The headline exaggerates somewhat. They didn't capture a tank and they didn't know there was beer to be had.
"Captured Tank to Get a DrinkHad I been in the Western Desert, I guess I'd have felt like a beer 100% of the time. What with all that sun, sand and constant danger of having your head blown off. Though I would have preferred something other than warm Lager. A nice Dark Mild would have gone down better in the heat.
Rifleman "Ginger" Johnson, K.R.R.C., was born at Aldershot — if not with silver spoon in his mouth, then with a bugle in his cradle.
The army — to him it means the regular army — claimed "Ginger" for its own when he was toddling to an army school.
There are hundreds like him in the Western Desert, and scores of his kind died in the early actions. The sand blows over their white crosses beside the long road to Benghazi and beyond.
"Ginger" was in town last night. Town means Cairo. It was his first break with the desert for three months. He talked of Tobruk, the Omars, and the Tamars, which recall to those who know these "blasted heaths" a comradeship forged in fear and courage.
"Talking of bottles" said "Ginger," "in June, four of us were sitting near the Bir Hachcim track when my mate says - "What couldn't I do with a bottle of beer now ?"
"Suddenly he gets up, and, pointing the south, shouted — "Here comes a draw - straight from Berlin."
"He was right, too, for lurching our way was a Mark IV. and a truck. We had an A.T. rifle and couple of dozen sticky bombs. And with what cover there was in the scrub waited for the balloon to go up.
Tank Flared Up.
"The Mark IV. halted, puzzled, then wandered around. The Boche truck stopped and three blokes got out with rifles. We watched 'em for a while and also my mate, who was creeping forward with the bombs. I opened on the truck and hit him with the A.T. rifle first round.
"The tank came towards us. Then George — him with the bombs — darts in and hits it square with a couple. She flares up and a couple of Jerries get out and start to run. They get about five yards and call it a day.
"Meanwhile we had worked round to the truck and found ten bottles of lager. Jerry must have seen us opening a bottle for they came in with their hands up."
Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 25 August 1942, page 8.
Having heard tales all my life of how relatively gentlemanly the combat in the desert was, I was shocked to discover that both sides regularly executed prisoners. No-one to guard them and no alternative, other than letting them go. I wonder what happened to the Germans captured in this incident?