WWII, Winter, Syria and Lebanon

Colonel Gee, Syria

Some years ago I scanned hundreds of photos from an album my father brought back from the Middle East in 1942.  The original snaps are small, about 2″ x 3″, so I’m fascinated by the detail I now see in these scanned and enlarged photos, such as the people on the right in the image above. The caption for this picture says “Col. Gee, Syria”. Nothing about the other guy. However, it’s uncertain whether it was taken in Syria or Lebanon. The photo below, the ski school for the soldiers, is marked as located in Syria when in fact it was in Lebanon.

Australian Army ski school,  Lebanon, 1942

Easy mistake to make, since the Australian soldiers were sent to train in Syria in the winter of 1941/42, but from there they went to Lebanon to train to fight in snow country. A disused chalet near Bcharre in the Lebanon ranges was turned into a ski school. It was pretty hard on the Australians, used to extreme heat but not extreme cold.

So much snow. The magnificent cedars of Lebanon form the only contrast in this black and white image.


Weekly photo challenges: Happy & Animals

Today there are two photo challenges that I can meet with one photo:  the weekly WordPress challenge to find a Happy photo, and Ailsa’s challenge to show animal photos.  She has posted some excellent animal snaps to celebrate World Animal Day on 4th October:  http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/10/05/travel-theme-animals/

My picture does for both challenges.  It comes from an album of WWII photos that my father brought home in 1941.  Beneath this one he wrote ‘Syrian Bint’.  The dictionary tells me that ‘bint’ is colloquial and perhaps offensive, but then, its origin is Arabic, meaning girl or daughter.  So I’ll leave it as it is.

She’s beautiful.

Syrian bint, c 1941

Weekly photo challenge: Dreaming

The weekly photo challenge instruction is “Share a photo that makes you dream”.  When I look at news footage of Syria these days, I wonder if it will ever again look like it does in this photo from 1942.  Let’s dream it can be this peaceful some day.  Soon.

The 2/15th battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces, which my father was a part of, went to Syria in January 1942 for several months of frontier garrison duty.  I have several photos of the region from his album, but the Biblical tone of this one makes it the best.  Click it to see the detail.

Syria 1942