July 29th 1939 – Razani

R.P. as far as Crocus to cover a perimeter camp being built there for a scout post. D Coy advance guard and my platoon on the right. A couple of shots hear the tower, but the range was too far and we did nothing about it. Then I am sent up to piquet a hill on Narai side of Toady. It has a village on it with a large tower. We occupy the hilltop and put up a bit of cover. In the meantime Toady is being shot up from our front. I and two others are squatting behind a brushwood and barbed wire fence trying to locate this firing. Suddenly a bullet explodes not two yards in front of us and we are spattered in stones and then hear the shot. The other two have had blood drawn by stones or something and when I get home I pick a bit of lead out of my forearm.

Well, the bullets rain down, they strike our sangar, and I see one chip a piece out of the tower. We nip off in two’s, back off the hilltop, and as I am leaping the garbed wire I hear a shot and the chaps say it whistled over my head. We line the backward slopes and one man says he saw a rifle barrel poke out of the tower and fire at us. I don’t believe it as if this had been so he could hardly have missed at 50′. Still, we put a few shots into the tower. One man has left his pack and mug behind that exposed sangar. He says it’s not worth risking a life to get it. Then like a fool (I must have been wishing to show off) I hop the wire and rush out there and get it. As I get to the sangar he takes a shot at me and I apparently groan and take cover, as Pierce comes charging over with putties flying shouting “Are ye hit sir, are ye hit?”

He helps me up and we run back. I drop my stick and pointer staff, I pick up the pointer but he urges me not to wait for the stick, so it is “abandoned to the enemy”. I try to get a man from the village to get it, but they are all so snug I cannot make contact with anyone. They pot us from time to time and we eventually retire, by dribbling off, and as the last sections go there comes two parting presents, the first ones I hear that whine.

We get back to Crocus and I am sent on to a spur of Toady to cover it down. Then I discover I left my pipe and field glasses up on that piquet too. Rearguard home and when just above 70 milestone nullah, Mike Wardle’s platoon gets shot at, doing rearguard over Pink hills. Pte Tew gets hit in the calf. I locate firing and open up with V.B. and then take two sections up under cover of Pink hills to see if I can help. Can’t help, so return. We continue to withdraw, under a few bullets and then make Gaj. Here Micky and I cover 18 troops back from the ridge in front, they retreating through us. They get over and are nipping across the flat behind Gaj when there is ‘crack!’ – they all fall to the ground and Pte Newberry is hit in the arm. Chaps shout for stretcher bearers “This way! That! Medic wanted!” etc. So I leave the shelter of Gaj khassadar post and nip down to him. His arm is already bandaged but he is almost ‘out’ with the shock and pain so Smith, an NCO, and I hustle him along to a hole by the road. There is a ‘crack’ and a spurt just as we get there but we make it safely.

I then run back up the Gaj and an armoured car comes and takes him away. We are all then pinned to Gaj – three platoons, by two or three men! I thought there was only one man, as we never heard two shots one after the other. All three VBs open up and two of my men spend the next half hour taking periodic pots at the top of 7022, where of course they “see” movement.

The Red Flag is nearly in barracks, but Mac signals back and they send out MG and artillery to extricate us. The platoon on the ground gets off creepy crawly Indian fashion by 2s and 3s, and after half an hour’s shooting I get the RTR. Off by sections and run like hell down by the road where there is cover. Mickey Wardle doesn’t get the order (he is on the 7022 end) and is left behind for 20 minutes as his signaller is “taking cover”. He gets the shock of his life when he finds that I have left him there alone, but that’s Mac’s fault. There must surely be questions asked as to why Mickey was doing rearguard out as far as Pink Hills. Mac’s to blame for that.

They reckon they inflicted 7 or 8 casualties on that evening show the other day. Last Thursday I am sent on Brigade garden fatigue. There the Sanitory Inspector shows me Brigade letter that says the fatigue will not be done Thursdays and Sundays. Dick Harvey of course never saw the letter. Blast his eyes.


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