Sat 1st Feb 1941.
Left Wellington on “Niew Amsterdam” HMS Hobart leading.
Berthed in Sydney Harbour but did not go under bridge. Saw latter for first time
and also the “Queen Mary” with Aus troops on board. Stayed in stream six hours
and then sailed out with the other troop ships “Queen Mary the “Aquitania”, The
“Mauritania” with HMS Hobart leading.
Arrived Freemantle at dawn. The “Mauritania” and Niew Amsterdam being the only two
ships that berthed at the wharf. Our ship stirred up a little mud as she got into
the wharf. Freemantle is evidently the sea port for Perth, a city of some 200,000
inhabitants and has a train service and a ten minute bus service connecting
the two, the latter journey occupying about 40 minutes. On arriving at Freemantle
we were allowed leave from midday to midnight and also 5 pm to midnight
the following day. Arriving in Perth by train we had a good look around four of us making use
of one of the official cars, a large number if inhabitants offering their cars and
services for the day. The R.S.A ad other organizations gave free meals
for the day and were very hospitable. We had a look at the war memorial
which is on a hill and overlooks the city. The city is very Englishified
and has arcades, one of which resembles an old English street
with cobbled pavement and “ye old tea shop” etc. Saw the Swan River which is
fairly wide and then we went to the beach which is not as good as any in
Wellington. The country around is not very fertile being of a sandy nature
but they grow grapefruit etc in abundance. The temperature on
the 11th was 95.6 degrees and even at night it is quite hot swimming at night
being popular. On Wednesday we (our battalion) went for a swim in the Swan River (that is in
the afternoon), the temperature on this day being nearly 100 degrees Far.
Didn’t have time to do any sketching in Perth but not much to sketch.
Wed 12th Feb.
Pulled out of Freemantle at 5 p.m. with HMS Canberra leading
Crossed Equator on 20 Feb 7 mins to 3pm.Voyage otherwise uneventfull. Seas calm all way.
Sat 22 Feb.
Arrived at Bombay but moored in stream. Hindoos in dinghys selling mandarins
and bananas to troops aboard. Fruit hauled up in baskets - -lots of bargaining – chaps yelling
one more “etc”. Indians wet through owing to buckets of water being thrown overboard.
25 Feb. Embarked on smaller ship and landed on wharf marching to customs sheds close by
where we ate our lunch which was issued off ship in paper bags. At about 3 o’clock we
boarded trains. The railway lines have a wider gauge than in N.Z. so we must have been
doing 50 miles per hour. It was interesting to see the native villages and huts etc. Their houses
huts etc are the dirtiest I have ever seen–the huts and houses do not have glass in their windows. This
part of the country is dry and arid with very few trees - everything is brown. We arrived
at Deolali which is 120 miles from Bombay at about 8 O’clock. The railway stations
we passed on the way are a bit similar to the ones we have, with Indians Hindoos
etc employed. Marching for half a mile we arrived in camp shown to our huts and had
some tea the meals being cooked by____ a special type of Indian employed by the British Army
The meals are fairly good considering the lack of conveniences. For a few days after we
arrived they were cooked in open fires outside but now a large stove has been built
in the cookhouse. The coolies, some of whom are employed as sweepers (who sweep
out the huts and pick up the rubbish) stand by with their tins and baskets and we empty
our unwanted tea and scrapings off our plates.
Sat 9th Mar
Had day’s leave – visited Bombay arriving 11 a.m. After lunch at Greens Hotel visited
museum and art gallery then toured the city in sightseeing bus for two hours.
Deolali is a garrison district there being thousands of Italians internees and prisoners of war. Rocky country
with slight coating of soil everything dried except a few green trees scattered here and there.