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15 October 2014
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Chapter 4: Then came the order: ‘Fix bayonets!’

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Ron Redman,
Location of story: 
Tebourba, Tunisia
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A9034742
Contributed on: 
01 February 2006

Ron: Well, we went down to HQ and by that time it was dark. Personally I was told to take over the Bren gun of our group, my section, because the chap who was normally the Bren gunner had been shot in the hand, I believe, he was unable to use the Bren gun. I remember using this Bren gun against all these figures coming down the hill, presumably Germans but from that distance it was a job to see who they were, but I presumed they were Germans. There seemed to be so many of them coming down, we thought we must be surrounded. By that time all the companies of the battalion were in the same area, HQ, what was left of Y and X Coys joined us, we were the remnants of the battalion. We learned afterwards that about five hundred had gone, had died. That’s out of about 780 in a battalion.

As the evening got darker and the shouting, the Germans were loudhailing us to surrounder: “You haven’t got a chance!” and they got Anglo-Saxon replies — they couldn’t have been far away. We were in a wooded area and they were obviously all around us. Then the colonel of the regiment, Col Lee — a man I must admit I had to admire very much — said “We’re going to break out!” He said “We are surrounded, but we’re going to break out” and then came the order: ‘Fix bayonets!’ and everybody who could, fixed a bayonet. And that included all the HQ men, the cooks, the clerks, the non-combatants almost, and he said we were going to form up in a line and we’re going to break out to Tebourba, where we presumed was the rest of the brigade. [We were in the Guard’s Brigade — not the Brigade of Guards.]

So in the dark and the turmoil and the shouting and the shooting, we advanced! You couldn’t tell who was friend or foe quite honestly in that dark and turmoil but by a stroke of magic we seemed to get through them. Whether the Germans didn’t like that type of fighting, I don’t know, but I do wonder.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Sue Craig on behalf of Ron Redman and has been added to the site with his permission. Ron fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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