'The Court. Major Grafftey Smith. Capt Rich. Sgt Corrie. Capt S H Reddish. 2/Lt Hiddlestone', 'Crossing the Line' ceremony, HMT Orion en route to Egypt, 1941
Photograph by Major Wilfred Herbert James Sale (1913-1995), MC, 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), World War Two (1939-1945), 1941.
'Crossing the Line' is a naval initiation ceremony for sailors and passengers crossing the Equator for the first time.
The ocean liner RMS Orion, launched in 1934, was requisitioned as a troopship in 1940. She transported troops to and from England, Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore; she survived the war and was scrapped in 1963.
According to the Sharpshooters' war diary, 40 officers and 603 other ranks of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry embarked on the Orion at Avonmouth on 14 August 1941. The troopship sailed for the Middle East the next day. British forces travelling to Egypt avoided the Mediterranean Sea because of the threat from German and Italian forces. The Sharpshooters' route included stops at Freetown in Sierra Leone and Cape Town in South Africa, then on to Aden and then up to Egypt.
From an album containing 229 group photographs compiled by Major W H J Sale, MC, 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), 1941.
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National Army Museum, Study collection