GENERAL ARTICLES

BACK THE ATTACK

Here are four reasons...why you will want to buy Victory Bonds

May 1 1943
GENERAL ARTICLES

BACK THE ATTACK

Here are four reasons...why you will want to buy Victory Bonds

May 1 1943

BACK THE ATTACK

GENERAL ARTICLES

Here are four reasons...why you will want to buy Victory Bonds

He Waved to Us

THE FIRST thing you notice when a ship has gone down is a hateful smell of oil on the water. We grew to loathe that smell; as well as a ship sunk, it meant survivors drenched with fuel oil, coughing it up, poisoned by it...

I was once in charge of a boat which was sent away one dark night, when a fairly high sea was running, and I remember the extraordinary difficulty we had in getting inboard men who had been in the water for nearly four hours, who were almost paralyzed with cold, and whose clothes (and in some cases their naked bodies) were so saturated with fuel oil that it was like trying to land enormous greasy fish with one’s bare hands...

Survivors in the mess decks, filling every available space. Some of them half-naked, wrapped in blankets and wearing makeshift shoes; some with pathetic little cardboard suitcases, hugged close; puzzled black faces, pinched yellow ones, tired bleary white masks that still muster a grin. Men half-dead; men cocky as bedamned; men suffering from exposure, frostbite, fuel oil poisoning, cuts, gashes, broken limbs; men hanging to life by a wet thread. The bravest man I have yet met was a survivor, a Yorkshire seaman with a broken thigh and a fearful gash across his face. As I paused in strapping up his leg, wondering whether he could stand any more of it, he said: “Go on—I’ve a bit saved up yet” ; and when I unskilfully was stitching his wound: “Now then, lad, none of your hem-

stitching—I’m not as particular as all that.”

Another time . . . Half a gale blowing, the sea very rough, and a raft with three survivors clinging to it. We got a line across and took two of them off, and then the line snubbed and parted. Coming as close as we could, we threw another which fell right across the raft, but the man made no effort to secure it and it was swept into the sea again. “What’s the matter with him?” I asked. “We can’t do anything unless he wakes up and takes a hand himself.” “He’s awake, all right,” answered one of the rescued men, “but he can’t move. Broken arm and leg. He told us to go first. He’s the mate.” We tried to get alongside, but it wasn’t possible in that sea; and swimming was out of the question, though there was no lack of volunteers. In the end we had to leave him ... As we drew away, he waved to us—not a summons, but a sort of half salute. Then he lay down again.

No amount of publicity, no colorful write-ups, no

guff about “the little silver badge,” above all, no medals, can do honor to men like these.—Nicholas Monsarrat in H.M. Corvette.

Miese men deserve your homage but they also need your help. You'll be helping them to deliver the goods when you buy Victory Bonds.

Theirs the Ordeal

HARRY WICHTACTZ is twenty-one years old, an earnest light-haired boy born and educated in Timmins, Ont. Before the war he was a diamond drill operator. The men who worked with him liked him for his smile and the way he did a job.

He was nineteen when he enlisted with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. He was twenty on a bright morning last August on the beach at Dieppe.

Private Wichtactz got his assignment as the barges crowded with Canadians moved shoreward that morning under heavy German fire. He was to blow up a jagged wall of barbed wire entanglements with a Bangalor torpedo. As the barge touched shore it came under a withering curtain of bullets from a German pillbox which swept the long stretch of beach. His comrades fell about him.

But Private Harry Wichtactz went forward. Under the protecting cover of a smoke screen he moved across the beach through the fury of the Nazi fire. Then he discovered that the torpedo

made in sections for smashing barbed wire had come apart. In two pieces it was not enough for the job.

He kept one, handed the other to his section leader. They had a new objective, the pillbox. Ina running crouch Private Wichtactz left the temporary protection of a seawall and somehow reached the rear of the pillbox. He flung open a door and tossed in his half of the torpedo. He had just exactly seven seconds to throw the torpedo and get to cover. As he sprinted, keeping himself low, something hit him with smashing impact in the leg.

He dropped then, snugging the earth as the pillbox, crammed with Germans, machine guns and grenades, blew up.

Private Wichtactz was badly wounded. His leg went numb, without feeling. Looking down he saw that it was shattered and hanging. He reached for his field dressing and lashed a rock hard against the main artery above his knee. Then, with his bayonet as a swivel, he twisted the crude but effective tourniquet until the blood stopped flowing.

He fastened the bayonet to his web belt to keep it tight. Then he began moving ahead again.

The objective was the Casino and he painfully made his way there, crawling ahead through the enemy fire to join his platoon. His comrades, many of whom were badly wounded like himself, were to move on, but Private Wichtactz could go no farther.

He asked for a Bren gun, grenades and a number two man. Then, for eight hours this young Canadian lay behind his gun, peppering a row of houses used by the Germans. His assistant made trip after trip, bringing up boxes of ammunition. Then, mortally wounded, he sank exhausted beside the still chattering gun. His last words to Harry Wichtactz before he died were: “Tally-ho, mate!”

The ragged remnants of Private Wichtactz’s platoon found him there when they returned, and four German prisoners they’d captured were ordered to carry him down to the beach. But the ordeal was not over. Three barges were sunk under him by German dive bombers that pierced the screen of allied planes.

Today, back in Canada, Harry Wichtactz is on his parents’ farm near Sheffield learning to be a farmer. It isn’t easy, because Harry now has only one leg. One thing he knows, however. It is contained in the citation covering the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal he won that day at Dieppe. It says simply: “Private Wichtactz

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displayed the greatest courage and gallantry, and his intrepid action unquestionably saved the lives of many of his comrades.”—By Private Jack Scott.

The courage and endurance of the Harri/ Wichtactzs will win this war. But to win it they need your help—the help you'll be giving them when yon buy V¡dory Bonds.

They Turned Back

ABANDON ship!”

Canadian corvette Weyburn was sinking. For six weeks she had been in the Mediterranean. She had seen plenty of action. Among other things her guns had shot down two attacking enemy aircraft. Now, as her bow had pointed toward her British base, she had been dealt her deathblow. A mine or torpedo had rent her plates.

The explosion had hurled some of her crew over the side; injured many below decks. It had spattered death, too. Ami it had knocked unconscious the Weyburn’s captain, Lieut. Commander Thomas Wake Golby, ll.C.N.R.

There was chaos in the ship’s structure; not among its crew. Coolly, officers went about their duties; their first thought for those in their charge. With orderly speed men came up from below. Bowled from their bunks, Lieut. Pat Milsom and Sub.-Lieut. Wilfred Bark made their way up the shattered companionway, helped to revive the captain. His one look around was sufficient. He gave his order, “Abandon ship.”

The stations were manned. Depth charges were made secure. The one remaining lifeboat was lowered; the injured carefully helped into it. Floats went over the side. Seamen gave their lifebelts to supplement those of their mates who weren’t such strong swimmers. “That was just like our men,” Lieut. Milsom said afterward, “thinking of the other fellow first.”

The Weyburn’s decks were awash. A British destroyer had worked close to the stricken ship, was picking up men. Floats, one bearing twelve men and the corvette’s cocker spaniel, drifted through the oil-slimed sea.

The Weyburn’s bow began to rise. She was settling by the stern. The captain stood on the bridge, beside a dead lookout. Milsom and Bark, in the wave-lapped waist, signalled to him that the last of the crew were off.

The ship lurched. Milsom slid overboard, swam to the seaboat. Turning, he saw Bark going to the bridge. A stoker, Petty Officer Sidney Day, leaped from the British destroyer to the Weyburn’s sloping deck. Sub.-Lieut. J. R. W. Lydekker, of the R.N.R., dived from the seaboat, started to swim to the Weyburn. The three had the same object—try to save the captain.

The Weyburn’s bow rose again. Sharply. The ship was going down.

The captain was seen to raise his arm. Wave.

Bark jumped, caught a line from the destroyer. It was too late.

The Weyburn was gone. From below the waves there came the sound, the heave, of the final explosion. The line to which Bark had clung dangled loosely.

Day was picked up; died on board the rescue craft.

Lydekker was never seen again.

Sixty-three of the Weyburn’s complement were saved.

Seven were lost. Three of the latter, after heroic work in aiding their comrades to safety, could have saved themselves. They turned back; risked their lives to save a wounded captain. And died.

Other gallant men carry on the tradition of Bark, Lydekker and Day. Another corvette will replace the Weyburn. You will help to build her when you buy Victory Bonds.

Teamwork

rT’HERE WAS a silence broken A only by the roar of aircraft engines as the released bomb load sped on its way. Then came a terrific explosion as the bomb struck docks and railway yards below. They had reached the target for the night.

As the Wellington swung wide above the destruction below, other bombers were diving in to drop their loads. Back over the target flew this Wellington to check the damage in order that the crew might make a full report on their return to base. But the Nazis were busy. Searchlights stabbed the sky. The flak was almost thick enough to walk on.

On roared the bomber, endeavoring to get away and head for home. But searchlights were everywhere; it was impossible to get clear at that height, so the pilot gave the word and went down under the searching beams, through the flak.

The Wellington came through, but not unscathed. One engine started to sputter, roared again—conked out. On a single engine they limped for home. The course took them over a German synthetic oil plant. Antiaircraft defenses there were strong. Flak concentration swing across the sky like a huge inverted pendulum. Timing things to split second the Wellington managed to dodge it. Another obstacle was overcome.

But fuel was running low. The manoeuvring necessary to keep clear of a plastering over the target area had resulted in unexpected consumption. They might make it. Then again—they might not. It was a gamble and the crew members knew it.

They faced a difficult choice. They could try for their base, or at least the English Coast. On the other hand there was Sweden, slightly to the North of their course. They could land there.

The pilot captain put it up to the boys. “Sweden or home? Sweden would be our safest bet. But landing in Sweden means internment for the duration—both the kite and ourselves. This aircraft cost the folks

at. home plenty. If we can get her back, she’ll go on doing what she was built to do—plaster Jerry. It’s a gamble, but what do you say?”

“Let’s get ’er home!” was the verdict.

The loaded craft was a heavy drag lor one engine. Spare equipment was tossed overboard to lighten weight. Still they lost altitude as each mile went by. At times coming in over the North Sea, they were just skimming the water. But they made it; found a field close to the English Coast.

Nursed along for almost five hundred miles, fuel supply dwindled to a dangerous ebb, the Wellington

and its crew had returned home ready to fight again.

For his night’s work at the controls, Flight Lieut. Pete Oleinik of Edmonton, Alta., received the D.F.C. Speaking of his award he said:

“It wasn’t me; it was the bunch of us. Every man played his full part on that trip. There was perfect understanding and teamwork.”

Teamwork. That, perhaps, is the reason this same crew has managed to make twenty-eight successful operational flights over Germany and other points in Occupied Europe.

You too can join the team—by buying Victory Bonds.