Diary of a Common Soldier

Secret Journals of a World War II Rifleman

In June 1941 ‘Mac’ McMillan then aged 27, left his job as a baker’s roundsman and was drafted
into the B Company of the 9th Battalion of the RiPe Brigade.

Following a period of intense training, Mac and his fellow companions left their camp at Tidworth, United Kingdom and to the sound of a marching band and cheering locals they sailed for their tour of duty in North Africa.

Throughout his tour of duty Mac surrepticiously kept a personal diary. In this he highlighted the day-to-day struggle of staying alive—and even sane—in one of the World’s most inhospitable and dangerous environments.

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Mac departed for Africa leaving behind him a wife and four daughters but, as he departed, he was completely unaware that his wife was, in fact, giving birth to their next child—their fist son—whom he would not see for over two years. On the same day that he left the United Kingdom, Mac decided to start a personal diary of his experiences during the war. This he kept religiously until the date of his return to the United Kingdom and his long-awaited reunion with his family some twenty-seven months later.

For many years after his death, Mac’s wartime diaries remained forgotten about until his daughter, Janice, discovered and transcribed them into a publishable format.

The result, Diary of a Common Soldier, is a true and detailed record of her father’s wartime experiences Ighting along the coast of North Africa and then onto into Libya and Egypt. It offers a fascinating and moving insight into the hardships and challenges that soldiers needed to overcome just to survive.

Throughout his diaries, Mac records his constant battle to cope with dust and sand in the equipment through to the endless search for supplies, water and fuel needed just to keep the company mobile.
Very often, their problems were compounded by poor sanitation, military red tape; whilst the terrain threw up its own challenges in the form of ants, clouds of flies, snakes, scorpions and spiders.

This was an existence only made barely tolerable by the sporadic air mail letters that he received containing news of his friends and family back at home in England along with the small snippets of war news that were broadcast by the BBC.

Despite its often sad and moving re^ections on army life during the Second World War, ‘Diary of a Common Soldier’ is not without its moments of dark and sardonic humour. It features poignant social comment from a man who often found more empathy with the POWs that he guarded than he did from from his own officers.

Mac has left behind him a truly valuable and insightful record of an important time in modern history and a pivotal time in World War Two. It is a story that will resonate deeply in the minds of both military men and the loved ones that they left behind them.

Additional information

Table of Contents

Preface by Janice Robinson
Publisher's Note
f R McMillan
About the Author
Introduction by F R McMillan
Chapter 1: Journey to Egypt
Chapter 2: Desert Training
Chapter 3: Into The Bluey
Chapter 4: Libya
Chapter 5: The Retreat
Chapter 6: Digging In
Chapter 7: Back into Egypt
Chapter 8: Under Fire in Libya
Chapter 9: Rommel Pushes into Egypt
Chapter 10: Relieved From the Front
Chapter 11: Anti-Tank Training in Geniefa
Chapter 12: 1943 and Hopes of Home
Chapter 13: Gunfitters' Course
Chapter 14: Going Home
Appendix 1: Map of Places and Locations


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