Chindit Badge
Over Seas




H G Lambert      a soldier with the Chindits
Capetown Castle

Capetown Castle

On Sept. 29th 1942 Harold left Liverpool on the 27000 ton "Capetown Castle". at around 3 pm, the convoy that had been forming over the last few days, headed north towards the River Clyde where more ships joined. Accompanied by a naval escort the convoy then headed for Belfast, where they anchored until Sun 4th October, then the Capetown castle leading, the convoy slipped out of Belfast accompanied by destroyers to the port and starboard.

The next few days were "rough", with seasickness rife and few fancied their food - especially as everyone had to collect their food from the galley, not an easy task on a rolling ship!

Harold spent much of his spare time playing cribbage - for matchsticks - not money, and the days were broken up with PT, kit inspections, the obligatory parades and the daily "boat stations".

Once the Madeira Islands had been passed and the weather became warmer, those sleeping on the rather cramped mess decks were allowed to sleep on deck, though a fierce tropical storm some nights later left many of the troops without several items of kit!

On Friday 16th until Tuesday 20th October the convoy anchored off Freetown, Sierra Leone. But apart from a few officers the troops were confined to the ship. As the water in Freetown harbour was distinctly filthy, the troops had to do without their daily ablutions, not a pleasant thought with 4500 troops in such close proximity.

On the Friday November 2nd , the ship reached Capetown, but did not anchor and instead rounded the Cape for Durban arriving on November 5th, the Battalion receiving 6 hours shore leave. On the next two days shore leave was combined with route marching and swimming in the sea.

It was in Durban that the Battalion learned that their destination was to be India.

On 24th November the Capetown Castle dropped anchor off Ballard Pier, Bombay, and the battalion prepared to disembark, however instead of proceeding to the local barracks, the Battalion were marched to the Alexandra Docks and re-embarked on to the 4691 ton Varsova, which after the relative luxury of the 4 year old 27000 ton Capetown Castle came as quite a shock. The Varsova had seen service in World War 1 as both a Troopship to France, and as a hospital ship. As well as the Battalion she also carried a full compliment of rats and cockroaches!.

Two days later and after a short shore leave, the Varsova joined a smaller convoy and set out for Karachi arriving at Keamari Docks on Sunday 29th November.

On 1st December the Battalion disembarked, and marched the 5 miles or so to the Napier Barracks, enjoying the exercise after so much relative inactivity. A local Baluch Band pipes the Battalion into the Barracks, where the Leicesters took over from the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment.

The Napier Barracks were widely recognised as being the best in India, and the Battalion settled down for next 8 months working as internal security, training in the Sind Desert and staving off boredom with boxing and athletics tournaments against other Battalions and the RAF and U.S Army.

On July 1st Harold was granted 31 days war leave, and in the company of 4 good friends set of to view the sights of Kashmir.

Leave in India

"We had a 4 day journey by train and bus to Srinagar in Kashmir, we stayed in a house boats ion one of the lakes and trekked up to Gulmarg which is 14000' above sea level to see the mountain K2 We were late back because our train broke down - got in trouble" (Harold Lambert 1998)


On the way back from Srinaga July 1943 ( left to right Haines. Tranter, Lambert, Hassall, Brewin)


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Leave in Kashmir


July 1943 11,500ft above sea level,near Gulmarg, Kashmir


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Leave in India and Kashmir Leave in India and Kashmir Leave in India and Kashmir Leave in India and Kashmir
Leave in India and Kashmir Leave in India and Kashmir

For larger images of Harold's Kashmir and India pictures click any of the above

Quite what the arrival of orders to join Special Forces had on Harold and the rest of the Battalion is hard to imagine, especially as 7th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment was the only non-regular Battalion selected for special forces. (The Leicestershire Regiment also had the distinction of being the only British Regiment to supply two Battalions to the Chindits).

By then news of the 1st Chindit Expedition (Operation Loincloth) would have filtered back to the Battalion, and it must have been with a sense of trepidation when, in late August, the Battalion set out for Jungle training.

A final medical vetting found that neither the Commanding Officer nor the Battalion Second in Command were fit for Long Range Penetration operations, Lieutenant Colonel F.R. Wilford taking command, and latterly Major Huysh Yeatman-Biggs, seconded from 10th Battalion, The Green Howards (Yorkshire Regt.) becoming Second in Command.

Major Yeatman-Biggs was killed in the ambush on May 13th 1944 in which Harold was wounded.