C R U S A D E R
The road to Tunisia runs through un
familiar scenes. But here is the Blood-Bank
— now one is orientated. And here are
tanks of Alamein : tanks with names in
huge black letters. How do they go? Aphro
dite, Bath, Belvedere... yes, that's the se
ries ! W ell, some of them have made it.
W h at memories they stir !
And here, waiting near the causeways
which bridge the last obstacle before Tuni
sia, are some of the Seven Dwarfs. That
was Sneezy, wasn’t it ? Or was it Dopey ?
They are so alike !
In the desert again. And the same old
scenes. The brew-up fires. The Cruisers
coming home after their day-long vigil in
the disputed distances. The “toffee-apple"
soaring towards the stars, bringing a mur
mur of thanks to the lips of some benighted
The same old reactions, too. The magic
effect of bright early mornings. The healthy
pleasure of eating on one's feet with the
front of a tank for breakfast table. Taking
up the crisp morsels of bacon with the fin
gers. Crunching down pounds of wheaty
biscuits. Gulping pints of thick, sweet tea.
W ere not things ever so ? This is so real. '
There was a gap in this life. Now it is
closed. Look back and it is gone. Only this
life is to be seen, stretching back, day after
day, the same in its essentials, to the faint
scrawl on the mind's horizon which is the
memory of cherished things belonging to
* * *
IV ow hills close us in. After the great
open spaces they gave us a mild
claustrophobia. This change was the
only one we really noticed. Other
things are different too — inevitably,,
in this new terrain. But we take them
in our stride. The essential things are
¦ the same. The men, the players of the
piece, and their ways. The soul of
the Army is unchanged.
That is the great thing. That is why it is
so good to be back.
This is only one of the many theatres up
and down the world. More will open. All
will have their performances. And each per
formance, in its own measure, will contri
bute to the development in one way or an
other of the great drama as a whole.
There are other things for which we
yearn and they are precious. But for the
moment we cannot have them. Until we
can, it is right that we should savour the
great experiences that come our way.
And so we are lucky — we who
have been able to come back.
This is an expression of one man’s feelings — and maybe of many an-
j other’s — on his return to Eighth Army after a spell in hospital recover
ing from wounds.
A n aircraft is coming put of the
west to take us back...
A haze hangs over Cairo. It is draped
flimsily over the Citadel, that arrogant
crowned head of clear days, so that we see
it in a humbler role, as a gentle, brooding
The aircraft is late in arriving because
of the weather, so we cannot make our des
tination today. But at last, in brightening
sunshine, we are under way.
The roofs of outskirts recoil as if on a
spring and soon our shadow is speeding
across Cairo. Fleetingly it touches Opera
Square. It races towards the river, brushing
the barracks of Kasr el Nil. It flicks across
Gezira Isle and the flat-land of Aghouza.
“Farew ell," it is saying. For us !
Farewell 1 The word and all it means
brings a shock, the realisation of a prospect
seen clearly for the first time. The prospect
has become fact. Some it may delight ;
others, dismay ; all, it must startle.
For Cairo had become so much part of
our lives, that, try as we might, we could
not be unaware of it. W e had not thought
about the inevitable moment when its in
fluence must cease.
And now, for some at least of us in this
aeroplane, that moment is here in all its
stark finality. For us the farewell is real.
Most of the Eighth Army left Cairo
without saying farewell, thinking, possibly
subconsciously, they would be coming back.
But we, who by various accidents of
war, have drifted back to Cairo once again,
now know the drama of this last of all
After the war some may return to the
city whose outward form is already dissolv
ing in the green monotone of the delta. But
not to the Cairo we knew.
* * *
T his, then, is the mood of our return
to Eighth Army. A curtain is rung
down. An act, nay, a whole play is
over. But the Army goes on. A new
part has been found for it. The sett
ing is strange. Therein lies the gla
mour. Never before has coming back
been so much of an adventure.
W e are back when the aircraft touches
down on the desert next morning. Yes,
back, though the vanguard of the Army is
already in Tunisia. Here on the aerodrome
are familiar faces. W e are back !
Down the long avenue into Tripoli. On
either side are signs and numbers one re
members. Even vehicles, because of their
names registered indelibly in the mind, are
In Tripoli the Army has given a chapter
to history. The men and the regiments pass.
The day may come when the oft conquered
city shows not an outward trace of this
phase of its existence. But these things are
------------------------- I» Y -------------------------
T. M a c r a e M a c L e n n a n
(Observer with 7th Armd. Div.)
not written with pen and ink for eyes to
see ; nor are they built of masonry for time
and the elements to weather away. These
things become at once immortal of themsel
ves. They are the impetus that must be ap
plied to life if it is not to flag and grow
T he M usky, w here many an E ighth Arm y
man has spent much o f h is lea v e — and
m or.ey I
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