Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sunday 27th October 1940

Reveille 4a.m., breakfast in the dark (without any flies) and we moved off just as it grew light. Not a bad drill order, really. The fact that the guns were firing rather broke the monotony; there were few flies and very little dust and the ground was less bumpy than usual. We were over ten hours without any food (breakfast – one tinned sausage, margarine, tea and a hunk of bread – being at 4:30 and lunch – cheese, margarine, tea and a hunk of bread – being at 3p.m.) but I had two packets of biscuits with me and of course, M1 had a “brew” of tea. Actually it wasn't a very thirsty day and I hardly touched my water bottle.

M1 returned alone as we had to pick up the wire at an old position (we jolted over miles of literally trackless desert, steering by the sun and our sense of direction). I drove M1 around the old position whilst the wire was reeled in and, fascinated, kept at the wheel, despite Geordie Hall's entreaties, drove across more desert – by sand tracks – to the Road and then to within two kilometres of Camp. It was a thrill to drive once more – it's about a year since I sat at a wheel, when I took Slinky B to Wolfhampcote.

I managed to double de-clutch! It surprised me when I could change down silently – one has to change down a lot in soft sand – for double de-clutching had always puzzled me. Perhaps because I hadn't driven for so long I found it quite natural to drive on the right-hand side of the road – but as the wheel was also on the right, I often wondered just how far into the middle of the road the offside was! The old driving fascination has got me again, I fear; I'll have to do some more of it now.
Geordie sat beside me and paid doubtful tribute, - “Aw Steve, honest, I was shit scared all the time!”

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