Gunner Milligan survives a 'stonk'
8th April 1943: After the war popular comedian Spike Milligan was able to recall events in Tunisia with a sense of humour
In Tunisia the fighting went on as the Germans sought to make a fighting retreat. The British Eighth Army, which had fought its way all the way west from Egypt and the battle of El Alamein now met up with the U.S and British forces that had been moving east since Operation Torch. The Germans were now stuck on the Tunis peninsula, their position was untenable but there was no alternative but to keep fighting.
… the young officer was Goose-stepping and shouting in Cod German ‘Zis is our last Territorial demand in Africa.’ Behind him a stiff, bitter-faced Afrika Korp Oberlieutenant marched with all the military dignity he could muster…
Amongst these men was one man keeping a unique diary. In his subsequent memoirs, Spike Milligan1 was to capture some of the humour that often kept the British soldier going through the worst of times. Yet his experiences in Africa were far from being one long joke:
April 8 1943:
Djbel Mahdi. Up at first light, drove in the wake of a hurried Jerry retreat along the floor of a hot dust-choked valley, we passed still burning vehicles - some ours, some theirs. A few carbonised bodies - ‘brew ups’ as Tank men called it. We stopped to pin-point our position, to my left, lying face down was the body of an Italian not long dead, the blood on his neck still oozing. Lovingly, I removed his watch.
The Bren stopped at the foot of Djbel Mahdi.
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