Wounded in battle, starving and suffering from a raving thirst Clifford would later recall little of the events that befell him
between the Battle of Jebel al Sharif and his discovery of what he would dub the Temple of the Ages. Based on Clifford’s
scant surviving notes, he seems to have wandered south into the trackless expanse of the Sahara. Whether it was days or weeks
he could not recall. As is so often the case in such tales, when all seemed lost Clifford emerged from the dune sea into valley
dotted with the mud brick remains of what must have been a city, or at least large town of very ancient pedigree.

Although in his dazed condition he would not notice at the time that there was something distinctly odd and misplaced about
these ruins. Clifford and his battalion had in fact provided escort to several archaeological expeditions into the Moroccan and
Libyan deserts and had he not been on the very brink of physical and mental exhaustion perhaps the remarkable nature of his
discovery would have registered with him sooner.
"Oh Narmur-Ra, Great King,
beloved of Heaven and keeper of the
Purple Fez..."
From an inscription found in
the "Temple of Ages" as
translated by Clifford T. Bell.
In any event he did notice the few scattered clumps of
date palms and ancient olive trees that brought the only
hint of life – and water - to the otherwise desolate
landscape. At least he would not now starve or die of
thirst.

Eating his fill of dates and olives, Clifford knew that
water must be in the local vicinity if not quite close at
hand. Being somewhat refreshed my his meager meal he
began to search the ruins for and a hint aqueduct or
cistern that must have served the town’s long dead
residents.

During the course of his search Clifford found himself
inexplicably drawn toward the center of the ruined city.
Regardless of which sand filled avenue he chose to
follow, inevitably the path always wound and twisted its
way toward what appeared to be a large and less
ruinous structure that fairly dominated the rest of the
site.  A rising sense of foreboding began to creep up on
our Legionnaire – a feeling he would later recall that
was much akin to that which he felt just before his
patrol stumbled into a Berber ambush. Even when he
deliberately tried to steer his away from the looming
massif he would find that he had only drawn closer to
it. Later is his dairy he would swear that the roads and
pathways actually shifted even while he walking along
them.
Above: A photograph taken by Clifford of the ruins surrounding
the so-called Temple of the Ages. Perhaps even more remarkable
than this image itself is the fact that through all the trials and  
disasters that befell Clifford during and after the Battle of Jebel
al Sharif is that he actually kept his camera with him and that at
least some of the images taken with it have survived to this day.  
During his time with the Legion Clifford own at least two
cameras. One was a Kodak Box Brownie and the other -which it
is believed took these photographs was a Kodak No. 2 folding
Autographic. Both cameras are currently in the Brotherhood's
archives.

Photo: The Secret Archives of The Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Right: A relief stone carving of the "Great King" Narmur-Ra
photographed by Clifford inside the Temple of the Ages. He is
depicted wearing the original Purple Fez. From this image it is
obvious that this King - and his city - was of Assyrio-Babylonian
stock although the his use of the suffix "Ra" in his name
indicates strong Egyptian influences. Just how this settlement
became transplanted in such an isolated region some three
thousand miles of the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
will almost certainly remain a mystery.

Photo: The Secret Archives of The Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Soon Clifford found himself standing before the remarkably
preserved remains of a large structure that unlike the rest of
the mud brick ruins was built of well cut and set stone. Was it
a palace? A fortress? A temple? He could not tell but perhaps
it was all of those and more. Before Clifford stood a dark
doorway out of which flowed the faint sound of splashing
water. Steadied by the fact that he was still in possession of his
Lebel rifle Clifford overcame the dread that also flowed like an
invisible fog from the doorway and entered.  As he crossed the
portal of the temple he noticed carved into the stone doorway
the name of Sir Richard Burton, that legendary British
explorer and translator of "The Arabian Nights". Suddenly He did not feel so alone and thought to himself "If an
Englishman could make it home from here so can one of the Bells of Saint Mary's !"

Refreshing himself and filling his water bottle from a small fountain in a vestibule just inside the temple, Clifford
began to wander and explore the labyrinth of corridors and tunnels that unfolded before him all the while marveling
at the fantastic scenes carved and painted on the limestone walls. Having not much else to do with his time he
explored in earnest making such not as he could and taking at least one photograph of the interior. Eventually
finding himself in the deepest confines of the temple he noticed a strange purple glow emanating from the far recesses
of the chamber and felt himself pulled inexorably towards it. Drawn forward by a will other than his own, he found
before him encased within a crystal casket a plain and completely unadorned purple fez.
Above: An c. 1939 page from Clifford's journal with
several rather whimsical drawings depicting relief
carvings from the "Temple of the Ages". Obviously
drawn from memory many years after the event, one
the drawings shows the great king Narmur-Ra
wearing the Purple Fez. Another shows a seated
woman Clifford thought to be Narmur-Ra's
unnamed queen. The third shows a floor plan of the
temple and the location of the repository of the
Purple Fez. In what must have been a moment of
light hearted diversion Clifford apparently decorated
this page with several sketches of Felix the Cat.

Photo: The Secret Archives of The Noble &
Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Feeling that he had made a great discovery – and with a rashness that
he would later express his regret for - he opened the casket and
removed the fez. As he did so the wondrous purple glow that had been
emanating from the crystal encased head piece was extinguished as if
some unseen hand had tripped a hidden switch. Suddenly
overwhelmed by a profound sense that he had committed some great
and unforgivable sacrilege, Clifford fled the darkening confines of the
temple.

Clifford’s personal account of his adventures goes blank at this point
once again. He next turns up at the Legion’s military hospital in
Casablanca having obviously been sent there to recover from his
ordeal.  The regimental surgeon predicted that many long weeks of
recovery from his wounds and exposure lay ahead for Clifford but
after a few very short days of rest he was fully recovered. Was this the
first evidence of the latent powers of the Purple Fez.? Clifford took
leave with his old friends – with whom he does not seem to have
shared his secret with – at Oran in January 1929. He continued
soldiering for most of the rest of 1929 but never saw action in the field
again. The regimental surgeon must have continued to ponder
Clifford’s case and was still at a loss to explain his former patients
miraculous recovery and in spite of Clifford’s seemingly excellent
health gave him  good conduct discharge with medical qualifications
at Casablanca on September 17, 1929.
Right: The famous "Four
Musketeers" photograph of Clifford
and his friends taken during their
final leave together in Oran, Algeria.
January 1929.

Photo: The Secret Archives of The
Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Left: Clifford's "Certificate de Bonne Conduite" or good
conduct discharge certificate form the Foreign Legion.
September 17, 1929.

Photo: The Secret Archives of The Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez