12 – War’s End and Home

W.J. Grummett on horseback, Persian Front, Mesopotomia, 1918

Will Grummett left the village of Imam Abas in Mesopotamia, the Norfolk Regiment’s latest resting spot, for Basra shortly after Christmas of 1919. The war was over and although there was an offer to re-enlist and carry on in the region, he chose to go home.  Will set off for the port at Basra and the ship that would retrace his journey through the Persian Gulf, into the Arabian Sea, across the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean, and beyond Gibraltar into the Atlantic, and finally to an English Channel port.

The journey back to England was markedly better than the trip to India had been those two years ago.  The ship was probably as crowded, and, just as on the outbound trip, there would be no chance to get ashore.  This time, though, the weather would have been mercifully cooler in December, but, most importantly, there would have been no lurking German U-boats in the Atlantic.

I expect Will arrived in England sometime in the latter half of January, 1919. He would have reported to the regimental garrison at Harwich  in Essex. His out right release from service or demobilization, was not immediate.   The problem was that there were a lot of men to demobilize, and getting them home was a large-scale logistical problem.  Canada alone had nearly 270,000 soldiers to bring home with limited shipping.   It was also a highly charged situation. Soldiers who had been overseas for years desperately wanted to go home.

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