BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

Too late for Alamein, life as a gunner pt. 3

by Bert Meakin

You are browsing in:

Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
Bert Meakin
People in story: 
Bert Meakin
Location of story: 
North Africa
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 January 2004

My name is Bert Meakin and I was a gunner with the 51st Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery. After a 14 week voyage from Liverpool to Suez my regiment, the 51st Medium Royal Artillery attached to the 51st Highland Division arrived in North Africa as part of the desert campaign. We arrived at the beginning of October 1942 and our first assignment was to Alexandria to guard the Free French Navy. All the talk was about the navy sailing off to join the Germans so we were ordered to range our 8 45 and 55 guns on the ships with orders to fire if they moved. After a week or so the threat seemed to subside and we were ordered to move off into the desert to what would be the battle of Alumein. We travelled for nearly a month doing about 30 miles a day but never caught up with the main thrust of the battle. We first saw action at a place called Wadi Ackeret where we ranged our artillery battery with another 30 or so regiments supporting the Highlander infantry and tank regiments, firing six miles into the distance. We were there for a week or so, mainly firing night barrages on enemy positions. It was hard work handling 50 and 100lb shells in hot weather for hours at a time. We had no cover and felt exposed if the enemy managed to range on us but we didn’t come under attack.

There were local Arabs around our position and we bartered with them to supplement our rations They seemed to have a good supply of eggs and were willing to barter them for tea, which was one of the few things we had plenty of. They were very canny and quickly recognised when we tried to mix in some used leaves. They learned very quickly to inspect it closely before exchanging!

From here we moved on through several positions to the outskirts of An Fedaville where it was hoped to trap the Germans and capture their whole army. It was here that we received our first casualties. The Germans found our range and dropped 2 or 3 sells on our sister battery and killed several gunners and an officer. Rather than captured the germans were driven out of North Africa and escaped to Italy, the rest of our time was spent in victory parades and rest camps. We returned to Tripoli, about 100 miles back We were there for a couple of months with nothing to do but swim in the sea and enjoy the sun.

Our next action was to be landed in Italy.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Too late for Alamein, life as a gunner pt. 3

Posted on: 16 January 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Bert

Your most welcome continuation of your story (Part 3) deserves a wider audience. Unfortunately you have posted it to the Army Research desk where it will only be seen by voluntary WW2 Rearchers like myself and a few others. A Research Desk is where you can ask questions about WW2 or search for long lost comrades, relatives, or friends; in sum, where you 'Ask a Question'.

Your story should be sent to the Editorial Desk. To do so now follow these instructions:

1. Highlight all the text of your story. Either by dragging your mouse pointer over it or by going to the Edit menu and clicking 'Select all'

2. Copy it: on your keyboard press Ctrl (far left) and 'c' together. Usually indicated by Ctrl+c.

3. In the green column on the left, click on either Personal Story or Family story, depending if it is about you or someone else.

4. Follow the instructions.

5. When you come to the window where you type your story, paste yours in.
To do this jusy press Ctrl+v.

6. You can Preview it for final adjustments.

7. When you are happy with it, send it to the Editorial Desk.

Let me know how you get on,


Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy