The Bill Griffiths Memoirs


The Troopship memoirs of a British Army WO2  from his 1949 posting to Hong Kong until his discharge in 1984.  This portion of the Bill Griffiths story has been developed from his many supportive written and pictorial contributions to our various websites and Guestbook/Blog pages, and illustrates the potential of telling an "Old Soldiers" story for others to read.  We hope that you in turn, dear reader, will make the effort to re-discover your past by logging in Post and Comments about your HMTroopship travels and memoriesWe also hope to encourage Bill to write again and tell us more about his fascinating life in the service.

Bill and Nancy pictured at their Wedding with Bill's brother as Best man and Bill's Army mates.  Click to enlarge picture.

See editorial following from The South China Morning Post.  CLICK to enlarge

(Below) Sgt Bill Griffiths being presented with his Long Service & Good Conduct Medal in May 1964 by NZ Brigadier Dawson on a parade with 3 Battalions plus detachments from 15 minor Units. The presentation was made at Terendak Camp Malacca, Malaysia.(Bill states that this was the biggest ever parade in his entire military service). CLICK to enlarge

 

(Above) Bill's and Nancy's young family in Malacca, Malaysia 1964 with amah and her 1 child.  Photo taken also at Terendak Camp Malacca.

 

My very last day in the Army  in June 1984 after being presented with my TA Efficiency service medal by Brigadier Lowe, who was ex KSLI and actually remembered me as a young Sergeant (the youngest ever at that time) in 1954. This was on the square at Copthorne Barracks Shrewsbury, where I did my very first parade on joining in May 1946. 

THE LIGHT DIVISION DEPOT(SHREWSBURY)

The following article has been submitted by the Light Division Depot (Shrewsbury) after a medal presentation to SQMS W.D. Griffiths RAPC(V).  The photograph shows him receiving the TA Efficiency Medal from Brig. B.J. Lowe MBE (Late LI) at their Passing Out Parade of Junior Soldiers on June 22 1984.

SQMS Griffiths has now served for a total of 38 years and he is due to be discharged in May next year when he reaches the age of 54. He is awarded the TA Efficiency Medal having completed 12 years service in the TA. His length of service is unusual in the modern Army and it gives the Light Infantry much pleasure to welcome him back to the Barracks where his career started nearly 40 years ago.

Bill Griffiths is pre-print publishing his hilarious story of 38 years service.  Chapters 1 - 6 now ready to read.  Go to:

Long Service & Good Conduct

Hello there all you HMTroopers,

The Editor Derek Lovemore has encouraged me to tell a little more of my Troopship travels, not that I need much persuasion after viewing the initial results on the main HMTroopships page.  The happy memories that are flooding back after looking at photographs taken long ago and reliving those halcyon days as a young soldier, newly married to Nancy, makes me ponder on the unrevealed possibilities to attract former shipmates and regimental comrades, through this internet medium.

Talking of Troopships...I think that I probably have some sort of record as a soldier travelling on Troopships, as I've travelled on a few; judge for yourself.

I first sailed on The Empress of Australia in 1949 from the UK to Hong Kong with my regiment 1KSLI, a journey of six weeks.  This ship was originally named The Tirpitz - built in 1900 and scrapped in Hong Kong soon after our arrival.  I was surprised that we completed the journey, it was such an old wreck.  There were no beds, we were each given a hammock and a single blanket which few of us could get the hang of so we spent the entire trip sleeping on the deck.  Not very comfortable!

In May 1951 with 50 others from 1KSLI, I sailed from Hong Kong to Japan on an aircraft carrier HMS Glory (entering Grand Harbour Feb 1951 above - appreciation to David Page Navy Photoson the first leg of our journey to Korea.  The trip took two and a half days only, where a normal troopship would have taken four days - quite an exciting experience - see picture of me and Army pal John Byfield on the flight deck.

The next leg of our journey to Pusan in Korea was aboard The Charles Macleod an L.S.T. - operated by the Army and crewed by RASC.  This was a frightening journey.  As soon as we sailed into Korean waters we met the tail end of a typhoon and had to stay at sea for 24 hours while the weather subsided.  Believe me, being tossed about in  a flat bottomed boat is no fun and we were all violently ill and very frightened.

We returned to Hong Kong for a short period later to collect kit left behind, sailing on The Empire Halladale and returning to Korea on The Empire Orwell.

As recollected and mentioned in my notes on the HMTroopships main page, we returned to the UK from Korea on The Empire Trooper - my "Honeymoon Voyage".  That trip lasted from 17th September until 29th October 1952.  The Empire Trooper was originally a German passenger ship, built in 1922 and captured by HMS Belfast on 3rd September 1939.

I later returned to Hong Kong in 1955 aboard HMT Oxfordshire accompanied by my wife Nancy, a trip of about six weeks, returning to the UK on HMT Fowey taking about the same time frame of six weeks.  This time with Nancy and two young children William and Jeanette.  Nancy was pregnant at that time expecting our third child. 

So all in all, I've had the experience of travelling on 6 HMTroopships, 1 Aircraft Carrier and an LST.  The last trip in 1958  at age 28, not bad going for a youngster!

Derek will probably persuade me to add more to my memoirs and I shall be willing of course.  Already I have heard from a KSLI Army mate from over 52 years ago - Archie Moulds , now living in New Zealand, and John Byfield mentioned above - but all that's another part of my story.

Good Luck to all you Old Soldiers and a Happy Christmas 2006 and  a memorable 2007 wherever you are.  I thoroughly recommend this memory recall stuff, it brings back so many happy memories and is so rejuvenating!

December 2006

(Editor):  Bill's personal Army journey is now being written and published on our sister website Long Service and Good Conduct? This is partially written by Bill and will gradually unfold on the hotlink shown.  Keep coming back for more Army humour.