EASTERN NIGHTS—AND FLIGHTS - A Record of Oriental Adventure by Captain Alan Bott MC
Most of us who were at close grips with the Great War will remember the habit of speculation about life on the far side of the front. Somewhere beyond the frontier of trenches, we realized, were our opposite numbers—infantrymen, gunners, aviators, staff officers, mess orderlies, generals, captains, lance-corporals—each according to character, rank, and duties, and to the position he occupied by reason of ability, courage, initiative, old age, self-advertisement, or wire-pulling. We saw them through a glass, darkly—a glass that, being partly concave, partly convex, and almost impenetrable throughout, showed us our opposite numbers as distorted reflections of ourselves. We knew well that a journey through, round, or over this glass would take us into an unnatural world where we should be negative instead of positive, passive instead of active, useless scrap-iron instead of working parts of a well-constructed machine. Yet we never considered the possibility of being obliged, in that unreal world, to live a life of impotence. Our companions, now, might have the bad luck to be dragged there; but our sense of normality would not let us reckon with such an unusual happening in our own case. And then, perhaps, one fine day or night found us isolated in an attack, or shot down in an air fight; and we would be in the topsy-turvy country of captivity. Some of us, who passed into this country from the curious East, tumbled head over heels upon adventures fantastic as those of any imaginative explorer of the wonderland Through the Looking Glass of fancy. We were a small band of six scout pilots, one monkey-mascot, and a team of Baby Nieuports, hangared in a large meadow that was the nearest aerodrome to the then front in Palestine. Slightly to the south was the one-time German colony of Sorona, with houses empty but for ugly furniture and ornaments, left behind when the routed Turco-Germans scurried up the coast-line after Allenby's victory at Gaza. A few miles north was the trench-line, a few miles west were row upon row of sand-dunes, a sea of that intense blue which is the secret of the Syrian coast, and the ancient port of Jaffa, misnamed "The Beautiful."
Capt Bott's tale of capture by the Turks takes him through Damascus, the infamous Taurus tunnels to Constantinople where he lives a life as a fugitive after escaping from his captors. Entering a secret world of Russian smugglers he ends up in Odessa as the Bolshevik terror takes hold and finally stows away to Bulgaria and finally safety in Allied occupied Salonika. Captain Bott's tale is as gripping as it is exotic and suspenseful. A grand tale of true adventure in a lost world of Ottoman deceit, danger and corruption.