Tuesday 23rd June (cont.)
… out – each platoon separated – will not have much chance of retreating if Jerry pushes. First put my gear in dugout but all have countless bed bugs so shifted in another’s(?) pit. Jerry planes over at night bombing Matruh & surrounding dumps. Ack-ack and search-lights going all night.
Wednesday 24th June
Cleaning out trenches and making weapon pits. Jerry recce planes were at intervals during day. Bombed Mersa & surrounding dumps heavily at night. Ack-ack left him rather light.
Thursday 25th June
Shifting out into desert. Matruh being taken over by Indians back from Sollum. Sixth Brigade remaining at Amyria. Marched off at dusk passing Matruh then across to desert travelling until midnight.
Friday 26th June
Headed south of Mersa – 4th & 5th brigades dug in on escarpment. Flight of German Bombers over at night. Bombed 21st Battalion causing heavy casualties. Over several times before daylight.
Saturday 27th June
Jerry attacked Mersa – driven off then his columns headed towards us. Seems to have huge quantities of armoured vehicles – convoys stretched length of horizon. Artillery began at 11AM then all day pounded hell out of us. Our guns keeping his heavy tanks off. Shells landing very close to our holes. Blasts covering us with sand. Several of our lorries being set on fire. Jerry columns surrounding our position – situation getting very serious. Shells coming from all directions – orders to move at dark. Leaving all…
The following extract from World War 2 Timelines website in order to put the above into perspective.
|24/06/1942||The Germans advance into Egypt as the British retreat continues. Sollum and Sidi Barrani are evacuated by the Eighth Army.|
|25/06/1942||The Germans capture Sidi Barrani, Sollum and the Halfaya Pass in Libya as the Eighth Army retreats to Mersa Matruh in Egypt. General Auchinleck relieves Lieutenant General Ritchie and takes personal command of the Eighth Army, with plans to hold Rommel if he could at Mersa Matruh, but more definitely at the El Alamein line, or if that failed the Suez Canal.|
|26/06/1942||Rommel is made a Field Marshal and launches attacks against Mersa Matruh. Meanwhile, Kesselring, Cavallero (Italian Chief of Staff in Rome) and Bastico (Italian C-in-C in Libya) arrive at Rommel’s HQ and give permission for him to continue his advance in to Egypt.|
|27/06/1942||German troops begin to outflank the British positions at Mersa Matruh. As this happens the British start to withdraw towards the El Alamein line, confirming radio intercepts that had indicated they would.|