Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday 24th May 1942

519 Battery has suffered it's first casualties, without being in battle.

During a hectic drill order, soon after daybreak this morning, a truck near me (GD), suddenly disappeared in a cloud of smoke, whilst a large object – a wheel, or part of the engine, was flung violently up into the air. “Keep going!” I snarled at my driver (not the Duke, he was AWOL!) but it was too late. Startled, he'd eased his foot off the accelerator and as we were in soft sand we got stuck. A tank towed us out.

Mass tanks were with us on the drill order, at present we are working with an Armoured Brigade. Quite an exciting morning ensued; within 20 minutes the tanks were firing like hell – and so were we. But we kept on wondering about the two blanket-wrapped forms which we'd seen lying beside the wrecked GD whilst we were being ragged out of the soft sand.

Later we heard that the vehicle had struck a land mine. God knows what a land mine was doing on the ranges! Hambrook, the driver, lost a foot and will probably lose the rest of his leg too, it was in a bit of a mess. Johns, the ack, was wounded in the groin and testicles. The officer and signaller were absolutely unhurt.

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