Monday 26 September 2011 by Carlie Walker. No comments
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats, Medal

Bryant’s diary:  Friday 26th September 1941

Orders for the change-over have been given and I’m placed on the rearguard.  Some bombs were dropped from a high angle and they could be heard coming a mile off.  A bit of an artillery duel developed in the afternoon, but soon fizzled out.  At the last moment I’m to go on a patrol tonight.  We left mid-night, but saw and heard absolutely nothing.  The Italian is never too keen to start trouble.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Wednesday 26th September 1941

Quiet once more...About 20 points of rain today – mud about and much cooler, I obtained a sweater from Q store.  Powder in ear gave me Hell for half an hour today.  Without glasses and feeling the loss.  Five ships in the harbour – so we have expected Stukas but none yet – 6:15.  Plenty of shelling today but they were nearly all duds.  Advance parties here for 11th and 8th Ambulances but none for us...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Saturday, 27th September 1941

The Leicesters had their first casualty this morning... The poor devil didn’t know what had hit him.  During the day enemy shells fell consistently around the cookhouse, but hit nobody... 

Cosgriff’s diary:  Thursday 27th September 1941

Polite raid at about 4 am... Very few today – Field Bakery boys here to Mass.  Len did not use the powder on my ear today... Mail – parcels and papers – one from Barretts for me.  All Australians in hospital to be evacuated.  Steele in today – no word of his going but the advance guard for Div HQ is already in place.  Much shelling and they are all duds.  Morris mended my specs again and they seem strong enough.  Played poker last night and I won about a quid.  Planes over tonight early before the moon goes down to have a go at the ships.  English chaplain arrived with the Queen’s wearing a monocle...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Sunday 28th September 1941

Except for isolated shelling the day was very quiet.  We left just after dark to rejoin our Battalion at Eagle Flat.  A lot of the boys are in trouble for raiding the food dump...  Heavy artillery and machine-gun fire goes without stop most of the night but no news yet has come through about it.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Friday 28th September 1941

No raid after 9 pm... Two masses and not many there as most of my blokes have gone...  Jim Peters went last night, no news of a relief for us yet...  According to a cutting we are to get a rise of 2/6 a day... The troops are still sending home tons of rubbish as souvenirs... Thrillers for Len and we were just out of reading material... The supply of whisky finished today.  Polish singing below standard but infinitely better than others...

 

Lecky’s letters:  28 September

...I went to church parade ...this morning and took communion.  The Padre is a very decent stick, from one of the battalions and usually gives us a service on Sunday.  I took some of the lads for a swim this afternoon too...the water was beautiful...The weather has become much colder during the last few days – looks like winter in earnest...My dugout-cum-office of the moment is rather an elaborate affair.  It’s about 8 feet deep and roofed with telegraph poles supporting galvanised iron and earth.  My chair is...a nice curved affair...It was given to me by Ron Pair...with a reading lamp constructed out of a tobacco tin and a piece of hoop iron...The table is a light folding variety and looks quite business like...

Jerry seems a bit persistent tonight – he just lobbed a stick not far away and shook a shower of stones from the walls.  Seems to stir the fleas up to renewed vigour when a stick lands...

Bryant’s diary:  Monday 29th September 1941

I went for a swim this morning down at the staging camp.  We moved during the night and relieved the Poles from post R47.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Saturday 29th September 1941

No raids after midnight but terrific artillery about 2-3.  Missa dieu [Mass of God] for Mary J.  Not reserving the blessed sacrament now as there are so few left for me... Len reading Mata Hari now – the priest who put the wafer on her tongue.  Tried spirit in the ear today but I could not take it.  General in this arvo but his only news was that everybody is to be relieved except 4 A.G.H.  Bombers over more often today and a stick was dropped in our beach swimming pool.  Still very quiet in the hospital...

Bryant’s diary:  Tuesday 30th September 1941

Most of the day was spent settling down in the new position and I had little time for rest.  The whole of the post was on duty during the night.  There was a very strong wind and...very dusty.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Sunday 30th September 1941

Quiet night...Picked up by Oswald Foster at 9am and Tyrer and I did our tour of the Blue line.  Saw smashed Jerry tanks and the weakness in their welding, also, Smith’s Hurricane and grave.  Pretty dusty, not many shells.  Lunch at “B” Squadron – Orway Brown C.O. – picked up by Norman and to “B” Echelon for tea.  Geddes rooted by a stick of bombs going for the whisky.  Leo Sassoon making his parachute cord mat... Ear troublesome all day.  A.W.L – as we were supposed to be home for tea.  Cruckshank says all Aussies are going to Syria and Iran...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Wednesday 1st October 1941

...The enemy shelled one of our outposts held by A Coy, but not very heavily.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Monday 1st October 1941

Spent night at Wadi Crouch.  Up and in for Mass this am.  Mass for Donahue (17th) R.I.P... Ear no better today and Len says M & B and bed tomorrow.  But tonight it took spirit and that may fix it.  Received breads wine and candles today – enough for the duration now.  Maria G. in and they have been shelling the harbour for hours – still going at 7 pm.  Corpse-truck broke down today – used ambulance again – Polish driver and hopelessly slow.  Claude Morlet is packing his clothes – a trifle early.  Bert Watson in today in his usual hurry.  Poles have the Rosary this month – Good on ’em...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Thursday 2nd October 1941

...I was on a deep patrol in the night.  We left with three engineers and about ten men and travelled south.  We crossed the enemy minefield 3300 yds out and went on a further 1300 paces to some gun pits and blew up some shells.  Throughout the whole patrol we struck nobody and I don’t think we were likely to run into anybody.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Tuesday 2nd October 1941

Bombing over before midnight.  Still three big bombs to a plane – Jerrys.  No Mass today as the Dr says I must stay in bed.  Started taking M & B693 after breakfast.  Hot water bag on ear which is running like a tap.  Lousy day and not able to eat or sleep...  Had to get out to anoint a Pole who died under the ether in a massed op.  C.O. down on Colin Wren’s x-mas card, but it has been sent home for printing – 1500 ordered and I am taking 20 – addressed home.  Flies very bad during the day and we have to use cream for the mosquitoes at night...

Unofficial medal belonging to Major General J J Murray manufactured in Tobruk by Australian troops.  Australians took the derogatory name of Rats of Tobruk and wore it with pride. Unofficial medal belonging to Major General J J Murray manufactured in Tobruk by Australian troops. Australians took the derogatory name of Rats of Tobruk and wore it with pride. REL42329