A visit to the Military Police Barracks

Posted: June 2, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

We are still getting weather much over 100 degrees in the shade. I think another Rhamseen is working up. Sunday afternoon Kinnish, Fisher, and I went over to Heliopolis, and then took the car to Cairo. It is much nicer driving to Heliopolis in a garish, and tramming it the rest of the way, than taking the train direct to Cairo. Went out to the Chezireh Palace Hotel; it used to be the Sultan’s Palace, was turned into a hotel, and is now used as a hospital. It is built on an island “Rodih Island” in the middle of the Nile in Cairo. It is a fine big place, but we didn’t know any of the patients, so didn’t stay long. As it was hot in the town we went to the Esbekia Gardens and sat and watched the crowd, and listened to a concert given by a Military Band.

The crowd is very interesting to watch – all nationalities and colours. The women are gaily dressed. It is wonderful to watch the effect of the Marseillais, and the Italian National Anthem on the people of the respective nationalities.

Monday afternoon I was detailed as escort to some patients. I had to bring them from the Palace Hotel to this camp. It was awfully hot and I had to walk into Heliopolis and back – about four miles across the desert. I was about four hours on the job. The patients didn’t half snort either. When I had finished with them – about 6.30 – I caught the train to Cairo and met Guy Fisher at the Grand Continental Hotel, where we had dinner. It was a very nice dinner, and as we had it on the piazza it was doubly nice. After dinner we went round to the Egyptian Café. There is a very fine Hungarian Orchestra there, and we stayed until we were kicked out by a picquet. After our unceremonious ejection from there, we wandered round to the Kursaal. It wasn’t half a bad programme – all the singing was in French though, of course. At half time we did a lap into the Abbes des Roses, and at the conclusion of the Kursaal programme, we went back there. We had no sooner settled ourselves when another picquet arrived and arrested us this time. We both protested but it was no good, and we were marched off under escort – it was about 12.30 by now. We were taken to a Military Police Barracks. This night apparently a big raid had been planned – there were dozens of prisoners and scores of picquets there. Whilst we were waiting our turn, I saw an Officer and pitched a tale to him about being convalescent patients staying with friends at the Heliopolis House Hotel, we had leave for several days, and didn’t know anything about being out after 10p.m. Also our condition would not stand the strain of a night in clingue, besides he had to think of the mental state our friends would be in etc. etc. He didn’t know what to do, but in the end told us to march out with a picquet. We caught the nearest motor car and flew for Zeitoun, arriving about 2a.m.

The Barracks are awful places, on this particular night they were crowded with men, half of them drunk.  All your valuables are taken away and very seldom returned, you get no meals, and you have to wait there until an escort comes to release you from the unit you are attached to.

Today is pay day, and I am orderly Corporal. Everyone has cleared out, and I have the camp practically to myself. It is still very hot. Yesterday Guy Fisher and I got so sick of the camp that we cleared out again and had a delicious tea in Cairo. I have nearly all my meals in Cairo now – can’t come at the camp tucker this weather. We went to Groppis again. We had iced water, cakes, and strawberries and cream; after we went into the Fabekia Gardens and lay on the lawns in the shade, it was very nice and cool. Another quiet dinner under some gum trees, and we went home.

There are quite a number of gum trees here, in places there are thick groves of them, and it looks quite homelike. They are planted as preventatives for fever. Just now all the farmers, or fellahs, are winnowing, or perhaps it could be correctly described as thrashing their corn. They have a circular piece of ground well cleaned, and about 20 or 30 feet in circumference. The corn is thrown on to the cleared patch and a sledge drawn by a donkey or other domestic animal driven over it. The husks are smashed up, and the chaff is thrown into the centre, the wind blowing the chaff away. The sledge is just a wooden affair with a seat in the centre for the driver.

It was rather funny tonight, a parade was called for 7a.m. Our Company had all cleared out. We mustered eight Officers and four men, out of 120 men. The Company next to us got 12 Officers and twenty men, out of 260 men.

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