WWII in real time


More French colonies join the Allies: Admiral Darlan, American-appointed "High Commissioner" of Morocco & Algeria, has negotiated peaceful surrender of French West Africa, transferring huge swath of colonial territory from Nazi-aligned Vichy government. https://t.co/JMY4FtHm69 RealTimeWWII photo

Winston Churchill: "I sympathise with General von Thoma: defeat, humiliation, annihilation and, worst of all... dinner with General Montgomery." https://t.co/GuGDXhZ1ZV RealTimeWWII photo

Celebrating Allied victory in Egypt, Gen. Montgomery invites to dinner German General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, commander of the Afrikakorps- captured after Axis collapse in El Alamein. https://t.co/8IMdOeSvbk RealTimeWWII photo

Hitler is unsure whether to order German troops to abandon Stalingrad & attempt to break out of Russian encirclement; Reichsmarschall Göring argues his Luftwaffe can supply the Sixth Army over winter purely by air.

British airborne agents carried sabotage equipment & wore civilian clothes under uniforms, to aid their escape after mission. Under Hitler's recent "Commando Order", all captured British have been handed over to SS for torture & execution.

British "Operation Freshman", glider-borne commando mission attempting to blow up a hydroelectric plant in Nazi-occupied Norway, has ended in disaster. Both gliders crashed & badly injured surviving troops have been captured by Germans. https://t.co/dG0abbyXi3 RealTimeWWII photo

German observer reports Romanian troops around Stalingrad: "had an expression of horror frozen on their faces- as though the very devil was snapping at their heels."

German General Paulus begs Hitler to let Sixth Army retreat & try to escape from trap of Stalingrad: "Murderous attacks on all fronts... Lack of bullets will soon render us defenceless."

Red Army encirclement has stranded 250,000 German, Romanian, & allied Russian troops in frozen territory around Stalingrad. https://t.co/NhawcYPJkc RealTimeWWII photo

Soviet soldiers embrace as two wings of the Red Army meet south of Stalingrad: pincers of Operation Uranus have closed, trapping German Sixth Army in the ruins of the city. https://t.co/JLnPDoz8ot RealTimeWWII photo

Many shellshocked Romanian forces in Caucasus are fleeing before Soviet advance; one Romanian colonel tells a German officer: "My soldiers will no longer obey me, and they will no longer die for you."

German High Command are horrified by huge Soviet assault around Stalingrad- after months of believing Red Army to be on its last legs. https://t.co/3Pq0ensKxB RealTimeWWII photo

Southern assault of Operation Uranus has begun: 500,000 Red Army men are sweeping around Stalingrad, smashing into Axis flanks north & south of the city. New York Times map shows the battlelines: https://t.co/sgYzGG8eeI RealTimeWWII photo

British troops are invading Benghazi: chasing German Army as it flees from Egypt, Allies now capture key Libyan port. https://t.co/yDEv0zz0ME RealTimeWWII photo

Henry Metelman is facing the Red Army assault in the Caucasus: "We scrambled from our beds to our guns, pulling on clothes sleep-drunk. Cold wind blew on my arse- I'd put my trousers on backwards."

Red Army tanks have punched through outnumbered & outgunned Romanian & Italian lines north of Stalingrad, taking 27,000 prisoners in one day.

Henry Metelman, with Romanian Army, is facing first shock of Operation Uranus: "All hell broke loose, an inferno of bombs; the Russians are coming!"

Soviets have deployed 900 new T-34 tanks into the Uranus assault. In last week, Germans have sent hundreds of Luftwaffe bombers west, to face Allied forces landing in North Africa. https://t.co/nCxfQ4Y29U RealTimeWWII photo

Romanian troops, guarding Axis flanks near Stalingrad, are desperately overstretched- easy prey for the Red Army's onslaught. https://t.co/G176zju97v RealTimeWWII photo

Red Army are launching Operation Uranus, a huge new offensive: colossal 500,000-man pincer movement to smash into German rear & strand the 6th Army in Stalingrad. https://t.co/A2Ho1AyDVK 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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