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War Memories of Lt. W L Heape East Lancashire Regiment 1914-1919

over demobilisation, and the Railway Transport Operators at the railway terminals in London were instructed to hold up the drafts returning to their units in France. The RTOs in London stopped a large number of men from the North of England. They were given a small amount of money and told to find their own accommodation. They were infuriated, and marched in a body to the War Office. The quadrangle was packed. Brigadier Childs did not manage to do much good, and in the end they were rounded up by the Horse Guards and marched off to Knightsbridge Barracks. It was not a pleasant day, with Whitehall full of Horse Guards and disgruntled men. But the last memory of my time in the army was watching the Victory March up Whitehall from my window. Marshal Foch on his iron -grey charger, with Admiral Beatty and Field Marshal Haig riding on each flank, led units of every branch of our Fighting Forces. I gazed at this magnificent procession with feelings of pride and exaltation which have never again been equalled, and I was only brought back to earth when my chief tapped me on the shoulder, saying, “You had better look for another job now, young fellow. We can’t employ officers who are permanently unfit for further active service.” I asked what he advised me to do, and he said to try the Colonial Service. I went straight back to my desk and telephoned the office of the Private Secretary (Appointments) in Richmond Terrace. The Colonial Office needed recruits badly after the First World War, and I received an official offer, subject to medical fitness, of an appointment as Assistant Secretary to the government of British Somaliland, on a salary of £250 pa. However, my stiff leg nearly did for me. I passed the first medical examination and then was told to report for another. This time, the doctor told me that I would have to spend much time on horseback in Somaliland. He asked me whether I could manage to ride with one stiff knee. I took a chance and replied, “Yes.” The doctor accepted my assurance and passed me fit. In fact, riding never did present any difficulty for me. I rode mainly by balance, and the only trouble was that the constant friction on the scar tissue on the inside of my damaged leg eventually set up an inflammation of the bone. On leave, I landed to my dismay in Queen Mary’s Hospital at Roehampton for a bone scrape. Since leaving Somaliland, I have abandoned riding for that reason.” W L Heape 1972
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