Map Reading Patrol
Extracts from an unpublished book
L/Cpl. William Joseph Lowe 14640525
.....The officer in
charge of the Camp, had us all on parade and asked who would like to go on
a Map reading patrol. Only 12 of us volunteered to go, including 2 Sergeants,
and 1 Corporal.
.....Next morning we started off on our 5 day trek, with plenty of food and a little ammo. The first days we covered about 15 miles going over a Mountain and down into the valley on the other side. Myself, I went down a little faster than I wanted to as I fell down an old watercourse on the slippery rocks. That night we camped by a large water hole and Corporal XXXX, an old soldier who had been out in India for about 12 years, took us to a village to buy some eggs and chicken for our dinner. This we did with great difficulty as the village Indians did not understand the Urdu spoken by Indians in the Cities and towns.
.....This was the first village that I had visited. First we encountered the stockade built to keep out wild animals, and a large fire was built in the middle of an open space ready to be lit at nightfall for the same purpose. Their huts were made of Bamboo with thatch roofs and sides. Goats, fowl, pigs, cattle and dogs were running in and out of the huts. The women folk were putting rice in large earthenware bowls, making it into a kind of meal.
.....On arriving back at camp, there was a crowd of Indians watching them putting up the Mosquito nets and cooking our dinners. Afterwards they gave us a display of diving and swimming in the pool. After dinner we had a sing song around the fire and at 8’oclock we fired 3 rounds of tracer .303 into the air. A pre-arranged signal with the other group who were going around the other way to us. We never saw anything of their shots, and afterwards found out that they had not seen ours go up. During the night we got a fright; one of the lads had a real ant crawl into his ear, and he just gave out a yell. It took Sergeant a good two hours to quieten him, and off to sleep we went.
.....Next morning we had an early breakfast, intending to get our walking done before it got too hot. After going for just over an hour we hit the main track, here the camp C.O. was waiting for us, and ordered us all back to Camp. The remainder of the men had already been sent back to Deolate, as the troops there had been rushed back to Bombay where one of our ships had exploded and set fire to part of the docks. Our ride was a nightmare, 16 of us in a 30 cwt truck; we were thrown all over the place, as the driver was doing about 30mph along roads no better than cart tracks. On arrival back at transit camp, we had the usual meal; tough Goat meat and Bully, all mixed up in a bath with watery rice for the sweet.
L/Cpl. William Joseph Lowe