The three months in Syria provided a period of rest for the troops after the Libyan campaign and it gave the Division opportunity to absorb the large number of reinforcements which the Libyan casualties had made necessary. The hilly country, the green fields, and the cooler climate made a refreshing change from Egypt. But, for all that, morale was not particularly high. Six days in every week, for weeks on end, many units had to set out for the dull routine of a day's digging. At night as the men clustered round the wireless sets the news seemed to be uniformly bad, whether it came from Rome, Berlin, or London. The entry of the Japanese into the war made some think that the Division should be withdrawn to New Zealand, as it was known that one Australian division had already sailed for home. Many men were availing themselves of the cultural activities arranged in the evenings, but there was always a large percentage too tired, or too lazy, to set about entertaining themselves. These latter would frequent the little cafes and wineshops in the villages and in Baalbek, where the only drinks on sale were cherry brandy and arrack–at least those were the names given for raw alcohol slightly flavoured and coloured.
With strong drink, boredom, and idleness the existence of licensed prostitution proved a danger and a temptation to many. One enterprising effort to combat this problem was made by Padre J. T. Holland,2 attached to the ASC, who organised a debate on the page 50 subject. With great care he picked two teams and supervised their preparations; after the case had been well stated in ordinary language by both sides, the audience was allowed to join in the debate. The doctor and the chaplain were not in the official teams but they were present to answer what might be called technical questions on religion and health. Without preaching or emotion this debate calmly and vigorously asserted the medical problems and the Christian principles. The debate aroused such interest that the CRASC3 arranged for it to be held in each ASC company. Prostitution must always be a problem with armies and the only solution seems to be a happy, industrious life based firmly on Christian principles.