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Home Leave from Egypt June 6th. to October 20th. 1924. [so titled].

Manuscript journal in a lined 4to notebook, 50 pages, 34 photographs and 7 photographic post-cards.

The journal is written by H.M.S. Turner of Meerbrook, Leek, Staffs. He appears to have been an officer in the RAF, stationed in Cairo since 1922 and returning to Britain in order to visit his ailing father. He applied for four and a half months leave, the return was fixed for June 1924, at which time the British Empire Exhibition [23 Apr 1924 31 Oct 1925] at Wembley was in 'full blast'. Turner, wife and 2 sons, booked a passage with some difficulty through Cooks, aboard a French ship - he discusses in detail his finances [£12 per month for an unfurnished flat in Cairo, £9 per month for a servant; 'there are ordinary household expenses e.g. laundry, butcher, baker, grocer etc., all on a much higher scale than in England - I found that I had accumulated a little sum of £300; and on this, and on the continuance of our pay and allowances, we decided to make the plunge.'] He likens the difficulty of booking the passage to 'buying a Ford in Egypt. In any other country you buy a Ford complete with hood, windscreen, lamps, tools and a spare rim. But not in Egypt. No fear.' The ship - 'Azay-le-Rideau' had formerly been the German 'S.S. General' - and, on boarding - 'I have to say that our spirits fell considerably.... there was a battalion of Madagscan troops, bound for France, to begin with ... the ship was absolutely packed, it was almost impossible to move ..... Dorothy and the youngsters certainly had a cabin to themselves but it was an inside cabin with no porthole and absolutely no means of ventilation if the door was closed .... it was absolutely potted hell ...'. Turner and his friend shared their cabin with a retired French sea captain - he writes extensively on the social differences between the French and the English and then moves on to discuss the state of the life-boats and the behaviour of the ship's officers ... 'To a Britisher it was really an incredible thing.' On arrival in Marseilles - '... the sharks began getting their teeth into us. Apparently Cook's men seem to be given a free hand to fleece people as they may ....... It cost us SIX POUNDS to get our baggage from the ship into the train for Boulogne.' On arrival in England, the Turner family made it to Rudyard, near Leek, staying at a local hotel - this was a popular beauty spot with many visitors, prompting further acidulous observation - 'It is really a study to watch the people who come in charabancs. To those of us who have been abroad they are a new race. To this place they come mostly from Manchester, Oldham, Sheffield, Derby and the Potteries. The very first thing that strikes one about them is their complete loss of control - ..... I dont think I have seen it equalled in any other country; for there was an ugly and sinister quality about it which was very disturbing .... Practically all of them showed marked effects of alcohol in their eyes and faces: yet their abandon was of a more exotic and erotic kind than I have ever seen produced by mere alcohol ... my thoughts turned naturally to cocaine ... I was interested to note that quite a number of these women talked communism openly. I found myself wondering whether, among our British communists, women had already become the property, the common property of the communistic community ? Is it possible that there are already in England, communist clubs, the members of which pool their wives?' And this takes one to page 27 ! Turner describes in detail his family home in Meerbrook, the church, the inn and the people - '... Meerbrook and its people preserve their native characteristics and individuality ... They are dour, silent, thrifty and extremely conservative ... you are conscious of having entered a small settlement which has been occluded in the hills and retains the manners and atmosphere of a bygone age. You will find none of the senseless modern pursuit of pleasure there ........ their speech today, in the twentieth century, is the speech of Chaucer.' He describes meeting his elder son, training for the RAF at Cranwell, and having crashed two '9a's, details the crash-landing of a Bristol Fighter in a nearby field, and illustrates this with a dozen photographs. He talks of his visits to the Air Ministry (four of them), the journal finishing with his booking a belated return to Egypt, the death of his father and the unveiling of the Turner Memorial at Meerbrook Church - 'I read the lesson, which was taken from the Apocrypha (most appropriate for the Turner family !) The Book of Wisdom ......'. All told, a marvellous evocation of social history, now nearly one hundred years ago !

[Meerbrook, Leek. Staffordshire.]

Date Published: 1924.

Stock No. 63649

Price: 400.00