Oldfield letter: 18.10.38

A note on the letters. The transcripts may include abbreviations or spelling inconsistencies and errors. We have chosen to transcribe the letters as they appear so that they are an accurate reflection of John Oldfield’s style and personality. We have also included his original page numbering. Where language is used that we would deem offensive, those words have been replaced with XXX.

W.A.Oldfield Esq. 1st Bn. The Green Howards
Sandsend                                                                                                                        Nablus
Nr. Whitby
Sunday 18. 10. 38.

My dear Mum, Daddy & J,
Just a line to let you know where we are, we arrived in Haifa on Friday night at about 6.30pm. and spent the night in the ship while all the luggage & stores were unloaded. Early on Saturday morning we disembarked and marched to the Station Square where we waited about 2 ½ hours for the busses to arrive to take us 70 odd miles to NABLUS. Up till late the night before we were under orders to go to Jaffa – this was suddenly changed to Nablus – an Arab city of about 20,000 up in the hills. The journey up here was fortunately uneventful, but several of the convoys who have come up here lately have been sniped at – but very little damage has been done. There are 3 Bns. Here, although it is only a small place, and one more Corp. (of the Irish Fusiliers – who left Malta with us) are due up to-day. From what everyone says who have been billets & posted here for the last few weeks, things have quietened down a lot this last week and they are hoping that the place is going to settle down a bit now. Only a small percentage of the Arab population are actively hostile in Palestine, but appear to have considerable influence and power over the rest.

As soon as we arrived, we (the officers) went to various places to have a meal. I went in a party of 7
2, to dine with the officers of the Leicesters who are billeted in the local Law Courts and seem quite comfortable. We – B. Corp – are billeted temporarily in a three story house on the high side of the town just near Bde. H.Q, but are being moved on Tuesday to an Arabs house along the hill – just overlooking the officers Mess & Bn. H.Q. this new place sounds much better and from all accounts seems in the way of being a sort of mansion, which is more than this is. Although this is 10 times better then at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, and is more or less habitable now. When we got here it was in a terrible state, with all manner of filth lying deep all over. We have a room at the top of the house overlooking the valley, I am sharing it with the other 2 Junior Officers – Derry Radcliffe (who was a Senior in 3 Corp. when I was a Junior) and Fay from the university who joined at the same time as I did, Captain Herbert, our Corp. Comdr. Is in the room next door.

The climate here is quite pleasant while being up in the hills, though it gets very hot at midday & in the afternoon. The country is very hilly, with rocks and clay, though there are some trees which are green , and a few orange groves. The oranges too, are still green unfortunately ! but should be ripe by the end of next month. The Arabs will be kept fairly busy then, picking and packing them up.

We have to go round armed and there must never be less than two of you together to go anywhere
3, outside the building. Curfew is or should be observed from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. of a morning and Arabs are to be in their houses between those hours. If they are found out during that period they are for the high jump.

An R.A.S.C. Officer who came up this morning enquiring about sanitary arrangements and supply of wood work for the Thunder boxes said he thought we might get home in April next year providing all goes well. But he didn’t profess to know and you can never tell when you’ll get back and so we can only wait and see.

Just heard they’re collecting the post – so will stop – write to me – still G.H- Palestine the best I think.
All my love, dears,
Yrs Ever