Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monday 6th January 1941

Haven't moved yet but we've a pretty shrewd idea of where it will be. Almost sure to be further west, for command post and exchange signallers (the eavesdroppers of the battery) are agreed that the Iti are rushing their reserve mechanised units eastwards from Tripoli. When they meet our troops there should be a decisive engagement. We're fairly confident, for here at Bardia we laid siege to and stormed a place garrisoned by a force four times as strong as ours. “England and the Brigadier are pleased” says the Colonel. And the Corps Commander congratulated 104th on it's good shooting. But the infantry, tanks and engineers did marvellous work here. Our barrage smashed the wire at one point, and destroyed a section of the minefield. Infantry went through and held the gap. sappers came up – under heavy fire – and methodically put the remaining land mines out of action whilst another party filled in the tank trap (a wide, deep trench). Then our tanks dashed in, whilst the artillery barrage lifted again and pounded the enemy batteries. One Aussie sergeant, riddled with shrapnel, lay dying on the ground, waving feebly towards the gap, whilst our tanks swept past... Typical incident.

No aerial activity today. Strange, how Rome seemed to leave the Bardia garrison to it's fate... Whatever they do now, it's too late.

10p.m to 1a.m shift tonight. I didn't go to bed but went in the pit with Ted Gayler, who was on duty until 10p.m. We brewed a nice cup of tea, although the primus is broken, using the remains of a tin of Iti condensed milk which Ted had found. Must make more use of the primus in future – toast, and the heating of “semi-cold” meals.
“Maybe we'll dig in for a bit when we get to Tobruk” I said. “Yes, and then we'll try a little field cookery in the exchange pit” agreed Ted.

“When we get to Tobruk'! None of us had ever heard of the place a year ago! And two years ago, I did not even know where Libya was! It's a bit rough now, this life, and personally I'm homesick and even more leave-sick but – when it's all over and please God it must someday end, what memories we'll have of this period of our lives!

Now I end “STARSHINE” Coincidentally, the day is nearly finished, tomorrow is almost here; it is near “MIDNIGHT”.


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