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Private Papers of H H Kassman – Excerpts from Book by Kenneth Rankin, June 14, 1941




טוברוק, לוב


H. Henry Kassman, Kenneth Rankin


הצבא הבריטי


Imperial War Museum (IWM)

Folder Number:

Gunner HH Kassman 1-6.1941


Book excerpts (diary entries) included in a file of Gunner H. Henry Kassman’s correspondence between 1941-1943 compiled by his daughter in 2010. File’s contents are primarily typed letters and other correspondence, occasionally reproduced (often in addition to the typed version), and also include photographs, diary entries from Kenneth Rankin’s book Top-Hats in Tobruk, some other written materials, and some explanatory material. For further information, please see the folder summary. For all posts about this collection, please click on the “H. Henry Kassman” tag in this post.

Top-Hats in Tobruk by Kenneth Rankin is a published version of the author’s diary from his time in Tobruk while serving as an officer in the 152 HAA Battery, 51st HAA Regiment RA during World War II. The titular top hat was the Battery’s insignia. Excerpts from this book were likely chosen for inclusion in this file due to Kassman’s having been in 153 Battery (and later 152 Battery as well), in order to round out and give additional context to the events described in his correspondence.

Pages 25-26: Excerpts from Top-Hats in Tobruk by Kenneth Rankin (152 Battery – Kassman was in 153 Battery at this point). Diary entries (partial) for June 10, 13, and 14, 1941:

June 10: Very little sleep thanks to fleas, air raids, gunfire, bombs. Description of oil bombs and thermos bombs being dropped but to no effect save an injury sustained attempting to evade a gun’s recoil.

“‘A’ site were heavily bombed by Stukas recently”, approximately sixty bombs with only a few going off. Description of a specific bomb which fell and did not go off. “There must be some good fifth column work in some of these bomb factories!”

Writer went to see someone named Jimmy. Mention of Bombadiers Yorke and G (the latter arrested by the former for reading a magazine during spotter duty). Another Bombadier is also losing his stripes. Further description of bombing and fighting (brief). Some description of army life. The writer prepared a charge against Bombadier G, putting him under Section 40 of the Army Act. Hates doing “this kind of thing”. Further discussion of army life and description of dropped bombs (evidently whole). Spoke with the Captain and some of his soldiers, but learned nothing new – just “that we had a good strong force at Mersa”. Further description of army life. “One-third of June gone! And still in Tobruk!”

June 13: Army life description, primarily awful experience with fleas.

June 14: Description of raids and army life (fleas again). “They [enemy] were trying to prevent our use of the docks by continuous bombing” while they attempted to throw off the enemy’s aim. Description of some damage. Towards daybreak, large numbers of friendly planes arrived from the east, but everyone was too tired to be excited or even cheer during a little airshow which had been awaited for months. “Felt so dispirited that even good news failed to make any impression.” Free French occupied Damascus, Governor of Syria fled to Vichy, pocket battleship most likely sunk off of Norway, Ruhr had “the biggest raid ever carried out by British aircraft”, forty-six American ships “had recently been unloaded at Suez. And yet it made no impression!” Told “could expect much friendly air activity as from today” and local aerodrome might be used again. More description of army life and bombing and near-ambush of some Commandos.


2 pages typed, dated to June 10, 13, and 14, 1941.

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