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15 October 2014
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Grenade Attack: First Troops in Algiers

by BBC bus in Lincolnshire

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BBC bus in Lincolnshire
People in story: 
Ken Seager
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Contributed on: 
11 November 2003

We were the first troops to land in Algiers in November 42. We met very little resistance, then we moved up the coast 150 miles to Bougie, where our ship was sunk in the harbour. We encountered no ground troops and re-embarked on to a destroyer and rushed to Bone. We commandeered some old charcoal burning lorries that were very slow. Driving overnight inland to Tabak where the Germans tried to destroy the bridge over the ravine.

The same day we dug in and encountered the German Tank division. We knocked 11 tiger tanks and sustained heavy casualties whilst holding a major road junction. I was given the job of defending a bridge with a point5 anti tank gun, which was useless against tiger tanks.

During the day our commander Capt Pat Murphy was badly wounded and never saw action again. I later learned he had 30 operations on his jaw.

Our B Company lost 30 men that day.

The Germans retreated and we advanced in to the foothills of the Atlas mountains where the Germans were dug in. Whilst marching to the foothills I remember the first time I saw Dates and how marvellous they looked so I went across and picked them only to find that they tasted very bitter.

The next day we were ordered to advance through a valley to engage with the Germans and push them back. The order of advance was for my platoon to go through a railway tunnel advancing along side a railway line after a 1/3 of a mile we met the enemy who had machine guns in the hills above us and were shooting at us from three sides.

I was hit by a stick grenade and injured in the right leg and arm and was helped back by a corporal for about 300yards before the gun fire became too intense so he left me in a gully after losing blood and consciousness I came round after an hour or two and as soon as I moved a machine gun opened fire on me.

Nature played a cruel trick on me and I was in desperate need of a number 2. I couldn’t bear the thought of doing it in my pants so I rolled over and took them down and did it in the gully in the face of the enemy.

I waited until dark and struggled back to my own lines but was afraid to go back through the tunnel. I had to scramble up a steep slope and was just coming over the top and saw 7 helmets and thought they might have been Germans. I took a few steps to the right and stepped into nothing
When I came too I was in a ravine and wet, feeling depressed I didn’t care if I get caught. I struggled on and got through our lines without being challenged and met a couple of 25 pounders and asked if there was a first aid post. There I waited until I was picked up and taken back to the 5th military hospital at Bone where they attended to my wounds.

It had been 30 hours since I had been wounded and my wounds were infected. They applied a kaolin dressing to reduce the infection. This didn’t work it made things worse so I was sent to a French sanatorium. It was here that they tried to remove the shrapnel from my leg; the operation was unsuccessful and was in there for 5 months and the shrapnel is still there to this day.

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