After spending the day on the now-moored Katoomba, Jay and the 301st Engineers began making their way across England by train. I can’t find a definition of a ‘jikky band’, maybe it was some of the Beatles’ grandfathers?
“At five o’clock the afternoon of the 26th, ‘A’ Company filed off the boat, lining themselves in platoon formation, and Mr. Trott, our commandant, rejoined us having yielded up the luxuries of his stateroom. ‘Where’s my lieutenants?’ arose the cry that gave the clue that ‘Mike’ was on the job. Everybody ‘snapped into it,’ including the ‘shave-tails,’ and the hike through the dingy streets of the English port was on. The barmaid rushed from her bar and people stood by to gape and gaze, even as you and I, when a circus goes by. Salutations were passed from street to curb as we wended our way to the station to the music of the ‘jikky’ band, where we entrained in the compartments of a long English train. While waiting to pull out of the station we each received a souvenir from King George, in the shape of a card with greetings and best wishes, and sent same home to the folks we left behind.”
– Our Memoirs: Company A, 301st Engineers
“While a boys’ band on the dock played stirring airs, equipment was retrieved and packs were rolled, following which companies were lined up by their first sergeants in a space which would ordinarily have been assigned to a platoon. At last came the order to debark, and in single file, their hobnailed shoes slipping on the wet gangplank, the men moved down the passageway and were formed by companies on the stone deck. Terra firma beneath one’s feet was a welcome feeling after thirteen days at sea.
“With the band playing gay tunes at the head of the column, the regiment started on its march to the Exchange Station. In America, at least, whenever there is a semblance of a parade, there is always a crowd to watch it, and in Liverpool there was no exception to the American rule, for the entire march through the streets of the city a gang of children of all ages and both sexes fastened themselves to the regiment and individually ran from soldier to soldier with the expression, “Gimme a penny.” The children got pennies, and when the pennies ran out, they got nickels, dimes, and quarters until their pockets bulged with coin and childish wealth. This scramble lasted until reaching the smoky Exchange Station, and here all minds were taken up with the curiously small side-door or compartment coaches. The pompous station-master with his tall silk hat walked majestically up and down the length of the train for the mischievousness of the irrepressible young Americans However, his dignity and austere countenance seemed to demand respect and so it was given to him.
“With no confusion the 1st Battalion was loaded on the waiting train, and soon afterwards pulled out of the station. The 2nd Battalion followed in another train which cleared Liverpool about nineteen o’clock, and, as the soft English twilight lasted well into the evening, there was an opportunity to see much of rural England. Ever curious and interesting to the American eye were the quaint brick farmhouses with thatched roofs and the fields bounded by hedges with an incredible trimness. Every inch of ground seemed to abound in cultivation; this was a condition of which the regiment was to see much during its travels through England and France.”
– The Three Hundred and First Engineers – A History 1917-1920
Photos of Liverpool’s Exchange Railway Station about the time of the Great War: