Happy Memories of the Army                                                       and all that jazz

            by Private Ron Jocelyn. RAPC


It was in October 1951 that the rust-bucket troopship Empire Trooper, of 13942 gross tons, built in 1922 as the German passenger liner Cap Norte by Vulkan Werke of Hamburg and captured by the British HMS Belfast off the Faroe Islands in 1939, sailed from Southampton. Guess who was                  Troopship Empire Trooper

on board! “Yes” - You are right – me! I was bound for 31 Command Pay Office, Kure, Japan, where the Royal Army Pay Corps had decreed in its wisdom that I should become a Pay Clerk. But being a keen amateur musician in civilian life, I had other, more sensible, ideas.


So it was not long after my arrival that four of us, with myself as drummer, Don Hudson on piano and two others on trumpet and saxophone, but whose names I cannot now recall, formed a quartet to play, in civilian clothes, at `gigs`, in other ranks canteens. As our `fame` grew we were booked for sergeants messes and, soon after, officers `and QARANCS` functions in the Kure area, for which we were each paid £1.10 (in `old` money) plus free cigarettes, and an army truck driven by a Japanese civilian to transport us about. This new income, combined with the weekly `active service` allowance of 50 Australian `Bush Fire` cigarettes, soap and two razor blades, meant that I did not have to draw on my service pay. It also meant that, if we had had a late night, we were not expected in the office on the following day. Great!


It was not long afterwards that we were booked for an engagement at Kure House. All the actors were to be male, with our quartet as the members of the larger Australian Army Pit Band. This meant rehearsals for which we knew that we would not be allowed time off from the office. But our Sergeant Band Leader had other ideas and, in typical Aussie fashion, had words with his Commanding Officer who, in turn, spoke to Colonel Byrne, our own CO. The result was that we were excused all

official duties to enable us to attend the show pre-run practices! On the night, the show went off very smoothly – even though the male chorus `girls`, dressed in frilly dresses and studded army boots, were not a pretty sight!


I also played for 31 CPO football team, which was managed and trained by Captain Townsend. This further activity meant even more time out of the office. Unfortunately however the only other players whose names I can recall, after some sixty years, are L Hughes from Nottingham and B Sissons from Bulwell.


From my brief time at work in the office, I also recall two young Japanese female clerks, Toshiko Ishihara and Mitsuka Saito. Following research by local people I was able to meet up again, some 55 years later, with Toshiko-san at Kure Rail Station when I returned to Kure with my then partner (now wife) as members of Wilf Aldridge`s 2006 Tour Group. It was a very emotional re-union!


All too soon, in January 1953, my time in Kure came to an end and I had to return to the UK for demobilisation on yet another old and decrepit troopship – the 1914 built 9543 ton HT Lancashire. But what a marvellous experience I had had whilst out there – and all at the tax-payers` expense!


And what were the eventual fates of the Empire Troope and Lancashire? The former was scrapped in Fife, Scotland in September 1955, shortly after its final voyage from Hong Kong. And the Lancashire was sent to the breakers yard in Barrow in 1956 after returning to the UK from the Far East. A sad end for two old ships that had had such long and adventurous lives on the world`s high seas!




top left:  Ron and his wife at Hiroshima Park November 2006

bottom left : Calyton Bay Hotel with Toshiko November 2009

right: Ron playing his drums


#144 Parkway vol.28 No.2 April - June 2013


13942トンの古びた軍用船エンパイヤ・トゥルーパーがササンプトンから出帆したのは1951年10月のこと。この船は1922年ハンブルグのヴァルカン・ヴェルケ社がドイツの定期客船Cap Norteとして建造され、1939年にフェロー諸島沖で英海軍ベルファストHMSが拿捕したものです。その艦船に誰が乗っていたと思いますか?「そうです」私です!私は呉第31司令官給与部門に向かっていました。英陸軍給与隊は、よりによって私を支払い係員に命じたのです。熱心なアマチュアミュージシャンである一般市民の私にはちょっとした考えがありました。





その後、私たちは呉ハウスにおける行事の要請がありました。役者はすべて男性で、私たちカルテットは大きなオーストラリア軍バンドのメンバーとなりました。つまり、リハーサルが必要になるのですが、仕事から抜けることが出来ないということは分かっていました。しかし、私たちのバンド・リーダー曹長は、オーストラリア人らしいやり方で、彼の指揮官と話をつけ、そこから、私たちの指揮官コロネル大佐に話が回りました。結果、私たちは任務を免除され、公演に向けた練習に参加することができました。当日の夜、公演は順調に行われました - フリルのついたドレスを着て、飾り鋲のついた軍用ブーツをはいた男の「コーラスガール」は見られたものではありませんでしたが。