Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday 19th January 1943

Left the transit camp on our final stage of the journey, at 9:30a.m. Cold, cold morning. No sunshine. Seemed funny, no sun. And plenty of mist on the mountain tops around. There were many leafless and wintry-looking trees in and near Damascus. Wintry? Then perhaps they have spring-time here. The citizens of Damascus gathered to see us pass; they seemed friendly enough.

We left the city by the Beirut road, which was lovely at first. High brown cliffs, narrow gauge railway and a river on one side of the road, a river, trees and scattered houses on the other side. Cascades of water were splashing down mossy banks... it was as near being in England as one could be. The anti-tank obstacles, which had been built against our attack, 18 months ago, still remained. We saw a graveyard in the hills, of Christians and Moslems. Was this one place where they had made a stand? After about two hours we reached our final destination, in the hills. Acres of mud and corrugated iron huts. This was Jebel Mezzar Camp. Right above the huts rose a mountain – perhaps 1500 foot above the camp level. This big hill was Jebel Mezzar. It's head was hidden in the clouds. Further away was another hill, snow-crowned.

The canteen hut is on the edge of the sea of mud, nearest of all to the mountains. If I can stand the cold I'll be fit here. Already I've got the hell of an appetite!


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