Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday 24th April 1941

Desert “panorama” from an OP is very bleak. “Points from this one are: “Ruined Houses”, “Cairn”, “Light Patch”, “Track”, “Bush”, “Bushes” and “White Spot” (the latter is thought to be a petrol tin!) About 2000 yards from the OP, beyond the wire, is a ridge which hides our further view. How I'd like to be allowed to craw up to that ridge and take a look at the landscape beyond!

Came back to the exchange at about 10:30a.m. Whilst out collecting wood for the fire, Jack Pitt and I found a cave air raid shelter running far back into a hillside. I stepped into the entrance with the intention of exploring the whole cave and to light my pipe out of the wind. There was an unexploded bomb in the entrance however, and for some reason, this scared me. I've walked past hundreds of unexploded bombs and shells – they're all over the place – but somehow, I dare not step past this one!

“Go on in, nervy!” I said to myself. But I couldn't! I came back to the track without even lighting my pipe. A few minutes later some engineers arrived and told us to keep away as the whole hillside was “mined to buggery” and that trains of gunpowder were laid in the caves, leading to chambers containing sufficient explosives to blow up the whole of that escarpment...

We have been here a fortnight now. The enemy advance can definitely be said to have been halted around here.

In bits and pieces I'm reading two diverse books. Both have been read before – years ago. They are Scott's “Kenilworth” and “Rough Justice” - I don't know the author of the latter as the title page (among others) is torn out. The first, a sedately moving “heavy” romance of Elizabethan England, gives me an excellent sense of detachment from the prevailing surroundings and conditions; the second, a psychological study of people who went from the loveliness of the Thames riverside country to the horrors of war (25 years ago) brings me satisfactorily back to realities.

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