"The Regiment (112 Light Anti Aircraft) left Egypt and the Regimental convoy made its way across the desert, via Beer Sheba, by-passing Tel Aviv, and arriving at Camp 71, about a mile from Hadera, where we had to erect our tents, etc. The signal section, about 20 of us, were in a type of marquee with a concrete base. Our beds were 10 wooden slats, about 6 feet 6 inches long by 3 inches by 1 inch. These slotted into two wooden trestles about 6 inches high which kept your bed off the floor. We had a palliasse and a pillow case which we filled with straw and four blankets. The first few days there wasn't any straw so we just slept on a blanket and the slats. There were a few moans but life carried on. The camp was just below the cross-roads which had a Palestine Police station. Also on the coast was a coastguard station named 'Givat Olga'.
Camp 71 was nothing to cheer about. The war was over but I had been in better camps in England. The camp itself was surrounded by two sets of barbed wire: an outer and inner ring with the toilets in between the two. You didn't use the toilets at night as there wasn't any lighting. An Arab used to place large latrine buckets outside each tent which you used if you needed the loo. The washing facility was a large metal-covered bench outside the tent with a couple of cold water taps. No hot water. There was a NAAFI - Stella beer I think it was that was sold. Good for a headache. We had a cinema which showed films twice a week I believe. The Regiment did put on a couple of shows themselves: 'Journeys End' was one and there was Lotto, or Housey, whatever they called it, once a week in the NAAFI at night with 10% I believe going to the PRI fund whatever that was. I never found out. We did have a football pitch and one or two games inter-Regiment were played but it was very sandy and tiring.
There were two shows for the troops put on at Haifa - Roger Livesey in one, and a classical concert another, but that was all. Prior to Christmas 1945 if off duty you could go, in groups, to Hadera. twenty minutes walk at night where you could buy a meal in a café (chiefly egg and chips) but if there were any Jewish families in there and you sat at the next table they would either move to another empty table or turn their chairs so they would all have their backs to you. I had nothing against anyone. I didn't particularly want to be in the Middle East but all these that were shunning you weren't refugees but had lived there all the time. But there was tension. One thing I will say is they were hard working and their kibutzim were very well cultivated. The poor old Arabs were still living in the same biblical way.
Christmas Day 1945 was a dismal day. The officers brought around tea at reveille, an army custom at Christmas. We had our Christmas Dinner, served by the officers and one or two incidents happened. Lots of the Regiment, a TA Regiment, had been in a long time, were married with familes and wanted to be home but if your demob group was over No.28 then you were liable to be sent anywhere. Anyway, with the unrest, the colonel closed the NAAFI. No alcohol.
If you weren't on duty you spent your afternoons lying on your bed. Normally every day after your breakfast, blankets were folded and kit laid out in a uniform way on your bed; tent walls were rolled up and weren't lowered until after afternoon tea, approximately 1730 hours. You were unlucky if you had been on an 8-hour night patrol as you were allowed to bed but had to try and sleep with the tent walls rolled up and all the noise of the camp.
But, after the New Year the troubles were getting worse in the country and we never went into Hadera; it was off limits so we were more or less confined to camp unless out on duty.
The Palestine Police were at Givat Olga Coast Guard Station during the day and 112 LAA sent a detachment and guarded it at night. Two signallers with a 22 set radio on the same network as the Royal Navy ship patrolling off the coast, divisional HQ and other sites, would be on the roof and had a long cold night with the wind blowing off the sea.
The Palestine Police had had some repairs done on the coast guard station by a local firm and at 2130 hours on 20th January 1946 the station blew up, killing one of the Regiment, Gunner W Herbert, and injuring 13 others. Evidently the builders had enclosed a delayed action bomb on some time fuse.
Also, on 12th January, one of the terrorist organisations, Haganah, Stern Gang or Irgun, derailed the train outside Hadera somewhere and stole £35,000. A lot of money in 1946. So road blocks were set up at nights on the main coastal road and all cars stopped and searched, also the male occupants. But not female passengers. They would get out of the car with long fur coats on which could have concealed small weapons or grenades but that was the rule which the officer in charge of the road block obeyed. It was winter and Palestinian nights used to get very cold with the wind blowing.
In addition, 24-hour mobile patrols were started, three 8-hour patrols, two jeeps, one officer, a wireless operator, two jeep drivers and a bren gunner. The hours: midnight - 8 am, 8 am - 4 pm and 4 pm until midnight. The area was north to Caesarea and south nearly to Nathanya (the diamond centre I believe it was). During the 8-hour patrol we used to come into Camp 71 for refreshments, tea, etc. It was in general a hectic life and we made our own amusements such as football with a tennis ball outside the tent.
One good thing was that between the coast road and the camp there was a large orange grove with lovely huge jaffas and grapefruit. They had an armed guard patrolling the grove with two mastiff-type dogs on chains. When we fancied some fruit we used to empty a kitbag and three of us would go to the edge of the grove when it was getting dusk, wait until the guard had passed by and then pick the best. You could eat the grapefruit just like an orange. The trade wasn't there so soon after the war and the oranges were packed into trailers and tipped into the deep storm water ditches to rot. You were allowed to send oranges home, up to 10 lb in weight, so we used to pick the best, not quite ripe, and make a small box, bind it with phone cable and send them home. Quite cheap the post and every pack I sent arrived safely despite the shortage of fruit. Praise to all the postal workers who ever handled them.
The Regiment did hold an inter-battery, RHQ, cross-country over safe ground, about 5 miles and all sandy land. I was entered compulsorily because I had won the Regimental mile in the Regimental sports in May 1944. I won First Prize, £1. Anyway, it was an afternoon race, 1400 hours, but I was on the 8-hour night patrol and asked if my shift could be changed but the signal's officer said, no, you have all morning to sleep which was hopeless with all the noise going on. So I went to bed at 0800 approx, up at midday for lunch and came 14th in the race.
It was a great pleasure to get detailed to get an outside run during the day to Jerusalem or Sarafand I think the camp was called. It broke the monotony. I used to also manage a trip to 6 Airborne HQ en route to Jerusalem where I had a pal who lived opposite me in Bristol.
I came home in May 1946 on B release, forfeiting about ten weeks leave but the Regiment wasn't the same with chaps being demobbed and the new post-war conscripts coming in and moaning about being there. That's life!
Letter and photocopies of photos from Mr V Emery, 18 November 2009.