Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday 8th June 1940

Oh! It's lovely here! I don't believe I've ever been so happy since the war began and the near-contentment of last summer ended. I appreciate this luxury and comfort after all the filth and shit-order of so much camp life. The airy, dust-free rooms, the shelves for our kit, the space around our beds and the head-room; the clean tiled floors; the quietness in this wing and in the room, when we close the door; The morning warmth and the midday coolth – our window catches the early sun.
The mysterious alluring hills above... The crash! of our feet on concrete when the Battery is on parade. Yes! I hope we stay here awhile.

It's exciting too, at times. Never likely to be so monotonous as at Nathanya and Gedera. Already, an unexploded bomb has been found in the enclosure; two Arabs were buried under a fallen house and dug out by B Troop men (one Arab dead, one dying). On Thursday night there was an exciting chase of contraband camels through Nablus, in which one of our drivers had to aid the police. Incidentally he lost his rifle and ten rounds in the chase (hardly an auspicious beginning for the Yeomanry!) and the following day a party of us had to search for it in wild hill country and in a village. The rifle was eventually found by the police (minus the loaded magazine).

Today I applied for permission to make up a hiking party of regulation type (six men, including at least two NCO's, one armed with a rifle and ten rounds) for climbing the smaller jebel which rises to the west of Nablus. I had to interview the OC first! He made me promise on my honour that the rifle would not be laid down for an instant and that the ammo. would be carried in pouches. “If another rifle is lost” he said fearfully, “We shall probably be sent home in disgrace...” However, after I'd made all sorts of solemn oaths and vows the old boy was quite decent and hoped we'd have a good time.

With me were Jack Chenery, Ling, Orrin, Cartwright and Gaylor. Stan and Ted carried water bottles, the rest of us took turns at carrying the rifle. It was an enjoyable climb though there wasn't quite enough rock work. The rocks we did find were lovely and firm, with lots of handholds. We reached the highest point – there was no particular summit – in about an hour and were roughly a thousand feet above the town. Nablus, with it's white, flat roofed buildings and mosques, stretched out at our feet, looking like an aerial photograph.

Damn good afternoon. There was a wind, up on the jebel so it was not too hot. Ever since we came here, the weather has been neither too hot nor too cold – a rare condition of things anywhere. Might as well enjoy ourselves whilst here. If Italy does enter the war, I reckon we'll go straight into a place spelt SHIT.


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