November 30th 1942 – Cairo

Trip postponed 48 hours and then reduced to 28 hours. I go to a party at 17 sqn Mess and introduce my ‘Burma Roadster’ notes. Also get rather tight on their rum punch. Eventually we get off at 4am on 26th, via Gwalior and make Karachi that evening. We put up at the Carlton and have a few drinks at the Gymkhana club, and then off again at midnight. Jiwani, Sharjah for an early tea, Basrah, Habbaniya, Kallia and Cairo. The only places we are allowed ashore are Sharjah and Kallia. Early breakfast on Bahrein quayside. Very uncomfortable 21 hours and alot of low flying over the desert for some reason.

At Kallia on the Dead Sea we have lunch in some rather exotic hotel – the Dead Sea surrounded in hills and we come into land over a salt factory, with large ‘fields’ rather like a sewage works in England. Then to HQ Middle East and find they have booked rooms for us at Shepheard’s Hotel. We are all three in one room, with two washstands but nothing else, and this awful 19th century French furniture. 40 piastres for bed only and extra for meals seems alot.

The legendary Shepheards Hotel c. 1930
The legendary Shepheards Hotel c. 1930

Last night very tired so off to bed after a few drinks. This morning to HQ ME to find where we have to go, and later I buy a ‘Tavanna” watch for P£9, and the shopkeeper gives me £1 for my “Tudor”, bought for Rs60 in Laskio before it fell. Clothing etc far more expensive than India. Nasty looking ‘desert boots’ for £3-10-0, whereas my sanbhar leather ones cost Rs18/-. Watches, cameras, razor blades are cheap – a lot of South Africans about and uniforms of every imaginable nation. Excellent American tinned beer and Shepheard’s bar is a sight for tired eyes after the bare bottleless boards of India.

Mann hears about the Hurricane 11ds in HQME and apparently more people have been killed training on them than in operations so it doesn’t sound very healthy for us!

Memories of that trip – a Catalina silhouetted against a glow of dawn at Bahrein, and the romance in the air of that hotel in Kallia on the Dead Sea. I hardly saw a glimpse of Habbaniya as we weren’t allowed ashore there.


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One response to “November 30th 1942 – Cairo”

  1. […] A trip to Egypt in November ’42 with Burt and Henry […]

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