Brothers meet on returning troop ship in 1945 - Charlie and Danny Smith from Barrow Road
This press cutting was supplied by Elaine Woodhams whose father, Edwin Smith (always known as Danny) and Uncle Charles Smith, lived on Barrow Road in Quorn and fought in the Second World War. Below the transcribed article, is a first-hand account of the meeting from Danny.
The picture is captioned: 'Wearing the Chindit badge, Private Charles Smith, photographed at his home with his wife. Inset, his brother Corporal Danny Smith from the Middle East.'
The museum team are hoping to get a clearer reproduction of this photograph.
Leicester Mercury, Monday January 8th 1945 - Quorn brothers meet in ‘Blighty’ leave ship.
By happy chance, two Quorn brothers one from Burma and the other from the Middle East, sailed home together. Private Charles Smith, Leicestershire Regiment, and one of the famous Chindit bridgade and his brother, Corporal Danny Smith, RASC, found themselves homeward bound on the same ship. They had not seen each other for five years. They are the sons of Mr and Mrs Charles Smith, 73 Barrow Road, Quorn.
Charles, who is married and lives at 7 Beacon Avenue, Quorn, told the Leicester Mercury that when the first draw for the Churchill leave was announced, his was the second name out of the hat in his unit. He gets 37 days at home. With the Chindit expedition there was a big number of Leicester and Leicestershire men in his battalion, including Sergeant Tom Allen of Quorn, and Colour Sergeant Cunnington, of Loughborough. Private Smith said that they read about their own adventures as Chindits in copies of the Leicester Mercury, which reached them in the jungle.
First Class Cricket
Charlie Smith was five and a half months with the Winggate adventurers, and was never ill, escaping at that time all the troubles of the tropics. But later he fell ill when on leave. He has served in the Army for four years and eight months, for two and a half years of that in India. Charles, who played cricket for Quorn, had some games in India. A bowler, he liked their wickets – hard sand and matting – and he also saw some excellent first class cricket, with stars like Joe Hardstaff and Butler, of Notts in action. In football, he saw Leicester City players Jack Lee, a Quorn man, Joe Calvert and Maurice Tompkins, who is a Leicestershire County cricketer as well as a soccer player.
“It is stated that your party’s arrival at the home port was not very spectacular” said the Leicester Mercury reporter.
“It was alright for me” said Charlie Smith. The organisation was really wonderful, and they even provided us with beer.
“The medical inspection was on board, so when the ship berthed, we were given our pay chits for our cigarette and sweet rations; a telegram to send home and train times. The military Police helped us to handle our kit – and that, mark you, doesn’t happen every day.”
It was at this northern port that the brothers were temporarily separated and Charles was first to reach Quorn. Corporal Danny Smith is married, his wife being a daughter of Mr and Mrs William James, 48 Burder Street, Loughborough. He reached Loughborough last night, and was expected at his parents house in the afternoon.
Danny is the second son, and is also a Quorn cricketer. He has played some matches in the Middle East, with scores in the 80s. He served in France in 1940, and has now completed four and half years in the Middle East, so does not return for service there.
Below is a first-hand account of the meeting, as told by Danny to his daughter Elaine.
Danny had been serving in North Africa since 1940 where he was posted some 8 weeks following his evacuation from Dunkirk on June 5th. His elder brother Charlie was with the 7th Leicester regiment serving in Burma in 1945.
The desert war was over by early 1945 and Danny knew as a 'long server' he would be due to return to England as soon as it was possible, and when transport was available. Others had left for home so Danny was hopeful his turn would soon come. Eventually he along with others were transported from their camp in the Suez canal zone to Alexandria. There he boarded the ship to return home after almost 5 years to be reunited with Ivy whom he had married on 72 hours leave on June 18th 1940.
The ship was a liner converted to a troop ship, the decks fitted out with sort of camp beds to accommodate the maximum number of troops. Soon after getting on the ship Danny met a chap whom he had served with previously and he told him that there were some 'Leicesters' on another part of the ship. Danny went in search of these chaps to see if there was anybody he knew. He found Charlie there and the two brothers were reunited after almost 5 years.
For the rest of the trip (about 4 to 5 days) they met every night in a corridor, sitting facing each other talking. Danny can't remember what they talked about! Charlie's company were first to get off at Liverpool as they were on 4 weeks leave. Danny disembarked eventually and went by train to Headingly cricket round, where he had a medical and was then given 2 weeks leave. Danny went to join his wife Ivy who was living with her parents in Burder Street Loughborough. He visited his parents at Barrow Road, Quorn where Charlie was also spending some of his leave.