Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tuesday 3rd November 1942

We have not moved yet (this is at sunrise). There was a Jerry counter-attack yesterday afternoon; it was beaten off. At dusk the infantry launched a further attack on the Jerry positions, whilst we fired a small barrage (100 rounds a gun).The infantry had only slight opposition this time.

Cliff and I made some tea and put it in our thermos; then late in the evening we sat in the windless interior of “K”, smoking Capstan cigarettes and drinking hot tea. (Vichy cigarettes are good enough for smoking in the open but for indoors, when the full goodness of a tube may be savoured, we use better cigarettes!)

Apple came up, jubilant. “Have you heard this one? It is thought that Jerry is getting out. The armoured cars have gone right through.” Then we noticed the sudden quietness. There'd been no gunfire for hours! It was a disappointment to me when our guns opened up in the early hours (I was on sentry go) and Jerry lobbed some stuff back at us, from the South!

Noon: We have advanced about 2 miles, into a somewhat dirty, fly-infested area. Our slit trench bed holes are nearly done, near the burnt wreckage of a Grant tank. There are many fires on the far horizon. I think Jerry is beginning to crack a little. No more news of the recce. unit that is said to have almost reached the El Daba area at one point but: - “X Brigade reports 1600 prisoners taken last night. Conservative estimate of number of enemy tanks knocked out by the Z Armoured Division yesterday – 45”.

A squad of German prisoners marched past us; very dejected, very tired. The two English guards seemed as tired themselves. At an order, the squad halted. The Germans sank to the ground, the two guards remained standing. One of the signallers was leaning on his truck nearby. “May he have a drink of water?” asked one Jerry (an officer) pointing to a particularly young, exhausted prisoner. The signaller took a mug across. “You want any, mate?” he asked one of the English guards. “No, give it to 'im” said the latter. The young German sat up, gulped down the water, said nothing, lay down again. “Thanks very much,” said his officer, in perfect English.

Had a bath and washed most of my dirty clothes this afternoon (in a gallon of water). I was disturbed once by some pretty close shelling and lay on the lee side of “K” for a while with Ted Gayler, who confided that this sort of thing was “not his life”.


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