Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday 25th October 1942

Yesterday was pretty rotten, for the most part. There was a zift wind and it was very dusty. We were bored. Cliff and Blue quarrelled the previous night – just before a steady drumming vibration told us the barrage had started – and yesterday Blue was sort of worried and Cliff was sulky.

We have not passed through the Jerry minefield yet, although we are in the battle area and the guns are firing steadily. Things did mot go quite according to plan, though I think the situation is developing alright at the present. There was a long night march in the early hours of Saturday and then we waited about, 'til dusk. Very little to eat – no time for cooking. In the afternoon I made a 12 mile trip in search of petrol (it was a foul, bumpy, dusty route) and found there was none available. We saw no Stukas during daylight, only mass Boston bombers passing to and fro every half hour or so.

At dusk they put us in a deadly place by the English mine-gaps. A great crowd of vehicles, men and guns in a square mile of dusty ground. It was nice not to have to join in the frenzy of line-laying, for once! We all dug bed-holes as the full moon rose. Thank God! It was a cloudy night. I didn't even object to the drizzle of rain that fell. The barrage opened up, all around us; but we heard nothing of it after the first half hour. We slept. We didn't even know anything about the bombing there had been, until this morning.

Now it is mid-forenoon; we're just about to move. Had a good, hot breakfast and a shave! I also managed to obtain and deliver two lorry-loads of ammo. Another unit was using the same W/T frequency as ourselves. Their messages kept butting-in on ours. “Beer Robert London,” came a faint voice, “It is very hot here. I say again, very hot. These batteries are very weak, the truck with the spare batteries has been knocked out... Hullo, Beer Robert London...”

We moved forward two miles. Beastly dusty. There was no shelling within 1000 yards of us. Then a single shell crashed down near me. Two men died quietly and instantly. Presently a truck took the bodies away.

Stray Stukas – no more than three at a time – came over and were driven off with a hail of AA fire. We'd never known such effective ack-ack defences before, in the field.

Evening: “Enemy withdrawing. Move N in support of a conspicuous success by the North Armd. Division.” We pulled out of the battle at 10p.m. Visions of an idyllic, quiet bivouac by the sea. Arrived here about 12:30a.m. and it was:-

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