Monday 5 September 2011 by Carlie Walker. No comments
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, McPhail, respirator drill

Bryant’s Diary:  Friday 5th September 1941

I left in the afternoon on a tour of Palestine.  We reached Haifa and stayed the night.  Haifa is by far the best town or city in the Middle East.  We slept in a school.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Friday 5th September 1941

Quiet night again with plenty of moon.  Up at 6:45 for drive in - rain on road... Mass for Mary J... Only 5 blokes to see.  Gardy, who is looking much better – wanting mail.  Polish chauffeur – and he is a hopeless driver – 8 mph.  Weather changing and today was much cooler.  Not one casualty in the last 24 hours – things very quiet... Only one plane over yesterday and once today – strange after Monday’s hundred...some of the troops have hay fever from the dust.  Furphy re. Garrison troops in Aus...

 

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Saturday 6th September 1941

Another quiet night...  Had the Field Bakery blokes at Mass today.  Only three Catholics admitted yesterday.  Shells today and they landed far too close to our hospital.  To the beach to see Gardy this am – he looks much better but will be a few days yet... Tobruk news “brought out its week-end supplement and it was not bad”...  Polish chaplain to come on Monday – not Cynar.  Air raids very infrequent...

 

Bryant’s Diary:  Sunday 7th September 1941

We left early in the morning and went along an inland road.  Palestine is very fertile in the north, being many trees and plenty of water.  We had breakfast at Affula.  We arrived home at Mughazi at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, feeling pretty tired.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Sunday 7th September 1941

Nine raids from 11- 4 am.  One searchlight team wiped out and party of engineers hit.  They had finished the dummy hangars and were working on the genuine.  Jerry bombed the gens... Meet Metcalfe – father of 11 – friend of Harvey Brown and Mick Quade...  Buried three this arvo.  Norman brought in a new tank bloke today – Oswald Foster – not a bad kind of bloke.  Wine ran out today but half bottle of Mess sherry is saving the situation.  Some pretty sick R.C’s in hospital.  Kyle thinks there are Jerry spies among the Poles.  Still no sign of ship and so no mail...

 

Bryant’s Diary:  Monday 8th September 1941

Spent a pleasant day on a 20 mile route march.  The old tongue hung out a bit, but I got home all right.  First time without money for months.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Monday 8th September 1941

Rotten night with raids and close bombs.  Mass of day for Mary J.  Had few to see again today.  Polish senior chaplain in and he will take up his residence within a few days...  Unexpected mail today...Toozes still miss. and Frank Carroll’s son named after me.  Gerald Brennan in for lunch – Major now... C.O. expected home tonight.  Quiet today but plenty of artillery in action on front.  Played Polish Private chess last night and he just beat me...

 

Bryant’s Diary:  Tuesday 9th September 1941

We left on a two-day bivouac.  The going was very hard.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Tuesday 9th September 1941

Worst night for months – planes over all night.  Mass for Mary J.  Few for me these days with so many Poles about.  C.O. returned with news of the death of Matron and Sr. McPhail – car accident in black out and Leith was in it too – not expected to live.  No news of any movement for 4 A.G.H from Cairo – rumour that Doug Thomas may rejoin this unit.  Heard today Tom Doyle is in Tobruk... Poles did not arrive to take burial – I buried three Poles...  To bed early – sleep scarce and blitz due at 11pm...

 

Sister Lilian Elaine McPhail, seen here on the far left with nursing colleagues in November 1940 practicing respirator drill.   Sister McPhail died of injuries in a car crash at El Kantara on 1 September 1941. Sister Lilian Elaine McPhail, seen here on the far left with nursing colleagues in November 1940 practicing respirator drill. Sister McPhail died of injuries in a car crash at El Kantara on 1 September 1941. 004107

 

Bryant’s Diary:  Wednesday 10th September 1941

After doing stunts all day we marched back in the night.  We were lost for a while coming home and arrived late at night.  I’m told I’m on the next draft of reinforcements for Tobruk.

 

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Wednesday 10th September 1941

Just as bad as the previous night...Chemist’s dept. in a bit of trouble with sickness... Unexploded bomb outside – been there all day...  John Donovan dead R.I.P.  Kev Ellies and Elliott on their way over here, hope they do not strike Tobruk...  Sight-seeing at air raids is banned.  Claude Brien is here with the 2/17th Batt.  Russians pushing a bit now...

Lecky’s letters: 10 September

...No further parcels as yet but I’m hoping.  Mail, believe it or not, is directly affected by the moon here.  When there’s one there’s none of the other.  I am in less comfortable quarters at the moment – had a short move from the old spot the other day.  My HQ is in a tent pending digging in – however hope to finish the hole...in a few days...I have a 2 I/C at last...

Although all of us here have healthy balances we one and all have the future to consider, and are doing so by entrusting our savings to our wives and mothers for investments...Thank Mrs Wentworth very much for share of parcels and papers.  I...stll use and appreciate the writing case which is one of my few remaining original items of gear...

No more now – all here are in excellent health and spirits and quite happy to assist with the nether end of Churchill’s “cresent”...

Bryant’s Diary:  Thursday 11th September 1941

We got up early this morning to practice for a review for Gen. Blamey.

 

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Thursday 11th September 1941

Only one raid – at 5:15 am.  Mass for Mary J. and John Donovan R.I.P.  Did not have one for Confession today – record... Big conference here – began and ended with prayer.  All Poles, English and us present except Conlon who is to be relieved by Honner.  Cynar disappointed in not coming here – senior coming and he roars like Barney’s Bull.   Abbott – new English chaplain is a magnificent type of bloke.  Gardy not so well yet...