Author Topic: War Diary  (Read 9268 times)

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Offline Nick

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2009, 12:45:05 PM »
Extract from Vol 1

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27/4/42

It has been getting gradually hotter each day and typical of the Army, they now decide they will have P.T. as it is so hot. There was a beautiful sunset last night of all imaginable colours, yellow, red, orange, black, blue, grey etc, which kept changing as I watched. A great many flying fish can be seen, they look like small swallows as they skim over the surface of the waves.
I am on guard again today on the watertight doors about five decks down. It is boiling hot down there and full of Chinese. There are about 500 of these chaps on board. Some of us are allowed to sleep on deck at night, as the ?air? in the cabins stinks like hell, sweaty feet, smoke and heat, etc. so I mange to slip out on deck most nights. We should sight land very soon now. We have been heading more east lately. We are putting the clocks forward 1 hour tonight as a result of it.

28/4/42

A Sunderland Flying boat has been hovering around us today, we must be getting close to port.

29/4.42

At about 9a.m. we sighted land ahead, consisting of some high mountain peaks, still misty in the distance and covered in clouds, it is our first sight of land for 14 days, since leaving Scotland. At about 11a.m. we are quite close, we have been steaming in line ahead through a minefield. The details on the shore can be discerned plainly now, hills of reddish earth, covered in scrub and dotted with palm trees, and various types of buildings and huts. It is a most exciting occasion to see Africa for the first time and I only wish Gwen were here, she too would be thrilled at the hundreds of fascinating things to see. As we are crossing the boom at the entrance to the river a small native canoe comes quite close, it seems infinitely small by the towering hull of our ship. Several more canoes approach us as we steam slowly up the river past Freetown. One of the natives in his canoe starts singing ?Bless ?em all?, presumably as a compliment to us. They all seem to have a fair knowledge of English [good and bad] judging by the things they shout at us. If a coin is thrown into the water they will dive over the side of the canoe in a flash and pick it out.
3.
There are hundreds of ships in the harbour of all sorts and sizes and before we drop anchor, the R.A.F, who seem pleased to see us, give us an exhibition of aerobatics, a Spitfire roars round the ship, banking steeply and so close that we can see the pilot clearly. Also in the air are a Sunderland, Walrus seaplanes, Skuas, Albatross etc. On our starboard side is the small scattered town of Freetown, backed by hills and further inland, high mountains. Along the banks are various native huts and tropical plants and trees [about ? mile off]. On the port side some 2 miles off is a long low ridge of land and a golden strip of sand.

30/4/42

It is cooler today and cloudy. At about 3p.m. we had our first taste of tropical rain, Oh Boy, what rain. A small native boat with a triangular sail is being swept along by the gale not far off and it looks as though the mast and sail are going to be lost. The storm dies out after about an hour with a few terrific claps of thunder. I have been sleeping on deck the last few nights, it is glorious out there and there is a beautiful full moon. I remember the last full moon I saw was in Woolwich, which is now 1000?s of miles away. The air is lovely and fresh in the evenings and there is only a partial blackout here, the lights on shore are twinkling all night.

1/5/42

Today is scorching hot and not a breeze to relieve it. What a pleasure cruise this is, we wake up in the morning and have tea and biscuits if somebody is not too idle to fetch it, then breakfast, laze about all morning, sleep most of the afternoon and laze in the evenings.

3/5/42

At 10a.m. this morning we get under way and steam slowly down the river, passing through a narrow channel of ships of every kind, cargo boats, troop ships, battle ships and aircraft carrier etc. We show our mutual admiration of each other as we pass close by each ship, cheering and passing rude remarks, calling the aircraft carrier a football field and a small old destroyer an ice cream tub, to which it did bear a little resemblance with it?s awnings and light paintwork.
We eventually passed through the boom and headed out for the open sea. I played for the service again this morning. I was loaned a book of Handel and played a minuet and Rinaldo as volantries. Also went to service in the evening, it provides a welcome change of atmosphere from our sleeping quarters where wrangling, swearing and sexual discussions reign supreme. I am gratified to discover that rather than succumbing to my environment, my aversion to this [as we have it in large doses] tends to make me more immune from it. The services are well attended and I suppose a lot of the fellows feel the need for some ?spiritual uplift?. Some of the hymns make me feel a bit homesick; ?Holy Father in thy mercy, hear our anxious prayer, keep our loved ones, now far distant, ? neath thy care? I wonder what they are doing now? I have become friendly with two New Zealanders on board, Colin Bellam and Trevor Anderson. It is amazing how small the world is, they were at Osmaston camp, Derby for a short time and Colin became acquainted with a young lady from Derby Corporation Electricity Dept. who I knew, he also knew of the famous Mr Duck.   I have also met Basil Thompson on board, who I was at school with, he is now a pilot officer in the R.A.F. he used to attend the Y.M.C. at Wesley Hall.

4/5/42

Sometime this evening we should cross ?the line?, it is of course very hot and the morning and evening give is the only relief. It is grand on deck at night and last night we were treated to a fine display of lightening though there was no thunder. I had heard that it was very cold at night in the tropics, but I have yet to discover this, as it is quite warm with only one blanket out on open deck. There is a fearful racket in pop bottles on board, 2d is charged on each and as they are left all

4.
over the ship, there is a great temptation to cash them in at the canteen. I have done it myself, so I know!

5/5/42

We had a musical treat this afternoon, a talk on17th century composers, including Handel and Bach and a selection of old songs, with ?Largo?, ?Drink to me only?, ?Alleluya? and madrigals.
The sea is abundant with flying fish and today I saw what I believe is called a Ray fish. It looked like a big brown bird floating in the water. It was much cooler on deck last night with a strong breeze blowing and I had to use two blankets.  Major catastrophe: the canteen has run out of practically everything except ?C to C? fags and various haberdashery, no choc, fruit, biscuits etc. This does not surprise me as huge quantities of these have been bought and it has been a never ending source of amazement to me where all the stuff comes from:- fresh water, flour, sugar, meat, potatoes, fruit , veg, chocolate and fags. Colossal stocks of these things must be carried, for instance, 10 fags per man a day=50,000 per day =1,400,000 per week, to mention only one small commodity.

7/5/42

A gramophone recital was held this afternoon, [light classical music] it was well attended by several hundred and among the pieces played was Purcell?s Trumpet Voluntary with organ and orchestra, it sounded fine and was enjoyed by all. Was on guard again on watertight doors, made me fearfully tired, but slept most of the next day.

8/5/42

It is getting much colder at least in comparison to what we have been used to, there was a very cold wind blowing tonight. I have been feeling very homesick the last few days and I find myself wondering how I am going to stick being away from home for such a long while. If it were not for Gwen and baby I wouldn?t mind at all. I wonder if little Ann will remember me when I finally get home, I expect she has started school now. I shall perhaps feel better when I hear all the news from Gwen and too, when I get off this blasted boat. We have been at sea a month tomorrow and   it will probably be another two before we get to our destination, it seems incredible to be at sea for a quarter of a year: one consolation, [?] however is that we shall probably be nearer home than we are at the moment. Our position now must be about 20degrees S and 500-1000 miles west of Africa.

10/5/42

Played at service again this morning and community singing tonight. Heard Churchill?s speech on the radio and attended the weekly session of ?The Brains Trust?, one of our educational facilities which we have on board, they also have German, French, Arabic, Persian, Art, Music etc.
When the sun was setting this evening we were heading due East.

11/5/42

Some dirty swine pinched 30/- out of my pocket during the night, this is one of several thefts from our room. No hope of recovering it or finding out who it was.
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Offline Pastis

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2009, 02:48:11 PM »
Quote
A Sunderland Flying boat has been hovering around us today, we must be getting close to port.

Pastis the Elder  eeek: eeek:
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Offline Nick

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2009, 02:48:29 PM »
 eeek:
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Offline Pastis

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2009, 02:53:09 PM »
Six degrees of separation  shocked003
Like the Buddhist said to the hot dog vendor...
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Offline Nick

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #34 on: August 26, 2009, 02:53:32 PM »
He was in S Africa in 1942....?
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Offline Pastis

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #35 on: August 26, 2009, 03:03:44 PM »
TBH I don't know. He was all over the place on Catalinas, Sunderlands.... Burma, HK, Singapore, East Africa, West Africa, prolly S.Africa too.
At close of hostilities he was offered the post of managing the HK shipyard and docks, came home to announce the splendid news and the family said no, we need you here so he had to turn it down.  noooo:

I might have been Sak? instead of Pastis  lol: lol:
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Offline Nick

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #36 on: September 04, 2009, 10:53:43 AM »
I am now collating it allinto one mahoosive file.

I found this. Like father, like son I fear  redface:

Quote
We rose at 3a.m. today, having previously packed and moved off in convoy ay 6a.m. and passing through Cairo and along the road by the Pyramids, which looked very majestic and impressive in the morning sun, we took the road through the desert to Alexandria about 180 Kms. distant. After some of the usual Army delay, we turned off across the desert and came to our site in a few more minutes. It was nearly 6p.m. and after tea we spread our blankets and with the rising full moon for illumination, we turned in.

25/7/42

The site we have parked on is a stony stretch of wasteland and desert, inhabited by ants, flies lizards, snakes, bugs, grasshoppers and massive black beetles. A few hundred yards off there is a salt marsh, covering many square mile
s

I never did like camping  evil:
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Offline Nick

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2010, 11:24:01 AM »
The Imperial War Museum has just let us have my Dad's service record from 1939-46. Fascinating stuff  cloud9:

Didn't know he had ended up in Berlin!  eeek:
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Offline Nick

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #38 on: July 01, 2010, 12:52:39 PM »


 cloud9:
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Offline tel

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #39 on: July 01, 2010, 04:09:07 PM »
I started to trace my grandfathers war record. Very awkward, WW1, volunteered and signed up in Ireland. Know he was in the Royal Leinsters and have one or two pics of him in uniform. He never spoke of the war (I was probably too young to be interested), but I believe he was at The Somme and that he was gassed. No-one in family has any records, letters, medals etc.
Got what I believe is his service record card but it is quite vague.
Just have to keep digging.

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Offline Pastis

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #40 on: July 01, 2010, 04:37:08 PM »
Did he survive the Somme?  I had an uncle who died there; my Mum's youngest brother, in fact he died there before she was born. Very sad, joined up before the legal age with all the Jingoistic froth and only lasted a short time. I think a couple of my aunts have been to see the war graves.  noooo:
Like the Buddhist said to the hot dog vendor...
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Offline Barman

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #41 on: July 01, 2010, 05:16:48 PM »
Can't recommend this guy enough...

He arranges 'battlefield tours' but will research your ancestors war record (stuff we couldn't find) and build it into the tour... it was amazing...

Took my mother and followed the path of an Uncle up to the front, to fields where he was billeted, to battlefields where he saw action and ultimately to his final resting place... quite amazing.
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Offline Snoopy

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #42 on: July 01, 2010, 06:15:06 PM »
I started to trace my grandfathers war record. Very awkward, WW1, volunteered and signed up in Ireland. Know he was in the Royal Leinsters and have one or two pics of him in uniform. He never spoke of the war (I was probably too young to be interested), but I believe he was at The Somme and that he was gassed. No-one in family has any records, letters, medals etc.
Got what I believe is his service record card but it is quite vague.
Just have to keep digging.

If you have his "Regimental" or "Service" number look at the Medal Rolls held at Kew. Unfortunately records kept in Ireland were burnt following an IRA attack on the records offices.
Records kept at Kew now did suffer some burning when there offices were bombed in WWII but many have survived.
I have accounts with a couple of the main sources as I have been researching my family history for years. If you care to let me have his name (full) D.O.B. (if known), Place of birth and any service numbers, regiments etc via a PM, I can use my accounts to look for him for you. That way you get in for free ~ Otherwise you are looking at annual subscriptions of around 300 to access what I can get into.
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Offline tel

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2010, 09:01:47 AM »
Thanks, I will dig out what I have.

He survived the war and came to live in England, Carshalton Surrey which became very much an Irish area.

The pub I am meeting my dada at a lunchtime is now called The Nightingale, but use to be The Jenny Lind - it was an Irish pub - grandad used to take me for walks (when I was about 4/5 yrs old) and this involved several betting shops and finally the Jenny Lind where I was left outside drinking lemonade which I am sure had brandy in it (prolly why I like it today).
Lots of great memories of him.

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Offline apc2010

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Re: War Diary
« Reply #44 on: January 16, 2015, 08:12:03 PM »
Just found this thread ...most excellent ..anymore Nick....... rubschin: