'Orion docked. Troops on quayside', 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), Cape Town, South Africa, 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.
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 (Sharpshooters) 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. The Orion arrived at Cape Town on 11 September 1941. Over the next two days route marches were organised with shore leave granted from 13.00 to 23.59 hours. The ship left Cape Town on the 14 September 1941.
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