WWII in real time


General Wavell, commander of Singapore: "There are neither plans nor fortifications to defend the north side of this 'impregnable fortress.'"

With Japanese just 30 miles north of Singapore, Churchill is horrified to hear that the city is only fortified against attack from sea, to the south.

US Treasury reports an anonymous American veteran, stricken by conscience, has mailed them $36, with a note: "For overpay in the last World War."

Red Army's first ever large-scale airborne attack is erratic: Soviet paratroopers are scattered across 10 miles, most of their supplies lost, as Luftwaffe pick the transport planes from the skies.

Red Army are trying radical new tactics: thousands of Soviet paratroopers being dropped behind German lines, ordered to regroup & capture town of Vyazma. https://t.co/HGTlzVsTq0 RealTimeWWII photo

Greece & Yugoslavia are making plans to merge into a Balkan Union: in London, the governments-in-exile of Nazi-occupied nations have agreed to join economies & military forces after the war.

As Japanese invaders advance further down Malayan peninsula, smashing through defenders' lines, British cartoon shows Japanese octopus nearing Singapore, "jewel of the British Empire": https://t.co/WxqK7fqbek RealTimeWWII photo

Lombard was almost bumped off her fatal flight for Air Force pilots; but the actress pulled rank, arguing her publicity tour for US government was "war work".

Carole Lombard, American film star & wife of Clark Gable, has been killed in a plane crash, flying on a public tour of USA to sell war bonds. https://t.co/SLEVDXqXJH RealTimeWWII photo

Despite brave & fierce defence by Indian & Australian troops, Japanese have fought across the river Muar (1 on map), advancing ever-closer to heavily-bombed Singapore: https://t.co/Qzi9GbvVHN RealTimeWWII photo

Gen. Arthur Percival, British commander in Malaya: "The young Indian recruits were helpless. They didn't even know how to take cover, & there were not enough officers to control them. I say this in no spirit of disparagement. It was the penalty of years of unpreparedness for war"

Rather than attack fortified bridges, Japanese have sneaked across the Muar River in small Malay boats, & are taking Indian defenders by surprise, from behind- leading to confusion, panic & retreat. https://t.co/MNxjC20XCo RealTimeWWII photo

Japanese forces are back on the offensive in Malaya: despite slaughter at Gemas, Japanese Imperial Guard are attacking, bypassing Australian & Indian defences on the Muar River. https://t.co/s8B8hAEAuH RealTimeWWII photo

US government has not ordered a coastal blackout at night- meaning shipping is outlined against glow of city lights-, nor organised merchant ship convoys or warship escorts; reports of sunken ships are censored.

German submarines wreak havoc in US coastal waters: 4 more merchant ships torpedoed today, 9000-gallon oil tanker explodes 47 miles off Long Island.

Despite calls to suspend American Major League baseball games for duration of the war, President Roosevelt insists teams play on: "6000 athletes will provide a vital morale boost for US workers & soldiers." https://t.co/eGpm4CHXzr RealTimeWWII photo

German Admiral Dönitz has sent his U-boats to hunt American ships as a "Paukenschlag"- a "roll of drums", to show the USA the power of the Kriegsmarine unleashed.

German submarine U-123, hunting American shipping, has surfaced off coast of New York- close enough to see fairground rides of Coney Island silhouetted against the city's bright lights. Kriegsmarine captains astonished- & delighted- by American unpreparedness.

Roth: "Strelezkaja burns to the ground, in every hut lie 20-30 dead Russians." Red Army counter-massacre, butchering the wounded in a nearby German field hospital.

German soldier Hans Roth: "Most of the Russians didn't even get up- everyone is clubbed to death on their cots. The whole nightmare lasts about a half hour."

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.

 

service1
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.

rita
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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