Friday, December 15, 2006

Late on the fifth day of the Crusader Battle

Alec Gatehouse was ready to go and recover his HQ from the Germans. At this point, Robert Crisp was glad to be able to not participate. Brigadier Gatehouse was determined, however, and assembled "about a dozen Honeys" and went looking for the HQ. Robert Crisp says that the small "armoured phalanx" "had a wild Guys Fawkes encounter with an enemy column". They were not able to recover the 4th Armoured Brigade HQ. By this time, night had fallen in the desert. There was little light, but he could see men walking through the machine gun fire. He saw the Medical Officer with "Cape coloreds". He realized that they were a South African brigade. The remnants of the 3rd RTR camped in the night. He wondered what had happened to his friend, Tom Eynon. Later in the war, in Normandy, Robert had written an account of the fifth day and the fight at Sidi Rezegh for a British newspaper. In response, he received a letter from Tom. Robert was relieved to hear that he was alive. When he met Tom at Ipswich station, he found Tom walking on crutches with only one leg. He had lost his leg at Sidi Rezegh when his tank had been hit while following Robert and Brigadier Jock Campbell. Tom's driver had been killed, and when he went around to inspect, the tank rolled forward over his leg and then moved off with his "crew hanging onto the side". The Germans had rescued him and taken him to a hospital. He was exchanged by the Germans about three years later. This is based on the account in Robert Crisp's book Brazen Chariots.

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