Python & Lilop Leave

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by Rob Dickers, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    :)
    Looking for the meaning of 'Python leave' in war-diaries.
    Found it on the Peoples War site.
    Rob
    For info:

    This was now my ‘Python’ leave.
    In case you wonder what ‘Python’ leave was, the answer is that for anyone serving overseas for longer that four years, on return to England, had only ‘home postings’ and did not return to Europe. There was another form of leave called ‘Lilop’. This was leave in lieu of ‘Python’. In this case, service personnel came back to Britain, but had to return to Europe before demob.
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Rob -
    LIAP - was Leave In Advance of Python and was awarded - for people who had been away from the Uk for three + years - I had LIAP and returned to Austria - six months later - PYTHON and demob...

    The first LIAP was drawn from the hat - and my driver was a lucky one and he went off near the middle of December '44 just before we went into the winter line on the Senio - he was gone six weeks as he sailed from and back to Naples - then back to the regiment in the North.

    I went by train from Austria through Northern Italy - Switzerland - France to Dover - same on return - Many went through Germany - Holland -by truck and rail

    Cheers
     
  3. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    :)
    In case you wonder what ‘Python’ leave was, the answer is that for anyone serving overseas for longer that four years, on return to England, had only ‘home postings’ and did not return to Europe.

    The length of overseas duty one had to perform before triggering PYTHON rotation back to the UK changed throughout the war, and it depended on which theatre you were in. PYTHON was originally set at six years, and by the end of the war it had been reduced to four years and nine months in Europe and the Middle East and three years eight months in the Far East.

    There was a major political storm in the late spring of '45 when Sir James Grigg, Churchill's secretary-of-state for war, implied that PYTHON for troops in Burma and India was to be immediately reduced by four months - something that didn't in fact happen for some time. Grigg was accused of trying to bribe overseas troops in the midst of the general election then taking place.

    Best, Alan
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    In August 1945 I found myself involved in the actual workings of LIAP, LILOP & PYTHON.

    The following piece I posted on the BBC WW2 Archives describes it:

    August/September 1945
    Running a Staging Camp in Ulm in Germany
    In September we (that's A Sdrn. 4th Queen's Own Hussars) landed another interesting job, that of running a staging camp in Germany. At that time there was an Army scheme in operation called L.I.A.P., which stood for Leave in Addition to Python. Python was the code name for leave that was given to troops that had done four years or more abroad and were due for home posting, whereas LIAP was now being given to those who had "only" (my inverted commas) done two years and nine months overseas service.
    To get the returning warriors home, a series of staging camps were set up, starting in Italy, extending across Germany and France and finishing up at Dover. "A" squadron had been chosen to run the camp at Ulm, about l5O miles north of Munich and so off we went again, for the first time in Germany itself. On the way through Munich we passed the famous Beer Cellar where Hitler had made speeches in his early days. Lt.Walmsly and Major Paddy O'Brien stopped the truck they were travelling in and posed for me. The snap is still in my album.
    We settled in very quickly.
    Every evening about seven o'clock the convoy of lorries used to arrive and then facilities were laid on for the two or three hundred men to be fed, refreshed and all their needs attended to before they left the following morning at O7OO hours.
    My own particular job was the cushy one of camp librarian and my duties were simple, to say the least. At the beginning of the "run" in Italy all troops were given opportunities to purchase paperback books from the NAAFI canteen. As they arrived at each staging camp in turn, they could swap on a one-for-one basis and so they had plenty to read en route. As librarian I was only on duty from seven in the evening until 9pm and then the rest of the day was my own. One other small duty was taking down the news from the BBC broadcasts and posting it on the canteen notice board.
    The giggle was the fact that on some occasions reception was bad and the announcer spoke too fast. When this happened I used to fill in my own version of the news, regardless of the accuracy of the statements, but I don't think that anyone was ever the wiser and the next bulletin was always updated.
    As we were now a British outpost in the heart of Germany we often had visitors turning up looking for repatriation to England, and I was often called in to interpret. On one occasion a strange young man turned up claiming to be of British origin and I was told to translate. When I found my German was not enough to cope with the situation I switched to French and Italian whereupon the young man said to me: "You must be Jewish," going on to say that the only British he knew who could speak so many languages were Jewish.
    The canteen at the camp had a film projector and nightly shows were given for those in transit. Because we had a different audience every night, it must have occurred to someone that it was not necessary to change the film, and therefore the whole month that we were in Ulm the film was always "Cover Girl" with Betty Grable. As the town itself was off-limits to the camp staff, we would invariably find ourselves watching the film and consequently we knew all the script and the dance routines backwards! For months afterwards some of the lads would break into one of the complicated song and dance routines. One favourite lyric was "Who's complaining, I'm not complaining, together we'll see this thing through, Because of Axis trickery my coffee's now chicory, and I can hardly purloin a sirloin."
     
  5. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    :)
    Thanks Tom,Alan & Ron for expanding the Terms.
    I once said to a Canadian Vet about something -'thats a strange name for it', he said No Rob not strange ARMY!
    Rob
     
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Rob -
    he got that right - Rosy was wondering about the code for embarkation - same thing - Army !

    Cheers
     
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Rob -
    LIAP - was Leave In Advance of Python and was awarded - for people who had been away from the Uk for three + years - I had LIAP and returned to Austria - six months later - PYTHON and demob...

    The first LIAP was drawn from the hat - and my driver was a lucky one and he went off near the middle of December '44 just before we went into the winter line on the Senio - he was gone six weeks as he sailed from and back to Naples - then back to the regiment in the North.

    I went by train from Austria through Northern Italy - Switzerland - France to Dover - same on return - Many went through Germany - Holland -by truck and rail

    Cheers


    TTC,

    Tom, I have just checked my fathers record and he obtained LIAP and I seem to recall that he travelled by train also through Austria on the route you described.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  8. Bayleaf

    Bayleaf Junior Member

    I only discovered this forum yesterday thanks to my friend Google! We've just received my late father-in-law's records, and many of the acronyms defeat us.
    So I was glad to see LILOP here which was one. But could anyone tell me what an entry on his record
    "Posted to draft R.C.L.I.S."
    means? It appears he embarked for North Africa the following day.
    I've managed to decipher most, but this one I can't find. Any help would be gratefully received! Thanks.
     
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bayleaf -
    no need to wonder about RCLIS - that's the code name for embarcation - for that particular DRAFT - and had to be on all your documents and kit before you were allowed on board- we never figured that out untill we were 100 miles off shore- - too late - that's why most of us landed in North Africa .....
    Cheers
     
  10. Bayleaf

    Bayleaf Junior Member

    Thanks Tom, one less to decipher!
     
  11. RealNoyesy71

    RealNoyesy71 Member

    Thanks for that Rob.
    Didn't have a clue what PYTHON was all about? Now I know. :)
     
  12. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum Bayleaf!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  13. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Tom/Ron,

    Was PYTHON, LILOP and LIAP compulsory, or could surviving experienced soldiers forgo their entitlement OR ask to return immediately to active duty? Or was it sometimes turned down by the Army?

    Some of the reasons given for the 50th (Northumbrian) Division being returned as a training division in the UK in December 1944 was because it had suffered enough, done its bit and was fought out... and because it had been at the sharp end for probably longer than any other British Infantry Division (rather than Commonwealth - thinking here of the 9th Australian Division which was in the line a long time) a lot of its surviving experienced soldiers were entitled to PYTHON, LILOP and LIAP, or a mixture thereof.

    Although 50 Div was mothballed one of its battalion's, the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry, was rejigged with troops not entitled to PYTHON, LILOP or LIAP and joined 7th Armoured Division as motorised infantry, serving all the way through to the end; others found themselves as replacements in other Divisions. Would the old hands have been allowed to stay or be ordered to stay with the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry to give them a backbone of experienced soldiers, both Officers and men?

    Your thoughts gentlemen please?!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  14. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    Dear Steve,

    Since 50th Division returned to the UK in October 1943 and remained there until the Normandy landings eight months later, its PYTHON 'clock' in effect was reset. PYTHON only really applied to units that served continuously overseas in the Mediterranean, Middle and Far East.

    Best, Alan
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Steve -
    never actually heard of anyone turning down an opportunity for home leave- but I suppose it was possible - and I can't see the Army objecting as we were short of men in all theatres from August/September '44 -

    I was on a Hospital Ship bound for Blighty in the September when the word came that all experienced battle types should be patched up and sent back into the line - so a couple of dozen of us were thrown off at Catania and patched up there...and later sent back..

    The case of 50th Tyne & Tees was a bit different inasmuch as Monty was right to disband them when he did - they were out of steam - and had very little left - a quick look at their casualties tells the whole story from the BEF -the Desert- Tunisia - Sicily and yet another D. Day - frankly they performed better than 51st and 7th Armoured although 7th AD had longer in the desert - 50th lost the 150 bde at the Gazala Gallop and were never replaced - so it was right that they were rested...the 9th DLI - I think I'm right in saying that they were a composite of 10th & 11th DLI which took a pasting at Epsom
    Cheers
     
  16. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Steve

    Was PYTHON, LILOP and LIAP compulsory, or could surviving experienced soldiers forgo their entitlement OR ask to return immediately to active duty? Or was it sometimes turned down by the Army?


    I doubt if many would turn down the opportunity to take home leave after so long away from home, I certainly did not.

    The pic below, taken from the next compartment to me as our homeward bound train rattled through Austria, brings it all back to me.

    Ron
     

    Attached Files:

    Owen likes this.
  17. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Dear Steve,

    Since 50th Division returned to the UK in October 1943 and remained there until the Normandy landings eight months later, its PYTHON 'clock' in effect was reset. PYTHON only really applied to units that served continuously overseas in the Mediterranean, Middle and Far East.

    Best, Alan

    So, most of 231st Infantry Brigade (the 1st Malta Brigade), although not in the thick of the fighting in N Africa like 150th, 151st and 69th Infantry Brigades', would have been entitled to PYTHON, or am I missing something in the detail!?!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Steve mac-
    the 231st bde were in Malta for some time and took part in the Sicily invasion- this is when Monty took a shine to them and they were sent home to join in the D.Day invasion - their Commander in both Malta and Sicily was a chap called Urquhart - who had something to do with Ahrnem with the 1st Airborne or paras.....

    Didn't really matter who did the fighting - it was all about being away from home that made the qualifications...Malta was no easy posting...

    Cheers
    Cheers
     
  19. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    The case of 50th Tyne & Tees was a bit different inasmuch as Monty was right to disband them when he did - they were out of steam - and had very little left - a quick look at their casualties tells the whole story from the BEF -the Desert- Tunisia - Sicily and yet another D. Day - frankly they performed better than 51st and 7th Armoured although 7th AD had longer in the desert - 50th lost the 150 bde at the Gazala Gallop and were never replaced - so it was right that they were rested...the 9th DLI - I think I'm right in saying that they were a composite of 10th & 11th DLI which took a pasting at Epsom
    Cheers

    Hello Tom,

    Two things:

    1) I read everywhere that 50 Div out performed the 51st (Highland) Division and 7th Armoured Division (the Desert Rats), their fellow 8th Army Divisions, in Normandy. This suggests that they were still more fit for purpose that the latter two Divisions; and no slight is meant by me to these two famous Divisions. I have not heard, read or otherwise understood what happened in the space of a couple of months in which 50 Div had done very well to lead to it being rested - it was like an insult to a 'backbone' division; and

    2) I have not seen that the 10th andd 11th DLI had been rejigged into a composite 9th DLI, indeed quite the opposite. But many thanks for the 'heads up' on this; I've obviously got a lot more homework to do!

    As for your rehabilitation following a battle injury - is this not a variation of 'mend and make do'? Joking aside, that's a tuff break... but you appear to be doing well on the Army's tough love though!!!

    It appears Ron got a better variation of 'long leave'; message #16 refers?!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  20. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Steve mac-
    the 231st bde were in Malta for some time and took part in the Sicily invasion- this is when Monty took a shine to them and they were sent home to join in the D.Day invasion - their Commander in both Malta and Sicily was a chap called Urquhart - who had something to do with Ahrnem with the 1st Airborne or paras.....

    Didn't really matter who did the fighting - it was all about being away from home that made the qualifications...Malta was no easy posting...

    Cheers
    Cheers

    Hello Tom,

    Our posts crossed...

    That was my point. At least two of the three battalions (and possibly all three) that made up the 231st Infantry Brigade were in Malta/N Africa from the start of WWII and served there through to Italy in late September 1943, hence PYTHON should have been due to the 'old hands'.

    'Urquhart'? Who? I understand he suffered from vertigo and didn't like parachute jumps/flying; so where did the Army put him?!

    Best,

    Steve.
     

Share This Page