Ben Rata writes to his Mother, from Syria, 30 May 1942
Just a few lines of my greatest love and arohanui hoping also dear that this letter of mine will reach and find you all situated on the throne of perfect health as it leaves me Bunty, George and myself in the same way.
Even though ten thousand miles of sea and land separates us our love will persist until we return home, which we all hope will be in the near future.
I received your most welcome parcel of Kutai and you cannot imagine how glad I was in receiving it and it was still in perfect order and condition. (What I liked best was the puha by gee it lasted alright.) I hope you will send some more of that Toroi over.
Bunty joined the Battalion yesterday and it was the first time I saw him ever since he's been in the Middle East and he looked well and he was pretty wild at Uncle Re for not letting him know that his mother was dead. Poor Bunty he took it with a smile.
You already know that we are in Syria, I suppose, it's not a bad place. I went out on leave to a place called Baalbek and it's the oldest city in the world, bought a book on the history of Baalbek and it says in this book they can trace this city right back to Cain and Abel. The book goes on to say that Cain son of Adam and Eve built Baalbek He built it as a place of refuge from the wrath of God after murdering his brother Abel He built it a 133 years after this world was created. The book goes on to say that Adam inhabited Damascus and he died at Zebadani and Abylena was the scene of the murder of Abel whose name it preserves.
You should see the rocks they built this city with. Huge things they are, one rock weighs 200 tons. There's no machine in this world that can lift them now, they must have been strong them days. I'll send you a photo of it next letter I write.
Well dear Mother I haven't much more to say, so I will bring this letter to an abrupt conclusion hoping that God will watch over you and keep you all until we return home again.
I will close now with love and kisses to you all.
I remain your loving affectionate son
P.S. Have you still got my suit?
Alexander Turnbull Library
Ref: Eric Ramsden Papers, MS-0196-275