7 THE LONG JOURNEY HOME 11 Nov 1918 – 15 Mar 1919

Nov 11, 1918 Hear of Peace.

Nov 12, 1918 Day off. One of the fellows in our mess gets the small pox so we are all vaccinated.

Nov 23, 1918 All staff sergeants go into isolation also the two orderlies with us. Joe and I have to leave our little room. Get a tent and pitch it, about two hundred yards from anybody. Have our food bought to us.

Nov 24, 1918 Sunday Glorious weather. Lie on our beds in the sun and watch our fellows playing football some little distance off. More fellows have the small pox and two more ‘contact’ parties come out into isolation.

Nov 25, 1918 One of our chaps dies with smallpox. We are having a lovely time. Have a chap to buy stuff for us and bring our food. We have breakfast about 9 am. Then wash and go for a walk taking care not to go near anyone. The Doctor inspects us every morning at 10.00 am to see if any of us have ‘chicken’. See Religious procession men beating themselves with chains.

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Kasimain (Near Bagdad) Austins , November 1918
(Click photo for full screen image.)

Nov 27, 1918 Feeling in the pink and putting on a little weight. Beautiful weather. Good food and nothing to worry about. Our errand chap brings the whisky ration over. Amuse ourselves by football, etc.

Dec 2, 1918 Having a lovely time. Breakfast in bed. Beautiful weather. Ask the Doctor if we can stop in isolation another month.

Dec 4, 1918 Out of isolation. Pack up our tent. Joe and I take our beds back to our little room. Have a disinfecting bath.

Dec 5, 1918 Raining. Have a concert in the evening.

Dec 10, 1918 Reviewed by General Townsend.

Dec 16, 1918 Lovely weather. Feeling fit for anything.

Dec 17, 1918 Go to races in a car.

Dec 24, 1918 Commence festivities. Carol singing at night.

Dec 25, 1918 Christmas  Arrange a swell dinner, half a fowl per man, beef, potatoes, greens, custard, fruit, cakes, sweets, cigars , beer, whisky, vermouth.

Dec 26, 1918 Packing up, to leave for Basrah.

Dec 27, 1918 Up before daylight. March 6 miles to the river bank and get on boat.

Dec 28, 1918 Going down river.

Dec 31, 1918 Land at Magil. See the New Year in. All the boats whistles blowing.

Jan 1, 1919 At Makina in tents. Breakfast. Parade for 15 mins then football. Dinner then walk or bed. Tea then concert.

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At Makina (North of Basra) January 1919. Staff Sergeant Tom on the right.
(Click photo for full screen image.)

Jan 11, 1919 See the ‘Dust of Egypt’ a very good play.

Jan 12, 1919 Raining. Tell off fatigue parties. Guard at night.

Jan 15, 1919 See eye Doctor.

Jan 18, 1919 To doctor again in ford car.

Jan 19, 1919 Raining hard all day. Do not leave the tent.

Jan 20, 1919 A very rough night. Have a look round our tent to see that the pegs are alright. There are two Sergt Majors, Joe and I, and an orderly in our marquee so have plenty of room. Stay in bed all day.

Jan 26, 1919 Joe and I go for a walk to buy some oranges and nuts and got soaked through with the rain. Fry for tea. Buy some potatoes at about 2d each.

Jan 29, 1919 Preparing to leave for home. Loading up lorries which are taking kit down to the boat.

Jan 30, 1919 Up at 4 am. March five miles to the quay, where we go aboard the ‘Franz Ferdinand’, a captured boat. Sail at 1 pm. The boat is not very large and there are 1100 aboard so we are very crowded.

Jan 31, 1919 Out at sea. Beautiful weather. Sleep on deck. Make arrangements to have food in the saloon (by paying).

Feb 1, 1919 Glorious day Five course breakfast. Lunch at 12, four or five courses. Tea and bread and butter, cake at 3.30. Dinner at 6 pm. Putting on weight.

Feb 2, 1919 Having a lovely trip living on deck. Concert for officers and ourselves in saloon at night, jolly good time.

Feb 6, 1919 Climate very hot and damp.

Feb 7, 1919 Boats engines are stopped and Fred Jackson is buried at sea.

Feb 8, 1919 Breezy and cooler. Boats speed average 310 miles per day.

Feb 10, 1919 Arrive at Port Tewfik ( Suez) leave boat and go aboard train at 2 pm. Mess about until 6 pm and then get a move on. Our train runs alongside the Suez Canal. Pass several boats, spending a sitting up night, arrive at Port Said about 1 am. Leave train and march to camp.

Feb 11, 1919 Go into Port Said for a look round, buy a few souvenirs and visit several cafes.

Feb 14, 1919 Reveille at 4 am. Go aboard the ‘Kashgar’, 2700 men aboard.

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P & O Kashgar 1914 – 1931
(Click photo for full screen image.)

Editor’s Note: The Kashgar was one of a series of six 9000 ton steamers built in 1913-1914 for P & O with names beginning with ‘K’, all of which survived the war, but were scrapped in Japan in 1931-1932.

Feb 15, 1919 Crossing the Mediterranean hardly room to turn round on deck.

Feb 18, 1919 Leave ‘Kashgar’ in small boats for quayside at Taranto. Pouring with rain. No dinner or tea. Get very wet.

Feb 19, 1919 In huts, bread and jam for breakfast and dinner.

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Taranto to Grantham and demobilisation
(Click map to see detail)

Feb 20, 1919 Loading up train. Leave Taranto at 2 pm. Travelling in trucks. 25 men in ours.

Feb 21, 1919 Passing through Italy.

Feb 24, 1919 Arrive at Lyon and stay about two hours.

Feb 26, 1919 In camp living in huts at Le Havre. Go into the town at night.

Feb 27, 1919 In crowded boat crossing the Channel. Sit up all night and arrive in Southampton early next morning. One meal only all day.

Feb 28, 1919 In England again but no breakfast. Given some tea and two buns and piece of chocolate for dinner. Standing about in the sheds on the docks all day. Draw a parcel of food each at about 5 pm containing sausage roll, meat sandwich, biscuits, cheese, chocolate and go aboard train bound for Grantham. Pass though Reading and Oxford arriving at Grantham station about 10 pm. Commence to march to Belton Park Camp, 5 miles distant. Arrive about midnight. Everyone asleep and do not know anything of our arrival. Stand waiting to get into huts for hours in the cold wind.

March 1, 1919 Trying to get warm in huts. Get some breakfast about 10 am. Draw some blankets for the night.

March 2, 1919 Hospital full up with our fellows having caught the ‘flu’ two nights ago. Several dying through the night’s exposure. Our treatment is bought up in Parliament. Joe and I living together and both feel very bad.

March 3, 1919 Feeling no better. Stay in hut all day. Have some rum at night and go to bed.

March 8, 1919 Getting a lot better. Hire a car and go into Grantham with Joe and two others.

March 10, 1919 To Grantham again at night. Have a good supper and return to camp.

March 14, 1919 Leave Grantham in morning bound for Purfleet. There are only ten of us who have to go to Purfleet for demobilisation. Leave Purfleet about 6 pm for London having been ‘demobbed’. Unable to get a bed for the night so go to the Y.M.C.A.

March 15, 1919 Leave St Pancras for home.

End of Tom’s diary entries

May 23, 1919 – Tom travelled to London to attend the Locker-Lampson Reception.

 And finally, click here to view: THREE OF TOM GARNERS WW1 LETTERS HOME

 

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