We leave for Cairo and are told to wait at 22 P.T.C. Almaza, near Heliopolis. In the meantime A.H.Q. fix us up with a trip to the Western Desert, but later cancel it and put us on a Hudson on the 21st. 22 P.T.C. – christ! We get a paliasse “skin” and four blankets and are shown a hole in the sand, covered by a tent. I take out my “rezai” (JDW: A quilt of silk wadded with shreds of cotton used commonly to keep warm during winter in northern India.) and a sheet and manage to get really comfortable in the sand, but it shakes some of the others somewhat.
Next day we draw camp kit for our projected Western Desert trip, so are later comfortable with that. I see little of Cairo that trip, and off from Heliopolis on 21st – yesterday. We circle Gaza and visit Bethlehem before landing at Habbaniya, in a Hudson. We stay in the “Transit Mess”, the old station H.Q. one, but it is peopled by ghosts for me. Everything dead, and a lack of booze and cigarettes. I notice half a dozen gravestones surrounded by a low wall in one of the wadis on the plateau, so presumably Kings Own. All the trenches are still there, as well as the old Turk ones. Also round Jerusalem.
Next morning up early, and damn cold too, reminiscent of earlier days. Off we set for Sharjah. Cross over Basrah, also I see they have repaired the damage I did to Falluja. (JDW: he is referring to the battle he fought in here in May 1941). There is a fort here, as when used by B.O.A.C. (JDW: British Overseas Airways Corporation, forerunner of BA), and we are living in the fort and feeding in the 244 squadron mess. They have “Bisleys” (JDW: see Andy Wright’s comment below on Bisleys) for G.R. work. The mess is thick stone, with small “ports” heavily shuttered against the heat, though last night in Habbaniya was bitterly cold.
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