Disgusterous

Author Topic: War Diary  (Read 8462 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Nick

  • Needs to get out more...
  • ******
  • Posts: 85540
  • Reputation: -102
War Diary
« on: July 31, 2009, 08:27:25 AM »
My dad was born in 1919 and was called up in 1939. He had spent all his life in Leicester until then and now found himself in S Africa, North Africa, Italy and, later, Normandy. He was with REME. He kept a diary. I saw it years ago when my mum died and we were clearing out her house. My big sis snaffled it and it vanished from view. Until yesterday.

She has had my great niece typing it out and it is coming in instalments. Amazing stuff. A window into my 20 year old dad's mind as he finds himself (in this instalment) in Cairo. He writes well too, which is a huge surprise. I see him in quite a different light now to the old buffer I remember(he was in his 40s before I really registered him and by then he had had two brain hemorrhages and was not what he had been).

Anyone fancy a few excerpts?
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 08:33:14 AM by Nick »
Warning: May contain Skub
Cat sitter extraordinaire
Semi-professional crocodile

Offline Uncle Mort

  • Power Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 15026
  • Reputation: 2
Re: War Diary
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 09:06:40 AM »
That would be much appreciated.  happy088

Online Nick

  • Needs to get out more...
  • ******
  • Posts: 85540
  • Reputation: -102
Re: War Diary
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 09:19:42 AM »
A short extract for late 1942

Quote
Harris and I looked at the Empire Services Club for a trip up the Nile to the Delta Barrage on Wednesday.  Wishing to keep the Sabbath like good boys we made our way to St Andrews Church of Scotland not far from our digs.  On our way there we dropped into a ?low dive? caf? for a cup of tea which was run by a very elderly Polish woman, after weighing us up carefully for some time she finally asked ?if we wanted anything?.   To her disappointment  we politely declined this offer and beat a hasty retreat for the Church.  We were surprised to find this packed and the congregation overflowing out into the gardens surrounding the building listening to the service through loudspeakers.  We were able to find two seats inside however, and enjoyed the service, the organ and the singing all of which almost made us think we were at home.  Strangely enough the padre who conducted the service had until recently been stationed in Amerea and I had spoken to him several times when at the Social Hour at the Y.M.C.A. on Sunday evenings.  The night was still young when we left so wishing  to take full advantage of our short leave we went to the pictures and saw ??Adam had four sons? and ?The Face behind the Mask?.  So ended the evening of the First Day.

5/10/42
We thought it a good idea to see if the Pyramids were still there, but after a very long wait for a tram, we gave it up, as several had passed us overflowing in the usual Egyptian manner, with dozens clinging to the sides, riding on the buffers and the running boards, I often wondered why they didn?t ride on the roof of these Cairo trams.  We wandered through the shopping centre and I bought Ann some socks.  Our luck was out today apparently, for after making our way to the Museum of Hygiene we discovered this was closed today because it was some Mohammedan festival day or something.  After relaxing on our lily white, soft beds in the afternoon, we went up to the district of the native bazaars again, and walked round a few streets and alleys we shouldn?t have done.  An Egyptian cafe attracted us and as we sat having ?shay??, we watched the ?East? go by, camels, Arabs, herds of goats, and so on ad lib. while over the wireless came the weird Mohammedan call the prayer, (that?s what Harris said it was) making the whole street ring with its eerie note.  Leaving here, although it was dusk we walked slowly though the streets round the silhouette of the Citadel which reared above us.  Passing many little shops and stalls, each one with some particular point of interest we came to one place which gave us an unusual spectacle, that of macaroni being made.  The process consisted of pouring the ?batter? (for want of a better or correct name) from a tine pierced with small holes, though which it ran on to a circular metal plate about 5 feet dai., which was heated by a coke fire underneath.  The result was that the think streams of batter immediately set in long strings which were then stacked in the window for sale.  A little further along the road we came upon a pastry shop displaying the most delicious cakes which proved too much of a temptation for us, so we went in and  ate half a dozen and washed down with some Egyptian style tea, with lemon and no milk.  Harris and I had arranged to go to some Egyptian pictures as we had heard good reports of their unusual characteristics, so after cleaning up at our ?digs? we repaired to the ?Studio El-Mizra? and there we saw the local ?heart-throb?, (a greasy looking individual with a sickly grin and the usual fez and tarboush).  It was all Arabic  of course and we were only able to pick up an occasional word or two, but we followed the story alright  and after a time I discovered the weird native music to have a peculiar fascination, it didn?t conform to the orthodox European style of music and went up an down the scales in a queer rhythm  and with many waves, but it had a spellbinding effect on me, much the same as African war drums would  be expected to have.  The songs were accompanied by some wind and stringed instruments which were difficult to recognise, although the violin and I think, oboe, played a principal part.  The methods of wooing and love making were rather slower and more serious than ours and consisted of singing lots of love-songs and making reserved caresses.  However we finally saw the young couple in bed together, so we concluded everything in the garden (or bed) was lovely.  It was 12.30 when heralded with much clashing of cymbals the Wog National  Air was played, to which we stood respectfully to attention, the only ?Askari Englezi? there, I think.

I am not sure you'd be allowed to say 'The Wog national Anthem' these days
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 09:36:40 AM by Nick »
Warning: May contain Skub
Cat sitter extraordinaire
Semi-professional crocodile

Offline Pastis

  • Power Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 14458
  • Reputation: 0
  • a continuing precarious position
Re: War Diary
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2009, 09:54:26 AM »
Brilliant!   happ096
Like the Buddhist said to the hot dog vendor...
"Make me one with everything"

Online Nick

  • Needs to get out more...
  • ******
  • Posts: 85540
  • Reputation: -102
Re: War Diary
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2009, 09:56:19 AM »
Episode 2: In which my dad finds out about polygamy


Quote
. A very clever Arabic conjuror or Magician entertained us on the lawn outside, he did several tricks for us, including one where he opened his mouth, whereupon three young chickens popped out and stated pecking on the grass. After which the chicks mysteriously found their way inside a soldiers shirt, along with a snake about 2 feet long which was promptly withdrawn.  After a further look round at the locks and the barrage, we boarded the boat at 1.30and commenced our return trip. This was somewhat slower than our trip out, partly as we were heading against the strong current and partly because the excursion was not scheduled to finish until 5p.m which caused our guide to pick an erratic course from one bank to the other.  This enabled us however, to enjoy the close proximity of the luxurious grasses and vegetation, behind which stretched the cotton fields and other crops. It was apparently time for afternoon prayers as we could see many of the agricultural workers standing facing the sun or kneeling down with their heads on the ground.If we professing Christians were half as devout as the average Mohammedan we would be a vastly better race. A large two masted Falouka had a race with us part of the way, and owing to it?s vast sail area and a following breeze, was able to overtake us and pass us quite easily, much to our chagrin.
Soon we could see on the horizon in front , the outlines of the buildings of Cairo, dominated by the spires and domes of the Citadel and the Mohammed Aly Mosque, while to our right, was the unique outline of the Pyramids of Giza.  During the next hour before we arrived back, we had an interesting chat with our Dragoman guide. He had been employed by Cooks for some years before the War, and had accompanied many auspicious visitors to Egypt on various trips. Most interesting though was his narrative on his private life. It appeared he had 3 wives. The Mohammedans may have as many as they wish, providing they are able to support them all. They marry very young [the girls at least] and when the seeking male finds a suitable girl, he first has to approach the girls father and start negotiations.  If everything turns out according to plan, the husband presents the father with a sum of money or several goats or sheep. After the marriage the bride is provided with many presents, such as furniture, clothes etc. so in effect the husband receives back what he has given and perhaps more from his wife?s family. Each wife must have a separate house and all must be treated equally. One may be kept just for ornament, while the others perform the functions of propagation. Should the husband die the responsibility of all the household falls on the shoulders of the eldest son. But most important of all, all the wives must be looked after and well cared for. It is a great sin in their eyes for a man to neglect his wives [or to steal another man?s wife] whish they call Adultery [strangely] . If one of the wives has been unfaithful I believe the husband is entitled to kill her, or at least throw her out. Naturally, the boys wanted to go deeper into the matter and we gathered that the more intimate relations were shared by the wives for a week at a time. A very complicated business altogether.


Warning: May contain Skub
Cat sitter extraordinaire
Semi-professional crocodile

Offline Pastis

  • Power Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 14458
  • Reputation: 0
  • a continuing precarious position
Re: War Diary
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2009, 10:37:54 AM »
Cracking stuff; his very own Road to Oxiana.
Like the Buddhist said to the hot dog vendor...
"Make me one with everything"

Online Nick

  • Needs to get out more...
  • ******
  • Posts: 85540
  • Reputation: -102
Re: War Diary
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2009, 10:39:19 AM »
It is reminiscent. I am waiting for his account of El Alamein to arrive
Warning: May contain Skub
Cat sitter extraordinaire
Semi-professional crocodile

Offline Snoopy

  • Administrator
  • Power Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 54191
  • Reputation: 0
  • In the Prime of Senility
Re: War Diary
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2009, 11:26:46 AM »
Nice for you to have the opportunity to discover your father. This is what I find so fascinating about family history. You suddenly get to know people you thought you knew and see them in a very different light.

Wait for my book  eveilgrin: in which I tell all.
I used to have a handle on life but it broke.

Online Nick

  • Needs to get out more...
  • ******
  • Posts: 85540
  • Reputation: -102
Re: War Diary
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2009, 11:28:04 AM »
ALL  eeek:
Warning: May contain Skub
Cat sitter extraordinaire
Semi-professional crocodile

Offline Miss Creant Commander of the picklement and baking BAb(Hons)

  • Power Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 16072
  • Reputation: 0
  • I have a keen sense of stupidity!
Re: War Diary
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2009, 11:31:30 AM »
This is excellent stuff Nick.


I spent a lovely weekend with a friend in Buckinghamshire just over a year ago, she had letters which we spent trying to decipher. The were from a member of her family who had gone to the Windward Isles to manage a plantation, paper was in short supply and so the letter would go back and forth with the answer being written in a different direction.

It was very evocative but a pig of a job the vat's of wine helped though.
I have always thought that the worst thing about drowning was having to call 'help!' You must look such a fool. It's put me against drowning.
J Basil Boothroyd

Offline Snoopy

  • Administrator
  • Power Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 54191
  • Reputation: 0
  • In the Prime of Senility
Re: War Diary
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2009, 11:34:11 AM »
ALL  eeek:

All! ~ No blushes will be spared, not even my own.
I used to have a handle on life but it broke.

Offline barmisspah?

  • Fool Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1029
  • Reputation: 1
    • Photobucket
Re: War Diary
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2009, 04:30:01 PM »
Thoroughly enjoyable.

If there is enough would you think about getting it printed properly Nick ?
I couldn't ask for better friends. I could ask for more NORMAL friends, but not better ones.

Offline Barman

  • Administrator
  • Needs to get out more...
  • *****
  • Posts: 115269
  • Reputation: -40
  • Since 1960...
    • Virtual Pub!
Re: War Diary
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2009, 09:56:35 AM »
Thoroughly enjoyable.

If there is enough would you think about getting it printed properly Nick ?

Nick's Dad's War Diaries? The Virtual Pub 2009  whistle:
Pro Skub  Thumbs:

Online Nick

  • Needs to get out more...
  • ******
  • Posts: 85540
  • Reputation: -102
Re: War Diary
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2009, 11:53:30 AM »
I shall hurl my Manpoon? at you  eveilgrin:
« Last Edit: August 01, 2009, 12:13:26 PM by Nick »
Warning: May contain Skub
Cat sitter extraordinaire
Semi-professional crocodile

Offline Barman

  • Administrator
  • Needs to get out more...
  • *****
  • Posts: 115269
  • Reputation: -40
  • Since 1960...
    • Virtual Pub!
Re: War Diary
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2009, 12:26:50 PM »
 eeek:
Pro Skub  Thumbs: