Tobruk Diaries: Sand Storms and Air Raids
Bryant’s Diary: Friday 14th March 1941
I had a cow of a night last night. The wind became very strong and my eyes, ears, mouth and nose became choked with sand. I spent all day making a dug out for myself. It can do anything now. As a matter of fact we had a shower of rain today, but it was only slight. Still no more air raids.
Bryant’s Diary: Saturday 15th March 1941
Another dive-bomber came over this morning. I let him have a full magazine from the Bren, but he kept on going. We spent all day rigging up a Breda aircraft gun for anti-aircraft. We couldn’t get to fire, but we’ll work on it tomorrow. She’s a cold desert tonight.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Saturday 15th March 1941
Mass at Casey’s. Rain during night settled dust. Took car into McCutcheon for tuning up. Tried to get cigarette issue for troops. Visited Italian hospital in afternoon. Eyetie very hospitable – 700 wounded and 102 doctors. Freezing cold this evening and feeling lousy for some reason or other. Lost 8 accas to Tom and could not get interested. To bed feeling frozen and lousy.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Sunday 16th March 1941
Two masses in Tobruk Church. Met bombastic Eyetie capellanus who wanted everything. Boys good at sacraments. Troubles in starting car – push round Tobruk square. All to move on Tuesday. McCutcheon says I will not be able to take car. Peters and Lawney here this afternoon. All liquor rationed. Everything pointing to advance to Tripoli. McNally gave me single breviary [liturgical book]. Bath this morning, first for nearly fortnight.
Bryant’s Diary: Monday 17th March 1941
About 2:45 this morning the Huns raided some place near us and the bombs woke me up. Anyway they didn’t touch us so I soon dozed off. Had a quiet day all day.
Bryant’s Diary: Tuesday 18th March 1941
Victory! At last we got the Breda to work. With the combined efforts of Monty, Bob, Bibs and I we got it to work. If a plane comes over now it will receive a hot reception with the Bren and the Breda from us and the two guns of the Platoon over the other side of the flat. A plane did come over early in the day, but it was a bit high up.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Tuesday 18th March 1941
No Mass as gear all packed yesterday. Mob all up early and left by 7am. Felt better on rising. Ran Chas into Tobruk tried to get Mac’s fly-spray. Ship of Eyetie prisoners mined in Tobruk harbour. It’s not to leave before Thursday. Hauled Flat in for Chas. Obtained fly-spray. Fanny [car] boiled – walk home. Fanny [car] pinched - - Orme Smith, Stevens and officers in mess. Got another car same as Fanny from Orme Smith. Owen still here tomorrow. To bed feeling better.
Bryant’s Diary: Wednesday 19th March 1941
We received our full issue of Bren guns today and now each section has a machine gun. We were all praying for an aeroplane to come over, but none came. The day was pretty hot and melted a point of one of the Breda bullets. It must have been an incendiary because when I touched it some substance burned a thumb and two fingers of my right hand. It sure hurt. In the night it started to rain – not heavily though.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Wednesday 19th March 1941
Still no Mass. Back to normal health now. Ran Chas to Tobruk. Tried car out and is better than Fanny. Trucks arrived and loaded our stuff. Obtained sedan from McCutcheon for Chas. Gave Mac bottle of ’sky [whisky] and bottle of gin. Steele – senior Chaplain to 9th Div here for tea. Talked with him and Daly until late. Visited canteen today and tried 70% OP Rum – pretty strong. Dejections to Smithie remark re. brothel and Cunningham.
Bryant’s Diary: Thursday 20th March 1941
The wind blew consistently all day and it certainly makes conditions unpleasant in the desert. About 6 o’clock, just before sundown, a plane came over. It did some machine gunning back behind our lines, when the Bophas opened up. One appeared to register a direct hit and the plane then wheeled and flew low over our position. Every gun in the area opened up. I got three magazines away at him and the second mag seemed to go fairly into the body. The plane looked very sick and my bet is that it doesn’t reach home.
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