The Headlines on this Day…

Monday 7th of December 1914

King George Meets King Albert and Reviews Belgium Soldiers

King George Visits the Troops

King George’s historic visit to his soldiers is at an end, and his majesty is back in London. Regardless of all personal danger, he visited trenches while shells were bursting but a little distance away. “That is all the more reason I should go among my soldiers. There is no reason why I should not take risks, they take them” he said when told it might not be safe.  

He paid special honour to the brave Belgians by reviewing a number of King Alberts Soldiers.

Tuesday 7th of December 1915

Russia to Attack Bulgaria? Our Allies Marching to the Danube Across the Snows

Russian Troops

A telegram received yesterday states that the Tsar has telegraphed to M Pasitch, the Serbian Premier, saying that he will not tolerate the disappearance of Serbia, or the loss of her independence. “Russia” added his majesty, “has already made her plans to save Serbia.”

Russian troops are marching to the Danube, where large forces are now being concentrated, and Cossacks are operating in the Caucasus, where the snow in places is 10ft deep!

Thursday 7th of December 1916

Mr Lloyd George to be Premier: War Secretary Accepts Office After Mr Bonar Law Had Declined

David Lloyd George

Mr Lloyd George is to be Premier, and the nation has got the man it wanted. Rumours, statements, official and otherwise, were afloat yesterday, and the news changed every hour. But later came really definite news from the Press Bureau that Mr Lloyd George had consented to form a cabinet in co-operation with Mr Bonar Law. Thus ends the great political crisis. What the nation owes to him for organising our factories at the time of the shell shortage is now history. As Minister of Munitions he has organised our vast resources for what has proved a war of machinery. The employment of women labour has been an unqualified success.

Friday 7th of December 1917

Two Gothas Downed and the Six Occupants Captured

German Gotha Heavy Bomber

Two of the Gothas that raided England are not returning to Germany, and neither are the crews, who will sojourn in England pro tem. One of the captured pilots, who is 6ft. 4in. in height, is said to be only sixteen years of age. Never have the raiders arrived at such an awkward hour, but Londoners who were aroused from their slumbers at a time when the lark is alleged to be astir, were uniformly cheerful and cracked jokes, invariably uncomplimentary to Fritz and his habits.

Saturday 7th of December 1940

Nazi Pirate Chased

HMS Carnarvon Castle

A fast, heavily armed German raider, disguised as a merchantman, has been located, fought, and chased in the South Atlantic Ocean by a British armed merchant cruiser. The news was revealed yesterday in an admiralty communique, which said that the British ship, HMS Carnarvon Castle, was in action Thursday with the German in the South Atlantic.

It is understood in London that the scene of the action was about 700 miles north-east of Montevideo, the South-American port outside which the Graf Spee was scuttled.

The Carnarvon Castle is expected to reach Montevideo on Monday, apparently seeking repairs. The Uruguayan Government have granted permission for her to enter.

Sunday 7th of December 1941

Germans in Retreat

Cossacks Smash von Kleist

Russian Cossack Cavalry

Von Kleist’s attempt to make a stand outside Taganrog was smashed yesterday by the army of General Remizov.

Russian troops swept down the plain of Taganrog as the Germans again fled along the road towards Mariupol.

While German tanks are bogged up in mud and slush, Cossack cavalry waiting for just this moment have flung themselves upon the retreating Nazis with all their fury. One section of them is riding hard along the coast, cutting off small bodies of Germans and wiping them out.

Other sections of Cossacks are sweeping down from the north-east. They have crossed the river Miuss, where the Germans were preparing a new defence line, and are rushing down to coast behind to off the main line of retreat.

Monday 7th of December 1942

RAF Beat Weather, Bomb Rhine Centres

Nine of Strong Force Missing

South-west Germany was the target last night for a strong force of Royal Air Force Bombers. Karlsruhe, important traffic, and industrial centre, was the RAF’s main target, states the German News Agency. The adjoining town of Iffezheim, 20 miles to the south-east, was also raided.

Bad weather made observation of the results impossible. It is officially stated that nine of our bombers are missing, but two enemy fighters were destroyed.

On this Day in…

St. Pauls Bombed

10th October 1940

In a show of defiance, Evensong was sung in the crypt of bombed St Pauls Cathedral. The choir assembled in the shadows of the crypt beneath the ruined high altar which was hit during a night time Nazi bombing raid. Canon Alexander who was sleeping in the crypt when the bomb hit and had miraculously escaped injury.

St Pauls Cathedral

Canon Alexander told reporters “After the crash I hurried up the stairs, but the place was so thick with dust that for a while I couldn’t see anything.” “I suppose the damage could have been worse, but it was quite bad enough.”

Air Arm Hit Nazi Sea Lane

10th October 1941

Halifax Bomber of Coastal Command

Naval aircraft attacked German shipping and communications along the Soviet battlefront. The attack took place over the Vestfjord area of Norway leaving a 1,000 ton supply ship burning, a 1,500 ton ship abandoned, and two escort vessels were also hit. The attack also targeted pylons supplying the Germans on Grond Island.

The mission was deemed a success, no British aircraft were damaged, and all returned home safely.

Great Air Blitz Opens on Rommel

10th October 1942

Allied air forces carried out one of the heaviest concentrated blitzes ever known in the Western desert. During the day/night offensive they destroyed two advanced enemy aerodromes plus a German supply train carrying guns and ammunition. The attack was carried out by light bombers escorted by hundreds of fighters flown by British, Canadian, American, Australian, and South African pilots.

Kittyhawk (L) and Spitfires on the Ground in the Desert (R)

Hundreds of tons of high explosive ordnance was dropped without the loss of a single bomber. The bombers were protected by formations of Kittyhawk fighters, and Spitfires which successfully fought off repeated attempts to intercept the allied formations.

On this Day in…

R.A.F. Harassing Italians

Mussolini’s Desert Problems

8th of October 1940

British in Egypt

The RAF has pursued its harassing of the Italians in Egypt with a bomber attack on a motor transport concentration and army tents near Sidi Barrani. Sidi Barrani is the farthest point attained by the Italians in last months advance into Egypt, and it is from their that they will probably launch the expected desert blitzkrieg.

Extensive reconnaissance flights are also being carried out over enemy territory by the British Air Force. Careful watch is being kept on Italian preparations which are though to require a least another couple of weeks.

Tank Chief is Crash Victim

8th of October 1941

Major General Pope

Major General V. V. Pope, Brigadier H. E. Russell, and Colonel E. S. Unwin have been killed in a flying accident in the Middle East it was reported in London.

Major General Pope who was fifty years of age was one of Britain’s best-known tank officers and was the first military member of the tank board.

He served in France, Belgium, and Russia from September 1914 to the end of the Great War, winning the Military Cross and the DSO, was mentioned seven times in despatches and rose to command a battalion on the North Staffs Regiment.

They Dodged Hun for 1,600 Miles

8th of October 1942

Sgt Louis Massey

Escaping from a Nazi prison camp in France, two British soldiers reported missing after Dunkirk walked 1,600 miles in bitter weather through Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Poland to reach safety in Russia. Most of the time they were dodging Nazis, and for long spells they lived on berries, mushrooms and grass; anything they could find in the woods and fields.

It was only when a Russian recently arrived in this country, called at a London house that the parents of one of the men who made the trek knew that their son, Sergeant Louis Massey, 35, was alive and safe. He is now working at the British Embassy in Moscow and has recently been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

5th Mass for Volturno River Battle

8th of October 1943

Bernard Montgomery

The armies of Clark and Kesselring face each other this morning across the 150ft wide waters of the Volturno River, 100 miles from Rome. Along a seventeen mile stretch from Capua to the sea the 5th Army is massing on the southern bank of this distant moat before Rome. Kesselring is hastily manning his defences on the north bank.

On the Adriatic coast too the Germans have suffered another reverse. General Montgomery, after beating back many counter attacks by Tiger tanks and Infantry at Termoli, launched a brilliant assault which carried his troops to some high ground.

Sergeant Louis Massey: The Great Escape

There are many stories of daring escapes from Nazi prisoner of war camps during World War Two, but the story of Sergeant Louis Massey, 35, of the Royal Army Service Corps and is particularly impressive. Captured during the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, Sergeant Massey was sent to a German prisoner of war camp in France. In December Massey managed to give his guards the slip and escape from the camp. Trapped in occupied France with only the clothes on his back, Massey set off in Bitter December weather on an epic 1,600 mile journey.

Sgt Massey (R) with a Russian Soldier in Moscow

Hiding where he could during the day Massey only travelled at night in an attempt to avoid German patrols. He was almost constantly starving an ate what berries and mushrooms he could find in fields and woods, plus the occasional bit of food that sympathetic locals could spare from their own meagre rations he managed somehow to make his way through Belgium, Holland and Germany, eventually reaching Poland were he managed to befriend some locals who helped him to cross the Russian border.

The ordeal did not end there though. With no papers to identify him and corroborate his story he was arrested as a spy and sent to a Russian Jail until June 1941 when the Germans crossed the Soviet border and the British Embassy in Moscow stepped in to get Massey released. On his release he linked up with the British Military Mission as he felt his experience in the RASC would be useful. He spent his time organising the transport of supplies and equipment until it was time for him to return home, a journey that took him through Persia, India, Africa eventually taking him home to Hampstead.

Evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk

For his efforts in escaping captivity and trekking 1,600 miles to safety, Sergeant Massey was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal which he received from the King in an investiture at Buckingham Palace. Following the ceremony Sergeant Massey told the press that “The King, who seemed very familiar with my adventures, congratulated me on my safe return”