The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Camps of Old
Camps of Old.
Every camp has its characteristics, the memories ot which are impressed on the minds of its occupants in no uncertain manner, not to be erased by time or change.
Camps in the vicinity of Cairo are associated with liberal leave, happy nights in the Capital or Heliopolis—and empty pockets.
Tel el-Kebir, that camp of details days, flies, sandstorms and guards, ranks among the first ot unpleasant memory. In the old days, a familiar scene at Tel el-Kebir was the form ot tne sergeant making his way between the lines of tents in search of men for guard duty. It you were interested enough to peep round the back, scurrying forms would be seen emerging from beneath the tent flaps, in various stages of deshabille, and racing for the friendly shelter of the neighboring Brigade's tents. Twenty-four hours' guard in a dust storm was not pleasant, and the harassed sergeant earned his pay in securing the requisite number of men.
From the Canal to Belah, most of the camps could be classed in the "good" category. El Arish was noted for its excellent surfing by day and Hun air raids by night; and Belan for the size and general amiability of its fleas. Canteens were handy and well stocked, especially that of the Newzies, whose goods were supposed to be exclusively for its own troops—but after borrowing a friendly Pig Islander's hat and adopting a fern leaf, one found it, mostly, vulnerable.
Ask no man's opinion of Abasan el-Kebir, that spot singled out by the Khamsin as a special play-ground. Well we remember the Section jam tin with an inch of powdered Palestine clinging to the top. Most of us adopted the plan of mixing the mess well with a spoon, thereby spreading the dust over a larger area and minimising the risk of sanditis.
Tel el-Fara was the home of stunts at all hours. The supposed evacuation of positions, the bluff advance of "Jacko", and the various night raids, all called for stunts. After these weary days, in marked contrast were the sun-kissed ones on the beach at Marakeb, where every man enjoyed surfing, sun-basking and swimming his horse. An outstanding feature of the beach was the stadium, where many willing scraps were staged.
The Valley beloved (!) needs no description. Those periodical trips to Bethlehem, and the subsequent resting and feasting are bright spots in the soldier's diary. We have pleasant recollections of the "Village of Bells", where eggs, tomatoes and other luxuries were obtainable, and the murmuring olive trees provided friendly shade—the same trees seemed to have been placed there bv Providence as hitching posts for horses, but, sooner or later, most of us discovered our mistake.
Our camp of last Christmas sees us again. Nestling amid avenues of gum trees, with red-tiled roofs scattered among the vineyards, Richon is one of the pleasantest places it has been our lot to wander in. Cases of 1914 leave having been declined with thanks testify to the good fellowship existing between us and the hospitable inhabitants.
There have been good camps mixed with indifferent ones; but we leave them with few regrets. Now we are looking eagerly forward to our last bivouac in Australia.