Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sunday 9th August 1942

Yesterday there was a sad sequel to the note quoted overleaf!

I dozed off in my tent, but a few minutes later a plane from the RAF station near here, dived just above the camp. Savage, increasing roar of aeroplane engines! I woke up instantly. Instinct was working a fraction of a second quicker than reason. (Lie still! Don't sit up! Don't move!) Then I remembered I was far from the desert, at the Base Depot. That must be a friendly plane now roaring just overhead, not a Stuka. And at this moment as I relaxed again, Jock Forbes came into the tent, with a quizzical grin on his face!

Yes, he had been sent back, after three pleasant weeks with a coast Defence battery at Alex. Retribution overtook him! - some obscure documents somewhere had not checked correctly, I suppose. Up to the present he has not actually been charged but he expects the worst. He is to see the OC on Monday. I guessed all this as soon as I saw him smiling in the tent doorway; so I was rather sorry to see him!

This morning they were calling out names for various small drafts whilst I stood woodenly in the rear rank of my troop looking to my front like a soldier. “Bdr. Dawson '844!” bawled the BSM. “Sir!” said Number 870844 of the Royal Artillery; and I fell in with a squad of six, all NCO's, and again looked to my front. We were all to parade at 1630 hours with our kit, to proceed to ME Signals School on a course.

This is not a detail I chose; suppose it means two months of brain work. I'm only useful, now, for automatic work such as digging, picking up bits of paper, and re-arranging heaps of stones. and even that makes my body tired quickly!

Evening: The Signal School is actually a special Training Wing for artillery signallers and it is situated within the geographical bounds of Base Depot. A pretty raw place, just started. We are the pioneers!

Went to a Methodist Church service just now, for the first time. Quite accidental! I barged into the reading room just before the service commenced in there, so decided to stay and see what it was like. Very simple, sincere and informal. I missed the familiar ritual, though. There was no Lord's Prayer, no “I believe...”, no General Confession and indeed, no chanting at all! No “Lord now lettest Thou...” Several hymns of course, a well-delivered Sermon and a Reading which was not a reading at all, for the Padre almost knew it by heart!

“The day – Thou gavest – Lord – is ended...”

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