The Last Attack

By the evening of the first day of the battle, February 27th 1943, the other DLI Rifle Companies were withdrawn back to the woods to the north of Sedjenane, but C Company and 2 and 4 Troops of No 1 Commando were now well established on the lower reaches of the left high ground. For the next couple of days the situation remained in stalemate.

Tom Tunney

'We had another go on the Sunday morning and it was the same as Saturday. And on the Sunday it started to rain. Oh, I've never known rain like it. It just went straight down. When it got dark, we'd get down on the night and get something to eat. Haversack rations--owt.'

During this period Allied air support was notable by its absence. However, from their positions on the hillside the British troops had a grandstand view of the Luftwaffe's fighter bombers--which were often actually flying below them down the Sedjenane valley.

'They were after the artillery on the edge of the wood. That was a couple of days before we were captured. Because we were up this hill and it was flat for a mile or more and then a big wood. Well, the artillery was on the edge and they came in and we were looking down at them. They dropped and strafed and away.'

The 4 Troop Commandos were withdrawn back to Sedjenane and placed under the command of the 6th Lincs by 1800 hours on March 2nd. [History of the 6th Lincs, page 7]

'They [the Commmandos] were with us until a couple of days before we got captured, but I think they must have pulled them back. Maybe they went somewhere else. There was none of them the morning we got captured. There was no Commandos there then. I don't think so anyway.'

Meanwhile, preparations were put in hand for a further DLI attack, at dawn March 2nd 1943, this time with extensive artillery support. C Company was to advance from their established position on 'Jobey's Bump'. Simultaneously the amalgamated A and D Companies and B Company were to make a flanking move on C Company's left against Point 231 and Djebel Guerba.

'On the morning we went in, the last day, we were at the bottom and this barrage started. The artillery and our own mortars, our 3-inch mortars and 2-inch mortars, the lot. They started about 40 or 50 yards in front of us and it went up the hill, like that, all the way up. Why, Jerry, he was on the top, he just had to run back about 50 or 100 yards and then when the bugger stopped he just ran back again to where he was.'

Both the portable wireless sets with the two Royal Artillery Forward Observation Officers failed during the attack, which meant that the gunners soon lost track of the British advance and could no longer give accurate support.

'Anyway, we followed it up and a Sergeant he came crawling over to me. He says, "There's a bloody machine gun o'er there," he says, "Can the see it, Tunney?" I says, ''Aye!' He says, "Have a go at him." and I had a go with the Bren. He was firing up our arses. We were going up the hill like that and he was down there and he was firing like, crossways, upwards. That's when my marra got hit, Forster. He was lying alongside us. .

'Oh, I got him. There was a few of them. Anyway he stopped and there was me--they'd all gone forward but they'd all been knocked out. Our lot. I thought they were in front, I thought they'd gone over the top. Anyway, I had a Lance Corporal, he'd took over as Number 2 and I says, “We better get up there and get o'er the top.” So instead of coming back as we should have done, we went up, towards them. We thought our lot was over the top.'


The Last DLI Attack, March 2nd 1943
Pte George Forster 16th DLI

Pte George Forster from South Shields was called up into the Reconnaissance Corps in early 1942 and transferred to the 16th DLI after basic training. Serving in C Company, he was Pte Tom Tunney’s ‘No 2’ on one of their platoon’s three Bren guns. Seriously wounded by a bullet to the stomach during the DLI’s last attack, he didn’t see my father again until a Battalion Reunion in 1989! To read the ‘wounded in action’ telegram sent to his parents in March 1943, click here.