Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tuesday 11th June 1940

Everything proceeded normally today. Battery drill order and all that. I ran “A” Troop signals – line laying in rocky hills. Strenuous morning and we arrived back at Nablus late for lunch. However, I mentally “buggered” lunch and after a ripping wash went into the NAAFI (decent bombardiers mess here). Had salad, ham and chips followed by two pints of tea (it's lovely tea, quite unlike the maidens piss which we used to get in Nathanya Camp). Listened to the news in the middle of a delightfully lazy siesta. Nothing new, just carefully guarded statements.

In HQ Billets an important notice was pinned-up. It was a diagram (very attractively drawn) showing the method to be adopted in laying-out kits each morning. Very pukka! I laughed hysterically. I'd like to get hold of that notice later on, date it “June 11 1940” and keep it as a souvenir of how one unit of the Middle East army reacted to the news that it now was in the theatre of war.

Snatches of conversation in the bombardiers mess this evening where Jack, Sidney and I sat around a candle-lit table,

“...Russian troops on the Rumanian frontier, they say...”
“Yes, they'll take Rumania now, you see, old boy”
“Well, we've guaranteed Rumania, and Greece and Turkey -”
“How many more have we guaranteed?”
“Yugo-slavia”
“No! We didn't guarantee Yugoslavia. They wouldn't have it. Knew it would make fuck-all difference”
“Cynical sod!”
“I'm in that state now that nothing could shake me; only the news that my wife had been bombed...”
“Cigarette, Stephen”
“Thanks”
“There's a little cafe in Surrey, with brass things around the walls and all that, and an old mill stream gurgling outside. We'd always light our cigarettes thus, at the candle on the table”
“Well, what about it?”
“Oh, nothing, but I'd rather like to be there”
“Yes! With a nice lady and on a summer night, with the old car outside?”
“Yes!”

The two hills here I find (on reference to the map) are – to the NE Jebel Ebal, 940 metres and to the SW Jebel at Tur, 881 metres.

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