Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday 15th December 1942

There was another scheme today. Actually they are trying out some new method of ranging, I think. These aren't ordinary drill orders. In last night's Battery Orders I saw, among other things:

“0845 hrs. Orders for Scheme, at BC's tent”
And lower down:

“The following will attend BC's Orders: All officers, all warrant officers and Bdr. Dawson”

Highly impressed, I went to see the BSM. He is not a little god like the Base BSM but is much more respected. He is an Essex Yeomanry who has risen slowly but steadily. Friendly on occasion, and correctly strict and regimental on other occasions.

“What's this, sir?” I asked, pointing to the Battery Order sheet and at the same time politely taking my pipe from my mouth. “I'm not in the same class as these other people, you know!”
“All I know is that Captain Adams insisted on you being there,” said the BSM. “He's acting as BC tomorrow...”
“And I'm acting as Battery Captain?”
“Exactly!”

I was well pleased with that, and was even more satisfied when the scheme began and there was nothing for “K” car to do! We just trailed around, from rendezvous to rendezvous. (There was a wireless signaller on the set, so I had nothing whatever to do, except stand looking out of the special officer's hatchway above my seat, with an important air.)

On the way into Cairo, we passed by an artillery camp, that of the Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry. Everyone wore white webbing, though only on fatigues. There were lots of brass badges and titles on each man's battle dress, all a-gleam. Vehicles were lined up meticulously and there was a little square of white-washed bricks around each vehicle. The sentries were marching about with tin hats on... Bullshit in excelsis. Cliff and I deliberately assumed sneering and sarcastic faces whenever any of the poor wretches looked our way.

Arrived at the ranges, there was nothing to do except wait for the next move. If it hadn't been for this rotten cold, which gives me a constant headache, there would have been no better way of spending a day! Wireless silence on the way back through Cairo's crowded streets. So Sheeham switched on to a very good musical programme from Germany.

Arrived in camp about 7:30p.m. There was a hot supper ready for us.

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