Sinai Surgeon is an historical narrative of a military surgeon’s experiences and adventures with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Sinai desert during 1966-67, the year leading up to the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt. It focuses on the realities of Peacekeeping in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, an area of the world which is still a hotbed of interest today and a key feature of Canadian military history.
At that time Peacekeeping was more isolated with no internet, Skype and poor telephone communication hence the author’s wife went to Beirut and worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency thus enabling leave to be spent exploring the Middle East together.
The book highlights the Canadian Peacekeeping role which is currently a major concern to Canadians as well as most international organizations and states and people interested in Canadian military history. The role of the Canadian military as Peacekeepers in the Sinai, an initiative of Lester Pearson that was to become Canada’s identity on the international scene, is highlighted as the author was a medical officer in the RCAF seconded to the UNEF serving with a division of the Canadian Air Force, 115 Air Transport Unit stationed in El Arish Egypt. The medical aspects of the hazards of desert life, caring for soldiers in isolated circumstances as well as the life and medical needs of a unique nomadic population group, the Bedouin are described.
Historically and politically this peacekeeping role involved a number of controversial issues;
a) The ability of the United Nations to function adequately under crises conditions
b) The Palestinian refugee issues
c) Israeli-Arabic relationships
d) The Canadian political scene in the time of Lester B Pearson
e) The Cold War atmosphere of the sixties
f) Medical dilemmas of medical officers in keeping an army in the field fighting fit
g) Sinai mysteries such as the Jewish exodus from Egypt, St Catherine’s Monastery, unanswered questions of the Six Day War.
h) Many prominent people are mentioned and interacted with in the book
i) Ecological disasters in the Mediterranean; the trapping of little birds, digging up turtle eggs, elimination of the houbaras etc
The issues covered in the book will be of interest to the contemporary reading public since most of the topics are still very relevant to current affairs, many of the problems are ongoing and it is set in an exotic part of the world that has a natural attraction for the average reader and those interested in Canadian military history.