Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday 24th July 1940

6:40a.m. Still in the same hole – we did not move to the new position last night after all. Slept from 11:30p.m. to 3:15 a.m, when we had a meal, presumably breakfast. Feel awfully dirty but we've obtained a small mug of water and four of us will shave in that. Shall not be able to wash yet. The water in our bottles is too precious. However, I'll shave now, in between calls. We're fairly busy – there are eight lines on, including Wagon lines, 414 (“Q”) and RHQ (“LASE”)

8a.m. Grant, Gilbert and Hignall are all asleep nearby. I can see John Goodwin beside the command post camouflage further along the wadi, eating a slice of melon. Keeble is at his phone.

Treating this stunt as a rehearsal for active service, I brought my most treasured belongings ie. diaries, fountain pen and photograph collection along with me. That is one thing that “shakes” me – the diaries. “I thought if you died, I should die...” as Brooke said. Well, if they were lost it would seem as if my past – all the things that happened and created memories – were dead. It wouldn't be so, of course, but the loss of the diaries would be as nasty a jar as that. The two books with me (running from the last home leave to now) and those I may write whilst this bloody rotten war lasts, are the major problem. I hear that much of our kit will remain at the Base and that, according to the “exigencies of the service” we may not see it again! As it is at present impossible to send them home, the safest place for my diaries seems to be on my person. So I've obtained a satchel signals from Stan Ling and it is with me on this drill order, containing the two books, my pen and a packet of photographs – all wrapped in a cloth – together with an RA Code, sheets of AF/C 2128 and three tins of tape rubber jointing.

11p.m. This afternoon I rigged up my groundsheet above the hole – could have done so before, only I didn't expect to be here so long. It was sultry under the groundsheet, but shaded from the sun. After that very early meal we later received two rounds of bread (cheese and fish respectively) and that was all until the evening meal at 8:15p.m. During the day we shared a tin of herrings and a few hard (Troops for the use of) biscuits and a water-melon – hoarded and scrounged variously. Lucky we had that bit extra!

11:40 now – it's taken forty minutes to scribble these few lines in between calls and by the light of one of the switchboard bulbs. The moon's up now. “B” Troop has moved to it's new position – an hour ago the weird silhouettes of armoured towing vehicles, guns and limbers crept by here. “A” Troop and the Command Post will be shifting to odd positions later tonight. Complicated communications. Rehearsal for static not RHA warfare...

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