Travelling with loaded rifles

On the 10th of October 1925 Gilbert Clayton was travelling to Ibn Saud's camp outside of the besieged city of Jeddah in present-day Saudi Arabia. The road to the camp at Bahra was not an easy ride and in his diary Clayton describes the road itself like this:

Hereafter, the road became very bad - indeed it was practically non-existent - and we ploughed laboriously through deep sand, over boulders and stones, and through low but tenacious bush.

Clayton travelled by car through what then was a war front between Ibn Saud and the Hashemite King Ali, the son of the more famous Sharif Hussein (This was the Nejd-Hejaz war of 1924-1925). Clayton's mission was to negotiate two agreements with Ibn Saud concerning the southern frontiers of the British mandates of Transjordan and Iraq. This was, however, not his main worry during the bumpy car ride through the desert, that belonged to the loaded rifles in the front seat:

I was not sorry to get out of the car, as our escort had insisted on placing their loaded rifles beside the chauffeur, and I therefore found myself most of the time gazing into the muzzles of no less than five loaded rifles which might have been exploded by any of the numerous and hearty bumps which our car indulged in.

- From An Arabian Diary by Gilbert Clayton (edited and introduced by Robert O. Collins) [1969]

Clayton's Slave

Waltz with Bashir - articles