Saturday 27th June (cont.)
… unwanted gear – marching to transport. Left escarpment – shortage of transport – B Echelon had been chased away by tanks. Onto the first lorry that had room. B Leatham & I on back of anti-tank portee – towards end of convoy. Our tanks in battle with Jerries making break to escape through. Convoy moved on until after midnight – then hell was let loose – had run into Jerry trap. Trucks, lorries, ambulance full of men blown skyward as they were hit. Battle lasted several hours then we turned left. Fairly heavy casualties ??? ??? Sergeant and 12 men missing.
Sunday 28th June
Convoy stopped at daylight to reform – buried four men. Only 17 vehicles in convoy. Heading south and towards Kaponga Box. By afternoon more lorries joined convoy – reached box at 4PM. At night several planes over – bombing us heavily. Boys feeling rather nervy after last experiences.
Monday 29th June
Shifted along escarpment to new positions. Crashed Hurricane close by. More heaving bombing at night – hit ammo dump. Terrific explosion.
Tuesday 30th June
4th & 5th brigade moved 12 miles in south-west direction – in positions if Rommel swings inland. Bombers still over the Alamein Box.
Wednesday 1st July
Again shifted position – things looking serious. Rommel still pushing down. Terrific tank battle in progress towards Alamein. Was appointed company runner.
Thursday 2nd July
Again moved. Flight of M.E.109’s strafed (attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft) convoy while moving – casualties slight. Debussed at 4PM walked 2 miles – 23 Battalion in reserve, 21 & 22 forward. Jerry began shelling soon as we stopped.
The following extract from World War 2 Timelines website in order to put the above into perspective.
|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.|
|28/06/1942||German advance units capture Fuqa and report increasing confusion in the retreating British units.|
|29/06/1942||Rommel takes Mersa Matruh after heavy fighting and captures 6,000 prisoners along with large quantities of supplies. British disarray increases as German advance units mix with British rear units which are reatreating as fast as possible for the relative safety of the El Alamein defensive position. Mussolini arrives at Derna in Libya to prepare for the triumphal entry into Cairo. Alexandria is bombed.|
|30/06/1942||Rommel spearheads reaches El Alamein. The port facilities at Alexandria are prepared for demolition, should the axis forces not be stopped at El Alamein. In what became known as ‘Ash Wednesday’, British HQ is Cairo begins to destroy classified papers and prepares for evacuation to Palestine. A brave but disorganized Eighth Army is addressed by General Auchinleck, who tells them, that ‘He (Rommel) hopes to take Egypt by bluff. Lets show him where to get off.’ This comes as ‘Ultra’ interceptions told them that Rommel would attack their positions at El Alamein the following day.|
|01/07/1942||Rommel captures 2,000 prisoners from the El Alamein ‘box’ but loses 18 of his 55 remaining tanks.|
|02/07/1942||The British hold El Alamein despite heavy attacks, Rommel is now down to 26 tanks.|