14 Dec 1943 Arrived EAEME Depot, Karen, near Nairobi.
24 Dec.1943 Moved to 41 AA Workshop Co, EAEME, Mombasa, then Likoni.
7 Feb 1944 Moved to Diego Suarez
The diary notes of 6 December 1943, written aboard the Salween, turned out to be my last produced during the war years; thereafter I rely on my memories plus the numerous surviving letters to my parents, to my brother Richard and to Lucette.
By Tuesday 14 December I was writing from the EAEME (East Africa Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) Depot, having that morning collected a total of 14 letters from home, so must have arrived there the previous evening.
When the Salween edged into Mombasa docks, we found the first visible occupants of this strange hot land to be phlegmatic but efficient-looking white military police wearing tropical uniforms, shorts and peaked hats with red tops to them. They rapidly took it upon themselves to advise the assembled throng of new arrivals lining the ship’s rails to throw their pith helmets into the harbour. Pith helmets, familiar in Boer War images, had it appeared gone out of fashion in Kenya well before 1943, but news of this had failed to reach those responsible for kitting out drafts leaving the UK. These pith helmets were effective headgear, and probably expensive, but cumbersome when one has to cart around one’s entire wardrobe. There were quite a few floating in the harbour.
We transferred straight from the Salween to a troop train bound to Nairobi. (Letter of 16/12/43.) “On the coast it is very warm – a sort of open tropical bush – not the dense equatorial forest I had expected. There are large coconut plantations covering thousands of acres, with isolated native farms in clearings, each with its chicken, goats and children.
“The line winds and curves in a way quite unknown at home. The train almost ties itself in knots in places, and sometimes the gradient is so great that the speed drops to walking pace. There is a considerable climb from the coast to Nairobi, which is over 6000ft above sea level.