Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday 7th May 1940

Awoke at exactly the scheduled time – 4:30 a.m. The blankets were glistening with dew so I spread them out to dry in the sun, on a heap of stones. Washed and shaved in a rocky stream, filled my water bottle at the water cart, and had breakfast.

The battery “opened fire” at 6 a.m. and moved on about an hour later. We had another position, the fifth since yesterday morning and then made a long advance through the valley. Terribly rough track, wild country. We saw a very picturesque village on a hill once – perhaps it was Umin az Zinat, an Arab village. It looked delightful as M1 bumped over a hill crest and we saw it, built around the next hilltop beyond another valley. This rough track was about 25 kilos long and came out on the Haifa – Jenin road, near the 139th kilometre stone.

M1 dashed southwards now, hills to our west, a plain (The Plains of Esdraelon) to our east. We halted, for no particular reason, in the kilo 130 area and stayed by the roadside an interminable time. We dozed, awoke, ate our bully beef and bread, sipped water; got out of the vehicle and smoked. I strolled up to the next vehicle, GA and found two sergeant majors and Gibbon and John Leonard there. Arnold, the TSM, sat with his feet in one of the rare roadside streams, to cool his boots. I learnt that B Troop was in a troop action, which was why we were not needed.

Had a peaceful wash in the stream and combed my hair. Very refreshing. Moved on to the final rendezvous, kilo 127 and stopped outside Megiddo, the site of some Egyptian excavations. “Antiquities of Solomon” said an educated Arab, a government surveyor. M2 had trouble and could not keep in convoy; so we were sent back to look after them – in case of an ambush, see? We roared back down the long line of stationary guns and vehicles. It “shook” some of the blokes when they saw us pass – they thought there was going to be another “battle”. When M2 was ready, we proceeded home by road, led by the Staff Sergeant.

An interesting journey, through Jenin, past Nablus and through Tulkarin. Fine hill scenery, hairpin bends and picturesque villages. Near Tulkarin I fell asleep and only awoke as I began to roll out of my seat when we rounded a curve.

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