On Towards Southampton and Home
Next, the Devonshire traversed the Mediterranean with the highlight of passing through the Straits of Gibraltar in daylight. What a magnificent sight, the Rock, and how narrow the Straits appear. We next sailed through the Bay of Biscay, the Atlantic, and the final leg of the journey, up the English Channel. By now we had moved out of our lightweight tropical uniforms and enjoyed the warmth of our khaki battledress. While the weather was cooler no one complained, it was fine, a typical English summer’s day as we approached, and slowly ran along in the early morning the beautiful South Coast of England. How green and placid it all was and what a pleasant smell came off from the land. Also, with it a great sense of anticipation; here we were nearly home at last.
None of that pleasant anticipation today comes to my mind returning to England via a crowded plane, a cramped seat, the steep descent, a mad scramble to exit, a smelly airport to enter, much noise and confusion, the hard concrete, the long passageways and milling crowds.
Berthed in Southampton
We passed the Isle of Wight and slowly proceeded up Southampton Water enjoying the sight of the tranquil countryside. The Dunera berthed at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton Docks with our lining the rails watching all that was going on with great interest. We had become accustomed to seeing Chinese, Indians, Malays and Arabs all on the shore and it was a great delight to see ordinary English people once again, particularly the girls.
It was not long before we were ashore with all our kit and suitcases deep from the depths of the hold and on a train bound for Waterloo. This was all a familiar journey for me as on countless occasions I had traveled by Southern Railway from London to Weymouth, and my Father’s home on Portland. Even more familiar was the sight of Surbiton Station and its surroundings I had known so well for, of course, this was where I had lived before entering the army. Nothing appeared to have changed since I had left nearly eighteen months ago. Once at Waterloo Station we commandeered a luggage truck and with baggage piled high headed for Waterloo East and a train to Woolwich.