Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wednesday 1st April 1942

A few minutes after concluding yesterday's diary entries I turned in, lying on the shadowy side of the truck, with the others. A plane droned over, very low. We lay watching it curiously. There was an aerodrome nearby. Doubtless it came from there. “That bugger wants to put 'is lights on,” grumbled George, “else some keen fella might send a bullet into 'im.”

The plane circled, went behind the truck; then we heard it coming nearer again. “What's he on?” asked someone uneasily. All very suddenly there was a brief crackling of machine guns; then the plane passed over us, picked up speed and switched on his lights. “That means, “It's alright boys, don't shoot, I'm only being playful,”” I said facetiously. But I was relieved that he didn't appear to have a rear gunner!

Tom scrambled out of the truck. “Someone's been hit, over there!” Sure enough, as the sound of the planes engines died away, we heard someone crying out in pain and another voice shouting, “It's alright sir, I've sent for the MO sir!” A truck about 100 yards away had been attacked. Five wounded, one killed.

Today we came on, slowly and tediously, to Mersa Matruh. Bivouac just east of the perimeter. Search joined us later. He'd been to the burial service at Sidi Barrani. The results of last night's do were worse than at first thought, as two of the wounded died before this morning. The three survivors are remaining in Barrani Hospital for the present. One of the dead is little Bayliss, whom I escorted to the centre of punishment last January, at Sarafend.

This unlucky episode, occurring so unexpectedly in a “safe” area, has left us all a little depressed.


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