Alamein 20 Oct-Nov 10, 1942. Diary entries.

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by maisiefosse, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. maisiefosse

    maisiefosse Member

    Another extract from the diary of Frank Wallbank, a fitter in the 3rd King's Own Hussars. ( 7899116)

    20th October 1942.
    At long last things are moving- everyone is now singing in his bath and working with a smile. More news later!

    21st October 1942
    Moved up 83 miles today along the Mera road, stopping in a camp at EL Hamet. All day our Bostons and Baltimores have been crossing over here with about 40 fighters as escort to each group. So far we've got 8 Divisions lined up ready for zero-hour tomorrow(23rd)
    At dawn tomorrow the 7th Armoured Division is to make a feint attack from the south to attract his armed forces. At dusk 800 field guns are to put up an hour's barrage to allow the tanks to take up their positions. We've been guaranteed at least 500 fighters and as many bombers as required.
    23rd October 1942
    As soon as the sun disappeared, we were off due west travelling 24 miles to a position 4 and a half miles behind the front. Convoys of lorries, carriers and tanks were moving up in thousands- in every camp we crossed, tanks of all descriptions were discarding their vehicle camouflages and setting off to take up their positions. At 9.45 all was quiet – at 9.46 the artillery were sending over all they'd got- 800 guns on a 5 mile front- what a sight. At 10.20 they had a 5 minute halt and we could hear the rumble of tanks on the move. Then the guns were off again keeping it up this time until 2.45 when the Infantry and Tanks got down to business. Ruweisat Ridge was their objective – Jerry's stronghold of pill-boxes, anti-tank guns and artillery. By 3.30 it was in our hands and jerry had been driven back 2,000 yards to take up defences on a smaller ridge further back. Dawn saw the sky full of our bombers and fighters but never a sign of enemy aircraft. One Kitty-Hawk crash-landed 200 yards from us but the pilot was unhurt. One bomber , in a group of 18 escorted by 28 fighters, got a direct hit from a heavy AA shell and disappeared in mid-air. Another bomber landed a mile away, bouncing a little, but remaining upright, while still another passed over us pouring out clouds of smoke and finally crashing about 3 miles behind us. Our tanks went out at 9am, fighting continuously until dark when they had 5 casualties including one killed and had lost 2 tanks. The RWY with 48 Shermans finished the day with only 6 left after hitting an uncharted minefield. What men they had left were withdrawn at dusk, to return to Ammorhea for re-fitting. Our 'B' Squadron took over Shermans and A15's and were all set for action at dawn on the 25th.
    During the night, several enemy bombers were over, two being brought down by AA. At first light the artillery were at it again in the central sector, and on their left, tanks were doing their stuff.
    During the day we saw 2 dog-fights, both sides losing one plane each. Stukas bombed our artillery at 4pm and again at 6.30 but their hit-and-run raids aren't effective. During the day we lost 9 men but they cost the enemy at least 7 Mark IV tanks- his best armour out here. So far our forces have taken 800 prisoners and the general opinion is that everything is in the bag.

    26th October 1942
    A very quiet night but dawn saw 2 raids and action up by the coast. About 40 fighters were constantly patrolling over and a group of bombers has just returned- one less in number. A heavy raid by 34 Stukas on our front line at dusk and several raids by single bombers during the night- 2 lots being about 400 yards from us- and 3 small raids at dawn were all we saw of him today.

    27th October 1942
    Bombers have been constantly passing over in groups of 18 with fighter escort and permanent patrols of about 40 fighters can always be seen and heard. Yesterday our casualties were 2 men wounded. At 10pm today, our Brigade withdrew for a rest , moving back about 7 miles. Just before dusk, 3 of our Officers left in a Dingo, to bury the brother of one of them who was killed the previous day, and haven't been seen since – the O.P. Reports the destruction of a Dingo which appears to have been theirs. The only other casualty today was one other officer killed.

    28th October 1942
    Awoke at dawn to the sound of a dog-fight and saw 2 Spitfires and 2 109's above us. “ minutes saw the end of one of the 109's which broke up in 3 pieces- the other promptly took his leave. At 10am, about 40 fighters were in combat overhead, one of our Hurricanes getting hit and limping away- the remainder drifted away still firing. From the last day's action in which our tanks took part, 2 of them are missing and the 10 occupants are put down as such. Official casualty list this morning gives our total losses as 25 killed or missing though any being prisoners are considered doubtful. Total number of enemy tanks destroyed- 132, prisoners 2,4000- increased this morning by another 1,000 when the 1st Armoured Division carried out a successful attack. Plenty of air activity during the day though we only saw 4 planes. Went swimming in the afternoon.

    30th October 1942
    Very busy today getting tanks ready for away by 4 pm. Artillery force have been at it for about an hour in the north and our bombers have been over several times and so far haven't lost a single plane. By 6 pm all our tanks were moving up, travelling 8 miles in all to a spot on the Northern Sector some 5 miles behind the Alamein Box. There we intend to stay quietly, making final preparations for the big attack. We are to begin on Sunday night.

    2nd November 1942
    Zero hour was 10.20. Within 3 minutes 1000 field guns and 300 naval guns were sending over all they'd got. Planes were going over continuously all through the night and by midnight our Tank Division was on its way to take up positions in the Balge, which the Australians have gained. 4 am found our Brigade approaching the 3rd ridge which, bristling with 88's and 105's promises to be a desperate sortie. During the night the Aussies gained the objective, cutting off 5,000 Jerries in the NW corner up against the coast. At first light the Brigade topped the second ridge and began to cross the plain beyond where Jerry had all his anti-tank and machine guns. Half way over, a heavy snoke-screen blotted out their view, but they kept steadily on at 3 mph until it cleared when they found themselves right among the enemy. Then it was who could hit first. For 3 hours it was toe-to-toe slogging and though our lads took a hell of a battering, their job was done. The 10th Armd. Corps. Equipped with every latest type of weapon, passed through the gap and are now getting into position for the great tank against tank battle which has been eluding our Army for days. In the South sector alone, Jerry lost over 60 tanks and 21 planes today (Nov 2nd)
    A report just issued says that the 9th L have destroyed over 100 Mark 111's and IV's during the two day's fighting. No complete details of our casualties yet though it is known that our losses are considerable.

    3rd November 1942
    At dawn, with only 8 tanks left in the Regiment, our lads went in to attack a concentration of mark IV's and after knocking out 9 for the loss of 2, withdrew. The remainder we handed over to W.Y. And then retires to a position 14 miles back. The Army Commander and the Divisional Commander both personally brought their congratulations of the way the 9th Brigade had done an almost impossible task- 3 divisions are now attacking after passing through the gap and confidence in victory if high. So far in killed and missing our casualties are 53.

    5th November 1942
    Came back today to re-group at Sidi-Bisho (?), passing through Alex in style. Spent 3 days repairing all the vehicles ready for handing over.

    10th November 1942
    All the fitting staff were today attached to No.7 B.O.W. Wardian Docks – we went down in trucks, to our billets, a village 7 miles down the coast, and after a ''big pay'' we were all set on 4 days' leave in Alex. Plenty of eats and bed were the order of the day with a mixing of beer and dancing to flavour it. Sent presents home – Nov 14th and got my false teeth.''

    In the section which I'm transcribing at present, he returned to the Alamein cemetery in March 43, and found the graves of some of his colleagues.
    Charley Fortnum, Owen and bexley84 like this.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks for transcribing this.
    Hope others are enjoying reading it too.
  3. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day maisiefosse, 20th oct-nov 10th 1942.diary entries.a great post.very informative of desert warfare.thank you for posting.regards bernard85
  4. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Enjoying it thoroughly! :)

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