- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Henry George Cutts
- Location of story:
- Atlantic and Africa
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 October 2004
1941 Dairy Henry George Cutts
A small black leather covered book 5” x 3” was kept by my mother along with Dad’s Army Pay book. As the diary is rather delicate, written in pencil and not easy to read in parts, Mum asked me to type it up. I’ve made no changes (knowingly), other than to show each calendar month as a heading.
NB Kate, Kitty or Kit all refer to my Mother. They had married just 4 weeks before war was declared in 1939. I was born in September 1946.
Diary begins Monday 28th July 1941
Left Norwood (London) 7.30pm
Tuesday29th. Arrived Liverpool 6.15am. Boarded (HMS) Warwick Castle 7.30pm.
Wednesday's 30th left Liverpool 10:30pm.
Thursday 31st arrived Gurock, Scotland 8am.
Saturday 2nd August Boarded Warwick Castle left Gurock 9:30pm, about thirty ships in convoy nothing of importance until Wednesday 6th, when we were rammed by HMS Windsor Castle at 10pm in thick fog. Stood by boat stations until 3am next day, damned cold and wet.
Thursday 7th as a result of the damage which is much greater than first thought, we are travelling at greatly reduced speed. Consequently we have become detached from convoy. 10:45pm no sign of other boats about.
Friday 8th 11am armed merchantman has just come up. Sent to escort us into Halifax Nova Scotia for repairs. Expected to arrive about Sunday or Monday next.
Monday 11th. Weather very bad. Boat travelling stern first in the worst weather to avoid water entering damaged bow.
Wednesday the 13th Arrived Halifax 3pm. Docked 4.15pm. Had a peek at damage to boat. Hole big enough to put a bus through. Lucky it's mostly above the waterline.
Glasgow to Halifax 2408 miles
Thursday 14th left Halifax 7pm arrived in Aldershot camp 11am. Big welcome kit and military bands and speeches etc.
Friday15th drew $10 pay. Visited Kenville 1.5 miles and Wolfrine 8 miles.
Small towns and no pubs, that’s bad for the boys. Costs of living very high our few dollars won’t go far.
Miss my Kate, she’d love this country.
Met Mr. and Mrs. Elmer of Annapolis.
Sunday the 19th. Had fine day out in the car. Write Kitty tonight.
Wednesday 20th. Camp concert last night very good
Have been promised a few tennis lessons by local champion on coming weekend.
Friday 22nd. Nothing much today. Very tired after last night. Went to a corn and Cob weenie roast. Very strange but plenty of fun. Dancing on the beach until 2am. Back by car with Mr. and Mrs. Elmer and sons. Saturday 23rd and Sunday the 24th on the tennis courts most of the weekend learned plenty.
Wednesday the 27th. Been travelling a bit this week. Digby Sunday, Bridgetown Monday and Evangeline Tuesday. Marvellous views all round, had find time.
Sunday 31st. Big ceremonial parade and march through Kentville. Whole town turned out quite a big show.
Tuesday 2nd September. Arrived at Windsor to start five-day leave. Billeted with Mr. and Mrs. Barton. A relief to get good grub, food very bad at the camp.
Wednesday 3rd September. Had a lay in this morning, nice change from 5am in the camp.
Golf in the morning, tennis in the afternoon special show for us in the evening. Missed Kate a lot.
Saturday 6th. Back to camp tonight had a fine leave. Everybody gave us a damn fine time.
Saturday the 13th. Not a lot this week tennis and swimming a visit to the experimental park, lovely place. Boxing tournament in the camp and a variety show
Tuesday 16th. A day visit to Winsor agriculture fair and a game of golf.
Saturday 27th September Left Aldershot 7:30am. Arrived Halifax 11:05am. Boarded Stratheden 12 noon. Left Halifax 4pm. Posted card to Kit.
Monday 29th. Tour of the ship, much bigger than the Warwick and more modern. Had a dip in the pool. Weather glorious.
Friday 3rd October. Dropped anchor off Trinidad 9.20am. Weather stinking hot. Halifax to Trinidad approximately 2050 miles.
Sunday 5th Left Trinidad 7:10am.
Thursday 9th. Met by new escort off South American coast Brazil. Old escort Cirassia turned back.
Wednesday 22nd arrived Cape Town South Africa 6pm. Allowed onshore 8pm. Unexpected surprise tonight, modern town, great shops, wide streets. Travelling free on road transport. Had the first decent meal since leaving Canada in soldiers club. Pubs almost the same as England. Boys making the most of it. Hundreds drunk.
Thursday 23rd. Route march to stretch legs. Allowed off ship 1.30pm. Visited Table Mountain by cable railway. Finest view I've ever seen 1500 feet above sea, whole of Cape Town below.
Sent kitty silver leaf card. Dinner at Del Monica hotel. Dance at Mayors garden. Few beers at pub and back to ship. Nearly broke, must go on scrounge tomorrow.
Friday 24th October. Route march until 12 o'clock. Shore leave short today. 4am to 10pm. must make most of it. Soon got invited out to tea. Tour of Cape in car. Supper back and house fruit and books to take on ship. Damn nuisance have lost address of the people. Mrs. Bell no idea of address though. Can’t write now.
Saturday 20th Left Cape Town 9am. Hospitality there even greater than in Canada, more prepared for us. English have a lot to learn from the colonials when it comes to generosity and entertaining.
Tuesday 28th. Arrived Durban South Africa 3:30pm bigger city than Cape Town. No shore leave out of luck this time.
Wednesday 29th Left Durban 11.45am. Annoying we couldn’t see the place.
Monday 3rd November 1941
14 weeks and still travelling, 8 of these on the water. Hell I’ll never be a sailor. Our escorts from Durban left us HMS Revenge, HMS Ceres takes over.
Saturday 6th. Arrived Aden 8am. Stinking hot, no shore leave. Had no measurable rain here for 36 years. All water brought in by tanker. Nothing grows in Aden, not even trees.
Sunday 9th still at Aden hope we don't stay here too long. Heat terrible, no breeze, mountains stop any wind from coming into bay.
Monday 10th Left Aden 4pm. thank the lord for that, much cooler out at sea.
Thursday 11th short and simple silence at 11am today.
Friday 14th arrived Port Suez 3pm, disembarked 4.30pm. Marched to camp for the night. About 5 miles. Not too good with full pack after months of doing nothing.
Saturday 15th Arrived transit camp Genefa 12 noon. Hells kitchen and flies.
Monday 1st December 1941
Visit Port Suez.
Tuesday 2nd visited Ismmania.
Friday 5th left Genefa and arrived Cairo.
DIARY ENDS HERE.
Dad spent the next 4 years of the war in North Africa – without ever getting back to England.
The last pages have lists of men’s names and numbers, a map in pencil and 2 lists of personal items as follows:
Sgt Cutts personal kit
One pair KD shorts
One pair pyjamas
2 under vests wool
One pound tobacco
One services wristwatch without winding key
One pigskin money belt
One brown pair?
Sgt Cutts kit bag 105893
One KD jacket with buttons one pair topical shirt
One topical shirt
One pair hose tops
One pair boots
Two pairs of socks
One pair under shorts
One pair KD slacks
One khaki drab shirt
One cap comforter
One service blanket
One service towel
One woolen pullover
One kit bag handle
One kit bag only
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