A trip to the Dead Sea and Jerash


"We left for Transjordan and this meant crossing the Allenby Bridge. We diverted there to the Dead Sea and that was my first glimpse of the Dead Sea. And I can remember its tremendous buoyancy and the fact that if you dived into it you would probably break your neck. Why we were there to seek water, because you couldn't drink the stuff, I'm not quite sure. But then you didn't question your superiors.

It is the lowest sea on the planet. And of course to get down there you climb down; and you've got to climb back. It was so hot that all the jeeps boiled before we got to the top. And then we went into Jordan to get the priority warrants that would allow us to go into these places and so we finished up after a very difficult journey - tracks, there were no roads, and we missed them many times because the maps weren't good, to El Jerash. And it was fortunate that we took a very good supply of spare wheels, tubes and everything else because we were constantly repairing tyres on the trailers and on the jeeps.

El Jerash, by the time we got there - a Roman city - the remarkable thing is how distant it was from what we know now as civilization and the marvellous construction of it was obvious, as it was still remaining.

One thing in particular was the way they designed their bathing facilities using a stream which came down from the mountains and so siting it and taking it off and forming this beautiful pool place so that it was constantly cool. The wind was taken through and over the water and it was this lovely cool place as well as somewhere where you could bathe. We met the local Arabs and the leaders there and they were very surprised to see us as we were the first troops to enter that area since the beginning of the war.

The other thing about it was on the way up we actually crossed the railway that Lawrence of Arabia blew up many times and you could still see parts of the track were still there, rusting, you could see where he went. Most of his books I had read and was amazed to see, to witness this, and the area in which he carried out his part in the first World War."

Tony Lycett, 20th July 2010

(By the time they rejoined Brigade it had moved to farm buildings in Galilee where they were able to enjoy fresh produce including game such as locally-shot snipe. It made a welcome change from heating up tinned rations on engine manifolds prior to a halt.)