Tobruk Diaries: Masses, Miracles and a Godsend
Cosgriff’s Diary: Friday 9th May 1941
Mass of BVM [Blessed Virgin Mary]. Evacuation flopped...ship failed to turn up – tonight? Gave McIven Dr. Regiss card to give to Eyetie chaplain. Two bombs very close to wards 2 and 7 – if the first had hit so would the second. The new shelter in 7 stood it with full marks – second miracle this week. Two very sick patients Lemon and Kennedy holding their own. Quiet at front and here too. Out of stockings – got...from Q. N. Store. McQuillan lent me Irish papers – ports question and De Valera – good reading. Everybody wondering what our next escape will be like. “In Te Domine Speravi” [God, refuge of the oppressed]. DG.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Saturday 10th May 1941
Mass of BVM. Best night so far in Tobruk – no raids no casualties. Only one raid during day – high-flying Eyetie dropping bombs on town. Rumour rife today – road to Bardia being traversed – Jerrys preparing to leave. I believe neither. Morton, Horan and Renor changed for spell to 5th Ambulance. Kennedy died today R.I.P. Met Jerry prisoner – 2 spoke good English. C.O. still snorting at shelter runners. Evacuation last night with out a hitch – another small catch tonight on a mine-sweeper. Supplies of everything running out. Lime juice, beer, matches but Irish meal plentiful. Boys sending cables via Alex but not me. “In Te Domine Speravi”. DG.
Lecky's letters: Sat 10th May 1941
...I am still in the same spot and still working very hard. Old Churchill and Menzies sent messages to us, which I fear gives us all...a guilty conscience as we are not nearly so hardly done by as they appear to render us. However, I intend to bask in all the glory I can get - unearned glory will be balanced out by unrecognised deeds, I suppose. A funny incident occurred the other day - during the height of an air-raid a private was cowering in his slit trench when a human body landed on him with some force. The human body immediately stuck its head up to see what was going on...so the digger recovering said in his own peculiar style "Put yer head down...before yer get the...thing knocked off". It complied and then identified itself as our CO and the digger began apologising profusely - however the colonel thanked him...
Bryant’s Diary: Sunday 11th May 1941
Again a quiet day. I saw for the first time the new bomb for use against tanks. Tests made prove that this weapon will probably be one of the most deadly enemies of the tank. It is a Godsend to the infantry and tanks no longer will be so terrifying. The bomb is like a big apple on a stick.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Sunday 11th May 1941
Three Masses and about 85 Communions altogether. Quiet Mass would be enough there but after today’s crowd two necessary. Used nearly all my breads and still no supplies from Tim. Taken to reading thrillers. Funeral in afternoon and one warning on way home. Quiet and peaceful evening and everyone felt as if war were over. John and Trigger took part of propeller from Jerry plane – surprised at weight whole propeller 3 cewt. John expecting shift in a fortnight. “In Te Domine Speravi” DG.
Bryant’s Diary: Monday 12th May 1941
We had an air raid today for the first time for a few days now. The aircraft came low over us and we pelted away at them, but without result. Jim Naylor was nearly hit with a bullet which hit the ground about a yard to his right. Five section went on a fighting patrol last night, but struck nothing. Mail arrived – 4 cheers.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Monday 12th May 1941
Mass and Communion for patients. Few planes over during night but little damage done. Evacuating a few each night now on small craft and no trouble. Big mail in – home 2, Elsa 2, Bert 1, Bubbles 1, Barretts 1. Wrote to Bert and Bubbles. Both touched at presents from Catholics. Terrific raid at 3 pm – after Ladybird had got it too. Five ships recently and all hit. Lady burned for long time – plenty of casualties but only two Catholics. Out of beer in mess – nothing to drink but Recoaro. Quiet on front and rumour that Jerry is returning – hope it is right. No Catholics very ill. “In Te Domine Speravi” DG.
Bryant’s Diary: Tuesday 13th May 1941
It was very cold today and clouds covered the sky very thickly. Last night and early this morning heavy gunfire could be heard down towards the Bardia Road. I believe the 43rd Bn started a stunt with tanks, but plans went astray somehow.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Tuesday 13th May 1941
Quiet night – up once Mass of BVM. Great excitement over Hess’s trip to England. Everybody pleased about it. Len and I started Italian but book no good – no exercizes from Eyetie to English. Wrote to Elsa today – she says she has not heard for three weeks. 43rd Batt attack failed last night – tanks late again. 3 “I” tanks probably captured. Minocks (Lieut) of 43rd a patient here. Parson’s feel all over him but he is Gard’s convert. Nearly out of breads but John did not turn up to help me bake. Borrowed Eyetie Hoots. Fr. Borsorelli not so hot as a baker...
Bryant’s Diary: Wednesday 14th May 1941
I went to the seaside today and had a swim. Although it was cold up here it was sheltered and quite warm on the coast. We spent an hour in the town of Tobruk and though many buildings are wrecked, especially around the harbour, there is considerably less damage than one would imagine with so many air raids. Some aircraft came over this afternoon, but I couldn’t hear any bombing. At our post dust was blown everywhere by a strong, cold wind.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Thursday 15th May 1941
Up a couple of times between midnight and 5 am. Mass as usual and never a disturbance now. Giving Communion every morning now and it takes me right round the hospital. Mail today Elsa, Toozes and Kileen. Reading Hee Hallows book each day. Italian becoming a bit difficult. John firing well in church and has not been here this week. Had to bake bread tonight with Eyetie Hoots – hopeless. Convert interrupted baking and I was no good after at baking. Feed of cake and fruit salad before bed...Cuttings from Aus re. death of our officers 22/4/41...