Tobruk Diaries: Swimming, digging and a spot of baking
Cosgriff’s Diary: Friday 23rd May 1941
Another raid by night DG. Mass of B.V.M [Blessed Virgin Mary]. Down for swim with Gardy and John Rue – pretty good too. Disappointing morning among patients – 2 dogs and 2 first confessions. Dust started early arvo. Len flat out on German things at front very quiet. Evacuation tonight in the dust – Gunner going back for supplies but hating his luggage. Steele wrote a loving stinker to Tim – 1st class Chaplain now. Dick brought in more breads. Some confessions tonight for Morrow’s feast. John still in hospital and I will have to do the church on Sunday...
Bryant’s Diary: Saturday 24th May 1941
We moved into a reserve position tonight and were replaced by “D” Coy of the 32nd Bn. Today was very dusty.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Saturday 24th May 1941
Another quiet night DG. Mass of O.L.H. [Our Lady of Hope]. Christians. Ten at Communion. Great morning in wards – finished in an hour. McQuillan got some fuel for my pipe. Mail in – 6/5/41 – Elsa, Toozes and Ma – all right after accident. Photo of Logi – the little beaut. Hospital half-empty. One Jerry in today. Wrote to Toozes. Dust storm all day so no bombs. Some stamps available. Crete position seems all right – wish they would move here. John shifted to 3. Only drink left is water – heard Len’s German. Wine and candles arrived...
Bryant’s Diary: Sunday 25th May 1941
We spent most of the day settling down in our new position which is on the junction of the Bardia and El Adem roads.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Sunday 25th May 1941
Another peaceful night DG. Three masses – one here well attended – 92 Communions all together. Had 2 hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. Wrote home and Elsa. Frank Reynolds in with a tin of Craven’s. Rosary in church no good, only 5 can turn up. Sundry attacks all day. Cook turned on afternoon tea. Planes interrupted with radio reception. Peter Gleeson replacing Trigger in M.J room. Obtained a tin of pipe tobacco – saved smoking position. Capt. Anderson the only non-Catholic, I have seen saying his prayers...
Bryant’s Diary: Monday 26th May 1941
Quiet day on the whole. Late in the afternoon some very good A/A barrages kept an air raid tame.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Monday 26th May 1941
Perfect night and had M.J room to myself – Len relieved by 5thAmb. officers. Mass for Jerome Hennessey. Communion for Jerrys. Had an Italian session with Fr. Borsorelli. Watched boys playing vingt-un last night – 4 pound loss nothing to them. Reynolds turned up too late to try to bake breads. Crete business has us all worried – looks like Tobruk next. Read “Sun’s” account of accident to my car. John out of hospital – with combs and whestler for me. Nine planes information untroubled by our a-a. Had my boots mended by Ryan. Tyrer going to remove cat’s tonsils...
Bryant’s Diary: Tuesday 27th May 1941
Today we had to go and dig defensive positions opposite where the enemy broke through. The digging was very hard and rock was encountered near the surface. Received a “Tommy Gun” on issue. It’s a beaut.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Tuesday 27th May 1941
Plowman in M.J room with me – slick off the mark at sound of planes – up only once. Mass of B.V.M. After hospital communion to beach hospital by ambulance. Saw craters of last night’s bombs – too close for mine. Not many for me at beach – saw most here. J. Horan sleeping in slit trench – gave me fags cake and – gin. Saw Paisley’s tunic and prayer book with their bullet holes. Bad news from Crete and Sollum tonight. Wrote to J. Carragher wondering where I will be when he reads the letter. Quiet today from air and no raid like last night’s beaut – given up belief in effectiveness of A.A...
Bryant’s Diary: Wednesday 28th May 1941
We went again to dig in and we made very little progress with the rock even with blasting material. Before we left the Germans shelled our trucks, but hit nothing. We went, after we had finished, for a swim. Very welcome it was too.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Wednesday 28th May 1941
Peaceful night but some admission overslept a bit. Mass of B.V.M. [Blessed Virgin Mary]. Few for Communion today. Obtained blades and clippers for German prisoners. Had them singing today. Reynolds in today and I tried baking breads for him. Got a tin of Edgeworth from McQuillan. Conlon to be evacuated and I will probably have to go to a battalion. Everybody here sick of the spin England is giving us – Alex full of squibs – fighting here to the last Australian. Crete – hopeless and our turn next Sullum gone too. Johnston’s German notes everywhere. John got us a good electric bulb...
Lecky’s letters: 28 May 1941
...No mail since I last wrote except a letter from Cliff... and a “pic” from a girlfriend (Sydney branch). Reading matter is still scarce. I eagerly look forward to “Bullies”, usually have to sit down and wait till the C.O has finished reading them...News of Crete is rather alarming. Jerry must have suffered colossal losses in the attempt. I don’t see how he can keep it up for long as the rats...
Bryant’s Diary: Thursday 29th May 1941
We were given a day’s spell to go swimming. While we were there about 60 or 70 planes raided Tobruk and flew just over our swimming party. The bombs hit something near or in the harbour as a thick column of black smoke rose from the something for some hours afterwards.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Thursday 29th May 1941
Quiet night – few admissions but none for me. Mass of B.V.M. Plenty of communions today and running out of breads upset my plan of visiting Ward 7. Jerry over morning noon and night – plenty of big bombers flashing in the sun. Sunk the only ship in the harbour – they never miss. Oil dump on fire and plenty of smoke. Boys playing vingt-un again last night – plenty of cash about. Weather hotter yet but these buildings pretty cool. Thompson (2/9th) arranging concert for Sat. night. We are going to get hell after Crete finishes. Ted Ward back from Cairo – dive bombed on mine sweeper. Sam not here yet.
For a glossary of underlined words go to: http://www.awm.gov.au/education/tobruk_diaries/glossary.asp