Monday 17 October 2011 by Carlie Walker. No comments
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, nurse, 4AGH

Bryant’s diary:  Friday 17th October 1941   

The day was reasonably quiet, but our patrol duties are still very heavy.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Friday 17th October 1941

They wake us early here for a wash but I go to the shower.  Capt. Joshua and J. Overall in this room with me.  Joshua was in K’burra for six years and knows everybody there.  Capt. Perrett my M.O. and he is just observing at present.  I have to stay in bed.  One bottle of beer a day – but it does not always arrive.  Sr. Derna and Pitt from 4th nursing us and both pretty good too but a bit fussy.  Some boys here from Syria and that was a bad show – plenty of bomber hats for officers... Ear on the job again but hot water bottle and aspros made it feel better.  Tough break as I thought it was OK...

Bryant’s diary:  Saturday 18th October 1941   

The day passed as usual with a very annoying machine gunner to worry us all day.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Saturday 18th October 1941

Not much of a night and I was pretty sick all the time.  No priest has come near me yet.  I asked for Fr. O’Sullivan today.  Ear giving me rats but the M.O. does not come until this arvo – not like Tobruk and Len examining it every four hours.  Wireless in next ward but they have it on BBC, talks all day and night – pretty tiresome.  Capt. Perrett said it looks like a mastoid op but he will try M&B first – shock tactics six tabs at a time – blimey!!!  Had six at 6 pm and then they had to dope me every hour to midnight before I could sleep.  Nurse very good – hardly left me and she must have been glad when I went off...

Bryant’s diary:  Sunday 19th October 1941   

A Vickers machine-gun officer came to our post to see what he could do about putting in a gun to keep the enemy quiet.  The enemy must have sensed trouble and tossed a lot of lead at us, but we located him and gave him the works on the Bren.  In the night I was on a deep fighting patrol to locate and destroy an enemy machine-gun nest.  The patrol started late because our runner, who set out to bring the rest of the men to us was wounded in the foot.  He was Jack Macnamara and a good man, too.  Our patrol travelled out 2000 yds and got well behind the enemy lines.  We could hear a couple digging well behind us but we couldn’t locate them.  A new Signal wire was found and it was cut, but nothing else could be found as we had a limited time in which to operate.  We had just got inside our own wire when the searchlight came on and lit up our patrol area.  During our absence the advance party of the Essex Regiment arrived and it looks as if we will be relieved on Tuesday night.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Sunday 19th October 1941

No Mass and no priest to see me yet... Another six tabs at 6 am and feeling nearly dead – just had enough sense to ask Sims to get my mail if somebody is going to the station to see our crowd go through.  She asked Mary Bateman.  No shave today.  Cannot eat and very weak.  Harry Jordan, Pop, Hornby and Jim Best in to see me.  Harry and Pop going home on next ship.  Jim having his jaw massaged by Miss Colin.  Bateman came back saw Len but did not get my mail.  Caulfield Cup result to hand.  Thomas did his act of riding Velocity.  Matheson here on leave...

 

Lecky’s letters: 19 Oct ‘41

...The “Tobruch Spirit” still exists although sorely tired at times by news of our striking kinsmen profiters etc...Rum was suddenly turned on about a week ago and we have been getting an issue every day... it tastes like a mixture of varnish and mentholated so very few touch it.  Result is one or two drink the lot so I was faced with a shickered cook the other day.  He was very amusing...The Russians seem to be putting up a valiant stand but fear they can’t last much longer...

Bryant’s diary:  Monday 20th October 1941   

Today is the anniversary of our leaving Australia and plenty of water has passed under the bridge since.  The Northumberland Fusiliers came this morning and kept the machine-gunners quiet all day.  Some Stukas came over our area today and after circling for some time dropped three heavy bombs close to 18 platoon.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Monday 20th October 1941

Good night last night and I did not need dope.  Able to get my mail as Leo Happy saw Len and brought it up.  Up for a shower but groggy and still taking a dose of three tabs.  Ear not troubling me now.  Ross Thomas here – hit everywhere in Syria – half a liver left and two more ops necessary to save his gait.  Fr. Frissell O.C.C. turned up – Scotsman from Queensland.  He has just changed places with Sullivan.  I cannot go to Communion as I start the tabs at 6 am.  43rd Batt went through with Len yesterday and all were very weary after long march at Amira.  Pretty noisy ward at night but Sr. Pitt does not mind...

Bryant’s diary:  Tuesday 21st October 1941   

Just as usual enemy machine guns were kept quiet by the Vickers.  This morning we woke up to see that a big tower has been built about 3000 yards to the front.  I don’t know [if] it is to draw our artillery fire or to be used as an O.P. The Luftwaffe again dropped some eggs on the same place as yesterday.  We were relieved in the night by the Essex Regiment and we went back to the corner of the El Adem-Bardia Roads.  The change over went off without a hitch though we expected to cop something.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Tuesday 21st October 1941

Sleeping all night but tabs making me sick now and I vomit them as soon as I take them.  Capt. Perrett thus reduces the dose to 1 tab... I feel better and less dyspeptic.  Felt too drowsy to read or even shave today.  Read the letters again though.  Frissell called again and I gave him the low-down on hospital work.  Bill Elphich reckons Syria was a shocking show and the officers were hopeless.  Joshua blames the Masonic influence for getting them commissions where there was no ability.  Sr. Sims sure we are to go to Jerusalem to take over the 62nd – that would be too nice altogether...

Bryant’s diary:  Wednesday 22nd October 1941   

Early in the day bombs were dropped from a great height, but weren’t aimed at anything in particular.  They must have been Italian airmen.  Bn H.Q. and A & C Coys left tonight to go to Palestine.  We are due to go on Friday night.  Into our area came men of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and they are to take over our weapons.

Cosgriff’s diary:  Wednesday 22nd October 1941

From here to the next entry covers the time in which this diary together with the rest of my kit was lost.  The 2 A.G.H. people were not helpful, the corporals invariable reply being that Capt “So-and So” has been waiting 5 months for his kit.  The kit store at Tel-el-Kabir was hopeless, inefficient and provocative.  They just ignored signals, continued to send them until I received an empathetic denial from them that my case had ever been there.  Ten minutes later the case arrived – from Tel-el-Kabir.  This happened two days before I was scheduled to leave hospital and thus my destination was changed from R.S.U. to the Cairo houseboat.

 

Bryant’s diary:  Thursday 23rd October 1941   

About the same time and place more bombs were dropped, but we could see no planes... 

Cosgriff’s diary:  Thursday 23rd October 1941

The ear recovered slowly and never completely.  The usual cycle of discharge – stop – pain – discharge went on again until the M&B did its work.  Then when dryness set in the rift in the drum had still to heal and I could get no guarantee that it would do so.  Up to now it is still defective but time may do its work – Capt. Perrett was very satisfactory and the nurses too.  Of these Sims (4AGH) was easily the best.  She was efficient gentle, painstaking and humourous.   It is hard to say whether her principal ambition was to be a crack pistol shot or to rejoin our unit.  She had the early oil about Jerusalem and eagerly anticipated the change from tents etc to the betterments of civilization.

An Australian Army nursing sister reading a newspaper to a wounded AIF soldier at No. 4 AGH (Randwick Military Hospital, later known as the Prince of Wales Hospital), 1916. (Donor G. Henderson) An Australian Army nursing sister reading a newspaper to a wounded AIF soldier at No. 4 AGH (Randwick Military Hospital, later known as the Prince of Wales Hospital), 1916. (Donor G. Henderson) H16664