Tobruk diaries: “I hope we will not hear another shot fired”
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, VADs
Bryant’s diary: Friday 7th November 1941
The shooting with the Bren was rotten and on the whole I had a cow of a day as an instructor. I heard that the rifle shooting was pretty good.
Cosgriff’s diary: Friday 7 November 1941
Up at 6:30 for early breakfast. Major Ralph and I to Cairo together. Train crammed mostly with English and Aus. troops. Filthy hot journey and not into Cairo until 2 pm. Met Len and Cravocour at Houseboat. To pay office – met Gregory now a Lieut. Measured for gabardine* uniform. Bought watches at Kramer’s and handled 750 pounds worth of diamonds. Coffee at Groppi’s – great place, met Lendon and Morton. I paid 50 accas for set of uniform buttons. Otis has a movie camera, price 9 pounds. Walked to presbytery after dinner and met Fr. Zarime – cheery bloke and talkative. Sharing cabin with Roberts...
Bryant’s diary: Saturday 8th November 1941
Duty Company today and I was on drain digging all day. Of course we didn’t work so very hard.
Cosgriff’s diary: Saturday 8th November 1941
Up early and Mass at 7:30 in beautiful church – Len serving. Morning in bazaar – bought book-stand – silks, table cloths and Elsa’s stones. Great place and I must go back again. To races at Gezira this arvo and I backed a placed horse in every race except one. Plenty of fancy English officers in flash uniforms. Met Tim but a funny bloke – quite cold but he gave me a job at the detention barracks in Jerusalem. Len’s aim pretty crook. Ross Thomas on the ship here. Cravocour is all right and he shunted Braithwaite for breaking the 12 o’clock rule. John Overall here too and all told a good crowd. We start in Jerusalem on Wednesday and 40 orderlies have to make way for VADs...
Bryant’s diary: Sunday 9th November 1941
The 7thBn of the Green Howards gave an exhibition at Hill 95 of falling on barbed wire. Until one saw it done it was hard to believe possible. They actually dived in to the wire with their bodies to make a gap enough for the platoon to run through.
Cosgriff’s diary: Sunday 9th November 1941
Mass on high altar after the Public Mass. Rudd, Morton and Lendon returning today. Kilo arrived and nobody wants him – probably a bowler-hat. Into town this morning – just for a look round and a drink at Groppi’s – the usual crowd but one beautiful Gyppo woman – dressed in white – and the French infants waving to their dog. Marvellous dinner today. Races at Heliopolis but too far for me. Wrote home and then to the club for tea. Big crowd but too cold for swimming today. Party on the “Sudan” tonight. Len went but early bed for me. Allison brought me a couple of letters from Kantara - Jas McGlynn and home...
Bryant’s diary: Monday 10th November 1941
The Company had to march to an Arab village as a demonstration to the local Mukstar, who was entertained. His village was inspected by our...officer and after a march through the village we returned to camp.
Cosgriff’s diary: Monday 10th November 1941
Mass at Church. Afterwards to Convent to see if sisters will sew our parcels. They have no Mass so I will go there now – 300 pupils – mostly non-catholic – school and convent combined – buses to collect kids cost 70 pound a month. Irish Franciscan sisters. Golf today and we were both in rotten form but I improved later. Gyppo caddies no good as they will not look for balls. Beautiful course - well set out – springy turf and plenty of flower beds. Slept after lunch then to tailor for uniform – despite my instructions he made the epaulettes wrongly. Had to wait an hour for new ones – quite a glamour suit. To pictures tonight and Len asked the pretty French girl for a seat where he could sleep well. Start at 9:15 – poor show – had to leave to beat midnight...
Bryant’s diary: Tuesday 11th November 1941
We were duty Coy and I was on guard at the Mobile Ambulance Corps. I go on two days leave to Haifa in the morning.
Cosgriff’s diary: Tuesday 11th November 1941
Up at 6 – hope to convert lads with parcels. After Mass a good breakfast – grape – fruit – 3 eggs and plenty of bacon. Long week home. Golf shocking today and language worse. Len lost a pill on the fairway and suspected the caddy. Letter from Joshua re Honell RIP and I can supply information. To town this arvo with Otiss films – Groppi’s – home. Len dining at Shepherd’s tonight. War news encouraging and I hope we will not hear another shot fired. Roberts my cabin-mate – a lead-swinger at Tobruk had his leave here extended... Salter blew in this evening. Bought Cecil’s book on Egypt. Cravocour expected a bloke who arrived at 12.12am...
Bryant’s diary: Wednesday 12th November 1941
A man was substituted for me for the Haifa leave and I didn’t hear about it until the last minute. I thought this action was a bit tough.
Cosgriff’s diary: Wednesday 12 November 1941
Up before six and walked to the convent – 15 mins. Parcels all ready and were seven. No golf today as Len had a heavy night. Into town looking about – India – silks etc. To Bazaar for silks and were lost looking for Hessians. Found jeweller and he directed us... Saw the famous rugs – sultans 1800 pound Gold 500 pound and Blood 420 pound – all very beautiful. Parcels very easy to send at...PO. After lunch in to the pictures to see Marx Bros. Home for tea and writing to Franz – forget to tell her many things. Bed early and Len too...
Bryant’s diary: Thursday 13th November 1941
They made up for it – I’m to go on seven days leave to Cairo tonight instead.
Cosgriff’s diary: Thursday 13 November 1941
Enjoying early morning crack. School holiday today so I yarned with sisters for a long time. Their convent at Fayoum bombed last night but sisters all safe... Into town – saw some great chinaware... To races at Heliopolis – met Tim and O’Carroll. Won 5 pound on first race – divided to 2 pound 40 at finish – good course. With Kilo and Thomas and they are horrible bars both. I had a headache from listening to them and I went early to bed. Len and McKenna went to the Continental after seeing Mary’s – transferred from Alex. Tim and I argued today re Jack Higgins and Harold Jones case – too Irish to argue. Letter from Otis and we have not opened Jerusalem yet...
*Tough, tightly woven fabric used to make suits