Saturday, November 08, 2008

Monday 2nd March 1942

We don't get too much sleep here for the OC has decreed that everyone, including night duty men, will stand to at 6 o'clock each morning – and that means out of tents and dug outs and ready, not lying alertly in blankets! There is exchange duty every other night and also a picquet duty – meaning an infantry post – which will come about once a week.

Two or three ex-Yeoman serving in other regiments were killed in the recent campaign, among them Lieut. Tony Wilkes (ex BSM) and Bill Bryceland (just a common signaller). I didn't like Wilkes particularly but it was sad to hear about Bill. He came to us at Southend – a placid, pipe smoking philosopher. He often used to show me photographs of his wife. There was one picture of her standing by the garden gate, with a red setter, as though she were waiting for Bill to come home from work.

We got some bits of news tonight. Apparently some Cabinet changes occurred a few days ago. Sir Stafford Cripps (Communist) is now Leader of the House, whatever that may be. Probably a sort of honorary job. (There is a tide in the affairs of men, Sir Stafford!)

German opposition to the Russian push is stiffening. The Japs appear to have got Rangoon and therefore part of the Burma Road... They have invaded Java – last bit of the Dutch East Indies – and Timor, although they lost quite a few ships in doing so.
Aussie has had some air raids.

Just now I climbed out of the lamplit exchange dug out. It was bloody lovely outside, with the full moon shining and the desert quiet, fresh and windless.
Immediately on my return I scribbled this:

“I stepped onto the miredam tonight; Out of a lousy slit in filthy sand, I went up rough steps to heavenly light – Moonshine and starshine on flat desert land. There lay the miredam, empty of men; Ugliness hidden, greatness glamourised. The desert was become lovely again, and it's beauty was etherealised.
For the day's dirty dust lay so placidly,
And the waste was high heaven and I could go
Out into Paradise indefinitely -
But I had a piss and went back down below”

(Pity I had to be realistic at the end!)
Why not:-

“Yet I left these gay dreams and went down below”? or something like that!


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