Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
SX13319 Pvt. Stanley Collins
2/23rd Infantry Battalion.
When touring the front lines Mr Churchill stopped to speak with Pvt. Collins of Adelaide. What happened next ensured that Pvt. Collins was the most famous man in the 9th Division for a day. He bummed a cigar off the Prime Minister of England.
When later asked by curious mates if he intended to smoke it, Pvt. Collins joked that he was going to take it home have it sealed in glass and would then pass it down as a family heirloom. Pvt. Collins survived the war, discharging in September, 1946 as Staff Sergeant Collins. It is not currently known if he did indeed take the cigar home with him in early 1943.
images 024760, 013354 & 013355 Australian War Memorial.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
image 042082 Australian War Memorial.
"Slips Fieldsman" "another cracking shot"
images 041992, 041993 and 041994 Australian War Memorial.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tel el Eisa, Egypt. 1st August, 1942.
Bren Carriers advance in support of 9th Division troops.
Here Montgomery is seen wearing the hat at Tel el Eisa after having toured the forward positions for himself. As he inspected his lines he passed through positions held by different forces under his command. At each opportunity Montgomery collected the hat badges of the units and attached them to his slouch hat. A good collection of them can be seen above.
Reactions to Montgomery's choice of hat varied. Members of the Royal Australian Artillery stated that he looked like a "prize galah", whilst members of the Infantry saw it as an honour that out of all the different nationalities and units under his command that he chose an Australian Slouch Hat. In spite of all the inherent practicalities of such a hat in the Western Desert it was a real morale boost for members of the 9th Division to see Monty in their hat.
Others however were not convinced as to the suitability of their General wearing this hat and members of the Royal Tank Regiment saw to it that they presented Monty with a black beret in the hope that he would restore order and wear appropriate head dress. Someone must have had a quiet word to the General as he gave up his adored slouch hat and wore the Royal Tank Regiment's beret for the rest of the Western Desert campaign.
images 041980, 044866 and RELAWM30701 Australian War Memorial.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
- "Failing to appear at a place of parade appointed by a commanding officer" for which he was fined 10 shillings and 7 days pay.
- "Conduct prejudicial to a Commanding Officer's Military Discipline" for which this offence cost him a fine of 20 shillings.
In spite of his reported disciplinary issues Pvt. O'Connell showed all of his commanding officers that they were wrong about him and proved himself a soldier when it mattered most, when with his mates and under fire.
It was whilst Pvt. O'Connell MM was with his mates and under fire at Tel el Eisa on the night of 22nd July, 1942 that he was killed in action. He is buried at the El Alamein War Cemetery. He is memorialised on the Roll of Honour here;
At the time of his death, like too many of the men killed at Alamein, Pvt. Morris Joseph O'Connell was 23 years old.
image 022764 Australian War Memorial
Pvt. O'Connell's entire digitised service record can be viewed at the National Archives Website. See the link in the sidebar on the right under "Research Links".
You can see what appear to be vehicles of some description on the horizon. Whatever they are they are above ground level and in this case a very valid target. You can see also a plume of smoke in the distance in the direction of fire of Pvt. Myers’ mortar. There also appears to be another dug in position several hundred yards in front of Pvt. Myers’ position. As he is firing live rounds in that direction my guess is that’s where Gerry calls home.
This photo taken not far above ground level can give you an appreciation of just how dangerous it would be to be caught in the open of the desert during a shell attack. Your only hope would appear to be to keep moving forward.
Pvt. Myers seems to have quite a bit about the top of his weapons pit. A Lee-Enfield .303 rests on the sandbags behind him as too does his cigarettes and matches. He looks like he has more mortar ammo to his right within easy reach and he is wearing the commonwealth Tin Hat with hessian cover.
images 0941967 and 041968 Australian War Memorial.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Weapons pits of the Red Line still virtually untouched.
Only time itself seems to have been in these weapon pits since the departure of the allied forces from Tobruk. There is even still, in 2002, evidence of spent shell casings and magazines found in these trenches.
And this is what the whole thing was all about. Whoever controlled the deep water harbour in Tobruk, the only deep water port between Egypt and Tripoli, could rapidly move troops and supplies via sea rather than transport them up to 1,200 miles over the harsh desert.
Holding Tobruk for the time that they did meant that the Australian's and English troops there delayed the Battle of El Alamein until a time when the Allies were adequately reinforced and supplied. It seems weird to see the harbour in colour and without the wrecks of so many ships in it.
images from Galen R. Frysinger, Wisconsin, USA. http://www.galenfrysinger.com/tobruk_libya.htm