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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

The Bedouin Harvest

The Bedouin Harvest

It is almost a misuse of words to say that we captured this huge mass of material. We certainly overran it. But the bulk of it was destroyed. War is waste all the way. In a few days enemy property to the tune of millions sterling was absolutely destroyed. This destruction was not wanton: it was simply an inevitable part of war. Of all the enemy stuff we overran not ten per cent perhaps is to-day of any value to us. The rest? Much the enemy fired at the last moment. A few gallons of petrol and a match flung at a motor lorry as our horsemen swooped down upon it left little but the engine and iron for us to "capture." Sometimes the cavalry
captured turkish guns.

captured turkish guns.

secured great hauls of stuff intact. But their mission was not the protection or salvage of enemy property, however valuable. And they would not be out of sight before the thieving Bedouins, the camp followers of five thousand years, and the boldest and most brazenly honest looters in the world, wauld rise from the bare plains as mysteriously as vultures appear from a bright blue sky, and begin their gentle trafficking. One had to admire in this campaign the audacity and swift resource of the Bedouin. Looting is a passion with these picturesque folk of Western Palestine. War fulfils the harvest of their dreams. They must not be confused with our fighting Allies on the east of Jordan. Those are the true Arabs who are to-day very near to what they were a thousand years ago. These fellows along the Mediterranean suffer by comparison. Fighting is not in their line; they are sincere neutrals. They win, whoever wins. Like the true connoisseur, they collect for the joy of possession. But their one condition is cheapness. They will take anything that they can get for nothing, from empty jam tins to the flesh of a dead camel.