Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday 8th December 1941

12 noon. We're moving forward. Yes, our pleasant shanty in which I had such a glorious 8 hours sleep last night, has been demolished. We are now loaded, waiting for the order to close down communications and move.

Last nights show was a success without any artillery fire being needed. We are definitely on top now. Hordes of RAF planes pass overhead but whilst here we have only seen two enemy raids on distant Tobruch. Yesterday it was stated that the whole area north of Bardia Road was now clear of the enemy.

Evening: We are about a mile from the base of the escarpment tonight. When we first arrived and dropped into position near the 1st RHA, M1 had to lay the “A” OP line – Lord knows why, it is not our job. It is a hard line to lay, about two miles long and the last mile on foot up a steep escarpment and across the rocks and wadies beyond, but there was no shelling whatever and when we reached the OP there seemed no sign of movement in the country ahead. I reckon the main struggle is over, around Tobruch.

Plonk has now fallen and when we passed Doc. this morning, there was no sign of activity except for some looting parties. The Germans and Iti strong points were given quaint code-names by us. There was Doc, Sneezy, Bashful; in fact all the seven dwarfs, and Snow White, were mentioned in our codes. Jack, where heavy infantry casualties were sustained, used to be Happy.

Snatch of conversation heard by Bob Andrews a few days ago on the exchange:

Distant voice: “Are you Sneezy please? Hullo! Sneezy?”
Battery Captain: “No, I am not Sneezy or any of the other Seven bloody Dwarfs!”

By the time we returned from the OP it was nearly sunset and we were thoroughly fed-up and ready for out midday meal. After tea, bully – biscuit stew, rice and tinned raspberries, and dusty tea, it was dark but we eventually got the exchange dug in. There was a mish qwise dusty desert wind blowing, so we put the truck broadside on and rigged up a lean-to tent on the lee side. It's 9p.m. and I'll soon be going to bed. The lines are very quiet. The situation seems sans tension, just as it was towards the end of last winter's campaign.

BBC news: Japan has declared war on USA and England. The USA naval and air force bases in the Pacific have been bombed and the Japanese Navy has also been in action. Singapore was bombed, besides the American Guam, Hawii and Phillipines. The war spreads.

Oh to be in South America, neutral half continent! Otherwise there are few countries still enjoying peace. Turkey is the chief neutral but I can see war coming to Turkey soon. In Europe there is Spain, still exhausted by the Civil War, Portugal, happy little Switzerland, and Sweden. There are no other neutrals in Europe, I believe.
In Asia, besides Turkey there is only the mysterious mountain land of Tibet at peace. I don't think there are any neutral states in Africa... Certainly none in Aussie!

And in America there's Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Uraquay, Venezula... may be a few small comic opera states besides. Apart from the South Americans there are not many peoples still at peace in the “civilised” world today. Tomorrow probably I'll remember some frightfully important neutral country which I've forgotten now. But I'm tired and there's a coating of dust on my eyelashes and my nose and ears are full of it!

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