Highlights of the Voyage
A few highlights from our voyage come to mind. As we progressed across the Indian Ocean we overtook the Empire Trooper with the 26th Field Regiment RA on board en route from Malaya to Tripoli; and heading east the Dilwara with a load of squaddies to parts of the Empire and to Korea we had happily left behind. The ships passed close by. They seemed full of good cheer we, as were totally apathetic. We passed by a few islands in the vast Oceans, and saw as we had on the way out flying fish and native craft.
Ports of Call – Singapore & Colombo
I do not think we got ashore at Singapore, but I still remember the dark green emerald waters of the Malacca Straits and the lush vegetation. In Colombo, our next stop with its crowded harbor, we got a welcome break. For a propeller on the ship had become loose and it was necessary to take her into dry dock to get it secured. In itself I found this interesting.
But what this repair gave us was the opportunity to get ashore and see something of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. We got a local bus and this took us to Mount Lavinia on the south east coast. (I think I instigated this excursion having read about it.) The journey was quite entrancing after the barren landscape of Hong Kong, Ceylon being the most beautiful, and then serene country, with a placid population so different from the ever restless and noisy Chinese. At our destination was the most splendid Hotel one could imagine set right on a palm lined beach to the Indian Ocean, which we proceeded to enter. No doubt they were a little surprised to see us Other Ranks in such a pukka and posh establishment, but they showed no dismay, and after a drink at the bar we left. The ship spent 36 hours in Colombo which, of course, put us a little behind schedule, but for enabling this trip it was worth it.
Ports of Call – Aden & Port Said
What I can recall about our next port, Aden was the extreme dry heat as the ship lay in the Roads as we took on fuel and embarked fresh passengers and troop deck personnel. We did not get to ashore due to the schedule, but Aden is unappealing and not a tourist attraction. It is just a great, red barren rock. But we did get ashore in Port Said our final port of call where we got some curios, in my case an authentic red fez that I presented to my new brother-in-law upon my return. Stops on the trip home like this made up for the visits ashore we missed on the way out. It was a brief foray and all I can remember is that one of our party was cheated in his change buying some postage stamps, for he was a collector. I can only assume we must have traveled up the Suez Canal in the night for I have no re-collection of seeing it again.