Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday 2nd January 1942

Felt alright again, today, although I nearly “passed out” completely last night in the foyer of the Garrison Cinema – great solicitude from Jimmie James and Denny Search, immediately. So, feeling fine, I went to the Battery Christmas Dinner. Yes, over 12 months late, but we had it!

The new O.C., Major Strutt, spoke for the first time, since taking command of 339 – a brief, staccato, nervous but witty speech... “I feel rather an impostor – been with you for so short a time. I would have wished that Major Puckle, Captain Boulton and Captain Gosling could have been here tonight. But they're not... it's very unlikely that we shall fight again in the desert; I've always thought that once we got across Suez to Cantara East it would take nothing less than the Russian Army behind us, to get us back again...”

Some time during the dinner, Ling, on my right hand, leaned over and said, “Just been told that Bardia has fallen; pass it on.” This was the third time we had been informed that Bardia had fallen, since the offensive began. On this occasion however, the news was correct, as we later found. Bardia had fallen, almost exactly a year after it first capitulated. 1000 British prisoners were rescued and over 20,000 of the Italian and German garrison surrendered.

After the dinner we put Search, who was unconscious, to bed.


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