Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Friday 6th September 1940

Reveille (for us) at 4:30a.m. and we left at 6:30a.m just as the Guards were drifting along to their breakfasts. Over the Nile bridge and along wide lovely roads. The Pyramids suddenly loomed ahead. We went right up to them and took the Alexandria road. Then we left fertile country – for a long time, maybe – and the tarmac road was a long black strip flying forward mile after mile across sand and dust.

Mist, bitter coldness. Hours passed. We saw a wrecked Italian plane on an RAF lorry. Alexandria, right! The convoy kept straight ahead. I opened drowsy eyes (it was my turn to lie in the kits) and saw a signpost as we began to bump along a rougher road:- “Matruh”. So we were going to Mersa Matruh, as anticipated. I dozed again until the jolting became too violent. Dust, bumps. Hours passed. We hardly halted and kept travelling fast. Keeble and I took a turn sitting on the tailboard seats, whilst Nadem and Goodwin lay in the kits. We were excruciatingly uncomfortable. We could see the sea, a lovely blue, about a mile to the north. Dust storms, scattered camps, flying fields. Only military traffic on this road and all moving fast. This appears to be the only road to the front.

Here we are, over eleven hours from Cairo at nowhere in particular, in the Western Desert. Mersa Matruh is about 35 kilos ahead, we think, but nobody knows. Bivouac. Slept around M1.


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