Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Peace in Palestine

Wednesday 30th October 1918

The armistice with the forces of the Ottoman Empire has taken effect. The Turks have laid down their arms and, in a slightly disbelieving voice the adjutant of 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, currently at a place called El Hadeth near Beirut, simply said "Our war is over". The battalion will take part in a ceremonial entry into Beirut tomorrow. 

This battalion has been fighting the Turks since late 1915 when they were landed at Gallipoli. They were evacuated to Egypt and, with 54th (East Anglian) Division marched along the Mediterranean coast, through the Sinai peninsula and fought their way up through Palestine to reach their current location. 

It has been a very different war to that here on the Western Front, hotter, more mobile, more flies, more stomach troubles, more fear of the local wildlife, such as scorpions but, it seems, ultimately less bloody. The hard fighting has come, the adjutant reflected, at greater intervals than it has in France and Belgium though when it has come, as at Gallipoli, it has been grim indeed. 

On this day, it seems only right to pause and remember the individual cost of war. My colleagues at The Bedfordshire Times reports on a military funeral at home. Lance Sergeant Arthur Gentle of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment died at his home in Beeston Green, near Sandy on 18th October and was given a funeral at Sandy with full military honours.

"Full military honours were given to Sergeant A Gentle. The body was conveyed from Chelsea and arrived at his home on Beeston Green on Tuesday. The funeral took place today, when detachments from the 2nd Beds and the Royal Engineers (Signal Depot), with a gun carriage drawn by six black horses, arrived at the home. The coffin, covered with a Union Jack and floral tributes, was conveyed via Girtford Bridge and the High Street, to the parish church and met by Canon A Sloman. The path from the churchyard gate was lined by the Parish Council and the firing party. The Union Jack floated half-mast from the church tower. Whilst the large congregation were being seated the organist, Mrs Kempe, played "O rest in the Lord". The choir consisted of men from the Royal Engineers stationed at Sandy and the hymns "Nearer my God to Thee" and "Peace, Perfect Peace" were sung. The bearers consisted of six men of the 2nd Beds Regiment. En-route from Beeson Green to the cemetery blinds were drawn in all windows. At the cemetery the paths were again lined by the military and civilians. After the committal the firing party fired three volleys and Trumpeter S E Russell gave the Last Post".

Bedfordshire Times 1st November 1918

Source: X550/6/8

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