|2yrs with 1st Battalion The
Cpl F Whittaker "B" Company Clerk (1945-1947)
May I say at the outset that
I was not a career soldier and until being drafted to the Army after RAF
Aircrew awaiting training, I had not heard of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
After initial training I ended up at 6ITC Berwick on Tweed and Alnwick
where the three regiments represented there were The West Yorkshire Regiment,
The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the Lancashire Fusiliers.
As a born and bred Lancashire man, (Chorley, Lancs) my destination was
the LFs. My age determined my destination after training, which meant
that having turned 19, five days before 1st Sept., it was to be the Far
East, with the designated unit the 1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers.
By this time the war was over so there were no great worries as to where
we went, so we sailed to India on the MV Georgic on 5th Sept 1945,arriving
in India at about the 18th. After about ten days in the transit camp at
Kalyan, we entrained for Lucknow and the 1st Battalion. Lucknow of course
being one of the battle honours dating from the Indian Mutiny (Or uprising
as they liked to call it) 1857
We were met at the railway station by transport and the RSM who soon made
it known who was in charge. Little did I realise that that was probably
the last time we would call him the RSM, but Kitna to all and sundry.
For any one not having served in India, the urdu for asking the price
of anything was "Kitna pice", so it was not a big leap to the
nick name Kitna Price.
We duly arrived at our barracks which was the old stables of a cavalry
regiment in Dilkusha gardens which were not very promising. The floors
were very uneven and there were no fitted punkhas. The gardens bit was
the name of the area, not the position of our billet. Later in 1945 we
were moved to much more comfortable quarters which had been the original
131 Indian Hospital. These quarters were much better and consisted of
a block for each company. The layout was typical of a hospital with what
would have been a ward at each side of a communal area and two offices
in the middle. I would estimate that each block would hold 80 men. The
beds were also of hospital type made from webbing rather than seagrass.
The buildings were all raised from the ground and had verandas, so it
was a good protection from some of the nasties such as snakes
We were split into various companies and my home for the next 2yrs. was
"B" Company. The company commander at the time was Major Porter.
I had been made a draft conducting L/Cpl and I was allowed to keep the
rank. Very shortly afterwards I was offered the position as company clerk
which was a position I cherished for the rest of my service.
As the war had ended, the battalion became an independent battalion with
nothing very onerous in the way of duties which consisted mainly of field
training, route marches and the inevitable drill parades generally conducted
by Kitna himself. There was the battalion drill parade on Wednesdays and
the COs or adjutants drill parade on Saturday. Often in between there
were individual company drill parades also conducted by Kitna. These were
something to be feared as because of the smaller numbers you could get
individual attention which was not a nice experience.
Kitna had a fearsome reputation, but I found that if you kept your nose
clean there was nothing to fear He was a man with a sense of humour and
I always thought that you could detect a slight smile at some of his comments
which he found a joke. During one of the company drill parades, Kitna
was again prowling close to the front rank when, pointing with his cane
almost up the nose of a fusilier, he said "What's your name boy?"
He answered "Price Sir" He took a few moments to digest this
and then moved to another fusilier who was also Price. He took a few moments
to think about this and said "Are you a company of Prices There is
only one Price in this army dismiss. So, short drill parade.
Apart from the usual drill parades, the subaltern, officers received their
own drill parade to bring them up to scratch. At one time my office was
situated near what was called the drill shed, but I think it was originally
a mess hall which was really only protection from the sun. Kitna always
carried a heavy cane which he positioned close to the nose of an offender
when he was berating him, in this case a very junior officer. His retort
was, " You're a funny little man aren't you---- ------------SIR"
The outstanding event of 1945 was the visit and inspection by the Viceroy
of India Field Marshal Wavell. Drill preparations for this were very intense
right up to the day. When the battalion was lined up, the bearers (servants)
were marched round to dust off boots. The inspection and march past went
off without incident. The viceroy stayed at the governor's residence and
a guard was mounted composed of NCOs only.
As a matter of interest the following is a copy of "B" Company
distribution which I have filched from the photo album of 2nd Lt Lovelady
and dated Jan 1946. I actually typed this roll call and I retype it for
clarity if anyone is interested. It was typed on a very old Royal typewriter
in dire need of a new ribbon, and we never had white paper but something
closely resembling brown paper.
"B" Company Distribution (About Jan, 1946)
Arms Kote Orderly
Batman Fus. Knight
Batman Fus Horswill
When comparing this roll with
my photo of "B" Company in August 1946, it will be seen that
Demob had created a big gap in the numbers. A lot of this was due to the
fact that it was not known what might happen with independence looming
Things became so bad that we had a new draft about May 1947. This was
not a good time to start in India as this draft had been flown out straight
into the approaching hot weather.
Late in 1945 a battalion athletics team was formed. I was in the team
and could manage a mile in 4.50, but we had no proper training, so when
it came to competitive matches against other units, we did not fare well,
particularly the RAF units in Cawnpore who had a much bigger squad and
obviously better practice and training facilities, so it seemed to die
a death. My other venture into running was as part of our team whilst
in Mirzapur, running a cross country against an Indian regiment, the Lingayats.
This was not the cross country as we know it. It was over a very rough
course of about five miles over hills which were mainly sharp rocks. Needless
to say we did not fare well and our feet told the story.
Also in late 1945, a band was form under the leadership of Sgt. Bob Bentham
who hailed from the village of Copull, not far from where I was brought
up. Being a mining area there was of course a big brass band presence.
The band initially was just fifes and drums and they made a good show
of it. I don't remember it developing into anything much bigger after
the arrival of a peace time bandmaster by the name of Bandmaster Elliot,
but it was certainly used in Church parades etc.
There was not a lot to do in Lucknow, and occasionally swimming parties
were held. I put my name down for one of these and assembled at the guard
room as required for the transport to take us to the venue. We arrived
at the United services club where the parties had been held before, but
the caretaker knew nothing about us, be we could have a swim anyway. The
following morning I was summoned to Kitna's office not knowing what it
was about. He had assumed that as I was the senior rank I had been in
charge, but he accepted that I had no movement order and that I expected
that the driver would know the venue. He said "Brigadier Stables
wife was not pleased with me". Two weeks later, a notice appeared
on Bn orders stating that a further swimming party was to be held and
"Cpl Whittaker will be in charge of the party. He issued personal
instructions to me and said, "You WILL enjoy yourselves won't you?
Give me your report at nine a.m. tomorrow.
A further ceremonial parade was held on the 2nd July 1946 for the visit
of field Marshal Auchinlech. For some reason this was held on Lucknow
polo ground rather than on our grounds. This might have been a joint parade
but I don't remember, but there was nothing like the ceremony that there
was for Wavell.
A victory parade was also held at the polo ground which was supposed to
be a silent drill parade but it was of course ordered by Kitna . I thought
that Kitna was behind but someone else has posted that he was in the ranks
but that could well be. All I really remember was a cloud of white blanco
dust in the searchlights, on the" present arms"
I remember winter training camps being carried out at Kukrail which was
a derelict village about 14 miles outside Lucknow. I had not made a record
of these but I suspect that they were about Jan 1946 and Jan 1947. The
first one consisted of simple field exercises but the second one had much
more field firing. In the second camp I was in the advance party setting
up the obstacle course and acted in the weapon training section, the discharger
cup firing point, and firing a Bren gun on fixed lines over the obstacle
course. If Lt Lovelady still views these posts he may be able to confirm
A further training camp was arranged to take place in Rhanikhet, a peace
time station about 7,000 ft above sea level. The transport to this station
consisted of a train journey to Kathgodam, the nearest railhead, followed
by a road trip in local buses for about 40 miles. Quite a hair-raising
experience with the steep drop at the side. The accommodation here was
very good and in front of my office was an open area which you could possibly
call a garden, complete with fountain. The fountain worked, but there
was no circulation pump so the water just went green. The terrain was
so steep that it was deemed impossible for any training. It was thought
a good idea that a dental inspection should be carried out to get dental
treatment up to date. I think the dentist was out of practice, as five
people needed hospital treatment, so the idea was abandoned.
Late in 1946 a typical Kina episode occurred. There had been a rape or
assault or something in the town and an identity parade was to be held
with no exemptions. The parade ground area was vast and the parade area
was at least 100yds from the nearest billet. Suddenly a fusilier appeared
about 300 yds away, probably a cook who had been on early duty. Everyone
knew that Kitna had spotted him and waited to see what would happen. It
seemed ages for the man to approach the billet and I think he knew he
was being watched. As he mounted the veranda, Kitna waited until his foot
was just reaching the top step when he let out his usual "SOLDIER!!
Double over here" and gave him the biggest ear bashing ever.
By this time, early 1947, Capt Waltho had been replaced by Major Trevor-Roper,
brother of the historian who wrote "The Last Days of Hitler. Also
I think Lt Col Acland had been demobbed and was replaced by a Lt Col whose
name I don't remember.
As we approached the day of Independence, it was not known to the Ors,
what would happen to the battalion, and whether there would be any problem
with the locals, but also at this time I had been offered LIAP, (Leave
in advance of repatriation) I was of course very glad to accept this,
and I was to leave a few days after Independence, not knowing what was
to happen to the battalion afterwards. As it happens there was no trouble,
and the flag on the residencywhich had flown night and day since the mutiny
was quietly removed with no fuss. In my photo album I enclose a copy of
the published report, which appeared in the local Pioneer newspaper, and
also I think from the Daily Express although this was only an agency report.
I passed through the old HBTD (Homeward bound trooping Depot) at Deolali
pronounced Doolalli as in the well-known saying "Doolali tap"
referring to men returning to the UK affected by the sun. I returned to
the transit camp at Liverpool to find out about our movement. We were
shocked to find that we were to be sent to the Canal Zone, although we
knew that our demob number had been frozen in Southampton the day before.
On the boat, no one seemed to know we were there when we queried stops
at Gibraltar and Malta, but we were told that we would have to get off
at Port Said, as the boat was going no further. We spent about 10weeks
up and down the canal zone until eventually we got our original posting
to the 2nd Bn The King's Own at Quassassin just as they were moving out
to Fayid There, we found that the battalion had been split up with the
young regulars being drafted to the King's Own, whilst conscripts went
to the UK with the Battalion, to Wem in Shropshire
Thus ended my time with The Lancashire Fusiliers. I joined with some trepidation
but would not have missed it for the worlds, Kitna and all.
Isn't it wonderful to have found
Frank who knew David Biddy's father in the 1st Bn all those years ago?
Frank has replied to David as
Replies to David Bibby queries
Yes I confirm that your father
was with the 1st Bn LFs. In fact in B company, where I was
company clerk. I remember this draft arriving and I did in fact march
them from the guardroom to the billets. Kitna being Kitna could not resist
a shout from about 100yds Get a grip on those men Cpl.
In fact if you look in my photo album, he is in the group of B
company at Rhanikhet 1947.
Also I am in your dads photo album on pae 2. I am the one without
After 6 Infantry Training corps at Berwick on Tweed it is likely that
he would have gone to Alnwick for more advance training.
The company was not based in Rhankhet but went there for about 6 weeks
for a summer training camp. Rhankhet being in the Himalayas, it was much
cooler of course, and was of course a peace time hill station. The terrain
was too difficult for ordinary so it was more like a holiday.
As you say, duties in Lucknow consisted of internal security but there
was very little action. There was an occasional show of force in the city
(which was out of bounds)
Composed of about 3, 3ton trucks fully loaded with armed men but without
a round of ammunition between them. I did not experience any great anti
British feeling; most of the disputes seemed to be between the Hindus
He would be a Bren gunner within an infantry section.
The one and two star ratings are pay scales as a measure of efficiency
Believe me you can believe any stories about Kitna, and then some!
The geographical locations A to B would be within the city of Lucknow,
which is an extremely large cantonement and was out of bounds to us. There
may have been tripe to other cities like Cawnpore about 48 miles away,
but I dont personally remember them
As your father said, Kings Commissioned Indian officers where to
be given the same respect as British officers, but I didnt see much
of this happening.
My experience of first medical inspection before call up was a one to
one with a M.O at Preston Lancs but this could vary in different towns
I suppose. There was one man I remember, who would fit the bill, but I
think he was a good bit older and possibly had been with the Chindits
On your photo album, Page three, Very Likely Rhanikhet. I never saw so
much scrub in Lucknow
Page five, No this is Lucknow
Page six. Your dad was a big pal of Bill Fryer and they were always together.
Maybe from civvy street or during their training.
Page Nineteen. Yes Kathgodam railway station. Nearest railhead to Rhanikhet.
The buses had no windows and the seats were slatted wood.
Page 21. Probably near Rhanikhet. There were many small rivers within
reach but I notice the people on the picture are Indians so might not
have been on a walk. The rivers were snowmelt from the higher hills.
Page 23 Good picture, which I havent seen before. My office was
in the centre of the low block on the right.. The fountain I mention in
my profile can just be seen at middle left
Page 24 Looks like the officers married quarters at Rhanikhet. I remember
they were perched on a steep hillside.
Page 26 and 27. As t the road from Kathgodam. The road continued like
this for 48 miles and climbed and then dropped almost to plain level.,
sometimes with a very steep drop at the side.
Page 29. Almost certainly Field Marshall Auchinlech
Page 30 This looks like a platoon photo rather then a company photo. Almost
certainly at Rhanikhet.
The link below takes you to the
pics Frank refers to.