Monday 18 July 2011 by carwal. 1 comment
1941, Tobruk, Tobruk diaries, Tobruk, Rats of Tobruk, Church Tobruk

Bryant’s Diary: Friday 18th July 1941

Another convoy from Tobruk came in.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Friday 18th July 1941

Usual 4 am raids but no harm to anyone.  Missa Tempore Belli [Mass in Time of War].  Quietest morning ever in this hospital.  Five casualties from last night’s raiding – 1 eyetie bayoneted.  No report on success or otherwise.  Beach hospital being moved because shells land a bit too close – patients here for term...  Played chess in M.J room today.  Planes over frequently this arvo and the shelling as usual.  We expected them to get that gun last night...

Bryant’s Diary:  Saturday 19th July 1941

There was an air raid last night and there was a hell of a row.  We had a free talkie show through the good graces of the South Africans.  Letters arrived today earlier than I expected.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Saturday 19th July 1941

More planes than usual last night and one bomb within hospital confines.  Mass for Thos Colgriff R.I.P.  Big mob of Communion today as all the beach patients are up.  Cigarettes arrived from Merrigan but no envelopes.  Well up for fags now...  All the news now is hope – easily out of date.  J. Horan has the general duty job of shifting the beach hospital while Ley and C.O. do nothing.  We enjoyed John’s start when the shells came over this arvo.  Losses in Syria – 297 dead.  Ambulance bloke played 7 games of chess last night – won the lot...

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Sunday 20th July 1941

5am blitz as usual.  Regular occurrence now even with no moon but helped by shells.  Usual three Masses – with raids on the way to the church and during Mass.  Poor crowd and Church described as “death trap” by one lad.  Madonna of Tobruk off her pedestal which was shattered by a bomb.  Statue chipped and blackened and troops very indignant.  Mail – from home only.  John Horan returned and we are glad to have him back.  Did a poor round today.  Had envelopes and paper from Merrigan...attacked one pad but did not offer one of his five cakes in return.  Beach hospital in transit.  Eric wanted red crosses at the new site – playing ball with J.H...



The Madonna of Tobruk outside the Church before it was knocked of it's stand by enemy bombardment. Tobruk, Libya, May 1941. The Madonna of Tobruk outside the Church before it was knocked of it's stand by enemy bombardment. Tobruk, Libya, May 1941.

Bryant’s Diary:  Monday 21st July 1941

A batch of patients left for the con depot this morning.  I thought I was certain to go.

  Cosgriff’s Diary:  Monday 21st July 1941

Usual morning blitz and more severe.  Missa Tempore Belli with en-core from Horan.  Good round but too many cases going to ward “Z” which should not visit.  Mail in but none for me.  Papers for Len.  Eating one of his plum puddings this arvo and J.B.D just arrived too late!  Rumour that Britain had invaded France cost me ten accas.  Shelling this arvo caused some casualties – 1 serious 1 dead.  C.O. of Air Force in M.E. is outrageous – incompetent and unconscientious – hope the new General outs him.  Had picture of Steele from Tim driving my car.  Heard German broadcast – weak especially on V for Victory...

Bryant’s Diary:  Tuesday 22nd July 1941

A large batch in our ward left for El Kantara.  They were the badly wounded men and most of them will go home.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Tuesday 22nd July 1941

Thank God for a quiet night at last.  Missa T. B.  Good round today 100%.  C.C.S. have word that they are Alex bound.  16th M.A.C. bombed on boat and machine gunned on way down 4 killed.  Red Cross bloke has presented a wireless to the mess – not so good when the news is on but perfect at other times.  Few raids today and no shelling D.G.  Eyetie prisoner buried today and buried by Fr. Borsorelli.  Papers from home are hopeless on war news – always wrong and the bulletin fails too...

Bryant’s Diary:  Wednesday 23rd July 1941

Blow me down if it isn’t another quiet day.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Wednesday 23rd July 1941

Another good night... Missa T. B.  Good round today.  Jack Clark disappointed as he is not to go with the C.C.S. to Alex – after 24 months of daily work.  Cracked another of Len’s plum duffs today and J.B.D picked the right time.  Thos Gard in to have a tooth filled.  Gave him fags for Rice and himself.  Bayoneted Eyetie dead yesterday – first bayonet wound in here.  Thos Steele tossed the Ambulance chess crack.  Few raids today and no shelling yet... No mail today.  Accident to destroyer last night through hitting the wharf – no evacuation.  All patients contained in this hospital now – easily...

Bryant’s Diary:  Thursday 24th July 1941

Further batch left for the con camp this morning.  The hospital is nearly empty.  I went for a bit of a walk and saw some of the bombing damage.  It can be very severe amongst closely packed buildings.  One bomb caved in the walls of four large buildings.

Cosgriff’s Diary:  Thursday 24th July 1941

Good night again.... Missa T. B.  Casualties this morning from 24th and 43rd Batts.  Both had patrolled out to get machine guns but failed.  Two of mine very sick.  Steele in today and we cracked the beer bottle and Len’s cake.  He brought in wine and breads but not enough of either... Went out to the 1st Tanks (Crouch and Calling) for dinner.  They are 2 miles past the eagle and in a wadi...  Two bottles of whisky went next and I won three quid at poker.  Slept in the open and felt quite safe...


Guy Olding

Owen Cosgriff may have found 19 July a significant date, the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, 1916, in which his relative Thomas Joseph Cosgriff was killed (S/N 2150, 59th Battalion). Thomas, a 19 year old printer from Albert Park, Melbourne, had enlisted in July 1915. He arrived in Egypt in January 1916, before going to France in June. Owen, in a letter to his parents in January 1941, almost exactly 25 years later, noted that he was not the first Cosgriff to write his name in those sands. Thomas is among the 110 Australians who was identified in the recently discovered mass grave at Fromelles and is now buried in the Pheasant Wood war cemetry.