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1967: Surviving the six-day war
Josephine Bacon was living in Jerusalem with her husband and two-year-old daughter when the 1967 war, also known as six-day war broke out.

In the weeks preceding the war, she made what preparations she could to ready the family home for the conflict.

We filled every available receptacle with water, because June is quite a hot month and Jerusalem is very dry.

If we'd had our water supply cut off we would have been in difficulty, especially as I had a small child.

We sheltered [from shelling] in the corridor, which had no windows

We did the usual things that one does in war - you stick tape over the windows so a blast won't shatter them and cause damage inside.

There were hardly any air raid shelters at the time.

For the first couple of days there was shelling from the United Nations building [captured by the Jordanians on the first day of the war] which landed around our house.

We sheltered in the corridor, which had no windows, and put up the dining room table vertically to hopefully stave off any blast.

I'm sure it wouldn't have been any use if we'd had a direct hit, but it was comforting anyway.

Direct hit

On the day the fighting started I went to work as I hadn't heard anything.

I went into my office as usual and then the civil defence people told us we must go down to the shelter.

I was sharing a room with Rabbi Rabinowitz, who had been the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, and we both said we wouldn't bother to go down to the shelter.

But of course Jordan entered the war about 1100 that day, and where I worked was in direct line of fire from Jordan.

We were forced to go down stairs and sure enough our office got a direct hit. I've still got a piece of shrapnel that I picked up from the floor.

You shut your mind off to these things - you try not to imagine anything, especially as at first we were hearing the shelling and seeing the damage.

One of the greatest moments of my life was when we could go into the old city after the war ended

We didn't dare think about what might be happening - we were trying to tough it out.

On the third day I went out to get some food from the local grocer's shop and I saw a huge crowd of people standing round a vehicle.

I saw the vehicle was coloured in non-Israeli army camouflage.

Everyone was crowding round this Israeli soldier who was actually sitting in a Jordanian Jeep - and then I knew we didn't have much to worry about any more.

One of the greatest moments of my life was when we could go into the old city after the war ended.

At first, because they were still clearing snipers, they only allowed people to go in the Dung Gate and by a certain route.

Reunions

We had to walk up Mount Sion past the church of St Peter of Gallicantu and then you could see the Western Wall below you.

And that year there had been a lot of rain in the spring and the road was covered in grass and wild flowers - it was absolutely wonderful.

Tulips, anemones, cyclamen - it was just so moving to see all these places and to go into the city for the first time.

There was a wonderful atmosphere of reunion because many people of the old city, the Palestinians, hadn't seen each other since 1948 and there was some really great scenes of reunion.

I met people then that I'm still friendly with today.

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The walls of Jerusalem old town
Jerusalem was united as one city after the six-day war


Hanna on the balcony of the Bacon family apartment
Josephine Bacon had a two-year old daughter at the time of the six-day war
Josephine Bacon
Ms Bacon is now a translator, author and journalist
In Context
Josephine Bacon is now based in London.

She is a professional translator, author and journalist.

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