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This is not a tale of battle. It Is the narrative of an old Kiwi with a yen for oranges. For years Dad had a desire to indulge himself to the full on oranges, a desire always destined to' frustration for various economic reasons. Full forty years sped by ere a wife and family of three found Dad a-sailing the oceans en route to the 2nd N.Z.E.F.

It was a Dutch ship and Dad began to take a lively interest in his "secret vice" when in an Aussie port lie purchased oranges at a trey apiece. Halfway across the Indian Ocean the little Javanese stewards rose mightily in his estimation when every other day at dinner thusserved an orange to all above the rank o'f sergeant. (Ed.'s note: We know Dad and how he ever became a staff-sergeant is a mystery, a "security" matter apparently.)

Then Wogland! In May with Old Sol at the height of his summer burn, poor old Dad was welcomed with several "buckshee" jabs by a heartless M.0.; had an unwanted bout of Gyppo Turn and "used sawdust freely," but his eyes glistened at the first mention of oranges, as precious as beer coupons in a Naafi. Even though he refused such "luxuries" as soya links, fig jam, mueked-up cheese and curried sardines, he was always in line for the oranges.

Then came the day when a harassed O.C. said "Aiwa" and Dad hitch-hiked and gharried to Cairo Main to catch a leave train to Palestine. At Tel-el-Kebir the platform Woks offered him boiled eggs at five-for-five, Wog bread rolls at the same rate; they offered to give him a ring for 20 cigaros; implored him to read the previous day's paper for a piastre, but he sturdily resisted until the "norange" merchant thrust his dirty hand in the carriage window with the entreaty, "wun nacker, George!" and Dad fell.

Crossing the Canal at Kantara, the rate of orange exchange again favoured Dad, this time to the extent of two for 10 mils (one acker). At Lydda it was three and the same at Tel Keram, but the size had increased. At Nathanya it was four and ■Dad settled down to work and make up the arreas of years.

Later that evening eight askaris—five Kiwis and three Tommies —chewed, squeezed and munched oranges to their heart's content. At the same time it was indicated to Dad that it was practically a certainty that his services would be needed to guide his companions along the "short cut" to the township.

But Dad was happy. One ambition had been fully realised and, although later on the mounds of oranges at Tel Aviv, Beirut, Haifa, Jerusalem and elsewhere received his earnest attention, he claims he will never forget that night in Palestine and the tree-ripened oranges of Nathanya.

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Bibliographic details

THE ORANGE QUEST, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945

Word Count

THE ORANGE QUEST Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945

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