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Oasis of the little Birds
Robert Harris, 5Fd Regt
An incident, extraordinary, occurred at Ruweisat Ridge. All German guns were silent for an hour. A flock of small birds suddenly descended and took over the gunpit for an hour. Normally one bird would be an uncommon sight in the desert. Here with a little license, I presume that they came from the legendary Oasis of the Birds, "Zerzoura" from Arab chronicle -
"There is an oasis surrounded by white walls, there is a gate with handles in the shape of a bird. Inside are palms and a Palace, inside the Palace, a King and Queen are asleep. There are many birds."
Always the same story is repeated by lost Arabs who survive to tell the tale, over the centuries. Some say it is a "wish" oasis, but those who survive never find the oasis again.
Always on the gunpit there is an observer with binoculars sweeping the skies. No one saw the flock, they descended suddenly from above, were very friendly, but you couldn't touch them. They took our water and crumbs and played around the gunpit for an hour, we were all dumb-founded.
They left us suddenly then the shelling started again!
The ridge was a hotly contested area as it had height. It all occurred before the Alamein battle.
We never really knew where they came from. They were all over the gun, the pit, the sandbagged walls and the ammunition. They's walk up to your mess tin and drink the water, you could almost touch them. If you tried they'd walk backwards away from you. Perhaps "Angels from Heaven"? Only Allah knows.
This article first appeared in a 5 Fd Regt Newsletter.
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