War Memoir of Robert Ellwood

Ellwood: In a few hours leave, and I was very impressed with the old city particularly the old cobblestone streets of the old city. and ah one or two of the things that I found very interesting was first of all how religion itself was commercialised over there. for instance, at the Jewish wailing wall you could always find someone to perform for you if you have enough piastres. they would turn on a weeping fit for you and another thing was the use the thing has had. It’s had ah from weeping and kissing and that sort of business its had all rough sort of small hollows in it where it has been kissed and licked with their tongue and that sort of business must have been generations of that sort of business. That was one thing that struck me.

Another thing that struck me where some way or the other we got under ground in some religious order where they had relics and one in particular was a golden statue of the virgin Mary it was about probably that high three feet two feet ten and it had – is this of interest – yes it had around its neck and on its different parts of its body allsorts of orders from different nationalities. And one in particular that I noticed of course was the Iron cross. And this thing was under the care of some order or some description who had people had members of the order there looking after them ad another thing too I saw spurs worn by some of the crusaders on their journeys and their working and I found it a very very interesting place indeed. A lot of those things. I saw the tomb or rather the manger where Christ was born and the different churches and the only thing that I couldn’t understand is way there was an argument between different religions as to the exact spot. Where these things happened.

When I found I came away feeling what I had seen and my trip through Palestine one way or another anybody who doubted the existence of a person called Jesus Christ was devoid of all what shall I say reasoning power with the places that are historically recorded as having been visited by him or occupied or something else there is no the slightest doubt in my mind that a person called Jesus Christ did live not the slightest – and anybody who doubts that has never been through that part of the but the parts that rather annoyed me was how it was all commercialised – so much to see this and so much to see the they was a tale that went around too the eternal flame, supposed to be burning if my memory gets me right little bit eh cloudy. Ah there is a flame glowing all the time in the holy and some smart boy one of our crowd of course, I don’t know if it was my of our crowd or New Zealander but some smart boy the guide was explaining the whole thing to him how it had been burning for so many hundred of years . Oh he said then its time the thing was put out and he blew it out -and there was a big shindig over that of course. it was lighted up immediately again. It was just an incident that I can remember that happened there.

But I came away as I say feeling that the place was a very very interesting place, very very interesting. The people themselves, particularly the Jewish resident, and the way they were dressed. they were a very effeminate looking lot with long hair and black turned up felt hats and long coats and they looked as if they were living in the clouds instead of being up against all the rigours of social life ah you know, life.

Turnbull: Do you think that that has reinforced your religious faith?

Ellwood: Oh my dear ah. I was bought up very religious, very strictly, and no doubt it confirmed it. you could say it strengthen if you wish. But I was bought up with Sunday school and the church once a week and all that sort of business, very strictly and it certainly left an impression on me. It confirmed or supported what I had been taught you know. Oh yes it made a big difference to me. I’m firmly convinced now the views that I have about religion