Harry Locke - Battle of El Alamein

Running time
2 min 53 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We went in on the 23rd of October and we advanced about 2000 yards and it was dark. It was about 10.20 at night and we had a Bofor's anti-aircraft gun firing. It wasn't firing like up into the air it was firing straight shots and guided us in our direction and besides that we had white tapes on the ground where the engineers had found German mines or our mines so we were protected to get through there.

After the second day we were dug in and we were relieved and on the night of the 26th of October we were sent in again to attack, our company attacked Trig 29 which was one of the German fortifications and we attacked about 11 o'clock at night, and we were being shelled and mortared all the way in, it was real dark, and our platoon attacked the hill.

It was only a small hill and our platoon, I was only a section leader, I was the lance sergeant commanded the No. 3 section and the other two sections were very much, 1 and 2 were in front of me and I was back about 20 or 30 yards behind, and we attacked the hill and we lost, we captured it, but we lost out of the 22 of us there was only five of us come out and one of those that was killed was Perc Gratwick the VC winner and he was in No. 2 section and the five of us well we eventually wrote the citation that got him his VC but you couldn't just write a story and hand it to the company commander it had to go back to battalion, and onto brigade and on to division and eventually we were notified that he was granted the VC but he was much older than us.

We were all in our twenties and he was more like 40 odd. He was an old miner from Western Australia, a very nice fellow but he didn't believe in carrying magazines for the Bren gun, he carried grenades in his pocket and that's how he put out two German machine gun posts where they fired little semi-automatic rifles and guns and, yeah, he was killed in the third little dugout.

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