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- 28 March 2005
Finally the day arrived to leave Wolverhampton for the last leg of our travel. The Germans capitulated and we would board a troopship in Liverpool to travel to Australia and wait for the Japanese to capitulate as well.
We happened to be liberated sooner than the rest of Holland. The Allies had driven a wedge into the province of Brabant. When I signed up I did not know whether my family was alive or not. But nurses were needed to take care of concentration camp victims after the Japanese capitulated. We had to sign up for the duration of the war plus six months. It was a long shot but I love to travel and I always wanted to see Australia and New Zealand.
So off we went to "our Troopship" in Liverpool. I wondered what the reaction would be for girls who had never seen the NORTH SEA - living in the Eastern part Holland - let alone an ocean liner. I had travelled extensively with my parents: going from the Dutch East Indies back to Holland on leave; f.i getting off in Genoa to travel to Milan, Paris, Montreux.
I loved travel by ship. As young as I was I remembered the ever-changing look of the ocean, its smell, colourful ports of call and the people who lived there so different from us. The hustle and bustle of any seaport, the noise, cranes loading and unloading, people yelling at each other in a language we did not understand. It looked like bedlam but of course it was not: the ships got what they needed to continue their travel.
We arrived in Liverpool at the dock where our ship was moored. She was converted to a troopship: her name was "RANGITATA" and she came from New-Zealand. Crew members hanging over the reeling looked what kind of human cargo was destined to board. With our kitbag holding all our possessions we were "processed" quickly.
And then someone took us to our cabin:
We were told that we were travelling first class! How lucky can one get! The Dutch troops were somewhere below deck as were war brides with screaming kids and babies. Six nurses to a cabin: a small area linked our cabin with another one where six girls - mostly ancillary personnel like typists, stenographers etc. - were put up. We had a private bathroom: wonderful!
I took a top berth so I could look out of the porthole. We had a reading light and a little oscillating fan at each berth. The fan would be welcome when we arrived in the tropics. We did not unpack but tried to find our way to the area where we could watch who else boarded. It turned out that many RAAF- and NEW ZEALAND pilots and flight personnel were on their way home for demob. The atmosphere was obviously a very happy one. We expected to have a jolly time: plenty of good company.
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