My grandparents (both sadly no longer with us) spent a few years in Jerusalem at the end of the Second World War – a pivotal and challenging time in the history of this region.
Grandpa worked on the staff of the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and Granny worked at the school that was attached to St Georges’ Cathedral, teaching German.
On a recent trip to Jerusalem, I retraced some of their steps using a short memoir that I have, written by my Granny, documenting some of her experiences.
They were newly married when they ventured out to the Middle East. My Granny worked in the code and cipher centre at Bletchley Park during the war and so she had to join my Grandpa 18 months after he had started. She talks about waiting to get one of first crossings from Liverpool to Port Said after D-Day.
She then talks about having to take a train journey from Port Said to Jerusalem and being ordered to keep the windows closed in case thieves tried to jump in. From her description, I think Jerusalem has changed somewhat:
“Jerusalem in the 1940s possessed not a single high-rise structure, so it looked very different from the city of today. My first, and abiding, impression was of a place of dazzling white stone. There was a quality of light – vibrant, brilliant – that heightened this impression. There were still large unbuilt-up areas of olive groves and undeveloped waste ground all over the city, giving a feeling of spaciousness.”