Soldier's kitbag lost in 1942 is found in Egyptian desert

As dispatch rider Alex Ross travelled through the hostile Egyptian desert, deep behind enemy lines, his few mementos of home must have meant the world to him.

Soldier's kitbag lost in 1942 is found in Egyptian desert

So his horror at realising the pannier containing them had fallen off his motorcycle during one of his dangerous missions can easily be imagined.

There the lost bag lay, covered by the shifting sands of the Western Desert ... until an astonishing discovery 65 years on.

Tour guide Khaled Makram spotted it by the side of a track in a remote corner of the country.

Inside were all Signalman Ross's long-lost possessions, including his pay book, puttees, photographs, Christmas cards, dog-tags and letters from his family - and two different girlfriends.

With the help of a Scottish tourist, Mr Makram has been able to reveal his find to the family of Mr Ross, who died three years ago aged 87.

Now they are hoping to be able to bring his belongings back to England, more than six decades after he returned from his wartime service without them.

Among them were letters written by his sister Irene when she was eight. Yesterday, aged 75, she spoke of her amazement at seeing them again after all that time.

"I was astonished when I heard that Alex's bag had been found after 65 years and that it was in such good condition," she said. "The bag still contains all the letters that I and the rest of my family sent as well as a spare cap and his Army equipment."


Mr Ross grew up in Burnley and, having joined the Royal Signals in 1935, he was posted to North Africa following the German desert offensive.

By 1942, he was part of a special forces unit known as Popski's Private Army, linked to the legendary Long Range Desert Group - whose men staged daring behind-the-lines attacks on Rommel's fuel supplies.

At the time he lost his khaki- coloured canvas pannier, Signalman Ross was travelling through the isolated plateau of Gilf Kebir, hundreds of miles inland, where the unit had a supply dump. The spot is close to the Cave of Swimmers, which features in the the novel - and subsequent film - The English Patient. There it lay until Mr Makram found it this summer.

With the help of tourist Geoff Kolbe, from Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders, they were able to find an article on the Internet written by Mr Ross's sister, now Irene Porter, and complete the extraordinary story behind its loss.

After the war, Mr Ross settled in Buckinghamshire, where he worked for the Diplomatic Corps and met his wife Lillian - who still lives in the county. The couple had two daughters.
His sister has been sent photographs of his belongings, and she is now hoping to raise money for Mr Makram to fly to England with the bag and its contents.

"I will be so pleased when I can actually hold the letters in my hand and feel something my mother actually wrote to Alex all those years ago," she said.

"I just wish the bag had been found a few years earlier so that Alex could have been reunited with its contents.

"He would have been thrilled - if a little embarrassed about having had two girlfriends on the go."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Aralık 2007, 20:19