MIDDLE EAST - 1941-1942
I have very little information about Dad's time in the Middle East. All I know was that he drove an ambulance over there before being sent home on the "Orcades" in 1942 - "We sailed from Suez on the troopship "Orcades" late in January 1942, reaching Colombo ten days later where we stayed for a day". An ill-fated voyage which ended in the jungles of Burma.
Douglas Hayden Bell enlisted around the same time as Dad did and they were stationed near Gaza in a tent compound called Camp Hill 69. As Dad and Mum had built a house at Camp Hill in Brisbane before leaving for the war, I wonder if he was the orginator of the name and the 69 was wishful thinking on the soldier's part!!! Doug Bell also kept a diary which mentions various visits he and Dad made to different places in the Middles East and they seem to have shared a friendship and an interest in the history and culture of the places they were moving through. Doug was fortunate that he was transferred to another area just prior to departure. He took off from Suez a little later than Dad on the "Mendoza" to Colombo and then after a week or so boarded the "Orcades", which was on its way back from Java with nurses, troops and evacuees. They then sailed down to Port Adelaide - as Singapore had fallen.
Here are some of the photos taken by Doug Bell during his time in the Middle East and kindly sent to me by his son, Graeme. They are much appreciated and fill in a little bit more of Dad's story.
February 1941, two images of Ken Heyes at the Roman Ruins of Askelon, Palestine.
February 1941 with Ken Heyes when we visited Beit Daras (Arab Village)
March 1941 - Unit members Camp at Ikinqi Maryut, Egypt. Pte Skip Kennedy. Cpl Geo McNamara, Pte Roy Taylor, Cpl, Allan Oakes, L/Cpl Jack McHugh, L/Cpl Joe MacDiarmid
March 1941 with Ken Heyes at the Alexandria Zoo.
April 1941 - ‘Men at Work’. ‘A glimpse of AIF camp life at Ikinqi Maryut, Egypt. Athol Veim, Ted Norton, Jack Oke and Ken Heyes (standing). Not taken by me! Note the barren country in this locality – it is the same right up to Tobruk and beyond also.'
April 1941 - Ken Heyes and RSM Walter Spreadborough at the tents Camp Hill 69. (Not sure I can see Ken in these pics.)
1941 April - Unit members at Ikinqi Maryut
May 1941 - ‘Ken Heyes swimming or sitting in the Dead Sea. We did not stay long the day we were here a we got our eyes wet and the result was so painful we had to go and have a shower.’
May 1941 - 'A group of our lads including one of my pals on my right Sgt Tucker “Davey”, self and Lt Lew Sexton'. I think your dad is in this photo as it was taken at the same time as on the Dead Sea visit.
Gaza Beach, May 1941 - Bill Leddy, Sgt Col Miers, Self, RSM Walter Spreadborough, Cpl ‘Jerry Goney, Cpl Beveridge
Gaza Beach, May 1941
May 1941 - Jerusalem to the Dead Sea Highway. ‘It was in “the wilderness” such as this towards the north that Christ fasted. It is devoid of vegetation almost entirely.’ The Hills of Jericho. On the way to the Dead Sea. The Mountains of Moab (north of Dalby, OLD) are also like this. Note the arid appearance and stoniness like Weeoomba’s Moab (Isabel Campbell’s family property Dalby). The Good Samaritan performed his good deed on this road not far from here.’ Lt Lu Sexton and Ken Heyes in the car and standing.
June 1941 with Ken Heyes next to stone arch located just behind the camp site (Camp Hill 69), which was part of an ancient Roman market place.
June 1941 Camp Hill 69 - Ken Heyes 2nd from left
June 1941 - Unit members at Camp Hill 69 Supply Refilling Points
14 June 1941 - Camp Hill 69 Anniversary Dinner
14 June 1941 - Camp Hill 69 Anniversary Dinner of formation
1941 14.6 - Camp Hill 69 with Our team
Camp Hill 69.
Oct 1941. Max Mann’s family, (Max is with the cross above his head) was a Czech- Slovenian Jewish resident in Tel Aviv. Apparently Dad and Ken had visited the family home in August 1941 and admired the impressive wooden furnishings.
Men gathering around truck at Camp Hill 69.