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Albert's Diary - July 1918



Temporary attached to 964 Coy. who had returned after about 4 months in Jerico, and a terrible time they had too as malaria is very bad there and the heat is terrific.

One of our men who was with them, named Eddie Teal, succumbed to the disease and was laid to rest near the lake at Bierch about 25 miles north of Jerusalem.

Sunday 21st

Bierch. Commenced a long journey to Ludd - or Lydda as it is called in Maccabees. Passed through J. at 4.15pm. Reached Kolonich about 6.30. Here a rather exciting incident occurred. One man had a small primus cooking stove on tractor 1607 (the one which went over the cliff down Jericho road). He was boiling up water to make tea, when a sudden gust of wind blew the flame near to a splash of petrol - and it lighted, setting fire to about a gallon of oil in an open tin directly underneath the 56 gallon petrol tank. Well, we soon had a miniature furnace while the Officer, thinking that all was lost shouting (from a distance) for us to 'stand clear'. Three or four of the boys seized shovels and began to throw earth onto the flames, whilst I tried to get the tin of burning oil from under the tank. I tried to lift it out with a sack, but that caught fire. Then I tried with pincers, but it was now so very hot that I had to make several attempts, before I at last succeeded in throwing off the tin. The only damage I sustained was a slight scorching of the knees - as I was wearing shorts at the time. We were very much relieved when we at last put out the fire, made some more tea and some custard from cornflower. And, at last, I got to bed under the stars.

Monday 22nd

Pushed on as far as Latron where we had dinner and then on to Ramleh where there is a big MT Depot. 976 Coy I think.

Tuesday 23rd

Proceeded to Base Depot at Ludd and took in tow four caterpillar trucks and returned to Ramleh where we passed another night.

Wednesday 24th

Set out on return journey. Tractor 1607 (the unlucky one) broke down and was left behind. We afterwards halted on the roadside for the night.

Thursday 25th

Trecked a few more miles suffering from various minor troubles with the machines.

Friday 26th

Passed through Latron, Kolonich and Jerusalem. Reached Birch in the dark, without lamps, about 10pm. Properly tired out. In spite of many roadside troubles this has been a very enjoyable stunt, passing through some of the most lovely scenery and fertile soil in Palestine. Vines, figs and olives grow in abundance along the roadside in many places and many an ancient village and sleepy town we passed on the way.

It is at this point that Albert's diary (or jottings, as he would have called them) ended. It was not for a lack of paper as many blank pages remain. Perhaps it was that he had to go into action and, amongst all of the chaos and confusion, he just never found the time, or inclination, any more. Maybe he, like many others, had his writing materials taken from him under the Official Secrets Act. We will never know. We are thankful, however, for the part he played in making the world a better and safer place to live.

Albert returned to Hull after the war with sounenirs for all. Albert's niece, Mrs Swinson, still lives in Hull and told me much of Albert's life after the war. She also offered me the following quotation, author unknown, which was Albert's most favorite piece of prose:

"At the end of life we shall not be asked how much pleasure we had in it, but how much service we gave in it; not how full it was of sauce, but how full it was of sacrifice. Not how happy we were, but how helpful we were; not how ambition was gratified, but how love was served."

Albert certainly lived his life true to his motto.

April 1917 - Home page

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