Camp and Combat on the Sinai and Palestine Front: The by Edward C. Woodfin (auth.)

Camp and Combat on the Sinai and Palestine Front: The by Edward C. Woodfin (auth.)

By Edward C. Woodfin (auth.)

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Engineers worked frantically to build the railroad up to the troops, fighting with the shifting and blowing sand. In their hunger, men could not turn to local towns as their comrades in France could. Instead they relied on military canteens, shops with stores of food and personal supplies for sale, to make up the deficit. A. huts, which followed the advance and often had small stores. A. 91 Though the proprietors of these canteens considered their work a public service and their prices very reasonable (under the circumstances), the men often complained bitterly about the cost of this extra food.

Australian Corporal A. D. Callow described them as “very crude and uneducated. They still light fires with flint. 34 Accusations of Bedouin theft and grave-robbing were nearly universal, and the stories even circulated as far away as New Zealand newspapers, where one correspondent, Trooper P. W. Burgess, wrote that “The Bedouin is the worst type of man I have ever seen . . ”35 Imperial Camel Corp Trooper Beethoven Algar recalled more than 70 years later that the most difficult part of losing a comrade in a desert battle was leaving him behind, buried in a sandy grave.

Trooper Idriess wrote in his diary about the return of an infantry column from a training march or “route march” near Serapeum, along the canal. Dragging their heavy packs, they seemed near death from exhaustion and thirst. 53 The old novelists’ cliché of men being driven mad from thirst crops up often in period letters and diaries, and not without reason. The need for water pushed many men to do things that were foreign to their natures and pressed some to commit illegal, dangerous, and foolish acts.

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