My Father was with the eighth army throughout much of the war. I was born in 1949, when the memories, and effects were still very much
I would often hear my parents discussing incidents and recalling memories with family friends, and as a child I enjoyed looking through photos that Dad brought back with him on his return, and often asked him questions. He was a darling of a man and would invariably answer my questions by relating to me some funny story about his mates, or some other anecdotes. Never once did he give me any indication of the horrors and hardships he must have faced during those years.
My Father wrote wonderful poetry and also recited monologues and poems to keep us entertained on occasions, (I can still see him using a broom to present arms, before he recited A Soldier's Farewell to Egypt.) This was the cause of great merriment to my sister and I, especially as my Mother, and Auntie Mary would admonish him greatly "Charlie, how could you? Not in front of the children!" etc.
I think I was about 10 when the film Tobruk was made. Dad went along to watch it, and on his return was sombre, and clearly upset. I knew he had been in Tobruk, and asked him why the film had made him sad....He produced a crumpled piece of paper from an old wallet and gave it to me explaining he had written the poem whilst in Tobruk.
This is his account:-
The Siege of Tobruk
In drab army lorries we drove passed the waves,
'Til we entered Tobruk, with her harbour of graves.
At Reveille next morning the bugles were sounded,
We were told the grim news: "Tobruk is surrounded!"
That night came the terror of bombs that rained down
And smashed this last vestige that once was a town.
We gritted our teeth, and dug in the sand,
For we meant to hold on to this torn foreign land.
The Germans still hovered like an army of bats
And their radio called us Tobruk's Desert Rats.
We jeered then and laughed, "Dear Adolph, you're barmy!"
"You'll never beat us, we're British...Eighth Army!"
Charles W. Blanks.
He stood just 5'2" tall - but he is still one of biggest men I have ever had the priviledge of knowing. He never collected any of his campaign medals after the war - he said he wasn't a hero, just a lad who was called to do his duty.
I am very proud to be the daughter of A Desert Rat!!!
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity of sharing his account with you. Should anyone reading this recall my Dad - I would love to hear from you.