A recent story on the visit by Arthur Newey of the 2nd Wednesbury Scout Troop to the Second World Rover Scout Moot, held in Ingaro, Sweden, in 1935, caught the attention Bugle reader David Bakewell. Arthur had sailed to Sweden aboard HMT Nevasa and that ship also featured in David’s father’s life story. David’s father was a career soldier, with over a quarter of a century of service to King and Country. David has supplied us with a wealth of pictures from his father’s time in India, and he also has a question for Bugle readers.
David writes: “I have been a reader of the Black Country Bugle for many years and find it a most informative publication with the wide range of its articles that are covered. I am writing in regard to an article in Bugle 1024 about the Wednesbury scout trip to Sweden in 1935 and the photograph of HMT Nevasa.
“My father, Albert Bakewell, originally from Aston, served in the regular army, in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, from February 1924 until November 1945, and then transferred to the army reserve until December 1950, a total service of 26 years 298 days, and he rose to be Battalion Quartermaster Sergeant.
“Albert was stationed in India, with Royal Artillery 17th Light Battery, between 1929 and 1936, a lot of the time in the tribal territories.
Then he went back to England before being sent to Kenya to help train the King’s African Rifles, 1942-43, and then Albert and the KAR were sent to Burma, 1944-45.
“On his first tour of duty to India he wrote home about his journey: ‘Dear Mother, Dad, I arrived quite safe and sound in India. We did about 6,000 miles by sea and then 1,000 miles by land and, believe me, I was very pleased to get there, although we had a very nice time on the boat, stopping on deck until midnight in shorts and singlets, as it was warm but lovely.
Better than sitting by the fire, what say you?’ Unlucky “Albert was not as lucky as some of his colleagues; they returned from India in 1932, aboard HM Transport Nevasa, 9,056 tons, length 480ft, breadth 58ft, depth 30ft. Albert had to wait until 1936 to return to England, aboard HMT Dorsetshire, weight 10,500 tons length 466ftm breadth 52ftm depth 45ft. I have enclosed a copy of the daily log on Albert’s return from India.
“The Bugle has a wonderful record of solving mysteries; can you help with this one? After the sad death of my dad and mom, I found a small box with various little trinkets and memories in it.
This included a document that must have meant a great deal to them, for they lovingly kept it all those years. It is a certificate of education for Acting Bombardier W. Bird, dated at the War Office, 27th March, 1906.
“I am intrigued by this small piece of paper, my curiosity aroused; why did Mom and Dad keep it? Who was W. Bird? Where did he come from? Did he have family? Sadly, all the people in my family who may have known him have passed away. I would be grateful if any Bugle readers had any knowledge about him.
“Acting Bombardier W. Bird, like my father, was in the Royal Artillery and I wonder if they both served in India. I know a large number of British troops were killed in India during the 1930s, or maybe he was killed in the First World War. I would be fascinated by any information on W. Bird or the fate of HMT Nevasa or HMT Dorsetshire.” The pictures across these two pages illustrate Albert’s time in the North-West Province of British India.