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15 October 2014
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Chapter 5: The ground became alive with German soldiers!

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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

When the Colonel realised we’d broken through the German ranks, he ordered us to… he said “We’re not going into Tebourba in disarray. We’ll form up in threes and march into Tebourba where we’ll be received properly”. To no avail, when we got to Tebourba, in threes, there was no-one there, only a smouldering village with no sign of any other British soldiers, or regiments or materials — tanks, or anything. They’d obviously gone. And then we noticed that on the roads leading from Tebourba, each way, there were tracer bullets going across the roads. I think one in three were red tracer bullets and you could see the fixed lines and we thought what’s this?

We grouped round Col Lee — I think there must have been about 50 or 60 of us — and he said “I’m afraid the situation is pretty drastic. I think we should break up into groups of 3 or 4 and try and make it to where the rest of the brigade is!” Quite honestly, we hadn’t got a clue — he probably did — he said “I’ll take so-and-so and so-and-so” and he took about 4 or 5 men. And I grouped with 2 or 3 of my colleagues, I think one East Surrey man and one Commander, if I remember rightly, I don’t know where he came from but he was a Commander. And we started off. And someone said I think we’ll head towards those hills, you could just see the outline of the hills in the distance — that’s where the brigade will be. And then we said, well, a bit folly to move in daylight, shall we wait until it’s dark? Yes, good idea, but because we were very impatient, we forgot that and carried on! And it seemed very quiet. We came to this murky looking river - green slime, and well we’ve got to cross it and it looked so quiet and peaceful we took our trousers off, and our boots, got in and we could wade across. We waded across to the other side and before we could continue putting our clothes back on, the ground became alive with German soldiers; grey helmets and the uniforms and obviously they had been watching us all this time. And then we were loud-hailed again and they said “You’d better lay down your arms”, which we still had. We had no munition, no food, plenty of water, strangely enough. In Tebourba there were taps running all the time and you could fill up water bottles. As soon as we looked around and put our arms down, they came towards us. They came from all directions. They knocked our helmets off directly they got to us. Then an officer commanded them to put us onto a truck and we went to Tunis.

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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