The way we used to travel

HMT Empire

This was before Air Trooping and God certainly didn't bless all who sailed in her !!

With thanks to Eric Davey  for this contribution

Now a series from Peter Frampton

ExRats 50001

ExRats 51001

The Ashcan


Docking at Port Said


MV Georgic


Georgic Swimming Pool





Trooping in the 50's


In April 1952 a group of Sappers of the various Survey trades were transported to an airfield “somewhere in the South of England” en-route to 42 Survey Engineer Regiment then in SOBRAON Camp, Fayid, in the Canal Zone, Egypt.  The journey out was by an AVRO YORK, as in the photo above, which we shared with a high-ranking officer and some other troops – a total of 24 or 26 plus 4 crew.  The seats in the box-like fuselage were rear facing, with many under the wing routes which contained a large fuel tank.  A stop to re-fuel was made at RAF LUQA on the island of Malta.

There, a reception group of staff officers were surprised when soldiers disembarked first, with only later, our red tabbed travel companion who had told the troops (through an intermediary of course), to leave the plane first for their “tea and wads” as time on the ground was so short.  And so our journey continued uneventfully onto Fiyad.

The homeward flight for us National Servicemen, looking forward to de-mob in June/July 1953 was again by an AVRO YORK.  Again, we were routed via RAF LUQA.  After a brief stop for fuel (and tea) we boarded the plane.

The usual preliminaries of rolling out to the runway, revving the 4 Rolls Royce engines, and releasing the brakes went well.  Our visions of an uneventful flight home were rudely shattered when “beyond the point of no return” – as they say – one of the engines stopped … somehow the pilot bounced the plane, willing it to take off, it did thank goodness.

We had to circle Malta for what seemed like hours to use sufficient fuel to enable a safe 3 engine landing to be made.

Later – it seemed like a lifetime – we had the inevitable cuppa.  The pilot in a sweat soaked B.D. tunic, came round to each little group saying to us that his ambition was always to be the oldest pilot in the RAF, but for a minute or so he thought he was not going to make it.

Three days later with a new engine fitted we left for home.

Thoughts …. safer than a ship?  Maybe.  Faster certainly, but thinking of the “EMPIRE WINDRUSH” it seems to be just the luck of the draw whether you and your transport arrive or not.

James A Clark

The Avro York was a passenger and freight transport of the 1940s, in both military and civilian applications. Initially designated the Avro type 685, it first flew on July 5, 1942. What would be known as the York combined the wings and undercarriage of the Lancaster bomber with a much larger, rectangular fuselage. The increased forward area necessitated fitting a third fin to retain control.

If anyone has photos of any form of transport by which we travelled around the world I would love to include them. I am not thinking of travel on location.

I personally travelled by Britannia, VC10,  Argosy,  Beverley and a Ramp Powered Lighter from Southampton to Sark CI with the return by British Rail Ferry.

Not forgetting one short haul, scary flight on a Malaysia Airlines DC3 from Sibu to Kuching in Sarawak.
Just past the point of no return the port engine started leaking oil and the Pilot stopped it. An announcement told the passengers that the loss of one engine was not a problem. Just as we started the approach to Kuching airport the suddenly was complete silence, the other engine had stopped! My thoughts at the time were "this is it!", however after touchdown that engine started again and the aircraft taxied to the apron. It transpired that this was done to prevent drag to one side on landing. We might have been warned!