Tobruk Diaries: Yarns and larrikins
Bryant’s Diary: Friday 29th August 1941
Copped two days leave to Jerusalem. Left camp at 2pm and arrived at 4.30 pm. Good going.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Friday 29th August 1941
Flares again last night and some falling ack-ack shrap. Missa pro defunctis. Gardy still very volute with diarrhoea. Received Woman’s Weekly from Borromeo with story of the Tubb family...pope on a trip to Australia. Polish doctor – Tronson and orderlies arrived here – no fool Tronson and he speaks some English. Glorious swimming each day and never a disturbance. Bob Menzies out- Fadden P.M. and Laval wounded by a Red volunteer. Phil let loose on the yarns tonight but I kept up with him...
Bryant’s Diary: Saturday 30th August 1941
In the morning had a look at a few historic sights and generally mucked about in the afternoon. It was a bad day because of the Jewish Sabbath.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Saturday 30th August 1941
Quiet night and the only plane over was shot down – the flare came off and the pilot is in our hospital. Mass pro defunctis in men’s mess for troops – Poles turned up very well... Leaving Gardy in hospital with dysentery. Back to hospital and anointed a Pole – will need a Polish chaplain here. Stuly liked the job here but he...did not like air-raids. Three new medicos to come to replace Hore, Sinclair and Devine. Got Elsa’s cutting re. the “Tobruk’ Mass. Lost my cap somewhere. Hurricane over this evening - wish there were a hundred...
Bryant’s Diary: Sunday 31st August 1941
Came home to camp, but passed many convoys of troops going north – something doing. The old camp is a terrible lousy place to call home.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Sunday 31st August 1941
Raider over about 11pm – after that pax. Two masses – poor crowds and without Poles 2nd would have been hopeless. Polish singing was glorious and I will have a choir every Sunday now. norman Crouch in on his own as Collins is up salvaging tanks. Norman is very sure about our next push and he says it will be to Tripoli... Sent Elsa’s cutting home for perusal. Have not heard a bomb whistle since I returned from beach yesterday. Berlin has begun to play rummy and he looks like becoming a larrikin under Tyrer. The case of grapes was a case of dog biscuits. Tom mailed one...
Cosgriff’s Diary: Monday 1st September 1941
Quiet night and what was over did not worry me... Mass for Mary J’s parturition. Easy round today – talked for a long time to Hill – Clare Crouch’s husband... Corker air raid at midday. Stukas from every direction first and then huge high level bombers – the biggest planes I have ever seen, not many casualties – one dead and a few wounded. Polish chaplain in this arvo, X. Stanisclaus. He is at the M.D.S. and he seems to like the suggestion of living at the hospital. Mines in harbour and as the mine-sweeper was sunk there are no evacuations. Gardy is still in the beach hospital – I have his mail...
Cosgriff’s Diary: Tuesday 2nd September 1941
Quiet night although the moon was pretty bright. Mass for Mary J. Down to the beach with Tom after breakfast to see Gardy. He had his first good day today and it will be some time before he goes back. He found his mail lacking some desired letters. Chas L inspecting the beach hospital. Back after lunch to go round here but few of the patients were available. Jerry airman in ward now and Poles are quite friendly with him. He says Germans do not bomb hospitals. O’Rourke unconscious for a week now and becoming pretty thin... To play chess with Berlin tonight...
Bryant’s Diary: Wednesday 3rd September 1941
We went out all day to do firing, but the ammo ran out and we had to return. We spent a lot of time practising for some review tomorrow.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Wednesday 3rd September 1941
Heavy blitz about midnight. Sky kept coming. More light a-a used since they shot down the enemy at night. Mass from Mary J. Good round today and cleaned up the lot. Poles too hot at chess - Berlin gives me a rook and one of them can give Hart a knight start... Collins’s in as he is doing a course in camouflage and is living in Tobruk... Expected Stukas today as it is war anniversary but they are not here yet. No evacuations so no mail. Our postman to be evacuated and he has done a great job here...
Bryant’s Diary: Thursday 4th September 1941
The review was held this morning for Brig Robinson (C.O. reinforcements). After it was all over the company had to go straight out on a march. A number were pulled out to have TAB inoculations.
Cosgriff’s Diary: Thursday 4th September 1941
Quiet night and nobody knows why. Mass for Mary J. Very few for Communion today. Polish chaplain in and he said that a priest for here was being discussed and he hopes to come in Stanislaus’s Cynar. No ships at night so still no mail or evacuations. Jerry pilot in the ward and friendly to everybody. Playing chess games for the ‘Leader’. Crouch in to take Tyrer and myself out – we used nearly all his revolver ammo. Geddes home late and we argued until 2 am about Italy and the Pope. Won 80 at poker – took [a] look at the cup sweep... No planes over Wadi...
Lecky’s letters: 4 September
...Parcel no 3 arrived in good order and condition the other day and was given a very warm welcome...Mulberry jam graces my morning toast...tinned fruit was great and sweets met with a speedy finish. The honey toffee came to a sticky end – I was chewing a mouthful when someone rang up and I could neither dislodge the toffee nor speak coherently. It turned out to be the Coy Commander but I squared him off with a few “chews” next time he came around.
We had a little concert here last night – an officer who happens to be staying with us has a violin which he plays beautifully. So I got the gang into the mess tent...the Tommies produced a few very fine voices and my own lads turned up with some latent talent – Jerry very inconsiderately dispersed the party with his night Luftwaffe but not before we had all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Had a beaut raid the other day...I was shivering and shaking through it all with 2 companions in about the most exposed place in the area...we have the somewhat doubtful honour of being one of the most bombed places on earth...Personally feel closer to 41 than 21 as I have had my share of responsibility over the last six months – still I can take it and a lot more...
If anyone knows what the term 'Red Volunteer' we would be interested to find out.