Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday 27th March 1942

Peut-etre we remain here, after all. Certain cryptic conversations that have been overheard, indicate such a possibility.

Search is the only one of us who has not had his hair cut since coming back to the desert. Therefore he is known as Paderewski, Chopin (Choppin) or Wagner (Wagg-ner) There are variations, of course:- “Now Search!” “Hullo!” “Can you play the violin?” “No.” “The piano?” “Well, not really.” “Not like a maestro?” “No.” “Well then, you can't be Wagner, Chopin or Paderewski! So you must be Ludwig, the mad king of Bavaria.” “Now look here...” “Get your ruddy hair cut, Ludwig!”

The above was written during the early hours, on the exchange. It is now evening, apparently our last evening here, for the move is to take place, after all. The advance party of the battery which is relieving us, is already here. We move – towards the frontier – tomorrow. It has been a bloody short visit to the desert this time.

In accordance with a request from the BSM, I went down to Tobruch Cemetery with the Q this afternoon to take mass photographs of EY graves there. I think they are to be sent to the various parents when printed. How the old graveyard has grown! There are about 1000 in there now. A memorial has been erected - “At the going down of the sun...” - in memory of those “who died for their country.” And what a mixture of countries are represented! Poland (very neat graves), Britain, Cyprus, India, France,(mort pour la France), Palestine, Australia...

Not all are Christian, lying beneath the Cross. There are also Arab Moslems, Palestine Jews and Indian Hindus. These have various unfamiliar shaped headboards and their graves lie differently to ours.

There was a mass dive bombing attack on the harbour whilst we were on the road; we had an excellent view. Once more we saw the dense screen of AA go up and watched the graceful Stukas glide slowly down through it, at an almost vertical angle. Always a thrilling spectacle. At a low level the Stukas released a little bundle of bombs, pulled out, and flew dignifiedly away across the sea. One was burning, another disappeared at half-speed, bumping across the waves like a crippled bird. Whilst the fleeing Stukas were still in sight, five big RAF fighters roared overhead, flipping their wings,and raced out to sea, after the Stukas.

Soon afterwards we heard distant machine gun fire.

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