Capt H Pritchard, Blida 1943
Click to enlarge, CSM Jimmy James, Blida 1943

The last main attack of this campaign was onto a ridge known as Barka, near Bou Arada on the north sector of the front (2). After an attack by B and D Coys which failed to penetrate the wire defences of the Jerry OP, we dug in for the night, and on the following morning found that the enemy had disappeared with all his kit. However, we were still frequently shelled. It was in this action that Djebel Tom and Sgt. Threadgold were awarded the MC and MM respectively.

The German forces withdrew to positions that later became known as the 'Twin Tits', this feature, overlooking our own positions was on a ridge at the edge of Salt Lakes. We were still in this area when the 'Cease Fire' sounded, and it was here too, where Bert (QM) came up with the stores to exchange our BD for KD. (3)

The occasion of Victory was celebrated by an extra issue of rum and there were talks of leave with good times for all. We eventually arrived at Hamel Lif, on the coast, about six miles south of Tunis. After a fortnight's rest there, where even Churchill paid us a visit, our kitbags arrived safely, recalling memories of the chaps who were missing.

We then moved back to Ghardimaou to build a POW cage and to receive reinforcements from the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Welsh Regiment. Our work was in vain, no POWs arrived except a few Italian medicals.

The next journey took us to Blida, near Algiers, where the Battalion was reorganised, with the Companies as follows, A, B, C, D, HQ and S Companies. The Company Commanders were: Major Vizard, Major Johnson MC, Capt. Jobey, Capt. Duffy, Capt. Reynolds MC and Major Ballance respectively. Here we stayed until 11th August training for our next clash with the enemy.

It was whilst we were here that CSM Pearson, Sgt. Duffy, Cpl Clark and Cpl Harrison were interviewed by the Brigadier for immediate Commissions. (4)

The stay at Blida was enjoyed by everyone. One or two dances were organised by the Officers, the Sergeants were able to get together for the first time since the Battalion had left England, whilst neglect of returns was often blamed on to the Sirocco whirlwinds! On the 11th August we again boarded ship, this time bound for Bizerta. A Pearson.


(1) TCVs: troop carrying vehicles (lorries).
(2) The Sidi Barka attack was on April 22nd 1943.
(3) BD and KD were Battle Dress and Khaki Drill respectively.
(4) Of these four new officers, all but Lt Pearson were killed in action in Italy.


Click to enlarge, CSM Crosby, Sgt Battle, CSM James, Blida 1943

All courtesy of Jimmy James, these three photographs were all taken at Blida in the summer of 1943.

Above left to right are: CSM John Crosby, who was killed in action on 21/9/44; Sgt ‘Sibble’ Battle, who was in charge of the Battalion’s cooks through to the end of the war (his unusual nickname was acquired during pre-war service in India); and CSM W ‘Jimmy James.

Below is Captain H Pritchard, who was a C Company platoon officer at Sedjenane.

And at the very bottom left, CSM James samples a bottle of beer. Written on the back of the original photograph: ‘French beer--tastes like p----!’