home | 1900 | 1925 | 1930 | 1937 | 1941 | 1945 | 1946 | 1949 | 1952 | 1956 | 1960 | 1969 | 1978 | greenwich | info

Sketch of the Georgic, used as a troop ship in 1946.

The Army Years.
(page 6 of 6)


Ending with an 18-day voyage from Bombay to Liverpool on the Georgic,
a 27,750 ton troop ship.

I was lucky with letters from home, from friends and relatives, they were great morale boosters. One of my regular writers was aunt Nell; she was also writing to my cousin George Woodgate, whom I only remembered as a child in Bermondsey. By coincidence, George was also serving in India at the same time as me and aunt Nell sent me his address.

The relaxed period at Mansar Camp offered an ideal opportunity to visit George once I had contacted him and discovered he was within travelling distance from Rawalpindi. His army barracks was near Peshawar, on the Northwest Frontier, about one hundred miles distance from Rawalpindi. About three of my fellow NCO's at Mansar Camp wanted to come with me for the ride, so we got permission to borrow a small truck and set off early one Sunday morning.

That part of India (which is, of course, now Pakistan) was mostly remote countryside; the roads were little more than mud-tracks used by bullock carts and camels, and the only way to avoid getting stuck in the potholes was to drive fast. We went through several small villages and somehow our driver managed to avoid colliding with the many dogs that wandered across our path.

We found the barracks and met George in the NAAFI canteen, but the long trip was not complete without a trek up into the mountainous region to get a view of the famous Khyber Pass. The border was fenced off and guarded on the other side by an armed Afghanistan sentry. There was a small Indian traders' hut on our side of the border; we had some refreshments there before setting off on our return journey, and I did manage to buy a Khyber Pass postage stamp from the hut as a souvenir (now, whatever happened to that stamp?).

Thumbnail of sketch by Alf. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge - Thumbnail of sketch of camel by Alf.

Thumbnail of sketch by Alf. Click to enlarge
Thumbnail of sketch of Tom Price by Alf - Click to enlarge.

Back at Mansar Camp, time was dragging on, although soon about three of us were given orders to pack our kit and move out. On the first part of our journey home we were taken to Rawalpindi station and then by train to a dispersal unit, probably near Bombay.

Here we waited with hundreds of other British troops for what seemed like eternity, watching the Daily Orders for instructions to move out on the last leg of our journey. We finally arrived at the dock in the port of Bombay, to find our ship, the Georgic, waiting to take us home.

The voyage home to England took only eighteen days, thanks to the re-opening of the Suez Canal. We travelled through the Canal at night, although it was still daylight when we entered it. The Georgic, we were told, was only the second largest ship ever to enter the Canal, but it seemed at times that we were almost touching the sides as we went slowly through.

It was my first trip through the Mediterranean and as far as I can remember we only sighted one piece of land, the Rock of Gibraltar, looming up through the mist in the far distance. We made no stops on the way home and couldn't wait to see the "Green Fields of England". As we approached the coast, it was a sight for sore eyes and our dream come true, after three and a half years in India.

The disembarkation at Liverpool was quick and without problems; the customs checks were carried out on board while the ship was still docking and our only difficulty was that every man had to carry his own kit and personal belongings ashore without help or assistance from anyone else.

The enormous suitcase that I had bought in Rawalpindi was very heavy and I feared at one stage that I might have to disown it. I was also carrying a full army pack plus two kit bags, but somehow I struggled down the ship's gangway with everything, unaided, and breathed a sigh of relief when I stood on the dockside.

The train journey from Liverpool to Waterloo station went quicker that expected: I think most of us were standing by the windows, admiring the scenery and counting the number of pubs we could see. At Waterloo Station we were met by army lorries ready to take us to our various barracks, mine being Shrapnel Barracks at Woolwich. No time was allowed for phone calls; a team of reception clerks at the barracks was waiting to book us in and immediately issue leave passes.

All this happened in one day, 30th June 1946, the day we arrived back in England.

Within half-an-hour I was back at Waterloo station and on the phone to my family at Cheam; they had no idea I was in England as there was no way I could let them know what date I was leaving India.

I was given twenty-eight days Disembarkation Leave, from 30th June 1946 until 27th July 1946. I returned to Shrapnel Barracks on 27th July to report for normal duties, awaiting discharge.

"Normal Duties" for me meant I was Guard Commander at least once a week, Sergeant-in-Charge of Working Parties almost every day and, on one occasion, I was in charge of a Prisoner & Escort transferring a man from Shrapnel Barracks to a military prison in Kent.

I was lucky enough to get leave to travel home to Cheam on most weekends. I was at Shrapnel Barracks for a month and finally discharged from the army on 27th August 1946.

I went to the Army Dispersal Unit at Guildford from Woolwich and was kitted out with civilian clothing, given my discharge papers and ration books, etc. I was given Release Leave from 28th August to 22nd October 1946 and Overseas Leave from 23rd October to 29th November 1946 and transferred to the Army Reserve on 30th November 1946.

In summary, the following are some of the places that I visited or was stationed at, during my time in India (as far as I can remember!): Agra, Madras (about three times), Bombay (about four times), Poona (about twice), Delhi (about twice), Ranchi, Gulanchi, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Ootacamund, Karachi (about twice), Wah, Lahore (about twice).
Click here to go to a map of pre-partition India (now India, Pakistan & Bangla Desh), with the places Alf mentions here shown on the map.

Some points from history: Clothing rationing started in Britain on 2nd June 1941 but was lifted in February 1944.
The Duke of Kent died in a Flying Boat crash on 25th August 1942.
Film actor Leslie Howard was killed, aged fifty, in a civil airliner shot down by Germans in the Bay of Biscay on 1st June 1943.
Churchill resigned the coalition government on 23rd May 1945 and formed a new interim government until the General Election; on the 25th July 1945 the Labour Party came to power, with Clement Atlee as Prime Minister.
Heathrow Airport was opened 1st January 1946.
The first post-war bananas arrived in Britain on 28th January 1946.
League football returned 1st September 1946.
On December 18th 1946, the House of Commons voted to nationalise the railways and road haulage.

Go to the next page > resettlement
Go back to the last page < army05
Go to the home page << home

home | 1900 | 1925 | 1930 | 1937 | 1941 | 1945 | 1946
1949 | 1952 | 1956 | 1960 | 1969 | 1978 | greenwich | info

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Text by Alf Allen 1999. Edited and spell-checked by Mike Allen 2003.
Most photos taken by Alf and most illustrations drawn by him; scanned from his albums, etc., now in my possession and digitally edited 2003-2005.
Yes, yes, the photos and layout need updating - the website was first designed in "dial-up days", before any sort of broadband, and everything had to be small so it uploaded and downloaded fast. Work to do, I know.

Website produced 2003-2013 by Mike Allen - a fatuous platitudes production.

Attempting accessibility: Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS! Explanation of Level A Conformance

Last changed 28-Aug-2013 22:54