March 5th, 1945 (MONDAY)
GERMANY: Hohenlychen: Felix Kersten, Himmler’s masseur, tries to persuade his patient to free all Jews held in concentration camps.
Boys of 16 years old are now to be sent to the front to fight for Hitler’s Germany. All male children born in 1929 are to be conscripted for military service and sent into battle against the advancing Allies.
Boys of 16 have been serving in the Volkssturm [people’s front] since it was set up last September. Now they are to be sent to areas of combat across Europe. The Nazi propaganda machine is already busy showing newsreel of “Hitler’s Boys” decorated with the Iron Cross for knocking out enemy tanks. Such pictures cannot disguise the fact that recruitment of boy soldiers is the last resort of a desperate nation.
BURMA: Rfn Bhanbhagta Gurung (b.1921, D. 2008), 2nd Gurkha Rifles, shot a sniper and later cleared four foxholes and a machine-gun, before helping to repel a counter-attack (Victoria Cross)
Havildar Bhanubhakta Gurung was serving as a rifleman in the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles. At that time the Fourteenth Army was making a drive toward Mandalay in central Burma, and the task of the 25th Division (of which the 2nd Gurkhas were part) was to engage in diversionary action along the coastal sector of Arakan.
The 3rd Battalion landed at Ru-Ywa and advanced to the high ground east of Tamandu. Capturing the area would assist British progress to the Irawaddy through the An pass, but the enemy here was the formidable Japanese 54 Division and a machine-gun battalion.
The dominant feature was .582, nicknamed Snowdon, to the east of which was another high hill known as Snowdon East. No enemy was encountered on either hill and by the evening of March 4 “A” Company was in position at both points.
However, during the night the Japanese attacked Snowdon East in overwhelming strength, killing half the Gurkhas on it; the remainder, completely out of ammunition, managed to cut their way through to their comrades on Snowdon.
The following day “B” Company, with which Bhanubhakta was serving, was ordered to retake Snowdon East “regardless of cost”.
Bhanubhakta’s citation (in which his name was spelled Bhanbhagta) recorded
that: “On approaching the objective, one of the sections of the company was forced to the ground by a very heavy light-machine-gun, grenade and mortar fire, and owing to the severity of this fire was unable to move in any direction.
“While thus pinned down, the section also came under accurate fire from a sniper in a tree some 75 yards to the south. As this sniper was inflicting casualties on the section, Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung stood up and, while fully exposed to heavy fire, calmly killed the enemy sniper with his rifle, thus saving his section from suffering further casualties.”
Bhanubhakta then began to run for the top of the hill, yelling for his comrades to follow him. Though the casualties were heavy, the section ploughed forward until within 20 yards of their objective, when the Gurkhas were again halted by exceptionally heavy fire.
Without waiting for any orders, Bhanubhakta dashed forward alone and attacked the first enemy foxhole. Throwing two grenades, which killed the two occupants of the trench, he immediately rushed on to the next enemy foxhole and killed the two Japanese in it with his bayonet.
All this time he was under continuous light-machine-gun fire from a bunker on the north tip of the objective, and two further fox-holes were still bringing fire to bear upon the section. Bhanubhakta dashed forward and cleared these trenches with bayonet and grenades.
He then turned his attention to the machine-gun bunker, and realising, as the citation put it, that it “would hold up not only his own platoon which was not behind him, but also another platoon which was advancing from the west”, he pushed forward a fifth time to knock out the position.
“He ran forward and leapt on to the roof of the bunker from where, his hand grenades being finished, he flung two No 72 smoke grenades into the bunker’s slit.” Two Japanese rushed out of the bunker, partially blinded by the smoke and with their clothes aflame with phosphorous; Bhanubhakta promptly killed them both with his kukri.
One Japanese soldier remained inside, holding up 4 Platoon’s advance with the machine gun. Bhanubhakta crawled in and, prevented by the cramped space from using his bayonet or kukri, beat the gunner’s brains out with a rock.
Most of the objectives had now been cleared by the men behind, but the enemy which had been driven off were collecting for a counter-attack beneath the north end of the objective.
Bhanubhakta ordered the nearest Bren gunner and two riflemen to take up positions in the captured bunker with him, from where they repelled the enemy counter-attack.
Bhanubhakta, the citation concluded, “showed outstanding bravery and a complete disregard for his own safety. His courageous clearing of five enemy positions single-handed was in itself decisive in capturing the objective and his inspiring example to the rest of the Company contributed to the speedy consolidation of the success.”
As a result of this engagement, his regiment gained the Battle Honour “Tamandu.”
(Daily Telegraph Obit)
PACIFIC OCEAN: W.15 IJN Japanese Minesweeper, Torpedoed off Akuseki Jima, south of Kyushu (29-30N 129-33E) by US Submarine Tilefish; Beached and abandoned. (James Paterson)
Army deserter turned over to MPs in Tampa
CLEARWATER - While searching for suspects in the recent theft of a purse from an elderly tourist, city police early Saturday night picked up an army deserter in the downtown business section. The soldier, wearing the uniform, had been absent without leave from a Texas camp since last November. He was turned over to military police from the Tampa area. (William L. Howard)
Submarine USS Remora laid down.
Escort carrier USS Cape Gloucester commissioned.
Minesweepers USS Quail and Scoter commissioned.