Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturday 6th June 1942 (Continued)

"We just got into the slit trench as they fell, mate,” said the Duke, “But look what they've done to my truck!”

The bomb had dropped just off the right hand front wheel and although the truck had been dug in, most of the cab, engine and bonnet had been wrecked. Jock Fleming's pack had been hanging in front of the bonnet, besides mine. His pack was blown to pieces but mine, containing a mosquito net, many cigarettes, MY DIARIES, and Hammick's book, “The Penhales”, was merely riddled and blown away, almost intact. The mosquito net is full of fresh holes and most of my cigarettes were mashed up and only fit for pipe smoking. However, the rest of the contents were hardly marked, thank heavens.

We made a brew near the slit trench – all jittery! - and gloomily began sorting things out. The OP line was broken; M4 went up to mend it. Just as we were drinking our tea some Iti fighters came over, machine gunning the area. We cowered cravenly in the slit trench until they had gone, not firing our rifles. Presently M4 was towed in by an armoured car. It had been shelled in the OP area and was diss! The cooks truck was unloaded and rapidly fitted up with a cable layer. Each time we heard planes – which was every few minutes – we stood still, looking up anxiously and also checking up on the nearest slit trench or bomb crater.

It began to rain. There was lightening. I felt very hungry, very dirty, very tired and extremely miserable. Once four planes dived low above the position; I ran like a hare and scrambled into a hole beside the BSM. Everyone opened fire – machine guns and rifles. And they were our own planes! Best to take no chances though! “The way Sarn't Dawson leapt into my hole! I've never seen him move so fast before,: chuckled the BSM. “Huh! I actually broke into a double to get here!” I said, “Thought they were after me!” “No! Did you?” “Certainly!”

Yes, this was a ghastly day. We had our lunch just before dark; even this was, for me, constantly interrupted by calls to the Command Post. By night-fall though, we had one truck ready, carrying seven of us and the kit and equipment of M2 and M4. Rations are too few, there is no mail and very little water. No news. This is a grim campaign! The enemy is on two sides of us here. We fired a good deal today and yesterday.

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