Corporal R. W. Lockie, serving with the R.E.C.C.E. in the Middle East, and elder son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Lockie, of 9, Roberts-street, Rushden, has written a letter in which he tells of interesting visits to places of Biblical fame.
“I have been to Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” he writes. “I went in a party conducted by a guide and saw the Jews’ ‘wailing wall,’ the House of Pontius Pilate in the Delarosa (or the Street of Arches, as it is called), and the Mosque of Omar, where Jesus used to preach. It is a wonderful place, and gold is stuck all over it like plaster. The guide told us the history of all the places, and how the people in bygone ages invaded the place and added pieces to the mosques and tore them down as it suited them.
“One church in Bethlehem, the first Christian church in the world, has the smallest entrance, about four feet high, the idea being to stop animals from getting in. It is called the Church of the Nativity, and five different religious groups worship there. Passages are cut in the rock so that one group will not step in the church of another group and start a fight, and a policeman is always inside to prevent riots.
Five in One
“It is like five different churches in one. The floor is made of mosaic, all in coloured pictures. The roof is lined with lead, but in 1700 the Turks tore down the lead roof to make bullets and put up a wood roof which let the rain in and ruined parts of the mosaic floor. There is a stable underneath the floor of the church where in Bible times travellers to Bethlehem used to stay with their animals, and that is where the manger is where Jesus Christ was born, and an altar with three candles where the three wise men stood.”
Other famous places viewed were the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus, a German church built on the site of the Crusaders’ Hospital, Rachel’s tomb, the Field of Lambs, the Milk Grotto, the Garden of Gethsemane, the tomb of the Virgin Mary and the Mount of Olives.
Cpl. Lockie, 23 years of age, was a Territorial before the war, and has served throughout the war period. He fought from Algiers to Tunis with the 8th Army and was in the Salerno landing. Formerly he worked at the Tecnic Boot Co. Our picture of him was taken in Cairo.