WWII in real time


Surcouf, prize of General de Gaulle's Free French Navy, has disappeared with all 130 crew in the Caribbean, after freighter sailed away from collision. It may have been subsequently mistaken for a German U-boat & bombed by American planes. https://t.co/mHTZeoeYXq RealTimeWWII photo

The world's largest submarine, the French "undersea cruiser" Surcouf, has sunk near Panama, after a crash with an American freighter in the middle of the night. https://t.co/kt08h2xF5Y RealTimeWWII photo

In Burma, Japanese invaders have smashed through Allied defenses on the Bilin River; British are evacuating the heavily bombed capital of Rangoon.

The first Japanese military plane is flying over Sydney: taking off from a submarine, pilot Nobuo Fujita surveys the Australian city for potential bombing. https://t.co/Z4laPjZorq RealTimeWWII photo

Victorious Japanese troops marching into Singapore greeted by looting; they've shot 500 Chinese citizens "to set an example & restore order."

Before beginning massacre of Bangka Island, Japanese soldiers rape & sexually assault the Australian nurses: https://t.co/WtDUR98iS4

Vivian: "A bullet got me in the left loin, went straight through me & out at the front. The force knocked me into the water & there I lay." Feigning death until Japanese leave, she crawls into junge, lone survivor of the Bangka Island Massacre: https://t.co/CY8ht0KTbq

With the women waist-deep in surf, Japanese start to machine-gun them. Nurse Vivian Bullwinkel: "They just swept the line- girls fell one after another." https://t.co/uEtmoQHsur RealTimeWWII photo

23 female nurses, shipwrecked on Bangka Island, try to surrender; Japanese soldiers order them to walk into the sea at gunpoint. Matron, Irene Drummond, calls: "Chin up, girls. I'm proud of you & I love you all." https://t.co/xE2zZDE9c8 RealTimeWWII photo

Although fighting is over in Singapore, deaths continue; Japanese have shot over 100 wounded survivors from bombed hospital ship Vyner Brooke.

Nazi U-boats strike the Caribbean: 7 German submarines have attached Dutch island of Aruba, near Venezuela, shelling oil refineries & sinking tankers. https://t.co/hySNJCZLmM RealTimeWWII photo

Japan's new Prime Minister, General Tojo, gives speech to the National Diet, celebrating Japanese victories in Malaya & Philippines & promising "new order of coexistence & co-prosperity on ethical principles in Greater East Asia".

Thanks to unlocking Kriegsmarine Enigma ciphers, British code breakers at Bletchley Park have been able to crack secret German signals to their submarines within days; the new "Shark" code destroys years of work.

Terrible blow for UK intelligence: German U-boats have begun using a new, more complex version of the Enigma code, impenetrable to their cryptanalysis.

In his first radio broadcast for 6 months, Churchill announces horrifying loss of Singapore & surrender of its garrison; "heavy & far-reaching defeat... our worst since Dunkirk."

Eyewitness Lt. Moore: “Japanese led small groups [of wounded patients] out of sight; ensuing yells & screams, coupled on one occasion with a Jap returning wiping blood from his bayonet, left little doubt as to the men’s fate.“ https://t.co/ZhbnGES749

Before ceasefire took effect in Singapore, Japanese troops stormed the city's Alexandra Hospital & began a murderous rampage, bayoneting 320 doctors & wounded men.

~85,000 British, Indian, Australian & Malay troops have been captured by the Japanese at Singapore; it's the largest surrender in British history. https://t.co/yN9sb72cyu RealTimeWWII photo

Under a white flag & Union Jack, General Percival is crossing to Japanese lines to surrender his troops & city of Singapore. https://t.co/q8CAo8EdKD RealTimeWWII photo

General Percival has given up futile defence of Singapore; he's asked Japanese for armistice. They're demanding he beg for surrender personally.

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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