Tobruk Diaries: Falling from above
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Second World War, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, Siege of Tobruk
Bryant's diary: Friday 25th April 1941
We spent all day making dug-outs and erecting wire. Our area was bombed by German aircraft but without result. I was at company H.Q. at the time and the Sergeant-Major was pointing out to the Captain the new British bombers. Next we heard a whistle, then a roar and the mob just dived for shelter. A great judge he is. More canteen goods arrived tonight with some mail.
Cosgriff's diary: Friday 25th April 1941
Raid as usual at 6. Mass undisturbed. Hospital still very quiet and nothing happening. Nurse's sheets shows Aussie people being prepared for heavy casualties from Greece. Things very bad there – retreating all the time. Gave my watch to John to see if it can be made to go. Big mail in – Marie, Elsa (2), Pat – no insurance until transfer through. Bronchitis still bad and hardly able to talk. Salter told he would be a “squib” so he has to stay. Jerry Lieut. captured – very arrogant.
Lecky's letters: Saturday 26 April 1941
Well I'm still alive and kicking and still in the wretched hole they call Libya...Today has been one of the worst dust storms I've ever seen... We had our first experience of dive bombing about a fortnight ago - hitherto we had often witnessed it from afar and rather enjoyed the spectacle, but this was our first turn as the target - hence our appreciation diminished. 2 bombs landed in the middle of my section line but by the grace of God only the first (and smaller) exploded. The second weighed a ton but happily was a dud. Two dugouts were ten feet away from the first but fortunately the inmates were elsewhere - every scrap of their clothing was torn to shreds - blasted away but noone was hurt. I was cowering in a hole about 50 yards away listening to the fiendish whistle of the bombs falling - that is the worst of the lot and fear does not diminish in each succeeding raid...Shellfire and machine gunning are child's play in companion although things are really very quiet considering... I have it from my batman (who has all the latest and most reliable information) that Engineers were out in no man's land pulling in a mine. They were rather uneasy and had heads down going for their lives. Something made them look up, to find 9 dagees, fully armed all around them watching with interest. One who could speak English said "Come on Aussie". The English were properly flabergasted and were mentally debating whether to make a dash for it or to go quietly when...again "Come on Aussie, take us on". The poor devils had been starving for a few days and were sick of the war...Someone expressed a hope per a letter that I was keeping out of mischief - Ha! Ha!
Bryant's diary: Sunday 27th April 1941
The weather is still crook, but not quite as bad as yesterday. We have received information that Jerry is going to blow us off the face of the map today. He can try. We do expect an attack any day now of a decisive nature and it should be in the form of heavy dive bombing, tank and artillery attacks followed by the landing of parachute troops. They’ll get more than they bargain for.
Bryant's diary: Monday 28th April 1941
Aerial activity increased today and a concentrated attack of Hun planes made a pretty show at dinner-time near our area. We spent the day burying a sig’s wire. A wonderful idea has occurred to the platoon. Near our position are hundreds of Italian howitzer shells and fuzes. By burying the shell so that the fuze just sticks up from the ground and by making the fuze more sensitive a deadly mine can be made. It only takes about 10lb pressure to send them off.
Cosgriff's diary: Monday 28th April 1941
Up at 5 am for raid flares which made us think we were to get hell but it was mild. Quiet morning with not much to do. Raid about 11 am. Blenheim down with 8 on board including Padre – might be Cherry. Raid during lunch but we just watched a-a. Steele in during afternoon with re-vitalised Thos-going off starter now. In the nude when siren went this arvo. Dressed and watched 15 dive bombers attack artillery. Four down I believe – Few casualties. One to anoint –all Hosts gone now. Wrote to Butler today. Find it hard to get news now. Had whackho mess bill.
Bryant's diary: Tuesday 29th April 1941
We had four very intense air-raid attacks in our area. One in the morning, two at dinner time and one at tea-time. There were over 50 planes used in the latter raid and although they drop a large number of bombs and make a terrible amount of noise they do remarkably little damage. I struck it lucky today and found plenty of tinned food and this should be a good reserve.
Bryant's diary: Wednesday 30th April 1941
The aeroplanes were a lot quieter today and only one raid resulted. This raid however was late in the afternoon and it seemed to be the commencement of a large and determined attack on Tobruk. Tank and artillery fire lasted all that afternoon and all night. Flames and verey lights could be seen going up without end. We all had to stand to. The actual progress of the battle is obscure and many conflicting reports keep coming through. One thing is certain, there is a battle going on and a pretty hot one at that. Today we were given a pill to prevent us from going sterile because of the food we are eating.
Cosgriff's diary: Wednesday 30th April 1941
Up at 1:40 am and 6 am for raids. Planes keep high now and we think they are Eyeties. Kept away from shelter but not much to see apart from stick of six in harbour. Spectation at theatre this morning – Claxton died – see injuries – expanding bullet made horrible mess. Received big breads from F. Reynolds – received first casualty who had been fired up in lines. Funerals this arvo – 200 in cemetery since we came. Still no planes - Jerry fairly quiet. First game of rummy since Barce. Gen. Morshead here – no planes for 5 days. Our only hurricane shot down by over a-a Jerry pilots.
Bryant's Diary: 1st May 1941
Today is the 1st anniversary of the formation of the 2/17th Bn and we all received a rum issue and another anti-sterile pill. We'll probably get a pill a day from now on. The battle is still raging and fire could be heard all day. Still there are no clear reports coming through about the position and it appears as if everything is satisfactory. During the night there was occasional shelling by the enemy and an ambulance was hit by an incendiary shell.