Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday 16th June 1940

Lazy morning. Wrote two letters, one to Mad Willie, one to Jack Garratt. They're both serving. In each case I wrote “Heaven knows where you'll be when this reaches you, or where I will be then, for that matter”.

Nothing is certain now; all the things that symbolised permanency are chaotic.
Spent the afternoon cleaning up for guard (Brigade HQ, a 12 hour guard) and mounted at 5:30p.m. Went by lorry in to the heart of the city, as it seemed. Sergeant Easter, in charge of 15 men. Wooden hut for guard room. Two men on the gate, one man inside Brigade HQ, by the Ottoman Bank. Also, at intervals, night patrols.

Slipped into the Brigade NAAFI, for ten minutes. Sat in a wicker chair on a terrace some 20 feet above the street, sipping tea and smoking a Woodbine. There were white paving stones near me and beyond a group of rather tall orange trees, surmounted by still larger trees of the larch family. The orange trees were bearing late and withered fruit. I looked from the street and above, to magnificent Jebel Ebal. I thought, how strange that I, Stephen Dawson, should have been abruptly whipped out of my peaceful known grove and eventually thrown down here, in this unfamiliarness.

10:15p.m. Sitting here with the Sergeant in the blacked out guard room. Frank Langley is wandering about; doesn't seem able to sleep. The first night street patrol goes out at 11:00 tonight. Didn't hear any definite news tonight, except that things are getting rather worse in France.

Somewhere, a bird is making a curious call – just one short, sharp note every few seconds, low pitched.


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