|Company Sergeant Major Charles Sharp
Then we were sent home on embarkation leave and we eventually come back to Ramsbottom, picked up our equipment, went up to Scotland and we went aboard a troopship there called [The Sibajack], she was a Dutch liner with a Javanese crew and it was what I thought was a large ship but it was large to the ones I was used to because the biggest boats that we ever saw as children was the Gaslight and Coal Company boats that came down the Thames to offload coal at the Fulham Power Station, and much to our amazement as we went down the river, pulling away we actually came across a really big liner, think she was something like 30 odd thousand tonnes, where [The Sibajack] was only 14 thousand and so off we went into convoy and we eventually landed up at Suez, where we left the ship and we went across the desert by train to some unknown place and we were in tents in the desert and we just more or less hung about for a time, no one seemed to know what was happening until I and a friend got a job in the cookhouse cutting up the meat to make the stew and which was quite exciting and different from what we were used to soldering. Then one day we drew our rifles out of the armoured compound there and we marched down to [Tuvick] and got on a landing craft and we took off and did not really know where we were going, we were just going across what appeared to be a large river or lake and we did see a liner there which we thought we were going to get on but we went around that. Then there was another ship in the distance. When we approached it we found out it was a rusty old cargo ship called [The Palaski] with a Polish crew and we had to get on that and we just had to sleep wherever we could there even if it was on the cargo if it came to it. We eventually took off and went down the Red Sea which was very hot at the time and we went into Aden and took on coal, she was an old coal burner, and we eventually, after I think about 3 days, we took off and found ourselves in the Indian Ocean and no escort, we were just on our own, and I think it was amongst the lads, I think they passed the remark that if there were any submarines knocking about there they probably would not use a torpedo on a rusty old ship like that. That was the total opinion and then of course we landed in Bombay and from there we went by train to Deolali which I think anyone who ever went out there will know very well and there were many different large and small groups of regiments and we went to one of the wings there where the captain came and stood on the table of the canteen tent and he was a captain of the Queen's Royal Regiment and much to our disgust he told us that we now belonged to the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Royal Regiment which was not greeted very well, I might add, and so we settled down in the wing for a while.