Monday, August 04, 2008

Saturday 10th February 1940

Sidney and I awoke at 5:30 a.m. For some time he talked about timber – mahogany and veneers – and how the supply of mahogany would eventually be exhausted. I listened relaxedly, smoking. Then we went along the corridor to the door and stood there looking out. Unfamiliar, rather snug doorways to these French trains. Dark countryside, rather desolate; gaunt bare trees. Where were we? A big station was passed slowly but all I could see as we crawled through, was “…. – sur-Loire”
Small quaint stations, lighted cottages. “What is that long train?” may have wondered the man who stood in bright silhouette looking at us from the lighted doorway of a little rail side cottage in the early morning.

It was sometime later when we again stopped at a junction and I got on the track and showed my map to a workman. He not only told me where we were; he knew our port of disembarking and the towns through which we’d pass to the port of embarking – and he knew where that was too!

Miserable morning. We held a kit inspection on the train and all our kits had to be re-arranged so as to look nice. Whether things were handy and really neat was apparently immaterial.

Through the afternoon, the train has climbed among lovely hills. Now – it is 9:30p.m – it seems to be dropping downwards again. This long train journey has been a great experience. Such a different sort of existence altogether! I’ve had a look from the doorway again. We seem to be running around the base of a hill, for there’s high ground on our right and flat country – with lighted towns, no real black-out! – on the left. Seems weirdly attractive to be travelling at night, not knowing exactly where, in a strange, unfamiliar land!

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