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4th and 6th Reserve Mechanical Transport Companies

Sunday, 30 November

Sunday, 30 November

Another mess of transport——Italian——is sent packing. German and Italian guns rake the area. The link with Tobruk must be held. The mauled battalions hang on desperately. With the sun behind them 51 tanks attack, and Sidi Rezegh falls in the twilight. Most of 24 and 26 Battalions are lost.

By tomorrow the Division's killed, wounded, and captured will total over four thousand.

page 153

When night brings relief from shelling and mortar attack 4 RMT Company is ordered into Tobruk, along with all the Division's surplus transport. Drivers are most unhappy at being ordered away from the infantry, and the feelings of most men are summed up in one lieutenant's view: ‘Apparently the powers that be believe trucks are irreplaceable while men are not.’ Actually there were now so many trucks and so few infantry that the task of protecting the surplus transport was impossible. The three sections and headquarters, empty, move off over the desert. Dim shapes rise up and are gone—broken guns, dead tanks, smashed trucks. In one burnt-out tank a mysterious light glows steadily. An eerie sight. The trail leads through narrow gaps in barbed wire, along paths marked by white tape through minefields, past hollows and flats swept with tracer. One by one the blacked-out trucks file from the battlefield to enter the defences of Tobruk, and only shadows lie under canopies where singing riflemen sat shoulder to shoulder but twelve nights ago.