Tobruk Diaries: The Easter Battle
Bryant’s Diary: Tuesday 11th March 1941
We spent all day erecting an anti-aircraft gun pit and it wasn’t too soon. Late this afternoon two German bombers dropped their eggs [bombs] on the hill feature behind us. You could see them go into a dive and then would follow the roar of the exploding bomb and the subsequent column of smoke. The Bophas opened up and both planes hedge-hopped right over our position. One plane machine-gunned an ambulance without success. We opened up with the Bren, but without success.
Bryant’s Diary: Wednesday 12th March 1941
I tested the Bren gun this morning and the bloody thing wouldn’t fire. It took nearly two hours to fix it up. It was quiet nearly all day until just before dusk when three German bombers came across. Two followed the road fairly high up and the Bophas kept them busy, but the third came low over our right and machine-gunned our position. I got a good bead on his with the Bren, but the gun didn’t fire. However, I fixed up the stoppage and let him have a full magazine as he was going away. Nobody was hit.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Wednesday 12th March 1941
No Mass today. No boatmen turned up. Two sittings of meals at C.C.S. – better place than Bardia. Looks as if we are to be held up here...for transport. Drove Daly’s car into Tobruk to look at place. Church OK but town well peppered. Plenty of ships sunk in harbour...Paid troops. O’Callaghan arrived – put away bottle of ’ski. Raid in evening. Prospects of getting car. Arranged quarters for O’Callaghan and listened to his tirade against Tim.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Thursday 13th March 1941
Mass in Casey’s room. Terrible air-raid at 2:40 am and every hour after. Took car in and had it registered in my name. Runs very well but plugs and battery faulty. O’Callaghan took Chas back and gave him his car. Dust started in earnest this evening. Row most interesting bloke in this show – genuine at anything. No raids tonight in this dust. Last night’s raid on El Adam ’drome – ruined two bombers. Crowd starting to hitch-hike to Barce.
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. I 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. Bath this morning, first for nearly fortnight.
Lecky’s letters: Monday 17 March 41
...This place has had its share of the news lately so you can guess what sort of a time we are having – today was the worst, when we were dive-bombed but luckily escaped very lightly...The general idea is to burrow as deep as you can get and stay there. Their rare, thank goodness... [and] if they are a little further afield...they provide genuine entertainment...