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Quite a time has elapsed since I last wrote here and during that time many important changes for me have taken place. Last time I wrote I was still in Persia so I think I had better start there. Here I must mention a word or two about the Indian soldiers I met while I was there. They are very fine fellows indeed, especially the Sikhs who have long beards and full of religion. They are all very well mannered and they appear to look upon us Englishmen as their masters and their betters. Why they do this I don’t know, in many cases it should be the other way around.

Another thing I should like to mention is the way these poorer Persians live. I know people at home won’t believe me when I tell them about it after the war, but the fact remains that they do eat all the filth that they can lay their hands on. They used to come to our camp swill dump dressed in ragged and tattered clothes and eat all the swill they could. Empty milk tins which had been thrown on the dump were their speciality. They would even lick the insides of the tins. It really was an awful sight to see and nearly turned me sick more than once.

Well three weeks ago we left the mountains of Persia and once more entered Baghdad. So ended (I hope) my service in Persia. I have seen many of the Persian towns such as Teheran, Kermashan, Qum, Amardan, Malay and I wouldn’t give tuppence for the lot. As soon as we entered Iraq again everything became much more pleasant, especially the people who are better dressed and are definitely pro-British now. I didn’t stay long in Baghdad which really isn’t as glamorous as it is thought to be. Everything is so dirty and unhygienic.

My few shining hours I spent in Iraq were spent with cousin Molly in the hospital at Habbaniya. I met her quite recently and we had a real heart to heart talk in one of her studies offices in the hospital. She obviously is a very wonderful woman and the fact that she has given two and a half years of her life to come out here and attend the medical needs of all kinds of service men, in this barren and desolate wilderness with only 29 other women for company among about 5000 men is a very great service to the country indeed. She is due for a well earned rest in England any time now and I hope that she has an even more peaceful voyage home than I had when I came out here. I shall never forget her parting words to me, “Never fear the future Laddie and think only of what you have to live for”. They are very inspiring words to me and I know they will help me very much in my uncertain future.

One thing I must mention about Persia before I leave it and that is the wonderful and awe inspiring sights I saw from the mountain passes which we came through. The mountains were covered in deep snow and ice and looking down from the top was a wonderful sight indeed. As soon as we got down the last pass, Pytock Pass, the weather became much warmer and all the snow was left behind.

After leaving Iraq we entered Trans-Jordan and almost immediately I noticed a change in the countryside. Here we began to see green fields and trees once more and after going down yet another pass into the Jordan valley which is below sea level, the scenery became almost typically English. The Jordan valley was a wonderful sight, long green grass, beautiful trees and many different kinds of flowers. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw all this once again after months in a barren wilderness. I saw many storks which I had never seen before and eventually we crossed the river Jordan in which John baptised Jesus nearly two thousand years ago. It was truly a magnificent and a very welcome sight and if ever a country reminds me of England it is Trans-Jordan and Palestine. As we entered Palestine we saw many farms run by Jewish people, and what struck me most was that they were so unlike the Jews we have in England. Quite a few of the Jews here are German Jews and refugees from Germany and the majority of them seem all right. They are all very well dressed and how pleasant it is not to hear the children shouting ‘baksheesh johnny’ at every step you take. Everything is so very clean and there are acres and acres of orange groves brimming with fruit. I am now about (left blanc) miles from Haifa at a place called H..(left blank) and it is lovely here. The sea is quite near and now more than ever I think of home. Last weekend I went to Haifa on leave and had a very good time. It hardly seems credible that Jesus and all his followers travelled about the same places as I have travelled, hundreds of years ago. Shortly I hope to go to Tel Aviv on weekend leave. This I hear is more modern than Haifa which should be more enjoyable than ever. A thing I noticed very much was the way in which the Jews bar and shutter their windows at night. This obviously means that they still greatly fear the Arabs with whom they had so many riots a few years ago.

This really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Oranges, grapefruits, figs and other kinds of fruit are very plentiful here, and I am making use of this fact. I have been swimming in the sea once or twice and I was amazed at the warmness of the water. The sun is hot and once more I am getting a tan. Our washing easily dries in an hour or two in this heat.

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The main reason why I am writing again so soon is because I want to record my experiences in Qum before they fade from my mind. Qum is the third holiest city in this part of the world and I had the good fortune to pay it a visit last Saturday afternoon. The first thing I noticed about the place was the fact that the people seemed to be much more civilized and the class of the people was much higher than in any other town I have yet seen out here. Parts of the town are fairly modern and I certainly saw in one street a shop window. At the head of what seems to be the main street is a very large Mosque with a beautifully coloured dome and four great pillars round it. It is a very fine sight indeed and such a pity that it is out of bounds to troops. In one bazaar I bought two yards of cut silk for 40 Rials per yard and in a very nice shop near to the Mosque I bought a pair of fancy slippers to send home to Evelyn. along with the silk. Some of the women here especially are very well dressed and very clean too. They seem to be happier than most of the “women” I have seen out here and unlike the women of Baghdad and Kermashan every other woman is not pregnant. The people are at the moment definitely pro-British but they are very queer and dislike anyone staring at their places of worship or taking photos of their women folk. One American has been stoned to death recently for taking a photograph of a Persian woman. There is a shortage of food in the country and the army has issued orders forbidding any soldiers from buying food. Bread riots break out quite frequently and the M.Ps. have to clear the town of troops by 5 PM.

A few days ago I had a letter from Evelyn’s cousin Molly who is out here in Habbanya as a sister in an RAF hospital. Habbanya seems quite near Baghdad and I have written to Molly telling her what a fool I was for not seeing her while I was in Baghdad. She seems to be very like Aunt Polly judging by the way she describes things. I am going to try to get her to take my presents with her when she goes home to England in a few months time. She must be a brave woman to face this country for two years and I wish I had the pleasure of escorting her back to dear old England.

The situation at home seems to be improving a little. I have had one or two letters from Gerald. which quite obviously have been sent by mother and the last written by dad though it was supposed to be from Gerald. I write home regularly and I am hoping for a complete settlement before long.

The news from the middle east gets better every day and at long last I think I can start to think of the end of the war now that we have taken the initiative. I have had two letters from Stanley during the last two days and thank God he seems to be out of the war so far.

My first Christmas card came this week from Nan, bless her.

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Events have moved rapidly since re-embarking on 417 after a week’s stay in a ‘rest camp’ just outside Tripoli. As soon as we got on board we were told that our destination was the invasion of Sicily. The 8th army has been given the task of invading the home country of the Italians and our share in it is Sicily. So now at 3:30 p.m. I am writing this whilst travelling in one of the biggest convoys ever. Tomorrow at 6 o’clock in the morning we land (all being well) and I embark on the greatest adventure of my life and I am looking to God for the strength and courage to sustain me during the battle.

I shall be thinking as always of my darling wife Evelyn. whom I love more than life itself and I am praying to God to bring us speedily together again so that I can make her the happiest girl in the world.

God be with all my relatives and friends and especially with Evelyn. Nan and my mother. Here’s to the future, a very successful one.

Article about the Sicilian Campaign

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