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Posts Tagged ‘Qum’

This being the last evening of the old year I feel that I should write a few lines on things in general.

I am still stationed at Qum in the middle of the Persian Desert and nothing much has happened since I last wrote, except of course that I have spent my first Christmas over-seas here. Christmas turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. We were given two whole days off to make merry ourselves. Christmas day was excellent, the meals were marvellous under the circumstances. Once again I tasted palm and plum pudding, and I had apples, oranges and nuts galore. On Xmas eve I went to see my first picture since I left Egypt, in Qum. Afterwards we had a little celebration in the tent and I managed to get ‘merry’. We had a party in our tent on Christmas night and between the seven of us we drank about 70 bottles of beer and six bottles of wine. Also we had a taste of the famous Vodka which has a reputation of putting the best drinker out for the count. I can well believe it.

And now Christmas 1942 is over and we are on the eve of 1943. Christmas and tonight has made me think of home and Evelyn. more than ever, and I am hoping and praying with all my heart that I shall be home again next year. I realise that up to the present I have been very lucky to keep out of any action and I shall be perfectly satisfied if I don’t see any at all because I want to go back in one piece to Evelyn. Here’s hoping for a victorious new year and a happy reunion of every soldier to his family.

    A happy new year darling. I am still in love with you more than ever.

The weather during the past week has been very cold and snow has fallen to a depth of two or three inches. I am still fairly happy here now that I have got my wireless to play with, and as ling as I can get plenty of letters from Evelyn. I shall be satisfied.

I must add before I close that there is a possibility of leave to Teheran starting in about 10 days. Teheran was the scene of riots against British troops a week or two ago and four British soldiers were killed. The Persians were under the impression (thanks to the fifth columnists) that the British troops were taking all the bread in the country to feed themselves, and so they rioted in a few of the large towns. This was all wrong and to satisfy them the government has given them a present of a few thousand bushels of wheat.

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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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Tuesday 10th November 1942

We have just finished another long journey of about 250 miles. We are now near a fair size town called Qum which is considered a very holy town. I haven’t visited the town yet but I hope to do so in the near future. The people around these parts appear to be more civilized than the other people I have seen though this may be due to the fact that we are only 80 miles from Teheran. The journey here was very interesting. I sat in front of the lorry for a change and really enjoyed the passing scenery. The people here are still very primitive in their methods. For instance they plough up the fields with a home made wooden plough which is fitted with a kind of steel blade which doesn’t by any means plough very deep. The plough is drawn by oxen as in the olden days and is guided as straight as possible by the man who is ploughing. The women work very hard and they always seem to have a litter of children around them. I think about 90% of them are in a state of pregnancy. As a result of this almost continuous pregnancy the women look very old quite early in their lives and by the time they are around 50 years old they look like the old witches in the fairy tales.

I shall always remember one scene as I climbed a very high mountain on our way here. The road was long and steep and winding. One slip over the edge would have meant certain death. The view from the top was really awe inspiring. I looked down into the valley and marvelled at the beauty of the trees and the fresh green grass growing amidst cultivated soil. A stream from the mountains sparkled in the sunset while the endless stream of lorries climbing up the mountain added a different kind of beauty to the scene. The whole valley was bathed in the golden and purple colour of the sunset.

The war news is much more cheerful and hopeful these days. Our success so far in Egypt and the American landings in Morocco are having a real tonic effect on the chaps here. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end. I hope and pray that it is so and that very soon I can get on with the job of making my darling Evelyn. the happiest girl in the world.

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