An account of Army Life During World War II
experienced by Bernard Welburn

last updated December 2, 2010



 

Epochs and Theatres of War
please follow the links below to visit each part of the story.

PRE-WAR

Egypt
Italy

 

Bernards' Original Desert Rat badges
Wiki Link

 

Activities heading to and in Egypt.
There are few details of Bernards' action in Egypt, although we know Bernard was part of the 'Desert Rats' as we have the iconic fabric patches etc. Movements are noted, but major actions in this desert campaign are not noted in the diary so involvment is unclear.
Date Location Comments
18 Aug 40 Thursley Common,
Godalming
Left camp at night. Entrained at Milford and travelled all night.
19 Aug 40 Liverpool 0930 Arrived
19 Aug 40   Embarked on HMT "Duchess of Bedford", a 20,000 ton CPR Liner. Lay off in River Mersey for a while.
22 Aug 40   Pulled anchor and full steam ahead for an unknown destination. Sailed in convoy with S.S "Denbighshire", S.S Waughteria, H.M.S Aircraft carrier "Argus", 9 or 10 destroyers, 5 or 6 Cruisers including H.M.S "Ajax" and the "Valiant" capital ship.
22 Aug 40 At Sea - Ireland Sailed West for following 2 days, when clear of Ireland, soon our travel escort increased. More Cruisers & H.M.S Illustrious (A.C) Course changed to SSW and gradually South.
26 Aug 40 At Sea - Gibraltar Travel escort left us when opposite Gibraltar and we proceeded along with one humble cruiser H.M.S "York" and our 2 cargo ships Denbighshire & Woughteria[sp?]
28 Aug 40 At Sea The heat increased and we started wearing our tropical dress.
1 Sep 40 In Port - Freetown, West Africa Sunday Morning, land was sighted and at 0900 we were anchored at Freetown, West Africa. The ship was soon surrounded by oil tankers, lighters[sp?] bringing water and many native craft displaying wares of all kinds and many cofee coloured natives who were eager to dive for coins.
1 Sep 40 1800 hrs weighed anchor and set sail in south westerly direction. Gradually the course changed to due south then south east and we knew we were heading for the cape.
3 Sep 40 At sea in the morning we crossed "The Line" but without any ceremony as is usually the custom.
9 Sep 40 In Port - Cape Town, South Africa Land again sighted and soon Cape Town was in view, nestling at the foot of the famous "table mountain". At 2130 we were safely in port and moored alongside the quay. All night work went on [loading] oil water and supplies of foodstuffs etc.
10 Sep 40 Cape Town, South Africa We disembarked by squadron and were marched round the town for roughly 2 hours. We were given a hearty cheer by the civil population including the blacks who were the blackest we had yet seen.
10 Sep 40 At Sea by 1200 we were all safely on board and the good ship stuck her nose out to sea once more.
At sea - Simonstown Land soon dissapeared from sight and at Simonstown just around the Cape we picked up our escort once more.
At Sea - Madagascar sailed north north east by east, leaving Madagascar many miles on our port bow, did not see land again for some days.
17 Sep 40 At Sea - Crossed equator at approx 1800 hours
19 Sep 40 At Sea - Socotra? Sighted some rocky islands which we imagined to be Socotra but without having a cargo map this could not be verified.
23 Sep 40 At Sea - Port Jewfih? Arrived evening the fort for Suez, land was in sight on both sides and the heat was almost unbearable. During this part of the voyage the temperature in the main dining saloon on "D" deck just above the water line was steady at 127 degrees [f] and getting meals was a very sweaty procedure.
At Sea - Aden our escort "AM Cruiser York" left us and we continued with H.M.S Hobart and 5 destroyers.
24 Sep 40 Suez Canal Proceeded through the Suez Canal at 5 knots and arrived at Port Said at 1600hours. Anchor dropped for the night at the very mouth of the canal with the mediteranian in front of us and the statue of Ferdinand De Lesseps on our port bow.
25 Sep 40 Almaza Heliopolis, Egypt 0900 disembarked by pontoon bridge in front of the port authorities building and in an hour were on the train bound for an unknown destination which after a very hot and dusty journey turned out to be Cairo. We detrained and had to wait 2 hours for transport to take us to Almaza Camp on the edge of the desert and the outskirts of Heliopolis.
Almaza, Egypt Stayed here in a canvas camp until 9-10-40
9 Oct 40 Posted to and joined GHQ 2nd Echelon for duty. Attained local sergeant.
13 Oct 40
Cinema Ticket - Metro Cinema
15 Oct 40 Attached to Black Watch for R&A until 15-10-40
15 Oct 40   Echelon moved from Haevel-nil Baho to Jabbet-Blod Allassia
3-9 Feb 42 ..
Cine Studio MISR - Cairo Cinema brochure advertising "Lucky Partners"
Cinema Ticket - Cinemastudios Misr - Merdi Matinee
Feb 41 Operation Compass completed, defeat and capture of Italian desert force LINK
9 Feb 41 Giza, Egypt Went to visit Pyramids at Giza on Sat 9-2-41 following detail from Pears Encyclopaedia is very accurate [pages describing pyramids in great detail omitted]
. .
.
6 Mar 41 Cairo ..
Mutiny on the Bounty Cinema programme at Cinema Metro - Cairo
14 Mar 41 a very bad khamseen[??]
Promoted AP/Sgt with back date to 19-8-40 & granted w.s Rank
24-30 Mar 41 ..
Ticket for Cinema Miami - Laurel & Hardy "Saps at sea" + "The light that failed"
June 41

Operation Battleaxe (siege of Tobruk) LINK

We believe Bernard was involved in this operation, but have no details.

20 Sep 41

A year completed in Egypt - not struck - and longing for home. Started to learn Arabic - spoken and written alphabet as follows :

15 Jan 42 Left GHQ and 2nd Echelon M.E.F and attd to HQ 7 Armd Bde.
22 Jan 42 Ctba [?] & rejoined 2/RTR
26 Jan 42 Port Suez Proceeded to port Suez
28 Jan 42 Leaving Egypt embarked 27-1-42 per HT Axanius[?] sailed at 0040
July 1942 Battle of El Alamein

 

Undated paperwork
Satirical comic book produced by GHQ for allied soldiers of north africa

Cinema ticket for

Cinema Diana Palace
Charlie Caplin - The Great Dictator ! (1940)

Cinema ticket
Cinema Royal - Cairo

Tourist map of Cairo and Heliopolis, much like you find today, small maps surrounded by adverts for local businesses

"Selim Youssef
Camera Artist
44, Soliman Pacha St. (Doss Pacha's Passage Tel. 49769)
Representing the Highest Artistic Creations
with the Camera"

"Ste Des Autobus du Caire" bus ticket
another counterfoil maybe from a cinema.

Ticket for :

The Cairo Electric Railways & Heliopolis Oases Cy.

Le Caire - Heliopolis (Tantah)

Group of Misc. tickets from Cairo

Cinema ticket :
Cine Femina Palace
185, Rue Em d-El Dine

Cinema ticket :

Cine-Jardin "PARC"
Nouvelle Direction

Cinema Ticket :

Metropole Cinema

Cinema Ticket :

Cinema Diana Palace

a bingo card!?!

Albertiri Cairo

Cinema - Theatre ticket

Kursaal

Cinema Ticket

Cinema Royal

 

A Soldier's Farewell to Egypt.

Land of heat and sweaty socks
Sin and sand and tons of pox,
streets of sorrow, streets of fame
streets for which we have no name,
streets of filth and stinking dogs,
Harlets, thieves and pestering wogs,
clouds of choking dust that blinds
And drives poor blokes clean off their minds,
aching hearts and aching feet,
Gyppo guts and Camel meat,
The Arab's heaven - the Soldiers hell
LAND OF BASTARDS = FARE THEE WELL

Unknown author, but a typed up original.

 

Epochs and Theatres of War
please follow the links below to visit each part of the story.

PRE-WAR

Egypt
Italy

 




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These pages are (C) Andy Welburn 1996-2009. I cannot be held responsible if the information supplied herein results in a blown monitor/power supply/house fuse/mind. Oh yeah, have a nice day :)