ON the long journey from Alamein to Tunis conditions did not permit any regular routine for chaplains. Time and again Sundays would be fully occupied in battle or in travelling, and there were few static intervals when religious and recreational activities could be arranged in the evenings. For some units of the Division there was a short pause for garrison duty at Mersa Matruh and a longer pause at Bardia to rest and reorganise.
In the attack behind El Agheila in December 1942 Padre Bicknell was wounded and was eventually evacuated to New Zealand. As the firstchaplain to represent the Salvation Army he had a long record of steady, conscientious work, for which he received mention in despatches. From Alamein onwards he had been serving with the 24th Battalion.
After the action at Nofilia there was a halt of several days, during which it was possible to make adequate arrangements for the Christmas services before the long desert advance was resumed. In time this travelling life came to have its own clearly marked routine. In the brigade groups the chaplains were able to look after their own units and the other smaller groups that were attached. When Sundays were fully occupied with material affairs it was often possible to hold Church services during the week, and whenever an attack was imminent short pre-battle services would be arranged and Holy Communion administered.
But much of the time was spent in travelling in convoy in desert formation with each vehicle two hundred yards from the next. During the halts the chaplain might wander off visiting, but he always had to keep on the alert as it was never certain whether a halt would last for ten minutes or twenty-four hours.