Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday 4th May 1941

Last night at the OP, we watched with excitement whilst our guns in the Derna Road sector on our right put down a terrific barrage. It started at about 8p.m. and was still on when I turned in at 12:30a.m. We were making a counter-attack on the “bulge” in our defences. This morning we waited eagerly for news. When it came, I was at the telephone:- “OBJECTIVE NOT ATTAINED, NEWS SCANTY. RESPECTIVE LINES PRESUMED AS BEFORE”. Rather depressing – after watching a barrage of 14000 rounds gunfire fall on the enemy lines.

Shelled a bit during the night. Early in the evening a pleasurable state of tenseness was caused when we observed four white signal lights on bearing 170 degrees and 180 degrees. (that is, right in front of the OP) and only about 4000 yards distant.

A quiet day but there were several air raid scares. Once, I was up the ladder on the look-out when I suddenly observed a plane coming towards me along the wire at a height of about 300 feet, ¼ mile distant. I went down the 25 foot ladder like greased lightening! The plane turned out to be a Hurricane however – the only British plane in this area.

Then this evening, as we were returning home, I looked up and saw Nazi planes coming up behind. Put my head inside the cab, “Planes up, sir” “How many, Dawson?” “Over thirty, sir”. We stopped the lorry and Mr Adams, Sid Sorrell and I, took shelter among some sand bags. The planes dived superbly on a point about a mile away. AA shrapnel whistled viciously around us. About 20 minutes later, another wave of 15 bombers arrived...

I like being with Mr Adams. He is gentle and kind-hearted, not very sure of himself and he smokes a pipe. Last night I only had 4 ½ hours sleep (never get more than 6, nowadays anyhow) and fell asleep whilst off duty at the OP this afternoon – sprawled across Mr Adam's seat. When he came, he didn't awaken me, as many officers would have done. I eventually opened my eyes to find him sitting nearby, on a sandbag. He smiled gently, “You seem as though you can sleep anywhere, in any position, Dawson! Here is a mug of tea for you”.

News: We are now at war with Iraq. They have appealed for German aid. Fighting has started between British and Iraqian forces. The Essex Horse is part of the Legion on the Wall, that's what!

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