Thursday, September 04, 2008

Friday 11th October 1940

10:30p.m. I'm sitting alone in the exchange dugout. We have a 12V light in here now, fitted by Stan Ling before he went to Nathanya on a signals course, this morning. Very hot in here but snug and quiet. A few minutes ago I was reading an Edgar Wallace thriller and eating in luxury a piece of cheese and a hunk of bread. It was an exceedingly dry and crusty hunk of bread, admittedly, but enjoyable none the less.

The air raids have recommenced. There were several last night and there have already been two or three tonight. Nothing has fallen very near, however.

Naden and I are working a new system now – we have a different signaller on duty here, for training purposes, each day. Naden and I are back to normal duty every other day. We didn't like this scheme at the time of it's introduction but it has not worked out too badly so far. This morning, for instance, I had a leisurely cup of tea (Yes there is early morning “gunfire” now! Naden, Langley, Don Parker, Stevens and I take turns at getting up to fetch it from the cookhouse) and shaved, instead of going on roll call.

I missed morning parade too, as I'd gone along to have a few septic wounds dressed at the MI tent. Afterwards, I wandered back, had a haircut (first since leaving Palestine) at the amateur but careful hands of Harry Cash in the Q Stores, and then supervised the laying of a line from Battery Q to my exchange. I was naturally interested in seeing an efficiently-laid line. (Anything to do with My exchange, has my enthusiastic support!)

In the afternoon I was late for parade but strode on boldly (8 minutes late) and “looking as though I had an important mission,” as Gayler said, rescued the four signallers from routine fatigues. We put three lorry-loads of sand around the exchange dugout.

Yesterday afternoon, my trainee seemed fairly capable of carrying on so I went out to the end of the trench and dug like buggery. Finished by moonlight – and there was a long narrow slit, about 3 foot deep by 2 foot 6 inches wide by 7 foot long, it's bottom about a foot above the bottom of the trench, the top sandbagged around and “ramped” with earth and covered with three sheets of (“scrounged”) corrugated iron. I sprinkled dust on the sheets for camouflage and then planted a few prickly bushes on them – this was to discourage fools from trampling on my fragile roof. It was warm and dry in there and the roofing should keep off the dew-mist which falls most nights nowadays. There still seems little if any ground dew but one's blankets are very wet with the dew-mist most mornings. That seemed very unhealthy.

So altogether, things are going according to plan and life has been placidly contentful for the last two days. I'm sleeping in this exchange dugout tonight of course and am on duty with the next trainee until 8p.m. tomorrow.


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