Thursday, October 02, 2008

Saturday 7th June 1941

There are no bathing parties nowadays because of the petrol shortage. Yesterday afternoon, however, The Duke, Stan Ling and I walked down to the beach. It was qwise, though a hell of a long walk, as we lost our path on the way down and wandered roughly seawards through a maze of wadies. When we eventually reached the water's edge it was in the wrong cove. We were too far to the eastwards and had a long rough trek along the coast before finding the usual beach.

In one gloomy cove, were two graves, only just above the tides reach. One was an Englishman's, named Woods; the second, surprisingly had a cross inscribed: AN UNKNOWN ITALIAN. BURIED APRIL 17TH 1941. What was an Iti during in the perimeter so recently? Possibly this was the body of an aviator or seaman, thrown up by the tide and buried by his enemies just beyond the grasp of the sea which probably caused his death.

On this and the other beaches, a good deal of flotsam and jetsam was coming in with the waves. A spa, a life belt, three ship's boats stove-in, baulks of timber, a damaged raft. The amount of oil on the water made swimming impracticable on most beaches but we found some clear water in our own cove. Previously we'd felt damn tired (“Condemned”, as Newton put it!) but after a swim across the cove and a few dives, we felt fine. There were two large bomb craters (new ones) in the rocks nearby, so it's probable that Tacken Bombardieren did come this way on June 1st, as we thought. After the swim, we came back to the Troop area via the water hole, where, of course, we stopped for a drink (and a talk with two Senussi soldiers whom we found there).

Last night's news: The usual rumours of an impending German fait accompli in Syria.
(“It is denied that German tourists and technicians are arriving in large numbers in Syria”). Little to report from African fronts. Air activity over Britain – one plane dropped bombs in the north-east. (Glorious! They don't get bombed much in Blighty now. It's been quiet, with a few exceptions for nearly a month.)

I don't know how many raids we had last night but there were seven (each by a single Iti dropping heavy stuff) during the time that I was awake. The first raid of the night came just as the news finished. As we removed the earphones, we heard the whistle of falling bombs and a moment later, crashes and then we felt the earth trembling as they struck.

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