Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday 26th to Thursday 29th August 1940

A Brigade Exercise drill order – stated officially to be the last of it's kind! - at very short – panic! - notice. Everyone browned off and utterly miserable, handing in kits to the Q Stores again and striking various tents. Bivouac that night at Karkur in a eucalyptus wood. Sid Pond was with M1 as NCO Sigs. and Naden came too, in place of Gilbert. At the bivouac, Stan Ling came over from “X”. Fine to have old friends around!

I'd purchased a billy can, tea, sugar and milk in Nathanya and so Grant brewed tea on the primus stove from “K”. We didn't all turn in but lay on our blankets talking and smoking until quite late.

Bivouac in the hills next night. M1 had stood on a rocky hillside all the afternoon whilst we waited for orders. Eventually it seemed the “battle” was being fought with wireless communication. Nothing for us to do except the construction of an elaborate slit trench, surrounded by big stones which we'd rolled down the slopes above.

Washed in a ground-sheet laid on the rocks; made quite a good ersatz basin. An “enemy” plane came once and we all sprang into our trench. Naden and I washed separately; we've got an unpleasant skin disease developing, called, I think, impetigo. Many cases in the regiment; it's very contagious.

HQ Group moved off at 2a.m. minus M1, which wouldn't start-up. We got it going eventually, after pushing it, in gear, down the hill and along the road. “Ye bloody whore, ye!” snarled the driver, Jackie Hall. (He's a Sunderland man and pronounces it “hoo-err”.)

Halted by a cross roads on a plain and waited there for daybreak. I sat talking to Mr Beale who'd led us this far. He had very sensible and unbiased views on the war. When it grew light we went on and overtook the others and dug a slit trench and had breakfast. Until about 3p.m. we did nothing much, always near Affula. Still no line communications! A short move and a halt, then another move. It would have been more enjoyable if I'd been fit. The flies kept attacking the sores on my face.

The “war” ended and we made bivouac in a roadside eucalyptus wood. Stan Ling and I had a damn good wash (and I had a very nervous and cautious shave) at an irrigation pump.

What a mysterious silhouette of a building on the uppermost slopes of Mount Tabor! Sprawling there against the dawn rose-light it seemed to be sliding downwards.

On guard that night but had about six hours sleep – with three breaks for changing the sentries.

In the morning we returned to Nathanya along now familiar Jenin and Tulkarin roads.
We'd done damn all in M1, except wait and dig and clear up the kit and equipment!
We brewed tea at every available opportunity. Magnificent refreshment!

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