A Welch Calypso

A Soldier of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in the West Indies, 1951-54

Tom Stevens

Date Published :
July 2014
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Editor :
Peter Stanley
Illustration :
26 b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781909982673
Pages : 188
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


In March 1952 Tom Stevens sailed from Southampton aboard the troopship Dilwara, one of the last generations of British soldiers to serve in the West Indies. ‘How did I get here?’, he asks. Tom’s candid memoir describes his wartime childhood, disrupted by evacuation, the Swansea blitz, patchy schooling, his father’s absence at war and his parents’ separation. He evokes with an engaging honesty the life of an infantryman in the garrison of Jamaica, the pleasures of tropical service and the temptations faced by a young man in uniform. Vividly recalled, Tom’s memoir reveals how a young Welshman grew up in the final years of colonial Jamaica, recalling the complex relationships he enjoyed with its people.

Tom candidly recounts the two amorous adventures that make his account of his time in the West Indies unique: his infatuation with Elvira, the Belize beauty for whom he risked all by deserting to elope with her, and Marcia, the Kingston woman with whom he lived happily, as long as neither mentioned her life as a prostitute. In between, Tom and his Royal Welch comrades relaxed in the bars of Kingston, cleaned up after a tropical hurricane in Jamaica, suppressed a socialist coup in British Guiana and guarded the leaders of the free world when they met in the Bahamas, before leaving the bright sunshine of the West Indies to return to the gray skies of postwar Britain. A Welch Calypso opens the barrack room door after lights out, evoking the life of the other ranks in one of Britain’s last tropical garrisons. As well as describing a now long-gone military world, Tom Stevens opens his heart in a frank reminiscence of a Welsh boy’s coming of age.

About The Author

Prof. Peter Stanley of the University of NSW Canberra is one of Australia’s most distinguished military-social historians. Formerly the Principal Historian at the Australian War Memorial, Australia’s national military museum, he has published over thirty books, many in Australian military history, and especially on the world wars. In 2011 his book Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian imperial Force, was jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History. Peter has published several books on the military social history of British India, including White Mutiny (1998), the first book on the British soldiers’ protest of 1859-60 in Bengal and Die in Battle, Do not Despair (2015), the first book on Indians on Gallipoli.


"an engaging and candid memoir from the point of view of a soldier but also island life in one of the last outpost of Empire in the early 1950s.”"

- Bulletin of the Military Historical Society

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