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At Alexandria we found waiting for us the 26,000-ton SS Orion. I was interested that it should be the Orion which was, of course, a pukka troopship, for it was in this very ship that my mother had been due to sail to Australia until her death put paid to that plan in 1957. What was equally interesting was that the story of the voyage of the Nestor had penetrated the services far beyond the confines of our ship. The authorities issued an order that ‘officers ex the SS Nestor are to be given no priority whatsoever in the allocation of accommodation aboard the Orion, no matter what their rank.’ I found myself pretty far from the gangway and the ventilation, but at least with a comfortable hammock, below decks amidst a group of Greek naval officers.


The Orion steamed rather faster than the Nestor and the voyage to Liverpool took just eleven days. There were 4,000 troops aboard and 11 women, all them nursing sisters from one Service or another. None of them was particularly attractive. At least that was so when we set sail, but I was reliably informed that there were some who found them quite beautiful before we docked at our home port. The voyage was uneventful – no enemy attacks, no submarine scares, so it was normally boring and it was marvellous to pull alongside the quay at Liverpool and be greeted by a military band as if we were returning heroes. Some of us were.


The great thrill was the anticipation of seeing wife and family, and the train journey from Liverpool south to Oxford was one of the slowest I have ever experienced. Through thinking of other things I left my revolver in the train. Another court-martial? No, I managed to recover it.


89


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