Monday, December 01, 2008

Thursday 12th November 1942

Most amusing rumour was born last night. Apparently the news from the BBC was interrupted by the announcer saying, “A special announcement has just come to hand; hostilities have ceased in North Africa.”

This loosely-worded phrase means, I presume, that the Vichy French have ceased resistance to the Americans in Morocco and Tunisia and algeria. But 75% of the battery was – and is! - firmly convinced that there was no more fighting to be done in Libya! “My God,” said one of the few realists, “Are you expecting the Stukas to come and bomb us with cigarettes? Or shower rose petals on us? You'll find out soon, mate!”

We were standing by last night to move off into southern Libya with a mobile column, operating behind the enemy lines but this has been postponed indefinitely. This of course strengthens the conviction of he wishful thinkers that the whole desert is now at peace.

Things certainly are moving, though. Jerry has invaded unoccupied France and is marching on Marseilles. Corsica and Sardinia have also been occupied. These for once, are defensive measures, not acts of aggression. Jerry troops have landed in Tunisia and “the harbour at Tunis is now ready for use by allied vessels.”
So the Yanks must hold Tunis!

Cliff and I went into the 339 area just now (on an errand of duty) and saw dozens of strange faces and – every now and then – a familiar one. Eventually we came to Jack Chenery's gun. “Now, Trapper!” bellowed one of his crew, on seeing us. “Where is he?” I asked. Partington pointed to a lonely figure in the middle distance. “He's burning our shit.” “Oh, so you put him in charge of the shit, did you?” “Yeah! We detailed him for it!”

We drove up to the Trapper. His shapeless trousers were supported by an ancient belt; he wore a dirty and shapeless shirt, and had no hat. We found him standing by a petrol-tin, sunk in the ground, from which flames were rising. “Now, what are you doing, Jack?” I demanded. “I am cleaning-out the sub-section latrine,” he responded formally. “Are you coming across tonight, boy? Or are you still under orders to move?”

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