Thursday, November 06, 2008

Monday 26th January 1942

On Regimental Picquet again tonight. It's even cushier than it was last time, when there were two NCO's and six men – mounted and dismounted without rifles or bullshit – and one of the two NCO's had to be awake throughout the night. This time, we didn't even have to parade before taking over, there are no sentry beats and there are only two of us. Soon we shall both turn in for the night. 24 hours up here are really better than 24 hours below. The guard room is small and snug and quiet.
The war news is getting steadily worse everywhere except Russia. (Yes, the Soviets are still pushing on towards the Latvian frontier and have just made a 70 mile gap in the German line.)

Even in Libya things have worsened. The advance became a tactical withdrawal a couple of days ago. Yesterday we heard that Jerry had re-occupied Agedabia! It was the best part of three days before they pushed us past Agedabia, last April! Today there is news of a big tank battle in that area. The evening paper says that there is little information yet but the Axis claim to have destroyed or captured 143 of our tanks “must be somewhat exaggerated.” Doesn't sound too good, anyhow!

The Japs in Malaya are now about 60 miles from Singapore and the Americans are “still holding on” in a bit of the Philippines. Fresh Jap landing parties have occupied several new places in the Pacific, including Raloul and the Solomon Islands.... The Dutch East Indies keep crying out for aid; meanwhile, they're doing some fine work. The Aussies with some of their mandated territory already invaded, envisage an invasion of Australia badin. “The rising sun (of Japan) is nearly overhead,” warns an Aussie Cabinet Minister grimly.

This Regiment is apparently going to be reinforced by the Second Line – those raw, keen recruits in mufti who came to Church Parade at Epping during that last and most lovely summer. It will be made up of 3 batteries. We 'seasoned” men in 339th will probably be split up among the rest. 414th are gone; probably shan't see them again. They may be in Egypt now, or south or east of Egypt, for all we know. So the Second Line are coming out! Their advance party is probably here already. Which would explain the fact that we saw a strange officer with EY buttons and badges, in a Jerusalem cafe earlier this month.

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