Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday 27th March 1940

Morning Mists 1940

Breakfast 5:30a.m in the rather orderly and efficient chaos of moving. Standing in the open, mess tin in hand, I watched the eastern hills gradually becoming rose streaked. I climbed on a pile of paving stones to get a better view. “Speech!” they yelled and “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…” as I stood solemnly there. “The evil that men do lives after them” I quoted in reply but I didn’t take my eyes from those distant hills, as the rose became more vivid and changed to salmon, then to orange.

And suddenly, I saw the sun pop up, for the first time in my life! I was looking at the place where the white domed building and tall steeple were seen by Stan and I with the telescope, when out came the sun, a blazing orange! It came first in the hollow between the woods where I knew the two buildings stood – a little pinpoint of light pushed up above the earths rim and grew bigger, second by second, until it began to climb right clear of the hollow, above the woods; all away!

The fourth bus of the fast convoy. I was comfortable, with my multifarious kit and appendages stored away and a seat to myself. Dozed to Rehovot, read a thriller to Tel Aviv and then watched the countryside, idly smoking, as we turned northwards along the coast. Nathanya, a small white town not quite as big as Rehovot, with a wide street, good road surfaces and civilised looking shops. The blue Mediterranean again!

Our buses went through the town along the top of the cliffs and then inland along a sandy track to our new camp. I am now definitely back in HQ Troop and was put in charge of the first tent (They are ridge pole bivouacs with fly sheets, good but rather cramped quarters for eight men.) The original members of this tent were not promising – including an unknown driver, a trumpeter and two sanitary orderlies – but I was determined to have no more dreadful experiences. Now, after coaxing, creeping and wangling on my part, the other seven are Stan Ling, Cartwright, Underhill, Fred Langley and Orrin (once signallers, now clerks), Jack Cracknell and Naden.

We are tent No.1 of the senior battery of the senior regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery which is the senior branch of the Royal Artillery! We have no more tents to the north or east of us – an unobstructed view of scrub, ploughed land, isolated buildings and trees (Yes! Occasional trees!) to the hills beyond which, here as at Gedera, the sun rises. My bed (raised on “scrounged” wood blocks from the floor) is opposite Orrins, right across the doorway. There’s a lovely scent of orange blossom when the breeze is in the right direction; the washing place is good, the lavatory and NAAFI canteen at present foul. The sea and Nathanya town are out of bounds at present.


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