Canadian Provost Corps
Flashbacks To A United Nations Tour
Retired Warrant Officer Gordon R. (Gord) Greeno
Of Coldbrook, NS
Following his early retirement from the Canadian Forces Military Police in 1980, after twenty-five years of service
to his Country, Gord Greeno settled down in Kentville, in the beautiful Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia,
where he took up a position with the federal government as an investigator. Upon his retirement from that position
Gord went to work for the Kentville Police Department as a Traffic Warden where he continues to be employed to
Being an avid fan of poetry and an amateur writer, Gord decided to follow through with a longtime dream of his, which was to write a book about his experiences while serving a tour of duty with the United Nations Force In Egypt (UNEF) in 1966/67.
Gord's real motivation for writing the book was to provide a family diary of his service, thereby recording his foreign exploits as a soldier/policeman for posterity. The book was not officially published for distribution outside his family circle, however; Gord has authorized the web master to use the text on this web site. Periodically, a chapter from this book will be posted herein until the complete story is told, outlining Gord Greeno's portrayal in writing of his service with the Canadian Forces and the UNEF.
I am presently 70 years old. For some time, I have had the idea to write about some aspect of my Military Career
that spanned the period from February 1958 to June 1980. 1 joined the Canadian Army on 25 February 1958
and was accepted into the ranks of the Military Police. I completed six months of basic training at Camp Shilo,
Manitoba; which was for the most part, infantry training. Most of the Police courses came later.
During my career, I served at Canadian Forces Base, Halifax; Canada's NATO Brigade in Germany, Canadian Forces Base, Kingston, Ontario; the United Nations Emergency Force, Egypt; Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick; Canadian Forces Station Val Dor, Quebec; Canadian Force's Base Halifax and Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
The period I have selected to write about is the one-year I served with Canada's U.N. Peacekeeping Contingent on the Gaza Strip in Egypt. For the most part, I consider myself to have been somewhat of an average person with hopefully; average intelligence. I can't recall having excelled in anything. For me, there always appeared to be a level of competence that I could reach, however; I could not proceed beyond.
I've always thought that overall, I did a good job with the Military Police, but again; I consider most of my duties routine and I did what was expected of me. Then came my posting to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Egypt. Although 1 did not receive any commendation or special recognition for my performance with the UN Emergency Force, I know in my own mind it was one time in my life when 1 excelled. Although it was a new experience and a harsh environment, I was comfortable in my role. My supervisor's complete confidence in me was evidenced by some of the assignments 1 was given.
The following pages reflect some sketches of my Egyptian experiences.
CHAPTER 1I was a Corporal in June 1966, and serving with the Military Police Detachment at Kingston, Ontario. Having returned from a three year posting in Germany in 1965, it can be concluded that I had a fair amount of experience in my trade. Having been in Kingston for approximately one year, I was thinking that I would be there for at least two more years. The Gods in Ottawa had something else in mind for me. In June 1966, 1 was posted to the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt. I had heard stories about life and times with the U.N. Force, but there were many unknowns to be learned. Naturally, this was an unaccompanied posting, meaning that my family remained in Canada. The posting was one year in duration.
The United Nations Emergency Force was made up of soldiers of several members of the U.N. At the time I was posted there. The following Nations were represented: Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, India and Yugoslavia. The purpose of the U.N. troops being in Egypt was basically to attempt to keep the peace between Egypt and Israel. The U.N Force was established along the border on Egyptian soil. Observation posts were established along the border where U.N. soldiers could see and report on the activities of the hostile factions. U.N Camps were established at several locations. Canada had 600 soldiers on the Gaza Strip, which lies between the Sinai Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. The role of the Canadians was to supply service and technical support to the other UN troops. There were a variety of Military trades involved such as: Engineers, Mechanics, Food Service, Clerks, Communications Technicians, Transport Operators and last, but definitely not least; Police and Security. In addition, Air Transport Command of the RCAF operated a landing strip at El Arish.
CHAPTER 2My trip to the Middle East by air seemed to take forever. I recall landing in Cyprus to change aircraft. The temperature leaving Canada in June was approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I stepped off the aircraft in Cyprus and it was like stepping into an oven. The temperature was over 100 degrees.
Then came the last leg of the journey. We flew across the Med in a Caribou aircraft. We encountered turbulence like I didn't know existed. The crew was looking back from the cabin to see the reaction of the soldiers, many of whom were pretending to be sleeping. There was a Protestant Padre sifting between another soldier and myself. To say that Padre was white knuckled would be an understatement. He was terrified!
It was so noisy in this aircraft that you had to yell to make yourself heard, The soldier sitting on the other side of the Padre leaned over toward me and said in a loud voice; Do you think if we ditch, the water will be cold and will there be sharks? I said; There might as well be sharks because I can't swim. I saw the look of terror on the Padre's face and then said to him; Don't worry Padre, we're just kidding you. We're going to make it, after all; we've got you with us. Themain man ain't going to let one of his own drop into the sea. He forced a little smile but I don't think he was convinced that the old aircraft. wouldn't shake to pieces.
We did in fact make it to the Gaza Strip in Egypt, landing there late at night in a swirl of sand. There was a Canadian with a vehicle waiting for me at the landing strip. He drove me ten or fifteen miles to Camp Rafah, which was to be my home away from home for the next year. I had bugged the Padre on the aircraft, now it was my turn to be the victim of a trick. My trip along the road to Camp Rafah was uneventful. Right away, my MP buddy referred to me as a Pinky; meaning that I was a new arrival from Canada, therefore, not sun-tanned. He said he was sorry that they had to put me in temporary quarters until a room became available in the Main shack. I told him that I was so tired that I didn't care where they put me. I recall that the MP's name was Henderson. Henderson seemed almost anti-social during our trip to Rafah. I thought; I wonder what his problem is?"
My first glimpse of Camp Rafah, although at night, did not impress me. I noted the concertina wire perimeter and search light towers. Stories of prisoner of war camps and concentration camps came to mind. It was late at night, therefore; I was unable to meet anyone from the Military Police Company. Henderson deposited my gear and I at a little room at the end of a shack. There was a bed in the room that was made up. Henderson had little to say except that; You had better check your bed for scorpions. I said; What? He said, They'll kill you if they bite you.
When Henderson was gone, suddenly I wasn't so tired. I searched the little room and I then tore the bed apart and searched every inch without knowing exactly what I was looking for. Anyone who has flown from Trenton, Ontario to Egypt on a military aircraft in one day knows that it would take more then the threat of being attacked by scorpions to cause a person to stay awake all night. So, I jumped into that little bed and immediately went to sleep.
It seemed that almost immediately I was experiencing a bad dream. I thought that I was dreaming that someone was shaking me and yelling at me. Suddenly, it appeared too real to be a dream. The fact was, it was not a dream. A wild looking black man was glaring down at me yelling every obscene thing that I have ever heard. He was calling me all the lazy (things) imaginable. One of the milder threats was; If you don't get your lazy ass out of the bed, I'll break your neck. I was stunned. I was in shock. I was trying to wake up and get a handle on the situation.
Suddenly, the theory of the best defense being offense came to my mind. I said; You sir, are about to die. At the same time I leaped from the bed. My tormentor bolted out the door screaming, Help, Help, Help.. I followed him outside, dressed in my shorts, where I was confronted with several members of the United Nations Military Police Company. Naturally, some were Canadians, some were Danes, some were Norwegians and there was a Brazilian named Dekker.
I had been set up by experts. They all shook my hand and welcomed me to the UN MP Company. The routine in the little room, the threat of scorpions and my early morning visitor threatening me with violence, was all part of my welcome. The guy who had almost frightened me to death was Mohammed (Moe) Haarb. He was the House Boy employed by members of the MP Company. He did many of the domestic chores in the shack. We paid him well. He lived with his two wives nearby in the village of Rafah. He told me several times how sorry he was for all the curses he directed toward me on the morning he woke me up. He insisted that the other MP's forced him to do it. I believed him. I may have been standing there in my shorts that morning (6:00 am.) among friends, but I was in a strange world. The MP complex consisted of three low stucco buildings. One contained our office space including the Patrol room and a holding cell. Next to the office building was the quarters for the MP's of all nations, except the East Indians and Yugoslavians. I guess Yougos, were segregated because they were (then) from basically a communist Country. The Indians were segregated apparently because of the religious factor. Some of their customs and habits would likely clash with a bunch of crazy Canadians.
My first day on the ground was strictly a familiarization tour. Camp Rafah appeared to cover about thirty acres. It was a scene set in the sand, with little vegetation, which was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. These rolls of wire are commonly referred to, in the military, as concertina wire because the rolls stretch out like a concertina, or a real prickly slinky. The perimeter fence consisted of three of these rolls together, two down and one up. This makes a very tough obstacle to cross unless one is equipped. The access gate to the camp was guarded 24 hours a day. Search light towers lighted the perimeter of the camp. There was a company of soldiers employed on the camp perimeter at all times in an attempt to keep the thieves out. A company would be approximately thirty to forty troops (this number would be more in line with an infantry platoon).
There were several installations on the camp, including the U.N. Hospital. To name a few more; there was the vehicle workshops, transport company, supply company, food service warehouse, the Canadian Signal Regiment, the messes including: Officer's Mess, Sergeant's Mess and other rank's mess. The camp also had an administrative headquarters. There were some recreational facilities such as baseball diamond, tennis court and an outdoor theater. I almost neglected to mention the Royal Canadian Engineer members who operated the (APU's) Alternate Power Units that provided the camp with electricity (220 volts of direct current for anyone interested).
CHAPTER 3As time passed and I became more familiar with the operation, there was little doubt about which nation was the heart, pulse and backbone of the UN. Emergency Force in Egypt. The Canadians were the professionals among that lot. It is my opinion that Canadians have provided the majority of leadership in all the peacekeeping operations that they have been a part of. I want to point out here that although we were members of the Canadian Army, we were under command of a United Nations General who was responsible to U.N. Headquarters in New York. I never concerned myself much about being a member of the U.N. Force. I can truthfully say that the red maple leaf on my shoulder made me feel ten feet tall in that Country and no situation that I was to encounter would make me shrink an inch.
The MP Company was a mixture of nationalities and personalities. For the most part, the Canadians were older than, for example; the Norwegians and Danes. Most of them were very young men who were promoted to the rank of sergeant prior to being posted to the U.N. Many of us Canadians were corporals when we were posted to the Middle East, including myself. On arriving in the Middle East we were promoted to acting sergeant in order to put us on a par with the kids from Norway and Denmark. It's no secret that the military policemen from other nations did the routine duties, such as night Patrols of the camp and maintaining an information post at the main gate.
Then were four Canadian M.P.'s at Rafah, plus the warrant officer in charge was also Canadian. The Canadians did all the investigating of incidents and accidents. The administration was all done in English, therefore; all report writing fell to the Canadians. Copies of reports on significant incidents would go to U.N. Headquarters in New York, after being seen by the Provost Marshall (Canadian), the senior military police officer at Gaza, which was approximately fifteen miles from Rafah.
CHAPTER 4It was normally the responsibility of Canadian MPs to effect liaison with the local authorities. The Egyptians had their secret police, the members of which were not necessarily a pleasure to do business with. Escorts of VIPs (very important people) was another duty normally assigned to Canadians. Add to this; convoy escorts. A Canadian was detailed as duty investigator at all times. Although you did regular daytime hours, you were subject to being called upon at night to deal with various happenings.
A Pinkie was normally given a rough time until another new guy showed up The other members would never neglect to ask you how much time you had left to serve after you had only been there a few days.
Some fellows had interesting ways to count the time that they had left to serve. I recall a Norwegian who hung a long strip from the ceiling. He divided it off by the number of weeks he had left. He marked the string off and as each week passed he would clip a piece off the string. He was really excited when the string got so short he had to stand on a chair to cut it.
Moe, our house boy, was an outstanding person. I guess that servant would he more appropriate but none of us were comfortable with the term servant. He worked for us at least eight hours per day. He cleaned, made beds, did laundry, shined boots made and served coffee and tea. He maintained a flower garden outside our shack. He was trustworthy and acted as the security person in our quarters. He would challenge anyone from another unit who might come calling. He was not the least bit democratic with strangers. He had a loud bark as I found out the first morning I woke up in Camp Rafah.
Moe was approximately forty years old. He had worked for Canadians for ten years. He knew all the slang and obscene words and used many on a continuing basis. One would think that slave would have been a more fitting title for him. Some of the guys, especially Canadians; jokingly gave Moe a hard time. An example of this was when the wind would blow and sand would come in around the windows and doors. The sand would actually drift on your bed, on the floor, or wherever. Moe would be fighting a losing battle trying to clean up the sand while several guys yelled at him to got this garbage pit cleaned up now. Twice daily; Moe would be on his knees in the little kitchen. He would be facing east, saying his little prayer to Allah.
Moe always declared that Canadians taught him one bad thing and one good thing. Should anyone ask what these things were, Moe was quick with his response. He claimed that the bad thing, they taught him was smoking. What about the good dung? He insisted that the detailed instruction of how to make love to his wives was by far the best thing he learned from Canadians. He always answered this question with a shy smile.
Believe it or not, Canadians can be cruel. Although our 'house-boy was well treated most of the time; he was occasionally the victim of mean tricks. An example of a mean trick is as follows: A Canadian member of the MP Company told Moe that he was attempting to determine who could endure the most pain, a Canadian or an Arab. He advised Moe that this was important and asked that Moe help him with the test. Being super cooperative, Moe readily agreed to participate in the test.
The Canadian had an 18 inch wooden ruler which he explained to Moe would be used in the test. He explained that they would strike each other on the palm of the hand with the ruler. The number of hits would be counted until the recipient of the blows could stand it no longer and would withdraw the hand. Of course, the one who could endure the most hits would have proven who could stand the most pain.
After a short discussion, Moe agreed that the Canadian would be first to administer the blows. Moe held out his hand and the Canadian began to whack him counting each whack. Moe proved to be very tough and took many whacks before he pulled his swollen hand back while tears streamed down his face He immediately took the ruler in his good hand and prepared to pound the Canadian. He gave the Canadian rather a light blow for the first one. Immediately, the Canadian pulled his bud back saying Don't hit me anymore, you win. Poor old Moe fell for that routine and was days recovering from his swollen and painful hand.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention our fastball league at Camp Rafah. There was a four-team league, which operated in spring and fall. The summer months were too hot for baseball. The teams were: The Canadian Signal Regiment, the Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engine (RCEME), the Transport Company and Headquarters Company, of which I was a member. Each team had a following of fans that were a bit vocal, to say the least. We normally played during the late afternoon when a fair number of the troops could get out to the games.
It is here that I will relate that members of RCEME had a little donkey as a mascot and they had built a chariot that resembled the old Roman chariot. They also made a harness for the donkey whose name was Zubrick. Members of the ball team would drive Zubrick to the games with several of them clinging to the chariot They would park donkey and Chariot in front of their bench. Well, a rivalry developed between the Signal Regiment and the RCEME team. I think this rivalry was sparked when a Sig's. Regt. player threw a ball at Zubrick. it was all down hill after that. I'll explain here that the Signal Regiment had a large unit sign in front of their office. It was a work of art and they treasured their sign. Knowing this, members of RCEME set out to steal this sign.
It was late one night when they harnessed up old Zubrick in the chariot and sneaked across camp. They were successful in uprooting the sign, loading it into the chariot and returning to their shack. The guys from the Signal Regiment were wild when they discovered their sign missing. They knew right away who to blame There would be reprisal, you could count on that. The RCEME guys were expecting some reaction. The first thing they did was to start keeping Zubrick in their shack thinking that an attempt would be made to steal him. They guessed correctly. A few nights after their sign disappeared a bunch of guys from the Sig's Regt. converged on the RCEME shack.
The area was in darkness and there was no sign of Zubrick other then his harness and the chariot which was outside the building. The thieves had to settle for stealing the chariot and harness. This little caper was pulled off the night before the next ball game between RCEME and the Sig's. Regt. It was a tense moment when the RCEME team showed up leading Zubrick, We. the Military Police, had to get involved to keep these two factions from getting into a big brawl. We finally got them settled down and had the property returned to the rightful owners. Through all of this, old Zubrick never changed his expression. By the way, Zubrick may seem like a strange name but it's not, It's Arabic for a part of the male anatomy that would be better left unexplained.
One day we heard disturbing news. A Canadian officer (a captain) was going to visit the MP Detachment at Rafah and that his wife would be with him. Somehow; this captain had arranged for his wife to come to Gaza and apparently he decided to have her meet the Canadian members of the MP Company. This gave us a little problem in that we had to hide Moe during the visit of the captain and his wife. We warned Moe that he would not show his ugly face while our visitors were present. Moe's profanity was definitely not appropriate for the ears of the captain's lady. We threatened him with violence if he went near that woman.
The Captain and his lady arrived and we were having a nice chat in the warrant officer's office. Suddenly there he was in the doorway carrying a large tray of coffee. It was Moe; all shined and shaved. He was dressed in a white servers jacket and wearing a bow tie. It was the one time during this UN. tour that all Canadian MP's hearts stopped. Moe approached the lady with the tray of coffee and bowed. He introduced himself to her and welcomed her to Camp Rafah. He said something like: while in Rafah I am your humble servant. He set the tray on the desk, stepped back one pace, bowed, did a smart military about turn and was gone. After we started breathing we looked at each other in disbelief. I guess the Captain's wife thought that we had a nifty servant. It was a fact; we did have a nifty servant.
Moe often said that we Canadians had come from the good life and that we were so lucky to be going back to it. Nobody argued with him about that statement. Moe made an impression with most who had contact with him. There was a time when an attempt was made to bring Moe to Canada for a visit. The plan was to take him to Camp Borden, Ontario, the Military Police School. Apparently, permission could not be obtained from the Egyptian authorities. It goes without saying that Moe was very disappointed.
I like to think that I treated Moe with the respect he deserved. I tend to believe that the feeling was mutual because on the day I left Egypt; tears were running down Moe's cheeks and falling in a study drip from his chin. In a voice choked with emotion he said that he would be dead within a week. At this time the Six Day War had begun and we were being evacuated. His village was located at the point where the Egyptian and Israeli armies would be doing battle.
CHAPTER 5At this point I will back up to my arrival at Camp Rafah. There had been several other Canadian Pinkeys who had recently arrived. We were all due for a briefing by the Canadian Contingent Commander who was a Lieutenant Colonel. This officer gave us the picture as to where we were located; that is to say, where we were located in relation to Israel and Egypt, the hostile countries. He impressed upon us that we weft peace Keepers and would conduct ourselves as such. I had the impression that this officer was bored with having to give a briefing to a handful of Privates and Non-Commissioned Officers. He was poorly prepared to say the least. He never mentioned any of the historical facts that lead to the tense situation in this area of the Middle East. I thought as this Colonel spoke; if you are bored by my presence. the feeling is mutual.
The Colonel concluded by asking if them were any questions. I indicated that I did in fact have a question. My question was, if these hostile factions decide to go to war, regardless of our presence, what is the plan? The Colonel replied: There is a plan. I said: Sir; I am asking what that plan is? The Colonel gave me the mean glare and said: All you need to know is that there is a plan! I mumbled that the plan must be outstanding considering that we were a handful of Canadians between two armies filled with hate! My comment drew a ripple of laughter from the other Pinkeys. This did not sit well with the Man and he warned me about making smart assed comments bordering on insubordination! Heh; you can only jab at a Colonel for so long before he will Jab back at you.
After almost a year had passed, I had reason to recall my Pinky briefing. The political situation between the two unfriendly factions was deteriorating which appeared to be the case for many years. However; it came to a point where both countries were getting up on their hind legs, so to speak. Both countries were massing troops along the border. We at Camp Rafah were in the build up area of the Egyptian Army. They were assembling for an obvious advance to contact with the Israeli Army. The area was crawling with Egyptian soldiers.
One night as I lay on my bunk I was able to distinguish the sound of over one hundred heavy tanks traveling past Camp Rafah in the direction of the Israeli border. It was at about this time that a wise Canadian Politician made the suggestion that the U.N. Emergency Force should be operating on the Israeli side of the border. Apparently; this statement angered the Egyptian President, Abdul Nasser. He immediately gave the Canadian Contingent 72 hours to get out of Egypt.
I do not have any knowledge of how this occurred, however; the Canadian Contingent of 600 men were divorced from the United Nations! We were relieved of our duties! We were reduced to a bunch of Canadians at the mercy of the Egyptians, waiting to be evacuated. The whole Canadian Contingent was assembled on a day in June 1967 at Camp Rafah where the Contingent Commander broke the news that we would all be going home within 72 hours. A flock of hats were thrown into the air as a cheer went Up.
The Commander's next words were: We are going to make a dignified withdrawal. Oh Boy! There wasn't any plan but we were going to make a dignified withdrawal. Where is the dignity in being run out of town with nowhere to run? There had been a rumour circulating for months that the United States Navy (the 6th Fleet) would evacuate the Canadians from Egypt if the worst happened. This was a fairy tale. I guess everyone heard of this one except the U.S. Navy. I have no way of knowing what strings were pulled at the diplomatic level, however; President Nasser finally gave permission for Canadian aircraft to enter Egyptian air space. It was at this point that Transport Command of the Royal Canadian Air Force entered the ball game. Eight Hercules aircraft started a shuttle service from Italy to the Gaza Strip in Egypt as the evacuation of Canadians began.
The lost days at Camp Rafah were interesting ones. Almost immediately after the Canadians were relieved of their duties and no longer considered members of the United Nations, security in the camp fell apart. Thieves were coming in at night and local people employed at the camp were stealing anything they could move. I actually saw a man carrying a bed and mattress out the main gate in the daylight. One of our guys remarked that be hoped the fellow had a good sleep before he got killed in the war! Thieves were overrunning the camp. Hopefully; it can be appreciated that it was a place where one could not expect a good night's sleep!
I will attempt to explain how I spent my last two nights at Camp Rafah. The Canadians were thinning out fast as they were being shuttled to Italy. I was the last Canadian M.P. in the shack near the Rafah Main Gate. The Danes and Norwegians were still there. I warned them about coming into my room unannounced. There was no lock on my door and I was concerned that I may be visited by one of those Bedouin Tribesmen off the desert. Before going to bed, I closed the door and stacked a couple of chairs against it. I balanced them so anyone opening the door would only have to touch the chairs and they would be knocked over. My plan was that this would wake me up. Of course, there was more to my plan. I swung my bed around so I could lie on the bed with my right hand under the pillow and my right hand would be pointing towards the door. Oh yes; my right hand was wrapped around the butt of my 9mm automatic pistol. I judged that the barrel of the pistol was about the right height as it rested on the bed. I would only have to make the lateral adjustment if anyone opened the door.
I don't recommend this as a way to sleep. I found that it was most uncomfortable. My hand had sweat terribly on the butt of that gun and I'm glad that there is no climax to this little story. If this were fiction, there would have been an intruder and I would have put a hole in him where no hole existed before.
CHAPTER 6There were plenty of sleepless hours during my last two nights at Camp Rafah upon which to reflect on the past year (I had exactly eight days left in my one year tour). What was known as the Gaza Strip was a strip of land bordered on the north by the Mediterranean Sea and on the South by the Sinai Desert. The strip was approximately fifty miles long, commencing at the Suez Canal. I would estimate that it was approximately ten miles wide at the narrowest point. This strip was Egyptian held territory, part of which bordered on Israel.
It is difficult for one such as I to understand the political and religious history of this area of the Middle East of which Jerusalem is a part. The plight of the Jews and their struggle to obtain an independent state has been ongoing since before the and of the Second World War. For some time, the division of Palestine was proposed which would create separate States of Israel and Palestine. Since then there have been continuing hostilities. Without knowing all the facts, it appeared to me that at the time of my arrival in the Middle East, the Jews were prosperous in their State of Israel. The Egyptian Arabs controlled the territory up to the Israeli border and Palestine ceased to exist.
It appeared that the majority of Palestinian Arabs were living in refuge camps near the city of Gaza, which was under Egyptian control. Many Palestinian's, both Moslem and Christian, lived in the city of Gaza. Many Palestinian's who were educated in English were employed with the United Nations Force. It is from these employees that I became aware of the burning hate that the Palestinian's, had for the Jews of Israel.
One of our translators named Ali was young and appeared to be well educated. He appeared normal and well adjusted until the subject of what happened to Palestine came up. He then reflected the hate for the Israelis. He told me that the only thing he wanted to do in his life was to kill as many Israelis as possible. He said that be had been waiting all his fife for the opportunity. I started by telling him that in my opinion be was a very intelligent person. I tried to explain to him that he was out of character in the role of a savage. He responded by telling me that it would be the greatest honour for him to be killed while killing Jews. In fact; be wanted more then anything else to be killed while killing Jews!
Ali's attitude was a mirror image of all the Palestinian's I met. It was definitely not within my power to straighten out the heads of these people. Ali was a friend of mine and I trusted him. When the war between Egypt and Israel started Ali stole my U.N. vehicle and took off, never to be seen again at Camp Rafah. I often wondered if my wheels aided him on his killing mission. Just prior to this happening, Ali had been married. He had invited three of us Canadians to the Wedding, which was unheard of. We had to apply to U.N. Headquarters for permission to attend. We were denied!
Such is the life of a Peace Keeper. You're dictated as to whose wedding you could attend. It wasn't hard for us to figure. Here was a Moslem wedding with very strict customs. It wouldn't do to allow three crazy, undisciplined Canadians to be an embarrassment at such a Holy and formal function. Ali had trained us well regarding the protocol of the Moslem wedding and we had intended on giving it our best shot at making a good impression. I recall one aspect of the wedding we found amusing. The wedding reception is segregated in that the women assemble in one place and the men in another. When Ali gave us that bit of information we kidded him and told him that this practice was not traditional. We suggested to him that it was something new just initiated when the organizers heard the Canadians were coming. Thinking that we were serious, Ali switched to Arabic saying: No Sir, No Sir, No Sir. Now we had to settle, him down and promise to behave at the wedding. Well; it never cone to pass but we enjoyed kidding Ali prior to the event.
CHAPTER 7I had a first hand look at the plight of the Palestinian refugees who were housed in refugee camps. The Canadian Ambassador to Egypt visited the Gaza Strip while I was there. His name was John Starnes. His mission was twofold; one was to visit Canadians with the UN and the other was to tour a Palestinian refugee camp.
On the day he was to visit Gaza and the refugee camp, I was detailed to be his escort. If I were asked to name the worse day of my life, that day would get careful consideration. 1 was sick with that stomach ailment which was common with us. It was some form of virus. The symptoms were very similar to food poisoning. Normally, the Medical Office would give you a couple of days of excused duty when Gyppo Gut grabbed you. On this occasion, I chose not to go to the doctor and carried on with my escort Job. First, it was off to a big refugee camp where conditions were rough to say the least. No sanitation and over crowding were the obvious. The smell of the place was enough to make a well person sick. Toilets were holes in the ground behind a shack that wasn't too secluded. Swarms of flies Added to the repulsive scene. The Ambassador visited a couple of schools. Being the armed escort, I would wait outside in the heat, stink and flies. I would sit in my jeep and was thankful because I was so weak I doubt that I could have stayed on my feet.
At last it was off to downtown Gaza, and U.N. Headquarters where the Ambassador had left his wife. Just when I thought I was off the hook, the Ambassador's wife wanted to go shopping at the Bazaar in the not so beautiful downtown Gaza. She would require an armed escort which would be me. The Ambassador's aide, a young military officer, also accompanied her. Now, add to being sick and nervous, here is a fancy dressed lady strolling through a Bazaar in Gaza. A hundred pairs of beady eyes were glaring at her. She was not the least bit concerned and appeared oblivious to the sights and smells. The hanging meat covered with flies was enough to make me head for greener pastures. Luckily, the lady finished her shopping tour, leaving all the beady eyes with their fantasies. That was It for me! I got back to Rafah and went to bed with my Gyppo Gut.
Next day, Mr. Ambassador came to Camp Rafah. I thought I had finished with the man until the Camp Sergeant - Major had the bright idea that I should be the one to meet and welcome the Ambassador when he visited the Sergeants' Mess. I was feeling a little better by the time the Man showed up at the Mess at coffee break. When I met him at the door, the first thing he said was: I haven't been the same since that refugee camp. We Made some talk and he invited me to visit the Canadian Embassy in Cairo if I had the opportunity. He began to circulate among the other Canadians and I was off the hook and able to relax until the Gut improved.
CHAPTER 8The Bedouin nomad people were a common sight in the Gaza Strip area. Personally, they fascinated me. Looking at them was like looking back one thousand years in history. I found it amazing that these folks can exist while wandering about on the desert. They lived under extreme conditions with few possessions. I found them to be rather timid and suspicious of us. I would say that stealing is part of their culture. Camp Rafah was a great attraction to the Bedouin men. It was uncanny the way they would infiltrate our security.
It was incidents such as this that created an attitude against the thieves. I never caught anyone, but it was exciting hiding In the shadows and listening to the night sounds. I think it was during these times that I really noticed the desert sky. The stars were so much brighter in that part of the World. The night sky is the only beautiful part of that Place. Years later, I was prompted to write the following poem:
A short distance away another Canadian soldier was bending over another figure. I approached with my light and got a clear picture of the soldier standing over another Bedouin man who was face down in the sand. The soldier had the muzzle of his machine gun on the back of the man's head. I said: I want our translator to talk to him if we can get him to stop calling for his God. The local police were not concerned about a Bedouin man. He was just a victim of circumstances. One of hundreds of thieves who expected the worst if caught. The Administration Officer, a lieutenant Colonel at Camp Rafah, did not share this attitude. When he heard about the incident involving a local, he went ballistic.
Being the investigator of this incident, I was called before the Colonel to give him an account of what happened. I gave him the basic facts, as I understood them. The Colonel was obviously not happy. I could sense that he feared some sort of reprisal or international incident. I explained to him that based on how our translator read it, the local police were treating it as low key. The Colonel blurted out: I thought we had trained soldiers over here. I replied: What happened is the result of our soldiers being trained soldiers. The Colonel replied in a rather loud voice: The last thing I need right now sergeant is your god-dammed opinion. I didn't need any more prompting to keep my mouth shut. You don't jab at a Colonel when he is smoking hot like this one was.
We, in the M.P. Company, and the Infantry guys of the Guard Company thought that the two not so lucky thieves would have a positive affect on the infiltrators. Well, guess what? The thieves were back the very next night. What we had to understand was that they didn't mind taking dangerous risks. It's tough to stop people with that attitude.
CHAPTER 9While on the subject of the Bedouins, I must relate an incident involving a woman and her baby who appeared at the main gate of Camp Rafah. I become aware of someone or something howling. I learned that it was a Bedouin woman screeching. I asked our translator to find out what was wrong with her. He came back and told me that her baby appeared to be dying and she wanted to take the baby to the UN hospital. For obvious reasons, the UN Hospital could not accommodate the local population. The policy was strict and, of course, I knew that. I told the translator to tell the woman that I was a doctor and would look at her baby! I put on a civilian shirt and left my military helmet behind. When I saw the baby I wondered if I could pull off the impostor gag. I would not be surprised if the baby was near death. It appeared semi-conscious. It was not crying. There was fluid in the corners of its eyes and open sores on its face. The baby was filthy with flies crawling in the open sores. The smell of mother and baby would be an endurance test for anyone.
I told the translator to tell the mother that I would be right back. I returned to my quarters and got three cakes of soap and a face cloth. I also got a tube of antibiotic ointment. I had some of the other MP's fetch three or four jugs of water. I also scrounged a piece of insect netting. Back I go to the sick baby. I had the translator instruct the mother to wash the baby all over at least three times a day and apply the ointment to the sores. I told her that she was not to let one fly light on that baby, keeping it covered with the netting. The mother was flashing those suspicious eyes at me (this time there was good reason). The doctor had completed the prescribed treatment!
The Mother babbled something in Arabic to the translator after which he advised me that she would pray to her god for me. I told the translator to express my appreciation but she should direct her prayers toward the health of her baby. This woman went away happy and calm but I doubt if the baby survived. It looked awfully sick to this unprofessional doctor.
CHAPTER 10I believe I mentioned that the Bedouins fascinated me. When the opportunity presented itself, we would photograph them in their desert environment On one occasion I was with another Canadian MP when we were looking for Bedouins to photograph in a fairly remote area. We had brought bottles of water and large loaves of bread. This was bait to enable us to get close to them for photographing. On this day, we were driving in an open jeep in which I was a passenger.
We came to a place where there was a large group of children assembled. They were probably about ten or twelve years old. We made the mistake of stopping to give them some fresh bread. Immediately, we were swarmed by those kids. They were all over the jeep and they grabbed everything that was not secured. They were tying to get our pistols, our watches, or anything else that was loose. I felt their little fingers grabbing me. They were like animals! My partner and I drove off in the jeep with the kids all over it. I was pulling them off me like leeches. Finally; I had to get rather violent in that I was punching and kicking them to get them off the vehicle. They were all jabbering at once and I still don't know what caused them to react like that, but you can bet, we never stopped again where kids were assembled.
CHAPTER 11The best way I can describe myself while part of the UN Force is that I actually had a personality change. I was not the least bit timid of operating on my own. Most of the time I was without fear. Naturally, there were times that I was concerned, however; it was not a level of fear that I would have normally expected. I believe that I was a better example of a leader than I was before, or for that matter; since.
1 will relate a minor incident that tends to reflect my attitude at that time. I was driving a jeep along the perimeter road inside Camp Rafah. Another Canadian MP accompanied me. Suddenly; directly in front of us, was a large black snake about eight feet long. I recall vividly that it was moving fast but it wasn't wiggling like I would expect of a snake. It was sort of humping up and down and making pretty good time. I stopped the jeep and took off after it on foot. My partner stayed in the vehicle and yelled for me to come back, I drew my pistol as I ran and jacked a round into the chamber. I fully intended to shoot the thing but 1 knew I would have to get close to it, considering the way it was moving. Suddenly, that snake reached a hole in the ground and disappeared in a flash. it was the only one like it I ever saw while in Egypt. My partner declared that I was crazy to chase that snake as he was terrified of the thing. I learned later that this type of snake is not poisonous as the poison snakes are the sand vipers which are tiny brown snakes. The ones that I saw were less then ten inches long.
1 recall that on one occasion we captured a big rat and a sand viper. We put them together in a box to see which one would kill the other. We were surprised to learn that they were very compatible. They paid little attention to each other, however; their luck ran out. We subsequently killed them both. I guess we were hard up for some amusement on that day. Naturally; we were all concerned with scorpions as well and I saw one just outside the door of our shack but none ever got inside to the best of my knowledge. The things that I didn't like were the big black bugs that were almost two inches long. Their common name amongst the troops was Shit Bugs. Very appropriate I thought.
We tried hard to keep the flies and mosquitoes out or our shack. The mosquitoes at night were the biggest problem. The windows were not very tight and those pests seemed to find their way around the window frames. Every night I would kill all the mosquitoes that I could find. Man; They were big and could put a real bite on you! I've awakened in the morning to find blood on my pillow as they would fill up on your blood and when you turned your head on the pillow they would be squashed.
Let me see; what other pests did we have? Oh yes; wild dogs. They were actually called wild dogs, but they probably evolved from domestic dogs. They were scruffy and appeared to be starving. We considered many of them to be rabid as they were frothing at the mouth.
Camp Rafah was a great attraction to these mutts as they were searching for food. The UN policy regarding the wild dogs was simply, to shoot them on sight. Oh yes; another job for the Canadians in the MP Company. The rabid dogs were considered a hazard to the troops, however; some of our guys were dog lovers and would rather not shoot them. Whenever I was available, this duty unfortunately became mine. The dogs were not only a problem at Camp Rafah; they were also found at the UN outposts on the border between Egypt and Israel.
On one occasion 1 was called to a Brazilian outpost where they were being hounded by hounds. I went where a Brazilian soldier indicated that there was a dog behind a particular shack. 1 peeked around the corner of the shack and at the same time a pack of dogs took off. There were five of them. The purpose of relating the dog problem is to help put into perspective the range of duties one was faced with as a member of the UN MP Company. It is interesting to note that other UN troops were not authorized to fire their weapons other then in self-defence.
CHAPTER 12A place I often think about is a village on the road between Rafah and Gaza. It was called Kahn Yunis. Apparently; the people there were mainly Palestinian Arabs. They were somewhat hostile toward foreigners, information I gleaned from our translators, plus; my own personal experience.
One day I was driving through this village alone, headed for UN Headquarters in Gaza. I saw a flock of goats in the road ahead and stopped to allow the goats to move on. On this occasion I was driving a white UN vehicle bearing large blue UN letters. It was an old Citroen, which was made in France, the cheapest model of the Citroen which I referred to as a shoebox on wheels. actually; the front windows were open and my left arm was resting on the top of the door. I saw a man approaching who was carrying a big stick about three or four feet long. He was heading in the direction of the goats, therefore; I assumed that he intended to chase them off the road. This was definitely not the correct assumption because as he passed close to my vehicle, he swung his stick at my arm protruding from the window. Luckily; I was looking his way when he swung for the fence. I yanked my arm inside the car a split second before the club struck the door of the car where my arm had been resting . The blow had put a major dent in the car door. Again; I was lucky to have had the engine running as before he could foul me off for strike two, I put that old jalopy in gear and popped the clutch, bumping a few goats on my way through the flock, but I escaped unscathed from the club man.
I knew how close I had come to the end of my Peace Keeping tour that day in Kahn Yunis. Had that man struck me with that club, believe me; he would have certainly regretted it. I was to visit Kahn Yunis on yet another rather tense occasion which I will give account of in later pages.
CHAPTER 13There were other occasions of being intimidated by the Egyptian authorities. I recall vividly the day I was required to visit the local Secret Police Lieutenant at Rafah Village. Actually, the purpose of my visit was an attempt to enlist aid to prevent the on-going thefts from Camp Rafah. Naturally; a translator accompanied me. Our translators were always nervous when in the presence of the local police or military. You could almost see them shaking in their boots.
On this occasion we sat across the desk from this secret police person. He was well dressed and cleanly shaven with the exception of that well trimmed mustache. Immediately, I noticed the photograph of Abdul Nasser, the Egyptian President. It was on the wall immediately over the head of where the police lieutenant sat. Wow! He (the police lieutenant) looked just like President Nasser!
Shortly after our discussion began two uniformed Egyptian Policemen, who came into the room escorting a male person, interrupted us. They led the man over to the police lieutenant's desk. The Lt leaned forward. to meet the man as he approached and grabbed him roughly by the collar. The Lieutenant yelled and screamed at the man in Arabic. I noticed that while he was yelling at the man, the lieutenant was putting a strain on him, causing the man to lean forward. Naturally, the man stepped forward to get his balance. As he stepped forward thebrave (?) Lieutenant smashed him squarely in the face with his fist. The unfortunate guy was knocked to the floor with blood pouring from his nose. The policemen jumped after him viciously. He was kicked in the head and body until he was semi-conscious.
The lieutenant returned to his chair and our meeting continued. I was more interested in whether or not the man on the floor was dead. After a short time, he began to move and was able to get to his knees. He then crawled out the door into the street. The man was not under arrest. Apparently, he was just in for an interview.
After thinking about this incident, I formed the opinion that this was, more than anything, a demonstration for our benefit. For some unexplained, weird reason, the Secret Police guy thought that I would be impressed by their interrogation methods. It certainly reinforced my knowledge that brutality is routine in that part of the world.
I received another lesson in brutality on the occasion of my visit to an Egyptian prison. I doubt that I have words to appropriately describe that environment. This was a scene right out of Lawrence Of Arabia, or some other movie. I had been detailed to go there to speak with the warden who was also a senior police person for the area. Actually, it was a liaison visit aimed at obtaining better cooperation with local police. An appointment had been made and I arrived at the prison at the exact time, accompanied by another Canadian sergeant and of course, our translator. I was not completely comfortable with the other sergeant who was with us. He was somewhat less then diplomatic to say the least. He had this bad habit of saying what he thought and showing emotion.
Upon arriving at the prison I noticed that the perimeter was partly of stonewall and partly barbed wire. I noticed an encampment outside the gate of the prison. There were tents, hoochies and a variety of shelters. Our translator explained that these were people who had relatives as prisoners. It was their responsibility to feed the prisoners, otherwise they would starve. My partner thought this to be a good policy, one that we should adopt in Canada. His theory was that there would be fewer prisoners doing hard time and there would be a great saving to the taxpayer.
After my sergeant friend made his observations and comments, we were admitted to the prison. We entered the main gate and found ourselves in sort of a courtyard or assembly area, surrounded by low stucco huts. A first, the place appeared almost deserted. Our guide motioned us to follow him. Almost as if on ice, two guards were seen dragging a prisoner across the court yard. The man appeared to be unconscious. He was bare to the waist. His back was; covered with blood from his neck to his belt. It was obvious that he had just been whipped. It resembled a scene from an old pirate movie. Immediately, my sergeant partner exercised his power of expression. He had some choice names for the guards who were dragging the prisoner. It was at this point that 1 warned my partner that while we were inside the walls of this prison he would keep his mouth shut, regardless that they didn't understand English. We were directed to a building where we were to meet with the warden. We were directed to a room that our translator referred to as the The Boardroom. I thought; How am I going to keep this guy quiet?
After a few minutes of being bored in the boardroom, the warden entered. He was middle aged and neatly dressed in a civilian suit. I got up, saluted him, stepped forward and shook his hand. I said, Shalom which 1 hoped was Peace in Arabic. He smiled and I thought, maybe we will get out of here. I glanced at my partner who had remained seated when The Man entered. He was regarding the warden with a scowl. I could sense that he was ticked off because I Was kissing up up to the Warden. I began making my pitch to the Warden through the translator. I do not recall the details of our discussion but I do recall that the Warden appeared receptive to us. Receptive up to a point. That point was when his slave came Into the room and served us with tea in filthy glasses and some form of cactus fruit that a goat wouldn't eat. That did it! My heart stopped when my partner pushed the tea and the bowl of fruit away saying; I don't want that crap. Although our host didn't speak or understand English, he clearly understood my partner's action and the ugly face he made. Although rather tense, our discussion continued while I gulped down the sickening sweet tea from the dirty glass and ate several of the cactus fruit until I couldn't force down another bite. All the while my partner is scowling at me. We left the prison and I was glad to have that experience behind me. 1 told my partner that I didn't have an opinion of him as a soldier. but as a diplomat, he was a complete failure. He had a big belly laugh. I believe he regarded my assessment of him as a compliment. I also told him that he was too honest, but I didn't want him being honest at my expense. I'm sure he didn't have a clue as to what I meant.
CHAPTER 14During the period I served in Egypt I noticed a turn around of attitude in the local authorities and the Egyptian Military. In the early months of my tour you could almost ignore their soldiers as if they didn't exist. I had not been on the job long before I had to investigate a traffic accident involving a U.N. vehicle and an Egyptian bus. The accident occurred outside the gate of an Egyptian army camp. The U.N. vehicle had been wrecked, therefore; it had to be recovered to Camp Rafah. The recovery vehicle (wrecker) went with the translator and me when we went to the accident scene. A Canadian corporal drove the recovery from the RCEME workshop. We arrived at the accident scene and got the particulars of the accident. That had not been any injuries, therefore; it was basically routine.
There was a section of Egyptian soldiers at the accident scene, commanded by a lieutenant. He said that we would not be able to move the U.N. vehicle until the accident was further investigated by their authorities. It was late in the evening and my intention was not to stay there any longer. I told the translator to inform the lieutenant that the time had come for us to hook the wrecked U.N. vehicle to that recovery vehicle and that we would be off to Camp Rafah.
After considering this, the lieutenant said that he would let us go if we gave him all the gas that was being carried on the recovery vehicle. It should be noted that several jerry cans (5 gallon) Were carried on the recovery vehicle. I advised the lieutenant that there would be no deal. I reminded him that it was our vehicle that we were taking and that there was nothing he could do to prevent it; especially, after having attempting to make a deal for our gas. I told the translator that if this were bordering on an international incident, this lieutenant would be the direct cause of it. When the translator passed this little gem onto the lieutenant, he had a sudden change of attitude. He no longer wanted gas. He just wanted us gone.
That's the way it was. You could baffle them fairly easily. However; I saw times change. Near the end of my tour 1 was driving alone in a U.N. vehicle when I was stopped at an Egyptian army roadblock. I was driving a jeep. An Egyptian soldier at the roadblock approached the jeep. He touched my cheek in front of my car with the business end of his machine gun. He asked in Arabic; Is Nasser good? (Meaning the Egyptian President).
It didn't take me too long to form an opinion of Mr. Nasser. Luckily; I knew how to say good and bad in Arabic. It would not have been a good time to mix good and bad up. I used to carry cartons of cigarettes for occasions such as this. I gave this soldier both the cartons I had with me. In return he told me that I was the greatest man in all of the United Nations. I escaped without the cigarettes but I also drove away without a hole in my head. And so, the time came when the Egyptian soldier couldn't be pushed around unless, of course; you used cigarettes.
1 neglected to keep a diary or to make notes of my sketches of my stay on the Gaza Strip, therefore; the incidents to which I refer are not necessarily in the proper time sequence.
CHAPTER 15There was an experience I had near the end of my tour, which, I must not neglect to give a short account of. This experience was in the month I spent in the city of Cairo.
The United Nations Emergency Force on the Gaza Strip operated a leave center for the troops. During my tour, the leave center was in Cairo. The leave center was in fact a very third rate hotel that was rented by the U.N. to house troops on leave. Naturally, the U.N. was required to police the leave center and this duty fell to the U.N. Military Police Company. which Contingent was chosen to provide Military Police for this job? The Canadian Contingent, naturally!
I got detailed to my one month stay in the spring of 1967. I went in relief of Don MacLeod, a good Cape Bretoner and a longstanding member of the Military Police. Don spent a couple of days with me while handing over duties and showing me around the city a bit. We even nipped out to the Pyramids! What I recall most vividly about my visit to that ancient historic site is how terribly hot it was and the number of beggars present. I was not happy to see Don go, leaving me the only Canadian I know in Cairo. I mentioned previously that I had met the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt and that he had invited me to the Embassy. I found where the Embassy was and let it go at that. I felt that the diplomatic crowd was just slightly above my status. Another deterrent was the fact I did not have the appropriate clothes for crashing that circle.
Being the only Canadian in a city of millions gave new meaning to being alone in a crowd. During my month on duty at the leave hotel, only Yugoslavian and Indian troops were on leave. Very few of these spoke English. There was a Danish Administrative Officer who I could talk to, but that's about all. He would forward any reports to U.N. Headquarters for me and was in fact my communications link to UN. Headquarters in Gaza.
Although I was pretty well briefed by Don MacLeod, there were a few things to learn. I had taken with me to Cairo five (40oz ) bottles of Canadian Club Whiskey. A strange item for a non-drinker, but it was great stuff for bribing officials. I was not permitted to take my 9mm pistol to Cairo with me but I was well armed with Canadian Club.
One of my first Missions was to establish contact with local police. I found the police precinct nearest to the hotel and prepared myself for a visit without a translator. My preparation for the visit consisted of one 40oz bottle of Canadian Club in a brown paper bag. Upon entering the police station I was met by two Egyptian police officers. I asked to see the their boss. They did not speak english and I do not speak Arabic; therefore, the conversation was not going well. I saw their eyes were united on the brown bag I was carrying. I could tell that they were asking what it was when they started pointing at it. Suddenly, I held it high and said: Bomb! I think I may have caused those two policemen to have to do their own washing. They obviously understood the word, Bomb. They appeared frozen for a moment while I removed the bottle of Canadian Club from the bag. I'm sure they both thought that they had misunderstood the word bomb. They had wide smiles of relief on their faces and they were suddenly receptive to taking me to their leader.
The Police Captain was an older man and he spoke some very broken English. I told someone later that it was the only time in my career that I saluted an officer while carrying a bottle of whiskey. I presented my U.N. identification which was done in Arabic. I also presented the Canadian Club, which he obviously was happy to see. He became a jolly old guy without having drunk a drop of the whiskey. He promised me any help that I needed. I got the phone number of the police desk, knowing that I could have the Hotel Manager call if I ever needed any back up. Man; that Canadian Club is magic in a place like that.
Next reciepient on the list for Canadian Club was the hospital administration. One of my duties at the leave center was to accompany U.N. soldiers who had to go to the hospital. I had to complete the necessary paper work. Also; there was a concern if the hospital was required to deal with a soldier who was drunk and violent. Well; I can tell you that the hospital administration was pleased to receive that Canadian Club Medicine! My gift list included the Leave Center Hotel Manager and the Danish Administrative Officer. These little bribes were definitely not policy. It was not something sanctioned by my superior. I was taught to do what you can to gain the advantage if you think you need it. I certainly thought I might need it, being the only Canadian on that little detail in Cairo.
I had a vehicle in Cairo, but I was nervous about driving in the city. It was a crazy place to drive; therefore, I limited my driving in order to limit the chance of accidents. Most of my traveling was across town to the Nile Hilton Hotel where I would occasionally go to eat. One could get a decent meal there which is more than I can say for the grub at the leave center.
We had a staff of local cooks at the leave center. I'm not sure that cooks is the correct title. Don MacLeod briefed me well on how to deal with the kitchen staff. He took me into the kitchen to meet them and was immediately distracted by a few flies that were present. Don had everyone in the kitchen chasing those few flies. Right on cue, I assumed the role of bad guy and declared that there would be no flies in the kitchen during my tour of duty. I told them that the flies go or the cooks go. Man; did I ever have their attention. After that day, I would only have to peek into the kitchen and everyone would be in a panic looking for a fly to kill.
The leave center hotel was a three storey building with elevators. I never once used an elevator and I will proceed to explain why. I stated previously that soldiers from the Indian Battalion were there on leave during my tour. Many of these soldiers apparently came from an isolated region of India. It appears that many of them had never rode on an elevator. They were just like small children. They rode those elevators almost continuously. They were always full of Indian soldiers who were laughing and apparently having a great old time. It was an experience in itself being associated with those foreign troops with almost no english being spoken.
Problem solving was a problem! I had a room on the third floor of the hotel. It was comfortable other than there was no lock on the door. I guess, there had been, but it didn't work. The evening after Don MacLeod left I was lying on my bed in my shorts considering how I would get through this tour of duty. Suddenly, I was aware that the door to my room moved slightly. I watched as it began to open very slowly. The next movement I saw was the turbaned head of an Indian soldier. The head moved forward into the opening. He stopped moving and was glaring at me with flashing eyes and an expressionless face. I glared back at him with the ugliest face I could muster. Then silently, three more turbaned heads appeared in the opening. All four Indian soldiers stood motionless staring at me.
This was a new experience for me. It was a classic case of being caught with your pants down. It's an established fact that Indian soldiers are ferocious fighters and often carry concealed knives. In this case I didn't know what their intentions were; however, I did know that I would have no defence against them if they intended to do me some harm.
It was a staring stalemate. Here was eye contact at it's best. I thought that someone has to move and I decided it would be me. I leaped off the bed toward them and yelled as loud as I could. Those four soldiers were gone in a flash. They ran down the hall and disappeared.
I decided to carry on with my offensive. The following day I found a sergeant who could speak english. I told him how lucky his soldiers were who came to my room. I also told him to pass the word that the next soldiers that touch the door to my room would be leaving Cairo in a body bag. He understood what I said. I didn't have any more problem with Indian soldiers from then on.
The Yugoslavian Battalion soldiers were a very quiet lot. They were no trouble whatsoever. A few of them got sick, which required a hospital visit. They seemed to be interested In ancient history; therefore, there was plenty to keep them occupied. The Indian soldiers didn't wander far from the hotel. It was both a common, and a not so common sight, to see a couple of them strolling along together.
Time passed as time always does. The day came when I was to leave Cairo. I saw the closure of this particular leave center. Seeing that the center was closed, I had to take the vehicle back to Camp Rafah. I judged the vehicle (a cheap Citroen) to be a piece of junk; therefore, I had real concern whether or not I would make it. I plotted my course on a map that would take me out of the city, across the Suez Canal and up the Gaza Strip to Rafah. It is difficult for me to recall the distance involved but I'm going to say over one hundred miles, much of which was desert.
Not having any faith in the vehicle I was driving, I was concerned about the old thing breaking down along the way and leaving me stranded. Before leaving Cairo at 5:00 a.m. I had loaded the rear seat with oranges. 1 figured that these would be most helpful if I was to become stranded on the desert road. Having gotten an early start I arrived at the Suez Canal crossing at an early hour. I was not looking forward to waiting for the old primitive ferry. It Is here that the beggars would converge on you. They definitely made me feel uncomfortable.
On a previous crossing when I went to Port Said on a convoy escort we were approached by a boy and a girl. The boy was leading the girl by the hand. The little girl did not have any eyes. She was holding out her hands begging. Yes; she was a good beggar as far as I was concerned. I gave her a handful of Egyptian money.
When I crossed that canal on this occasion I had become immune to beggars and would ignore them. In that Country one could not give to everyone looking for a hand out. It was impossible! Well; I got across the ferry and pointed the old Citroen toward Camp Rafah. The old car worked like a charm. I didn't have to eat one orange. I saw some Bedouin peeking over sand dunes at me which reminded me to keep the pedal to the metal.
CHAPTER 16Here I am, back at Rafah and regular duty with a few stories to tell. I made some friends at Rafah. I became associated with several Canadians through our baseball league and through the Sergeant's Mess. One man who I got to know well was Jack Unger. Jack was a warrant officer with the Canadian Signal's Regiment. Although we played ball on opposite teams we had a couple of things in common. Like myself Jack was a non-drinker. We spent time in the Sergeants' Mess talking about several subjects, not the least of which was hockey.
Jack's son, Gary Unger played pro hockey for Toronto Maple Leaf's and for St. Louis Blues. At the time we were in Egypt, Gary just started to play with Toronto and we were following his progress. Jack was excited about his son's success in hockey.
On a day when 1 was on duty at our office near the main gate at Rafah, a driver from the Canadian Signal Regiment ran in to report that he had witnessed three Canadians being taken prisoners at gun point by the Egyptian Army. He said that it was near the village of Kahn Yunis and that one of the Canadians was Warrant Officer Unger. My Warrant Officer was out and I did not take time to inform U.N. Headquarters in Gaza. I grabbed our translator and headed for Kahn Yunis without a plan.
I found the three Canadians, including my friend Jack Unger, at the Police Post In Kahn Yunis. They were surrounded by about a ten-man section of infantry soldiers armed with automatic weapons. As 1 joined my countrymen inside that circle, I thought about the lyrics of a song by the immortal Jerry Lee Lewis; We ain't faking, there's a whole lot of shaking going on! The officer in charge appeared to be a junior officer, possibly a lieutenant. Through the translator I demanded to know why these men were being detained. This scruffy little officer would not talk to me other than to say that they were waiting for a senior army officer to appear. Jack Unger and the other Canadians were in civilian clothes. They had been to Gaza during an afternoon off. On returning to Rafah, they had stopped to photograph some camels beside the road. It was at this time they were arrested by soldiers of the Egyptian Army. Jack told me that the soldiers had taken their cameras.
The awaited officer arrived a short time later. He had a mean looking face; however, it was less disconcerting then the business ends, of ten machine guns pointing at us while waiting for him to arrive. The officer was possibly a Brigadier as he had red tabs on the lapels of his uniform. This rank suggested that he was the commander of the nearest Infantry Brigade. This means, roughly, that he commanded approximately 3000 soldiers.
When, this officer approached with his aide and escort, I was not surprised that the scruffy little section commander failed to salute. At least the soldiers lowered their weapons and stepped back from us. I recall stepping forward and saluted, him. I had to stifle a smile as the other Canadians stood at attention. I thought to myself were really kissing-up to this god of the Egyptian Army! Now there is a lot of Arabic being spoken and I didn't have a clue about what was being said. Scruffy is briefing the Brigadier and the Brigadier is questioning Scruffy.
Finally, there was a lull in the exchange at which time I asked the translator if he could enlighten me. Apparently, at the point where the Canadians were photographing the camels there was Egyptian Army defensive positions in the background. The Canadians were accused of being spies for Israel. I asked the translator to get permission for me to respond to this crazy allegation. The translator said that the Brigadier invited my response. First, I wanted the translator to say exactly what I had to say but I knew he was scared.
I told the Brigadier that 1 was offended by the accusation. I reminded him that 1 knew these men personally and I knew that photography was their hobby. I reminded him if Canada had an interest in their defensive positions, one pass with an aircraft would provide all the photo details. I told the translator that these men were leaving with me and I also wanted their cameras.
Jack Unger had been quiet up to this point. He cleared his throat and quietly suggested that I was pushing my luck. I got the impression that the Brigadier was not relenting. I felt that I had to stay on the offensive; therefore, I would play my ace. I advised the translator to tell this officer that; I am a direct representative of the United Nations. You sir, will go down in history as having Created an international incident. I doubt that this will have a positive effect on your career.
I saw the fear in the face of the translator but he passed on my message. There was a hesitation on the part of the Brigadier at which time I said: Tell him he can keep the cameras, I'm taking the I'm taking the men. This was my way of creating a. compromise, allowing the officer to save face. The translator offered the deal and the Brigadier went for it. I can tell you we didn't waste any time getting our butts out of there and back to Rafah. I told them that if they did any more spying to do it sometime that I was not on duty. Jack and 1 had some laughs about that incident during our meetings in the mess. After I did my report to U.N. Headquarters, someone in the power structure got the cameras back, less the films.
I've always felt that negotiating the release of the three Canadians from the Egyptian Army was my greatest accomplishment while m the Middle East. Maybe I was lucky to have used the correct tactic on the Egyptian officer but it was more than just a guess. I had been observant of the Egyptians during my tour and had formed the opinion that you had to somewhat forceful and not display any weakness when dealing with them. It was interesting to me that I never received a word from my supervisors to suggest that I had done a decent job. It is a fact, however, that the spies were most appreciative.
CHAPTER 17There was another rather tense situation where a measure of psychology was the order of the day. Again, I was Iucky to be the duty investigator on the day a Canadian soldier threw a rock and struck an eight year old Egyptian boy in the head. The Canadian was, on the rear of a truck that was passing through the Village of Rafah. The truck was stoned by a group of kids. The Canadian picked up a stone that had landed in the body of the truck. He threw it back in the direction from whence it had come. Unfortunately, the stone struck the boy, causing an indent fracture of the skull.
Because of the circumstances under which the boy had been injured he was taken to the U. N. Hospital at Camp Rafah. Word went through the village and a mob of people began assembling at the main gate of Camp Rafah, threatening violence. I went to the hospital and spoke with the medical officer (Norwegian) who was attending to the boy. The boy was conscious with a sore head. I asked the doctor if there was any possibility of releasing the boy from hospital immediately. He indicated that he should be kept in the hospital for x-rays and observation.
I explained the rather tense situation developing at the main gate. 1 told him that if the villagers saw that the boy was conscious and mobile, I hoped that they would back off before a few more headaches were were administered. The doctor agreed to let the kid go and he was delivered to the main gate with, a band-aid on his head. I guess the main concern Of the village folks was that he was alive. They weren't exactly jumping for joy; however, they all went back home.
We Placed the Canadian in close custody, pending his summary trial. Actually, it wasprotective custody knowing that the possibility reprisal was real. The wheels turned quickly and the Canadian went before his commanding officer charged with assualting the kid with a rock. An official representative of the Village was brought in to witness the proceedings in oder that he could see justice being done. The soldier was found guilty and returned to Canada to serve his sentence.
I guess the local guy was happy that this soldier had been disgraced. Personally, I understand that it's most difficult to turn the other cheek when People are winging rocks at you. Such is the lot of the Peacekeeper!
CHAPTER 18My sketches would be missing a focal point If I failed to mention Christmas 1966. I had been in the Middle East exactly six months when Christmas rolled around. This fact put me in a rather special group. Soldiers who had served six months were permitted to go home on Christmas leave, providing that they could afford the fare.
It goes without saying that there was some shrewed financial planning in the months proceeding the holiday. The result was that I was included in 120 Canadians who were able to find the dollars, enabling us to spend Christmas at home.
It was a happy group that boarded a chartered Air France Champagne flight to Cairo, en route to Paris and on to Montreal. It was a happier group that arrived in Montreal, considering it was a Champagne flight. One can easily appreciate the Trash Talk that went on aboard that aircraft. There were many statements to the effect that there would be empty seats on the return flight.
Being the only Military Policeman in the group, it Was routine to hear that you'll have to take me back In irons. This group had destinations all across Canada. Connecting flights were arranged at Montreal, however; the weather was extremely foggy on arriving in Montreal; therefore, all departing flights were cancelled.
We were housed in a hotel at the expense of Air Canada with meals provided. Having been on limited rations for six months we were more then ready to attack the dining room. It's amazing how important fresh milk is when you haven't seen any for six months. We definitely had a great feast that evening. I recall ordering the biggest glass of milk in Montreal in a bucket of ice. That's exactly what I got!
1 recall sitting with three officers (Captains). These guys were really digging in. I remarked that I was surprised to learn that officers were such pigs. One guy claimed that he doubted If he would ever be anything else. There was definitely Christmas spirit In that dining room. The other customers appeared to be amused. I wonder if the hotel staff thought we were a bunch of savages.
There always seems to to be a downside. In this case one of the soldiers was extremely ill. It was obvious on the flight that he hurting. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Enginers. I only remember that his last name was "Sanford" and he was, I believe, from Burlington, Hants County, Nova Scotia. Given that I was also heading East I assumed responsibility of helping in anyway that I could. On arriving in Montreal; we shared a hotel. room. He didn't want to eat and stayed in. the room while I went to the feast. I brought him a quart of milk, which is all that he wanted. I suggested to Sanford that I would arrange for him to be taken to the hospital. This got a negative response from him. He made me promise not to take him to the hospital and to ensure that be got home. I had a good idea by this time that this soldier was seriously ill. Next day everyone went his own way. Sanford was on an Air Canada flight to Halifax with several others, myself included, from Nova Scotia.
After Christmas we reversed the travel plans, arriving in Montreal to connect with the Air France Charter to Cairo. Everyone was secretly counting heads to determine how many had refusd to return to the sand and stink of the Gaza Strip. Of the 120 men who spent Christmas in Canada, 119 boarded the aircraft for the return to duty. It was no surprise that "Sanford" did not make it. He died a short time later of stomach cancer. At least he was home!
I was also not surprised that there were no absentees other then Sanford. This is consistent with the fraternity of professional Canadian soldiers. Probably at least 90% of these men hated to go backto go back there for another six months, however, they hated even worse to be counted among the missing when the group assembled to return. The average person. may not understand this, but soldiers understand. We all understood!
CHAPTER 19The suspicion, hate and paranoia encountered among the people and authorities in our area of operation was an education. There was an occasion where a Palestinian Christian man employed with the Canadian vehicle workshops went missing from the job. He showed up about five days later, with the explanation that the Egyptian police had him in custody. He stated that they accused him of spying for Israel. He said that the Egyptian authorities had interrogated him for days.
I was contacted by my Major who advised me that he wanted me to do an investigation into this employee's allegation and that I would treat it with a secret security classification. I felt like saying: "well, thanks a heap sir; considering that there are few secrets in this Country". Instead, it was as always; yes sir, yes sir! It sounds like a piece of cake.
My first obstacle was to find a way to interview the complainant victim without the knowledge of other civilian employees, many of whom I suspected to be informants for the Egyptian Secret Police. It was necessary to take the Canadian Commanding the workshops into confidence. We arranged for the subject to have a minor "accident" with one of the vehicles in the workshops compound. This sort of thing normally required a police report as being part of the routine. It was yours truly who responded to this "accident" which gave me the opportunity to interview the subject without arousing the curiosity of any possible informants. The subject told an interesting tale of his experience while in the custody of the Secret Police. He said that they did in fact accuse him of spying for Israel and of being overly friendly towards Canadians. He told of being kept awake for days while his head was completely covered. Apparently; he was given so little to drink and eat that he became very weak. He said that they kept moving him almost continually from place to place. He never knew where he was or whether it was night or day. he said that he was rarely spoken to, he was just led and pushed around if he attempted to sleep. He was not struck or subjected to pain.
The subject indicated that he became so disoriented and confused he ceased to be aware of what was happening. He said that he had the impression that he was questioned but could not recall his response. I listened to this horror story without necessarily believing a word of it. I thought that; "maybe this guy writes spy thrillers in his spare time". During our conversation, the subject mentioned that sometime in the past he tried to emigrate to Canada. He said that he had written to the Canadian Embassy in Cairo, however; was not given any encouragement. This, I thought, was it! I needed something with which to confirm the creditability of this alleged interrogation victim.
I would write to the Canadian Embassy in order to establish this fellow as being for real or was he laying a fantasy on me. I knew full well that when one communicates to higher authority, one does so using the chain of command. Under normal circumstances I would request that the Provost Marshal obtain the information I required. However; the Provost Marshal did say that he wanted a "hush, hush" investigation. I knew that civilian clerks would see my correspondence that left UN Headquarters from the office of the Provost Marshal.
I decided to circumvent the possibility of informants. I wrote directly to the Canadian Embassy under my own signature and using the local mail. Not many days passed before a less than impressed Provost Marshal confronted me. His question was rather direct: "Who the hell do you think you are writing to the Embassy without authorization"? It suddenly dawned on me that the Embassy had replied to my letter, however; they had replied through the Provost Marshal through UN Headquarters. The Major was more livid when I informed him that I didn't trust the civilian staff at UN Headquarters. I told him the investigation would not be confidential if any civilian had knowledge. he finally cooled a bit to tell me that the Embassy had no record of the subject.
The Major was more interested in chewing me out for not following the chain of command then on how the investigation was progressing. My report reflected that lack of confirmation that the subject's story was believable. Who knows, it could have been a ploy to discredit the Secret Police and to obtain sympathy for some unknown purpose. This was one of those investigations that were placed on the "back burner" until it "fizzled out" or until it "flamed up".
Psychology is not my strong point but I had to suspect that the subject might have been mentally challenged while being able to project a well adjusted picture. Whatever the answer, he continued to work for the UN with no further problems.
CHAPTER 2OI have reflected on a variety of experiences during my tour. Now I will come back to my last days at Camp Rafah prior to being evacuated. Lieutenant MC (Mike) MacDonald was the senior Canadian Military Police rank during the evacuation, the Canadian Major (Provost Marshal) had been home on leave in Canada when the Canadians had been ordered out; therefore; he was unable to get back. So, the young Lieutenant Mike MacDonald, was the man. It was Mike who kept me there to be the second last Canadian MP to leave and Mike was the last. He showed confidence in me and I've always appreciated that. I've thought about Mike often since be was killed while crossing a street in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in 1998.
During the last days at Rafah, there was no guarantee that we all would get away from there safely. With this in mind, I got myself a jeep with sand tires (balloon tires for crossing loose sand). I began equipping my jeep with the intention of heading for the border of Israel if the situation deteriorated where there was no command or control. Actually. "escape" was what I had in mind. I had six five-gallon jerry cans of gas on the jeep, plus; several jugs of water and some rations. I included a shovel in the event I got stuck or if I had to "dig in" to avoid live fire. I also tossed on a couple of blankets and I rounded out my "stuff'" with 500 rounds of 9mm ammunition. I had made up my mind that I would not sit still to be caught by an artillery barrage or indiscriminate machine gun and/or small arms fire. It became a little lonely at Camp Rafah as I watched trucks leaving loaded with Canadians.
I must mention here that all Canadians bad been armed with the SMG (Sterling Machine Guns). This is a fully automatic weapon that will fire bursts of rounds with one pressure of the trigger. I'm not sure, but I think each one had been issued 60 rounds of ammo. I was driving my jeep in Camp Rafah when I saw one of the trucks that were evacuating a load of Canadians. The truck was stopped a short distance from the UN hospital. I stopped to say good-bye to anyone on the truck that I may know. I did in fact see a warrant officer that I knew well. As I approached the rear of the truck. I saw what appeared to be blood smeared on the tailgate, I said something like, "What have we here?" The faces on board that truck were blank.. Nobody spoke and they stared straight ahead. I called the warrant officer by name and asked him, What had happened? He hesitated to answer and I immediately advised him that the truck would not be moving until he talked to me. The warrant officer rather reluctantly got off the truck, then told me that a weapon had been accidentally fired and that three soldiers were hit. They had been taken to hospital for treatment. The soldiers on the truck were worried that they would all be taken off draft. 1 knew these were emergency times; therefore, I had no intention of making an issue of this accidental shooting. I learned the identity of the man who had accidentally fired his weapon he was on the truck fighting back the tears. Luckily; the three soldiers hit did not have life threatening wounds. They were all immediately evacuated, two being walking wounded and one was a stretcher case evacuee.
I regarded this incident as one of the hazards of the job, however; the people in command looked upon it quite differently. It was over reaction time and subsequently, all remaining Canadians were relieved of their ammunition. Disappointment is the way I explain my reaction. Here are Canadian soldiers in a hostile environment and their ammunition is taken away while Egyptian soldiers who have become intimidating, surround us. Carrying weapons without ammo in a place like that is the ultimate insult. The order lifting the ammo didn't include me specifically, therefore; I chose to hang on to my 5OO rounds.
My turn eventually came to leave Camp Rafah for the air landing strip and my draft was being transported on an old bus with an officer in charge. Before boarding the bus we all fell in (formed up) in three ranks. The officer approached each man at which time you had to make the following declaration; "I have no live rounds in my possession, Sir. I made this declaration while my over night bag sat on the ground beside my feet. My 500 rounds were in this bag in boxes, 50 to a box.
We boarded the bus and began the ten or fifteen mile trip through the built-up area of the Egyptian Army. The narrow road was occupied by military hardware such as tanks, mobile artillery and trucks. The road was blocked in places causing us to stop while the Egyptians took their time allowing us to pass. This area between Camp Rafah and El Arish appeared to be in Canadian Military lingo, the FUP or (Forming Up Place) for the Egyptian Army Units prior to their eventual clash with Israel.
To me, it appeared to be a disorganized rabble as there were swarms of troops and vehicles everywhere. If one could have photographed that scene from the air it would be a classic. They appeared to be moving up, however; the "order of march" could not be distinguished. I think of it as a massive undisciplined move, nothing more then an army milling about. The armor, artillery and infantry were all mixed together. I saw sights that I questioned even with my limited knowledge of warfare. I saw tanks dug in. in a depression with the gun and turret exposed. I did not see any camouflage netting. On observing their field of fire, it was rather amusing. I'm sure the gun would not elevate sufficiently to clear the sand dune immediatelyto their front. I saw ragtag soldiers with no equipment other than a weapon, many were without helmets and I saw tanks exhausting black smoke indicating that their engines were working poorly.
I tried to make some sense out of their organization but there wasn't any sense to it! I tried to identify their support services such as their field ambulance or hospital. I don't think that I saw one ambulance among all that mess. I heard that for sometime prior to our leaving the Gaza Strip Egyptian soldiers were foraging for food. They looked like a beaten army returning from a war rather than an army advancing to contact an enemy. One thought that crossed my mind was, Here is a real plum for an air strike. According to what I heard later, the Israeli Air Force stepped up and picked this plum a short time after we were evacuated. I also heard a report to the effect that the road and area between Rafah and El Arish was a maze of burned out vehicles. It was a massive junkyard!
I'll now return to our bus trip, through the confusion of the Egyptian Army . There were times when the Egyptian soldiers practically surrounded our bus yelling what I assumed were insults. The only English I heard was Yankee go home! Many of them took up this chant. One Canadian was heard to say; Shut up; this Yankee is going home as fast as he can! We had started to wonder if the (Egyptian soldiers) were going to allow us through. The Canadians were cursing the intelligence of whoever ordered the withdrawal of their ammunition. (They still had their empty Sub-Machine Guns) The officer in charge of the draft sat in the front of the bus while I sat at the rear. I quietly opened my over night bag and showed th soldiers near me it's contents. Man; I had to restrain those guys from helping themselves. I had them pass the word (excluding the officer) that I would issue out the ammo if we were fired upon. They argued in whispers that they wouldn't have time to load their magazines. I tended to agreee but I knew we wouldn't have a hope in hell in a firefight. I'm sure that everyone had the same idea. That was, if we were to go down, we wanted to go down in flame. I insisted on hanging onto the ammo. Luckily. nothing serious developed.
We made it to the airstrip and were the last group to load on that particular Here (military cargo plane). The military presence at this airstrip was frightening. Anti-craft guns surrounded the strip with their muzzles pointing skyward. There were tanks and armored carriers in evidence. We began loading on the aircraft and everyone ducked as two MIG jet fighters made a low level pass directly over the Canadian aircraft. They circled around and dived on us a couple more times. Speaking for myself, if they were trying to scare me they sure as hell succeeded.
The Canadian pilot ignored their intimidation game.and fired up that old Here. We were all wondering if the fighters were waiting for us to get airborne before whacking us. Everyone was peering out the windows trying to see where the fighters were. The pilot set a course for Italy and soon we were out of Egyptian air space. I think all the guys forgot about their empty weapons as happiness took over.
We landed at Pisa, Italy and were off loaded on a runway. We were told to remain at the edge of the runway until we were picked up regardless of how long it took. Nobody was complaining. We were prepared to sit there in the grass for however long it took. I believe that within two or three hours a Canadian Forces Yukon Aircraft picked us up. One again; we were saved by Air Transport Command! It was off to Trenton, Ontario, via Ireland. I recall very little about that flight but I do recall that on the approach to Canadian Forces Base Trenton we dropped below the overcast and I suddenly knew what my favorite colors are: the red maple leaf and the green, green grass of home!
The army supply people were set up at Trenton Air Terminal to receive our weapons after which we were on our own until the date we were to report to our units in Canada. I handed in my weapon and the 500 rounds of ammo to a much surprised Ordinance Corporal.
There must have been some breakdown in Armt efficiency because, for me at least; there was no travel arrangements to get me home from Trenton. This did not bother me because my feet were on Canadian soil. I went to a washroom and changed into civilian slacks and shirt. I stuffed my uniform into a overnight bag. I suddenly had a problem about how to carry my helmet. I solved the problem when I saw a small boy about 10 years old at the air terminal. I handed him my helmet, which was in UN blue with large white UN letters. I said: you just got yourself a UN helmet that was chased out of Egypt, Of course; he didn't understand what I was saying. but his dad sure did. Anyway; the young lad latched onto the helmet and away he went.
Now, I'm roaming around the tenninal wondering how I would get to Toronto in order get a flight to Halifax. I ran into Jack Unger, who had been on the same draft from the Middle East and he knew people or relatives in the Trenton area and they had met him at the terminal. Jack asked me where I was going, to which I replied: I was going to attempt to find transportation to Toronto. At this point, Jack said to the people he was with, I want you to take this man to Toronto, They never questioned him and drove me to the airport in Toronto.
I guess the old spy felt that he had the opportunity to return a favor. That was my last contact with Jack Unger, He has always been high on my list of good guys. It is here that I will end my flashbacks of a United Nations Tour.
I'd like to close with a verse from a poem written by a soldier of the First World War:
Yes, there's gladness in the memory
- The End-