Leave from the armed forces was always something that men and women looked forward to, normally it might only be for a weekend, but occasionally longer spells were granted and passes issued to allow troops to return home to their loved ones. This combined leave pass and railway ticket dates from just after the end of the Second World War and was issued to a member of the RASC who was part of the Allied Expeditionary Force:The large purple stamp dates this pass to August 1945:The ticket is for third class travel on the train and runs from the port the soldier landed in, Dover to his home in Hatton, London:It was not always easy for soldiers trying to get home on leave in wartime, with trains running at odd times and often heavily delayed. Marine Arthur hill had difficulties getting back to London for his wedding:
That is when I took the opportunity to remind the officer in charge that I was off to be married in the morning, and had been granted leave to go a day early.
“Good luck” he said, “you’ll have to find your own way back, you’ll find your leave pass and ticket in the company office”.
So there I was again, on my own, doing a mad dash. Tickets, best uniform out of a kitbag, local station to Exeter. Now, there are two mainline stations, and as I’d never been this way before, I picked the nearest, St. David’s. Big mistake! Not a direct line; change at Bristol, and having got there, found that there was no train due for another two hours. And that was stopping at all stations.
So that is my excuse for not turning up for my wedding until 10:00 a.m. on the day, looking scruffy. But I did make the Kensington Registry Office on time.
Distances travelled for leave grew as the war ended, even troops as far away as Egypt were given the chance to return to the UK for leave, as was the case for Clifford Renshaw:
Well, I was stationed in Egypt, and there for two years, and we didn’t get any leave, you see. So; after a…nearly two years they decided to give us a leave, a month’s leave to come home from Egypt. So I got me pass, and eventually, I got to Piccadilly Station in Manchester. I got the all night bus to where I lived in Sale. And I’m walking at 3 o’clock in the morning as I got off the bus; and I’m walking up the road with my kitbag and all me kit, and a policeman jumps out of a doorway, and asks me where I was going. I said, “I’m going home on leave.” He said, “Where’ve you come from?” I said, “Egypt. “But he didn’t believe me, you see. He said, “Trying to kid me, they don’t send you on leave from Egypt” I said, “Well here’s proof.” So I give him my pass, my leave pass. “I’m sorry, son!” he said, “How far have you got to go?” I said, “Well I’ve got a mile or so to walk to my mother’s. “Put your kitbag on my handlebars”, he said, “Son, and I’ll help you home with it.” And he walks all the way home with me, with me kitbag on the handlebars.