A year ago on this blog - An Englishman's Castle: 1st November - I told a story that brought out the courage and compassion of my father as he fought 62 years ago in the "sandpit" of his time. He was typical of his generation and of our fighting men today. My thoughts are with them.
Last Year's Entry:
It’s ten years today – 1st November 2003 – that my father died. It’s 61 years since he and the rest of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry took part in the battle of El Alamein. Having been in the vanguard of the attack at the beginning of the battle they had lost most of their tanks and were rehorsed in Grants and Shermans for the second main attack on the 2nd of November. That morning they charged the German guns; on the flat plain there was no cover for the tanks against the dug in Panzers and 88s. The only way they could destroy an 88 was to run it over and crush the gun and crew. Of course a hit from an 88 destroyed a tank. And when they brewed up they burnt very quickly. Of the 50 tanks that started only four survived the day, many of the crews got out and some including my father were captured and spent the rest of the war in POW camp.
I would like to share a story about Dad – Herbert William Daw – which I only learnt at his funeral. He would never have mentioned it himself. A comrade of his told me he could have got back to the British lines but he stayed with his wounded driver; cowering behind a burning tank in the middle of a battlefield. And the driver had been wounded when the tank had been hit; he had been trapped by his arm. My Dad crawled back into the tank, amputated the arm and got him out. And I’m glad to say they both made it to the 50th year anniversary dinner.