Sketch by Jack Chalker

Going Home


On the 16th October 1945, after saying my goodbyes to Wilf who was going later to South Africa for a T.B. cure, I went aboard the P & O liner ‘Ranchi’ for the trip home, and was joined by Walt. The food was not very good aboard, back to the old game of turkey for late dinner for the Officers while we had tinned herrings. One day there was nearly a riot and we pitched all the tins out of the port hole, then things did improve slightly. We had a very pleasant voyage home, arriving in Singapore on the 18th October, we docked on the 19th and some of the chaps went ashore. It was a good sight to see some Japs out on a working party under guard. We sailed on the 20th October and arrived at Colombo on the 25th. We had a good day ashore and sailed again on the 26th.

At Colombo was the only time I have seen a naval vessel enter harbour. It was the cruiser Cumberland, and she sailed in just after us, dressed overall with band playing on the top deck, a really wonderful sight. Another memory I have of Colombo is that it was here I first heard the song ‘You are my Sunshine’. Walt and I were riding along in single rickshaws one behind the other when a little boy ran alongside mine singing the song and begging. I thought it was quite a cute song but I don’t think I gave him anything, I had seen enough of natives.

We arrived in Bombay on 29th October, went ashore on the 30th by tender, but the ship docked on 31st due to engine trouble and we were there for six days. On November 11th we were passing through the Red Sea and observed the Silence when a gun was fired. On arrival at the entrance to the Suez Canal we anchored off Post Tewfig for two days. Each day half the troops went ashore by tender to the base to be fitted out with battledress etc. in readiness for home and the winter. We travelled half way through the canal at night but we did see quite a lot, although it did not have any change of scenery, and the statue of Ferdinand de Lessep builder of the canal. It was here we received the first mail after release, and it was not until then that I knew that mother was still alive. I received a letter from Ann at the same time.

We continued our journey, passing Gibralter at night and arrived in Southampton on 25th November 1945. There was a band to welcome us and also a lot of relatives. We went straight to a transit camp for medicals etc which were hurried through and the following day Sunday 25th we were on our way home. I had to travel via London and could not get away from there until about 9.30pm traveling all night. I had telephoned to the Post Office on Saturday night, and did so again on Sunday to let them know I was arriving on Monday. When I changed trains at Whitland I was surprised to find Bernard Belt and my mother were waiting for me.

So I arrived back in Templeton about 8am on the 26th November 1945 after 4 years overseas.


The End

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