In Transit, not so Gloria.
Ad Arma Parati
During my end of training leave which, in effect, also turned out to be
embarkation leave, I received notice that I was to report to No.93 Squadron
RAF Jever in Germany. I was sent a First Class Travel Warrant and instructions to
report to the Rail Traffic Officer (RTO) at London's Liverpool Street station early in
the evening of Saturday the 19th of September, 1953.1
Some very rapid
geographical research work followed to discover where Jever was. I eventually
found it north of Oldenburg and close to Wilhelmshaven, not far from the North
At Liverpool Street station I met a few others of the Pembrey course and
compared notes as to where we were being posted. Only two of us were going to
Jever, 'Danny' Daniels
and myself, but Danny
was going to No.4 Squadron
. I saw
John Smith and found he was going to RAF Fassberg. There were only two or three
more and they were going to other 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force Squadrons in
Germany. None of us knew about anyone else from our course.
and I were told to take our seats in a specific carriage on a troop-train
already standing at one of the platforms and, thereafter, to show our posting notices
to whomsoever in authority asked to see them. We were assured that that way we
would arrive at Jever next day.
I was carrying a kit bag full of flying clothing and whatever else I could cram into it, as well as two suitcases and a greatcoat. Danny
was similarly loaded. We
were hot, not helped by our sense of uncertainty and physical effort, yet found the
best way to carry our heavy coats was to wear them. The platform was full of RAF
and Army personnel, some wandering on their own, others being marched about in
Flights or Platoons, and all appeared to be carrying heavy kit. Some carried
and I, being Officers, sought and found the assistance of a porter
with a trolley and thus were helped to our allotted seats.
From our carriage window we could see the platform slowly clearing as all boarded the train. We found, by asking rather shyly, that we were bound for
Harwich where we would board a troop-ship for the overnight journey to the Hook
of Holland. There we would board troop-trains to take us close to our destinations.
We were advised unofficially to 'follow the crowd' and keep our eyes open for
anything saying Jever. Sound advice, as it turned out.
On arrival at Harwich, Parkeston Quay, we Officers tumbled out with our kit and made our way to the Officers Transit Mess. No one gave us any directions, we
just followed the crowd. The Transit Mess was nothing more than a comfortably
furnished waiting-room with a small bar-cum-canteen for snacks, and a large
illuminated aquarium full of idle-looking fish. Those fish knew more about what
they had to do than did we at that stage. The Mess was full of Officers of up to Field
1 My official arrival at Jever is recorded as being on September 21st, a Monday. The journey there from home was
spread across two days.