Monday 3 October 2011 by Carlie Walker. No comments
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, night raid

Cosgriff’s diary:  Wednesday 3rd October 1941

Severe blitzing before midnight...the church was hit again but is still standing.  Not much sleep last night and pretty sick from the 693.  Good night for sleeping too – after midnight Moon extremely bright and not a cloud in sight.  Len obtained beer for the patients – just the bare dozen bottles – but it gave me dyspepsia and put me off my tucker.  Had to knock off the 693 as it made me too sick.  Tank blokes in for dinner and cards and they had a good blitz to go home in...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Saturday 4th October 1941

Air raids have been lasting all night.  Single planes come over at about every 10 to 20 minutes, drop their eggs anywhere and then fly off.  Consequently there is practically no damage.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Thursday 4th October 1941

Long and severe bombing last night.  Incendiaries all over the place – including the hospital.  Jerrys diving – with their lights on.  Mass this morning – St. Francis – then back to bed.  Feeling better today and ear seems better... Had a beer party here prior to lunch today – Morlet, Tyrer, Heywood, Johnston, Braithwaite, Russell and myself.  The alkaline powders have fixed the dyspepsia.  Able to sleep today – first time since taking to the bed.  This will not be our last full moon in Tobruk – unfortunately it seems we will be last to go now – No advance party yet and C.O. not hopeful.  The boys all be pretty upset...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Sunday 5th October 1941

The day was quiet, but during the night a small patrol from 18 pl ran into a large party of Italians and inflicted casualties without loss to itself.  The boss was a bit cranky and woke me up at some unearthly hour to go crook, but he will get over it. 

Cosgriff’s diary:  Friday 5th October 1941

As bad a night as we have ever had – planes over all night but no close bombs... Two usual Masses but not many at either... Ear not discharging much but very sore today.  Troops being issued with new uniforms and they think we are to go, but now it seems as if we will have another month here – C.O. seems to think so anyhow.  Moon full tonight and it looks as big as Flemington race course.  Whiskey ran out tonight and it may be some time before we have another issue.  No cigarettes either.  Saw letter from Tom Elliott (Pucka) and he expects to be coming over soon...

Bryant’s diary:  Monday 6th October 1941

A very quiet day.  I have to take out a recce patrol tonight but not far and should not strike any trouble.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Monday 6th October 1941

Raid on hospital at 7:30 last night.  Wards 6, 10 and 12 hit but nobody hurt – deliberate effort... Very few to see today – not many patients here.  Ear still bad and decided to evacuate me on account of mastoid danger – no ship before Sunday and the discharge may stop before then.  Drew sweep on Cup.  In my ten horses only one is any good – Historias.  With one ticket Russell drew Lucrative.  A-A blokes on Crete.  Jerry made fellows dig a trench, lie in it and then turned Tommy guns on them.  No whisky in the mess.  Men have a rumour that we will be out within a fortnight but I fear it is false.  Not a plane over in daylight...

 

Bryant’s diary:  Tuesday 7th October 1941

Last night’s patrol was interesting.  Enemy A.F.V’s did patrol work along our front and though we could hear them we couldn’t see them.  Our patrol actually covered part of the area in which the tanks came, but luckily we didn’t make contact.  It was established that there were five heavy and four light tanks...

Cosgriff’s diary:  Tuesday 7th October 1941

Raids as usual but it was all over by 9 pm... C.O. looked into the room to see if I was wearing my gas mask – new one too.  Ear still going – no better and no worse – booked for next evacuation but it may not be before Sunday.  Gillespie in today... Unit definitely to go – Claude in change of advance party on Sunday – all away within a week.  Nobody knows where we are to go.  62nd coming here and the 6th have jumped in there ahead of us.  C.W.B. peeved with C.O. for spilling the beans re departure... Not a bomber over today...

Bryant’s diary:  Wednesday 8th October 1941

The morning started well with a stand-to at dawn when four heavy enemy tanks approached our post.  A low mist helped to screen the tanks and anti-tank guns could not effectively engage them though the artillery shot pretty well under the circumstances.  Enemy artillery replied by firing on our posts without effect.  The tanks then attacked our outpost at Bir el Aziz 1500 yards out from our wire, but our men had withdrawn before dawn.  Later in the morning Dick Gautby was wounded in the head with shrapnel from a shell but the injury was only slight.  Shortly afterwards over 100 Stukas in two separate waves dive-bombed and machine-gunned jut to our rear.  Then an amazing thing happened.  The same planes bombed and machine-gunned over towards the enemy.  In the afternoon the enemy shelled Bir el Aziz with a very heavy gun and the shells threw shrapnel for hundreds of yards.  During the night A.F.V.’s came again and fired towards our lines.  Some of our artillery lobbed on our wire and in the anti-tank ditch and nearly collected two of our men.

Lecky’s letters: 8 Oct ‘41

...just over six months now since we arrived here in some slight disorder...The moon has been very bright over the last few days – a fact Jerry has used to his advantage to send over a few planes laden with “eggs”.  Otherwise these moonlit nights would be really beautiful...

I am back again in the old spot after a few minor moves – am writing this in a cave...Had lunch (bully beef rissole) with Ron Pain today.  He ...lives in a similar cave to mine – the same place that I lived in when first here.  Remember an amusing incident about that cave – during a dive bombing attack my batman was running literally for his life and dived over a low parapet thinking it was a shallow trench [but it was one] which one normally enters by climbing a 10 ft ladder. Poor old Stacey...snade the desert in one go...Stacey’s surprise was shared by the inmates of the cave who were fully convinced that he was a bomb coming right in...

 

A night photograph showing an air raid over the harbour. Bomb bursts and searchlights can be seen. A night photograph showing an air raid over the harbour. Bomb bursts and searchlights can be seen. 020592

Bryant’s diary:  Thursday 9th October 1941

The day itself was quiet, but at night a tank battle took place nearly in front of our position.  Sixteen of our Infantry tanks and two cruiser tanks engaged about 34 German tanks and appeared to do fairly well.  I believe history was made in that this was the first time that British tanks have gone into battle in the night.  A major and a sergeant were wounded but it is possible that two Hun tanks were knocked out.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Thursday 9th October 1941 

Raid was at 4 am – 5 this morning but the bombs were well away from here... Gas masks on for 30 mins today and we had to get about in them.  All our clocks bung now as Len’s alarm gave out last night and we slept until 7:30 today... Ear bad today – swelled this arvo and terrific tonight.  I may still be on the evacuation but not I think before Sunday...