Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday 28th February 1941

4p.m. Nineteen hours after despondently writing the above, I'm sitting, with Stan Ling in a train which is just pulling out of Matruh. Bound for Cairo and four days leave! Which all goes to prove that you never can tell!

5:30p.m. and well to the east of Sidihanaish. How half the Essex Horse happens to be on this train is as follows:-

First, we had rain last night, after we'd gone to bed; we suffered in varying degrees, George Hignall worst. I had a ground sheet above as well as below so no rain came through from above; it ran in from the weather side... When I felt the damp insidiously creeping in, I frantically erected a dam of rolled up ground sheet and blankets. Then I withdrew into the four inches of dry bed and slept until the morning's cold, wet wind awoke me.

Secondly, it rained nearly all the forenoon. We put up a tent; rain streamed through the roof. “This is the crowning misfortune,” I said bitterly, gazing out at the grey world. “I may seem gay, Steve,” confided Denny, “But underneath I'm full of despair...”

Thirdly, the authorities decided we all could have leave, half now, half next week! We had about 90 minutes to pack, wash and get our pay (10/-) and some dinner. We made it!

There's a NAAFI – or EFI – on the train (chocolate, sandwiches and tea); wooden seats, but a fair amount of room. Outside, as we rattle towards Cairo, the rain has started again, but we don't care a damn, now! Stan Ling is reading yesterday's “Egyptian Mail” Headlines:-

“Imperial Forces Capture Mogadiscio – record breaking advance in Italian Somaliland” “Tense Days For Bulgaria” “RAF Bomb Tripoli For Five Hours”

Guess I'll go and have a cup of tea!

10p.m. The train has crept as far as Daba. We're back where we were before! There's light enough to read by in the EFI coach, so Stan and I are in there, perched high on some empyy boxes clear of the wet floor. I'm afraid we'll get searched somewhere tonight; this is a pity 'cos I've got that AA shell-case in my kit bag. I don't want to lose that shell-case!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home