afsfoundation low

Log in

Search results (6305)

A Rendezvous With Death

Our first day ashore, we were worried about the battle at El Alamein. We had been told, as we sailed up the Red Sea in the HMT [His Majesty's Transport] Aquitania with 7000 U.S. troops, that the Battle of El Alamein was in progress, and the German Army was threatening Cairo. The rumor was: "Our destination, Port Tufig, is in flames!" (Not true). We were not allowed out on deck without a tin hat, but these had not yet been issued to us. In this photo, Dick Stockton (facing the camera with a worried look) was a section leader. He was later killed in action. Charlie Pierce (behind the magazine) later became an officer of our C Platoon. John Barhydt is reading about the on-going Battle of El Alamein in The Egyptian Mail. We didn’t know then that this battle would be a victory for Montgomery’s Eighth Army and a turning point for the Allies. Location: El Tahag Mobilization Camp, Egypt.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

"It Never Rains in the Desert" ...Major Shaffer

This was our most memorable quote from Major Shaffer who ordered us to spread out our kits on the sand for inspection as dark clouds were threatening overhead. In memory of this baptism on our second day in Egypt, we echoed his words at many a platoon celebration over the next 60 years. Location: El Tahag Mobilization Camp, Egypt.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Quiet After the Battle of El Alamein

On leave, I had this view from my bedroom window, and a leisurely breakfast served at this table. Contemplating this scene, I wondered what kind of power could those Pharaohs have had that allowed them to force so many subjects or slaves to cut, haul and stack so many huge stone blocks just to make one man’s memorial pyramid-tomb? How did they manage to stay in power so many centuries? Location: Mena House, near Cairo, Egypt.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

AFS Volunteers, Off Duty

The AFS Headquarters was in Baalbek, where we had to come for orientation, training in vehicle maintenance, inspections, repairs, rations, and re-assignments. AFS Volunteer George Collins, who later became Professor of Art History at Columbia University, filled us in on the history of the Baal religion and of these ruins dating from the first millennium BC. Allegedly, during the celebrations of puberty (Spring Break?), naked young men and women worshipped at the temple of the Sun God, got drunk at the temple of Bacchus, and wound up at the temple of Venus to make love. Location: Baalbek Temple Ruins, Lebanon.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

At the Suq, Many Cultures

Arab Bedouins, British Soldiers, French Engineers, Christian Women, Jewish Tradesmen, Danish missionaries, and many others, all had business in the Suq. They all lived and worked together in relative peace after the War shifted to North Africa. Location: Baalbek, Lebanon.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Friendly Lebanese Woman

In those days, both Muslim and Christian women could be seen on the street without a veil. I’m told that the practice of women wearing the veil started in the early Christian culture of this region, and was later taken up by the Muslims. Location: Baalbek, Lebanon.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Baby Brother

Families were large. At that time, the population of Lebanon was about 50 – 50, Muslim and Christian; but the Muslims evidently had more children. This may have been a factor leading to the terrible communal strife that tore Beirut apart 25 years later. Location: Baalbek, Lebanon.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

AFS Ambulances

We were assigned to various clinics and hospitals throughout the Middle East and came in to HQ [Headquarters] for a few days each month. While in Baalbek, we were billeted in the Gouroud Barracks, previously occupied by the French Foreign Legion. The barracks were very cold in winter with no heat, and barely sanitary. Also billeted there were Senegalese troops. In the afternoons, they played soccer; the winning team got the privilege of guard duty that night. They loved to carry a gun and challenge us as we came to the gate. Location: AFS HQ [American Field Service Headquarters], Baalbek, Lebanon, Winter.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Weavers

In the Suq, they sell, make, or fix anything. It’s a good place to sit and talk in almost any language. One Arab rug merchant explained to me in Spanish that a man who speaks only one language is only worth one man, but a man who speaks two languages is worth ten men. However, he said a man who speaks three languages is as valuable as a whole platoon, and a man who speaks five languages is better than a whole army. Location: The Suq, Damascus, Syria.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Farm Village

These windowless adobe mud buildings were used for human habitation and for storing farm produce. However, when the heavy rains come, they often collapse. I’ve heard that building a very hot fire inside turns the clay to ceramic and makes them last better. Location: Between Hama and Homs, Syria.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Their First Steam Roller

We lived in a nice stone house here in Selemiye on the edge of the Syrian Desert. The roads were unpaved and when it rained, the mud was terrible. Our team was one of the Hadfield-Spears Mobile Clinics of Syria, run by the British Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). Our team consisted of: Dr. Saleman, a Jebel Druz Arab Physician trained at the American University of Beirut Medical School; Bahjat, our Arab Interpreter, Corporal in the British Army, a British Citizen because he had been born in the British Embassy where his parents lived and worked; One or two health workers, members of the British FAU; and Three or four AFS Volunteer Drivers in training, like myself, with our ambulances. Our assignment was to bring mobile medical clinics to the Arabs living in nearby villages and to the Bedouins living in goat hair tents in the Syrian/Iraqi Desert, to treat them (especially for malaria) and to vaccinate them against Smallpox. I learned to speak some Arabic and learned about the culture. We had some extraordinary experiences! Location: Selemiye, Syria.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver

Our Thanksgiving Dinner

I cooked the two turkeys that we had been fattening up in our courtyard; but when I slaughtered them, I didn’t say "Allah-o-Akhbar" as Bahjat had requested. Because of this, he declined to come to dinner with us. The Emir and his son, however, were too polite to ask; Dr. Saleman pretended not to care. It was a major faux pas on my part, but I was young and learning. We had a jolly dinner with wine and all, in spite of my goof. Location: Our house in Selemiye, Syria.
  • Creator: Cobb, John Candler, II, 1919-
  • Category of People: WWII Driver