Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday 18th September 1942

Moonlit evening, last night. After I'd tuned in my wireless set at the gun park, I went across to the wash-place – it's in the open – and had a strip down wash, under the tap. There was one other man there. We talked. He told me he was a convoy driver and went up to the front and back twice a week. “Going up again in the morning,” he said, “Got some stuff for a Territorial lot.” “Who?” I asked idly. “Essex Yeomanry.” “The 104th!” “That's right,” he agreed, “They're up El Alamein way somewhere.”

He went off shortly afterwards, leaving me alone. The camp seemed suddenly silent, the moon bright – too bright and dangerous. The wind felt colder and I remembered the many times I'd washed in the moonshine like this – up there. Ghastly! I should have longed to be back in the blue again with the Regiment, but instead I shuddered and felt fey. A feeling of shrinking came over me – the hateful “bluey” - not the danger, but the weary discomfort, the insecurity, the constant movement... I finished dressing hastily, went back to the tent. It was dark and empty. still horribly fey, I went across to the Beacon Hut and felt reassured. heat was there, and noise, and something permanent, and someone I knew – Dewhurst. As we sat down to cups of tea before starting on our notes, I felt safe again.

But that was 24 hours ago and I still remember that dread sudden feeling of desolation and loneliness!


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