Monday 6 June 2011 by carwal. 1 comment
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Friday 6th June 1941

Up several times for planes dropping thermos bombs and flares, one plane caught in search light but not shot down.  Missa in Tempore belli [Mass in Time of War].  Trouble getting beach communions now.  Plenty of fleas in my bed.  Wireless bung and no news now.  Rumour of mail being sunk.  Millions of flies in Tobruk.  Started to use Australian wine and a bit doubtful about it.  Reading Wren’s Driftwood Spars in which the heroes are murderers.  Sent note to C.R.E. re. Church lights...

Bryant’s Diary:  Saturday 7th June 1941

It was very quiet all day.  During the [night] the company sent out three patrols to occupy and observe from some German trenches about 500 yards to our front.  Everything started all right, but the show was a complete failure simply because of a 15th Bn patrol.  The patrol wandered into our area, moved for a long time on the skyline and drew the crabsJerry became very alert and we lost all chances of secrecy for the movement.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Saturday 7th June 1941

Moon as bright as day and up four times for bombers.  Four men killed by one bomb.  Fed communions without trouble.  Shrapnel wounds filtering in all the time.  Missa in Tempore belli [Mass in Time of War].  Took 50/1 from Tyrer and Matheson about war ending by August.  Furphy, re. Menzies’s complaint about no air support for Aussies.  Trip to cemetery today – 1st for weeks.  Still no mail in but rumour of canteen supplies.  Intermittent raids every now and again.  Had an Italian session yesterday but went on to Anthony and Cleopatra today.  Peter possibly to be evacuated...

A 3.7" gun of the 192nd anti-aircraft battery, Royal Artillery, in action during a night raid. Tobruk, Libya, 1941 A 3.7" gun of the 192nd anti-aircraft battery, Royal Artillery, in action during a night raid. Tobruk, Libya, 1941

Bryant’s Diary:  Sunday 8th June 1941

For the greater part of the morning we fired a large number of rounds.  I don’t know if we annoyed the Hun, but at about 2:45 in the afternoon our position was dive- bombed and machine gunned.  We suffered two casualties near Coy H.Q., but neither belonged to “D” Coy.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Monday 9th June 1941

What a night!  About three hours sleep.  Everybody scared after ward being hit.  Missa tempore belli [Mass in Time of War].  Had Denny Ryan among today’s penitents.  Have four patients just hanging on to life.  Peter Gleeson off with his nervous itch.  I have plenty of big mosquito bites.  Yesterday’s 50 players very acceptable.  Tom Steele doing some Eyetie with me but I cannot get interested.  Artillery still going but few casualties coming in.  Dick in today.  Everybody sleeping today but I can’t sleep in day now.  Still no mail.  Salter gets news still and keeps it in his room...

Bryant’s Diary:  Tuesday 10th June 1941

Another quiet day, but again Jerry shelled our positions late in the afternoon.  One landed fair on our section post just outside Jim’s and my dug-out and simply filled the place with shrapnel.  Our stew dixie was riddled and we will have trouble getting breakfast in the morning.

Bryant’s Diary:  Wednesday 11th June 1941

Except for enemy shelling a quiet day.  At night three men from the section, an “I” man and I went out on patrol about 1000 yards into no-man’s-land.  There were no incidents of importance.  We found some German ammo dumps and brought back some 3” mortar bombs.  In some German dug-outs close handy we found some cognac, papers and a bottle of ginger beer.  Early in the morning I took out a carrying party and brought in two mines, 33 3in and 10 2in mortar bombs.  Jerry had awakened by then and sent a lot of MG fire over, but hit nobody.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Thursday 12th June 1941

Slept in room and did not shift all night.  Missa Corpus Christi [Mass of the Body of Christ].  Rumour of 240 bags of mail but none arrived.  Had some good confessions today.  Tom sent Len’s German teacher to the caves which upset Johnston more than the lack of mail.  Bombed heavily during Mass today – one Stuka down until an Eyetie crew - buried one and the other in the ward here.  Steele in for a hair cut and had the usual political converse with Borsorelli.  Gave watch and clock to Eyetie watch make to mend.  Rumours of push soon and I hope it is right.  Anderson (buried) at Mass and Communion on Sunday...

For definitions of underlined words go to: /education/tobruk_diaries/glossary.asp


Colin Rowley

Very interesting accounts. I understand from these exerpts, that there was a lot of quiet, even boring periods. Even so, there was underlying stress going on all the time. Enemy action, no mail from home, the general conditions of desert life made the experience wanting most times.