Base Reinforcement Camp, Deolali.

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by bamboo43, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    It ain't alf' hot Mum!

    I've been reading a WW2 pamphlet about repatriation from India to the UK at the end of hostilities in 1945. Contained within it is an interesting map showing the grounds of the famous Army Camp, Deolali.

    It shows how large this camp was and the amenities it contained within its boundaries. It is highly likely that most of our forum members relatives who served or were based at any time in India, passed through this camp at some stage in their sub-continental journey.

    A very brief history of the Camp:

    And the map images, apologies for the creases, not much I could do about these without overly flattening the paper which I feared may damage or tear the map.

    DSC07882 copy.JPG

    DSC07884 copy.JPG
  2. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    Yep... dad was there in '43

    Nice maps... could try brown paper and an iron... looks like it could tolerate that...
  3. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks Steve,

    Was that pamphlet perhaps Westward Bound because those maps help enormously to locate the addresses given in Part IV (Games, Amusements, Activities) ?

    One of my uncles was there Jul-Dec '42, on his way out to Malegaon etc, but that's another story ...

    CL1 likes this.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Steve,

    Yes, it was 'Westward Bound', a very interesting and humorous read. I picked it up from eBay a couple of weeks ago.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I don't even iron my shirts HC, so that might be a bit chancy. :)
    dbf likes this.
  6. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Yes both my parents passed through in October on their way back as a married couple on the Franconia in November. Would they have had accommodation in the camp or elsewhere, I wonder?
    CL1 likes this.
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I think granddad was there for a couple of days before being sent on to Saugor in September 1942, I know that Other Ranks were quartered in both hutments and under canvas. I would imagine that officer or married quarters would be slightly more comfortable, but not too much so. If you have not looked at Red Goblin's earlier link to the full pamphlet, then do have a read, it might give you some info on repatriation. :)
  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    That is a very useful link to the booklet Steve. I have been helping (well possibly hindering, you never know) a couple of people in terms of repatriation, python scheme and general logistics for return voyages to the UK. Some of the paragraphs on Army documents, papers and forms are very valid information.
  9. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day bamboo43, aint half hot mum.its hard to beleave the camp realy existed,it was a favourite show in our house,thanks for posting.regards bernard85
  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Bernard85,

    I am very much a child of the 1970's and enjoyed all the many half-hour comedy shows of that period. Ironically, 'Ain't Alf Hot Mum' was never my favourite! Funny how things turn out isn't it. :)

    It also made me think how many comedy shows of that ilk there were back then, especially when you think we only had three tv channels. :eek:
  11. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Wow Thanks Steve, your thread has got me excited as dad was at Deolali in 43 . You mentors never fail to amaze me in your knowledge that you share with all us rookies . Elsie
  12. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member Patron

    Great to see this, thanks Bamboo. My dad was posted there from October 42 until Jan 43 as a staff Company Sergeant Major before going to 27 (Indian) Rft Camp at Gaya. In Mar 43 he was posted to 20 (Brit) Rft Camp and went with them to Imphal (Keithelmanbi) in Nov/Dec 43. After being evacuated from Imphal 20 Rft Camp went to the Maynamati Ridge near Comilla with many other reinforcement camps. Sometime in 45 the reinforcement camps were renamed/reorganised to Reinforcement Holding Units and father was now a WO1 with no.2 Forward Army RHU. In Nov 45 he was sent to HBTD again on the Python scheme so Deolali was well known to him. He sailed from Bombay on the HT Georgic in Dec 45.
    CL1 likes this.
  13. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member Patron

    Incidentally, dad loved "It ain't half hot Mum". Not politically correct nowadays for broadcasting I should imagine!!!
  14. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    The leaflet Westward Bound is priceless....a book could be written about what went on at Deolali!! Particularly enjoyed the part about baggage explains why my mothers descriptions in her letters (see my book Wanted on Voyage)of preparations were so extensive. thank you for putting this link in. The logistics for moving these huge numbers of people about are extraordinary. A complete revelation again.
  15. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Hebridean Chindit likes this.
  16. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Well now, there's a funny thing.Visiting Aurangabad in February. Maybe worth a side trip if it is not too far!! Can anyone say what traces are left if any?
  17. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Maureen,

    I'm tempted to get myself a set of the dvds. I'm so pleased how well this thread has been received and how it has developed so quickly, thanks mostly to the input of others, in particular Red Goblin.

    Best wishes

  19. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    My father passed through this Camp in August 1944 on his returning to Burma following recuperation at Wellington. It was a long tortuous journey taking a quite mad railway route to start with and Deolali was one of many camps en route. It was a very wet and muddy camp, bad under foot. In Cyril Grimes diaries in the entry for 19th August 44,he writes "This is a dead end camp. We shall be lucky to get out in less than 6 weeks. Some people have been here for years". I get the impression they had to make quite a lot of effort to actually get out of the Camp and continue the journey. I still have my fathers note of the address of the Camp written on his Army Prayer Book. It says " GHQ BBRC,4 Coy, 4 Wing, Deolali North, India.". They did not get back to their unit , the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex, by then in Pinbaw, until October.
  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Thanks for your input Shiny9th,

    I have heard similar stories about Deolali and trying to get out. I know that some of the repatriation parties could wait for 6-8 weeks for a boat home, it must have been excruciating for men who had seen bitter fighting, felt lucky to have survived and just wanted to get home.

    Another aspect for delay, which we tend to forget was inoculations and quarantine periods. There was an outbreak of what we would call 'the plague' in late 1945, parts of the camp were isolated whilst men were screened and inoculated. Imagine how this must have felt for a man who had survived Kohima or two Chindit expeditions.

    Best wishes


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