The Jilted Soldier in Jerusalem
By K.J.Stevens 1995
The war in Europe was over and we were stationed in the Syrian orphanage just outside Jerusalem. Having got through six years of wartime service without seeing any active service due to an injury to my feet I found myself in the middle of a little war against a completely different 'enemy' - the Jewish terrorist Organisations.
I had not been in the Middle East very long. Many of my Unit had been there much longer. The subject of this story - again I cannot recall his correct name so we will call him Pte Smith - had been out there for between two and three years. When he had left the U.K. he had proposed to his girlfriend whilst on embarkation leave and she had accepted. Throughout his time abroad he regularly wrote to her but the incoming mail was not so regular and as he said he sometimes went long periods without hearing from her and would then get two or three letters in one mail.
Now that the war in Europe was over the mail was much more regular - but strangely the frequency of her letters was getting longer and longer. Then it arrived - as it had arrived for so many servicemen abroad. The letter was short and to the point, it couldn't be put any other way 'Sorry Jack, I've been seeing this other fellow and we were married last Saturday'.
At first Pte Smith was shattered and speechless and if soldiers could cry he would no doubt have cried - but soldiers don't cry. He then became bitter that she could do this to him - then became angry and what he would do to her (and the other fellow if he could lay his hands on them.
After he had calmed down we sat in the barrack room talking to him and telling him that she could not have been worth it and all the other platitudes applicable in such a situation but which do not really help.
I then made a suggestion to him and as he listened to my proposal a malicious sort of wicked smile broke through the fury on his face. He thought my suggestion was great so every soldier present in the barrack room, together with a few from other barrack rooms, searched through their pockets, wallets or anywhere else they might find one or more photographs of past or present girlfriends whose photos they didn't particularly want to keep. I remember that one of the three that I contributed, was of a nurse whom I had met whilst a patient in Hounslow Barracks Hospital.
I've forgotten how many photos we finished up with but it was 'quite a collection'. Pte Smith then sat down and wrote a letter to his ex fianc?, put all the photos and the letter in an envelope and posted it off to her. The letter was polite, short and sweet - very sweet. All it said was 'Congratulations on your wedding and my best wishes for your future happiness. I expect you will want your photograph back but unfortunately I cannot remember which one it was. Please sort it out from the enclosed and return the remainder to me'.
I've often wondered at the look on her face when she received it - because of course he never did get them back!