Volume 1: Letters written on active service, A-L, 1914-1919 - Page 163
We get on very well with the local inhabitants which are mostly Syrians, & a few speak a little English which they learned at the American Colleges in Beirout in pre war days.
Of course there are all classes of people here, and some are highly educated & as white in the skin as anybody.
But the condition of the populace in general is deplorable, they are literally starving & devoid of clothes. We have read in the papers of the sufferings of the people of Syria & Palestine & the want of relief, but one has only to go to any village to see even children dead on the roadside. Died of starvation & cold.
The British government is feeding probably today more people in Syria & Palestine than there are soldiers here, & that amounts to some tens of thousands.
Thousands of people are absolutely destitute & it is heart breaking to see both young & old on the roadside begging for food. Many a time I have given my rations to little children on the roadside to save them from dying there and then.
I am sure if the people of Australia could only see the conditions prevailing here in Syria at the present time they would contribute liberally to relieve these poor unfortunate people, in providing food & clothing for them.
And yet in the midst of all the misery & destitution there are some people who, apparently are well off from all appearances, but they don't seem to try to help the unfortunate ones in any respect, they simply expect us to do it. I suppose they are accustomed to seeing people in this condition.
However I will be glad when we leave this country as I have seen pretty well all there is to see both in the Holy Land & Syria.
We hear the French are going to take over the administration of Syria & the British are to take over Palestine.
We are expecting to move down to Palestine early in January, but cannot leave until French troops take over here.
Beirout is a very busy place now & quite European, quite different to other cities in this country.
Each day large ships are berthed there discharging cargoes. The French have already open about a dozen shops in Beirout