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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 6, No. 11 August 11, 1943

News from the Middle East — V.U.C. Reunion in Cairo

News from the Middle East

V.U.C. Reunion in Cairo

To many of us, the younger ones in particular, Victoria's fighting students are becoming remote, part and parcel of a tradition which passed with Prof. McKenzie and "Scotchy" Adamson. Those of us unblessed by wistful memories of McKenzie's high-pitched waver and ten-gallon sombrero—of Scotchy lecturing sans teeth, are apt to feel of a different world and to lose that sense of personal pride in El Alamein and Mareth which should be ours. Much of this feeling arises directly from lack of news. Our fellows are scattered from England to Madagascar and we hear little of them.

On the Exec, files, however, are dozens of overseas letters expressing thanks for parcels, remembrances of the College, and best wishes to staff and students. Moreover, we have just received a full report of the third V.U.C. reunion in Cairo from Sgt. L. B. Sandford, Public Relations Service; these should bring our overseas students a little nearer to us.

It came off at the New Hotel, Cairo, on the 13th March and attendance was not limited to the thirty-five New Zealanders. Representatives of British and Egyptian Universities, Staff-Sgt. Ford and Dr. Wendall Cleland, joined in the festivities.

Of first importance was the signing of a specially inscribed scroll, and a witty round of self-introductions. Next, a hearty welcome to Miss June Cummins, a former student and the first woman to attend a reunion. The pace thus set for the evening, the standard of speeches was kept at a height only equaled by that of the mortality of bottles.

Presiding was Col. T. D. M. Stout, Chairman of the College Council, although very much in absentia. An excellent thing this, to find our Council Chairman spending an evening mid cheer and song with the boys. Would there were a like spirit here. Col. Stout stated his opinion that after the war our memorial to the fallen should be a new Students' Union Building and the presence of more past students on the Council. We applaud him!

Victoria has no towering spires, no lofty halls, but it is with affection and pride that those soldiers of the Eighth Army recall the queer collection of buildings on the "Old Clay Patch" and the very real benefits they received from them. Prof. Kirk watching football, "Barney" Murphy wisecracking, heckling in the Gym., stormy annual general meetings—they are all remembered, and with the Xmas parcels comes a realisation that their thoughts are returned.

Capt. Wild indeed toasted the old College well, and with it toasted the present students, in gratitude for their remembrance and kindness.

Dr. Wendall Cleland (American University, Cairo) kept all amused by a survey of our debt to the ancient Egyptians. We owed to them the discovery of smelting processes, of our calendar, of pi (Bad Thing), the first correct estimation of the world's diameter plus the development of the wheel. What could we do without the wheel? We should lose at least a very good song.

There were many other speakers, all mellowed by the good malt and with much to say.

"It was a pretty rapid advance. The Italians had left stores and equipment everywhere. This bombardier was looking over the stuff, turning it over and so on, when he called me over. 'You are a Varsity boy, care for this,' he said. It was Barney Murphy's 'Outlines.' I felt really sorry for the Eyeties then."

And again, a story of an outlying enemy provision dump, in an apparently secure position, and hence unguarded. Our boys made merry on tills. They would slip through the lines and fill tunics, packs, sugarsacks, anything, with tins of Italian spaghetti, fruit and wine. All went well until some Scotties became a little too ambitious and connived a truck up to the depot—by what feat of ingenuity no one quite knows. They brought back two tons of officers' delicacies. A guard was set next night.

Great days all right. And great sights, too, if this one was any indication. As the evening drew on the singing began. First College songs, Wikitoria, Weeping and Wailing, and Extrav songs. And then—bit by bit—but you have imaginations too.

Then finally, back to Maadi in the trucks, full and weary, with pleasant thoughts of a common interest—a College which has not forgotten them, and which stands behind them in the fight.

Middle East Reunion attendees