Monday, December 01, 2008

Saturday 14th November 1942

Tobruch has been occupied (with little trouble) by our troops. But not Tunis! Mass Jerries are roaring in there.

Our official water ration (since Jerry ruined the wells before leaving) is only ½ gallon per man per day – all purposes. The battery has now located a good well in the hills near here however, so we get plenty of water.

Cliff and I found a Jerry tent complete and have erected it by our truck. A bell tent for three! It was lovely going to bed by candlelight, keeping warm, and waking up at 5a.m. with one's blankets not dew-drenched.

Colonel's inspection today, CRA tomorrow. Ghastly bullshit. The preparations for the CRA's inspection are just horrible. In the desert! Tonight, desperately trying to conform to the latest rules, Cliff and I clipped each other's – and Apple's - hair. So far we have been unable to find any boot polish or brushes...

A new signaller has joined the “K” crew – Monty Liss of London. Apart from the bullshit, life is pretty decent, because of our palace, the tent. We have managed to obtain bits of candles for the evenings. There is always a brew in the thermos. Most nights we have a sober and intellectually "party" in the tent. Bill Bax comes along, and sometimes Jack Chenery. Then, just as we are rolling into our blankets, and as the last candle is dying in a mess of grease, Apple arrives from the officer's mess and tests the telephone line, tells us the latest news – and rumours – and goes to sleep.

“Listen!' exclaimed Cliff this afternoon. I listened obediently and heard: a rumbling and a puffing and a clanking, not far away. Yes! A train! Then it came into view, a long goods train, grunting laboriously westward. We watched, pleased, until it disappeared among the sand dunes. For this was a momentous event. It meant the line from distant Alexandria was open again and vital supplies were coming up. The first train into Mersa Matruh since summer!

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