14908385 Pte Desmond Le Pard of A Coy, 17th Battalion Parachute Regiment, M.E.F. is now in Palestine. He’s never been abroad before and, at not quite 20, is wide eyed and restless. His training has prepared him for an assault, first on Germany and then on Japan but the Second World War has come to something of a rapid conclusion, at least for Des. He is a Para and a peacekeeper, which is somewhat oxymoronic for a trained fighter. He himself says, in one of his letters, he is a policeman and we know that job is more than subtlety different from an elite fighter.
I have posted his April and early May letters under the ‘Dad letters; Dad in Palestine 1946/47’. These are copies of the originals and I hope you can read them well enough.
His letters are a mix of:
- the mundane – the tedium of the false alarms, reacting instantly to a bugle call;
- the latent and oft expressed homesickness – manifesting itself in his desperation for news from home, however routine;
- the bravado – wanting to have fun, to enjoy the show (all of which refers to fighting);
- unpleasant and racist language reflecting the time and attitudes prevailing in the beleaguered forces; and
- the camaraderie – references to Bert and Taffy and Jonny and Ginger.
There are details of the day to day existence, the occasional skirmish, the anger at each terrorist atrocity or, in one case, a hand to hand fight with some Jewish youths. There is no obvious recognition of any other point of view – in the May letter he goes to a talk and hears a speaker who has lost his arm from a fight with the British – this evinces a reaction but it is not sympathy for the injury, but annoyance that he is listening to someone who may have been involved killing some Paras.
I hope you enjoy these insights into the time and mood; it’s one eyed, naturally, but I think fascinating. Please let me know what you think.
I have also included some original poems and a piece of prose writing from his period before the journey to Palestine under ‘Dad’s Poems’ . Again I hope you enjoy this.