R.A.F. Middle East - The Official Story of Air Operations

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'Fifteenth day. Shoes repaired. We walked until 1100 hours, our shoes were giving us trouble, wire fixings cutting into our feet, decided 10 stop and rest, heat terrific, had a little to eat and drink, made shelter o f brush. 0630 hours, made our way to the edge o f the Q attara Depression. The country down below seemed to be excellent to walk upon as seen by us from the top, so we decided to make our way down the cliff-side, same was hard going, very steep and dangerous in parts, ruined shoes completely "Sixteenth day. Decided to stay night at a date grove. No dates shoes giving trouble. Very weak, food and water getting low, tough going. Mad a good sleep after a little to eat and drink “Seventeenth clay. Started walking, hard going, shoes giving trouble, very hot, salt marsh, fairly weak. The marsh was all dried up and we were walking over salt crags which in appear­ance resemble waves and were 18 to 24 inches high. Being unable to walk in between same we were compelled to walk along the top, stepping from one to another. It was very hot. The food and water were both getting low, but since starting we had always figured on having in­sufficient to last. 'Eighteenth day. We made cam pat 0900 hours. Sleep was almost impossible, partly because of exhaustion and mostly because o f the continual gnawing in our stomachs and the thoughts o f food and cool drinks that we could not keep out o four minds. Towards dusk we met three Bedouin driving camels, who made us two rounds o f bread six to seven inches in cir­cumference, called ‘grassa’ and which, although they gave us almost unbearable attacks of indigestion, were devoured to the last morsel. To-night we came upon soft salt, it was tough walking—placing one foot down it would sink up to your shin in soft mud, and having no loothold it was necessary immediately to place your other foot in front o f the first to keep walking. We made moreno than 15 miles a day through this. "Twentieth day. Last night oui food gave out, despite our rationing. Water was very low, just about two bottles full. We were very weak, shoes just about off our foot At night airman’ we came upon five Bedouin driving about 70 camels. They gave us a handful o f dates and a drink o f salty water.“ Twenty-first day. Attempting to walk a few miles during the day, the weather not being very hot, we came across two Bedouin grazing camels. Taking us into their camp they fed us with rice and camels' milk diluted with water. The former tasted like macaroni and cheese, the latter, although very strong, was quite refreshing. ''’Twenty-second day. We entered camp amidst very curious Arabs. Fed on dates, rice and oil, and drank salty water. Quite a ritual. Still very weak, but recovered. "Twenty-fourth day. Arrived at a salt lake at about 0400 hours, mosquitoes unbearable. Hearing and finally sighting what seemed to abe motor lorry from a nearby hill about 0800 hours we headed north and were finally picked up by an advanced arm oured division about 5 to 10 miles north o f ElM aghra.” DESERT F Sgt. B.and Sgt. D. return to their squadron, after 24 days and nights on foot in the desert. The water-bottles are Germ an, Italian and British: the leaky two-gallon can is still with them. Note their shoes, fixed with wire. They had seen the Allied barrage at Alamein from behind theenem v’s lines 19
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