Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday 14th April 1941

4a.m. A few minutes ago came the laconic message from the OP: “The enemy has broken through on our right flank. Stand to.” The enemy seems to be breaking through everywhere, nowadays. Yesterday we had the news that Bardia had fallen, that there was fighting at Sollum and that what remained of our troops was falling back on Mersa Matruh...

Dark days – and there's been foul weather lately, also. Dusty and bitterly cold, as cold as last January, I do think.

4p.m. This morning's attack failed. The enemy lost 7 tanks and quite a few men. Later there was an air raid, in which they lost 12 planes.

Extract of conversations overheard on the OP line during the critical phase this morning:

“On guard. 20 through at Post 33”
“20 tanks penetrated wire at Post 33”
“Small arms fire and flares seen on bearing of 22 degrees...”
“Men seen de-bussing at Post 6”
“Hullo, Maintenance 'ere. Is breakfast up yet?” “Not yet boy” “Let us know, will you?” “Sure”

9p.m. Now confirmed that the enemy came in with forty, not twenty tanks today. They failed to synchronise infantry and tank movements, and lost 18 tanks. We took 430 prisoners.

BBC news tonight. “Tobruk is not cut-off or isolated”...

See copy of German diary report, at the end of this book


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