Friday, October 03, 2008

Monday23rd June 1941

Low life: The whole battery is feeling the cigarette shortage acutely. We get 50 cigarettes (or 2oz tobacco) and 100 matches a week. This ration is soon exhausted; there are no NAAFI supplies. Therefore men poke frantically for sparks in the ashes of dead fires or drop Iti “cordite” on warm embers. We still have (on M1) several tins of foul tobacco, looted near Barce during the retreat. The lads are rolling this into fags, using toilet paper (we had a few looted rolls!), newspaper and the tissue paper out of old cigarette packets. This morning Tom Gibbon,almost a non-smoker, gave me 10 Woodbines. This was a magnificent gift, fit for a prince, in times like these!

During the last few days I've never had access to more than about two cigarettes each day (and mostly, these were “Wogs” - terrible tubes sent to us, very kindly of course, by King Farouk of Egypt). Now I intend to have a feast – if I can scrounge a few matches – of nicotine in tubes during this afternoon and whilst on watch tonight.
So much for low life.

High doings: Yesterday, Russia was attacked by Germany. Germany is making it a thorough blitzkreig by all accounts. Millions of troops, thousands of tanks and planes. Rumours of a heavy air raid on Moscow – probably true. 15 Jerry planes down, anyway!

Churchill made a swashbuckling speech last night (“Bloodthirsty guttersnipes” etc.) and stated the foe of Germany was our friend. Presumably the “gallant and heroic” little Finland of last year is now an enemy, as the Finns have sided with Jerry!

Difficult to say yet whether this latest spread of the flames is a good or a bad thing. Certainly a good thing, if Russia can hold 'em. Certainly better than if Russia had joined the Axis! Everyone here is wildly excited, at any rate. All these years people have been speculating which way USSR would turn!

To think! if things had gone according to plan we might have been out of this by now. Instead it flopped (despite the King's message of encouragement!) and here we are still, no nearer relief than before. However, it's quite pleasantly peaceful in these wadies. When on the exchange (Sweltering at the Switchboard!) the highlights of a day's periods of duty are those moments when one hears feet stumbling up the wadi. A few seconds later, a grubby hand is thrust into the shelter holding a mug of steaming tea. “Here's yer chi!” says a voice, and with joyous gratitude, one realises that M1 has done it again – mustered together enough water, milk, tea and perhaps sugar for yet another brew.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home