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15 October 2014
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Chapter 10: A wedding and some funerals

by CSV Media NI

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Archive List > Books > Alex Dickson - Memoirs

Contributed by 
CSV Media NI
People in story: 
Alex Dickson, Gisela Roas Frey, Menachem Begin
Location of story: 
King David Hotel, Tel Aviv, Palestine
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A8967036
Contributed on: 
30 January 2006

Alex and Gisela

I had been quite friendly with this WAAF that I had met and we had got engaged in March and then I had applied for permission to get married although I had been informed that they very seldom gave an officer permission to get married when he was serving overseas, unless it was to a British Subject. Well within a week or two of my application going in it was turned down but then they apparently did some- thing which they normally do in these circumstances they sent me a posting, posting me out of the area so that I wouldn't be anywhere near were this girl was. The posting was a posting, which in normal circumstances I would have given my right arm to get. It was posting me to Cape Town in South Africa as a native recruiting officer.

so I took this to the Colonel and showed it to him and he said, "Good God Alex that so as you can't get married,"

I said, "I know Sir."

He had met my wife actually at functions and thought she was a lovely girl. "Oh well," he said, "We can't have that,"

so he wrote and told them that I was doing a most important job and that he had no one to take my place and I certainly could not be posted. So he got me out of it and this went on and on and I knew about September of that year I would be due for release and if I wasn't married before then I would have to go home without my girl-friend.

So I read books and read books and studied everything I could think off nobody could give me any ideas, but I discovered that under British law a British Consul or a District Commissioner could marry any British subject. So I took a day off and went into Cairo to the British Consul told him I wanted him to publish my banns. He immediately said, "No you can't unless you have Army permission."

I said, "well I haven't got Army permission,"

"Oh well that's it I can't publish your banns."

I said, "I'm sorry Sir, your breaking the law, I'm not here as an Army Officer, I'm here as a British civilian and it is your duty to do this."

"God, oh God," he said, "You've been reading,"

I said, "Yes".

So it was agreed he would publish the banns. Then I had to arrange to do the same thing with the District Commissioner in Jaffa, Palestine, so I had to arrange to be sent on a duty to Palestine as you couldn't go on leave and I did exactly the same with the District Commissioner in Jaffa, he tried the same thing, I couldn't get married without Army permission until I told him I knew the law and if I was married as a British civilian he would have to do the marriage, which was agreed.

A week or two later they both had to report the fact to Army HQ that I had forced them to issue the thing for my marriage and that I intended to get married without permission. I had the most unusual letter, I'm sorry I haven't kept it, it was from the Chaplain General to the Forces and it stated that he had been informed that it was my intention to have a civil wedding without Army permission and that he was pointing out that under Army rules and regulations I must not get married without Army permission.

I knew then that this was a written order, if I went ahead I would be court marshalled but it was coming near the end of my service time so I arranged with the Colonel to arrange a duty for me, taking another couple of hundred prisoners up to Palestine, it was an awful job, I was one who did it quite frequently, but it wasn't a popular job, you always took them by Egyptian trains. It was usually 200 prisoners being moved from Egypt to Pales- tine and the only escort was one young officer, usually me, and one corporal. You had to take them to the railway station, get them into so many carriages of an ordinary Egyptian train and only the two of us in charge of them until we got to Palestine which was a long long journey, then we would hand them over to whichever camp we were going to and I would try and get a few days off, you know.

So I arranged this and arranged a date for my wedding, which would tie in with it. I got to Palestine handed them over at Lydda and then disappeared. I managed to get to Jaffa and book in a wee Arab hotel, because at that time Tel Aviv was out of bounds to British troops, there was a lot of civil trouble and the Jewish terrorists were kidnapping young Officers and Sergeants and hanging them things like that.

So I went to the Arab part of Jaffa and booked into a wee small hotel and then phoned my wife to be and told her where I was and told her that the wedding was at 11.00 am the next morning at the District Commissioner's office.

So the wedding went off alright I had a lovely armed guard surrounding the Commissioner's Office, the Ghurkha Rifles, so I was quite safe in there.

After the wedding we had a quick reception with her foster parents. I asked them where was a safe place to go and they said because of the troubles they thought the King David Hotel in Jerusalem would be a very safe place because it was owned by American Jews and they didn't think the terrorists would touch it.

We made our way to the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and when I got there the first two floors had been taken over by the Army as Headquarters but the rest of the hotel was a hotel. So I booked in, the wedding was on the 10 July 1946 and I booked into the King David Hotel on 10 July 1946

now I had told my CO Major Crabtree where I would be if he needed me, he had a good idea what I intended doing, and he said if there was anything urgent that cropped up he would phone me and if he phoned me, come back immediately.

Well on the 13 July he phoned me and said I was down for an urgent duty and that I would have to come back immediately, so I arranged to be checked out, I went back to Egypt and my wife who had now been demobbed and was living and working in Tel Aviv went back there.

About a week later the hotel was blown sky high by Jewish terrorists and there were 91 people killed so in actual fact that phone call probably saved both our lives. The most amazing thing I find hard to understand was the leader of the gang that blew up the King David Hotel was called BEGIN who later became the first Prime Minister of Israel, so it makes you think.

However, that was it I was back in Egypt and my wife was in Tel Aviv and we didn't see each other until September and time for my release. I had notified the Army that I had changed my next-of-kin although my CO told me I would be court marshalled if I did, so they knew I was married I had notified them that I had a wife.

When it came near my time for release I wrote and asked that my wife should go back on the same troop ship as I was going on and eventually I got a most amazing a warrant sent to me to take me to Tel Aviv and a written order saying that Lieutenant Dickson was to travel to Tel Aviv to 12 News Ziona Street and collect a Mrs Dickson and provide her with an armed escort back to Ismalia to a women's transit camp, no mention that it was my wife or anything.

So on the date stated went and collected my wife, brought her back to Ismalia and we were both put into this women's transit camp for a few weeks until the troop ship that was to take us back was due.

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