Saturday 15 February 2014

8th & 9th April, 1948 - Homeward bound at last and Ron is twenty... but there's no beer in the bar.

Thursday, 8th April, 1948
This morning I was up at a quarter to six and after completing my toilet & breakfast packed the remainder of my kit into my issue kit bag.  We took our kit down to the transport yard where it was put onto a truck.  We formed up on parade outside the guard room where the roll was called and where some members of the parade were annoyed to see the Canteen manager and laundryman waiting with debt books poised for action.  Next we walked down to a nearby playing field where the convoy was to form  up.  The roll was again called and we piled into buses and trucks ready for the journey.
At different places in Jerusalem other trucks joined the convoy which looked terrific when we got out onto the long country roads.  Looking back I counted thirty vehicles.  Four bus loads of Police, two of married women and children several trucks of Police and the
A Jerusalem Convoy...
It's not their convoy but is from the period
rest baggage with armoured cars dispersed in the convoy.  Also there was a spare truck, a breakdown lorry and a private car containing a doctor.  In all the convoy was really well organised, which came as a surprise to most of us.
We left Jerusalem punctually at 8.45am and after a short stop in Nablus arrived at Jenin at 1.50pm.  In Jenin we again were surprised at the organisation awaiting us.  We got our kit, were told our huts and had a cold luncheon.  The I.G. was in camp as well.  The heat in the camp is terrific, almost like summer.  My friends and I went to the camp cinema this evening.

Friday, 9th April, 1948
I got up this morning of my 20th birthday at 7.45am after an excellent night’s sleep.  The atmosphere even so early in the day was heavy as in a Kamseen.
For breakfast we enjoyed a kipper a rare delicacy out here.  After breakfast I had a game of snooker and wrote home.
The ladies have been given exclusive use of all the best parts of the camp but we found the reading room unoccupied so established ourselves there.
I had a look around the old camp this afternoon; many changes have occurred here and over all is an air of neglect.  The insides of the huts need whitewashing and the gardens are covered in tall weeds.  Weeds are also breaking through the cement of the parade ground, a thing that would never have happened in the old days.
The canteen has no beer so farewell celebrations have been very quiet.

[Editor's Note:  The personal experiences recorded in Ron's diaries have formed the basis of this blog and I have largely ignored the ongoing deterioration in the political situation except where it directly impacted upon him.  However, as the British Palestine Police started their withdrawal the unrest between Jews and Arabs flared into full scale civil war which would dominate the next few years and indeed the ensuing decades.  At this time atrocities were committed on both sides and on this day the Jewish Haganah, Irgun and Lehi forces attacked the town of Deir Yassin.  Anticipating an easy victory the Jewish forces were initially repulsed and a bloody battle ensued.  The villagers were finally overcome and enraged Jewish guerillas rampaged through the town massacring men, women and children - anyone found alive - resulting in a death toll of between 110 and 140. The massacre at Deir Yassin is now regarded as a pivotal event in the political history of the region setting the scene for bloody conflict and the ongoing Palestinian refugee crisis.  For a full and harrowing account of the Deir Yassin massacre and its political implications follow this link

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