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Ruin Ridge - El Alamein, July 29, 1942
"Must be a big show" somebody said. "(Lieutenant) Ken Bradshaw and 15 of his blokes to the 2/28th for quite a stunt tonight - they're after Ruin Ridge."
And indeed - it was quite a stunt.
The attack got off to a good start in bright moonlight, at 0:00 hours.
The gap in the minefield was completed quickly by the sappers, taped and staked and the infantry advanced methodically forwards into the flak, but as Davy Payne and I walked in behind them, I heard German commands on the right flank, there was a sudden whoosh of shells and near the gap, an anti-tank portee erupted in a fireball.
Some other supply vehicles moving in also, were soon ablaze, and I wondered whether they hadn't followed the gap markers and had strayed into the minefield. There were flaming vehicles everywhere.
With the star shells and burning vehicles, the night had literally turned into day.
When we got to where the infantry were digging in, I reported to Ken Bradshaw that it looked as if the Germans were trying to close the gap, but he already knew. "We dig in with Battalion HQ", he said.
The tanks came in at first light alright, but they had bloody big black German crosses on their side. I couldn't believe it! I heard the Colonel issuing orders and giving our position co-ordinates back to Brigade. We were in deep trouble. Then I saw him put up his hands.
Davey and I did the same.
A quick burst of machine gun fire from the tanks speeded up any slow coaches.
That was it!
We were bloody POW!
Simple as that!
VX39694 Sapper Bill Rudd, 2/7th Field Company RAE - Recorder.