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WW2 Diaries Of Leslie Arnold Miller, VX46271

Introduction

These diaries were written by Gunner Leslie Arnold Miller, VX46271, 3rd LAA Battery

Les grew up at Charleroi, a rural area in north east Victoria, the third son of nine children (eight boys, one girl).

On 25th July 1940, he went to Melbourne with two of his brothers, George and Ernie, and four friends from the same region, and enlisted in the AIF at Caulfield.

He and George were assigned to the 3rd Light Anti Aircraft Regiment and remained together, even in the same gun crew, for the duration of the war.

1941

Left in the Mauritania from Port Melbourne 29th December 1940. Cleared the heads 8.30am after staying in the bay overnight December 30th.

31st December Picked up the rest of the convoy at sea. They were Queen Mary, Awatea, Aquitania, Mauretania1, Dominion Monarch and the cruiser Canberra.

1st January 1941

At sea. Cabins are wonderful.

2nd January 1941

At sea having a wonderful voyage.

3rd January 1941

Landed at Freemantle. Had 12 hours leave at Perth. Had a wonderful time. The people were marvellous to us. Mr Crowe of the reception committee drove us round, showed us the sights. The scenery along the Swan River, well I’ve yet to see better. Alf Sutherland was with George and me.

Unfortunately, Arthur had to do guard duty and only got a few hours leave to Freemantle. Mr Clark Crowe took us home to his place for tea. Met his mother who told us she would write home and tell Mum we are well. Only had two beers for the day.

4th January 1941

Back on the boat, stayed in the harbour. Hundreds of people down to see the boats. George and I were on guard duty on the bridge and started waving to two girls. We could not go down lower to talk to them so we threw our names down in a tobacco tin and asked them to write to us.

5th January 1941

Left Freemantle Sunday. Had our last look at Australia for some time. Still liking the trip.

6th January 1941

At sea

7th January 1941

At sea.

Have not been sea sick yet. Personnel in our cabin are Charlie Little, Allan Murphy, Gordon Austin, Jim Bryant, Jack Confait, Don Ryan

8th January 1941

At sea.

1This, the second ocean liner with the name Mauretania, was launched in 1938 by the Cunard White Star Line. It made its maiden voyage the following year and, like its predecessor, was noted for its luxury and service. With the outbreak of World War II, the Mauretania became a transport ship but resumed its passenger service in 1947. In the late 1950s the ship’s popularity began to wane, and the Mauretania was scrapped in 1965.

9th January 1941

At sea.

10th January 1941

At sea.

11th January 1941

At sea.

12th January 1941

Landed at Columbo. Viewed Columbo from the boat all day. Niggers round the boats everywhere trying to sell you things. Changed over from the Mauritaniato the Devonshire2. Very hot weather.

13th January 1941

Went on leave to Columbo. Had a great time but it was a black outlook, niggers everywhere. Drove round in a bus seeing the sights. This time Arthur Sutherland was with George and I.

Drank a few bottles of beer. Alf did not get his leave till the next day. Came back to the boat just on dark.

14th January 1941

Sat in harbour and fumed a bit because they would not give us more leave. Just sat on deck and listened to the noise the niggers kicked up. Watched them diving for silver coins in the water-at this they are very adept.

15th January 1941

Still in the harbour.

16th January 1941

Left 12 o’clock from the harbour. There are fifteen boats in our convoy now. The only original ship to come with us is the Dominion Monarch- the rest stayed at Columbo.

17th January 1941

At sea.

18th January 1941

At sea. Very hot.

19th January 1941

At sea.

20th January 1941

At sea.

21st January 1941

At sea.

22nd January 1941

At sea.

2HMS Devonshirepennant number 39, was a County-class heavy cruiser of the London sub-class built for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s. The ship spent most of her pre-World War II career assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet aside from a brief tour with the China Station. She spent the first two months of the Second World War in the Mediterranean until she was transferred to the Home Fleet and became flagship of a cruiser squadron. Devonshire took part in the Norwegian Campaign in mid 1940 and evacuated much of the Norwegian Government in June. Several months later, she participated in the Battle of Dakar, a failed attempt to seize the Vichy French colony of Senegal in September. The ship remained in the South Atlantic afterwards and supported Free French efforts to take control of French Equatorial Africa in addition to searching for German commerce raiders.

Devonshire returned home in early 1941 and briefly rejoined the Home Fleet, during which time she escorted several aircraft carriers as they attacked German forces in Norway and Finland and covered the first convoy to the Soviet Union. Shortly afterwards, the ship was sent to the South Atlantic where she sank the Q-shipAtlantisDevonshire was then assigned to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean and supported the Allied invasion of Madagascar in mid-1942. She then spent the next year escorting convoys before returning home to begin a lengthy refit. After it was completed in early 1944, the ship escorted various aircraft carriers for the rest of the war as they attacked targets in Norway. After the German surrender in May 1945, she sailed to Norway and escorted two surrendered German cruisers from Denmark to the UK. Devonshire then began ferrying British troops home from Australia for the rest of the year. In 1947, the ship was converted into a training ship for naval cadets and served until she was sold for scrap in 1954.

23rd January 1941

At sea.

24th January 1941

At sea

25th January 1941

At sea.

26th January 1941

At sea

27th January 1941

At sea. Celebrated my birthday with some beer. Alf and Arthur joined us.

28th January 1941

Anchored at Port Suez but very foggy. Entered Suez Canal 3pm. The entrance was magnificent. Further on desert on one side, plenty of camels. The other side trees and palms. Passed the Australian War Memorial. Turned very cold. Watched the Arab men sitting down watching the women work. The desert looks a very imposing sight but I can’t say I fancy it.

29th January 1941

Arrived at Port Said 4.30pm and left again at 5.30pm to cross the Mediterranean. Port Said is the prettiest place I have seen so far. There was a strict blackout.

30th January 1941

Arrived at Haifaat 10.30am. Have not been ashore yet. The place looks very modern. The place looks as though they have copied the design of the American buildings. We were to have got off for our destination but ordered to stay on board for the night.

31st January 1941

Left the Devonshireat 12 noon, boarded the train at 1.45pm, arrived at our destination at 6.30pm.

Saw beautiful green fields and orchards on the train journey to Khassa4.

Amused at the primitive methods of the Arabs ploughing with wooden ploughs.

1st February 1941 Saw us settled in our new camp at Khassa.

Received a letter from Mum. Very pleased to hear from home.

2nd February 1941

The usual camp routine. Picked for guard duty, spent a very cold night.

3rd February 1941

Camp routine, the food good.

4th February 1941

The Prime Minister Mr Menzies visited us at our camp. It seems a very strange land.

5th February 1941

The news broke to us that the 8th Battery were moving to the forward area of Libya to take over the ac-ac guns. While waiting for the order to move proper the air raid alarm sounded. There was a great scatter for shelter. A little after, the all-clear sounds.

6th February 1941

Left our camp, Khassa, for the forward area at 9pm. The Colonel told us we had drawn the plum. I wonder.

7th February 1941

Left the train at daylight after travelling all night. Crossed the Suez Canal and took another train from Kantara5. Passed through Ismaila6 at 3pm. Looked a very nice place what I saw of it.

3In Palestine, now known as Israel

4In Palestine, north of Ghaza, training camp for WW2 Australian troops

5El Qantara, known as Kantara to WW2 Australian troops, is a north eastern Egyptian city on both sides of the Suez Canal, 160 kilometres (99 mi) northeast of Cairo and 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Port Said.

6North eastern Egyptian city

 

8th February 1941

Continued on through the previous night and stayed at Amariastation till daylight. Then went to Alexandria and after a long wait boarded the City of Warsaw. Viewed several places wrecked from bombs. Packed on board like sardines and don’t think much of the tub. Pulled out of Alexandria at 6.30pm.

9th February 1941

Went on guard duty and was very amused at the Libyan troops singing and dancing. A lot of boys putting their meals over the side. The ship is a very dirty vessel.

10th February 1941

Pulled into Tobruk but never went ashore owing to one of the Libyans getting sick. Saw seventeen ships and one plane sunk in the harbour. Believed to be 51 sunk vessels there all told, all Italian vessels.

11th February 1941

At 7pm went ashore. George and I were guards on the baggage party. Had some great fun packing, I don’t think. Tossed George to see who would be in the first truck. George won but never got far. The driver tipped the truck over in a shell hole. Baggage tipped everywhere. Passed damaged and burnt trucks by the dozen on our way to the camp. Retired for the night at 12 o’clock.

12th February 1941

Woke in the gorge, Waddy Ody they call it. Saw dozens of dugouts and there were a few forts battered by the Australians two weeks previous. There are hand grenades and rifles, ammunition, all Italian, scattered everywhere. Tunic bandoliers, well dash it all, the things are too numerous to mention. Tired of smoking dago cigarettes, don’t think much of them. The boys had some rare old fun exploding hand grenades and firing dago rifles.

13th February 1941

George and I with three other mates went into Tobruk and gave the town the once over. Had tea with the Tommy soldiers. Passed dago prisoners everywhere. Raided the Spa water dump and brought back 18 bottles. We ran into Don Ballard in Tobruk. Came back to camp in the dark and finished up the night on a bottle of LLBpresented to us by Sgt Gallagher. Altogether spent a very pleasant day.

14th February 1941

Just daily routine work. Had my hair all cut off.

15th February 1941

A very severe dust storm. Ate dust all day.

16th February 1941

George and I visited the naval fort and viewed all the big guns. The Italians must have spent a power of money. Underground passages running from one gun to another.

17th February 1941

Went out for a route march and general scrounging day. In the afternoon went for a swim in the sea and spent the rest washing. Damn it, I wish I had got married- I’d send it home to her to do.

18th February 1941

Just mucked around camp in the morning. In the afternoon raided the base supply dump and came back with a supply of eats but not long before they fired a couple of shots at us.

19th February 1941

On duty as battery runner. Spent the day writing letters.

20th February 1941

At last they have given us guns to use, six arrived this morning but they are captured dago guns9. They seem alright. In the night a party of us went out scrounging for food and three of them got lost and arrived home after daylight. Must say we get a lot of fun out of this scrounging.

7Probably Amreya,a neighborhood of Alexandria

8Lime, lemon and bitters???

920 mm Breda

21st February 1941

George and I went on duty as prowlers and the damn wind is springing up, bringing another dust storm.

22nd February 1941

Junkers 88 German plane flew over the anti-aircraft from Tobruk. Opened up on him without success. In the afternoon went over to some Scotch pals and they informed us they expected a raid on Tobruk at daylight and we got it. Drank 14 bottles of Abbotsford with the Scotch boys.

23rd February 1941

Viewed the air raid at daylight, a very impressive sight. The ac-ac shells were bursting all around one plane. A little while after three Hurricanes zoomed over us in pursuit and according to reports shot one down. In the afternoon went to base guard at the food dump. Spent a good night but, by hell, that rum had some kick in it.

24th February 1941

Came off guard at 7am and came back to the camp with a lot of extra tobacco. After dinner fired our first shots out of the ac-ac guns. At 7pm a German raid over us. Ac-ac gun from Tobruk went into action and fired shells by the dozens. Between them and the searchlights it was a magnificent display. Our subsection manned our gun thereby gaining the distinction of going into action first. They dropped some bombs. Bombs hit the bakehouse killing twenty people.

25th February 1941

Another German raid at dawn woke me up, damn them, by the gunfire. At 7pm over came the Huns again with their bombs and was it a racket. Shells exploding and bombs dropping. I thought for a while hell had broken loose. Ordered to shift our camp, each troop in a different place, so as to be safer in an air raid.

26th February 1941

Rigging up our new tent. Learnt that an oil tanker was hit in the bombing. Five of our sub section manned the gun on top of the hill. The alarm was sounded but no action. Spent a very cold night.

27th February 1941

Having a rest in the tent when the ac-ac opened up on a reco10 plane. They put a few close to his tail.

28th February 1941

Early in the morning the ac-ac opened up on a German plane, one shell exploding right on his tail. Then two hurricanes flew after him and I believe they got him. Left our camp at 10am for Benghazi11. Passed through Derna12 at 5pm. George very sick with the backyard trots. Passed some wonderful road engineering by the dagos. Camped a few miles out of Derna.

 

1st March 1941

On our way at 8am after spending a very cold night and it is still as cold as charity. Passed through Barce at 1pm. There is a bit of greenery on the track now, the country is improving. Our convoy consists of 23 trucks but dropped some of the boys at Derna and Barce to man Breda guns. Arrived at Benghazi at 7pm. Billeted in a big cement room. Benghazi looks all right to me and a fairly big place as well.

2nd March 1941

Cleaning up round the camp. The Major informed us that we were to man ac-ac guns around the harbour. A party of us went out to bring in the ac ac guns13. Yes we brought them in but not before we ran all over Benghazi sightseeing. George, myself and Gordon Austin consumed a bottle of champagne and vermouth. Did we have some fun in Benghazi, I’ll tell the world.

3rd March 1941

Cleaning up the guns and firing them to see if they were in working order.

10reconnaissance

11Libya’s second largest city

12port city in eastern Libya

1320/65 Breda 20mm cannon?

4th March 1941

Moved to our gun position out on the pier. A very hard day sand bagging the gun pit. Have a cosy little hut for the gun crew. They are Sergeant Gallagher, J Courtney, H O’Donnell, A Sinclair, G Miller, L Miller. No enemy activity.

5th March 1941

A very cold day, laying on my bed after a very meagre meal. 12.45 fired on a Junkers 88. Every gun opened up except two. 8.45 the air raid siren blows and our crew were in action., everything ready in less than 30 seconds. Heard the plane but never sighted it. I think I will go and get some shut eye. Still a bit peeved at Jerry14. The plane he sent over came at dinnertime, blast him, had to run to the gun and let the steak go cold.

6th March 1941

A very nice morning. At 10am the German plane came over and did the ac ac open up on him. Our gun fired 84 shells at him alone. That night at 8.50 heard two explosions and raced out of the hut to hear another plane over but never sighted him. About ten minutes another alarm then a little later, another. Our gun kept silent, they were too high up.

7th March 1941

My turn at lying in bed and, oh boy, was it any good. Filling sand bags for our own gun pit. Never worked as hard since I joined the Army. Went for a swim in the sea. We only have to step two yards from the hut to the water.

8th March 1941

At 8pm over came enemy aircraft. We opened up on them. They dropped about twelve bombs, some about three hundred yards away but no damage done. Our gun fired 96 shells. Another alarm but no action. Our lucky day. At 8.30 over came the bombers and five bombs dropped in the sea less than 100 yards away and more further on. Our shots appeared to be hitting him. I don’t want to be that close to a bomb again. Not ever. In the day I was acting no 1 of the gun team. I was in the firing seat both raids. The Navy reported the plane down in the sea.

9th March 1941

Woke up with a severe attack of dysentery. I’ll say it’s no joke. Uneventful day.

10th March 1941

Stayed in bed sick. Still got the back yard trots.

11th March 1941

Feel much better. Another air raid alarm at 10am but no action. After dinner, to our joy, our mail sent out to us. Very pleasing getting mail after a lapse of a month and 5 days.

12th March 1941

Went on leave in the town, Had a good day. Ran into Les Adam’s nephew in the town. He was in the ground staff in the Air Force. Drank a drop of beer but remained sober. The alarm sounded at 11. 40. We jumped to the gun and fired a few shots. They fired our signal so believe it was our own plane.

13th March 1941

A very windy day. Two air raid alarms in the day time but no action as planes were not sighted. Just as well for the enemy as we would have shot them to pieces, at least I reckon so. Did a bit of letter writing.

 14th March 1941

Moved from our gun pit to another gun on top of Customs house. The whole house to six of us, electric light and furniture in every room. Is it any plum living like kings. There is an electric buzzer from the gun to our sleeping quarters. Also we have a piano.

15th March 1941

All quiet up to date. Been very busy cleaning up. Have a nice bath with a bath heater here.

14Slang for Germans

16th March 1941

Roused out of bed by the air raid siren at 4.10am but no bombs dropped. Rest of day just mucked around.

17th March 1941

Roused by the alarm at 5.25am. Over came the enemy and dropped six eggs. They went off with an awful crack. Three enemy reco planes over at 2.05pm. we all opened up on them but they were too high. The doctor came and visited George. His temperature was 101, complaint flu. Ody15 went on leave so I took over the cooking. Did a big day’s washing. Ody came home and informed us that he had booked a chap to do our washing.

18th March 1941

I went on leave in the town. Had a fair day. Roused out of bed in the early hours of the morning by planes but no action.

19th March 1941

Roused out of bed by the sirens. Enemy planes dropped 12 bombs at 4.10am. they were too high for action. All told there were36 bombs dropped round the rest of the town. Rest of the day quiet up till 8.40pm. Had some fun swapping tea and cigarettes with the Arabs. Did some fair bargains too.

20th March 1941

Went on air sentry at 4am feeling very sick. At 5.50am the siren blows. The all-clear twenty minutes later. 6.15am the siren blares again, this time we saw the pane. Every gun opened up but without success. Finished my shift and went to bed. The doctor visited me and told me I had George’s complaint. Spent the rest of the day in bed. George’s birthday- twenty seven years today’

21st March 1941

Brother Ernie’s birthday. I wonder where he is at the moment. Benghazi free of raids this morning, first for some time. Still in bed sick but feel much better.

In the evening Sergeant Cavanagh and Frank Maudsley arrived at our house injured. They were almost washed off the mole with the high seas. They were cut about a bit and lucky to be alive. Received word that we had to move 20 miles but the Major said George and I had to stay behind as we were sick.

22nd March 1941

Sergeant Gallagher and rest of party moved on. George and I moved back to BHQ16 for a rest. Regret being split from the rest of the boys but may get back with them later on.

23rd March 1941

A beautiful day. The Major put me on servicing Breda guns and quietly told me that I had done a very good job. The day clear of air raids.

24th March 1941

Just pottered around BHQ. Received a letter from mum.

25th March 1941

The enemy planes have given us a bit of a respite. No raids for several days. Been busy putting sand bags on the gun on top of BHQ.

26th March 1941

Helping Brigadier Ampt’s17 crew fix their gun emplacement. George went to Barce18 to get teeth out. Received mail from home. Also one from Neta.

27th March 1941

Driving round in buses all day. George arrived back with his teeth intact. The dentist was away.

28th March 1941

Daily routine.

15Orderly

16Brigade Headquarters

17Probably Eric Ampt VX12482

18BarceLibya, a city 80 kilometres northeast of Benghazi 

29th March 1941

George and I back with Sgt Gallagher’s old crew. Shifted to the other side of the town on 18 pounder naval guns. Shifted into billets with some Tommy19 soldiers.

30th March 1941

The Major came out and watched us firing the 18 pounders. In the evening just finished tea when there was a hell of an explosion. Three Arab boys were messing round with ac ac shells when one exploded and one boy was blown to bits. He was a dreadful sight. One leg was blown a distance of 130 yards.

31st March 1941

Hard at work learning the workings of the gun. We fire the gun out to sea at 8am every morning.

 

1st April 1941

Nice day, same routine gun drill. Like this place very much. The meals are good and we are getting our mail more regular. We watch the Arabs blowing up good hauls of fish. The enemy have left us alone for some time now. Just about to start tea when a bomber flew over. We thought he was our own until he dropped a stick of bombs about 400 yards away. In the night we got orders to pack our things ready to evacuate Benghazi, then told to stand by our guns as the Germans were advancing.

2nd April 1941

Still on alert, ready to move. A lot of the other troops already moved out. They rushed the armoured division up to the front and reports are that they are holding them.

3rd April 1941

At 8.30 they started to blow up guns and petrol. Then we got word to blow ours. So we rammed one up the breech and one down the end of the barrel. Sgt Gallagher and I got a long wire on the guns and fired them. Pieces of gun blew in all directions. 9.30 we evacuated Benghazi. The dense smoke pouring up from the petrol dumps made a magnificent sight. There was a great scatter from the convoy as a bomber was sighted but it turned out to be our own. Camped on the road just out of Barce and in the night word came round that if we did not move we would be German prisoners. So, by heck, we moved.

4th April 1941

Moved on about 16 miles and had breakfast. It’s just like a picnic. We are 17 kilos out of Tocra. They have given us a Breda gun to man. The name of this place is Annunyio.

5th April 1941

Stayed the night at Annunyio. We are waiting for an infantry brigade to come up then we move on towards Tobruk. We are now ac ac for the 9th Division.

6th April 1941

Our things are ready packed to move at a moment’s notice. Things look very bad. Moved on 20 kilometres. There is still no opposition from the air. The Hurricanes are doing a great job. We were told that they shot down 17 Jerry aircraft. Evacuated our camp at 6.30pm and travelled all night. What a trip, over rough desert roads. There are thousands of buses moving along. The Huns are very close behind us. We are getting close to Tobruk. There are 4 gun crews missing. They were sent back to guard a pass. We are living in hope of them joining us later.

7th April 1941

Arrived at Micheli and set up our gun. Were told that German tanks had been there early in the morning but had cleared off. We were standing around the gun when a chap walked over to have a look at it. To our great surprise it turned out to be Frank Petzke. He told us that Jack Hjorth was back at Tobruk. Got word that we were in the wrong place and that we were in front of the artillery. Just before we left the artillery opened up on Jerry tanks. When we got back to our base some of the boys told us that Allan Hempel had been there looking for us. He left for us to meet him 20 kilometres further on. Moved on to the wire at Tobruk. Dusty as hell and washes a thing of the past.20

19English

20Les and George’s gun crew were very fortunate to have left Micheli when they did as, early the next day, the town fell to the Afrika Korps with 2,000 Allies taken prisoner, including 100 Australians.

8th April 1941

Dust still blowing. It is cruel. Until you have been in a dust storm you have no idea what it is like.  The picnic is over, we are in earnest now.

9th April 1941

Nice day. Had a wash- first for some time. At 10.45 nine Jerry planes came over and started machine gunning us but we gave them hell. All the guns opened up and shot one done. He landed about 500 yards away but burst into flames. It was a magnificent sight to see it crash. Two more crashed over the hill due to our fire. The enemy thought there was only infantry there and got a great shock when five of our guns opened on them.  A few minutes later a Messerschmitt came over us right on a Hurricane’s tail. He had the Hurricane beaten when we opened up. He soon left the Hurricane alone and vamoosed. The Hurricane made a forced landing near us and told the boys that we had saved his life. I went to have a look at the plane we shot down. It was spread over the ground for 100 yards. The two German pilots were thrown out on the wire. They were a ghastly sight. Made me feel a bit sick for a while. A big artillery battle started towards Dherma. The noise from it was terrific. Moved on in the middle of the night to the aerodrome at Tobruk. Received mail form home and one from Neta.

10th April 1941

Given up all hope of the missing gun crews. Very cold. We are right beside one of the landing fields. Another dust storm, the worst yet. Witnessed an air raid on Tobruk. The heavy ac ac brought down two and the Hurricanes shot down two. Saw a lot of bombs dropped. Still camped out on the open desert with no tent or hut waiting to open up on Jerry planes. Saw a few more air raids in the evening on the harbour. Another letter from Neta.

11th April 1941

Good day free from dust. Another air raid of eleven German planes. A lot of bombs dropped. One was shot down in flames by a Hurricane. Two more raids in the evening. We get a bird’s eye view of them from here. No one hurt. Several shot down by ac ac. Plenty of bombs dropped.

12th April 1941

Things are very unpleasant here today. German planes over again. Too dusty to get a good view. A lot of bombs dropped. The artillery is popping all the time now. A few miles out but still it is damn close. We can see the flashes from the muzzles of some of them. We are guarding the drome and 9th Division Headquarters. Our gun had refused to fire but soon hope to get her going.

 Les did not write in the diary for two months probably because this was a time of intense action.

 Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, in a speech delivered at Victoria Barracks, Sydney in 1947 (AWM), spoke of this period of time at Tobruk:

The last week of April was duly marked by waves of up to forty dive bombers, escorted by fighters, attacking target after target, paying special attention to the brigade in reserve,  Pilastrino, port installations and most of all to shipping in the harbour.

18th June 1941

 Very dusty. Saw some aircraft flying over the front line. Don’t know whether they were ours or not. Some artillery fire, some landed very close to us.

19th June 1941

Another dusty day. Still living in holes like rabbits. Quiet as far as aircraft. Some artillery fire. Life getting very monotonous. It’s great being at Tobruk surrounded by the enemy. Hope it won’t be for much longer. Still looking forward to some mail, have not received any for a long time.

20th June 1941

 Windy day but not dusty. No aircraft over, some artillery fire on both sides.

21st June 1941

Three high level bombers over and bombed around the town. Lovely clear day, not too hot. A lot of artillery fire on both sides. Watching shells land as I write. Still no sign of mail. Do nothing all day but listen to shells land and think. Can get a great view of the blue Mediterranean from here.

22nd June 1941

Just before dawn planes flying around, intense ac ac fire from the heavies. About 200 yards from us one of the planes dropped flares. We expected bombs as well but none came. About 8am about eight of our fighters flew over us. They looked a grand sight. Heard planes out over the front. Don’ know whose they were but sure to be enemy. A lot of artillery fire from both sides. It’s a case of I’ll shell you and you shell me. Received mail in the evening.  A letter came from Lila, Eily Polmear, Rene and Arthur Webb and two from Rene Robson. George received some from Mum, Ted, Berne and two from Rene Robson.

23rd June 1941

Planes over Tobruk early in the morning. Some bombs dropped and a lot of artillery fire in the morning and evening. Three fellows injured in front of us about 250 yards away. We see plenty of shells bursting. Can see them at any time of the day. A big bomber flew over us high at 7pm. The heavies opened up on him. The day clear and hot. Write to Lila and Eileen Polmear.

24th June 1941

Early in the morning the Germans put over the longest artillery barrage that I have seen from them. Must have been fully 600 shells landed to our right. 11am twelve dive bombers dived on Tobruk but the barrage that they met was terrific. Four were shot down, one came back over us low, smoking. All the light ac ac guns opened up on it but he just made his own lines. Our gun fired 30 shells then jammed. Got a canteen order from the Kiewa BF. The artillery very active on both sides in the evening. Three high level bombers dropped bombs on Tobruk, Several reco planes as well.

Another period of no entries in the diary.

10th July 1941

Quiet in the morning. Two reco planes over. At 12.30 I went with the artillery chaps for a swim. It was decided one of our gun team would go with them daily. A few reco planes in the evening. From 6.30 pm till 7.30pm the enemy has been hurling shells over by the dozens but some distance from us. The day was very hot and I sure enjoyed my swim.

11th July 1941

Hot day. At 11am the Henchel21 started spotting for the enemy artillery and for over an hour the enemy hurled shells over just in front of us and some just to our right. Some of the shrapnel flew around us. A few bombers dropped bombs. A few reco planes over having a look if there are any boats in the harbour. The ac ac throws a lot of shells at them but they keep very high.

12th July 1941

Clear day in the morning but after dinner blew up dusty, it always does when it is my turn to cook. A few reco planes over. Artillery fire a lot quieter today. A box of chocolates and tobacco arrived but we had to pay for it, in fact we have to pay for nearly everything that comes in. George went with the artillery chaps to the beach for a swim. As soon as the moon rose the bombers started dropping bombs.

21German two-seat reconnaissance and observation aircraft

13th July 1941

Early in the morning Jerry shelled the harbour. Our big guns answered back. Three different planes at intervals dropped bombs. The heavy ac ac pelted a lot of shells at them without effect. Hot day. Some artillery fire. We often wonder how long we are going to be kept in this place living on bully beef and all tinned stuff and completely surrounded by the enemy. We just lie in our dug outs and let the flies worry us. We only come out when there is a plane about or for our meals. We often think of home.

14th July 1941

Several planes dropped bombs towards daylight and woke us up. Clear hot day. Through the day single bombers flew over and dropped bombs. Received one bottle of beer, the first for weeks, it sure tasted very nice. Very little artillery fire. We just sit around and wait for low flying air craft. We clean the guns every day.

15th July 1941

Same racket as the night before, three planes dropped bombs before daylight. Reco planes flying round through the day, some of them dropped bombs’ Plenty of artillery fire on both sides. One very heavy barrage came over near us. Hot clear day. Received mail from Ted, Mollie, Lila, and Bill, Keith and Isabel Davidson. Wrote to Bill.

16th July 1941

Hot, clear day. A few planes flying around. A few dropped bombs. I went to the beach with the artillery chaps for a swim. Had a great swim and did some washing. Just before I left the gun the enemy sent over about forty shells just to the right of our position.

17th July 1941

Just before daylight a plane woke me up by dropping a load of bombs. Through the day high level bombers over at intervals dropping bombs. They are all too high for us to shoot at. The usual artillery fire. Came off duty after dinner. Wrote to Mr Ahearn.

18th July 1941out 1am our troops attacked to take some posts back. The artillery supported them and kicked up a terrific din. Not long after their artillery answered back. Between the two it was impossible to sleep. The attack was a success and reports were that we only had one casualty. Planes throughout the day dropped bombs on Tobruk area. The day was very dusty. At 4pm shifted to another position on top of the escarpment half a mile away. There is a cave near the gun but when I explored it I got covered in fleas.

19th July 1941

Still dusty. Planes flying around all night but few dropped bombs. Getting rigged up in the new position, burnt the cave out to get rid of the fleas. We are digging it a bit deeper so we can stand up. Some planes over through the day and dropped bombs.

20th July 1941

Planes flying around before daylight and some bombs dropped. My day at cooking and it is still dusty, there is plenty of dirt with the meals but we thrive on it. Single planes flying over at intervals dropping bombs nearly all day. They are bombing from a great height. A little artillery fire but it has been fairly quiet the last few days. Worked hard digging an old cave out, we have it very good now and have quite comfortable living quarters. Sent home £25-0-0 to mum. George is sending £25-0-0 also.

21st July 1941

Woke early in the morning, had a great laugh. Sergeant Gallagher had a hedgehog in bed with him. Planes bombed Tobruk before daylight. Dusty day. Planes dropping bombs at intervals throughout the day. Worked hard and completed the cave. We lined it with Italian groundsheets. Plenty of artillery fire from both sides.

22nd July 1941

Still dusty. Made myself a bed. Planes have been flying around nearly all day dropping bombs on Tobruk. Some artillery fire. It is great in our cave now and very cool too.

23rd July 1941

Extra dusty day. Some planes over dropping bombs. Went down to the first aid post with a big boil. The MO told me it was a bite from an insect. He lanced it and by heck it hurt. Still a lot of pus in it. I have to get hot foments on it till it is better. Plenty of artillery fire from our guns and a little from the enemy.

24th July 1941

A frightful day. Dust so thick you couldn’t see five yards. No aircraft, some artillery fire on both sides. Had my arm dressed.

25th July 1941

Been in the Army twelve months today. Still a bit dusty. Very few aircraft over. A fair amount of artillery fire on both sides. Been down to the dressing station twice today to get my arm dressed.

26th July 1941

Still a little dust. Wrote to Mum. A fair amount of artillery fire. Two planes were over and dropped bombs. Often wonder how long we are going to be kept at Tobruk. The planes are all flying high, too high for us to fire on.

27th July 1941

Left early in the morning for our two days’ spell at RHQ22. Through the night before there was a terrific amount of artillery fire. The horizon was like a fireworks display at times. Went for a swim at the beach in the evening. Also had my arm dressed at the hospital. In the night bombers were active over Tobruk. The ac ac put up the fiercest barrage I have seen yet. They brought one down. The shrapnel from the exploding ac ac shells was falling round us like rain.

28th July 1941

Left for the beach early in the morning and stayed there all day. The water was glorious. Had my arm bandaged again at the RAP23. Washed some clothes on the beach. Several planes bombed Tobruk while we were there.

29th July 1941

Arrived back at our gun at 9.30am after spending two days at RHQ. Day clear and hot. Just after tea the enemy sent over some big shells in reply to a salvo sent over by us. Two of the shells burst right

between our guns and shrapnel flew for hundreds of yards. Then both sides started with a vengeance. Shells were flying round for a long time. Several aircraft over and dropped bombs. Received letters, one each from Mum, Jack Kelly and Mrs White.

30th July 1941

Clear, hot day. Some planes over dropping bombs at intervals. Two enemy fighters flew over for a look round. The heavy ac ac put up a heavy barrage at them. Extra heavy barrages of artillery on both sides. Sat on top of the cave for a long time watching the shells bursting. We have had no action now for some time. All the planes are flying too high for us. Wrote to Jack Kelly. About 10pm planes over. The search lights were stabbing the sky for them and the ac ac were chattering. Shells were fired by the dozen.

31st July 1941

Hot and a little dust. About five planes dropped bombs. Artillery fire on both sides at intervals all day. The Henshel spotting plane over for about an hour directing fire for the enemy. Wrote to Nell Wright. Do nothing lately but march out of the cave for meals and clean the gun.

1st August 1941

Hot and some dust about. The usual artillery fire. Had my arm dressed twice at the dressing station. A few enemy bombers flying high dropped bombs

22Regiment Headquarters

23Regimental Aid Post

2nd August 1941

Hot, clear day. A big raid on the harbour. Too cloudy to see how many planes. A lot of bombs dropped but from a great height. A fire amount of artillery fire. Wrote to Mum. Went and had my arm dressed. My word, it is comfortable in our cave. Early in the morning three planes came flying towards us and we ran to the gun but they turned off before they got to us. I ran to the gun without boots and the Sergeant without a stitch of clothes at all. The flies very troublesome today.

3rd August 1941

At 2.25am the troops in the front line made a push. The din from the artillery was terrific. Never stopped until after daylight. The guns close to us fired over 1000 shells. At 10am an Italian G50 fighter flew over us low. All our guns opened up and he was shot down about half a mile away. It was a Bofors24 that got in the fatal shot. It was a thrilling sight to see him rolling over like a leaf. He burst into flames as soon as he hit the ground. At 7pm over flew the Luftwaffe, twenty two in all dived in from three directions. Bombs and machine gun bullets landed all around us. Our gun jammed on the first shot but we got her going and fired sixty shells. Our gun hit one plane, flames were pouring out of him as he flew away. Three chaps killed from the bombs in the Wadi just over from our gun. They were trying to bomb the artillery. The plane we hit reported down on the front. Things were very hot for a while. A lot of bombs dropped throughout the night. Our artillery very active in the night.

4th August 1941

Hot and clear. A little artillery fire. Several planes around but too high to identify. Visited the dressing station, have five boils on me now and they are very painful. Through the night the usual taxi service of bombers dropping bombs. Wrote to Mrs White.

5th August 1941

Hot, dusty day. Early in the morning our artillery very active. A few bombers over dropping bombs. Again in the evening our artillery very active. More bombers over through the night. Changed my doctor and went to the Australian Advanced dressing station. They treat you far better there. Received a letter from Rene Webb telling that Alf and Arthur are prisoners. What a relief to know they are alive.

6th August 1941

A very dusty day. Artillery very active on both sides. Went to the ADS25 to get my arm dressed. Several bombers over. Just laid down most of the day and read. Single bombers over at intervals dropping bombs.

7th August 1941

Dusty day. Visited the ADS twice to get my arm dressed. Got two more new boils. A few bombers over the area. Artillery on both sides active. Received letters from Lila, Rene Robson, Ida McFarlane and Nance Ellis. Planes again active through the night, a lot of bombs dropped.

8th August 1941

Clear day. A few bombers flew over and dropped bombs. Paid two visits to the ADS. Artillery again very active on both sides. Nearly any minute of the day you can see shells bursting somewhere. Still no sign of leave. My arm very painful. The flies very bad today. Wrote to Rae Webb. Do a lot of reading of late.

9th August 1941

Clear day. Several planes dropped bombs in the Tobruk area. Artillery very active. The planes that fly over Tobruk fly so high that it is difficult to hit them. Three big guns are shelling the town of Tobruk. We can hear the shells whistling over our heads. More bombers over dropping bombs through the night.

24Bofors 40 mm gun is an anti-aircraft autocannondesigned in the 1930s by the Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors. It was one of the most popular medium-weight anti-aircraft systems during World War II, used by most of the western Allies as well as by the Axis powers.

25Australian dressing station

10th August 1941

Clear day, received mail. A letter from Rene Robson. Wrote to Rene Webb and Rene Robson. Our artillery very active. About 5.30pm fourteen planes flew over our heads and dived on the harbour. Saw one shot down, might have been more. The ac ac barrage was terrific and left a pall of smoke hanging around for quarter of an hour. To watch the ac ac bursting it is amazing that any planes get through it. We raced for the gun but none came low enough for us to fire. Had my arm dressed twice at the MDS26. It is very sore and swollen. Planes over dropping bombs through the night.

11th August 1941

Clear day. Plenty of artillery fire our guns. Several planes dropped bombs. Went to the ADS in the morning. After tea went to the MDS with my boils as Lieutenant Shepherd said that I should be in hospital. They kept me at the MDS. Planes over dropping bombs as soon as the moon rose.

12th August 1941

Clear day. At 10 am a bomber flew over and hit a dump of Itie27 shells about a mile from the MDS. Shells exploded for hours. The concussion when a good few shells would go off at once used to shake the dirt of the side of the MDS cave and nearly knock us off our feet. The noise was deafening and dense clouds of smoke kept rolling up in the sky. Four chaps were killed when the bombs were dropped but they could not get near them for hours after. They had two more goes in the evening to hit the rest of the dump but the bombs hit wide of the mark. Heard from Sam that the boys had shifted from the cave back to our old position. About fifty bombs dropped through the night.

13th August 1941

Clear day. Still at the MDS with boils. Over came an enemy bomber and let bombs go right on top of an ammo dump. The shells kept exploding and kick up a terrible din. Planes annoyed us dropping bombs through the night. The heavy ac ac kick up a frightful racket.

14th August 1941

Dusty day. Planes still dropping bombs near the MDS trying to hit the ammunition dump. Bombers very busy again through the night. Left the MDS after tea for the beach hospital. It is great down here with the sea breezes.

15th August 1941

Clear day, hand much easier. The sea looks beautiful. Several bombers dropped their eggs between here and the MDS.  At 7pm fifteen dive bombers dived on Tobruk escorted by fighters. Very fierce ac ac barrage but didn’t see any planes brought down. Planes dropped more bombs through the night. At 10pm three big guns started shelling the ridge about half a mile away. We watched the flashes as they exploded. Wrote to Verne.

16th August 1941

Clear day. Planes over at intervals dropping bombs. It is marvellous here near the sea. Went for a dip in the sea after dinner. It was wonderful. Hand feels much better. Very quiet through the night.

17th August 1941

Clear day. Dive bombing raid of about ten planes at 12 noon on the harbour. Never saw a plane brought down. A few high level bombers over. Had a swim and did some washing. At 7pm over came the dive bombers again- 15 planes in all. A lot of ac ac fire but never saw a plane brought down.

18th August 1941

Clear day here but dusty up towards the front. A few bombers over dropping bombs. Did some more washing and went for a swim. We just lay around the tent and read and swap yarns. Wrote to Nance Ellis.

19th August 1941

Very windy and frightfully dusty up the front but luckily you get no dust here on the beach. A few reco planes over but no bombs dropped. Went for a swim in the briny.

26Main dressing station

27Italian

20th August 1941

Nice clear day. Left the beach hospital before dinner and went back to the MDS. Waited there all day for an ambulance to take me back to the gun but none came. A few enemy bombers over and dropped bombs. Stayed at the MDS for the night.

21st August 1941

Still at the MDS. Very dusty. Just before dinner thirteen Stuka dive bombers dived on the harbour. Very fierce ac ac fire. Saw none brought down. Just having tea when over came another lot, 11 in all and dive bombed the harbour. Reported that three came down out near the wire. Late in the evening went in the ambulance back to the gun but George and the rest of the boys had gone back to RHQ for two days’ spell. Stayed with the relieving crew for the night.

22nd August 1941

Went back to RHQ with Doug Simpson on the water cart. On the way ran into Linton McInnes. Reached RHQ but all the boys were away at the beach, will be back in the evening. George and the rest of the boys arrived back. Just after tea heard a roar, looked up to see 24 Stukas diving on the harbour. The ac ac pelted everything it had but the parachute gun was also firing. The parachutes prevented them diving low. Through the night we were woken with the heavy ac ac. The enemy were bombing the harbour with the aid of parachute flares. They dropped dozens of them. It was one of the prettiest sights I have ever seen. George gave me two letters he had for me from Mum and Lila.

23rd August 1941

Left RHQ early in the morning to go back to our gun. My turn at cooking. The Polish troops have taken over from the 51st RA28. Our artillery was very active. Saw two bombers over for the day. Got a letter from Aunty Alice. George has been gazetted as a gun layer29.

24th August 1941

Nice clear day. Several high level bombers over. The Poles have been tossing a lot of shells over at Jerry. At 4.30pm we heard the familiar roar of the Stuksa. Over came twenty of them and dived on the harbour. They hit a dump of some kind. There was an explosion and flames leapt in the air. The ac ac fire was very severe and prevented them from diving lower. They were all too high for us and not one came our way. There were two planes brought down. The days are much cooler now. Wrote to Mum.

25th August 1941

Clear day. Fair amount of artillery fire from our guns but very little activity from the enemy. Several reco planes over. Les Damm visited us. Wrote to Alec Seaton.

26th August 1941

Clear day. Early in the morning George had to go up as a witness on a court martial on two of our Sergeants-Hill and Gallagher. Case to be heard again tomorrow. They were accused of taking cases of bacon. Our artillery active. A few enemy rec planes over. Wrote to Evelyn Bynon. Our artillery sent a lot of shells over late in the evening. Visited Len Damm.

27th August 1941

Hot, clear day. Our artillery active all day. The boys went to the court martial again. Not sure yet but I think the case will be dropped. 5pm we heard a roar in the distance and, sure enough, it was the Luftwaffe. Thirty eight of them flew over our heads and dived on Tobruk. They met fierce ac ac fire. Three planes brought down. 11.30 the enemy tried to bomb the harbour by dropping flares. The sight was very pretty. Went to a concert at the Tank Corp cave.

28th August 1941

Clear day. Several reco planes over. Our artillery very active. Wrote to Lila.

2851st Royal Field Artillery unit

29Gun laying is the process of aiming an artillery piece, on land or at sea, against surface or air targets. In this case, it was laying for indirect firewhere firing data is calculated and applied to the sights. 

29th August 1941

Hot, cloudy day. Heard planes in the distance, thought it was the Luftwaffe but it never turned up. Must have been one of our patrols. My turn at cooking. Our artillery very active and as I write Jerry is sending a few back.

30th August 1941

Hot, clear day. Our artillery very active. Heard planes in the distance going down to Sollum29 I think. Several reco planes over. Received a letter each from Norm Webb and Mum. Just before dark saw an aeroplane circling and then went down on the drone. The first plane of ours that I have seen land here for a long time. Planes over dropping bombs through the night.

31st August 1941

Hot, clear day. Several reco planes over. Artillery on both sides very active.

1st Septemer1941

Hot, clear day. Inspected by the BC30 at 11am. He had just left our gun and went to the one further on when the Luftwaffe dived on Tobruk. All our guns opened up on a plane flying back over us low. While we were firing another lot dived on us from the back. We swung around and opened on them. We could see the bombs coming straight at us. Machine gun bullets were whistling round us, some tore holes in the sand bags on our pit. They dived on all our positions and the artillery. One stick of bombs dropped right across our pit and landed fifty yards from us. Another lot burst eighty yards. The concussion nearly blew us off our feet. Further on all the other guns had bombs fall round them. Bomb shrapnel flew everywhere. The only casualty near us was a Polish soldier. A bomb blew the dugout in on him. We saw him stagger out with all the hair burnt off his head and wounded in the shoulder from the shrapnel but not badly. The official version was that there were 129 planes in the raid. There were dozens of high level bombers as well. We couldn’t see anything for smoke and dust for nearly quarter of an hour. The concussion and noise is really more than a human body can stand. We fired sixty shells and our gun jammed. We hit one plane and sent it away smoking. We went and had a look at the bomb craters. They were everywhere.

2nd Septemer1941

Heard several planes in the distance but they failed to appear. Artillery on both sides fairly quiet in the daytime. Several reco planes over. About 10pm single bombers kept coming over in intervals dropping bombs round the harbour. The ac ac pelted up shells by the dozens and all the different shells going up was a beautiful sight. About 11pm we heard a lot of machine gun fire up the front and then the artillery opened up and what a racket. Les Damm visited us.

3rd Septemer1941

Very dusty. Several bombers over and dropped bombs. Artillery on both sides active but of late our fellows throw more shells over than the enemy. Wrote to Mum. Heard the roar of lots of planes in the distance, must have been one of our patrols. Several bombers over during the night.

4th Septemer1941

Very dusty but much cooler. Two high level bombers dropped bombs on Tobruk. Artillery very active on our side and some back from the enemy. My day at cooking. There will be some indigestion tomorrow. In the night went up to the cave with Len Damm to hear the news. On the way back stopped with some Poles and listened to them playing the accordion.

5th Septemer1941

Left for two days spell at RHQ. Just layed about the tent all day.in the evening the long range gun was shelling Tobruk and we are only a short distance from the town. A few bombers over dropping bombs.

30El Salloum, Egypt

31Battery Commander

6th Septemer1941

Clear day from dust but very cloudy. Went to the beach for a swim and stayed there all day. Arrived back and were just having tea when a lone bomber let his bombs go just over the escarpment. There was a wild dive for cover. The long range gun started to shell the harbour. George and I went up the rise and watched the shells landing. Planes flying over dropping bombs nearly all night. The ac ac and the whistle of bombs kept waking me up.

7th Septemer1941

Left RHQ at 8.30 and went back to our gun. Planes flying round out past the front line all day. Several flew over and dropped bombs. Spent the day renovating my dugout. Our artillery extra active. Planes over bombing throughout the night. Our artillery opened up several times with a vengeance and woke me up. Most of the bombing is now done from high up well out of our range.

8th Septemer1941

Clear hot day. Four planes over and dropped bombs. Our artillery pelted the shells over all day. A few shells back from the enemy. Heard planes several times out past the front. Saw one lot but they were flying towards Derna. Received a letter from Arthur Seaton. Wrote to Norm Webb.

9th Septemer1941

Clear day. Four high level bombers over for the day and dropped bombs. Heard planes in the distance, must be enemy planes flying down to Sollum. Shelling very intense on both sides. After dinner went and congratulated Jim Courtney for winning the MM.32 Stayed and had tea with him. Received one letter each from Lila, Aunty Alice, and Cath Wilson. More shelling from our guns through the night and enemy bombers very active.

10th Septemer1941

Clear hot day. Lone bombers over at intervals through the day. Both sides active with artillery. Heard planes in the distance, don’t know whose they were. Wrote to Cath Wilson.

11th September 1941.

A little bit of dust. Our artillery has been pelting them over all day. A little back from the enemy. Two of our planes flew over us and circled round. They were a great sight to us. Wrote to Claude. A lot of planes over late in the night dropping bombs.

12th September 1941

Clear day. One high level bomber, two reco planes over. Saw some planes out over the front line, don’t know whose they were. Got a letter from Ernie in Malaya. He landed there on 15th August. Got a letter also from Joan Davidson. Artillery very active especially the enemy’s. My day cooking. A few of planes over bombing through the night.

13th September 1941

Clear, hot day. Two high level bombers dropped bombs. Heard planes out over the front nearly all day. Artillery very active. Our chaps tossing them over by the dozens. Two of our planes flew over Tobruk. A few bombers over through the night. Plenty of shell and machine gun fire out towards the coast through the night.

 14th September 1941

Clear, very hot. Three bombers over. Saw four planes flying along the front, believe they were our own. Artillery very active on both sides. Wrote to Ernie at Malaya. A lot of activity out the Bardia road. Through the night bombers also dropped bombs.

15th September 1941

At 9.30 heard a roar, looked out and there was a Ju 8833 flying towards us. I was in the middle of cleaning the gun so we could not fire. We cursed some. He dropped his bombs about a mile away.

32Military Medal, awarded for bravery

33The Junkers Ju 88 was a German World War II Luftwaffe twin-engined multirole combat aircraftJunkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke (JFM) designed the plane in the mid-1930s as a bomber that would be too fast for fighters of its era to intercept. It became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it served as a bomberdive bombernight fightertorpedo bomberreconnaissance aircraftheavy fighter and at the end of the war, as a flying bomb.

Several high level bombers over. The heavy ac and light ac fired on the Ju 88. Artillery very active. We were in the middle of tea when there was an awful thump in front of us. We thought it was bombs and raced to the gun but it turned out to be heavy shells. One shell hit a 2/12 truck beside us and killed ten men. Shrapnel flew all round us and put holes in one truck. A lot of the shells landed less than 60 yards from us and our knees were knocking. It was a frightful sight watching men get killed. Wrote to W McGrath.

16th September 1941

Two high level bombers dropped bombs in the morning. Colin Lackman, a chap we knew well was killed in the truck load yesterday. Colin’s brother came and told us. I felt very sorry for him. A lot of activity out the Bardia road. Several bombers over through the evening and dropped bombs.

17th September 1941

Several high level bombers over in the daytime. After dinner I went over to Sgt Sitlington’s gun, stayed and had tea with them then went to the concert at the cave in the night. More shelling through the night out Bardia road.

18th September 1941

Dust storm raged all day. My dugout had fully six inches of sand in it. One plane over in the morning before the dust started. Very little artillery activity. Some more shelling out Bardia road throughout the night. Received a letter each from Rene Robson and Verne. Jack Greenwood and Dick McMillan left our gun.

19th September 1941

Still dusty. No aircraft over up to 5pm. Got a letter each from Mum and Dean Webb. A little artillery action. Mum despatched a Christmas parcel for us on 22nd August.

20th September 1941

Clear day. One bomber over and dropped bombs in the morning. Our artillery busy and some back from the enemy further along. Still wondering when they are going to take us out of the desert. Sent out different lots of troops who have not been here near as long as us. They must think we love the desert. Len Damm just visited us and said their crowd is going out of here tomorrow night. The lucky devil. Wrote to Mum.

21st September 1941

Clear day but cloudy. Some artillery action and a little from the enemy. In the evening saw a plane flying towards us, we raced to the gun but it was a Hurricane. Heard a few more later above the clouds, think they were our own also. Wrote to Duncan Foulds junior. Rained through the night, short, sharp shower. The planes turned out to be enemy.

22nd September 1941

Clear day up till dinner time then the dust started. No bombers over but four fighters flew over and went along the front line. Watched them for a good while but don’t know whose they were. Artillery busy on both sides but ours being busier. Cliff wright, one of our crew, taken to hospital sick.

23rd September 1941

Clear day. Three high level bombers and one reco plane over. Got word after dinner that we are being relieved and go out of Tobruk on Friday. Very pleased men I can tell you. At 3.30 a bombardier from the crowd that is going to relieve us arrived at the gun. We showed him how it worked. We have some rum on hand so we are going to celebrate. Artillery active on both sides.

24th September 1941

Clear day. Three bombers over and dropped bombs. After dinner four of the new crew arrived. George, Don Evans and Lou Brown went back to RHQ and left Sergeant Gallagher and I on the gun to put the new crew through their paces. A liitle artillery fire on both sides.

25th September 1941

Clear day from dust but very cloudy. Early in the morning a high level bomber dropped out of the clouds and let his bombs fall on RHQ. Doug Simpson told me about it when he came round with the water cart and that three men of ours were killed and six injured. Six men of the crowd that were relieving us were also killed and a few injured. The three chaps of ours that were killed were Jimmy Cowey, Val Morrow and Sammy Hartingham. I got a great shock till I learned George was safe. Very sad to get men killed a few days before going out.

26th September 1941

Learned that Don Evans died from wounds and four more of the Irish lads. Started raining and lasted for an hour. One plane flying around out to sea, then flew in and dropped his bombs. Sergeant Gallagher left the gun at 10.30am and now I am the only man left on the gun but believe I leave also tomorrow. Artillery of ours very active.

27th September 1941

Left the gun at 12 o’clock and went to RHQ where all the rear party were assembled. The enemy were shelling the harbour all the evening but they were nearly all duds. Went down to the wharf and got on the destroyer HMS Griffen34. Pulled out at 12pm. There were four destroyers in the convoy, had a marvellous trip. Got very sick several hours before I got on the boat, think I have the fever.

28th September 1941

Early in the morning, still on the destroyer. At 7.30am a bomber flew over and let a bomb go at us but missed. Funny thing, ten of our planes met us at daylight and had just left when the bomber attacked. Got into Alexandria at 12.30. Got in buses, went through Alex to Amaria. Stayed there for a few hours. Drank a few bottles of beer, tasted very good. still very sick. At 9pm marched to the station and what an awful march with full pack. Travelled all night and got to El Kantara on the Suez Canal at 5.50am. Crossed the canal and had breakfast at Kantara.

29th September 1941

 Stayed there till 2pm. Whilst there who should walk up looking for me but Arthur Seaton. I got a great shock to see him. We went and had a few whiskies and gins. boarded the train to go to Gaza35. Arthur Seaton came back with us on the train as he was on leave and his camp is near where we are going. Had a rotten train journey feeling very sick.  Arrived at Gaza 12o’clock. Went by bus to Beit Jirga36 where they gave us a feed which tasted wonderful. Stayed there the night. Arthur stayed with me and left next morning.

30th September 1941

Left Beit Jirga early and went to Hill 9537 where the rest of the 8th Battery and the 7th are. Met George and the rest of the boys. Got hit in the eye with a rifle as a chap unslung it. Met some 7th battery chaps that I knew. Like Hill 95, glad to be out of action. The meals are wonderful. Got letters from Lila, Bill, Eileen Polmear, Rene Robson and Kiewa Butter Factory. Still sick. Think I will see the MO. My word, it is great to see civilisation, green trees and orchards.

1st October 1941

Just took it easy in the camp. It is great to be back where you can get beer and anything you want at the canteen. Received word that we are going to Tel Aviv for four days starting tomorrow. All the boys very excited.

2nd October 1941

Left early in the morning for Tel Aviv. Went by parlour coach. Passed beautiful green fields, orchards and small towns, then the grand sight, Tel Aviv. It is a very beautiful and modern city. Big population. Stayed at the Hotel Hess. Then started sightseeing and beer drinking. The place was a cracker

34HMS Griffin (H31) was a G-class destroyer, built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. In World War IIshe took part in the Norwegian Campaign of April–May 1940 and the Battle of Dakar in September before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in November. She generally escorted larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they protected convoys against attacks from the Italian Fleet. Griffin took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and the evacuations of Greece and Crete in April–May 1941. In June she took part in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign and was escorting convoys and the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in March 1942

35In 1941, Gaza was in Palestine. Now situated in the Gaza strip.

36Beit Jirga was a 2nd AIF training and rest camp in Palestine.

37Hill 95 was another AIF training and rest camp in Palestine.

Had plenty of beer but remained sober. The boys’ version of the beer was that it never enough kick in it to get drunk. Had a lot of photos taken. Ran into Jimmy Cleland as soon as we pulled up in the place. He acted as guide for us.

3rd October 1941

Woke up feeling well. Left our hotel for a spot of the doings. Along the seafront the esplanade is beautiful. Very pretty women here. Every step you take somebody is trying to sell you something. Our party is myself, George, Ron Palmer and Allan Murphy. In the night we pal up with four South African air force chaps and what fine chaps they were too. Went to two different dances and, oh boy, did we have a night.

4th October 1941

Not feeling so bright this morning, must go and have a reviver, but one consolation, most of the boys are the same so I am not on my own. Plenty more beer and ran into Chick Collins and Jack Callendar. More sightseeing and a little more beer. Another hectic night and not much sleep. Went to the pictures. Shops were shut as the Jews hold their Sunday on Saturday. Went on a launch up the river a few miles. It brought back old memories, just like the Mitta or the Murray.

5th October 1941

Still going the pace and the money simply flies. The place is full of soldiers. One thing that struck me very forcibly is how well the Jews dress. You don’t see anybody going about dirty, different from the Arabs. Met Captain Ron Vincent from Albury and had a yarn with him. Getting very tired of the hustle and bustle. Had plenty of beer but failed to get drunk yet. A great rush to collect all our photos in time to catch the bus back to camp and the end of our leave. The Arab driver gave us a hectic ride back.

6th October 1941

Woke very tired. The leave was a little too strenuous. In the evening went for a route march. Received a great surprise, met Lovy Parnell. He is a Lieutenant in our reinforcements. See a lot of our planes flying around here. Very different from Tobruk. Went to the pictures and saw the Great Dictator. The food is very good. My word, it is great to see butter again. Wrote to Mum. Sent two photos to Mum. Two of myself.

7th October 1941

Called on parade nearly every half hour. In the evening picked for town piquet38 in Tel Aviv. George was picked also. Leave early tomorrow morning and stay in Tel Aviv all day. Went to the pictures.

8th October 1941

Early, twelve of us set off for Tel Aviv in a bus to do piquet duty. Rest of the boys very envious. Had a great day and plenty of beer. It was just like having a day’s leave. We got a photo of the piquet taken. Ran into Bert Coulston in Tel Aviv, had a few jugs with him.

9th October 1941

On parade nearly all day, they are getting very regimental with us again, the boys not liking it a bit. Picked for guard duty. Spent a crook night. Received a letter from Molly. Wrote to Molly and Aunty Alice. Sent two photos to Aunty Alice. Sent Mollie two photos. One of myself and one of George and me to both of them.

10th October 1941

Came off guard duty at 6.30am. went for a route march before dinner. After dinner did squad rifle drill. In the evening received a bottle of soft drink, two tins of cream, a tin of fruit salad, a tin sardines and tin of tongue. The weather here is still very hot. See some of our own planes flying. It is hard to get used to the fact that they are British.

11th October 1941

Usual parades. Went to the pictures. Had no beer, sold out before I got to the bar. Saw Len Damm at the pictures. Wrote to Ernie, Evelyn Bynon and Rene Robson. Sent Ernie one of myself and one of George and me. The same to Rene. Sent Evelyn one of myself.

38a soldier or small unit of soldiers maintaining a watch or doing sentry duty

12th October 1941

On pioneer duty39 up till 11.30am. After dinner went down to Khassa and Julius40. Saw Jimmy Cleland and Oliver Scammel. Had some beer with them. Went to Bernie Cox ‘s unit but he was away at the convalescent depot sick with yellow jaundice. Saw a great fight between one of the provost corps41 and an ASC42 chap. Came back to camp at 9.30pm.

13th October 1941

Went for a route march. At dinner time Oliver Scammel came up and visited us and had dinner with us. In the evening parades and lectures. Had a few kicks of the football. Went to the concert in the night. It was very good. Had one bottle of beer.

14th October 1941

Gas drill most of the day. Went to the pictures in the night. Had some more football practice, very stiff and sore after it. Received a letter from Mum and Bill in one envelope. Also one from Norm Webb.

15th October 1941

Gas lectures. In the afternoon went through a gas examination and received 95 points out of a hundred. In the night picked for regimental guard. Got the last shift so went to the pictures. Got letters from Dot Sutherland and Cathie Wilson. Wrote to Bill.

16th October 1941

Parades and lectures. One regimental parade before the Colonel. Vert tired after the night’s guard. Went to pictures. Received a letter from Isabel Davidson sent on the 29th April. It had been all over the place.

17th October 1941

Usual parades. Squad drill, bayonet drill in the morning. Had a very easy afternoon. Went to the pictures. Wrote to Cath Wilson. Sent a snap of myself to Cath.

18th October 1941

Went on parade but broke off for the morning to clean up around the tents. Wrote to Claude. Rest of the day a spell. Went on Battery piquet at 6.30. Wrote to Rene Webb. Sent her a snap of myself. Sent Claude a snap of us on piquet duty in Tel Aviv.

19th October 1941

Still on piquet, had to put in four hours for the day. The rest of the day a good spell. Had a bit of football practice. Shins are a bit sore after it. Watched a cricket match in the evening.

20th October 1941

In the morning map reading and prismatic compass work. In the evening a bit of a lecture. Most of the boys played two-up. I won a few shillings. Went to the pictures. We have not had any beer for a week now.

21st October 1941

In the morning bayonet drill and lectures. Started to rain before dinner. Sent a parcel to mum. Received a letter from Stan Sutherland. Wrote to Isabel and sent a snap of George and me. Picked for canteen piquet. Went to the early pictures. Hurt the muscle of my leg playing football.

22nd October 1941

Studying aircraft identification but went to sleep most of the time. In the evening a bit of rifle drill. Went to the pictures.

23rd October 1941

Went on sick parade with a muscle hurt playing football. They ordered me not to go on routine marches. Wrote to Shirley Pheiffer. In the evening dodged the march. Did some washing. Went to the pictures.

39Construction or engineering tasks

40Khassa and Julis (often called Julius) were AIF training and rest camps near Gaza in Palestine

41Military police

42Army Service Corps

24th October 1941

On sick parade dodging routine marches but the leg is really sore. In the afternoon watched a cricket match, our side won. Wrote to Stan Sutherland, sent him a picture of us boys drinking beer. Went to the pictures.

25th October 1941

In the morning went on parade but adjourned to our tents and swapped the Arabs three pairs of socks and a pair of sandshoes for a bran bag of oranges. In the evening went in the swim bus to the beach. Visited the Ascolan43 ruins, it was very interesting. Went to the pictures

26th October 1941

Given leave to visit Julius camp for the day. Went to see Duncan Foulds but he was away in hospital. Ran into Arthur Wylie and Cecil Rixon. Cecil used to be one of the umpires in the Albury umpires league. Met also Charlie, one of Starr’s jockeys. Had a lot of beer, was a bit sick for a while. Coming home on the bus three chaps picked George and me. We had a blue but gave a good account of ourselves. George received a black eye. Lost my wallet in the scrap. Very wild about it, all my photos from home were in it.

27th October 1941

Very tired and feeling of the morning after the night before. Received three different lots of papers from Cath Wilson. Picked for regimental guard. Got a letter from Mum and one from Cath Wilson. Wrote to Lila. Sent a picture of myself. Went to the pictures.

28th October 1941

Usual parades. Went to the pictures. Still very hot. See a few of our own aircraft flying about.

29th October 1941

In the morning viewed a cricket match between our troop and Don troop. Our side won easily. Went to the pictures and while there met Les Adams.

30th October 1941

In the morning parades and lectures. In the evening rifle drill and bayonet drill. Went to the concert at night and saw the Troupers.

31st October 1941

In the morning marched three miles taking bearings and angles. Viewed some old trenches that the Aussies used against the Turks in the last war. Lectures in the evening. Went to the pictures.

1st November 1941

In the morning went and gave a hand to prepare a football ground. In the evening did some letter writing and washing. Wrote to Mr Benzie. The day very hot. No sign of my missing wallet yet. Went to the pictures.

2nd November 1941

In the morning went to church parade. In the evening played in the 8th Battery football team against the 7th. We won easily but I have a few bruises and skin off. In the night went on battery piquet. Went to the pictures.

3rd November 1941

On piquet duty all day. Went to the pictures. Wrote to Mum. Backed True Flight at 14 to 1. Sent a photo of George and a snap to Keithie.

43The ancient seaport ofAscalondates back to the Neolithic Age. In the course of its history, it has been ruled by the Ancient Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hasmoneans, the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs and the Crusaders, until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1270. It was re-established a few kilometres inland from the ancient site by the late 15th century, under Ottoman rule. in 1920 it became part of Mandatory Palestineand was conquered by Israeli forces on 5 November 1948, by which time most of the Arab population had fled. Now known as Ashkelon, it is a coastal city in the south of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, 50 kilometres south of Tel Aviv, and 13 kilometres north of the border with the Gaza Strip.

4th November 1941

Melbourne Cup Day. In the morning lectures and squad drill. In the evening more lectures. Went to the pictures.

5th November 1941

Went to the Aqir44 aerodrome to have a day’s training on the Bofors guns. Went to the pictures. Had a very good day at Aqir, the Bofors guns are very interesting and I think that we will like them very much.

6th November 1941

Went to Aqir Aerodrome again. Spent a very pleasant day there. Arrived back to go on guard in the night. It is nice to see your own planes flying about.

7th November 1941

Spent a very easy day after coming off guard. Wrote to Lia and sent a Xmas card. Went to the pictures and saw a very good show The Merry Go Round.

8th November 1941

In the morning a bit of squad drill then digging drains around the tents. In the evening did some mending. Went to the pictures and heard the H2 band as well. Wrote to Rene Robinson.

9th November 1941

Went to church parade and lay around in our tents in the morning. In the evening our troop played a team picked from the other two troops. They beat us but we put up a good effort. Went to the pictures.

10th November 1941

In the morning squad drill and lectures. In the evening rifle and bayonet drill and then some more lectures. Received a Xmas card from Alec Seaton and a parcel of chocolate from Aunty Alice. In the night got letters from Mum, Evelyn Bynon and Eileen Polmear. Went to the pictures.

11th November 1941

Just routine duties. Went to the pictures. Received letters from Aunty Alice with a ten shilling canteen order. A letter each from Nell Wright, Rene Webb, Madge Hadley.

12th November 1941

Went to the Jaffa45 rifle range to shoot. I missed the possible at a hundred yards by one point, four bulls eyes and an inner. Shot very poorly on the 200 yards, only got 16 points out of 26. On the 300 yards got 17 which was fairly good shooting as it was only half the bulls eye we were firing on. The top score that shot with us was 63 points. I got 57 points and George got 55. On the day I scored 7 bulls eyes. On camp piquet in the night.

13th November 1941

Picked to do the 24 hour piquet so on it all day. Wrote to Evelyn Bynon, Eileen Polmear, Madge Hadley. Sent a snap of myself to Eileen Polmear, one of us drinking beer in Tel Aviv to Madge Hadley.

14th November 1941

George and I went to Tel Aviv for a day’s leave. Had a good day, drank plenty of beer. Got a hell of a headache but remained sober.

15th November 1941

Had some football practice in the morning. Being Saturday, in the evening had a lay off in our own tents. Received a letter from Duncan Foulds. Wrote to Arthur Webb. Went to the pictures.

16th November 1941

Went to church parade. In the evening played base records football and beat them easy. I had to leave the ground in the first quarter. The orderly at the RAP46 said my rib was broken and bandaged it up. Went to the pictures. During the night had my respirator and overcoat taken out of the tent by some Arabs. The guard disturbed them or they would have taken more.

44Founded in July 1939 and served as the main Royal Air Force station in PalestineinWW2. Located near Rehovot, (Israel), now Tel Nof, Israeli Air Force base.

45In Israel, near Tel Aviv

46Regimental Aid Post

17th November 1941

Went up to see the MO about my rib. He was not sure whether it was broken or badly bruised. Wrote to Aunty Alice and Nell Wright. Went to the pictures.

18th November 1941

Went to the MO. He decided it was badly bruised ribs and not broken as first thought. Laid in the tent all day. Got a letter from Lila and one from Mollie. Wrote to Verne and sent one small snap and one big of George, myself and Fred Russel in an aeroplane. Went to the pictures.

19th November 1941

Laid up with the ribs all day. George went to the Agir aerodrome. Went to the pictures and after had a good supper- tomato sandwiches and a cake that came to George from the Good Luck Club, topped up with a few bottles of beer. Had some rain.

20th November 1941

In the morning a kit inspection. Usual parades in the evening. Wrote to Dot Sutherland and enclosed a letter for Alf and Arthur. Went to the pictures.

21st November 1941

In the morning squad drill. In the evening rifle drill. Went to the pictures.

22nd November 1941

In the morning squad drill. In the evening watched a football match between our troop and Charlie troop. Our side won easily. My rib was too sore to play. George went to Julius camp to visit Duncan Foulds but he was still away in hospital.

23rd November 1941

Went to church parade then a march past the Colonel. In the evening our team played the 2nd 3rd machine gunners and beat them easy. In the night I went on Battery piquet. Went to the pictures. Got letters, one each from Mum, Cath Wilson, Rene Robson, Reg Webb.

24th November 1941

On piquet all day. Went to the pictures. Received a letter from Ernie. Wrote to Mum.

25th November 1941

 Went for a six mile route march in the morning. Lectures in the afternoon. Went to the pictures.

26th November 1941

Lectures in the morning. In the evening our team played Ack Troop but they were too good for us by two goals. Went to the pictures. Wrote to Cath Williams.

27th November 1941

George and I both got kitchen fatigue. Great game, I don’t think, washing pots and pans. Wrote to Rene Robson and Ernie. Went to the pictures.

28th November 1941

In the morning, George, Cliff Ross and I had to go to a court of inquiry into the theft by the Arabs from our tent. The court adjourned till after dinner. After dinner we reported again but, as one man was away the court was adjourned again until 10m the next day. Wrote to Mollie. Went to the pictures.

29th November 1941

Went up again today to the court of enquiry and the silly damn questions that they ask you would make one mad. In the evening had a good sleep in the tent. Having a kick in the daytime, two of us went for a mark and fell. The other chap sat right on my neck and, by heck, it is stiff and sore now. Went to the pictures.

30th November 1941

Sunday, did nothing special in the morning. In the evening we travelled to Desinede to play Finance Company football. It was a very good game. We beat them by a goal. We stayed there for tea. Had a great sing song at the piano. The corporals mess served us drinks such as gin, sherry, cherry brandy. Most of the boys came home very sick, myself included. Saw Billy Duggan in the day time.

1st December 1941

Had to go on kitchen fatigue, not feeling too good. Dreadful hang over from the night before. Went to the pictures. Got a letter from Rene Webb.

2nd December 1941

In the morning learning semaphore. In the evening went for a route march. In the night went on piquet. Through the night got very windy and started to rain. Six tents were blown over. I can feel a cold coming on and my throat is very sore. Went to the pictures.

3rd December 1941

Came off piquet in the morning feeling very sick. I have a touch of the flu. Rained all day. I laid down in the tent all day. Wrote to Rene Webb.

4th December 1941

Went and saw the MO. He ordered me to bed and gave me pills to take. Feel absolutely rotten. Got a letter from the Kiewa Butter Factory and one from Lila and Bill. Wrote to Duncan Foulds.

5th December 1941

Still sick but feel much better than yesterday. Wrote to Bill.

6th December 1941

Feeling much better. In fact went on parade in the morning. Broke off to do washing and mending. In the evening we went to Gaza to play the 43rd football. No sooner arrived at the ground when the rain came down in bucketfuls. The match was postponed and we went back to our camp. Got letters from Mum, Stan Sutherland and Leslie Benzie. Went to the pictures but it was a rotten show.

7th December 1941

Being Sunday, had a good lay in the tent. Went to the pictures.

8th December 1941

Received the news that Japan had entered the war. Gas drill and rifle drill. Went on regimental guard in the night. Went to the pictures. Got a letter and two canteen orders from Annie Robinson. A letter and a canteen order from the Good Luck Club.

9th December 1941

Came off guard in the morning tired and sleepy. Fixing up the mess tents in the morning. In the evening completed the job. Went to the pictures.

10th December 1941

Went to Agir aerodrome to do Bofor gun drill. Saw plenty of planes there. Heard the news that two of our battleships had been sunk by Japan47. There is fighting in Malaya. I suppose Ernie is in the thick of it by now. I hoped and prayed that he would not see any fighting. Went to the pictures.

11th December 1941

In the morning, make and mend. In the evening our troop had sports. Our sub-section bagged nearly all the points. Went to the pictures. Wrote to Anne Robinson.

12th December 1941

In the morning putting up a tent for the batman. In the evening finished the tent and went and had a hot shower. Went to the pictures.

13th December 1941

On Bofor gun drill all day. Went to the pictures. Received letters from Ernie and Arthur Webb. Had a very good feed in the night time. Allan Murphy brought one of his parcels to our tent- cake, etc, etc.

14th December 1941

Sunday, went on church parade. Did a bit of washing. In the evening watched our team beat the 43rd at football. George went to Gaza Ridge. Chick Collins and Claude Sawyer came up to visit us. Met Humphrey Perry’s brother, Ray. Went to the pictures.

47Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiserHMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navyoff the east coast of Malaya, near Kuantan, on 10 December 1941.

15th December 1941

Went out all day on manoeuvres with the infantry artillery and anti-tank units. Went as far as Julius. Went to the pictures. Received letters from Mum, Evelyn Bynon, Dot Sutherland and Maida. Got a letter from Ernie Holloway.

16th December 1941

In the morning rifle drill and semaphore work. Lecture on aircraft identification and a football meeting. Went to the pictures. On piquet in the night.

17th December 1941

Did nothing in the morning. In the evening went to the sports meeting. Our troop won. The points were Beer Troop 49, Charlie Troop 41, Ack Troop 32. George and I ran third in the Siamese race. I pulled in our tug-of-war team. We beat Ack troop but Charlie troop beat us in the final. It is a very cruel game. I was very stiff and sore after it. Wrote to Evelyn Bynon. Went to the pictures.

18th December 1941

Prismatic compass reading. In the afternoon listened to plane lectures and then went and had a hot shower. Never went to the pictures, did some writing instead. Wrote to Maida and Ernie Holloway.

19th December 1941

Went for a 15 mile route march. Marched to Hill 138 to a trig point without map, just taking bearings with a prismatic compass. It was a very interesting day. Saw some fresh country, breaks the monotony a bit. Went to the pictures.

20th December 1941

George and I copped mess orderly in the evening. Our team beat the machine gunners unit 22 goals 32 points to 2 goals 4 points. Came off mess orderly to go on regimental guard for the night. We were sure sore about it.

21st December 1941

Came off guard duty at 4am and went to bed. Never got out of it till 11.30am. Wrote to Arthur Webb. Got a letter from John Ballantine, a chap that was in our tent but was sent to the 9th Battery. Went to the pictures.

22nd December 1941

Very wet day. In the morning, rifle drill and a gas lecture. In the evening more lectures. Jim Jerald’s48 show is on in the theatre but each troop takes a night each. He is showing for three nights. Received papers from Rene Robson and Cath Wilson. Received letters from Madge Hadley, Isabel Davidson and a Xmas card from Eileen Polmear.

23rd December 1941

Very wet day. Stopped in our own tents all day. Went to the theatre and saw Jim Jerald’s show. Jim Davidson was with him, it was a very good show.

24th December 1941

Put in kitchen fatigue as punishment for sneaking to mess parade early. Rained very hard all day. Xmas eve, only got one bottle of beer, but joined in with several others in the tent to drink a few bottles of wine.

48sic- Actually Jim Gerald (1891-1971), celebrated Australian performer and WW1 veteran.

In 1941 he and fellow ABC favourite Jim Davidson had joined the Australian Army, embarking for the Middle East on 1 September. Commissioned as an honorary Lieutenant Colonel, Gerald was given command of the AIF's Entertainment Unit, and based himself out of Tel Aviv. With his vast experience in the variety industry he quickly organised Captain Davidson's 40-strong band and several professional artists who specially enlisted from Australia, and was given authority to recruit any soldier already serving in the Middle East who had entertainment skills (but who was not deployed in key military areas). This all-digger troupe (apart from 20 female refugees, including seven Palestinian chorus girls) numbered over a hundred, and gave shows comprising traditional revue and vaudeville acts - including singing, dancing, juggling, acrobatics, comedy sketches and patterology, and trick cycling.

25th December 1941

Xmas Day, still raining like fury. Scored three bottles of beer up to dinner time. Had a very good Xmas dinner and a Monopole cigar kindly given to me by L Bdr49 MacMillan. A very big flood in the creek running past here.

26th December 1941

In the morning had a great lay in bed. In the afternoon had the regimental sports.The 8th Battery won by 2 points. The points being 8th 43 points, 7 Battery 41 points. Went on regimental guard and copped 24 hour guard. Spent a very cold night. Went to the pictures.

27th December 1941

Still on guard. In the evening our team beat the 2nd 43rd by a goal. It was a great match and there was a lot of money won on the match. Went to the pictures.

28th December 1941

A very wet day. Had intended visiting Duncan Foulds and a few more friends but it turned out that we were duty troop. Wrote to Ernie and Uncle Ben. Went on piquet and copped the 24 hour duty. Went to the pictures. Received a parcel from Davidsons.

29th December 1941

Still on piquet all day. Fine day, the rain ceased overnight. Went to the pictures. Mail came in but me and George never got a letter. That makes us very miserable. The last two mails there has been no letters from home. It is 12 months today since we left Australia.

30th December 1941

In the morning identification of aircraft and prismatic compass work. Went to the pictures. Received letters from Lila and Myrtle Webb.

31st December 1941

The last day of 1941, wonder what 1942 will bring forth. Went for a short route march and a bit of rifle drill. Received a letter from Ernie. Wrote to Mum. Drank three bottles of beer then went to the pictures. The boys were very noisy as the old year passed out.

 

1942

 

1st January 1942

Put in for a leave pass to visit Julius to see Duncan Foulds, Bill Duggan and Arthur Wylie. Just before we left Roley Evans came to visit us. After dinner we went to Julius. Duncan is still away in hospital. Had a great night with Billy Duggan and Arthur Wylie. There were a lot of VAD50 and nurses at Julius. The day was very wet and cold.

2nd January 1942

Wet, cold and blustery day, stayed in bed nearly all day. Got a letter with Xmas card in it from Mum and Lila. Went to the pictures.

3rd January 1942

Still wet and cold. Stayed in bed most of the day. Picked for regimental guard and copped it for the 24 hours.

4th January 1942

On regimental guard all day and what a day it was. Freezing cold. It was the two worst shifts I have ever put in on guard. Went to the pictures.

5th January 1942

In the morning went for a route march about six miles. In the evening had lectures on a Bofors Predictor. Went to the pictures.

49Lance Bombardier (rank above a Gunner)

50A Voluntary Aid Detachment member was a nursing orderly in hospitals, carrying out menial but essential tasks They often worked in Red Cross convalescent and rest homes, canteens, on troop trains. on hospital ships and the blood bank as well as on the home front. 

6th January 1942

Drill on Bofors gun at the camp. Got a letter from Alf Sutherland.

7th January 1942

Still on piquet all day. Did a lot of washing to go to Cairo the next day. Went to the pictures.

8th January 1942

Just routine work in the morning. In the evening we played Ack troop football but they beat us. Left the camp at 10.30 for Cairo. Left on the train from Gaza at 12.30am and travelled all night. A long, cold trip. Allan Murphy is with George and me. Also Jack Mathews.

9th January 1942

Arrived at El Kantara at 8am. Crossed the Suez Canal and stayed at Quantara for two hours. While there met Alf Howard. Left there and arrived at Cairo 3pm. Had our first glimpse of Cairo. We are staying at the Exady Hotel. Cairo is a very big place. Put in the night sightseeing and beer drinking.

10th January 1942

In the morning jumped on a tram and went out to see the pyramids. There were nine in all, they are very huge things. We made friends with two Tommy soldiers. Allan, Harry Isaacs and I walked to the top but George and Jack Mathews stopped half way up. The height was 480 feet. We came back and visited the zoo which was well worth seeing.

11th January 1942

In the morning having a look over Cairo. In the evening went to the races at Heliopolis51. Backed one winner and won on Ajax for a place. Our two Tommy friends came with us. In the night drank a lot of beer. The place is very hectic.

12th January 1942

Still on the prowl of the city. In the evening went to see the Blue Mosque. It was a great piece of work. The mosque is 900 years old. In the night went with Harry and Arthur to the Badia Cabaret. I must say the girls could move their hips. Finished the night with a party in our room, almost got drunk.

13th January 1942

Did not get up till 10am. All of us are suffering from the night before. In the evening I laid and had a sleep. In the night went to the Tommy’s hotel to give them a send-off as they were leaving at 12 o’clock to go back to the desert. Took things a bit quieter than the night before but it was still hectic.

14th January 1942

In the morning went and saw the rest of the zoo. In the evening walked around sightseeing and got some photos taken. Later in the night visited the Empire Club. Drank a few bottles of beer. At times the streets are that crowded you can hardly move.

15th January 1942

In the morning went shopping. Bought Mum a handbag, Lila52 a dressing gown and Bill and Verne53 a wallet each. In the night more beer and finished up at the Globe Cabaret. I have a very heavy cold and can say that I am not looking forward to getting up at 5.30am to go back to Palestine.

16th January 1942

Rose at 5.30 to go to the train. Arrived at the Suez Canal at 12,30. Crossed the Canal and got on the train. While there a terrific dust storm blew up. The train was very crowded and we had to stand up all the way. Arrived at Gaza at 12 o’clock. Went by bus back to Hill 95.

17th January 1942

Got up in the morning and there was a frightful dust storm blowing, the worst I have seen in Palestine. Just laid in the tent all day. Feel very tired. The week in Cairo was too hectic. Got letter each from Mum, Cath Wilson, Eileen Polmear, Rene Webb, Ernie Holloway. Went to the pictures.

51Suburb of Cairo

52George and Les’s only sister

53George and Les’s brothers

18th January 1942

Did nothing in the morning. In the evening the 2/14th beat us by one point at football. That is only our second defeat so far. Wrote to Mum. There is a move in the wind for us, God only knows where. Went to the pictures. Went on piquet in the night and copped the 24 hour shift. Sent Mum a snap.

19th January 1942

Still on piquet all day. Wrote to Cath Wilson and sent another snap of myself. Fixed up the parcel to send home. Went to the pictures.

20th January 1942

Both George and I visited the MO54 with very bad colds, the after effects of Cairo. He gave us eucalyptus inhaling and 24 hours no duties. Went to the pictures.

21st January 1942

In the morning reflex drill and lectures. In the evening two injections with the needle. Went to the pictures.

22nd January 1942

On mess orderly. So was George but after breakfast they sent him to the CRS55 with flu. In the evening went to see how George was, he was asleep so I left and came back in the night after the pictures. Got a letter from Harry Isaacs.

23rd January 1942

Bofors gun drill all day. Went to the pictures then visited George in the CRS. He is getting better fast.

24th January 1942

In the morning, they gave us the morning off for make and mend. I spent the morning washing clothes. Picked to go on camp piquet and copped the 24 hour duty.

25th January 1942

On piquet all day. Watched our team beat 7th Battery at football in the evening. Went to the pictures.

26th January 1942

Getting all our gear ready for a shift. Have to hand our diary into the Troop office today. Wrote to Lila. Met Norm McLennan, Jimmy Retallick and Bert Russell. Their unit came from Syria and are camped beside us. Went to the pictures with them.

27th January 1942

In the morning went for a march. In the evening for a short march. Was picked for guard. Our tucks arrive, the move is very close now. Went to the pictures. My birthday and I never had a drink.

28th January 1942

Had a lay off in the tent all day. Went on picture theatre piquet. Met Norm, Bert and Jimmy at the pictures.

29th January 1942

A bit of squad drill in the morning. In the evening, to my disgust, I was put on machine gunners lines as guard. I kicked up a row and demanded to be paraded to the officer but it did no good. Being on the last shift, had a few bottles of beer with Norm, Bert and Jimmy then went to the pictures with them.

30th January 1942

Relieved at 12 o’clock from the guard. I went up to Norm McLennan, Jimmy Retallick and Bert Russell’s tent. We drank ten bottles of beer then went to the pictures. Jim Hawley was with us also. It is great to meet a few boys from the district.

31st January 1942

Went on battery runner on day. The camp is a hive of industry busy packing to move.

 

[1]Medical Orderly

[2]Casualty Receiving Station

18th January 1942

Did nothing in the morning. In the evening the 2/14th beat us by one point at football. That is only our second defeat so far. Wrote to Mum. There is a move in the wind for us, God only knows where. Went to the pictures. Went on piquet in the night and copped the 24 hour shift. Sent Mum a snap.

19th January 1942

Still on piquet all day. Wrote to Cath Wilson and sent another snap of myself. Fixed up the parcel to send home. Went to the pictures.

20th January 1942

Both George and I visited the MO[1]with very bad colds, the after effects of Cairo. He gave us eucalyptus inhaling and 24 hours no duties. Went to the pictures.

21st January 1942

In the morning reflex drill and lectures. In the evening two injections with the needle. Went to the pictures.

22nd January 1942

On mess orderly. So was George but after breakfast they sent him to the CRS[2]with flu. In the evening went to see how George was, he was asleep so I left and came back in the night after the pictures. Got a letter from Harry Isaacs.

23rd January 1942

Bofors gun drill all day. Went to the pictures then visited George in the CRS. He is getting better fast.

24th January 1942

In the morning, they gave us the morning off for make and mend. I spent the morning washing clothes. Picked to go on camp piquet and copped the 24 hour duty.

25th January 1942

On piquet all day. Watched our team beat 7th Battery at football in the evening. Went to the pictures.

26th January 1942

Getting all our gear ready for a shift. Have to hand our diary into the Troop office today. Wrote to Lila. Met Norm McLennan, Jimmy Retallick and Bert Russell. Their unit came from Syria and are camped beside us. Went to the pictures with them.

27th January 1942

In the morning went for a march. In the evening for a short march. Was picked for guard. Our tucks arrive, the move is very close now. Went to the pictures. My birthday and I never had a drink.

28th January 1942

Had a lay off in the tent all day. Went on picture theatre piquet. Met Norm, Bert and Jimmy at the pictures.

29th January 1942

A bit of squad drill in the morning. In the evening, to my disgust, I was put on machine gunners lines as guard. I kicked up a row and demanded to be paraded to the officer but it did no good. Being on the last shift, had a few bottles of beer with Norm, Bert and Jimmy then went to the pictures with them.

30th January 1942

Relieved at 12 o’clock from the guard. I went up to Norm McLennan, Jimmy Retallick and Bert Russell’s tent. We drank ten bottles of beer then went to the pictures. Jim Hawley was with us also. It is great to meet a few boys from the district.

31st January 1942

Went on battery runner on day. The camp is a hive of industry busy packing to move.

54Medical Orderly

55Casualty Receiving Station

1st February 1942

Went to Church in the morning. In the evening saw a football from the second ac ac beat our team. We had a very weak side. Went to the boys’ camp then later went to the pictures.

2nd February 1942

Went for a route march in the morning. Picked for piquet duty and volunteered for the 24 hours. Often wonder how Ernie is going in Malaya. Would love to be over there with him to give him a hand. We have had no mail for some time. Went to the pictures and then went with the boys to their tent and drank a few bottles of beer.

3rd February 1942

Some of our crowd moved out and we won’t be long. On piquet duty all day. Went to the pictures and then went with Bert, Jim and Norm to their lines to drink a dozen bottles of beer and a bottle of whiskey. Woke up next morning with a beautiful headache. Arranged to get some more beer tomorrow night and have a party.

4th February 1942

No parades, just cleaning up around the camp. George and I were on canteen piquet but were dismissed early. Went and saw half the pictures. Went up to the boys and had a good night beer drinking. We were joined by Jack Ecker, Stan Watkin, Jim Hawley and Wally Bottomley. Olly Hiss, a sergeant from Albury was with us. Also Murph.

5th February 1942 Nothing doing in the morning. In the evening packed up our things and moved into tents about 50 yards away. They were empty tents vacated by our boys who left in the advance party. George and I on piquet, went of first shift so that when we finished went up to the boys and had some more beer. We have some great talks over old times.

6th February 1942

Cleaning up the camp area in the morning. The great wonder now is where we are going. A lot of chaps think Australia but personally I don’t think so. I wonder how Ernie is going in Malaya. Would love some mail from home.

7th February 1942

Cleaning up round the camp. Met the boys at the pictures and they informed us that they are moving out early the next morning. Granted leave to go to Jerusalem the next day.

8th February 1942

Left early the next morning to go to Jerusalem. Had a good day. The city is very old. Viewed the Manger, Church of Nativity, Bethlehem, the Hill of Ascension, the Mount of Olives, the Golden Gate, the garden of Gethsemane, the star of Bethlehem, the church of St Catherine, the soldiers’ cemetery from the last war. Saw the Dead Sea.

9th February 1942

In the morning did nothing to speak of. In the evening had a route march with full pack on. Went on guard in the night. Went to the pictures. Mail arrived but none for George or me. Had not written home for a while. Don’t know if mail is going by air or not.

10th February 1942

Had one parade in the morning but were dismissed. Things don’t look the best at Singapore. The Japs have crossed the mainland. In the evening packed all my kit for the pending move. Met Doug Eyers in Jerusalem yesterday. Went to the pictures. Met Wally Donelan.

11th February 1942

In the morning packed everything ready and moved out of our tents. Just laid round in the sun all day. Went to the pictures. Met Don Malson. At 10.30 moved out of the camp per bus and went to Gaza station. Left at 12.45 for El Kantara.

12th February 1942

Spent a good night on the train Arrived at Kantara at 9.30am. Crossed the Suez Canal and got on the train for Geneifa56. Got off the train and started to march with all our packs but transport met us after doing a mile. Arrived at Geneifa at 3.30. Had a good night at the canteen. There was plenty of beer.

13th February 1942

Expected to move on to the boat but we were told we might have to spend a few days at the camp. Went to the pictures in the night. There are thousands of prisoners57 in the camp near us. Had a few beers in the night.

14th February 1942

Went for a route march in the morning. Sergeant Citlington was knocked down by a bus and his arm was broken. Saw prisoners everywhere. They looked very fat and happy. Had a few beers and then went to the pictures. Our camp looks out on the lake on the Suez Canal.

15th February 1942.

Went to church parade in the morning then played cards till dinner time. Slept most of the evening. Had a few beers then went to the pictures

16th February 1942

Went for a route march to the top of a steep hill. Got a wonderful view of the Great Bitter Lake. We were told that Singapore had fallen. I would give anything to know how Ernie is58. Had a few beers in the night at the canteen. There are dozens of aeroplanes flying round here.

17th February 1942

Had three parades in the morning. Got issued with a day’s rations for the next move. Had some beer in the night. Told we had to get up at 5am in the morning ready to move out.

18th February 1942

Rose early, had breakfast in the dark. Moved out of Geneifa at 7am and travelled by bus to Port Tewfik59. Got on a barge and went out to our boat, the Andes60. Liked the ship very much. The boat moved out of Port Tewfik at 4pm. A lot of troops on board and everyone guessing where we are going. No one knows.

19th February 1942

In the Red Sea but moving very steady. Our ship is on its own. Some of our chaps are on different boats ahead of us with our equipment. A lot of parades on the boat but don’t do much work. There is beer on the boat but none of our chaps have any money. They are paying us tomorrow. Heard on the news that the Japs had bombed Darwin.

20th February 1942

Still in the Red Sea. Had drill in case of emergency. After dinner they paid us one pound. Very hot in our quarters but beautiful on deck. The meals are wonderful. Just going to the canteen for some beer. The ack ack are manning one of our Bofors on the ship. Had two bottles of beer.

21st February 1942

Still in the Red Sea. The ship is travelling very slow. The sea very calm. We have several parades a day. Saw some porpoises. Sleep up on deck every night, it is too hot in the quarters. Had one bottle of beer. Through the night it started to rain so had to take my bed below.

22nd February 1942

56A large Army camp in what is now known as the Faysal area near the Great Bitter Lake. It contained thousands of troops of many nationalities, including Free French, Cypriots, British, Australians, New Zealanders Indians, Palestinians, and Greeks.

57Italian prisoners of war living in a large compound not far from the lines.

58Ernie, Les and George’s brother, was with the 2/29th AIF Battalion on the Malay Peninsula when Singapore fell. He was posted as missing on 6th April and then listed as a POW on 9th June..

59Now Port Tawfiq, Egypt, on the Gulf of Suez

60RMS Andes was a steam turbine Royal Mail Shipocean linercruise ship, and the flagship of the Royal Mail Lines fleet, built in Belfast in 1937–39 and completed at the outbreak of the Second World War. The Admiralty almost immediately requisitioned her as a troop ship and had her converted to carry about 4,000 troops. In troop service she broke three speed records for long-distance voyages.

Left the Red Sea behind and they have clapped on the pace. Had church parade in the morning. Spent most of the day lying on the deck. They took our uniforms away from us, what for I don’t know. We are all wondering where we are going. We hope it is Australia. Met George Sutherland61 on the boat.

 

 

23rd February 1942

We are still ploughing through the waves. We think we are heading for Colombo. Went to a concert on the ship. It was quite good. The sea is very calm. Do very little work, just lay around on the deck.

24th February 1942

Still ploughing our merry way through the waves. Still very calm. We had a few bottles of beer in the evening. Passed several ships.

25th February 1942

Still at sea. Colombo looks a certainty for our first stop. Had some beer in the night. Sleep every night up on deck. Down in our quarters it is too hot and stuffy.

26th February 1942

Passed an island with a light house on it early in the morning. Two other troop ships hove in sight and kept with us for several hours then left. Went to a concert in the night put on by the ship’s crew. It was very good. Expect to hit Colombo early in the morning.

27th February 1942

Pulled into Colombo at 7.40am. The harbour is filled with troop ships. Early in the morning washing decks. Just sat on the boat all day and gazed ashore. In the evening brought three bottles of beer. Very hot.

28th February 1942

Some of the Tommy soldiers got off the boat. Just laid on deck and played cards most of the day. In the evening ten of the boats pulled out in convoy order. It looks a bit like Australia, our destination. Don’t know when we are pulling out. Had some rain.

 

 

1st March 1942

Still in Colombo harbour. And no leave. We are bored stiff. Officer can get off but the poor old Gunners can’t. None of the men have any money. I brought two small elephants. If I had money I would have brought a few souvenirs. Very hot and stifling. Australian nurses came aboard.

2nd March 1942

Still in Colombo but I think we will soon move and the destination I think is Aussie. Often think of Ernie and wonder how he is. At 2.45pm we pulled out of the harbour along with the Strathallan, Durban Castle, Orcades and a cruiser. They paid us £1.0.0.

3rd March 1942

Steamed along the convoy, the four ships making a great sight. Plenty of flying fish about. We are not moving very fast, but, significant fact, we are travelling south

4th March 1942

In the morning we were given a lecture by General Wilson of the American forces who is on board with us. A little later Colonel Rhoden62 told us we were going to Australia. General Herring of the 6th Division gave us a lecture. 8.30pm we clapped on the pace and left the rest of the convoy. Went to the concert at night.

5th March 1942

I have been suffering for the last few days with a gastric stomach. We are just tearing through the water. Had two lectures for the day. Had a bottle of beer. Run in to stormy weather.

6th March 1942

61

62Lieutenant John William Rhoden, Commanding Officer of 2/3 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment

Still plough through the waves. See plenty of flying fishes and a few porpoises. On duty scrubbing decks. The trip is starting to drag and getting very monotonous. Went to the concert in the night. A very good show.

7th March 1942

Still bound south. Two parades each day. Watched the eighth Battery tug-of-war beat everything on the boat. Had a bottle of beer after dinner. Nothing else to do bar play cards and sleep.

8th March 1942

Sighted a ship in the morning but it was a long way off. Went to church. Just longing for Freemantle to hove into sight.

9th March 1942

Had two lectures in the morning and played cards. Expect to reach Freemantle tomorrow morning. What a pleasant sight that will be for us. Often wonder if they have any idea at home that we are on the way back to Aussie.

10th March 1942

Got up early but no land showing. At 9am sighted land. Dropped anchor a fair way out in the harbour. Pulled into the wharf at Freemantle just before dark. The band was on the wharf to welcome us. It is great to see Aussie again. The West Australian chaps were let off the boat for the night. Got two letters from Lila, one from Mum, one from Cath Wilson. Two letters from the Kiewa Butter Factory.

11th March 1942

Just sat in the boat and gazed at Freemantle. 12.30 pulled away from the wharf, went out into the harbour and dropped anchor. There are a few American warships about including ten submarines. At 6.30pm pulled out from Freemantle, don’t know whether the next stop is Adelaide or Melbourne. The Army is sending telegrams to our next of kin. We are all feeling very happy.

12th March 1942

Tearing through the waves. It is starting to get very cold. The boat does not seem to go fast enough for me. Sea trips get very monotonous. Nothing to do but watch the waves go by. We play a lot of five hundred to pass the time away.

13th March 1942

It is very cold, we nearly freeze up on deck. I have not been seasick yet but it ios getting much rougher now we are in the Bight. There was a concert on but I never bothered going.

14th March 1942

Still the same old thing, nothing to see but waves. There is a lot of wild guessing where we are going to pull in, Adelaide or Melbourne. It seems to be Adelaide now. We are supposed to pull in there about 10am tomorrow.

15th March 1942

Early in the morning report sick. At 9am had to go on deck scrubbing still feeling very sick. Steaming up the Gulf. I feel that sick I can hardly walk around. Late in the evening pulled into the wharf. I went up top to have a look but soon had to go below and go to bed. Late in the night they put me on an ambulance and sent me to Waverly Hospital.

16th March 1942

Woke up on Australian soil. Still feel very sick. They treat you well here. Nurses, VADs look after us. I don’t like their idea of waking you at 4am to wash you. Too damn early for me.  Mosquitos nearly ate me alive last night. My face is all red marks like measles.

17th March 1942

Feel much better today but can’t eat. I don’t seem to have any appetite at all. Still suffering with the pain in the stomach. Have been getting these pains on and off for months.

18th March 1942

Feel not too bad but the old stomach pain is still there. They look after you very well here. In the evening George and Allan Murphy came to see me. They brought me a bottle of gin and some beer. I was very pleased to see them. They are billeted in private homes and seem to like Adelaide very much. George brought me a letter from Mum.

19th March 1942

Feeling very well, even the pain in my tummy is missing. Starting to feel more like something to eat now. Spent a very good night. I would like to get back with the boys now.

20th March 1942

Woke up feeling very fit. I was asleep when the MO came. I think they will still keep me here for a few days. George came out to see me.  There is a very nice VAD looking after me. The boys brought me a bottle of beer for George’s birthday.

21st March 1942

Ernie’s birthday. I would give anything to have him here with us. Feel very well. The doctor said I could go out on Monday. George and the boys visited me again. I am up walking around the camp.

22nd March 1942

Up walking around. Feel very good. My appetite is returning. They tell me that the beer is running out here in Adelaide.

23rd March 1942

Walking around the show ground in the morning. In the evening I got my discharge from the hospital. The ambulance took me out to our RHQ. The billeting officer took me out to see where George is staying and the people agreed to take me in also.

 

The diary finishes here. Les and George were transferred to 2/8 Australian Light Anti Aircraft Battery (Airborne) on 12th July 1943 and, after three month’s leave, headed for Queensland. They embarked SS Katoomba at Townsville on 3rd December 1943 for Buna, New Guinea. After serving for eighteen months, they returned to Townsville aboard SS Ormiston on 10th June 1944. In November they were transferred to the 2/2 Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment, after the 2/3 was disbanded.

They remained in Queensland until Les was discharged on the 12th December 1945 and George on 19th December 1945. They went back to their family at Charleroi.

Their brother Ernie (VX46268), who also enlisted on 25th July 1940, was with 2/29 Infantry Battalionwhen it was captured during the defeat of Singapore in February 1942. He spent time in a POW camp in Changi and then in Japan where he was put to work in the mines. He survived to return to Australia in October 1945.  He was discharged on the 20th February 1946.

An older brother, Charles Edward (Ted), (VX762320), hearing of the capture of Singapore, told his wife that he was “going to find Ernie” and enlisted 20 February 1942. Tragically, he died 19th September 1942 of pneumococcal meningitis at training camp in Queensland.