Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday 22nd April 1940

A letter from Jack, at Bir As Luj, this afternoon. Very graphic:

“…The RE have a little camp here, near some buildings which appear to be a deserted village, but we are nearly a mile beyond them in a little dip from which one cannot see much except to the east where there is a line of hills. Otherwise there is nothing to see except sand, sand, sand. Nothing grows except a little scruffy grass and a few sheltered thorns… Cheerio, and I hope you don’t see much of this place…”

The Snakes discussed this grim epistle with resignation. The sequel might have “shaken” me but actually it made me “keen” when I was summoned to Sergt. Major Essler in the Battery Office. “Bombardier Dawson,” he said I clipped staccato, “You are to report to RHQ at 5:45a.m tomorrow and proceed to As Luj via Sarafand. You will have breakfast at 5a.m. You will draw haversack rations and remainder to day’s rations for emergency. You return on Wednesday. Dress, battle dress shirtsleeves, haversack, water bottle and braces. You will take Watson, Carter, Frost, Howarth and Dodd. Each of you will take a rifle and 20 rounds. The driver, Watson, will return Tuesday. Any questions?”

“Map of the route, Sir?” I asked when I’d noted the particulars.
“They will be issued by RHQ”
“Know why we’re going, Sir?”
“No idea. There may be stores for collection at Sarafand – Anything else?”
“No Sir”
“Right. That’s all”

It was now late in the evening, all my men were out of their tents, so all I could do was get my kit together and arrange for the guard commander to have me called at 3:30a.m. Breaking of the monotony!

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