- Contributed by
- People in story:
- George Townson
- Location of story:
- The Middle East..
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 April 2005
The following is a faithful transcript of one soldier's memoried, as told to his diary. Lots of people kept wartime diaries, although it's rare to find complete extracts such as this one, which give a flavour of life on the front line and also the distances travelled and places seen, in a time when travel as we know it didn't really exist.
Embarked Liverpool on SS Brontes, 22,000 tons.
Sailed Monday for Freetown, arrived 11 days later, stayed two and a half days then onto Cape Town. Arrived eight days later, went ashore for 2 days, had a good time, sailed third morning round past Madagascar and mombasa through Gulf of Aden (submarine sunk here) up through Red Sea to Port Suez, arriving after seventeen days. Disembarked six weeks after leaving Liverpool, went by train to Camp Mardi, near Cairo and stayed seven days.
Been into Cairo, many modern buildings, many strange ways surrounding country, very primitive ways, many dirty houses and streets. In the Mardi part, wonderful housing and gardens.
Moved to Sidi Bish Camp, near Alexandria, had good tents, beds, sheets and lights.
Started out for desert at 7pm. Travelled, travelling still at 5pm the next afternoon, camped out 37 miles west of Matrue.
Started on our first job, erecting new pole line route towards Sidi Berani.
"****" (edited) came over the camp and dropped a few bombs - everyone alright.
Working from daybreak to sunset, terrible sand storms and very cold at nights and early morning.
Went looting, no dinner except bully and biscuits
First lot of mail to reach the section. None for me.
Chris and I went as advance party, spending the night of Jan 3rd/4th at Bug Bug. Slept in dug-out, much bombing and shelling but quiet after.
Bardia fell, many thousands of prisoners taken, road blacked with them.
Recieved first letters from home, from Jock.
Moved into Gambut, had bad sand storm here and plenty of rain.
Tobruk fallen into our hands, town in a bad way, did much repair work from Cupuzza to Tobruk.
Moved to Derna, lovely town and country, good house to sleep in, the first for four months.
Moved to Barce through magnificent country. Barce is a quiet place with many arabs and Italian colonists. the Italians were very decent people, very friendly and peaceful but afraid of Arabs who robbed and murdered them. Country very well colonised. Got gifts to send home picked up. Rossaline, Italian prisoner, a willing fellow very content with us.
Went into hospital at Barce (Dysentry).
Officer killed by Gerry plane, running at Agedabia.
Left Barce 11.20pm for Tobruk, still in hospital, orderly retreat.
Arrived at Tobruk 4pm, very tired after long trip, got on well with sisters in Tobruk hospital.
To be continued...
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