Saturday, December 13, 2008

Monday 1st February 1943

Alas and hell, that rumour was true. Pat Geraghty has been given another stripe and takes over the canteen, and Jack Hargraves comes in as his assistant, tomorrow.
And I? I go back to be what I was from September 1939 to April 1942; the BHQ Signals NCO. I feel rather fed up about this. They put me in charge of the canteen during it's embryo stages, then when things are finally getting organised, I'm sent back to duty.

I notice everyone avoids stating they were responsible for fetching me back. Today I have seen Ken White, the Battery NCO Sigs; Lieut. Corbett-Thompson, the Signals Officer; and Stevens (Waste) the new BSM. Ken says it was the Sigs. Officers' demand, he says Sgt.White asked for me, the BSM says it was the Major...
“I shall want you to take the signals classification next week,” said C-T. “Classify sir?” I said indignantly. “I qualified as an Ack1 only last October!” “Oh, did you?” he said indifferently, “That makes it rather different, doesn't it?” “It does sir!”

So today, with some trouble, I secured a truck – the road being open again – and went into town for the last time, as a canteen buyer. Spent about £S180. Our stocks were pretty low after two days of being snowed-up. It was much warmer in town; in the mountains around our camp there was deep snow, in all directions. Then, after three or four miles travelling down-hill the snow suddenly thinned and disappeared altogether. After we'd been in Damascus a while, the ice on the canvas roof of our lorry dissolved into several gallons of water.

We had lunch at the YMCA. It was warm there. Apart from the set lunch, I had mass cakes and then felt replete – the first time for many a day. After ordering a hundred cakes here, I went along to the queer little shop (“George Garden Meeting Room”) where we get our bread. Here I was received with the usual deference and offered a glass of wine, which of course I accepted. Then Frank Brooks came along with the truck – he'd been to the market – and we went to the bulk NAAFI. By then we were both feeling hungry again, so called in again at the YMCA for egg and chips. Qwise! And finally the grim journey back into the snow, with the air gradually getting colder.

Well! There was quite a rush tonight, when I arrived! Everyone seemed half starved. Now it is 9:30p.m. and quiet. We'll check the cash in hand and I'll make up the books, for the last time. Then, perhaps, a spot of music from the radio, before we go to bed. Shan't go on parade tomorrow – no hurry! The stock must be valued and the profits estimated, before I can hand over to Pat.

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