U-series. The story of a gunner injured in Libya. Part 1

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Tono kōrero mai

Part 1 of 2
The first half of a story told by Corporal Robert (Bobbie) Loughnan [Military Service no. 1164] about "Sparks", a gunner operator in a New Zealand Divisional Cavalry tank, who was injured in a battle in Libya. The second half of the story covers his experiences following transfer from hospital to a ship for evacuation from Tobruk.
[The story told by Corporal Loughnan is in fact autobiographical, and was his entry in a competition held by the 2NZEF to find the best written “eye witness account”. He originally called his story “A Simple Country Lad”. The New Zealand Mobile Broadcasting Unit in Egypt felt his account of his experiences was outstanding and invited him to record it.
Bobbie Loughnan was injured in during the battle of Sidi Rezegh in late November 1941, with severe shrapnel damage to both hands. He was evacuated to an overcrowded hospital in Tobruk and then transferred to a ship heading for Alexandria.
The ship was the ‘S.S. Chakdina’, which was torpedoed on 5 December 1941, drowning 80 of the 120 New Zealand wounded on board. Part two of his story continues with the tale of how he survived the sinking. Bobbie Loughnan was originally a law clerk but his love for the outdoor life saw him become a shepherd in Canterbury, before joining up. He survived the war and was author of the official war history of the Divisional Cavalry, published in 1963.]

Corporal Bobbie Loughnan describes his role as a gunner operator in a New Zealand tank troop which is operating alongside British and American tanks, in Libya near Sidi Rezegh. He is told of the death of his friend “Ivan.” [2nd Lt. Ivan Rutherford, [Military Service no. 12429] Snowy Nicholas, his troop sergeant tells him his operator “Hugh” has also been killed.
His troop engages the enemy and he gives a vivid description of instructions being barked in the tank and via radio, and his own emotions when firing at the enemy who had killed his two friends. He describes seeing a shell coming straight towards him followed by his immediate physical and mental reaction on being hit, with both hands badly damaged by shrapnel.
He is evacuated to a Regimental Aid Post [R.A.P.] where he learns only two of his troop were not killed or wounded in the fight. He eventually is taken to a hospital in Tobruk.

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Year 1942

Reference number 16891

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Loughnan, R. J. M., 1916-, Speaker/Kaikōrero, New Zealand. Army. Expeditionary Force, 2nd

Duration 00:20:18

Date 17 Sep 1942

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