Tobruk Diaries: Just ‘ordinary’ days
Bryant’s Diary: Friday 21st March 1941
Today was one of the lousiest days I’ve put in anywhere. The weather was terrible. The old Sahara Desert can be very nasty when it likes. Sand is everywhere. A warning order has arrived ready to move by night. It might be tomorrow night. Information has been received that some Wogs* are signalling to aircraft by placing their camels near objectives. We’ll have to watch them.
Bryant’s Diary: Saturday 22nd March 1941
I was told last night to go on the advance party to our new destination. We left about 6:30 in the morning back towards Bengasi. The convoy stopped at El Magrum when three bombers came over. We thought they were certain to drop bombs on the convoy, but three bombs were dropped at El Magrum. We arrived at our destination about 15 miles inland from Bengasi. The country here is a great improvement on the desert. Except for the lack of trees the place looks very fertile. The soil is very red and a thin layer of grass covers most of the ground. We can get plenty of eggs and they are some of the best eggs I’ve ever eaten.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Saturday 22nd March 1941
Mass in our perfect chapel under ship’s crucifix. Fr. O. Steele arrived here today – Senior to 9th Div. Went with Steele and Tom to Momma’s to buy eggs and arrange for washing. Steele not bad on Italian. To Barce Presbytery in afternoon. Met two Friars who speak Latin well. Church beautiful. Harry Furnell here A.L.M.S. to 9th Div. Word to start packing – too bad as we all like Barce. Steele missed transport and had to stay the night.
Bryant’s Diary: Sunday 23rd March 1941
This place is called Regima and is a few miles from Benina where there is an R.A.A.F. station. Some Wogs* came around this morning with some eggs and Jack Deering fired a shot over their heads and they went for their lives, leaving their eggs behind. We now found out that this place is only a bivouac area and that the battalion was due in the morning. As far as food is concerned, we have been living like lords. The 2/13th Battalion arrived today 8 hours late, having been lost.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Monday 24th March 1941
Two Masses today. Steele and Tyrer and Zac to Benghazi yesterday in my car – used my petrol and punctured a tyre. Worried about ability to retain flat. Chas and Eric left for Tobruk. Buried Eyetie – in a blanket. Wrote to Marie. Met Cliff Howell – live wire and hard worker. Trying to get car for Owen. Great friends with Eyetie family now. Nurses - 8 coming to Tobruk on hospital ship. Decided to change from A.G.H. with Daly but met too much opposition. Steele fell into solo school and lost. Still reading letters.
Bryant’s Diary: Tuesday 25th March 1941
We spent all day straightening up our gear and cleaning our precious bodies. Someone hit on the brilliant idea of making a bath out of a groundsheet and everybody had a first-class bath. The meals today were fit to serve in Hotel Australia. There are rumours that we may go to Greece, but who knows? I bought a ton of supplies at the canteen and we should never starve now.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Wednesday 26th March 1941
Two Masses. Poor J. McCusher R.I.P. Tim Hartnett R.I.P. Advance party loaded and left. Spring saved me and I do not want to leave here. Worked new spring through Eyetie. Maurice Hudson and Frank McDermott here in hospital. Mail again and all up to date now. One from A.J. no telling of approaching marriage – too bad. Meet Fr. Lynch and had good dinner – 4 priests. Equi gale started today and plenty of dust. Reading letters to all hours. Elsa’s and Sheila’s. Sheila finished with Month and signing for Val.
Bryant’s Diary: Thursday 27th March 1941
We marched farther today and the section leaders made a reconnaissance of our new position. My section is to occupy a position between Wadi el-Avoinat and Wadi Dabaa...The sections are scattered and now each one is responsible for cooking. It appears that we are just being kept out of the way. I don’t think anyone could find us and we certainly won’t be bothered.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Thursday 27th March 1941
Two Masses as Steele waits here for H.Q. of Div. Dusty day. Had Hudson returned to Base for knee operation. Wrote home Elsa and Bert Tooze. Plenty of censoring to do now. Trying to get some way to learn Italian. Momma returned washing, setting some remedy for their few. Small mess left but a good one... Marsh and nurses at Tobruk. Hospital on new site so there will be plenty of tent pitching. Won 17 accas at solo, Steele lost 47.
* A slang term used during the Second World War to describe any person of European descent.