Tuesday, May 26, 2009

PDP #46: Day Guard at Lydda

Though I'll readily admit bias, I still don't think it changes anything when I say that my grandfather, Les Parkinson, led an uncommon life. Born in Seacombe in 1916, he joined the British Army in 1930 and managed to skip the Great Depression entirely by carrying the King's shilling in Malta, Egypt, and Palestine. I know the details because he wrote his memoirs in 1994, a book I plan to make available through this site on a Creative Commons license once all the stars are right.

In 1936 he carried a rifle with the 2nd Battallion of the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, raised in 1689 and which endured until its amalgamation into the new Mercian Regiment in 2007. During his deployment he was one of the men responsible for ensuring the security of Lydda (now Lod, Israel), a major railway junction in the British Mandate of Palestine. In his memoir, Me by Me: Memoirs of a Nobody, he described the duty as follows.

We were told that we were responsible for the safety and security of the railways. Lydda was one of Palestine's main junctions, just like Crewe was in England. I was posted to B Company. We learnt that there was to be a twenty-four hour guard on the railway station, the stockyards and the repair shops. Furthermore, every train that left Lydda would have guards aboard. The goods train had a machine gun guard located in the guards' van and two men on the footplate of the engine. The passenger train, the Golden Arrow, ran daily from Haifa to Jerusalem with a guard in the guards' van, a patrol patrolling the passenger coaches, and two more men on the footplate.

We used to volunteer for the train escorts, as it got us out of barracks and off night guards. I was for a while assigned to the night guard. These were scary, for we had to patrol around in the moonlight, clumping around in army boots on stones that advertised our whereabouts, and not knowing who to look for, Arab or Jew. We used to do two hours on patrol and four hours off, but as we had fourteen men on patrol, we left the station with fourteen men as the relief. We dropped two off and picked two up so that at all times we had fourteen men. The whole relief took half an hour for the round trip, and your "time off" was reduced by one hour each time.

This image is in the public domain because the Israeli Copyright law of 1911 section 21 (essentially the United Kingdom Copyright Act of 1911 as it was applied to the former British Mandate in Palestine), as amended to August 2005, specifies that:

1. Photographs become public domain 50 years after the photograph was developed from the negative.

2. Photographs taken by a public authority become public domain 50 years after the date of publication.


  1. "This image is in the public domain because the Israeli Copyright law of 1911 section 21 "
    I think I caught a typo, correction maybe:
    "This image is in the public domain because the Palestine Copyright law of 1911 section 21 ..."