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
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
"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)
To view a larger image