Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday 13th March 1942

I'm sitting in the sariba. Vic Naden,after a search for fleas, is climbing into bed. Denny Search, who like myself, is to be Confirmed tomorrow, is lying on his bed, ruminatively puffing at an empty pipe. “Look at “the boy”” says Gayler, “tired out with the excitement!”

“Poacher” Johnson, a technical youth, is tuning in the wireless (brought here for the night from the Officers Mess “for repairs”). Jimmie James, looking more like film star David Niven than ever, is brewing the tea. Ted Gayler is sitting on his bed, munching on a biscuits, one slipper on, one off. Stevens is glancing idly through the pages of a book, “Wood and Stone”. Old Andrews is sitting on my ditty box, peering in an empty tin of milk.

A bright 12V electric bulb lights the dug out interior. The dug out wall of sand bags and rocks is not visible all round. In parts, Italian ground-sheets have been put up as tapestries. There's a canvas sheet for ceiling, criss-crossed by wooden planks, sand trays and large tubular drain pipes. My hammock is suspended among these rafters and some varied clothes are hanging on a line between two pipes.

A table laden with mugs, sugar and various other essentials of the brew, is in the middle of the floor. Around the walls are our kits – hanging on pegs; on the floor; on shelves. Most of my kit is either in a small recess or suspended in a wicker basket beside my hammock.

Such are my companions and surroundings tonight.

Tomorrow morning we go into Tobruch for Confirmation – and I for Baptism also – with a minimum of ceremony and only two hours preparation! Ah well! Bishops can't come to Tobruch every day!


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