Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monday 26th October 1942

We dispersed in bivouac. A terrific gun barrage was being fired around us. There was an air raid on, and parachute flares coming down. An aeroplane fled across the area, sowing a couple of acres of death with small bombs. There was one casualty – in “D” Troop.

I was i/c the BHQ Guard tonight. We found a deserted bed-hole. This area seemed unpopulated; it was not. Queer hawks emerged from deep dug outs, tin-hatted. “What's on?” asked one, crawling out at my feet as I patrolled. “Who are you?” I demanded. “RASC,” said the earthy denizen, “Wot's all this banging?” He pointed to the gun flashes all around us. “Is it bombing?” he asked. “How long have you been out here, mate?” I queried sarcastically, and patrolled wearily on, not waiting for an answer.

I found many mysterious holes in the ground, mostly peopled by men who didn't know there was a war on. Got to sleep, 2:30a.m. Barrage still in full swing. There had been a dozen raids since our arrival, by single Stukas. Our marvellous AA guns had not yet arrived, so Jerry had fun.

3p.m. Up at 5:45a.m. Until now it has been a quiet day. We are a mile from the sea. Stukas have appeared several times, to be greeted joyously by mass AA gunnery. It is, as usual, dusty. At breakfast time, to my surprise, machine-gun bullets began to whistle down at my feet. A moment later three planes flew in, very low, from seawards; clatter of infantry rifles and rattle of fighter machine guns! Two planes force-landed about a mile away; the third one circled quietly, then flew away. This third plane was definitely English, but no one knows what the others were. We remain puzzled.

I went down to El Alamein for a load of water this morning. On the way I saw a hundred or so men digging graves. For such as we...

9p.m. Our move back into action has been postponed 'til tomorrow. So this evening, suddenly become leisured folk, we moved into the burrows of the earthy RASC people who had gone elsewhere. Cliff and I have an 8 foot by 5 foot dug out, about 4 feet deep, entered by a sort of mine shaft. It is snug and clean; the roof is of timber beams, corrugated iron and sand. We have a stub of candle. We've just enjoyed a mug of hot tea each from the “K” thermos flask – Cliff, “Blue”, Ted Gayler (visitor) and I.

And now to sleep. Maalesh the bombs!

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