WWII in real time


Damage has slowed Bismarck: she can no longer, as Germans once boasted: "outgun any ship that outruns her & outrun anything that outguns her."

German paratroopers have fought their way into Galatas town, pushing Allies out in a brutal house-by-house melee; "These New Zealanders fight like bulldogs!" https://t.co/yZTcz4Wkhs RealTimeWWII photo

Ever-stronger German forces on Crete are staging all-out assault on Galatas, a crucial Allied strongpoint; Luftwaffe have smashed New Zealanders' defenses. https://t.co/aSoMmvDQlA RealTimeWWII photo

100 German troop-trains now head east every day, carrying huge force of 3.2 million soldiers into occupied Poland- right up to the German-Soviet border.

Battleship Bismarck hasn't escaped unscathed from sinking HMS Hood yesterday: she took 3 shell hits, now leaking oil & fleeing for safe port.

Vast explosion: HMS Hood has been blown in two. Of 1,418 crew, there are just 3 survivors, Ted Briggs one of them. Battleship Bismarck has her first kill. https://t.co/siaIm5LwRw RealTimeWWII photo

HMS Hood's ammunition is on fire; Ted Briggs: "shrapnel has made the upper decks a charnel-house; screams of the maimed are a strident chorus." https://t.co/ctUJfDAg8m RealTimeWWII photo

Hood- pride of the Navy- is being torn apart by her "prey", the Bismarck; seaman Ted Briggs, onboard: "Screams of dying emit from the voice-pipes to the lower decks."

HMS Hood opens fire- at the wrong ship, Bismarck's escort "Prince Eugen"; Bismarck retaliates: huge broadside at HMS Hood, smashing into British ship's weak deck armour. https://t.co/9DGjfvLfsu RealTimeWWII photo

Battlecruiser HMS Hood is the largest, heaviest warship in the world, & HMS Prince George is newly-commissioned battleship- so new she still has shipyard crew working below decks. https://t.co/iLexi0If3O RealTimeWWII photo

Two of the British warships hunting German battleship Bismarck has spotted their target off the coast of Iceland. HMS Hood & HMS Prince of Wales are moving in to attack. https://t.co/4Lkmb1NAD5 RealTimeWWII photo

GS1's announcer, German refugee turned British spy Peter Seckelmann, denouncing "flat-footed drunken old cigar-smoking Jew, Churchill!" He goes on to praise Hitler but attack "decadent" Nazi bureaucrats.

British Intelligence have started a "black propaganda" radio station, Gustav Siegfried Eins, who claim to be patriotic Germans hidden in the Reich. The presenter is insulting Winston Churchill to establish credibility.

"Here & there among the Germans lies a dead Englishman. All alike, every nationality, have turned black from the burning heat, thick with fat flies."

German advance in Crete finds scenes of slaughter; Luftwaffe officer Walter Gerick: "Dead parachutists hang in olive trees, swinging gently in breeze." https://t.co/S7D7GPhrlw RealTimeWWII photo

Despite dreadful losses, Churchill orders Royal Navy to stay at Crete: "Loss of half the Mediterranean fleet would be worthwhile to save Crete."

Allied forces are retreating in Crete, before a tide of freshly airdropped German soldiers- they're abandoning west of island to Wehrmacht.

Richthofen: "My pilots are giving triumphant shouts of joy. We've finally shown that a fleet in range of the Luftwaffe cannot hold the sea."

Luftwaffe commander Wolfram Von Richthofen: "The British take hit after hit. Ships burn & some flee, trailing oil, to escape this hell."

Luftwaffe are back in the skies over Crete, doing horrific damage to Royal Navy guarding island; two more Royal Navy destroyers, HMS Kelly & HMS Kashmir, sunk with 100s dead. https://t.co/dYu6i5nDhA RealTimeWWII photo

Blakelaw Filter Room

This facility was somewhat smaller than the Group Headquarters, but built to a similar pattern.
Filter rooms were the nerve centres of the UK radar system and vital to the success of Fighter and Bomber Command headquarters throughout the country. Information from Radar Stations, airfields, aircraft and ROC posts were directed into the Filter Room. From here, a dedicated and hard working team of RAF personnel collated all of the information to provide an as accurate as possible air picture to be passed onto the Operations Room where, commanders could direct aircraft resources.

The work done by the WAAF plotters of the Filter Room, the Movement Liaison Officers and the Filter Officers who were responsible for calculating and rectifying the position, and identifying the hundreds of tracks of hostile and friendly aircraft leaving and approaching the coasts of the British Isles, was vital. Working conditions were difficult; ventilation and heating were poor. Personnel had two fifteen minute periods when possible during the watch for a refreshment break. The food available varied considerably. Sandwiches of marmite and raw cabbage were a popular snack!
The requirement for the Filter Officers to have quick reactions was patently obvious. They had to sort out the correct position of the aircraft from the various overlapping Radar station plots which covered the same aircraft responses. They needed to estimate both height and number of aircraft, as well as direction from information given, having intimate knowledge of the siteing of the Radar stations involved and judging their accuracy. All of this had to be done with great speed as the aircraft themselves were constantly moving on to new positions. It was found that male Filterers, mostly well over thirty years of age were far too slow during periods of intense activity and they had to be removed from the table!
For the displayed information to be of value to the Operations Room, it had to be as up-to-date as possible. This meant that in times of the greatest activity, a Filter Officer must estimate and display accurate information on up to fifty different tracks within a minute. The mental stress and physical strain were intense under these conditions and when the personnel came off watch, whether officer or airman, tension was invariably high. Quite often however tired, sleep was impossible.
On the whole, it was amazing how few buckled under the strain. They all realised the importance of their work and it took a really major illness to prevent them from appearing for duty. However, subsequently, time has taken its toll of some amongst that small group. There have been instances of suicide, of recourse to alcohol in later years and bouts of deep depression. This is not to be wondered at when one considers that whilst filtering the tracks of the bomber squadrons on operations over Germany or plotting fighter sorties against incoming hostiles, these young women knew that their own husbands or sweethearts were amongst the aircrews. They would count with trepidation the numbers of the returning Allied aircraft.
The mixture of backgrounds amongst the members of the Filter Room officers was vast. Most of the senior male officers hailed from the Stock Market where they worked as brokers. It was an inspiration on the part of the RAF to choose these men for the positions as Controllers and Movement Liaison Officers. All personnel involved had to have quick reactions, good mathematical ability and be physically very energetic. The women chosen ranged from psychology or science students, young actresses, county debutantes, and grammar school high flyers to daughters of famous people – novelists, painters, musicians and vicars. But they were all dedicated to their work.
At approximately the same time another underground bunker was constructed. The communications bunker. All communications from airfield squadrons, aircraft and group headquarters were relayed through here before branching off into either the Filter room or direct into the Operations bunker. (The location of the Communications bunker is not known)

Information from http://www.websitedcm.com/bunker/filterroom.htm

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