Back in the UK at last
HMT Asturias docked at Southampton on 16th September 1953. I was thrilled to receive a telegram from my parents, welcoming me home with their love. Our former prisoners of war were, quite rightly, allowed ashore first and they soon departed.
The rest of us then paraded on the dock-side and ordered to tip out the contents of our carefully packed kit bags. Each of us had a standard kitbag plus a smaller version. The customs officers instructed the emptying of kitbags, small then large alternatively along the line. Welcome back to a grateful homeland!
All the Royal Artillery other ranks were then taken by train to Waterloo Station and on to Woolwich Barracks. The basic accommodation over the old stables seemed somewhat less primitive than what we had got used to over the past year.
The usual army red tape kept me at Woolwich until the 19th September, when I was granted Korean leave up to the 25th when I had to report back to Woolwich. What followed was a formality with me receiving a cash allowance for the balance of leave due. What did surprise me was that I was given the following form: “Entitled to Korean Service Gratuity in the rank of Bombardier 18.8.52 to 17.8.53”. That period far exceeds the time when I held that position, although I doubt the sum involved would have been very big!