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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