- Contributed by
- john bates
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 December 2003
(All in one day)
I went to church on Sunday.
Because my Mother told me.
I still prayed in the blitz.
And even in the army.
I fell out with god in Normandy.
All in one day
I trembled with my pretty visage
in the bottom left corner of a slit trench.
An hour before I'd seen a arm and a head,
being squashed into mud by the track of a tank
The driver couldn't see them.
Mortars, eighty eights and aircraft bombs fell
all round us in "death valley"
I tried to pray but my thoughts forced their way
to the bits in the mud,
He or they had prayed. It did them no good.
It was then I realized. I don't need that god.
Oh! but if only there was some sod on call.
Just to explain the insanity of it all.
Sixty thousand died in the mud on the "Somme"
All in one day!
Rest assured --- They prayed.
THE ARMY ON STRIKE
Four miles of camp 'Longmead Camp' Egypt.
The NAAFI, evening, dark - ominous,
The clatter of cups and chatter of troops,
Three from each regiment, there for a purpose.
Dim lights, Then black - No! just a glimmer,
It from the kitchen, Arabs doing dinner.
"PUT THAT LIGHT OUT" - a pause,- then inky.
Roll Call, - HLI - here, Gordon's - here,
Argyles - here, - Middlesex - here.
Twenty times more the calls rang out.
Some answers, excuses, those in doubt ?.
Silence - then "RIGHT WHEN ?".
The replies are a jumble -"WHAT DAY, WHEN"?.
HLI reply, “ Tuesday, no good, on the 'ranges'.”
"SO - Wednesday ?" - on and on for ages.
Then - "SIB" - Silence --- lights come back,
"Sorry, false alarm" again inky black.
At last the final decision.
FRIDAY. 7 AM. The strike was ON !
All had gone to 'NAAFI plan'. Start with one
Regiment, circle camp and all follow on.
A mile of men. One massive queue -
Up to the gate. And, A six pounder gun crew.
" FIRE " roared the officer - no sound ensued,
" FIRE " - The crew sat down and refused.
The Army poured out - onto the road.
But that was the end - objective realized.
Later the gun crew were tried and imprisoned.
The charge 'Refusing to obey an order',
The sentence, 'Two years incarceration',
It in place of impending demobilization.
A green grass hill on the side of a valley
below British trucks on a road in Normandy.
Lazy July day, laying there watching a plane above
a friendly one, a Spitfire circling like a dove,
on guard looking after the troops, its chicks.
Squaddies talking, laughing, below in the trucks.
Ear shattering stutter of eight cannon,
tracers curving, racking, cutting through the column,
bursting flashes, fires, men in the ditches.
and the Spitfire stick pulled back, rolling out
from the smoke away from the carnage.
A previously captured English fighter?
A mistake by an English pilot?
Or a traitor?
The war ended while we were in Germany where we spent the next 6 months policing an area of about 10 mile square. A message would come in that some nut had robbed killed or stolen whatever and off we ( one carrier with four men and me on the bike) would go to sort out what was amiss. Actually it was very entertaining and often weird as when we were sent to this rich blokes garage full of reams of suiting material about 8 foot long by a couple of foot round, tons of it. He, who ever he was, Jew or German, we never knew, had had a tip off that it was going to be stolen. We hung around drinking tea and cooking meals with one awake each of 4 nights till in the early hours of the last one some paralytic drunken pole tripped over the place and we took him in.
Coming away with the new job - where had the drunk got the drink from? Apparently it was fire water that nearly killed him. So off we go, them in the carrier me losing them on my bike looking in this big forest, then I'm out in a clearing, there in front is a camp site. A brick building on one side quite big, in front are rows of tables set ready to eat with about 30 men who all sprang to attention when I rode in, they stay at attention while I get off the bike and one comes to over to welcome me, saluting. I was taken aback for a while but he wanted me to inspect every thing: the sleeping quarters, the kitchen, there we are he and I walking round with all the others standing to attention. He then has them all line up for me to inspect them and we walk up and down the lines inspecting. I couldn't believe it and to this day I've no idea who they thought I was, OR who they were. But probably it was just I was the first English soldier they saw.
Then as they all stood down and were shaking my hands both hands at once, into
the camp from a narrow lane came Palicaris and our carrier. More hand shaking
with the drink out now. One sip! - It was the bloody fire water! They had a still
a the back (Not included in my inspection) and a 40 gallon drum of aviation petrol.
I and the other lads were all for leaving them with a warning - Not Palicaris he
insisted we roll the drum to a stream and spray it with sten bursts from a distance.
I'll never know why it didn't burst into flames but it didn't. Nobody moaned about
it and they all waved us on our way.
I befriended a young pole who loved riding on the back of my bike. A message
came in from a German woman - someone had stolen her son's Zandap motorbike.
Her son was on the Russian front so no chance of him ever needing it again.
Yes the polish lad! he told me he had pinched it. But it was never recovered and
soon forgotten about when another job came in. -
AB9 Still policeing.
The next job we got was guarding an ammunition dump way out in the wild country side. We reached this brick building single floor 100 foot x 25 foot as some other mob were leaving, they had only been there two days. We then found out that there was a border to patrol as well as the dump, so decided 2 on the carrier run 1hr. - 30 minutes to the end and 30 back, 1 to guard the dump in daylight and 2 hrs off for the other 2. changing the one every 2 hrs. Biggsy and I took the 2 off first and went for a walk.
Jeese - reading back that's not half complicated. Sod it, carry on John.
After about twenty minutes we came to a gap in a big hedge behind which was a circular - like a big lawn with tents around it and odd trees beyond the tents, about 10 of them. With Biggsy's sten and my luger at the ready we, after calling out loudly, proceeded to search one tent at a time. Each had 4 beds all very tidy with a little table, there were odd pens (much sort after those days) even the odd watch. But we couldn't understand why every thing was just as if people had walked out of them, no rush.
Then as we got to the third one we saw four Germans 3 men and a woman coming into the circle no weapons in sight, in my broken German I asked what were they doing, Biggsy and I were saying things to each other like who the f**in ell are they etc, when I noticed one of the men looking at my luger with it’s broken safety catch, he moved his hand towards his pocket as I realised - He thinks it's on safe - so I pulled the trigger twice the 9mm lead kicking up big holes in the grass and him jumping back, then the bloody woman (good looker she was) spoke in perfect English "Don't shoot more he hasn’t got a gun" In reply to my who are you she explained that they had only just found out that the war was over and they were waiting for someone to take them prisoner.
She then went on to say that she had lived in England and had stayed in Liverpool, describing the different buildings and pubs. We didn't want to mess about taking bloody prisoners in and we didn't know what the others were up to, so we left them.
After two days going back and forth 5 miles in the bloody carrier along a track that was by now all mud with most of the run about half a mile from a big wood on the other side of grassland, very open to a burst of Smizer fire from some nut who didn't know the war was over. All a bit stupid anyway, any one could easily get across after we'd gone by.
Every German on the Russian side wanted to get over to our side, there were massive queues on the frontier posts. Later on when we were manning one by Lubeck no one was allowed past. It was sad to see the old and young with all kinds of possessions pleading to let them through, we did let some a first, but with 2 MP types one by us and one by the Russian lads we had to stop. But we did tell them to go over the fields somewhere near a wood and try there, but some could hardly walk. The Russian lads had us drinking Vodka and Snapps till we were quite drunk.
I just thought of a car we acquired, an Opel Rapide, we used to keep bringing it up after us every time we moved, which was often. We would take it to find a town trying to get a beer, we must have had it for nearly a month. On the autobahn we just had to stop at a petrol dump, which was on the road side drag a couple of 5 gallon jerry cans in and off for another week or so. Then one day we stopped at the end of a lane to see if there were any fish in a river lower down. 20 minutes later when we got back we found all tyres were slashed to pieces. That was the end of the Opel.
In later years I got three different Opel Rapide’s at the time I had the shop. One had the original side valve engine it was a bit slow, No 2 had a Ford engine which was great the kids and I did 1000’s of miles round Wales in it. The last one had a bored out head, twin webber carb, on a souped up Vauxhall engine but this one cost £30, more than twice that the other two cost - £8 and £10, but it went like a rocket until one of the salesmen borrowed it, then ran it out of oil in the Mersey tunnel. When he drove up to me with it sounding like a bag of hammers I nearly cried.
Each platoon in the company had two D/Rs. in 14 platoon ours, my mate Ricky the other. At the same time as we were policing around Germany Ricky went out to take a message, and took a wrong turning - His version: Bombing along for miles passing fellas in grey uniforms till he came to a blown up bridge and a host of Germans took him prisoner. Well, he ended up in Salag ( forget the number) Ah! 357 he was in it 4 days with prisoners who hadn't seen a English speaking person for years. They treated him like Royalty, asking this and that and he telling them they would be out in a few days time. He was right 4 days later the Americans liberated the camp.
One of the officers fiddled some papers and Ricky finished up with 2 months leave and 6 months in England. Jammy sod. He sent me a telegram which I received when I was near the end of 2 weeks leave, so I spent the last 4 days of it in Ipswich, at Rickie's house. He was a real character. At that time things were rationed and queues were everywhere.
Well! could Ricky use those POW papers? By Christ - we didn't queue once, the cheeky sod got us free into everywhere and I mean every where; Dances, Pubs, Pictures, Shops we spent nothing !
Oh! and soldiers were supposed to be buttoned up at the neck - not us, collars wide open walking down Ipswich high street - then 50 yards up on the opposite side of the road coming in our direction A dirty great REDCAP SERGENT complete with wax mussy, a real shit house! He crosses toward us, we meet in the middle of the road. WHAAR you B***y BB*** then a car blows it's horn and we move to the pavement. Out come Rickie's POW papers. Well If I said 5 minutes later it would be an exaggeration - 2 minutes later — The same “Shit house” was ready to buy us a pint, into which he was ready to cry! He didn't buy us one but he was close to tears - May I drop dead now if this isn't the whole truth and nothing but! We both walked away still with collars open and the Shit house wishing us all the best - What Ricky said to them all - I -don't -Know. He seemed to whisper it to everyone.
I have never seen him since, as I went to Palestine. He stayed in Germany. I have a photo of him*** Now then - the photo of Ricky - bloody strange - About the 2nd - 3rd week in Normandy in the Odon Valley. I'm on the bike passing the carriers and keeping off the mined grass verges (Which one carrier didn't. and two got Blighties) (A blighty was wounded and sent home to England - Blighty) We often spoke of shooting a toe off or something, so attractive was the idea of going home to England. Anyway I came over a humped bridge and stopped, as the others were stationary in front. I saw nothing, but one of the lads said, a press chap had taken a picture. Well we never ever saw that photograph. Though it was often mentioned by one or another of us for ages after. Well -
About 10 years ago a lad, Frank, who worked with me, for me, came in with a Motor bike magazine, asking if this was the sort of bike we had in the war. I looked at about 8 pictures of the same BSA's that we - the whole army had the same bike. The last inside full page picture was in Normandy. A country lane by a humped back bridge - then the hairs on my neck felt funny - It was us! Ricky in front, me behind and all the lads in the Bren gun carriers, Biggsy included. I couldn't believe it. It was the only magazine Frank ever brought in,,, and we just happened to be in it. I still have it here at home.
AB 10 The moves.
I mentioned "The moves" without explanation, I correct that error now.
As we came near to the end of 2 -3 months fighting in Normandy Bocage country which was all in favour of the Germans. Hedge rows, hills and valleys, were ideal for defence, once out of this area into more flat land the Germans would be pushed back much further before they came to a defensive position; a river, a town with river, or one of the many canals. I seem to remember at least 6 of these moves some lasting a week or more, slowly moving in a big column of vehicles of all kinds, day after day passing dead cows horses and German soldiers.( When wet, mud everywhere, when dry for a day or two, Dust dust dust so much so thick dust, just placing ones foot on the ground would send up dust, if the truck in front was sometimes 10 feet away it was lost in the dust, drive away from the column, none, cos it was left behind you ) There wasn't any need of me a times like this as Military Police directed them all. So the lads would take it in turn to come with me on the back of the bike and get lost, which was easy to do in the half a chaos. We would set off for the nearest town, all of which had just been liberated from the Nazis so we were always welcomed with open legs so to speak. On some occasions we were the first British they had seen, that could be a bit disconcerting as snipers were always the last to move back. --- And many unpleasantries caused by the Germans over the last 4 years of occupation. It might be a man pushed through a crowd all hitting him, spitting often used in addition. Or and more often a woman getting her head shaved in a rough manner usually by other women often the victim screaming. There were times when during the "getting losts" when we were shared out to people all wanting us to eat meals with them, only one night with each family. We had a ball!
Brussels the capital in Belgium was more often our aiming point for weeks as we would go back to it for miles. Borg Leopold had a massive vehicle dump miles of every type of army stuff. One side you could help yourself to spares on the other side you had to get permition. So from the other side we managed to get a nearly new motorbike for me, as an inspection was due. After changing number plates and tank we, I on the new bike Ricky on mine set off for Brussels and the best whore house we knew, for a girl to get a job in this one she had to be at least a Dolly Patron, real
classy stuff. We knew most of them when we arrived with the bike, one of whom was shacking up with a mate of ours Spud Murphy, who was a bit of a wheeler dealer, after he sold the bike he gave us 15000 franks, what he kept we never knew. But 15000 was enough to keep us going for three days.
Two of which we spent in a hotel across the way from the classy stuff's place, The two Dollies and us never left the hotel suite for the whole two days, two beds in the same room, the staff brought all the food and drink we asked for and I lost count at 15 times. But! there was a penalty to pay - gunner - Later leaving me very sad when
after falling off the bike with a cut knee I had to go to hospital, instead of crossing the Rhine with the others, (I must say Ha Ha.)
Oh! I never forgave the bloke who said we had to have the umbrella and demonstrated how they did it. He knew it was only penicillin in the bum. I could have killed him. -- And I'm sure it was from the one time we swapped over.
Before the last of the moves to Nimegin bridge Holland we were sent on rest to some small villages I can't remember the names but we were all put in civvy billets (peoples houses) for about a week, 3 of us were with a dear old lady in a nice house and the beds had SHEETS on them, for me apart from the odd half hours here and there and the hotel for 2 days I never slept anywhere except under a carrier or down a hole somewhere for well over 6 months. The other Lads didn't get the same chances without a bike. So it was their very first time in sheets. (Oh! in case I forget - Later in Germany we were billeted in a place Bargfieg (Can't spell it) I got a chemist shop on my own and the Chemist had a hobby -- Making his own Liquor's, "I was a great test bed" - so he said. AND - my upstairs bedroom overlooking the village green was - cleaned everyday by a little cracker. Who needs -- )
Back to rest in Holland - Well! we were better off in bloody action - They had stuck us in "buzzbomb alley" dead on the route to Rotterdam and Antwerp Bussbombs 5 and 6 at a time the horrible low throaty throbbing racket for 8 days, night and day, one night we counted 7 at the same time, 7 bright flaming rocket motors, some were going in between the chimney pots, well that's just what they sounded like when trying to get to sleep, even with the soppy sheets. The reason I bring this up is a sad one - most of the days an artillery mob near by were trying to shoot them down - One day they did - right in the middle of the next little village that we had visited and knew people in. 15 dead and others wounded. What a mess - so different when women and kids - Jeese what must it have been like in Dresden and all the other places with Women and Kids. Much later on after the end of hostilities we saw lots of the buzzbomb sites, big concrete ramps all blown to pieces by our bombers.
When we moved down to Toulon in the south of France to get a boat to Palestine, the trains were electric, the first we'd ever seen - no smoke - so we enjoyed the new thing that was always up in the sky, the sun. On the roof of the carriages the tunnels were a bit noisy at first and you could only lay down when going through them, but once outside again it was great sunbathing.
Why I don't know, but for some reason we flogged more blankets in Toulon than anywhere else I remember - 10 shilling each.
Fishing in the docks was also fun till we ran out of hand grenades but by then we'd flogged enough fish to get good few pints.
Sunbathing was to some of the lads an obsession, on the journey through the Mediterranean when the ships mast got in the way of the sun they would moan like hell.
Alexandria was where we disembarked and the colourful scene it presented with the little boats full with every kind of commodity vying for a place from which they could all sell their wares is still clear in my mind. Our next stop on the way to Fayed was in the middle of a desert, one of three or four similar stops, miles from nowhere, at each one a dark skinned gent would appear before the train had stopped crying "Eggs a bread Eggs a bread" holding a tray full above his head. I wondered how did he get there and I still don't know.
Fayed was a big camp of tents a five minute walk from a lake, 14 miles long x 7 wide, one of two called The Bitter Lakes. To get there you crossed over the Sweetwater Canal, which was not sweet, it stunk, first time there after climbing a fence to shorten the walk and walking across the sand towards the lake we were halted in our stride by a voice -- no - a foghorn noise, emitted from a passing horrible Sergeant "THAT'S A BLOODY MINEFIELD" we stopped, and tiptoed back trying to find every one of our footsteps showing in the sand. The lake was great, lovely beach and clear blue water we saw a big lobster and there were plenty of other fish. Out a mile or so there were two big Italian Battleships "The Italia"and the "Vittoria" as usual one beach was for all ranks another for officers only. They also had a clubhouse the slaves being Arabs and German POWs and the Jerry's had their own quarters behind the clubhouse. Well us, being very affable chaps, we soon befriended the sunburnt Jerry POW's who had made themselves a couple of sailing boats that were berthed in a big shed. We too were getting to be a bit sunburnt and with only our trunks on you couldn't tell the difference. At this stage of the game we had learned a few tricks - one keep out of the way whenever possible, our tiny minds were ticking - nobody had been allocated to anywhere as we all came mixed in on the trains. If we kept out of the way till after the roll calling who would know us. It worked great for more than a fortnight, perhaps three weeks. We would make our beds up pocker like, then under the fence and down to the beach.
Sailing all over the lakes but always going south before sunset as the wind came up regular from the south late on, anyway there was a smashing French beach five miles south with some lovely brown female bodies on it. That was the life. You won't believe it but we entered a race with officers in it. As POWs. There was no wind we were miles from the clubhouse and on the side away from it we used a little paddle - some bleedin officer had his binos on us and they blew their tops. SO ungentlemanly - banned from more races, as if we cared, they still thought us Germans.
So many funny things happened there, like we had a big ships lifeboat and rowing it out in the middle four of us with Orchard who came from Cowes and knew everything about sailing, so we thought! till when this bloody oil great tanker was steaming towards us and he said firmly "Steam always gives way to sail" it didn't stop us rowing like hell to get out of the way, AND the wake bobbed us up and down.
Then the French beach, there we are chatting up these two crackers when a bloke comes up and wants our identity as it was a private beach, we get into a row and he goes for the police but we got away in the boat.
We even got cups of tea from the sailors on the Italian battleship when we were diving off it.
But all good things come to the end so we said when our cover was blown. One of the beds in the tent didn't pass an inspection, the soap was in the wrong place. I was up for a charge the next day.
I remember clearly, standing outside the guardhouse with others and being told that our normal C.O. was on holiday Cln. Hall, it would only have been a few days jankers, but I was sick - no more beach.
I march in - "Hat off, left right, left right, HALT" - then this new fella says "Will you accept my punishment" ------------------------ "No Sir".
Well the next 2 - 3 weeks was an absolute scream with all giving advice and asking how it was going, and all quoting KRR's (Kings rules and regulations) One chap gave great advice " Who is representing you" he asked - Don't know, says me - well you should know, you can choose your own ,there's a barrister in B company, Major Chamberlain, he's great, tell them you want him" So back to the C.O. again. " I would like to have Major Chamberlain as my defending officer please" On and On it went, till what seemed very soon. Cln. Hall our old C.O. was back. Another Hat off left right performance and "What have you been up to Bates?" and I mumbled something about us going all over Europe after people who were stamping all over the place killing people. And they are trying to do the same to us.
A long pause and in a somewhat drained voice " Will you accept MY punishment?" Yes please Sir. ------- "Seven days to barracks" ABOUT TURN - Left right - etc and it was all over. But a great laugh for weeks.
Our last time in Egypt was at a big camp called (Longmead camp) near Adabia docks, where we used to do guard duties. This was in 1947 the war had been over for two years and everyone wanted to get out of the army. But the system worked in groups, those who went into the army earliest were the lowest group and most of us in the camp were higher. I was 50 group and like all the others was very fed up, browned off, discontented with waiting so long. This was the main reason for us
going on strike, but it was aggravated by all the extra bull shit that seamed to increase day by day.
So it was that striking was much talked about and the first meetings in the big central NAAFI started to take place. At a stated time, three from each Regiment in the camp would be drinking and eating acting as normal in a NAAFI, when suddenly all the lights would go out. Sometimes the Arabs who worked in the kitchen would be trying to carry on using candles, where upon there would be a shout "Put that light out".
As soon as it was pitch dark someone would call a roll of all the different Regiments that were to be involved. HLI (Highland light infantry) Gordon's (Gordon Highlanders) and on through probably twenty more. After each call an answer "here" "Aye" or "they are on the ranges" etc, or perhaps silence. The end of the roll calling was followed by a debate on how and when the strike was to take place. While all this was going on a look out was kept when MP's (Military Police) or SIB (Secret Police) were suspected of being in the area. During part of the debate there were times when a cry went out "SIB" there would then be silence, the lights would come back on and everything reverted to normal. Another time after the cry "SIB" it would be followed by "False Alarm". After quite a few nights of this eventually the format was finalized.
At 7 am on a certain day one Regiment was to go out on the perimeter road ( This camp was very big and right around the outside ran the perimeter road, 2 or 3 miles) and walk the long way round so that those from all the other regiments could join in behind. When the first regiment reached the gate to the road outside there must have been at least a thousand men. Who then all trooped out onto the main road outside. At the gate was 6 pounder gun. Later I was told that an officer ordered the gun crew to fire at or over the queue of soldiers and that they had refused. How true this was I don't know. I was also told that the crew had been charged with refusing to obey an order and sent to prison. How true I don't know. .
While all this was going on we were just returning from a night on guard at the docks, some of us wanted to be in on it. I clearly remember climbing up this big wire fence that surrounded the camp and when on the top being confronted by an officer inside threatening to fire his pistol at me. It seemed quite comical as I slowly backed down to the ground. But I did get in, as I also remember him chasing me round some toilets. By now it was all over, as the objective was to walk out onto the main road outside and this had been achieved.
Soon after this episode we went back to Palestine. After some time flapping about chasing Joe Stearn and his gang, the day came for demob. It was from a place called something like Tellet Winski, bout 5 mile inland from Tel Aviv. We six of us were in the tent getting ready to leave when a call, for anyone who wants a driving licence when he gets home, to go for a pink slip to be handed in to licence centre in England. The six of us decide, why not, and off we go to a truck some way off, where a chap asked our names ticked them in his book and gave us a pink ticket. Back at the tent there was a tiss woss going on, one of the lads had seen someone going into the bushes at the edge of the clearing that the tents were in. Soon after it transpired that three rifles were missing from our tent. The 15cwt that was to take us on the first leg of our homeward journey arrived, but the three who owned the stolen rifles, they whose beds were by the door, had to stay behind as they were put on a charge. We never knew if it was Jew or Arab that stole them but I heard years later that they, our pals, had received a 2 year jail sentence for losing the rifles. I can still picture them standing there, as we, near to crying, moved off in the back of the 15cwt. There by the grace of luck go I.
We boarded the troopship I think it was the 'Battory' a smashing Polish vessel - no it was the Empress of Australia. I'd forgotten earlier I'd had a leave in the UK ( Just checked my scruffy old, what's left of my army pay book - 6/10/46, 30days LIAP in UK. warrant. One way on that was the "Battory" that was from Alexandria Egypt. This time from Haifa to Liverpool. Oh! that was a leave to England and on that oulon. The 30 day leave we made into 50.
Demob last of chapter 1.
The last time down the Mediterranean was aboard the 3 funnelled Empress Of Australia and by far the roughest one, there was a period when the screws kept coming out of the water allowing the engines to rev faster, that an inland sea could be so rough was surprising. I am always captivated by the awe inspiring power of massive seas, mountainous waves with curling white tops --- have just reminded me of the smuggling trip in an Air Sea Rescue boat. (Note made for doing later) But a tiny mention of the last visit to Toulon. There was a big leave transit camp and as everyone wanted to get home on leave as soon as they could, security in that direction was non existent. No one seemed bothered how long you stayed, with all going home.
The first day there, two of us went for a walk that terminated in "Hyeres" on the way calling in on a couple of Villas that were abandoned, I see now that beautiful blue sea, with trees down to the edge, while lying back on the side of a big curved piatza in glorious sunshine, wonderful.
I'm so glad that we had the sense to stay for two weeks in that Transit camp and not dash back to England. Hyeres was a lovely little place, there was a casino the first we had seen, we went in but as we hadn't any money well not much - ever- we didn't bet. Then we found this cracking little Brothel, only two girls, I managed to get 20 minutes for the pair of civvy shoes I was wearing, even walking 3 - 4 miles back in stocking feet was worth it. But I digress.
Back to the Empress of Australia and home to Liverpool, or so we thought, 5 miles from my house and I had to go there via bloody Canterbury. There to be demobbed a week or more later. May 1947.
The sight of the Liver buildings as we entered the river Mersey was one to cherish. But not the fright I got after we climbed up inside the mast and looked over the edge of the crows nest at the little boat way down below, jeese it was high.
Funny but I can't remember getting home. Paid off, £50 in my pocket which for once I didn't spent on beer. I bought lots of records 78"s; Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Glen Miller and Andre Kostalainist,'s Sabre Dance, which was a hit at the time and the other side, Guyana ballet. This was the one record that led me to love good music from then up to today. And I thank him for that.
I suppose that is the end of a chapter in my life. Now to start another, aged 22.3?
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.