Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday 30th March 1940

This will be much better than Gedera Camp. The number of duties has been reduced, Nathanya Town 2 ½ miles away, is in bounds and permanent passes to 2359 hours daily have been issued to all ranks; swimming parades as from today.

No half holiday. I was in charge of a spade fatigue – clearing away dung and refuse from what had been a Bedouin encampment and levelling the ground. Bloody hot! A Khamsin (hot, thirst provoking wind from the desert) was blowing and the shade temperature sometimes went above 90F. We were allowed to work in gym shorts and shirts; I knotted a handkerchief, Scout fashion, around my neck to protect me from the sun. My forearms, hands and face are now deeper brown than they’ve ever been.

The job was damn hard but it was worth doing, not just a bullshit task, and we got complimented. Finished at 4 o’clock, and went to bathing parade on the beach. Not quite so peaceful there this time, with men falling-in three deep and being sent into the water by numbers, as it were. Very refreshing though!

After tea, Stan Ling and I went down to the beach again (it was dark) and found Jack Chenery, Ron Dean and Podgie Pond perched high on a rock and discussing the possibilities of life on the moon or Mars. Then – absolutely crazy – we all climbed the cliffs. I found a rather tricky part and arrived there ten minutes after the others. “Well, I admire your tenacity,” said someone, when I at last scrambled, panting, over the edge of what seemed from above, an impossible precipice. It was grand; luckily I had a torch (The same torch and the same battery which I had bought in Southwell for the journey!) Actually there were many ledges to help my climb but the crumbling, insecure sandstone was what “shook” me. Lovely to be afraid and to conquer it and conquer the cliff and reach the top! “I beat you, you bugger!” I said aloud, when I’d done it.

Half-way back to camp we stopped and had a wrestling tournament in the darkness. Stan (being still “sick”) was the referee and decided “shoulders-down” by the light of my torch. We each had at least three fights. Podgie was definitely the best man (the great ox!) although Ron Dean threw him neatly once. He gave me a hell of a rough house and I came back to camp with sand in my mouth, eyes and hair, head bleeding and a bruised shoulder. Podgie looked immaculate except for the sand in his hair and a wrenched shoulder!

A busy day! I didn’t know I had so much energy!

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