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January 1942

3rd January

The receipt of a message for a South African official who has travelled from England aboard our ship. We leave the convoy and make full speed for Cape Town.

4th January

Approaching Cape Town and Cape Town dock: by Fred Goodwin

The first view of Cape Town is naturally the Table Mountain and later the town set snuggly at the foot. A lovely view of white buildings glaring in the brilliant sunlight. As we view the scene the Table has its cloth spread. The South African is taken off in a launch and we remain at anchor the remainder of the day.

5th January

Next day we leave Capetown once more at full speed.

7th January

We meet up with the convoy early this morning, slowing down to suit the speed of the convoy.


8th January

Exactly a month to the day we arrive and berth at Durban, in the early morning. Given leave passes to go ashore at 14.00 hours till 23.59. Our arrival at Durban must have been expected for the reception we got after stepping out of the dock area was almost overwhelming. Cars lined the street and the people were waiting to take small parties of us out sightseeing. My pal and I were picked up in a car by a middle aged couple and soon found ourselves on 'Palm Beach' with ices and minerals. That night we went to dinner with our hosts at their home and were taken to a show, to be driven back to the docks in time to hand our passes in.

9th January

Next day we went ashore from 12.00 hours and decided that we would look the town over without escort. We soon found the YMCA and sent home letter-cards of views of Durban. Found most of the Service canteens and visited the swimming pool, taking a walk along the promenade in the evening, stopping at most of the various entertainments provided.

10th January

Drew for guard today, so didn't get shore-leave, although we [were] allowed to visit canteen on docks during the evening.

11th January

On going ashore today we were picked up by a fairly young couple, who had emigrated from England eight years previously. They took us for a tour of the surrounding country stopping at various places for refreshment and an hotel for dinner, returning late in the evening.

12th January

World and South Africa Maps showing Cape Town and Durban

This morning we had to change ships to another transport which is to take us the remainder of our voyage. H.M.T. City of Canterbury. Shore leave as usual today, being the last day we made a real 'do' of it. Swimming and tennis in the afternoon and a show in the evening, with a slap-up supper before returning to the ship. On returning to the ship we were surprised at the filthy state of the ship, which we had hardly noticed at the time of changing ships and the rush to get ashore. The mess-deck, which served as living and sleeping quarters was grimy and alive with cockroaches. It took several days of hard work to get the ship into a decent condition.

13th January

We sailed from Durban in convoy, being given a grand send off by the townspeople many of whom followed us out to sea for some distance in launches. Small wonder the condition of the shipMy father does not mention the Durban Mutiny in protest at the appalling unhygienic and unsanitary conditions. 159 RAF personnel and 28 members of No 4 Company RAOC walked off HMT City of Canterbury on 13th January 1941 and later a court-martial convicted 30 of the mutineers., we learn it had been carrying Italian and German prisoners down from North Africa. The food on this ship turns out to be very plain but wholesome, not very great in variety but good in quantity. The canteen is poor providing little else but smokes.

The trip is a very pleasant one across the Indian Ocean, with its deep blue sea and almost unbroken sky most of the way, although we encountered the tail end of a typhoon at one period where we narrowly escaped a bad accident, by just missing a collision with one of the Naval ships in the convoy at night. The sunsets, no matter what the weather are always picturesque. During the daytime we spend most of the time at instruction and lecture classes. Rifle and bayonet drill. Machine gun drill. Field tactics, etc. Besides the Army and Air Force on board there were Naval personnel going out to take over a ship.

The Petty Officer's mess was just above the mess where I was and naturally being interested in this direction I soon made acquaintance with several of them. One P.O. a Mr Matthews claims to have known father at Gosport although I could not give him any special clues to help him.

It is now nearing the end of the month and we are drawing close to our objective, Singapore. As you can guess things don't look any too favourable. We are receiving daily bulletins as to the Far East war and I must say things don't look very rosy, although we are all in a hurry to get there and do our bit, as the continual reports are lack of men and materials.