the Soviet physicist assigned to developing the first nuclear bomb for the U.S.S.R., reported to Deputy Premier Vyacheslav Molotov that the program had advanced significantly from secrets gathered in espionage on the United States.
  • Marie-Louise Giraud, 39, a French housewife who had been convicted of carrying out 27 abortions, became the last woman in France to be executed by guillotine, with her sentence carried out by the Nazi occupation government.

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

Sunday 25th July 1943
On duty all day. Dance at night Quite fun. also had to get up to do half of 12-6 search! Very tired not feeling too good.

Monday 26th July 1943
Slept until 0930. No breakfast or dinner. feeling rotten. Packed up and moved by lorry to Hayling Island – St Patricks. Big School. Very nice. Mr Palmer in charge here. Saw Joyce Pollet. She hadn’t altered.

Tuesday 27th July 1943
Verandah of our room overlooks sea. On fatigues today, Did P.T. on the beach – in slacks & shirt. Very nice. Had a marvellous swim and sun bathe in afternoon.

Wednesday 28th July 1943
Went to Castle Head at night. Very nice. Up on the Gun Park today- three miles in lorry. Very busy. Down at 1600 – went swimming – to canteen? Up at GP. -2300-0100.

Thursday 29th July 1943
Went to bed 0130 up again 0630 – at G Park. Had to march down – lorry didn’t come. up again in afternoon – P.T. fired- nice plots. down at 1900. Paid went swimming. Marvellous time

Friday 30th July 1943
Very easy morning – On beach all morning. All afternoon off. Went swimming. At night to Marine dance Had a lovely time. Came home with ?Marine ?L/cph- named Joe.

Saturday 31st July 1943
On duty. Quite an easy time. Recorded on gun – went swimming in afternoon – saw lots of the Marines & Joe again. Went to flicks with Joe.

Week 29: 18th July – 24th July 1943

 

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

  • General Harold Alexander of the British Army became the first Allied Military Governor of Sicily, as conquest of the Italian island was nearly completed. His first act was to proclaim the dissolution of all Fascist organisations.
  • Italian dictator Benito Mussolini met with Germany’s Adolf Hitler at the northern Italian town of Feltre to discuss Italy’s withdrawal from further fighting, but Mussolini reportedly failed to bring the subject up.
  • Allied airplanes dropped bombs on the ancient city of Rome, three days after an ultimatum had been made to Italy. Italian state radio reported that 166 people were killed and 1,659 injured. The attack, and the prospect of the conquest and destruction of Italy, would hasten the fall of Mussolini.
  • In the only battle during World War II between an airship and a submarine, the U.S. Army airship K-74 dropped depth charges on the German U-boat U-134, which fired its 20 mm cannons at the blimp. The airship was downed and its crew of ten were rescued unharmed the next day, and nobody was hurt on the U-134
  • Operation Gomorrah, the destruction of the German port of Hamburg began. British and Canadian airplanes bombed the city by night, and American planes followed during the day. By the end of the operation in November, 9,000 tons of explosives would kill more than 30,000 people and destroy 280,000 buildings.
  • The Italian Fascist Grand Council began its first meeting since 1939. In a ten-hour session that lasted into the next morning, the Council criticized Prime Minister Mussolini for his failure to prevent Italy from being invaded. At the end of the meeting, on a motion by Dino Grandi, the Council voted 19 to 7 to remove Mussolini from further leadership.

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

Sunday 18th July 1943
Very tired On bed. Had a gorgeous sleep till 1215! Joan & I went to Lyndhurst – New Forest. Lovely. Picked some heather. Had tea at a little cottage. Back to Totton for supper.

Monday 19th July 1943
Pouring all day without stopping. Didn’t do a stroke of work. Off duty 2000. Bed pretty early. Had an A/G from Eric! posted 3rd July!

Tuesday 20th July 1943
Hell of a lot of fatigues as the Bug was coming. As usual he didn’t come. Our team on duty but not me. Hell of a night. Rain Rain & more rain.

Wednesday 21st July 1943
Letter from Les. Met him in Southampton at 1500! Raining. Had tea – f?? saw ‘The Youngest Profession. C?? again & again. caught the 21.33 back. Lovely time but very, very wet.

Thursday 22nd July 1943
Still raining. Sun trying to come through though. Madge Bussy came to see us she looks very well.

Friday 23rd July 1943
Nick gave us lecture. Going out too much! Joan & I went out today as we can’t go out sat. Lift to Totton – & to Lyndhurst. Bus to S’hampton. Nice time. Bill?? Park – ?? Bags to eat caught 2133 back.

Saturday 24th July 1943
Quite nice time Very surprised – letter from George Tustin?? – now sat. Obs. Packing for move to Sinah – blast it.

Week 28: 11th July – 17th July 1943

 

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

  • The British Army captured the port of Syracuse (Siracusa) in the invasion of Sicily, while nine other major ports (Licata, Gela, Pachino, Avola, Noto, Pozzallo, Scoglitti, Ispica and Rosolini) were captured by the Allies on the second day of the invasion.
  • In the main engagement of the Battle of Prokhorovka, the German SS Panzer-Regiment 1 and the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army fought a prolonged tank battle that saw the loss of hundreds of tanks in a single day. As many as 429 German and 616 Soviet tanks battled over the next four days, one of the largest tank battles in military history.
  • University of Munich student Alexander Schmorell, 25, and university Professor Karl Huber, 49, were both executed by guillotine at Munich’s Stadelheim Prison after being convicted of prison for distributing anti-Nazi literature for the secret organization White Rose. On the same day, trial was held for four other students who were White Rose defendants— Wilhelm Geyer, Manfred Eickemeyer, Josef Soehngen and Harald Dohrn. People’s Court chief judge Roland Freisler was absent, and the case was tried before the more lenient Judge Schwingenschlögl. All four were acquitted of the most serious charges and convicted on the less serious crime of failing to report treason. Soehngen received a six-month sentence, with credit for time served, while the other three were ordered to pay court costs.
  • U.S. soldiers carried out the Biscari massacre, killing 73 unarmed German and Italian prisoners of war.
  • Nazi officials in German-occupied France ordered a roundup of the 13,000 Jews living in Paris, including 4,000 children, to be arrested and deported to the detention center at Drancy, from which they were transported to the Auschwitz extermination camp.
  • Father Marie-Benoit, a French Roman Catholic priest, met with Pope Pius XII in hopes of getting Vatican support for the transfer of 30,000 French Jews, from the Italian occupation zone at Nice, to Italy, before the area was turned over to German administration. Benoit was unsuccessful in persuading the Pope to act.

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

Sunday 11th July 1943
Pouring. Camp in a filthy state. 3 parades! Pretty awful. Slept all afternoon till 16.10. again from 1700 – 1845! Nice work. Still raining.

Monday 12th July 1943
Just did our room in morning. Letter from Home. Mum says Pat looks very fit – & clean!! Went to Totton saw D.Lamour in “The Fleet’s In”. V.G. Had fish & chip supper. Got in 2130.

Tuesday 13th July 1943
Letter from Bert.(Can) Sun shining for a change! Wrote to Jim yesterday. Working v. hard. heard today we’re going to Liverpool! Also heard from Dot – getting married in Aug. invite to wedding! Letter from Pat & L?

Wednesday 14th July 1943
Up about 0700. Just did hut as my fatigue. Not bad day but looks as if it might rain. Slept in afternoon. On duty at night S/P 7-11. c/o call outs. Good sleep.

Thursday 15th July 1943
Monica Shrive taken hosp. with scalding (mild from Scarlet fever.) Didn’t go out. Got things out for kit inspection then didn’t have it! Got a bad foot.

Friday 16th July 1943
On duty. Very hot & feeling very lazy. Paid – sent Pat 40 cigs. Had letter from Geoff. Wrote to Joan.

Saturday 17th July 1943
Not much doing. I.F.C. came – gave us a test. Afterwards we started an EA Eric & I set not working properly Rolo sent for. S/P 7-11 Bulls Eye 1150- 0115!