WW II, a British focus  




4th to 10th January. Received a letter from you darling with 'photo of Jean. What a big fine girl she is. Also a letter from Gwen with 'photo of Jill, she too, I must remark, is a fine baby. Continued seeing the doctor. Nothing much else to report.

11th to 14th January. Saw the doctor again on the 11th and was told that it was my cartilage that was wrong and I had to see a specialist at the hospital. This does not sound too good. Tuesday 13th went to the hospital and wasted three hours. Saw the MO there and he said it was a torn cartilage and it would have to come out but it was too swollen to do straight away. Advised to rest for two weeks and he gave me fourteen days Attend C, which means excused all duties. Said I must have operation in two weeks. Rested all day in one of the tents.

15th to 17th January. This resting is a lot harder than I expected, in fact it is boring. On the 17th a sandstorm raged all day. What a day. One could only see a few yards, if one dared to open ones eyes. On Saturday the storm finished about tea-time. What a hell of a night. Tents blowing about, sand to eat and drink. This is not my idea of fun and games. Still no mail. I am getting a little worried again.

18th to 22nd January. Still going all right. Came into the lab to to a bit even though on the sick list. Knee gets no better, will not be right until it is done. Received airgraph on 19th and was jolly pleased to hear from you again darling and to know everything is okay. On Thursday had quite a change in the shape of an air raid warning at dinner time. Nothing happened, not a sight nor sound of a 'plane. Went to the Gaff most nights. Only thing to do around here at night.

23rd to 27th January. The only thing of interest was some new mechanics arriving at the lab. Owing to pressure of work I have to work six and a half days a week for a month. Went to see specialist again and was told to come into hospital at tea-time. Had my first go in dock! Got Tuesday night over all right in a room of my own.

28th January. Saw the doctor this morning, gave the knee a good going over, waited around all day expecting it to be x-rayed, nothing doing. Saw the doc again at night and is sending another one to see me. What a load of cheerful chaps in here, even though badly messed up. Most of them from the desert. Not as bad as I expected in dock, food not too bad.

29th to 31st January. Just routine days with plenty of rest and attending for massage. MO says that knee is improving. Now five weeks since it was done.

1st February. A new month is with us, never expected being in dock. Thank goodness knee is improving. Had a nice job sweeping up. It is remarkable how cheerful all the chaps are in spite of being so badly hurt.

2nd to 5th February. Just routine days. Massages, plenty of rest and reading. Go out tomorrow, shall be rather sorry. I am just beginning to like it.

6th to 8th February. Went for massage again. The knee is coming along nicely now. On Saturday was discharged from hospital but have to go for treatment for another week. Went to see the MO on Sunday and got another week off work. I learned a lot in hospital. What a brave crowd of chaps they all are. Good luck to all of them.

9th to 21st February. Quite a long spell to try and remember. Had a quiet week off work. Went each day for a massage (electric). Started work again on the 17th but did not go on the bench. Helped the Major in the surgery. Just a nice easy job. Took over room the Sgt one day and managed quite well. Got a lot of newspapers and Tit-Bits through, but very little else in the way of mail. Got a letter from Les Hudson in Uckfield and one from Stan Mole in the Sudan. Another airgraph from home and a card from Nelly.

22nd February. Had a very sore toe today caused through walking on the side of my foot because of the knee. Had to have it dressed. Today had a Court of Inquiry on my knee, this was necessary owing to the hospital saying that the injury was serious and may interfere with my future service. Lt Frost and two of the team came as witnesses. All went well and the finding was that it was an accident and done while on military duty. This clears me all right. Wrote an airgraph today.

23rd February to 3rd March. Work not going down too well. On the bench again. Two chaps gone back. Managed okay. Shall soon get used to it again. Got a little information this week. Stand a good chance of being made up. I do hope that it comes off. Shall know more later. In the early morning of 3rd March, had an air raid. Not had one for months. It was at the airfield about 15 miles away from here. Quite a lot of bombs were dropped. Understand two 'planes were brought down. Got an airgraph dated 13th February.

4th to 8th March. Another raid early in the morning, lets hope that it is not going to become a habit again. Quite a distance off here but the bangs disturbed my sleep. No more raids at night, everything just as usual, work in plenty. Received air mail letter on the 7th with snaps in. I think the snaps are very good. Played tombola at the IBD on Saturday. Picked up five houses and won 6/- between us.

9th to 15th March. Just a so-so kind of week with plenty of work, etc. No raids to report. Spent most evenings in the IBD canteen playing table tennis and darts. During the week received three cards and one airgraph. Sent off air mail letter. Heard that Cpl Harris was coming here. Very disappointed. Certainly the nearest I have been to promotion. However, all I can say is "Ma-leesh", and better luck next time. Got a very sore toe, having to have medical attention.

16th March to 3rd April. Quite a long jump. Nothing really exciting happened in the meantime. Refereed a football match. Went down to the beach and continued to make friends in the IBD One night during the week, Paddy and I were having a drink in the Company Office with the CAMS at 10.30pm when we met a chap who claimed to be a relation of the Bratley's in Rotherham! I must see him later when he is sober. Fixed up to go on leave to Alex'. Something at least to look forward to. Received a little mail. Work has increased tremendously. Thank goodness I am well again and can get finished the same day. Have been off colour for a week or so now. Today is Good Friday, what a shock I got when I found out. Did not realise it was Easter. Had a sailor, a Rotherham boy, called Bacon up to see me. Chatted with him for about three hours.

4th to 7th April. Easter weekend but just another weekend. Toe is about right now. First swim upset knee a bit. Started working from 6.00am to leave the afternoons free. Getting quite warm. If this keeps up it is going to be as hot as hell in the summer. Received post card on the 6th saying Jean was much better. What a shock I got. I did not know she was ill. Wrote home on the 7th, hope it gets there.

8th to 19th April. Just ordinary days, awaiting leave to come round. Set off with Paddy on the 10th for Cairo. Got a lift by lorry all the way. Had a weekend in Cairo and then on the 13th went to Alex'. After a four hour train ride, got there okay and put up at the St. Andrews Hostel. What a smashing place, clean white sheets and nice beds. A cup of tea in bed each day and very cheap. 1 for six days B & B, showers and tea included. Had a very nice time there. The most interesting being a morning on the docks. Never seen as many ships before. Saw all types of naval vessels, from small torpedo boats to the Queen Elizabeth, the newest battleship, subs and destroyers. Considering the heavy raids of the previous week, there was very little damage done. Only the brothels seemed to have been hit, what better target could they have hit. Stinking filthy holes. What a colossal place Alex' is. Never seen so many big buildings in so little room. Visited Stanley Bay, one of the most famous Med seaside resorts. Saw some very good films but was disappointed I could not stay to see Bitter Sweet. Like all good things it came to an end. Back again on the 19th to the lab.

20th to 22nd April. Back again to work. Airgraph from my darling awaiting me. Sent 5 home to my sweetheart on the 21st. I do hope it gets there okay. Received five cards, three from home and two from Nelly. So pleased to hear that Jean is getting well again. 22nd, received Jean's birthday cake in good condition. Have just eaten it and it was good. Was very pleased with card inside it.

22nd to 25th April. Just everyday sort of days. Big changes are in store, a new Major is due. The 25th, my birthday has come around again, 35 years old today making my third birthday in the Army. I hope to God it is all over before my next birthday. I played in a darts match to-night against the ROT. The game was stopped by an air raid. Quite a number of thrills. Was stood outside the lab with Paddy when a plane came over machine gunning. I dived under a water tower. They came too near to be really healthy. I gave my knee a real crash as I dropped. Thank goodness he missed me!

26th April. The new Major has arrived with big ideas. One thing is certain, if he increases the staff as he says so, there will be no room to work. Today, I regret to say, I hit a chap for the first time in my life. We have a very nasty piece of work, a Clerk Orderly, new out here, 30 years old. Today I collected the mail being eager to get your cable. He was very annoyed and gave me a shower of abuse. I threatened to slap him down, I just removed my glasses and hit him dammed hard. He is about one of the nastiest pieces of work I have ever met. My only regret is I did not hit him hard enough.

27th to 30th April. The frenzy started today. What a lot of shouting and running about, like a lot of lunatics. On Tuesday things were a little quieter, just running about and no shouting. I am, of course, referring to the new Major and his henchmen. Thursday was a day of surprises. Heaps of papers arrived by sea mail but no letters. Charlie Lee turned up, also Arthur Day, an old pal from Uckfield.

1st May to 2nd June. I have let this go for a whole month so it will be mostly guess work. More changes have taken place. The lab has been altered and Noah Lab is being opened up here with No4. Again I have just missed promotion. Another chap got it because he was older than me. It is very disappointing, however, my time will come. Many new faces in the lab. Bert Mountain has arrived here. Have had three games of cricket at Moascar. The Canal Area is forming a team to tour around. In the first game I took 5 wickets for 9 runs, in the second 1 for 22 and in the third 1for 10. I wonder if I shall be picked. I don't suppose so, there are too may Officers hanging around. However, I shall get a game with the DID at the weekend. My mail is coming through very poor.

3rd to 22nd June. Everything pretty much the same. More new faces, more of the old ones going. Expect I shall be going myself quite soon. Had one or two games of cricket. Still plenty of work.

23rd June. Well it has come at last. Today I move to No5 Lab at Alex'. Did not know what to think about it. It looks as if my promotion has gone to the wind moving into another district. Left Genifa about 7.30am by truck. Got to Ismailia for the 9.40am train. Met a chap I knew on the way to the new lab at Mona, Cairo. What a job with two kit bags and pack, however, I let the locals do the carrying for me. Got a seat all right on the Cairo train. Arrived at Bank and changed there. On the Alex' train at 1.10pm and away. What a hell of a journey. Arrived in Alex' about 4.30pm, or rather Sidi Gaber, which is near Mustapha Barracks my destination. Tried to ring up for a truck but could not get through. Went to the place on foot, about five minutes walk and left the kit at the station. One of the boys went in an ambulance for it. Just got in in time for tea, fish and chips. Got fixed up with a bed and settled down for the night.

24th June. Started work today, just nice and steady. It is a nice lab, gas and electricity and very clean. There is a nice club room for the Corps with books, table tennis, darts, etc. Went to a very posh cinema at night, what a change from the Gaff. 25th to 28th June. Getting quite used to things now. Went to the famous Stanley Bay for a swim on Friday evening but it was too rough for me. Saturday we had a day off. In the morning I went to the Bay, had a lovely swim and sun bathe. What a lot of beautiful women about, but they take no notice whatsoever of the soldiers. What a crowd there, but it is the holiday season. I was coming here on leave this weekend. My pal is coming up so I shall be all right. On Saturday afternoon I got a game of cricket with the Alex' Area Dental Corps. I have no doubt whatever that I shall get a place okay. The Canal Area are coming here in a week or two. Made 5 runs with the bat. Only had two overs with the ball and took 2 wickets for 6 runs. Had a run into town at night just to have a look round. Sunday was just a lazy day, in the morning went into town to send a cable, swimming in the afternoon and pictures in the evening.

29th June. Received a cable today, was very pleased. Things here are getting a bit sticky. Air raids, etc. Everyone confined to barracks after 8.00pm. Things certainly are looking bad. Talk of evacuating.

30th June. Today a bigger scare than ever is on. Have learned that we are one of the few to run when the time comes. Everyone is standing by. No one allowed out at all. The Germans are a lot less than 100 miles away. Something will have to be done quite soon.

1st July. Ordered to get kit packed and ready for a quick move. Rations have been drawn. A telegram came at dinner time to say the stand-by was off but to be ready to move at one hours notice. At this stage it is very hard to say what will happen. It is a nasty thought to think that Jerry could be here in two hours. If we go, goodness knows where we will finish up. Any place rather than in the hands of the enemy. So dear, though things are a little black, I still have every faith in God and I know I shall come out all right. Goodnight my love and God Bless.

2nd to 31st July. Well dear, we are still here and things are more or less settled down again. Jerry has been well held up the 'Blue' and the flap is just about over. This month has been the busiest I have ever had. Finished eighty two new jobs and sixteen repairs. Keep having air raids but nothing to worry about. I'm afraid this month has been all work with an occasional run into town. The work slackened off toward the end of the month and we were lucky enough to have three days holiday.

unit.jpg - 12083 Bytes
August 1942 The boys of the unit,
including an orderly from the
dental centre of the 14th U.K. Field Ambulance
and the lorry driver, Taken by Captain - now Major.
This is how we dress during the day.

1st & 2nd August. No work today. Saturday morning I spent swimming, the afternoon I played cricket against a NZ team. Got 2 wickets for 24 runs. In the evening had a run on the front. On the Sunday had a morning on the beach at Stanley Bay. My, what a crowd of hundreds of beautiful women. In the afternoon played cricket again against GHQ and managed to win this time. Got 2 wickets for 27 runs. Again a run on the front in the evening.

3rd to 5th August. Ordinary days, some mornings on the beach. Not as many people there now. The sun is getting to me quite a lot. It is terribly hot.

truck.jpg - 8882 Bytes
August 1942, in the desert. On the right of the truck is the Surgery.
The other side is the lab. The tent flap on right of surgery is where I sleep.

6th August. IN THE DESERT. George Iles and myself left Alex for duty on 'B' Mobile Lab with 14 Field Ambulance in a forward area. Left at 11.00am and got a truck, picked up field equipment and off up the 'Blue'. A nice journey up the coast to Burgel-Arab, turned south about 4 miles, then about 6 miles along the level of the coast. Just before getting to the destination, three German bombers dropped bombs on an aerodrome a mile or so from the truck then flew over us. Had I got the wind up! Arrived at Mobile Lab and got a good welcome. I am about 25 miles from the front line, right in the desert but I shall get used to it. The food is not too bad. What a night. Slept outside under a tent flap.

7th August. Was awakened at 3.45am this morning by German 'planes. Flares were dropped a few miles away. I was out of bed in no time. Two fires were started, one burnt for hours. One very heavy bomb dropped and I could feel the wind from it. Started work. Not too bad. Plenty of sand on everything. The lab is in a tent. A pretty quiet evening. Played cards for cigs until it got dark then bed at 8.30pm. No raid during the night.

8th August. Work all day as usual. This morning plenty of activity. Two 'planes came over and gunned the road about 200 yards away. Hit two truck drivers. Came over once or twice during the day. Hear that Winston Churchill is up the front line. Plenty of heavy gunfire from the front in the early evening. The night was very quiet. The food here is marvellous.

9th August. Working all day today. Everyday is the same. Pretty quiet today. Jerry came over once or twice but nothing happened. Heavy gunfire started at tea-time. Another quiet night.

10th August. Today has been very quiet. Very windy at times, as a result a lot of sand was blowing about. Everything in the tent got covered. I was covered all over with fine dust. It will take a lot of getting used to. In bed by 8.00pm. Rather under the weather today. Another quiet night.

11th August. Gunfire could be heard today. A dog fight took place this morning with some good bursts of gunfire. Four loud explosions in the distance, may have been bombing the rail head. Another quiet night.

12th August. Rather a dusty day. Quiet until after tea then Jerry came over and the ack-ack (new in the district) opened up on them. Shrapnel fell near to the cookhouse. All night long gunfire could be heard and 'planes were over all the time.

13th August. Pretty quiet day. Gunfire intermittent during the day. After tea, a crowd of our fighters came in very low, a couple of minutes afterwards a dozen Jerry's just played around at a great height. No guns or bombs. About 11.30pm, some Yank in the ambulance unit started playing a trumpet. A good player, but not appreciated at that time of night! Otherwise very quiet.

14th to 16th August. Just quiet days and quiet nights. On Sunday lunch time, a dog fight took place but was soon over. Had the afternoon off. Did washing and read.

17th &18th August. Monday was a quiet day and night. Today, Tuesday, I am really fed up. No mail and a hell of a lot of sand blowing about. Eating it and drinking it. What a bloody mess. Another quiet night. Tried to rain in the early hours.

19th August. Another quiet day but very sandy again. Had a letter from Ernest with snaps in. George Iles found a scorpion in his bed this morning! Heard news of an invasion in France. Hope that this is true. Quiet night but very rough, thought I was going to be blown away.

20th August. A nasty rough day with great dust clouds blowing about. Jerry came over this morning but was soon driven off. A quiet night again.

21st & 22nd August. Still no mail and getting a little worried. Friday during the day was very quiet but at night Jerry came passing over. For a long time the guns opened up and a barrage went up as big as I have ever seen. On Saturday after dinner, very heavy gunfire could be heard from the front. No doubt the push has started again. Learned later this was a heavy artillery duel. Quiet night.

23rd August. This morning witnessed the cheekiest thing yet. Ack-ack opened up and a Jerry flew very low overhead. What a shock when I saw the black crosses on it. Did a spot of washing. Had a bottle of beer at night, first for three weeks. Wakened during the night by ack-ack fire.

24th August. Received some mail today, been sent to 'D' Mobile. Gunfire heard intermittently during the day. About 9.30pm we had a parachute warning. Jerry was expected to attempt a land by air or sea. Had to sleep fully dressed. Nothing happened. Jerry came over and got a hot reception. We were instructed to try if possible to attack parachutists with picks or shovels, failing that, show Red Cross arm bands!

25th August. Una's birthday today. Hope she has got my cable. Ack-ack busy nearly all morning. Bad dust storms in the afternoon, worst yet. Was wakened during night by heavy crash of bombs, otherwise quiet.

26th August. A very quiet day. Heard that Jerry push was to start. Also heard that the Duke of Kent had been killed. One or two bangs during the night but otherwise very quiet. Still no attempt at landing.

27th August. Received airgraph, everything very quiet, almost too quiet day and night. I see that PT has started out here in the evenings, what a load of tripe. A Cpl Collins returned to unit. Why must I suffer so.

28th August. Still nothing to report during the day. A little gunfire could be heard later in the afternoon. My God what a night. The gunfire from the front was terrific all night. Then to top it all, Jerry was over all night. For two hours the ack-ack near here was terrific, shrapnel falling all around us. It was 11.15pm before we dared to turn in and we were in and out again twice before 1.00am and again at 5.00am.

29th & 30th August. Friday was a quiet day and night thank goodness. Saturday was quiet during the day, Capt Liggins arrived to take over from Capt Powell. Not so quiet at night. Jerry was over and we were out of bed two or three times. At 5.00am a terrific barrage went up and shrapnel fell all around the lab.

31st August. At 7.00am the day started with the cheekiest raid yet. Ten Jerry fighters came in very low and strafed the aerodrome. The ack-ack was terrific, the road was machine gunned and they all got away. Learned that seven planes were brought down during the night about 30 miles away. It was quiet during the night but very rough.

1st September. Today is our wedding day and what a start. At 4.00am Jerry came over and with utter disregard for the Red Cross, machine gunned the camp. My God, did I get the wind up. Fortunately all the bullets were on the other side of our outfit. The Officers Mess was wrecked. Everything that could break was broken. A lot of other tents hit but nobody hurt. More of our planes than I have ever seen went up forward. A nasty day with sand blowing about. The night was disturbed by Jerry again. Bombs fell near but nothing to worry about.

2nd September. Learned today the 'plane that machine gunned the camp was brought down, two were killed and the Sgt gunner was brought into the hospital here before moving to a POW cage. Almost every hour today from early morning, our bombers and fighters have been going over in big flights. The push we hear is on in all sectors. Heavy gunfire heard during the afternoon.

3rd September. Heard that Jerry had pushed through in the south and was only 18 miles south of here. Later they went back. Activity during the night. Broke my glasses diving into a slit trench.

4th & 5th September. Things very quiet, plenty of our 'planes over, nights not too bad. Jerry pushed back on all fronts. Another very cheeky incident after tea. Twenty six of our fighters were playing about. Two minutes after they had gone, a Jerry 'plane glided in and dropped a stick of bombs across the aerodrome. A quiet night.

6th September. Received three postcards, taken forty seven, fifty one and fifty seven days to get here. Dinner time today, four 'planes nipped in and had a go again at the aerodrome. Early this morning, one Officer and thirteen Italian Marines made a landing a few miles from here and put a mine on the railway track. Three trains and the ambulance train passed over it but did not go off. Then they gave themselves up to an Arab. Another quiet night.

7th September. Received another card today. Jerry came in again this afternoon behind about twenty of our fighters and had a go at the aerodrome again. Very heavy artillery fire could be heard about 6.00pm. Another quiet night.

8th September. Today Jerry came in behind our fighters and shot one down but one Jerry crashed during the day to level matters up. Five 'planes raided the aerodrome again but were driven off. Was kept awake at night, not by planes, but bloody dogs, they really drive me crazy.

9th to 13th September. Received airmail letter, took seven weeks to get here. All days and nights very quiet. Sunday received cable. Sunday morning Jerry came over and dropped a few bombs around the district.

15th to 16th September. Pretty quiet days and nights apart from dogs. Monday night ack-ack went up. Wednesday morning Jerry came in and bombed the aerodrome again. About 9.00am Jerry came in again but a terrific barrage went up. Quiet during the night.

17th to 22nd September. Very sandy during day. Ordinary days. Jerry made a few trips over. Thursday night had a good booze up. 'C' Mobile arrived on Friday. Monday and Tuesday very quiet in the day. At night, loads of our 'planes went over.

23rd September. Today three years service is up. Jerry came in this morning and dropped a beautiful stick across the aerodrome. The ack-ack missed again as usual. Not so quiet during the night. Jerry came over and dropped some bombs near to the camp. Quiet after that.

24th September. A pretty horrible day, windy and a hell of a lot of sand blowing about. A day to brown anybody off. Received a long letter at night which cheered me up.

25th to 27th September. A bit of activity. Saturday night was the worst up to now. A terrific barrage went up almost every half-hour. Hardly slept at all. On Sunday I was inoculated and am feeling the effects of it now. I hope it is a quiet night. Received two newspapers. Felt pretty rotten during the night.

28th September. Feel pretty near okay today. Received airgraph. Jerry was over around 6.00am. The worst day yet, wind started blowing about 8.00am and visibility was nil until the middle of the afternoon.

29th & 30th September. Ordinary days. Feel off colour at present. Went to see the doctor on Wednesday. Had a good examination. Heart and chest very good. Right kidney not quite so good. Doc suggested leave, said I was run down.

1st & 2nd October. Felt pretty bloody awful today so eased off work. Tummy upset. Taking tablets. Had a decent nights sleep for a change. Friday did not feel too bad. Just after tea, Jerry came over with eight 'planes. A bit if fun was seen, bombs, ack-ack, but nothing was brought down. A quiet night. Had another good nights sleep.

3rd October. A queer day. Thunder and rain and also very hot. Learned that I am going back soon.

4th to 6th October. Just so-so days, each night a real good electrical storm. Tuesday we moved a matter of 500 yards and became attached to a NZ CCS.

7th to 10th October. Received quite a bundle of mail during this period. One letter and eight cards. The food is really marvellous, the new site is much better, miss all the sandstorms. Had thunderstorms for two days with plenty of rain. On Saturday, got a new set of dentures fitted. At last I look quite respectable. Has been very quiet during the nights.

11th to 14th October. Just ordinary and very quiet. On Tuesday, went into Alex' for the day. Stayed overnight and returned Wednesday morning with a bad hang-over. Saw one of our 'planes crash on the way back. The pilot was not hurt badly at all.

15th to 18th October. Experienced the worst sandstorms and rains up to now. Inches of sand everywhere made work impossible. On Saturday went into Alex' again. Had a run to the pictures. Returned at night, heavy raid. Took the best part of an hour to clear up the sand in the lab.

19th to 22nd October. Weather quite good. Tuesday, went into Alex' again returning at night. Each day, big crowds of our 'planes went over all day long. Jerry over Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. On Thursday, big formations of our 'planes over again all day. Nights very quiet again.

23rd October. Today was the day for the big start at 10.00pm. (The Battle of El Alemein). At 9.45pm the artillery opened up with a terrific bang which kept me up nearly all night. Hundreds of 'planes went over during the day and night.

24th October. Everything went to plan. The first casualty arrived in. arrangements made to treat four thousand a day for five days in all the CCS's. 'Planes over non-stop all day, as many as sixty five in one lot.

25th October. Did some denture work until 2.30pm then went to the reception station to help until 9.30pm. Heard many interesting stories. The push seems to be going as was expected.

26th to 28th October. No dental work. Went again to lend a hand. Some work in on the Wednesday. A few dentures to do.

29th to 31st October. Still pretty quiet. Thursday did not have a single job to do. Doing nothing in the desert is pretty tough. Had a job on Friday. Things quiet in the hospital so no help was needed. Saturday still no work in the morning. Had a job in the afternoon and finished it.

1st to 6th November. Very quiet period. Just a little work to do. Heard Wednesday that everything was going very well up the front.

7th November. Packed up ready to move.

8th November. Moved off 100 miles up, stayed the night near Fuka.

9th November. Moved up another 40 miles. Stopped and CCS opened up at Garuala near Mersa Matru.

10th to 12th November. Just wandered around the desert. Try to find some loot but not very successful as yet. Expect to move up again anytime now.

13th to 15th November. Started work today, just a few jobs. Went for a swim. On Saturday went to Matru for a run. A decent place apart from the stink and the flies. Swimming in afternoon. On Sunday a spot more work and more swimming. Rationed to two pints of water a day.

16th to 19th November. Some work in the morning. Started raining. Went to Matru again. Heard we were to move to Tobruk. On Tuesday we started to pack. It poured with rain in the afternoon. On Wednesday started to wear battle dress. The next day, after lunch, we were off and moved up 80 miles.

20th November. Off again early, another 113 miles. At about 1.00pm we went over the famous Hell Fire Pass some 450 feet high.

21st November. Off again, on last lap, stopped and opened up 10 miles or so from Tobruk. Planes over all night and ack-ack fire.

22nd to 27th November. Had a run to the caves today. Quiet night. Went into Tobruk. Started work, plenty of patients. After lunch on the 27th, packed up ready for off.

28th November. Moved off about 20 miles past Tobruk up the Derma Road with the 5th Light NZ Field Ambulance. Started work straightaway. Rained hard. Received some mail. First for many weeks.

29th & 30th November. Plenty of work to do. The food is really excellent. Played cards, won 4/-.

1st to 4th December. Still plenty of work. Air raid on Tobruk on the night of the 2nd. Saw one 'plane come down in flames. Heard we were to move again.

5th December. Started to pack to move to Benghazi. Received three postcards. Poured with rain, got flooded and had to stay until the next day.

6th December. Moved back to 1st NZ CCS.

7th December. Moved off to Benghazi and eventually arrived there at 1.45pm on 9th December after a 350 mile journey.

10th to 13th December. On the road, a long trip, past Agedabia. Ran around the desert for days. Finished up with the Highland Division Field Ambulance. Rained hard most nights, got wet and hellish miserable. The truck broke down several times.

14th to 17th December. Opened up and started work. Received some mail and papers on the 17th.

18th December. Packed up and moved up 15 to 20 miles. Now about 40 miles from Agheila.

19th to 24th December. Very busy, plenty of work. Food not too great. Only less than half a mug of tea each meal.

25th to 29th December. Worked all day on the 25th. Not by any means the best Xmas. Did get some beer and cigs. The meal was so-so. No mail or parcels, just one card from Nelly.

30th to 31st December. 30th, Jean's birthday. Moved up again 52 miles, 12 miles past 175th ADS Ageila. For two days we ran around the desert and finished up 2 miles back!

1943     Index