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This page has been archived and is no longer updated.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

The Lucky Bulleticon for Recommended story

by purcy27

Contributed by 
People in story: 
richard hill
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
16 November 2003

Of course we had our quiet moments, whilst in Tobruk, as well our hectic ones. So when it was quiet we would get time away from the guns, say two hours on and two hours off.

During one such period, I decided to visit one of my old sergeants, who was in charge at HQ. We were at one of the batteries about two miles from HQ, so I had to walk the distance that separated us.

Across open desert

We were stationed high above Tobruk, over the encampment on the edge of the desert. Our forces occupied a tract of land about the size of the Isle of Wight, with our backs against the sea. Tobruk harbour was our only port.

This particular morning I set off across open desert — rocks, camel scrub, loose sand etc — to my friend the couple of miles away. I had only gone a few hundred yards when I heard the anti-aircraft guns down at Tobruk harbour open up and saw the shells bursting high in the air.

Stuka just 50 feet above me

I was walking along the edge of the escarpment when a burst of engine power rushed at me. A Stuka was about 50 feet above me and 100 yards or so ahead. It was coming straight at me, guns blazing.

I looked for cover and was very lucky in finding an old trench three parts full of sand, with old sandbags, threadbare and torn, around the rim. Without further ado, I threw myself down behind one on the bags at the same time as I felt a thud near my head the other side of the sandbag. I lay there as the Stuka thundered overhead.

Swastikas on each wing

Rolling over on to my back, I saw this black giant bird, a swastika painted on each wing, go by, and a shadow follow, still only some 100 feet above me.

After the Stuka had crossed the horizon, I went round the other side of the trench. There I opened my knife and dug a copper-plated bullet out of the sandbag.

Lucky bullet

That bullet I kept for ages, and when we were able to get leave in Cairo, I gave it to an American seaman whom I met in a bar. He was with a convoy that was unloading supplies in Port Said for the Allies.

By the way, the sergeant who was my friend left our regiment after the siege of Tobruk and went to Cairo HQ. He stayed in the army and became a major general. I never saw him again, but I followed his career through a captain friend of mine.

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

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
Siege of Tobruk 1941 Category
North Africa 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