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Destiny in the Desert: The road to El Alamein - the Battle that Turned the Tide by Jonathan Dimbleby

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– SEVENTEEN –THE WORST OF TIMES

‘These battles are hell. That’s the fourth amputation today and the fourteenth operation. I’ve been at it since eight o’clock this morning and there’s a queue like Bank Holiday at the cinema.’

Battlefield surgeon to Richard Dimbleby

On 27 May 1942, Lieutenant D. F. Parry overheard an exchange between a British ‘forward’ officer at the southernmost tip of the Gazala Line and a colleague embedded at XXX Corps headquarters at El Adem. Had it not been reported verbatim, the conversation might be presumed to have formed part of a Monty Python sketch forty years later.

OFFICER: There is a cloud of dust to the south; it has the appearance of a military formation.

REPLY FROM XXX CORPS: There are no, repeat no, troops to ...

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