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4th and 6th Reserve Mechanical Transport Companies

Thursday, 27 November

Thursday, 27 November

At Capuzzo, in part of 5 Brigade's area, raiding German tanks and infantrymen overrun the B Echelon area of 23 Battalion. The attack comes from a totally unexpected direction. No infantry are near. Headquarters Company of 23 Battalion rallies for a brave counter-attack, assisted by drivers from 309 General Transport Company (carrying 5 Brigade). In one page 151 group of British drivers is Captain George G. Berry.63 Armed only with a pickaxe handle, he leads the charge until he is killed. His prompt and courageous action does much to save the position. Some 18 British drivers are captured; all but seven are freed later.

At dawn, after bloody night fighting, Sidi Rezegh is in the hands of a sadly depleted 6 Brigade. Just to the north 4 Brigade defends the precarious link with Tobruk. The 4 RMT vehicles receive occasional shelling which continues until they leave for Tobruk. Slit trenches are deepened hurriedly and tin hats become suddenly popular. Many vehicles are peppered with shrapnel, and radiators, tires, and canopies are slashed. Major Stock and his driver, Charlie O'Cain,64 just dodge a foot-long fragment which passes through the roof of the car, through the seat and through the floor. The LAD men work swiftly to repair all damage, and among them Corporal Harry Waddell65 makes sure no D Section trucks are unserviceable. Driver Waddick66 drives his truck through heavy shelling, mortar and machine-gun fire to gather up seriously wounded infantrymen. Warned by an infantry officer that he would be under heavy fire, Waddick replied he would ‘give it a go’. His courage won him the MM.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Skeates67 and others set out on daily missions for supplies and water, hoping to contact Divisional Supply Column's vehicles coming forward from the wire. Wandering enemy patrols drive them home. Drivers continue to bury the dead of both sides.

63 Capt Berry, an Oxford graduate, was a partner in the Berry Brothers' wineshop at the bottom of St. James' Street, London. The shop dates from about 1670 and inside and out is practically the same as when it was first built as a coffee house.

64 Dvr C. T. O'Cain; Christchurch; born Australia, 8 Jan 1918; butcher.

65 Cpl H. Waddell; Wellington; born NZ 4 Jun 1903; contractor and accountant.

66 Dvr A. H. Waddick, MM; Woodlands, Southland; born NZ 4 Nov 1918.

67 S-Sgt J. H. Skeates, m.i.d.; Auckland; born Auckland, 23 Feb 1913; clerk.