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

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.

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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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