This account had been transcribed from the book The History of the Sixth Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment which was published by the Battalion in late 1945. I have added a few explanatory and contextual notes as appropriate at the end of the extract.

A warning order for a move to the Northern sector the following day came on the 21st of February. At half-past-eight on the 22nd, the Battalion climbed into its trucks again and set off. This time the roads were dry, so there was only the normal hazard of driving without lights with which to contend and at half-past-five the following morning the convoy arrived at the little station of El Aouana, having passed through Beja, Djebel Abiod and Sedjenane. There the Battalion settled down in slit trenches thoughtfully provided by someone else, and and awaited darkness in order to complete the remaining few miles to the Green Hill positions.

After about two hours in the slit trenches, shells began to whistle overhead and land uncomfortably near in the fields behind. But the shelling did not last very long, and soon everyone was catching up on lost sleep in preparation for whatever might lie ahead.

It was half-past-seven on the evening of the 23rd of February when the Battalion began to move forward by companies by march route from the hole around El Aouana station to the bigger and better holes situated on the reverse slopes of hills nestling under the German occupied ones known as Green Hill and Baldie. The new holes had been provided by the previous unit and, owing to the fact that the whole position was grossly overlooked by the two Hun observation posts, they generally took the form of caves running into the hillsides. When daylight came, it was found just how necessary these precautions were, for the slightest movement brought down a hail of mortar bombs and machine-gun bullets. Consequently, it did not take long to restrict activity to the hours of darkness. (1)

It was a mole-like existence, the monotony of which was only relieved by a few patrols. Everyone was thoroughly wet and uncomfortable and felt like the men in Flanders must have felt in the last war. Days dragged by, shelling and mortaring growing more and more intense and then, after four days of unpleasantness, orders were received to move to a more favourable spot. That night transport came forward and took away all surplus kit, and the following night the Battalion started back down the road to El Aouana, leaving in position a platoon from each company to keep the enemy ignorant of what was happening.

TO SEDJENANE

The march back was anything but pleasant, and a good deal of stuff had to be abandoned on account of the difficulty of bringing forward transport. The distance to the new positions was about 12 miles. Although shells were dropped along the route as the column started no one was hurt. At the end of the trek in the early hours of the morning it was a very tired unit that started to dig in on the slopes of Djebel Boa Jdebia with the few tools that had hastily been ferried up from B Echelon. Tea, brought up at the same time as the tools, helped to cheer things up a little, though.

At four o'clock on March 1st, about ten hours after arriving, a further move was ordered, and a couple of hours later the recce party set off. Shortly before midnight, the Battalion arrived on foot and, after a march of about three hours duration, settled down in grass wet with dew in the open ground just outside the little station town of Sedjenane to sleep for what was left of the night. But after only a short sleep the familiar order was passed round again, and new positions were occupied the other side of the station in the cork grove bordering on the railway at the other side of the town.

Shortly after arrival, Dog Company were detached and placed under the command of 16 DLI to assist with an attack to the north that that unit was putting in on the left flank, and the Battalion received orders to form a firm base at Sedjenane in case the DLI attack failed.

At half-past-seven in the morning, Dog was ordered to counter-attack a feature that had been taken and lost by the DLI and did so successfully, with only two casualties but shortly after were ordered to withdraw to conform with the remainder of the DLI front. (2)

At two o'clock in the afternoon, a report was received that the Foresters had been overrun and that enemy tanks and infantry were advancing, westwards along the road, so urgent steps were taken to complete the defence position. Able Company were placed in position on the right, Baker Company in the area of the station and Charlie Company along the railway embankment. Battalion HQ was established in a small tunnel under the railway embankment.

The CO received verbal orders from the Brigade Commander at three o'clock to hold Sedjenane at all costs as there were no troops in position in the rear. Four six-pounder anti-tank guns were brought up at five o'clock and they were placed in position in the station area covering the roads that lead into the village, and at six o'clock a troop of No 1 Commando was placed under command. Shortly after that, the line of communication was established with 139 Brigade and a FOO from the Field Regiment and a Battery Commander from the medium gunners arrived. The FOO took up position with Able Company. 3)

The 6th Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment at Sedjenane

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Click to enlarge, Three 6th Lincs NCOS