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Delivering a Horse to Japan
Racing reminiscences by Keith Lewis(1)
In the Summer of 1972 I was asked to transport a Cleveland Bay to Japan!
Well, not all the way but the job entailed taking a horse across the continent of France from Le Havre to Marseilles, a trip of over 800 miles each way not counting the miles from Lambourn to Dover and back. I was accompanied by a Japanese vet who spoke little English and no French. On the journey through France we had problems finding a place to eat and resorted to eating some of the contents of my food box which I always carried in case of emergencies. Somewhere in deepest France we feasted on boiled eggs,baked beans and tinned sausages at the roadside all cooked up on my trusty camping stove. My Japanese companion appeared to enjoy this culinary delight. I succeeded in finding a place to sleep at a roadside auberge and we enjoyed an evening meal of Pot au feu served up in a huge cauldron with a ladle where everyone helped themselves.
I slept in my bunk in the horsebox with the horse in its stall nearby. The next day we set off for Marseilles and my job was to locate the ship Kaga Maru in the vast port.
I accomplished this with my bad French and hand signals to the surprise of myself and my Japanese friend. After I was invited for a meal at an address near the port where my companion was to stay the night before sailing the next day. I politely refused as I wanted to get away on the road home. I was handed an envelope which to my amazement contained £40 - a very nice tip in those days and so I set off for Le Havre intending to stop overnight and sleep in my bunk. In the event I was unable to sleep and drove all night breaking a few rules rules and arrived in Le Havre in the morning just a little exhausted. I slept all day and caught a late ferry home.
I ask myself sometimes who on earth would have taken on such a job in their right mind. Perhaps I was a little crazy and hungry for adventure in those far off days.
Best wishes from Keith Lewis.
(1) Keith Lewis Keith Rodney Lewis Born Wallingford England May 20th 1944, Married Patricia Wendy Owens March 21st 1970 Driver at LRT 1970-74 Left to drive milk tankers for Milk Marketing Board Drove horseboxes in France, Belgium, Holland,Germany, Switzerland Portugal , and Ireland. Living in Cornwall since 1988.
Some of my workmates were Ken Hulse,Bob Reid, Geoff Nunn,Johnny Worral, Jimmy Senior, Bill Silk, John (Gunner) Hunter, Bill Cox,Mick Rees, Tommy Kirkham, Clarence and Jerry Deacon,Neville Colburn, Paddy MacNally,Mick Mahony,Micky Flynn, "Loppy" Smailes, Johnny Boreham, Les White, Geoff Hetherington, Pat Whelehan, "Titch" Bryan, Wally Lough, Reg Langford, Marion Lang. Billy Rodbourne, Chris Follon and Tony Mooney with apologies to those I may have forgotten.