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The following short article was written by CSM George Gates of HQ Company for the Christmas 1945 issue of the Battalion Magazine Geordie. CSM Gates was one of the very few soldiers to serve with the Battalion fro the entire period of the war.

Christmas Greetings

It was Christmas Day, I was one of the hundreds of soldiers aboard a troopship. We were all excited not at the thought of the festive celebrations but because, that day, we were setting sail and our ultimate destination was the Battlefield.

At last the ships' anchor was drawn up and it moved down stream towards the open sea. Nearly all the troops on board were lining the ships' rails and no doubt, like me, they all wanted to see as much of dear old England as they could before she faded from view--perhaps forever.

I was leaning over the rail of the port side and was feeling pretty miserable, my thoughts were of the folks at home. Suddenly I was startled by the sound of loud cheers. The noise came from the starboard side and I made my way across to find out what it was all about After a struggle, I managed to get to the rail and saw a little British destroyer steaming close alongside us. She was displaying a big white sheet and printed on it in block letters was a message of good will

'A HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL ON BOARD'

I shall remember that greeting as long as I live.

CSM George Gates.



Christmas Day 1942, by CSM George Gates, HQ Company, 16th DLI

Two views and a specification for the troopship Staffordshire, which set sail from Liverpool to Tunisia on Christmas Day 1942.
MV Staffordshire