Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday 6th June 1942

I have lost both my “M” trucks. On both occasions I was not there when the “accident” happened, so I've told the lads (with more confidence than I feel!) that I'm “lucky” and they'd better keep nearby, if they want to be safe.

This morning I went to the OP – we laid the line yesterday – and as it was very quiet – no sign of shelling – decided to roam around looking for wire. We found an un-used line and began reeling in. The truck was M4, and I had Tom Gibbon, Pope and Fleming with me. We collected two reels of twin (a mile of wire) on a ridge which was quite in view of the enemy. However the enemy was too engrossed to bother about us, for a tank battle was in progress and we could see, on the plain below, many tanks moving about and some burning.

“Look out!” cried someone, “Stukas!” We jumped out of the truck and dispersed; lay down. The planes – about 20 bombers, plus fighters – were swooping on to a point about two miles in rear of the OP. “There go the bombs!” “Sods!” We lay down. I was trembling; I lit my pipe and again saw the sickening sight of a whole area vanished in blackness and flame. Back came the Jerries – not threatened by fighters or ack-ack. They roared overhead, we lay still and silent, until they had gone.

Then we started up the truck again. “Better get back to the troop position.” “Yeah.” “Wonder if they're bombing 104?” “Don't be so pessimistic, Pope! Those bombs went down well to the left of our positions.” “Hope so.”

We drove around the minefield and on towards the guns. “That burning vehicle looks as though it's in 339 lines, anyway.” “Yes.” We came past a 339 gun pit. “Any damage?” asked Tom. “A vehicle and a man,” said a gunner, who was digging furiously.

On we went, to the troop position. Mass digging in progress! Great black craters everywhere. The GPO stopped me. “As you'll see, Sar'nt Dawson, M2 has received a direct hit, almost. Get all your kits and equipment on to M4 as soon as possible.” “Anyone hurt, sir?” “No one.”

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