Monday, September 08, 2008

Thursday 19th December 1940

8a.m. Soon be off now; the guns are already moving. “... More men! More guns! More men for the guns!..”

(8:15p.m. In bivouac just beyond Sidi Barrani) Cold but interesting journey. Notice: “RASC Reception Depot for captured Vehicles” We must be doing quite a trade in them!

Over a hill and Mersa Matruh lay before us. Looked nice in the cold sunlight; pretty lagoon with ships in it. “Hotel Metropole” “Kinema” Obviously quite a pleasant and civilised place in peace time. Now – eerily empty and bomb shattered. Then, into no-man's land, or “the blue”. “Charing Cross Water Point - 'Ware Mines”! Smashed telegraph poles, broken road, abandoned Iti vehicles. Many lorry loads of queer looking, blue uniformed men passed us, going to the rear – Iti prisoners, hundreds of them. Ambulances, prisoners and empty supply vehicles, going down. Loaded supply vehicles, men and guns, going up.

I drove M1 for the last two hours. The Iti defences – abandoned guns of all types; rifles, equipment strewn everywhere. Little evidence of fortification or digging-in. Graves. Sidi Barrani, a small village, absolutely in ruins. Rough road of loose stone now. A monument beside the road. A section of guns, pointed westward which seemed to have put up a fight – there were empty shell cases all around. Then this bivouac. We deepened an Iti slit trench and Sid and I dug a bed for ourselves nearby. A small but tasty meal, hot tea. No water supply as yet. Up to the present, we have heard no gunfire and seen no planes except our own.

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