The following is an extract published in a local paper of a letter my grandfather sent back from his posting in Jerusalem in WW1
Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser Thursday 25 April 1918
JERUSALEM THE OLDER
TROOPER W. H. L. WYATT’S DESCRIPTION
Mr. arid Mrs. W. G. A. Wyatt, of ‘Red Cliff.’ Apple Tree Creek have just received a very interesting letter from their son W.H.L Wyatt From Jerusalem, the following are extracts.
There is a modern and an ancient Jerusalem. The latter is surrounded by an immense high wall which needless to say is out of bounds for all troops unless escorted by some office and a guide. Quite right too because if the troops had the run of the old city, they would all be after souvenirs, and consequently loss and damage would be the result. Inside this old original Jerusalem, we found guards posted at all places, with fixed bayonets to ward off any too enthusiastic relic hunter. Well, I have been through it all, and I must say it is beautiful. I cannot explain all I saw, but I’ll try some. I took some photos of places pointed out to us as those connected with Christ’s crucifixion burial etc. The place where the angels rested is magnificent. There are all kinds of precious stones set big gold and silver chandelier. The best of marble and other stone that these places are built with are wonderfully beautiful. On Cavalry there is the bust of the Virgin Mary, set in a glass case. All the sides and back of it are made of gold and silver, and set with all sorts of valuable gems, and on fingers and round her neck are lovely rings, and all sorts of the best of jewels from parts of the world, having been placed there by wealthy people from the four quarters of the globe on their visits to the place. Everything is too lovely and, mysterious to me to explain it. There are David’s tomb, and Adam’s tomb. There are priests praying. Then there is the famous Mosque of Omar a Mohammedan church, built 1300 years ago. No Christians are allowed to enter. It is said that our present King George V. is the only Christian that was ever permitted to enter it, and that was when he was Prince of Wales. When Jerusalem was captured the doors of the Mosque were thrown open, but General Allenby refused to enter it or allow any of the soldiers to do so. There is however, a dark side of the old beautiful city. It is awfully filthy and simply alive with all sorts of diseases. Yes, the lepers are there to-day as they were in Christ’s time. It has often been described in my hearing as ‘rotten’. One has to be careful what one does in these parts generally. People can say what they like about France, but the soldiers there have no harder times than we have here. When the boys get their leave in France, they can go to civilization and enjoy themselves, here it takes all our spare time lousing ourselves, there is no end to lice— and yet this is the beautiful Holy land! I have seen the biggest part of it now, and I would exchange for France now, if I could get away. I have wondered why the people who for hundreds of years have been preaching about this land, have not tried to clean it up a bit. Taking it all through, it is a land of uncivilized, filthy shameless and diseased lot of wasters, and if it was any worse in the time of Christ, they must have been have been a fine lot!
Trooper Wyatt, who belongs to the camel corps now, (formerly of the Engineers) sends a number of photos and pictures of historic plans. He also sent a piece of aluminium from an aeroplane which he has converted into a photo frame, in a very artistic fashion. It depicts a horse’s head, with 5 L.H. then ‘Egypt 1917’, ‘Palestine .1918’