- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Allan Stoddart
- Location of story:
- Egypt and Lebanon
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 30 November 2005
Advance party of wireless operators who manned the sets on the ships used in the invasion of Sicily. On leave from Port Tewfik - at the Pyramids at Giza. 3 June 1943 — prior to the invasion of Sicily. Allan Stoddart on right, on camel.
My uncle, Allan Stoddart died in 2004 leaving a widow, Jean with many happy memories and a collection of war time letters he had written, some photographs, diaries and memorabilia. Allan had wanted to tell his story and maybe he did tell some of it but it was never recorded. Jean has given me his letters and so far I have transcribed those written to my parents, Florence and Bill and a few to Allan’s mother. Using extracts from some of the letters, photographs and memorabilia and information from diaries, a small glimpse of his story is now told. Jean and I understand the site’s terms and conditions.
Allan enlisted in Dundee in January 1940 and was UK based until he sailed on the troop ship, S.S. Almanzora with the 5th Division Signals to India in March 1942. Over the next 3 years, the war took him from India to Iraq, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sicily (landings), Italy (including Anzio), Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Palestine, Italy, Palestine, Italy, (home leave), Belgium, Germany. The 5th Division moved about so much they were nicknamed the “Cooks Tour Mob”.
When Allan wrote this letter to my parents, he was in Sicily. What he writes about is the magnificent scenery of Lebanon which he visited earlier in that year while based in Syria. None of Allan’s letters home ever described the horrors of war. On 9 October 1943, Allan sailed on a naval ship from Syracuse, Sicily to the port of Taranto, on the mainland of Italy.
Sigmn Stoddart A
5th British Div. Signals,
29 July 1943
Dear Florence and Bill,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In my recent letters home. I have been able to mention various places visited since leaving home. These will perhaps interest you and may solve any doubts you have regarding my whereabouts. I had the pleasure of visiting Cairo some time ago and have a good souvenir snap taken at the Pyramids. It was there (in Cairo I mean) that I bought the books for Malcolm. Some time ago also I wrote that I had been on leave. This leave I spent in Beirut, which is a large, fairly modern city and like Damascus (which I have also visited) very much in the French style. The scenery in the Lebanon country is magnificent, and when I say “magnificent” I mean it in the true sense of the word. “The cedars of Lebanon” are no myth of bygone days. They exist and exist in surroundings of real mountain beauty. Not like Persia where the mountains seemed often drab unless the sun or the snow or both could lend colour to them. But in Lebanon there was that contrast of white snow clad hills against a background of blue sky and below beyond the slopes of wooded and fertile country — was the Mediterranean, a Mediterranean which is “blue”. And from the heights the beaches are a vivid orange colour. The view I had of the Med. from the mountainous background of Lebanon is something I won’t ever forget, and believe me, it’s worth going there to see. It is hard for a person living at home to realise how vivid the colour scheme of things can be. At least I speak for myself because I often used to criticise films I had seen in Technicolours, and consider them as being hopelessly exaggerated. But I would not criticise now having seen such places as the one I have just tried to describe. If you can add the vividness of Technicolour to it, then you have an unexaggerated picture and if you take away that vividness then you take away what makes it so different from anything we see at home.
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