Sunday, February 19, 2017

Context: D-Day Sicily But 3 Days Away

Newspaper Articles Reveal Many Allied Gains.

Headlines from The Montreal Star, July 7, 1943. Photo from Microfilm.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The biggest armada of all time will soon be seen approaching the Sicilian coastline and about 250 Canadians in Combined Operations, divided between four flotillas of landing craft, are scattered among the troop ships. Landing crafts, some sporting a Maple Leaf (painted by our Navy boys), are hanging from davits and will be lowered into the water off Sicily's coast in a matter of days.

Newspaper columns and ads from The Montreal Star (one of many Canadian papers with writers on the scene) reveal odds and ends about the growing tension and what is to come.


The above headline doesn't say it all. An accompanying article reports the following:

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, NORTH AFRICA, July 7 - (B.U.P.) - Powerful fleets of all types of Allied airplanes pounded eight targets in Sicily Tuesday, slashing hard at diminishing Axis air defences and leaving a trail of fires and ruin along the invasion route to Southern Europe.

Additional details of the day and night attacks by Americans and R.A.F. bombers from Northwest Africa and the Middle East disclosed the successful bombing and strafing attacks were made on railroad stations and road transport at Marsala, Licata, and Empedocle, following hard punches at five important Sicilian defence bases.

The day and night onslaught by British, South African and United States bombers hit five targets "right on the nose," leaving a string of fires and smoking debris that stretched across Sicily. Bascari, Trapani, Gerbini, Catania and Milo were the main objectives, with about 50 Liberator bombers from the Middle East dropping 285,000 pounds of bombs on Gerbini and Catania.

Photo of early Liberator in RAF markings. Photo credit - Wikipedia

Italian newspapers, quoted by the London radio, told the Italian people again that an expected Allied invasion would be defeated, but Popolo di Roma said: "Sicily is next on the list of the enemy's invasion schedule."

Heavy, medium and light bombers streaked across the Mediterranean from both Northwest Africa and Middle Eastern bases to blast parked planes, hangars and other ground installations.

Opposition Dwindles

The decreased opposition encountered, presumably the result of the terrific around-the-clock bombardment of the Axis air bases, was reflected in the announcement that only three intercepting enemy aircraft were destroyed in the 24 hours ended last night compared with 45 each during the two previous 24-hour periods. Five Allied planes were lost, but this was less than half the losses sustained during each of the two previous days. (An Italian communique broadcast by the Rome radio said 15 Allied planes were shot down yesterday.)

Ge. Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters indicated that every type of plane in the Northwest African Air Forces - from Flying Fortress to Warhawk fighter-bomber - participated in yesterday's attacks on airfields at Bascari at the southeast corner of Sicily, Trapani, Western Sicily and nearby Milo.

Allied Eastern Task Force will attack the southeast corner of Sicily

"Many bombs were seen to burst in the target areas and numerous fires were started," the communique said.

Damage Heavy

In the big attack on Gerbini airdrome, runway and dispersal areas at the north, east and south ends of the field were well covered with bomb bursts and damaged badly. Large fires were observed at the northwest end of the airdrome.

Enemy fighters unsuccessfully attempted to intercept the Liberators and one German Messerschmitt was destroyed and two damaged. The Northwest African Air Forces also accounted for one enemy plane yesterday and another the previous night.

The daylight raids followed a two-way night assault on the Catania area.

R.A.F. Wellington bombers and American and South African medium bombers from the Northwest African Forces bombed the main Gerbini airfield and its four satellite landing grounds, as well as the port of Catania. Almost simultaneously R.A.F. heavy bombers from the Middle Eastern Command raided railway installations and yards at Catania. Bomb bursts were seen in the railway station area and on sulphur refineries. Anti-aircraft defences also were attacked.

All bombers from the Middle Eastern Command returned safely from both day and night raids.

* * * * *  

Editorial Cartoon from The Montreal Star, July 7, 1943

* * * * *



DEFENDERS REGAIN GROUND AND KEEP AIR SUPERIORITY

Infantry and Guns Break German Attacks by M. S. Handler

MOSCOW, July 7 - (B.U.P.) - Fresh masses of German tanks, infantry and planes flung themselves vainly at Russian lines on the Southern Front today as the Red Army regained some lost ground and cut up Nazi armor that spent itself seizing two villages in the Belgorod area.

Panzer units that made initial slight advances in the Orel and Kursk areas were torn apart methodically by Soviet artillery and infantrymen who let  them pass unmolested and then smashed Nazi attempts to follow up their gains. The Nazi armored legions that gained slightly near Belgorod were stopped cold and the Army organ Red Star said a fierce Russian counter-attack had set them back.

German losses for the three-day attempt to breach the line between Orel and Belgorod mounted to 1,271 tanks, 314 planes and 13,000 men. Russian military observers said the Germans used the same tactics that cost them bloody losses - and defeat - last year.

Front dispatches indicated Russian resistance demonstrated an enormous increase in Soviet ground firepower and expansion of the Red Army Air Force, which was said to be holding the skies against everything the Luftwaffe could offer....

Rallying in their new defence positions, the Russians halted the advance and then swung over to the counter-attack. In another sector near Belgorod, large German panzer forces pushed as far as the Soviet forward positions, where they finally were dispersed with heavy losses by Russian mortar and artillery fire.

* * * * *

Ads in The Montreal Star, July 7, 1943
"Get your Monkey Jacket today!"

* * * * *


More than a few words appeared on July 7 about contributions made by the Canadian Air Force:

LONDON, July 7 - (C.P.) - Canadian-manned Mosquito bombers pounded away at their favourite targets - railways - in France last night while the R.A.F. concentrated on sowing mines in enemy waters, the Air Ministry announced today. One bomber was lost.

The Canadian Bomber Group took part in the mine-laying operations, said an R.C.A.F. communique. It added that all planes returned from bomber and fighter operations.

Those were the only new developments as the long-range bomber fleets stayed quietly at their bases for the second successive night, letting R.A.F and R.C.A.F. fighter planes break into the news, with one Spitfire piloted by a Canadian, demanding most of the attention.

Prowling along the French coast yesterday, light bombers and fighters attacked and damaged two minesweepers and an armed trawler, with the loss of one bomber to round out a day that saw R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. fighters knock eight German aircraft out of the skies over France.

Five of the Focke-Wulf 190s and Messerschmitt 109s fell before the blazing guns of revenge-minded Poles piloting R.A.F. aircraft, and three were victims of R.C.A.F. planes.

No Planes Lost

Canadian Headquarters said in another communique no losses were suffered, and hidden in that brief announcement was an aerial feat performed by Sqdn. Ldr. R.W. McNair of North Battleford, Sask., that experts say creates a record for operational flying.

As leader of a Spitfire squadron ranging along the French coast, McNair had his plane engine go dead on him while 30 miles away from home and over enemy territory. By rights he should have ended in a casualty list, but instead he glided to safety, part of the way through heavy anti-aircraft fire.

As McNair, a holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross explained it, he had just shot down a Messerschmitt when his engine went dead. He was some distance inside France at the time - but was well over 20,000 feet. He decided to glide. 

He took the shortest route, despite the fact that meant flying over the strongly-defended town of Boulogne, because he did not want to risk wasting height by going around. Ack-ack fire bounced his gliding plane as he swept over the town, making him lose valuable height, but he managed to keep going, finally making the Channel and an airfield in England.

Wonderful Flying

His one comment was, "It was wonderful flying alone, so peacefully and without any noise."

Britain continued to enjoy a two-week break in the aerial offensive except for the diversion caused when two German fighters flew over East Anglia last night and machine-gunned one area. No persons were seriously injured. 

Observers gave three reasons for the lull - one of the longest since the air war got under way the night of May 9, 1940. One was the diversion of aircraft and crews from the central pool in Germany to the Eastern front. Another was the lack of spare aircraft and fuel, much of which was destroyed during recent aerial poundings handed the Ruhr by the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. A third explanation given was that the Germans are at the last minute conserving their aerial strength to combat an Allied invasion. 

* * * * * 

As found in The Montreal Star, July 7 1943

The following two paragraphs, from the same page of The Montreal Star as the previous article, tell about more work done by British aircraft:

WAR ON RAILWAYS

 LONDON, July 7 - (By Telephone to The Star and N.Y. Herald Tribune. Copyright) - Smashing June attacks against rail transport in Western Europe by the Royal Air Force has wiped out Germany's favourable balance in locomotive production and new construction is barely able to keep up with war losses and normal wastage, according to a report released by the British Air Ministry yesterday.

During June the R.A.F. successfully attacked 150 trains on the continent and at least 120 locomotives were put out of action, the Ministry said. June raids, together with similar punishing assaults of previous months, leaves Germany facing a transport crisis, where the number of serviceable locomotives in operation may even now show a net decrease, it was said.

A Train in the Street (October 22, 1985). Photograph by Kuhn.

* * * * *

Ads from The Montreal Star, July 7, 1943.



* * * * *


The above photograph was accompanied by the following caption (in part):

Eight hundred dollars' worth of extra comforts will go to Canadians in enemy prison camps, that sum being the proceeds of three recent troop show performances for the public given at the Montreal High School auditorium by The Blue Bell Bullets' Revue of the Auxiliary Aid Association, Telephone Employes of Montreal Fund. Pictured is Chairman Paul A. McFarlane handing the cheque to Mrs. H.E. Plan, chairwoman of the Canadian Prisoners of War Relatives' Association, Quebec branch.

 Ad from The Montreal Star, July 7, 1943.

* * * * *

Earlier recruits, e.g., the first Canadians to volunteer for Combined
Operations in 1941, trained at HMCS Stadacona in Halifax, N.S.

H.M.C.S. CORNWALLIS, Deep Brook, N.S., July 7 - (Star Special) - The Royal Canadian navy has met the challenge of training as many sailors this year as in the past three with this new-born naval city on the lush shores of a Maritime summer resort.

On some 800 acres of land which rolls gently back from the salt water of the sheltered Annapolis Basin has been erected, more rapidly than any similar project in Canada, a $12,000,000 naval training establishment that is one of the most modern, complete and efficient of its kind in the world.

It has solved what threatened to be a training bottle neck when Canada assumed nearly one-half of the vital job of convoy protection on the North Atlantic.

Centralization Effected

Its purposes are simple. It will take semi-trained ratings from basic training establishments and turn them into practical seamen. And it will teach ratings with sea experience to operate and maintain more complicated equipment and to keep up to date with constant innovations to such equipment.

Similarly with officers: New entry officers will be given training in technical equipment, and those with sea experience will be trained for specialist duties. It has helped to solve an instructor bottleneck. One centralized, coordinated training staff trains more men more efficiently.

In terms of insurance the cost is trivial. A 50-ship convoy is worth several times $50,000,000 to say nothing of the fact both ships and cargo are priceless in terms of war supply. One efficient anti-submarine rating may detect U-boats, and a crew skilled in seamanship, gunnery, torpedo and engine room practice may drive them off or destroy them.

On single convoy runs Canada's sailors have saved from the enemy's torpedoes cargoes worth several times the cost of Deep Brook - and exacted a toll of enemy U-boats and trained men.

Built On Big Scale

That is why Deep Brook has been built on a mammoth scale. Its water supply system would care for a small city. Its coal dump will store 20,000 tons. Its gun battery is the longest in the world. 6,000 men can stand on its five-acre parade ground. It has its own hospital, post office, bank and spur railway siding. 

One year ago the first sod was being turned. Today, bulldozers, "cats" and stonecrushers still snort past thousands of marching men who have moved in to occupy every available inch as fast as it has been built. 

For the contractors, it has been an ideal site. The land is sandy loam, easily worked, easily drained. There is no rock, no swamp or other natural impediments. It is served by a main highway and a rail line....

An Ideal Site

In the healthful summer-resort atmosphere of Deep Brook, away from the distracting influences of seaport cities, sickness among the men has dropped more than 25 per cent. In its sheltered valley and basin the weather does not seriously hamper training ashore or afloat summer or winter. The harbor is open all year. In addition to the rail line and road, ships can anchor nearby, and training ships of the establishment can proceed with classes throughout the year. It is handy to the large operational bases of the R.C.N. for manning purposes.

It has plenty of room for expansion, and for the phase of training that is receiving high emphasis today - physical culture and recreation. Men in the peak of physical condition study better, work better, fight better....

Into the huge schools and shops are going the most modern equipment and training methods, the result of almost four years of war experience, and the best ideas of schools in the United Kingdom and the United States. Everywhere the emphasis is on the practical, with full-size and smaller models of the different parts of a ship and its armament - from the highly secret, most advanced submarine detection apparatus to the dry-land boat on which the prairie sailor first learns to feather his oars.

After instruction in school, classes get underway in ships to put their theory into practice, so that they graduate ready to take over their fighting jobs at sea as soon as they get their first ship.

Of the schools themselves, seamanship ranks high in importance.... every opportunity is given to train on the ships attached to the base, and in whalers cutters and other naval craft....

In the gunnery school an arched dome carries a false German plane, and below anti-aircraft ratings try their skill at bringing it down. In the huge gun battery others learn the details of the big guns, some of them so new they are the only ones of their kind in use in Canada. 

In the Mechanical Training Establishments, the engine room men learn everything from the use of a lathe to how to clean a boiler.

In their leisure moments the ratings, the hundreds of Wrens who are relieving men for sea duties, and their officers explore peaceful Maritime centres nearby....

Service canteens in the establishment do a booming business, but cannot begin to cope with the demand for pop, chocolate bars, chewing gum, peanuts.... the bank and post office have opened astounding numbers of new accounts that swell with every pay.

Doug Harrison (RCNVR, Combined Ops) and a member of CWAC
(Canadian Women's Army Corps). Location unknown. Circa 1944 - 45

And in the evening the senior officers look with satisfaction at their young Canadian charges not seeking the bright lights or dance halls of an international seaport, but training with zest for victory in cutter races, cross country runs, softball, baseball, football games - or, perhaps, relaxing in one of the camp's movies or service shows.

* * * * * 

A British soldier reads up on Sicily, the target for the next Allied
invasion, July 1943. Photo Credit - World War 2 Today

More to follow about the lead up to Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily.


Unattributed Photos GH

I'd Rather Be WALKN.

Another Good Week in the Books.

Except for ducks, Thames R. is still too cold for SWIMN.

In spite an outdoor temperature of 14C, I took a day off yesterday from my WALKN routine. I already had covered 28 miles for the week (my goal is 26.2 miles) and wanted to save my energy for a long walk to UWO today.

Feb. 16 - 18. Almost ready to put my selection of winter hats away

One of my pastimes (researching my father's WW2 Navy history) includes reviewing 1940s newspapers stored on microfilm at London's university, and the 3 - 3.5 mile route from home to the D.B. Weldon Library (via Harris and Gibbons Park, and 'The Flats') is very scenic. So, you might see a lot of photos from along the way pretty soon.

Mild temperatures are in the forecast and I may be tempted to jog around old Londontown in shorts and T-shirt this week. Picture ghost-white-legs and arms, and knee-high tube socks from the 1970s. 

You've been warned.






Photos by GH

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Photos From Along The Way (3).

2017, The Year of Flexi-Weather.

The snow comes and goes according to no man's schedule.

The weather has been more unpredictable than my choice of walking routes.

I usually just follow my nose, but, lately, I have headed north toward Harris and Gibbons Park, and Baldwin's Meadow (aka The Flats). Each day the weather (and subsequently, the footing) is different, from unseasonably mild, with damp trails, to cold and snowy and tough sledding.

Whatever the weather, I trudge toward a suitable turn-around point, then head back home, and snap a few pictures along the way so that - in a few years time - when I produce a book entitled "The GREAT Canadian Comeback", readers will be able to see London's excellent walking trails from every possible angle.

PHOTOS From Excellent Angles:

 Jude, walking with Frank and Foxy

I record my miles and try to complete one marathon per week











Please link to Photos From Along the Way (2).

Photos GH

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Context: Tide Turns as Operation HUSKY Nears

July 5, 1943: Invasion of Sicily, Five Days Away. 

Jack Trevor (Canadian in Combined Ops) ready for action in Sicily.*
Photo Credit - From the collection of Joe Spencer, RCNVR, C.Ops.

Just a few days before the invasion of Sicily, members of the 55th, 61st, 80th and 81st Canadian flotillas of landing craft were very likely steeling their nerves - like so many others - for their responsibilities aboard various landing crafts during an upcoming operation.

Canadian Seamen like Jack Trevor (above) would not have known the name of the operation or its duration, but they would surely have known something big was about to happen. In later years some would write about unloading troops and tons of supplies of war ("ship to shore") for about 25 - 30 weeks, with most of their time spent working hard aboard Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCMs), scrambling for safe accommodation and scrounging for meals. Some spent weeks in caves near Avola, their labours lightened only on brief occasions. 

Articles printed in The Montreal Star on July 5, 1943, inform us of a few events that were occurring just days before Operation HUSKY.

Headlines are reproduced from microfilm, University of Western Ontario


A lengthy article tells of "a Commando-type operation" at Crete:

We read:

"A special Middle East communique tonight said that small British land forces carried out raids on air fields in Crete Sunday night." (Front Page, The Montreal Star)

We learn several Axis planes on the air field were destroyed before the raiders withdrew. Our soldiers, likely coming from North Africa, learned something about Axis defences against an upcoming invasion. It has been speculated that Crete, 190 miles from Libya, would be a valuable asset to the Allies because of its air bases, now in enemy hands and able to thwart "any blow at Greece."

The BBC "made a special broadcast" to all Cretans not to assist in the British attacks. Part of the message suggested to Cretans that the Germans may make their own broadcast that an invasion is underway in order to drive the islanders to action, thus giving German troops the "opportunity of wreaking their savagery on you."

The broadcast warned that Germans would likely exact reprisals on innocent civilians because of the raid or any Cretan involvement, but the Cretans were encouraged to bear it, realizing that any victims, "by their suffering and calmness", would "contribute to the longed-for purpose of the common struggle." 

No details were provided about the size of the British force. The assumption was made that they were well-trained Commandos, having not been on the island since a German hammering in June, 1941. 

It was suggested that regaining Crete, the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean at 160 miles long, would be a good step for the Allies in the direction of establishing control once again in the Balkans.

* * * * *

From The Montreal Star. Photo from microfilm.


We read:

New York, July 5 -(A.P.)- The submarine, on the basis of announced sinkings, continued to lose force as a menace to Allied shipping and loss of life in the Western Atlantic as the war ended its 201st week today.

For three of the last four weeks, there were no losses of merchant ships given by the navy. That left at 670 the Associated Press total of announced Allied and neutral merchantmen sunk in the Western Atlantic since the United States entered the war.

The "best month.... in the war"

It will bore out the statement by Prime Minister Churchill in London that more than 30 U-boats were destroyed in May and that the "massacre" of one of Germany's most dependable weapons continued through June. The Prime Minister declared that "since the middle of May scarcely a single merchant ship has been sunk in the whole of the North Atlantic" and that June was the "best month we have ever known in the war."

The announcement from London last Saturday that a great convoy recently crossed the Atlantic under continuous air protection - "the mid-Atlantic gap was filled by planes from a British carrier" - marked another step in the increased protection given to convoys.

A Stockholm dispatch said that the German Admiralty had been forced to withdraw at least part of its underseas fleet from the Atlantic shipping lanes to learn new techniques to combat the latest Allied counter-blows from carriers.

* * * * * 

Photo Credit - Radio Paris

From British United Press we read the following:

LONDON, July 5 - (B.U.P.) - Nazi propagandists have picked July 14 as their new date for an Allied invasion of France, their third prediction in six weeks, while Italian reports told of growing concentrations of Allied landing barges in the Mediterranean from Gibraltar to Cyprus.

In an obvious attempt to lower hopes in the occupied countries and buoy those of the germans by setting "invasion" dates and then mocking their failure to come true, the enemy-controlled Paris radio , which previously set June 22 and the eve of July 4 as the "zero hours", now forecast that the big attack would come on France's Bastille Day.

Indications that the German Propaganda Minister's efforts were ineffective were seen in a L.S.O.W.I. report of an editorial in the Belgian Nazi newspaper Bruesseles Zeitung that the course of the war was imposing a heavy "psychological burden" on the Axis because "never before has the enemy threatened us more and never has he seemed so prepared to accomplish his threats."

Italian Plans 

While the Germans hammered on the theme of a Western Front invasion, Nazi broadcasts quoted the aviation newspaper of Milan that Italian air scouts have spotted increasing Allied concentrations in the Mediterranean, particularly at Malta and Pantelleria.

The Swiss Newspaper, Zurich Dietats, reported in a dispatch from Rome that the Italians, alarmed by recent British announcements that "the sword of Damocles hangs over Rome," have begun to develop the capital's air defences, adding, "Rome now also is regarded as directly threatened not only by air but also by possible landings on the nearby coast. The famous fountain and monuments are hastily being protected by sand bags and the Romans have been forbidden to take their traditional seaside holidays."

Well-informed sources here said last night that the greatest Allied offensive operation of the war thus far - what Premier Winston Churchill called "amphibious operations of peculiar complexity and hazard" - is about to be launched against the Axis. It was stressed, however, that despite the openness of the preparations along the North African shore, there would be a large measure of surprise in the Allied attack.

Planning and Preparations January - July 1943: View of the dockside of
Sousse Harbour, Tunisia. Landing craft are loaded with vehicles and equipped
in preparation for the invasion. Photo Credit - Bundes Archive at Histomil

Meanwhile Allied and neutral reports told of continuing sabotage in the occupied countries.

Railways Hit

In Yugoslavia, Slovenian patriots destroyed eight railroad stations, wrecked three others, blew up two railroad bridges, and derailed a troop train, according to reports received by the Soviet information bureau here.

The B.B.C. yesterday quoted the secret Yugoslav radio as saying that the Yugoslav patriot groups which recently escaped from the Nazi encirclement in Hergovina and Montenegro now have reached the heart of Yugoslavia and are making notable progress along the railroad from "Sarajevo to Uxica," C.S.S. reported.

Premier Benito Mussolini, in a recent speech before the Fascist party directorate, admitted that the party has been purged of dissident elements  and warned that loss of the war would turn Italy into a fourth or fifth rate power, Axis broadcasts said today. The reports of the speech indicated that the party had to use strong measures to stamp out unrest in the face of threatened invasion.

Premier Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler
Photo Credit - Fascist Italy

A Transocean German dispatch broadcast by Berlin said Mussolini "advocated sharp measures against all those who jeopardize the moral unity of the nation". The purge Transocean said, was needed to discipline the party. The same dispatch reported steps by Mussolini to force industry and agriculture into line and said the Duce proposed "ruthless measures" to stamp out the black market.

"The cessation of work which occurred in some instances during March was brief and for economic reasons," Transocean said, possibly referring to a strike at Turin reported at the time. 

Mussolini said the fascists must realize they can't give up the war. 

"Either we win this war - as I firmly believe - together with our companions of the Axis - or else Italy will get a dishonorable peace which will degrade her to fourth or fifth rank among powers," he was quoted by Stefani (Italian) news agency in a Rome broadcast.

* * * * * 

The Montreal Star, July 5, 1943
Photo from Microfilm

About the Russian Guns we read the following:

LONDON, July 5 -(C.P.)- Preparations for a German attack in the Belgorod area northeast of Kharkov have been smashed by artillery and mortar fire with heavy loss to the Nazi forces, the Russian mid-day communique broadcast from Moscow and recorded by the Soviet monitor announced today.

The war bulletin reported only minor action had taken place in other sections of the front. "Several dozen" Nazi troops were killed in a night raid on trenches in the central front and a reconnaissance detachment was dispersed by machine-gun fire, the communique said.

North of Chuguev, 22 miles southeast of Kharkov, Soviet artillery smashed two self-propelled German guns which had been shelling Red Army positions, the bulletin stated.

Nazis Defeated

An attempt by a strong German punitive force to encircle a guerilla unit in the Leningrad area was smashed after several days of fighting, the communique said. Action which developed on the northeast front over the weekend, where the Russians said yesterday they had wiped out 800 of 2,400 tank-supported Elite Guardsmen who attempted to re-capture an important hill, has apparently subsided. The Soviet midnight communique described the action, which it said included two attempts to advance by the Nazis. From the Russian account of the battle it was presumed here that it took place in the Velikie Luki sector, about 90 miles from the Latvian border.

From the Berlin radio came reports that the Nazi High Command is convinced that recent Russian transport movements indicate that "a Soviet offensive now is to be expected almost any day." The German radio also confirmed the Russian announcement of fighting in the Velikie Luki area, but described the action as a Russian attack which had been repelled.

Air Losses

The Russian midnight bulletin recapitulated German and Soviet air losses for the week, declaring that Red Army fliers and anti-aircraft detachments had downed 66 Nazi planes against 18 Russian losses. The Russians also said in their midnight report that an enemy transport had been sunk in the Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle.

Guerilla activity continued in the Leningrad area, the midday communique said. It announced that a German train had been derailed, smashing the engine and four coaches. The killing of a chief of German intelligence office and the wounding of "another high official" when guerillas destroyed an automobile also was announced.

* * * * *

Cleaning Ad from The Montreal Star, July 5, 1943


From an editorial page comes the following, to Adolf Hitler:

From recordings of Axis radio trumpetings just a year ago:

July 8, Rome Radio: "Pantelleria's guns have disturbed the dreams of many who had basked in the pleasant belief of our impotence."

July 9, Rome Radio: "There is no more room for the British in the Mediterranean: they can neither cross it with their transports to Egypt nor efficiently threaten our transports to Libya."

Photo Credit - Nazi Propaganda**

July 16, Rome Radio: "Beaten up on the sea, Britain cannot maintain her control over her vast lands, and the entire building collapses bit by bit like an edifice which is unable to stand up against the march of time. In Egypt as in Russia, in the Mediterranean as in the Atlantic, the fate which as sentenced Britain's hegemony is the same. No event can possibly alter it."

July 11, Radio Zeesen: "No further proof is needed that the R.A.F. is utterly incapable of carrying out large-scale raids entirely with modern bombers."

July 13, Radio Hilversum: "The men who have won as often as german soldiers and their fellow-fighters are driven by an elan which moves mountains. Men, on the other hand, who have so many defeats as the British and their Allies, have no hope regarding their morale."

* * * * * 

The Montreal Star, July 5, 1943. Photo from Microfilm 

An article about 'The Gallup Poll' says the following, in part:

While it can't be definitely proven, it is doubtful if any great leader has enjoyed the confidence and support of so many of his countrymen, for so long a time and through so many changes of fortune, as has the doughty Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain.

While satisfaction with the war effort of the British Government has ebbed and flowed in the British mind, satisfaction with Mr. Churchill as Prime minister has, even in the blackest days of the war, never sagged below 78 per cent  of the British people since the British Gallup Poll first started polling his popularity in late 1941. Latest results from the British Institute, cabled to the affiliated Canadian Institute, show that today Mr. Churchill's popularity with the British masses continues at the highest point in the Institute's a8-month record. No less that 93 out of 100 Britons polled express satisfaction with the job he is doing.

The question, put to a carefully constructed miniature of the British population, was this: "In general, do you approve or disapprove of Churchill as Prime Minister."

The Turn in the Tide of War

....Word from the British Institute also shows that the turn in the tide of war in favor of the United Nations has not changed the Britishers' opinion that Britain, America, Russia and China should form a Supreme War Council to plan and direct the war on all fronts. For many months, public opinion in Britain has favored such a step and today, 76 per cent of those interviewed continue to vote "yes" to this question, a majority which is virtually the same as was found some months ago, in a poll of Canadian opinion....

* * * * *

Prior to the invasion of Sicily the tide of war was turning in the Allies' favour, in spite of positive (and deceptive) radio broadcasts from Berlin. Many factors can be considered related to the turn. This last short article from the July 5 issue of The Montreal Star presents information about one of the factors:

ALLIED PLANE OUTPUT FAR AHEAD OF AXIS'

Washington, July 5 - (A.P.) - United Nations aircraft production now is about three times Axis output, by the estimate of some United States Government officials, with American producers alone putting out nearly double the combined Axis total. The United States in May produced between 7,100 and 7,200 planes, with June production figures expected to show another increase.

By comparison, about 2,200 planes a month are estimated to be coming from plants in Germany, in Nazi-occupied countries and in Hitler's satellite nations. Japan is thought to be producing about 1,200 aircraft month and Italy around 600.

Victory Loans attempt to stamp out Axis leaders.
Photo Credit, The Comox Argus, 1944

*Jack's rib cage is starting to show beneath his shirt. This photo was likely taken after the invasion and the weeks spent on a subsistent diet and damp nights at The Savoy (a Sicilian cave near Avola).

**At 'Nazi Propaganda': "The key speeches were often announced by sirens and all work had to stop so all could listen to public loudspeakers. These were considered 'Important National Moments'. This meant that the Nazi party again through control could persuade and create support from the German people as they never heard anything bad about the Nazi party only good."

Unattributed Photos GH