WWII in real time


Constant shellfire churns Stalingrad's earth to dust; Russian journalist Vasily Grossman watches as "corpses jump high in air, buried again as they fall."

If Wehrmacht can hold the blood-drenched hill, their artillery will dominate Stalingrad & smash Soviet reinforcements as they're ferried across Volga.

Battle rages for Mamayev Kurgan hill, the high ground overlooking Stalingrad- Red Army & Germans swap control of the summit almost daily. https://t.co/EhAAD9ZYo0 RealTimeWWII photo

British, South African, & black King's African Rifles troops have fought for four months to beat Vichy French & African soldiers in Madagascar. https://t.co/h1AbI31dRQ RealTimeWWII photo

British troops are now occupying Tananarive, capital of Madagascar- Allied forces claim "peaceful intent" as they take control of the French colony. https://t.co/lHd8Gfho6m RealTimeWWII photo

Halder: "Farewell to the Führer. My nerves are worn out, his too". Hitler now demands "fanatical faith in the Idea" from all the German General Staff. https://t.co/xvW50r0LK8 RealTimeWWII photo

General Halder's most recent "defeatist" act that enraged Hitler was calculating total German casualties in USSR so far. 1,637,280 killed, missing, or wounded. https://t.co/LvoAK6QNd8 RealTimeWWII photo

Adolf Hitler has had an explosive break with German High Command, sacking his Chief of General Staff Franz Halder, for "pessimism" over the military situation in USSR: https://t.co/zHH3gsagZ2 RealTimeWWII photo

Wehrmacht have stormed a landing stage on the Volga & seized the riverbank in centre of Stalingrad- city's Soviet defences are now cut in two by Germans.

Stalingrad's Tsarita Gorge, cutting west from the river Volga, is now the only part of the city not choked with rubble from smasher buildings- turning it into a potential route to the river for the Germans, & a fierce battleground: https://t.co/SxGPX7cWLA RealTimeWWII photo

American Superfortress bomber has been in design since 1939, aiming for an operational range of 2,667 miles: allowing USA to bomb Nazi Europe if Britain fell to Germans. In theory, B-29 can fly higher (31,850ft) & faster (350mph) than almost any Axis fighter plane. https://t.co/UfWy7SBsda RealTimeWWII photo

The world's largest bomber has made its first test flight: Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" can carry its own weight, 20,000lbs, in bombs. https://t.co/2N7lVhYG0R RealTimeWWII photo

Japanese troops in Papua New Guinea are starving & diseased- 10 die to malaria for every 1 shot by Australians. Supplies must be carried by hand along 60 mile jungle track.

Japanese invaders of Guinea are now just 25 miles off Port Moresby, crucial gateway to north Australia; Aussies are throwing in all available troops.

Andrei Khozyainov, Soviet soldioer in Stalingrad: "Little ammo, no water. Heat, thirst, smoke. We have to piss in the machineguns to keep the barrels cool."

Improvised stronghold in Stalingrad’s grain elevator defies German infantry charges & artillery shelling; the stored corn within has caught fire. https://t.co/gH5yTQdLPl RealTimeWWII photo

Stalingrad's civic monuments have become fortresses- a few dozen Red Army men hold out in the city's concrete grain elevator. https://t.co/mljMURk0ga RealTimeWWII photo

Chuikov: "Most of the divisional commanders didn’t really want to die in Stalingrad. The second something went wrong, they’d start saying: 'Permit me to cross the Volga.' I would yell 'I’m still here' & send a telegram: 'One step back and I’ll shoot you!'"

Chuikov has sited his command post on the west bank of the Volga, close to front line, ferociously enforcing Stalin's order "Not one step back!" & denying his officers permission to retreat.

Red Army General Vasily Chuikov is newly appointed commander of forces in Stalingrad, leading shattered remnants of two Soviet Armies: "I understand my orders just fine... I’ll either keep them out of Stalingrad or die trying." https://t.co/zLDpIXjdAm RealTimeWWII photo

News Letter

Highs and Lows of 2010

A bad winter in 2009 saw the bunker suffering an influx of water which threatened the Operations Room floor, the only wooden floor in the whole complex. Luckily contractors were quick enough to dry the bunker out. November/December of 2010 saw an abundance of heavy snow and with access to the bunker off limits to everyone; it is unknown what lies within. guardhouse

The early part of 2010 started slowly for Bunker Thirteen as we had expected. We have now become used to such periods of little or no activity, but in the meantime members of Bunker Thirteen continued to drum up support and locate existing veterans who served in 13 Group Headquarters.
A boost to our list of supporters came from the Newcastle branch of the Royal Air Force Association and we had some interest in our project from 617 Squadron.
Bunker Thirteen became close associates of Blyth Battery Volunteers who invited us back to their events on a regular basis.
May 2011 will see Bunker Thirteen back at Blyth and also back to our biggest supporter’s event for the second year running. Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington Air Field has supported Bunker Thirteen since day one, back in 2008 when we first started out and Ian Reed and his staff still continue to do so.

2010 saw Bunker Thirteen’s first appearance at Yorkshire Air Museum followed closely by Blyth Battery. It was also our first attempt at fund raising, which started slowly but as we met more and more people, the fund raising improved.

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Invites emerged from various sources such as the Old Hartley Heritage Fair, Shiremoor Library and Blyth Social Club, where we spoke to local History groups and gathered a generous following. When Bunker Thirteen wasn’t attending events, negotiations and meetings were on going with Taylor Wimpy as to the future of the Bunker. The local residents also expressed an interest in the future of the bunker and how it would benefit them.
2010 also saw Bunker Thirteen on a fact finding mission to the 11 Group bunker at RAF Uxbridge. Also attending were the owners of the 1940’s UK Radio, Shaun & Lynda Moncaster. Video and audio recordings were made around the Battle of Britain Ops Room as well as with WAAF Rita Spence.

 

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September saw the bunker receiving its first recognition in the way of a Remembrance Service conducted by Rev. Ronald Black. 617 Squadron were going to attend. They asked us if we would want a fly-past but 617 were told it wasn’t worth their while as the service was only to last fifteen minutes. However they did say that they would try and make it next time, if and when we erect a memorial stone to 13 Group Fighter Command. The Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne attended the service along with veterans from the Royal Air Force Association. Bunker Thirteen’s own two WAAFs, Rita Spence and Catherine (Kitty) Brightwell also attended and were given the honour of laying the wreath. Radio Newcastle attended during the afternoon and interviewed members of Bunker Thirteen, journalists and photographers from Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle attended the service.
A contingent from 733 Squadron (Newcastle Airport) Sqn formed the guard of Honour, led by Warrant Officer Phil Greenwood.

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2010 also saw the return of WAAF Rita Spence to the former 13 Group Fighter Command Headquarters after she left in 1943 on another posting. She was joined by her daughter Judith and son in law John, along with representatives from Taylor Wimpy and their management company. Rita visited areas inside the headquarters that she would have never been allowed to see during her time there. She spoke briefly about her time in the headquarters and said that it was a privilege to return.
Plans were in progress for a top producer from the BBC to make a documentary with Rita and fellow WAAF Kitty Brightwell inside of the headquarters but alas, tragedy struck. Rita had to have an operation and sadly, she passed away leaving a huge sense of loss, both for her family and for Bunker Thirteen.
Her funeral was held at a Crematorium in South Shields, attended by her family and representatives from the Newcastle Branch of the WAAFs Association and Bunker Thirteen. Her coffin was draped in a Union Jack.
Nearing the end of 2010 saw yet another slow period with no activity at all but still, behind the scenes, support for the bunker project was looked for.
Out of the blue, one person emerged that was quite enthusiastic about the bunker project. The only professional, female band leader in the UK, with a massive following, Debbie Curtis was only too keen to lend her support and to help in any way that she could. John from Bunker Thirteen continues to converse with her on a regular basis and mentioned that Bunker Thirteen would like to involve a celebrity as a patron but the search had been fruitless so far. Debbie had said that she may help on that score but so far nothing has happened yet – but confidence is high. bandleader

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