Bob Semple - Use of captured equipment

Running time
2 min 26 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I personally went in with a haversack and a water bottle, the water bottle being about this size, you know, a couple of pints or something and a few items in the pack on your back and no gun.

I can recall the sailors on board saying 'Righto boys, get off. Get off.'

We were loading wounded on the other side off a lighter in the middle of the harbour and we were unloading one side and you're loading the wounded on and we thought 'What sort of war are we going to here? Do we fill these bags with rocks and run out and throw it at them or something like that?'

However, when daylight came we were introduced to a lot of captured equipment and my regiment served on a multiple group of 75s, 100s, 105 millimetres and 149 millimetres and some old 60 pounders that were there and were used up because they were old British guns and they were the only ones that had the range to deal with Bardia Bill, the big German gun that was shelling the harbour all the time.

We had sufficient range with a bit of punch in it and I finished up with a 75 millimetre Italian gun. I don't know, I've forgotten now what the year on the breech block was, something like 1910 or something but the problem being, of course, that they're in metric system and we're in the imperial system but just the brilliance of our officers and so forth, who had to do conversions of tables for the meteor corrections and all the things that go with artillery and what not, plenty of ammunition and so forth.

They'd deal with a number of problems with prematures that killed gun crews and things like that. That burst. Anyhow that became our lot for the period of time there.

There's not much places for alternative positions, you know, the area that we were contained in. The perimeter had something like about, I don't know, from one side to the other about fourteen miles, we were using miles in those days, of course, yards and so forth and degrees and about from the centre of town out to the edge of the perimeter would be about eighteen miles. That's the general area if you can visualise that because it was Tobruk itself. No trees. One tree, a fig tree.

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