First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Letter from Jack Tait sent from Palestine (2)

Palestine Nov 12th 1918

So it is all over now, I knew we would do them before the finish. It seems too good to be true. Britain takes some shaking off when she gets a hold.

This has been the greatest adventure out here that anybody could wish to have. It has been a whirlwind affair and just suited me, a new place every

It seems a very long time since I joined up, but I never regretted it, andnow, if God spares me, it won’t be very long before we are all home. I rather liked the way the news was told us, it was by a “dinkum” (Australian) who came up to a little bunch of us who were standing by our lorries, he says, “Boys, she’s finished”, and two or three hours after we saw all the ships in the harbour of _______ flying all their bunting. It has been a dramatic finish. Perhaps I shall have a trip to Larry’s Isle in the spring.
I have enclosed a German field PC, also a Turkish one with a charity stamp on it, also 1 Turkish note.

PS Your white heather did bring luck.

Nov 25th

It won’t be long before we are again slipping down the canal and having tatties and herring in Garlieston. Johnny Turk left some good motor boats on the Sea of Galilee, but he had taken the magnetos off the engines. You should have seen the “loot” on the Plain of Esdialeon, miles and miles of it, motor lorries galore, and I wish I could have got some of it home.

There were motor cars for the lifting and we had some sport racing with them. I saw a chap trying to start a motor bike, so I said to him “Can’t you get her to start?” He was an officer wanting a bike to knock about on, so I told him I would sell him one for 2/- in good working order ! I got one for him, filled it with petrol and oil and off he went like steam over the sand hills towards Nazareth.

I got a bit of a start the day Nazareth was taken but laughed afterwards. The town stands on a hill and as I was approaching it across the plain on my own, I could see a convoy of lorries coming down the winding road towards me. My mate and I wondered how lorries could have got to the town so quick, when all at once he says “Jock, they’re Germans”, and so they were. I thought it was a finish for us but we got our rifles down and drove on wondering what was going to happen.

The first German lorry stopped as we came abreast, and the driver was smoking a big cigar and pretty near drunk, in fact the whole convoy was well oiled. They had been captured by our armored cars and turned back towards our lines so they helped themselves to the contents of the lorries.

Well, the Caledonian Club had a great night that night in Nazareth and for days after the Scots contingent were smoking cigars.
I am afraid I will not be in Jerusalem again, but if I am I will look out for the marks you want. I have got a keystone made of stone out of King Solomon’s quarries for you. I am turning in now so best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Lebanon, Dec 1st

We are having some rain now and the mountains are covered with snow. The country around here is very beautiful and the hillsides are covered with vines. It is a wine-producing country there must be plenty of money in it in normal times as all the villages are built of stone with red roofs.

I have heard often about the starvation in Syria and Lebanon but never realized it until I went through one of the villages and never saw a living soul, all dead from hunger, and it’s the same all over, children and women lying dead on the roadside. Over 700,000 people died in the Lebanon alone.

It has been a tragedy that the Turk should pay dearly for.
There is a rock railway over the mountains and it is a wonderful engineering work built by a French firm and is very handy to us. It is a fine drive over the mountain road and at the highest point one is actually above the clouds. I remember one moonlight night seeing the moon shining on the clouds which were below us and I never saw a sight like it in my life, it made you think you were in an aeroplane.

I saw the Mo Transport received great praise in the paper, 720 miles in three weeks and it is said the rapid advance could not have been possible without us as the horse transport could not keep up with the cavalry. It was some stunt.

I wonder what the German people think now of Britain ? We have Germans working in our company, the swine. If I had my way of it, every one of them would be behind barbed wire. I hope they are made to pay for everything they have done the last four years. Have enclosed a 10/- Turkish Note.

                    Jack Tait

PS The Caledonian Club mentioned consists of ten members from the North, South, East and West of Scotland, and the chairman is a Creetown boy

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