In the early days of May 1947, while discussions were on in London, England for the shutting down of the British Empire, British Army units were busy closing down their bases and the military staff was busy packing. While the bases were being closed down and men and materiel was being shipped out. Families were busy packing and had to move very quickly to embarkation points and transit camps in colonies in South East Asia and Africa.
Sometimes families had to get transportation piece meal and many families were split up to make the move easier.
While some of my brothers went ahead, I was with my two younger sisters and my Mum. My father being an officer had been sent well ahead. That move for me came on May 16, 1947, when we were not given much notice and suddenly told to vacate our quarters and move to another station.
That morning, for me was the worst in my life. I was not able to say goodbye to any of the other children that I knew, but just leave, without saying a word. We never had the time to say our goodbyes and left behind our fond memories and friendships that had endured after years of living in army camps.
I have never had the opportunity of ever meeting anyone that I knew from those days. I had somehow hope that I might just meet one of these friends from my boyhood days, but it just did not happen.
Many a time, when travelling on British Rail or London Transport did I hope to even get a glimpse of an old boyhood friend, but I was out of luck. Till, one day, while heading for Aldgate East Station and sitting opposite me on a bus, did I see a familiar face. It was boy. Now a man named Peter Jones, whose younger brother John Jones was a school friend and close pal of mine. I started up a conversation with Peter and inquired about his brother John. To my regret, I was informed by Peter that John had gone to Australia, and was killed after being thrown off a horse.
It looks like life dealt me a bummer, when all my friends parted and I could not even catch up with our past. However I hope that somehow fate somehow plays a hand and gives me a winning card. That I will meet up with some of those friends whom I never had the chance to say goodbye to in 1947. I feel that lives had been interrupted and had left a wide open gap and that somehow we would one day catch up with our pasts and be able to talk about how our lives had been altered by a twist of fate.
I have thus, written this story in the hopes that someone somewhere would read it, and realize that they were once part of this on-going journey of friendship and that they are always being remembered by their friends from the past.
When ever I hear the songs "When I grow too old to dream," "Somewhere in the West," "Now is the Hour," or "Auld Lang Syne", there comes a very great sadness over me, and my memories immediately rush back to a kinder simpler time when friends meant the world to me, a world of values the likes of which are not seen or heard of today. Because if one looks at it with discernment we were in a wider sense really a family of men, women and children from the armed forces of Great Britain. The army was my family, because within it there were people who treated each other as brothers and sisters. I have grown up to understand what family really means because of my army upbringing. That time is long past today, but memories linger on, and the loss is still felt deep in one's soul. Being an army brat was both a privilege and an honour, and it builds a person's character.
Kenneth T. Tellis