Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday 8th July 1940

First day of “intensive”.

Reveille 4a.m. Parade at the gun park (a mile away) at 5:45. I think I was there on time – the BSM was only 100 yards ahead at the finish – but a good many blokes straggled in late. We all tried hard on the drill order which lasted until about 12:30p.m.

At 3:30p.m. (Yes! we had a siesta!) we were marched down to the gun park again for maintenance. Returned to camp at 4:30p.m. for an NCO's discussion on the drill order. It was teatime when that finished. HQ Troop had to parade at the gun park again at 7p.m. as part of our punishment for the late start. I scrambled into my shorts, puttees and drill order kit and then found I was a little early. Strolled along the sandy track to the gun park, noticed the peaceful atmosphere suddenly. The low sun near the western sandhills; Arab shepherd watching flock of sheep, grazing, bells a-tinkle; birds singing; alone-ness.

“What bloody nonsense it all is!” I lit my pipe and walked on, sun hat in hand.
Lieutenants Turner and Dawnay, when they arrived, also in drill order kit, seemed somewhat ill at ease, as though they liked the job no more than we did. Only a few scapegoats in the ranks of HQ Troop – the rest were on guard, working, in prison at Jerusalem, in hospital or absent – whilst the officers went through the farce of inspecting us – we were all in a filthy state. Got back at about 8:15p.m. Just time for a shower and a snack in the NAAFI and this.

Reckon I'll have to cut down my diary writing soon – there'll be no time. Reveille at 4 again tomorrow and we'd better be on parade early. Unlucky “A” Troop have to be ready by 5:30, as a little extra punishment.

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