Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday 24th March 1941

I was M1 cook today. Quite enjoyable for a change, cooking, and cleaning and scheming things so that billy cans boiled simultaneously. The housewife must have great fun with her pots and pans!

I'll be sorry to leave this dug-out, now so qwise and clean. Things are getting more organised now; there was plenty of water again today. After a few more days I think we'd have been able to get a bit of leisure. On the walls of firm sand I have made engravings:- “Heil Freiheit!” and each kit recess is marked with the owner's name i.e. “George”, “Steve”, “Vic”, and “Legs” (Grant).

Several times a day the planes came over, but so far they have not come frightfully low or near us. This is unfortunate, as on each occasion, Grant appears from the dug-out with an old Canadian Ross rifle in his hands and an eager look in his eye. He's longing to have a shot at a plane! Someone else did, with effect this morning. An AA gun opened fire on two Iti planes a couple of miles away. Suddenly a trail of smoke appeared; it grew thicker and then we saw bright flames, even at that distance, on the plane. A man leapt out and came down by parachute (he was captured by excited A Troop gunners).

The other three airmen stayed aboard the plane, which suddenly came down vertically at a terrific speed. It disappeared behind a hill; a moment later a cloud of black smoke arose and then there was the roar of an explosion. Grim curtain!
I felt excited and pleased at the time, but now I wonder it the three who did not jump were married men, and hope that they did not jump because they were dead before the flames reached them.

Nothing is certain, but it's rumoured that the enemy have now occupied El Ageila, previously a no-mans land. Also that some Aussies have been captured by enemy tanks and that engineers are blowing up wells around here. A and B troops have moved forward and we may be ordered to move at any time. We've got everything possible ready – which isn't much – and are now waiting. All the others are asleep just now – it's 11:30p.m. and I'm on duty until 1a.m. The switchboard is quiet now, but there was a rare flurry of calls a couple of hours ago. Hope we don't have to move – either forward or the other way – for a bit. It's getting snug here.

Very peaceful now; I'm going to light my pipe (Afrikander) and read an exciting spy story. Things may settle down again or this may be the breathing space before we start having the hell of a time!


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