Tobruk diaries: To Cairo and beyond
Bryant’s diary: Friday 14th November 1941
Despite a slow and tiring train trip we arrived in Cairo at 2 in the afternoon. Ted Taylor and I got into some strife with some Kiwis and were done over properly. We were badly outnumbered and I finished up with a couple of black eyes and a busted lip.
Cosgriff’s diary: Friday 14 November 1941
Keeping up the early morning rising. Salter sick with s-fly fever – moaning like blazes. Met Gillespie in town today – going to Pt Said. I’d just looked in at the DPO and Johnston spent 12 pound. I was going to buy the head but he turned me off her. To the pyramids in the afternoon. Nothing to rave about. Photoed on a camel with 3 others. Have the use of the AD’s camera but not so keen on the high-priced ones since I have seen so many mistakes with them. Mail today – Elsa, McPoland, Home and Bill Kirby. Pictures tonight to see Deanna Durbin – had to get permission to come home late. Home at 12:30am...
Bryant’s diary: Saturday 15th November 1941
Had a look around Cairo and saw a couple of Mosques and the bazaar. It wasn’t very interesting at all.
Cosgriff’s diary: Saturday 15 November 1941
Not so hot getting up today after late night last night... Town early for silk and Len’s bracelets – neither ready yet. Met Tim and heard of Foley’s death RIP. Mick Galvin and Tom Barry also dead. Roberts picked up my 25 acca note and said it was his. Races this arvo and hired me over taxi for 80 accas – backed three winners 6 pound up after. Tim and Connelly there also Stapleton who does not recognise us. Saw Marie with half the British army hanging to her. Got Elsa’s present but I do not like it very much. Ken Starer left for England today. Len bought a Bible today. Mousky not a cheap place – can’t get it...
Bryant’s diary: Sunday 16th November 1941
We went to the races at the Heliopolis. I only backed one winner, but finished up losing only 55 piastres.
Bryant’s diary: Monday 17th November 1941
I spent a quiet day looking over the city.
Bryant’s diary: Tuesday 18th November 1941
Ted and I met a couple of Queenslanders and visited the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and Temple and the zoo.
Bryant’s diary: Wednesday 19th November 1941
A full day was spent on a visit to the Delta Barrage, olne of the many units of the mighty irrigation system of the Nile. It was a very good day indeed and for the price it was definitely worthwhile.
Bryant’s diary: Thursday 20th November 1941
Our last day of leave was spent quietly having a last look at Cairo. An air raid alert was sounded in the night, but nothing happened.
Owen Thomas Cosgriff’s diary finished on 16 November 1941. He was discharged from the army on 13 July 1944 and he soon returned to Australia. Once home, Cosgriff shared his experiences at Tobruk as a Catholic Chaplain in public lectures. In a newspaper article entitled Fr. Cosgriff recalls: Epic of Tobruk, a reporter wrote:
Father Cosgriff spoke feelingly of the burials of Australians. Chaplains of all denominations aided each other. There were no coffins and the bodies were lowered to the graves as the enemy planes dived overhead...[he] told of how the Germans found out the time of Mass on a Sunday and accordingly sent over planes to bomb the church. Not a soldier moved from the church and there was not a single casualty. The following Sunday, the time of Mass was changed and the Stukas came and razed the church for 30 minutes before the arrival of the priest and troops...
If anyone has any more information about Owen Thomas Cosgriff's later life, please let us know.