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david leigh-smith
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On This Day...December 10th.

December 10, 2018 · in News · · 13 · 2.3K

The Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by repeated attacks from Mitsubishi GM3’s (‘Nell’) and GM4’s (‘Betty’) torpedo bombers. 840 men died in total.

A report from the London Gazette newspaper by Flt Lt Vigors read...

“It was obvious that the three destroyers were going to take hours to pick up those hundreds of men clinging to bits of wreckage and swimming around in the filthy, oily water. Above all this, the threat of another bombing and machine-gun attack was imminent. Every one of those men must have realised that. Yet as I flew around, every man waved and put up his thumb as I flew over him. After an hour, lack of petrol forced me to leave, but during that hour I had seen many men in dire danger waving, cheering and joking, as if they were holiday-makers at Brighton waving at a low-flying aircraft. It shook me, for here was something above human nature.[53]

Polish pilots of 303 squadron watch their comrades taking off in Hurricanes, December 10th, 1940.

An iconic photo of F4U-1A Corsair(s) of Marine Squadron VMF-216 at Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 10 Dec 1943. Note the metal Marston Mat, properly named ‘pierced (or perforated) steel planking (PSP)’

Russian farmers handing over KV-1S tanks built with their donations to Soviet Army, Moscow, Russia, 10 Dec 1942.

Reader reactions:
5  Awesome

13 responses

  1. Great pics David thks to you.
    I was wondring concerning those perforated metal plates if the US air force or the RAF used them in Europe and on grass landing strips ? Cause I cant remember seeing a picture of a grass airfield with those plates but of course it doesnt mean anything there are so many pics of ww2...

    • Yes these PSP matts were used pretty much everywhere. Here's a picture of some in use at Martlesham Heath in 1945.

      Good question !

      They were also used extensively in Korea and even in Vietnam.

    • In 1967 my unit (Det 1., 601st DASS, 1 ACW), relocated 56,000 square feet of PSP from one of the bases closing in France to our site in Germany. Being the youngest & least senior NCO in the & youngest Sgt. in the USAF at the time, yours truly got to supervise, & help lay, all 56,000 sq.ft. Most of it was bent & damaged, - tons of fun. It was still there & used daily when I left in 1970.

  2. Another excellent set of pictures David !

    What sets these apart are your explanation of what is happening in the pictures.

  3. Grandes fotos David !. El texto de Flt. Lt. Vigors es commovedor ante la tragedia.Los Corsair guapísimos,pero lo importante es la cantidad de cosas que aprendemos de los comentarios.
    Gracias David.

  4. Mats in Italy...

    Alaska (in 2006; laid in 1943...)

    In Papua New Guinea...

    In France (of course, they now use it to store wine...)


    And more in Alaska...

  5. The Repulse and Prince of Wales episode is considered one of the turning points of the War, in that modest airpower put to naught what was supposed to be a game-changing show of naval force. But it seems that nobody could learn this lesson. The Brits taught it to the Italians, the Japanese taught it to the Americans and the British, the Brits then taught it to the Germans (looking at you Bismarck), then the Americans taught it to the Japanese.

    Great reminders, David!

  6. Great as always. Anybody know where you can get some 1:32 Marston Mat for dios?

  7. Great photos. Again. David.

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