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UNEF - Introduction
El Arish / Marina
Sharm El Sheik
GAZA STRIP - UNEF
Following Gaza photographs courtesy of National Defence Image Library, Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre (click on photos below to see larger image):
Following photos of UNEF HQ in Gaza in 1960 from Johannes Vennix (courtesy of Jan Vennix, son of Johannes Vennix):
Another view of UNEF HQ in Gaza by Sgt. Lloyd Lobb (courtesy of his daughter Wendy):
Photographs of Gaza Commonwealth Cemetery courtesy of Garry Harding taken in 1967:
Photographs courtesy of Gord Jenkins:
GAZA CITY: REMINISCING
Please enjoy the following collection of photos and memories. Click on images for full size pictures. Please use your browser "Back" button to return to this page. If you have anything to add this page please email Gord Jenkins (click to email).
Jan (John) Vennix (Martinborough, NZ) - As kids we travelled around with the family as Dad was working for the UN Field service at UN missions like UNTSO, UNEF, UNFICYP, UNMOGIP and later on UNDP in Nairobi. I have fond memories of the RCAF crews and Caribou flights in the Middle East and Asia. On one of the 6 monthly shifts between Srinagar and Rawalpindi the crew asked me to come into the Caribou cockpit and put a pair of raybans on my nose and let me sit in the co-pilot seat for a while. For a ten year old, it could not get better than that. Maybe us kids reminded them of the folks back home in Canada.
Whenever Gaza, El Arish and Rafah are in the news it is hard to imagine that UN personnel actually lived in those places. I spent several weeks at the Dannor Norwegian hospital in Rafah with hepatitis as there was no proper medical care in Gaza. As a little Dutch boy I was soon learning Scandinavian songs and phrases. I have now been living in New Zealand since 1982, but the place of birth of Jerusalem in my passport has always given me hassles when travelling in certain countries.
The picture of UN HQ in Gaza is where Dad had his office. Opposite this building across the road was the UNEF Gaza transport dept with their fleet of trucks and cars. Great interest for us as kids all these mechanics, grease and trucks. Dad's "company car" was one of those Citroen 2CV deux chevaux, in white UNEF colours. For the movies we went to the B-mess on the Gaza foreshore. One memorable movie we saw there was Lawrence of Arabia. The El Arish airfield pictures brought memories of a trip to El Arish to take some crates with our personal effects and our most prized possession, a fridge, for our move to UNMOGIP. Dad was already in Pakistan and Mum was gingerly watching that forklift loading the crate with our fridge into the Caribou. A lot shops and homes in Gaza in those days still had metal ice boxes with daily delivery of large ice blocks instead of refrigerators. By the time this fridge got to Srinagar it was too wide to fit through the narrow houseboat door opening.
Dad worked for the UN for 27 years of which 14 were for UNEF/UNTSO. Dad left me the book between Arab & Israeli by Gen. Burns and he made some interesting handwritten notes in it. He regarded Gen Burns as the only truly impartial and neutral commander in those 14 years of different UNTSO/UNEF commanders. This of course did not make Gen. Burns job any easier working with all the warring factions. Dad worked closely with Gen. Burns, liaising and organizing secret meeting with top civilian and military officials on Arab and Israeli sides and also dealing with the delicate issues of currency and gold smuggling by UNTSO staff. Dad saw General Burns as a man with great organizational skills in chaotic situations, in the dangerous territory of the Middle East.
My first flight was when I was only a few weeks old in a UN Dakota from Jerusalem to Beirut. Women and children from civilian UNTSO staff were evacuated to Beirut at the start of the 2nd Arab-Israeli war 1956.
Your St Catherine's UNEF excursion Caribou photos (see Gord Jenkins photos in 1965 below) are very interesting... including the picture where the locals are wearing their traditional gowns, but for the top half they are wearing western suit jackets and sweaters - most likely courtesy of UNEF personnel. When shifting to yet another UN mission our family would always have a clear out of clothing and furniture to pass on to the locals.
I visited St Catherine's in 1975 and we slept in the dormitories of the monastery before climbing Mt Sinai. When I revisited the place in 2005 to my horror there were tar sealed roads, an airstrip, Club Med style hotels on the valley floor. The monastery was overrun with busloads of Italian tourists and the monks had become very commercial, allowing only limited access to the monastery.
Following photos from Johannes Vennix (Jan's Dad)in 1965 and 1966:
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