February 25th-March 30th We soon settle down to life in Lebanon, far away from the heat and noise of the battle, and we are now part of the 9th Army, which seems to exist only on paper. What is the country like? We are situated in the Coele Plain not far from the Dejeide Gap where the plain narrows between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon. We are on a slope leading up to some foothills of the Anti-Lebanons. To our West are the snow covered caps of the main Lebanon Range, while to the North and South the plain broadens out in the direction of Mt. Hermon and Homs. It is the Winter season and the scene is very bleak, and only around the villages do you find any Green, and as yet very little of that. The rest of the country is hard rock with a very thin soil covering, and here and there icy cold mountain springs come to the surface. The people here are of Arab extraction, whilst the Lebanese proper have some French blood in them. They are much cleaner in their ways than their Egyptian brothers. They live in White painted flat roofed houses, and draw their water from the village wells. The children are as a rule very pretty with their dark eyes and hair. Some of the older ones who go to school speak both Arabic and French. The people here are mixed as far as their religion goes. One village is Christian, the next Moslem. In the camp we have a Fig orchard, but there are no Figs yet. We spend the time doing parades, rifle, and marching drill, lectures etc. We start some local survey with new American instruments. Almost every day it rains. March 27th it is the first anniversary of the fall of Keren. We commence the operation of building a Nissen hut.
April 1st-30th April Fools Day, the guard has us all out of bed an hour before time, and kits etc are found nailed to the floorboards. I go out on survey with Captain Balfour. We climb to Fake, from where we obtain a magnificent view of the Coele Syrian Plain. We return and do GS 50 form all day. Easter Sunday, the local people of Ras Baalbeck are dressed up in their finery for Easter services, but news from the Pacific is not so good.
April 11th We have some local sports and I win the obstacle race.
April 12th Pay a visit to the village of Fake, which boasts a magnificent church built in concrete.
April 24th Paid a visit to the town of Nebek some 40 miles from Baalbeck, across the mountains and we make the journey in the PU, and arrive after a very hectic journey at the Danish hospital at Nebek where the driver has some friends. We are given tea by the Matron and later inspect the hospital. We travelled back at 18-00 hrs crossing the country between the Two main roads and so saving time, arriving back at21-00 hrs.
April 25th Our pet cat Capuzzo gave birth to 6 kittens this morning, great joy in the camp, and a steady of visitors pass into the shed all day. At last she grows annoyed and hides her precious litter.
April 26th Had to pay a visit to the field Dentist, and he relieves me of my pain.
April 27th Survey scheme starts today. We are to do a detailed plane table survey of some Forty square miles and to produce a map from the results. It is very warm now and we are wearing KD. We spend the first day looking for French Trigs, and building Cairns of stones, which we whitewash, so that they will be easily observed. We also have a SR scheme, and have the HQ situated near a stream. The trees are now in leaf. The recorder refuses to work (probably tired after running non stop for Eight months in Tobruck,) and we spend the time bathing in the stream, but at night the Mosquitoes come out in their thousands, and can they bite. We try to dig a hole for sanitary purposes and resort to using gelatine. Having lit a bonfire underneath it goes up with a terrific roar and blows out a couple of small rocks. The temperature is now 106º in the shade
The news about the great sea battles in the Pacific cheers us up, and the first heavy air raids on Germany. In the desert the Germans have pushed us back again. Will we never get through to Tripoli. I make friends with an Arab family in Ras Baalbeck, who have Two Sons and One Daughter, they regale me every evening with supper and hot sweet coffee. Today we drown Three of Capuzzo’s Kittens as she can’t feed them all.
April 28th The Germans are some 43 miles from Tobruck. We retreat from Burma into India. German counter attacks in Russia meet with success. Rommel launches Two thrusts against the 8th Army, one a frontal attack at Gazala, the other a flank attack against our left flank 40 miles SW of Gazala. So far they are being held. The survey scheme goes ahead.