Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday 4th April 1941

Moved stealthily on at day break, across trackless, broken country. No breakfast. No water. Direction north east. Rough travelling. No halts. Wadi, hill and rock. The sweet smell of sage.

(Was it sage or thyme? Well I'll know if I ever smell it again, anywhere. SJD 7/5/41.)

In mid-afternoon we saw a well blown up, miles ahead. Bedoin Arabs, flocks of sheep, growing crops. Came over a hill and saw a white town, with green trees. El Aliar? The place was nearly evacuated – they'd thought we were an enemy column,coming out of the desert! The rest of the troops soon moved out – eastwards. We got water, had some tea. This place is somewhere south (or inland) from the Benghazi-Barce road. It seemed like paradise to us. Thought we'd have a quiet night's sleep but there was a “panic” move at 8p.m. when we were half-way through our “breakfast” of stew. “That's the system,” said George, fed-up. “All in one breath, you get, Prepare to move. Move. Follow me. Haven't you got the wire in yet?”

“The infantry is a shower” said an armoured car man, “We're supposed to protect them, but they won't stay around to be protected!” “And we're supposed to support them,” chuckled Vic, “But we can't keep them in front of us!”

Grant was ill, but we could not leave him behind. First we turned ESE but enemy vehicles were reported to be already on the desert tracks so we came northwards. Crept on through the night. Once, as we halted by some eucalyptus trees, an RHA convoy went by, weirdly. There was no traffic moving southwards...

Dozed occasionally.

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