An Uncle's Diary
The war years
It was at this time that the news about “us” going abroad leaked out. We “R” troop of the 4th survey Regiment, were stationed at Frogmore, in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, having spent the glorious summer of 1940 in that area. This news, always welcome to a “unit” browned off with lying around was soon confirmed by the C.O. Colonel J.T.Whetton, who promised us embarkation leave, and warned us about “Careless talk”
The leave over, the medicals completed, we commenced the task of packing stores for overseas shipment. In the same period we were marched up to the QM stores to be issued with tropical clothing “such a sight”
Fred Karnos army had nothing on us
However a few alterations considerably improved our appearances. The stores including “Miles of Don-8-cable” on drums were marked by stencil with our serial number-18056- we all marked our kit bags and other equipment.
14th November After many false alarms and the usual rumours, which originated in the “Bogs” we finally received our marching orders and marched silently to the railway station at one in the morning and it was snowing, a typical English farewell. As we marched along the quiet streets, bowed down with our kits and rifles, and others with Bren and Lewis guns, windows were opened and sleepy friends said their Good-Byes and blessings-we were very popular in High Wycombe.
Soon the entire regiment had been gathered to-gether from various parts of the town, and as we stood on the platform of High Wycombe station, seeking protection from the snow, someone called out “Roll on Egypt”
The train journey was long and “bloody awful” lots of halts and other distractions. Early morning saw us at Liverpool Docks, “Unwashed, Unshaved and Unsung”. Everywhere you looked were the grey hulls of Liners waiting to embark equally large masses of tired and not very happy soldiers. At 10-00 hours our regiment boarded the “Reina Del Pacifico” a motor liner of some 20,000 tons belonging to one of the Pacific lines / Holts I think. It was on this ship that Ramsay McDonald died in South American waters. (This ship did survive the war) Hours later saw us making the best of rather cramped quarters. Hammocks provided or you could “Doss down” on the mess tables. In any event we were better of than the New Zealanders and Australians. I wondered why?
17th November After two days of waiting in the Mersey and at the mercy of the tides, we weighed anchor and sailed as far as we knew or were concerned into the unknown. It was Sunday the time 11-00 hours, and it was a cold grey day-“this was it”
The ships were formed into convoy and on its flanks were the American Destroyers “leased lent” to us and they were making heavy weather of the choppy water of the Irish Sea.
Life aboard became monotonous but we were thankful that there were no “Sub Scares”