artillery

Jun

18

1942

The British retreat in the Desert continues

Old King Cole was hollow cheeked and was beginning to look drudged with weariness. His moustache was droopy and his eyes were red. He had two septic places on his face and, every now and then his right eye twitched uncontrollably. He was unshaven and gaunt. From his dusty boots to his battered hat he was taking on the colour of the desert.

Nov

18

1941

Operation Crusader aims to relieve Tobruk

‘FIRE’ and another shell hurtles into the enemy front line. We have just fifteen seconds to get each shell loaded, the gun correctly aligned and the firing lever pulled. The range is four thousand, five hundred yards. Fifty yards are added to the range, the Gunlayer makes the correction to the elevation and Number One checks ‘FIRE’ and another shell screams away into the darkness.

Sep

6

1941

Red Army assault on the German lines

Our observation post is quickly altered into a defensive position. The camouflage tarp is removed and a step is dug into the wall in order to bring the machine gun into place. Hand grenades are lined up, ready to be used. The bayonet is attached to the rifle to prepare for one- on-one battle. The Reds have managed to break through to the right of our position. Quite a few are torn apart by the mines, but the Red devils don’t mind a few hundred casualties.

Sep

1

1941

Fighting off a heavy bombing raid on Tobruk

After that they came in thick and fast, bombs landing continuously all round us. Three guns went out of action but the fourth (Sergeant Edwards) went on battling magnificently, fighting them off as they came in. The L.A.A. gun fought gloriously, fighting back with 120 rounds until a bomb landed within three feet of them wounding all of them and putting their gun out of action. All were taken off in an ambulance. One lad was killed and six wounded.

Aug

13

1941

Tribute to the Garrison of Tobruk

Everyone in Tobruk thinks the other fellow is the best in the world. Each Australian Brigade maintains that its associated British Artillery is incomparable. All within the perimeter share the day’s hazard, and at Fortress Headquarters a General, who fought in Gallipoli, calls his garrison a team.

Apr

12

1941

Falling back in Greece

One morning three bombs landed not twenty yards from the hole we were crouching in, covering us with filth, my tent was torn in three places by jagged pieces of bomb splinters. Forty yards from my tent a huge bomb tore a hole in the ground twenty feet deep and seventy feet wide. After dropping their bombs they fly low and machine-gun us because we have no planes to chase them-off – the sky is THEIRS.

Apr

1

1941

Germans and British clash in the desert

The Fusiliers had a most fearsome reputation. The unit was made up of hard, uncompromising men of little polish; they obeyed their own officers but treated anyone else in authority with contempt, particularly base depot personnel. They were the dourest fighters we were to meet in a long day’s march and we were always glad to have them about.

Jan

19

1941

British forces enter Italian Eritrea

On the 19th January the first of the 4.5 Batteries went into action and did some very accurate shooting, so vindicating or justifying our ‘fudging and improvisation’. On the same day Italian Savoyas strafed us and we managed to bring one down with rifle fire and one LMG. A newly arrived Hurricane, probably the only one in East Africa, brought down another. Although all a little bit “gung ho”, the South Africans were all a very good crowd but so different from the Army types I had been used to. Discipline was there one assumed, but it wasn’t too obvious.

Jan

15

1941

British forces maintain pressure on Tobruk

The garrison of Tobruk, believed to comprise one Italian division and certain ancillary troops, including 6,000 frontier guards, is still invested by our forces. There is also reason to believe that it has been reinforced by the two Blackshirt generals who retired from Bardia. If Tobruk falls, it is difficult to forecast where the Italians will make their next stand.

Dec

11

1940

British capture Sidi Barrani from Italians

Sidi Barrani

08.30 direct shell burst on gun-fell flat on my side & passed out for half a minute – came to and saw my left arm jerking up and down – thought at first it had been blown off – heard someone say ‘Gawd-the Captain’s been killed’ – so managed to sit up and say ‘no, you bugger, fire the gun’