(In the last issue of the Gazette, we left flight officer Jean Train in a state of high dudgeon, brooding darkly about her dislike of Americans and their ships. In fact, she was doubtless suffering from troopship burn-out and was clearly more than ready to disembark. She is still on Lurline.)
5 September: Sailed from Lae on a perfect morning-bright sunshine and a blue sky. We sailed down the coast fairly near the shore and were able to see the coast now and again. I played volleyball on deck until we lost the ball overboard; then we put on gloves and played with the softball. This was the very first chance I had of taking any exercise since I came on board and it was lovely to have the sun deck to ourselves for an hour. I lay on the deck afterwards and as there was a breeze, I didn't realize how burnt I was getting. The result is a flaming face tonight...The hills didn't rise up quite so steeply from the shore but the trees grew right down to the water's edge...I saw a turtle swimming near the ship, a very large one, also a snake and a peculiar sort of jellyfish which someone said were Portuguese men-of-war...I was on the boat deck to watch the sunset which was rather lovely as all the hills were silhouetted against a pinkish sky. It looked very tropical. I should very much like to go ashore, it is such pretty country, but I don't think I could stand the heat for very long. We were bullied around all day with orders which always omitted that we were there, that really we could have done just as we liked but we didn't; however, the last straw was being told what to do by an enlisted WAC so I told her where she got off and felt better. The sooner I get off this ship the better. "Now Hear This... Now Hear This," the sound of that voice booming out over the tannoy all day...
6 September: Had breakfast a bit later. I woke up with my face all swollen and blistered from the previous day's sunshine. We went up on the boat deck and waved good-bye to our pals as they went off in their DUCKS (Amphibious landing craft-Editor)...Some of the boys managed to get ashore and we were furious that they had gone without us but were just too late. As we made our way below, they announced that no-one who was not disembarking was allowed to go ashore. We were bitterly disappointed and had to watch again from the deck...although we were frightened of getting sunstroke if we stayed out in it for too long...We read for a while then they moved our cabin to B deck to a very nice cabin. So far we have it to ourselves but the only disadvantage is we have no portholes onto the sea, just windows onto the deck
The boys returned to supper and said they had collected nothing from shore but inches of dust all over them and that there was nothing much to see except some Fuzzy-Wuzzies which is just what I want to see. I am determined to get ashore tomorrow provided we don't sail early. We sat on the boat deck in the evening and watched all the lights on shore. It was very pleasant but there was no breeze and it was still very warm. It's a pity Dorothy has gone; she was most amusing and good company and we shall miss her in the cabin.
7 September: Asked Commander Fieber (sic) for permission to go ashore and after shooting a tremendous line about being the first WAAF to ever visit this theatre of operations, he gave his consent. Only two women are ever allowed to be together and there must be two men to every woman and they must be armed. We clambered down a rope ladder at 1000 hours and into an LCM (Landing Craft, Men) and went ashore. We landed on a beach underneath the palm trees and almost immediately got covered in dust which just coated us all, layer after layer, as the day progressed. We went first to the Australian naval officer in command, a Lieutenant Commander McBride who was a Scot from Sunderland and only went to Australia in 1933. He was shaken the core to see three women from Britain but he decided to take us to a river about 7 to 10 miles inland for a swim. But first he took the three of us in his jeep to see where he lived, a drive of about 5 miles over hills on what by ordinary standards would never be considered roads. We bounced all over the place. Sylvia and Louise were nearly hysterical in the back as the clouds of dust completely engulfed them...We gradually got higher and higher above the bay to the naval officer's home which consisted of huts all made by their own sailors...He had a garden of sorts tomatoes, cucumbers and flowers growing...He had Fuzzy-Wuzzies as servants and they were busy in the garden. They are very odd looking and go about naked from the waist up, small in height with masses of hair which they dye with peroxide and, as a result, will do anything for a bottle of peroxide. The men adorn themselves with all sorts of things, feathers in their hair, ear-rings and some even wear bones through their noses....I did not see any females, they are only to be seen in their own villages but they tattoo their faces and wear their skirts one inch longer when they are married...They are fully grown when about 14 and only live as a rule to about 35...
(Quaintly, Jean Train identifies Melanesians as Sudanese "Fuzzy-Wuzzies." She re-embarks aboard Lurline and four days later, catches her first glimpse of Brisbane and the Australian mainland, from where she flew south to Sydney and undertook the wartime assignments for which she had journeyed halfway around the globe.
In February 1946, Train was to return home aboard P&O's Orion.)
25 February: Transport collected us and we went down to the Orion at Number 6 berth Woolamaloo. Louise came on board, we seem to be ahead of everyone and we were taken straight up to our cabins. Sylvia and I were delighted to find that we were in a four-berth and it looked very comfortable. So when Group/Commander Fry arrived with all the RAF, he fixed shore leave for us all until midday next day and we went off again. Louise went to lunch with Neil and Sylvia and I gave ourselves an excellent lunch at a restaurant in King's Cross where we could eat sitting outside. When Louise got back we three went by ferry to Manly Beach. It was 35 minutes down the harbour and a very pretty trip...
26 February: Tuesday. The steward woke us with tea and the morning paper; it was wonderful. I had slept like a log in a very comfortable berth. We went ashore again and up to the women officers' club..and went back to the ship at midday. The ship was very busy, masses of people being embarked and the WRENS had arrived on board. We had lunch and then unpacked until 3:30 when we started to look for Neil and Louise...There was only one gangway and no-one was being allowed on board so we just hopped off and talked to Neil and Louise on the quay. At 4:30, we had to say goodbye to Louise and go aboard. I hated doing it, I shall miss her a lot.
Everyone threw streamers and when the ship sailed at 5:00 o'clock, it was terrific. There was a piper playing on the quay...We were pulled slowly out and it was a lovely time of day to go down the harbour and it took nearly an hour to reach the Heads where the pilot was taken off and we sailed out to sea. I am sad to leave Australia, I have made many good friends and it is a good country, especially for anyone who likes the outdoor life. I was most upset as someone stole my camera; I put it down for just a few minutes behind me, while I waved to Louise, and when I turned 'round again, it had gone. We had a very good dinner and went to bed early.
27 February: Wednesday. Slept most of the day. It was pretty chilly and although we met the cyclone in the night on its way from Melbourne to Sydney, it was pretty calm during the day. Pat Saunders took us for drinks to a naval officer's cabin. We took a certain amount of exercise battling our way round the decks against the wind and went to bed early.
28 February: Thursday. Had a party before lunch with some of the RAF plus a few Canadian Navy. It was a pretty good session and Sylvia and I slept after lunch until rudely awakened by the gang again after tea. We finally got rid of them and spent a peaceful evening.What a difference being in a British troopship instead of an American one; it really is nice. There was a riot over the food on the mess decks and eventually Captain Frai (O.C.R.N. Draft) after investigating it, plus the Marine officers, asked the ship to supply another meal which they did. The RAF apparently did not complain.
1 March: Friday. Captain Frai was up at 0930 running around the Sports Deck, followed by a large number of Royal Naval personnel.I thought it was a pretty stout effort. He also congratulated the RAF over the tidiness of their quarters...RAF stocks are running high at the moment. Had some exercise during the morning and wrote letters most of the afternoon. I seem to be coming to life and can do other things than sleep, I am glad to say.
2 March: Saturday. The sun came out and it was very pleasant and quite warm on deck. In the evening, we had The Brains Trust (A postwar BBS quiz program) in the "A" Lounge and Captain Frai was the question-master. It was really rather interesting and amusing, except that sitting at the back of the lounge, we couldn't hear everything that was being said.
3 March: Sunday. Awoke to a very rough and cloudy day. Sylvia and I went up on deck and walked around and sat out the rest of the morning on the deck, but there was a terrific gale blowing and we could hardly hear ourselves speak, the Bight living up to its reputation for the first time. I was simply delighted that I did not feel at all ill; it fixed a good many people on board. Spent most of the afternoon on my bunk studying my books and I retired to bed early after dinner. We altered clock at eight and proceeded north up to Fremantle.
4 March: Monday. Berthed at Fremantle.
(Jean Train went ashore to Perth and spent the day revisiting old friends. Her entry ends:) So Goodbye, Australia, I hope one day to visit your shores again. I certainly have enjoyed my eighteen months here and the hospitality of your very fine countrymen.
5 March: Tuesday. Much hotter. Spent a quite enjoyable day not doing anything very much. Won the first round of the mixed deck tennis but my partner strained himself and we have had to scratch. Usual sessions before meal in various cabins, mainly the Canadian Navy.
6 March: Wednesday. Learned how to play deck hockey. Most exhausting. I am playing in the WREN first team, there were enough to form four teams for the tournament. Spent a very pleasant evening with John Crossley...We discussed all sorts of world affairs. Sylvia had a late evening with the Canadians.
7 March: Thursday. Getting much hotter. Had drinks in the Staff-Commander's very nice cabin before lunch.Played first round in the deck hockey, we were beaten by the Marines but we gave them a good runaround and I was too hot and exhausted for words by the time we had finished. Due in Colombo a day earlier as we have a tail wind. Good news, we should be home by April 2d.
8 March: Friday.Very hot and sticky. Bad news, O.C. troops announced that we had received a signal requesting we pick up masses of senior officers and women and children at Colombo and Bombay. So that all junior officers have to sleep on the troop decks to allow cabin space for them. It seems a bit hard for the officers who have been on active service to give up their cabins to women and children and staff officers who have probably had a good time at Kandy for the last couple of years. There were a lot of remarks passed and questions asked when it was announced; in fact, it became rather unpleasant.
9 March: Saturday. Light rain, humidity, of course, very high and heat in the cabin almost unbearable. Not at all pleasant, too wet on deck and not much room in the lounge.
10/11 March: Sunday, Monday. All day spent on the decks taking exercise or lying reading.Nothing of importance occurred.
12 March: Tuesday. Arrived in Colombo harbour about midday. All morning we could see the coast of Ceylon and it was fun to have something to look at. With the aid of a telescope, I was able to pick out the Galle Face Hotel and RAF #222 Group Headquarters. It was pretty warm when we dropped anchor after various little boats had fussed around getting us moored up. It's quite a fair-sized harbour but not a natural one. After lunch, all officers were assembled and told by Captain Frie that the shore authorities had said there was to be no shore leave on account of smallpox and a great shortage of food; but none of us believed this to be the reason as had there been smallpox, they would not have risked embarking 2,000 people from the island; those who went ashore on duty found no shortage of food.
13 March: Wednesday. There was quite a cool breeze which helps a lot and I was most surprised as I know how sticky and hot it was ashore at the same time last year. Amused ourselves all day in the usual way.
14 March: Thursday. The 2,000 were embarked. Much consternation caused by a Marine whose wife came aboard and was put in a cabin with some WRENS who refused to have her as she was a half-caste. So she had to go ashore again and he was allowed to go with her. Why were none of the troops allowed to bring their wives from Australia? Masses of women and children came aboard and someone who, it was stated in the papers, was going to England with his wife a 6-months leave. I think the whole thing is a disgrace. Everyone disembarked at Colombo got none of their heavy luggage as the ship was informed that everyone was traveling to the UK and all the luggage was poured into the hold and, apparently, half of it wasn't labelled in any case. We sailed at 4 o'clock, much to our delight, the sooner we get off the better. Sylvia and I managed to get a table to ourselves in the dining room. The London sailed early in the morning, it really looked lovely going out of the harbour. Due in Plymouth on 2d of April. I wish we were on her.
15 March: Friday. Lay on the deck in the sun after we had finished with boat drill. Had a dance on A Deck in the evening for all A and B class passengers, quite fun.
16 March: Saturday. Plenty of deck tennis and sun. The day passed quite quickly; in the evening we had horse racing on A deck and the Pay Bobs ran a tote.
17 March: Sunday. Arrived before I ever woke up within sight of Bombay, where we anchored until 11:30, then slowly proceeded nearer the shore and through Alexandra Lock, really amazing how a big ship can go through. Masses of native children ran along either side of the dock hoping to be tossed coins; and little tugs chuffed noisily while they dragged us 'round and pulled us into position alongside the quay. They were aptly named Cheerful, Hardy and Willing. The usual wog smell greeted us as we tied up; how I hate that smell and all the filth and squalor. I know I could never live in the East. I would hate the climate and the native element.
At 3 o'clock, we were allowed ashore. John, Sylvia, Desmond and I all went off, we got a garry to drive us up to the Red Gate at the entrance to the Dock and from there we started to walk, besieged by men and small boys trying to sell us things at fantastic prices. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, all but the European shops were open and we had a lot of fun wandering around and bargaining. For a day it was fun to bargain, but it would drive me mad if every day that I went shopping, I had to argue about the prices in order not to be cheated every time. By about 5 o'clock, we were pretty tired and hot and the Taj Mahal being the only place we knew, we got a taxi there and drove past the Gate to India to the big hotel which is only a few yards away from the gate and looks right out over the harbor.
We went into the cocktail bar and ordered a round of drinks from John Collins, the equivalent of six shillings each (4 chips or rupees) that shook the boys and we couldn't afford to stay there very long. We drove back to the ship in time for dinner and a change. Then John and I went back to the Taj and attended the cocktail dance which was in progress until 9 o'clock, when everyone went off to dinner. But we had had ours so we went to Green's Hotel a hundred yards away and had a drink and danced at their dinner dance. Those who didn't want to dine sat on a sort of verandah and had drinks.