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Gordon Skea

 

When will mankind ever learn?

In the year of 1938, when I had reached the age of 18, I was handed a rifle, bayonet, seventy-five rounds of 303 ammunition and a full pack, from HMS Repulse lying in Haifa harbour, Palestine as it was known then.
The ship was sent to help the army to quell any differences between the Arab and the Jew.

A bomb was detonated in the Arab market about 7.30am killing many traders and shoppers and it wasn't long before all landing parties formed-up to embark on army trucks to tour the area and see that the curfew which had been imposed was strictly kept by Arab and Jew.
The Jewish terrorists at that time were the Ergon Zvi Leomi, The Stern Gang, and the Hagana, and which of them planted the bomb is anyone's guess.
One of the incidents which sticks in my mind is of a young heavily bandaged Arab who was stopped by a Palestine policeman, as he was passing and obviously in great pain.
The policeman had stopped us to ask if the curfew was still in force, speaking to the Arab in his own tongue. He then roughly tore at the Arab's bandage to see for himself if he was speaking the truth. He then hit the arab across his lower back, saying in English: "That's the only language these blighters understand". Although most of the dialogue was in Arabic we could follow the discussion, which infuriated all of us.
One of the lads even went so far as to put a round up the spout and would have shot the policeman there and then, but our army driver seeing what was about to happen, put his foot down and roared off, preventing what could have been a very nasty incident.
Even after all of these years, the attitudes between Arab and Jew are if anything worse and the fighting still goes on. And in Northern Ireland too Catholic and Protestant are knocking hell out of each other proving what?
All over the world different beliefs are at each other's throats, politicians and religious leaders being powerless to prevent any friction between them.
Does one ever see a half-starved politician or religious leader? for starvation is rife in some countries. Another case of I'm all right Jack. I joined-up in 1937 and saw action in the South and North Atlantic, Norway, Holland, Malta convoys, Greece, Crete, Matapan, Tobruk and was a survivor twice ... Lucky? I suppose so! at least I came back in one piece.
At 83, thank heaven, I'm on the way out, but I often ask myself was it all worth it? Will man ever learn? The stupid sods.
There is none so blind as those who don't wish to see and none so deaf as those who don't wish to hear.

Yes much is to be lain at religion's door.

Gordon Skea.

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