Tobruk Diaries: Questions, 'furphies' and rumours
Bryant’s Diary: Friday 2nd May 1941
Artillery could be heard all day as the battle continues. It appears as if the [G]ermans have captured 14 outer perimeter posts, but have not penetrated beyond them. Some big German planes came extremely low today bombing and machine gunning, but three and possibly four were brought down by S.A.A fire. Fred Legge of “C” Coy was killed accidentally today by an Italian hand grenade.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Friday 2nd May 1941
Up...from midnight...2/48 and 2/24 advanced and got into a trap – plenty of casualties – not able to spare time for Mass. Conlon...and his M.O. here for breakfast in panic – 5 mins to leave and escaped through shell fire – bad morning for us all but things improved during morning and casualties lessened. No Jerrys over but no sight of R.A.F. – got us all tricked. Jerry should be here all day. Artillery going hard all the time and rocking the place... Dust-storm today probably saved us from bombers. One at 7 pm but probably Eyeties – too high for Jerrys.
Bryant’s Diary: Saturday 3rd May 1941
Very heavy artillery fire could be heard all morning and it sounded like ours. The Hun aircraft left us alone today. I wonder why? The weather today is on the cold side and there is no doubt about Libyan weather- it is never the same for two days on end. About 10 o’clock tonight our artillery began to fire and there was one continuous roar until well into the early morning. It seems that we conducted a counter-attack against the Jerry.
Bryant’s Diary: Sunday 4th May 1941
Today was reasonably quiet. The counter-attack last night was conducted by two A.I.F. battalions, which recaptured two posts and though the enemy are still inside outer defences the commanders seem very pleased with the position. It is believed that the Germans lost a lot of men. We had two air-raids at dusk, but such a terrific barrage was put up that the planes in the second attack couldn’t come down to bomb their objective. We move again tonight to relieve the 2/13th Bn. Our company is the reserve company.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Sunday 4th May 1941
Last night’s attack horrible failure. 9th and 12th Battalions in it and wounded came in at 11 pm. No sleep – an air raid at 5:30 – three on road near hospital SB full of wounded – not many for me. Rang Chas Daly to say Tobruk Masses for me but he could only say ten. I did mine. Casualties dropped off about 10 am. Slept in afternoon. Air-raid at 6:30 – again near hospital – Ship for wounded hit – only 200 went. MDS bombed – looks like reprisal for no prisoners yesterday. Commander Green described Marsh as bloody butcher. To bed early – more of mine dead.
Bryant’s Diary: Monday 5th May 1941
It was a very quiet day today. My section with Lieut. Trebeck are to go on a fighting patrol tonight. We left the road block on El Adem road at about 9:30. We had only travelled 500 yards when machine guns and a mortar opened up across our front. They were using explosive bullets. We could also hear a truck on the road and I thought we were certain to have a scrap. We followed the road for 1500 yards in all and wheeled left. We hadn’t gone far when we heard two distinct noises very much like human sound, but after having a close look, found nothing. We went in this new direction for 3500 yards to mounds of earth which was our objective. We discovered that there were three wells (one dry) were in the centre, but there were no signs of Germans having used them. We travelled a further 1500 yards to reach our front line. We were guided in by this post firing verey lights. We arrived dead on 2 o’clock in the morning.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Monday 5th May 1941
Quiet night – no bombs or casualties. News of 7 Div coming for Sollum – sounds like a furphy. Wrote home yesterday and J. McGlynn today. Thos Turer burnt out x ray today – screening. Patrick Pitt – shot down by 4 ME – escaped with legs. At C.C.S. this arvo – beaut air shelter. Raid here while I was away – 4 bombs on hospital and more exploded – miracle – hit power-house. 9th attacking again this evening – casualties coming after tea. Jerry is through the outer defence in a wedge shape bulge – like France. Most troops pretty depressed since hospital attacks and it looks as if they are after us...
Cosgriff’s Diary: Tuesday 6th May 1941
Three at Mass today. Terrific dust storm all day until 2 pm. Never seen worse. Kept Jerry away. No light since power station was blown yesterday. Norley rigging lights in M.J room. SB working with torches. Hospital full and nowhere to put patients today – Kennedy. Wrote to Elsa today and Jas McGlynn yesterday. One more battalion here – 32 Bn – rumour of two more but no truth in it. Scarfe here but have not seen him yet. Moon becoming full and expecting night raids. No siren now and a-a one guide. Still no air force but nothing much left to bomb.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Wednesday 7th May 1941
Up early because of raids. Mass of BVM. No casualties last night 717 patients in hospital. Tobruk mews elite appears even if power is off. Severe raid on dumps this morning – easily 30 planes. Bert Watson in today – very confident about trip to Benghasi (sic). Severe raid again this arvo on harbour – 40 planes with fighter escort. Sunk mine –sweeper. Maltese patients excellent Catholics. Air Force seen this evening - 1 Hurricane. Apparent Jerry will not allow any more ships into this harbour until we get 100 heavies. Birthday party of Zynnor Scholes and Braithwaite. D’arcy...to come...if OK with his C.O. No dust today.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Thursday 8th May 1941
Mass of Dead. Awakened late. Boys of Town Guard at Mass. Steele and Dick Searle in here yesterday. Dick says no news at Mersa of force coming to relieve us here. Evacuation planned for tonight by destroyer. Quiet in the air today. No mail for a week and no supplies from Tim. Saw Eyetie machine for making breads and it is only a Hongs. John Aitken off trench digging and translating Eyetie documents now. C.O. stands out and abuses the dashers to the shelter. Shelters hung erected in front of each ward.