I must describe some of my meal time companions. I believe that six of them were airforce flight sergeants who were home bound from being stationed in South Africa, and the other six, which included myself, had spent about five years overseas. Back to the airforce types. They had been about two years in the airforce, trained in Canada and just before the war ended had been sent to South Africa. With probable service in the far east the Japanese surrendered so they were no longer needed.They, like us, were on their way home. Now this group had never sseen a shot fired or did any operational flying [lucky for them]. What we old timers found out at our meal time was there was exactly twelve portions on each platter so you had your portion no more, then passed the platter to the next person. The airforce had mannerslikef nothing I had seen. They had to be told to pass on the platters or one of them would pull a gravy laden chop over the side of the platter making a real mess. In five days, ten meals with these fellows they soon found out that we all shared, no hogs, and a little manners went a long way in this man's world.
I hope when they returned home their manners showed improvement from we old timers smartening them up. Now that sounds rather patronizing does it not?
Imagine strolling round the ship with this many service personnel. Here we met up with others from units like the Perth and Westminster 's Irish and Cape Breton Highlanders, and of course met some of the CWACs that were on their way home too. In all it was a great groupwith one thought in mind Going HOME. Most of the trip the weather was pretty good with the wake of this large ship disappearing into the receding horizon. At night if you wished to be alone with your thought you could a stand at the stern of the boat watching the fluorescent sparkles in the water.
One day we had a bit of rough weather and one of the CWACs fell down the massive stairs that led to the ballroom breaking an arm.
Winston Churchill came on the public address system and here is how his address went to all. In his finest stentorian voice he welcomed all that were sailing with him and his family. Then he went on to the Stout Ship, Stout Commodore [name lost ] then the Stout crew. His voice trailed away never to complete his Stout message. Maybe too much Stout ???
About the third or fourth day we were given some information on our disembarking procedure plus telegram forms that could be sent to our folks and anyone else informing them that we had landed. These cables were sent when we landed in the States.
On the fifth day we sailed down the Hudson River towards New York. I did not see the statue of Liberty as it was my meal time and I was not to miss a meal. Soon we were tied up at the berth in New York.
We knew we were nearly there and now the suspense of waiting to disembark. I remember our turn came in a late afternoon and with that I will write about our feet hitting North America once again.